Prime Material Plane

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Greyhawk Plane
Prime Material Plane
Type Inner plane
Layers N/A
Alignment N/A
Native Inhabitants Various
Greyhawk Powers Anguileusis, Beory, Fharlanghn, the Green Man, Heward, Iuz, Kiaransali, Krovis, Sardior, Skoraeus Stonebones, Vathris, Vecna, Wastri, Zagyg, Zinzerena, the Olman pantheon, the Touv pantheon.

The Prime Material Plane (also called the Material Plane or the Prime) is the central plane of existence. The Prime is the plane most similar to real-world Earth, with the same basic physical laws and features. The Prime Material Plane is the primary location of most Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings, with the exceptions of Ravenloft and Planescape.

The inhabitants of each Material Plane always refer to their own plane as the Prime Material Plane.

Description

In the World of Greyhawk setting, the Material Plane consists of Greyspace and all of its contents, including Oerth. It is spatially infinite, and contains countless stars (and presumedly planets) beyond that.

In the cosmology shared by the Planescape and Spelljammer settings, there is only one Prime Material Plane, which contains many different crystal spheres. In other cosmologes, such as that used by the Manual of the Planes, there are numerous different Material Planes. The Third Edition Manual of the Planes refers exclusively to the "Material Plane" rather than the "Prime Material Plane." Therefore, according to this cosmology, Realmspace, Krynnspace, and other campaign settings are "sister" Material Planes to Greyspace. In the 1st edition Manual of the Planes, these alternate Material Planes were accessible via the Astral Plane. In 3rd edition, the Plane of Shadow is said to join them.

Structure

The Prime Material is equidistant between the Inner Planes and the Outer Planes. As such, it is equal parts matter and spirit, equal parts substance and belief, a place where the elements of the Inner Planes and the alignments of the Outer Planes exist in rough balance. The Prime touches the Astral, Ethereal, and Shadow planes.

The Inner Planes connect to the Material Plane via ethereal vortices, which are spiraling tubes delivering elemental matter to and from the Material Plane. They are found in areas of great elemental concentration, such as deep within the earth, in volcanoes, on the bottom of the ocean, or on the tops of mountains. The Outer Planes connect to the Material Plane via astral conduits, which are silvery tubes or cyclones that souls use to reach the afterlife after their deaths. Astral conduits are normally invisible to mortal eyes, though they can be perceived using magic.

The Fading Lands are demiplanes that are coexistent and coterminous with the Prime Material.

Crystal spheres and the Flow

In the Spelljammer setting, the worlds of the Material Plane are surrounded by crystal spheres. The crystal sphere is the night sky itself. In the fantastic universe of Spelljammer, the sky is made of solid, indestructible matter, dark as night, and always spherical. The sphere normally surrounds the planetary system at twice the distance from the system's primary body to the most distant planet in the system. The stars may be a number of different things, from relatively small bodies of fire to torches held by statues of forgotten gods to portals in the substance of the sky itself.

The Phlogiston, or Flow, is the chaos outside Creation. It's the region the powers that be haven't gotten around to making yet. Some say they fear it, and build the crystal spheres to keep the Phlogiston at bay. Others think the crystal spheres precede the gods, created long before by even older beings. The Flow has currents, making travel between the various spheres in magical ships relatively swift.

Whether or not crystal spheres and the Phlogiston exist in the 3rd edition D&D game was never revealed, but they were not mentioned in any 3rd edition source. Following the rule of thumb that previous canon holds true unless specifically contradicted, however, these features must be present in the 3rd edition form of the Material Plane as well.

Inhabitants

The Prime Material is inhabited by numerous sentient races, most notably humans, but also dragons, dwarves, elves, giants, gnolls, gnomes, goblinoids, halflings, kobolds, lizardfolk, orcs, and many other lifeforms.

Fauna

The variety of fauna on the Prime Material is vast, spanning the entire animal kingdom.

Bibliography

  • Cook, Monte. The Planewalker's Handbook. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1996.
  • Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1987.
    • Grubb, Jeff. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1989.