First Material Plane
- A small word built to house the first form of life. They were created to be perfect beings that would worship and revere the gods for the gifts they were given. Unfortunately for the gods, the creatures were too great. The creatures were wise enough to not need the guidance of the gods, strong enough to fend for themselves (even against natural disasters), stubborn enough to resent gods who tried to manipulate them, long lived enough to be patient, and intelligent enough to be totally self sufficient. The gods were not needed, and felt abandoned by their own creations.
- The gods grew frustrated with these creatures. This was not the life creating experience the gods were hoping for, so they abandoned the world and moved on. The creatures barely noticed and continued quite happily.
Spoiler The creatures in question were Dragons.
Second Material Plane
- The second time around, the god's created creatures not to be perfect, but to be imperfect; to need the gods in their daily life and to be open to changing their minds on who to worship. These creatures of weak will and great desire proved nightmarish and chaotic. They switched gods too quickly and were almost entirely dependent upon the gods for survival.
- In the end, the gods got tired of micromanaging these lowly, pathetic creatures and abandoned their world, leaving them all to die.
- There is no sun, the sky is a dim yellow, the moon and the Third Material Plane are visible in the sky (although distant), and the constellations are skewed at strange angles.
- The Second Material Plane would be visible from the Third Material Plane if it was lit up enough, but it’s never that well lit.
Third Material Plane (Prime Material Plane / PMP)
- Taking the lessons of their former worlds to heart, the gods created a messy world with creatures of great and lesser strengths, peoples who were swayed easily and those that were not swayed at all, gave them tools to be independent, but set them against each other so they would always have need of guidance and strength from the gods. This is The World our stories take place in.
- Each of the 4 elements is a quadrant in a great sphere.
- Where the 4 elements meet they create the staff that supports and spins the world.
- Bits of this staff that fall to earth are called Philosophers' Stones.
- If the elemental planes are the building blocks of the world, then the life within them is the contamination from the world they built. Contamination is worst in the Plane of Earth (since so much of it was used to create the world) and it contains the creatures that look most like those found in the PMP.
Plane of Earth
- A mass of earth and stone, solid all the way through. Networks of rock travel like veins through the plane. Using something like a “meld into stone” spell would permit a traveler from the PMP to ‘walk’ through the plane of earth.
- The elemental plane of earth acts as the center of gravity for the other planes. Those in the water or fire planes are automatically oriented with an up/down in relation to air/earth.
- Life: Xorns, worms, and other more normal looking forms of life.
Plane of Water
- A vast ocean lit from the Stellar / Celestial Plane. This light comes in from the side “outside”. In the opposite direction of the light is the shadow plane, and then the PMP. Up is towards the plane of air, down is towards the plane of earth. Great pillars of salt traverse the otherwise sweet water, creating zones of saline water that are deadly to some forms life on this plane.
- Life: slimes that feed on the salt pillars create briney blobs (via waste removal) that grow ever larger as they devour each other. When they die, they sink towards the elemental plane of earth where they are eventually taken back up into the salt pillars.
Plane of Fire
- A writhing mass of fire and light. There is no air to breath and temperatures are hot enough to ignite any combustible materials.
- Life: While there is no life native to the elemental plane of fire, occasionally an air elemental will get trapped within the fire plane and “shift” from air spirit to fire spirit. These elementals are appropriately hot tempered and fast acting. They are difficult, if not impossible, to control. Knowing how difficult it is to survive in the plane of fire, a few creatures of exceptional power have made homes here (to keep out the riffraff).
Plane of Air
- A vast empty space lit from two sides. The Stellar edge, “outside” provides dim light in comparison to the brightly lit border of the Fire plane that is blindingly bright. Since the plane of air opposes that of the plane of earth, there is no set down direction. A creature in the plane of air simply decides which way is “down” and falls in that direction until they change their perspective or run into the plane of water/fire (probably at high speeds, killing them).
- Life: Clouds absorb water near the plane of water and grow agitated near the plane of fire. This proto-life form stores energy until it can hold no more, and lets it out in large bolts of lightning. Where they strike the fog, new clouds form, grow, and shift about.
The Borders of the Elemental Planes
Bordering the planes of earth and water are the remains of all life that has died in the elemental plane of water. Most of this material is a soft silt, creating a semi-liquid viscous material that slowly becomes more dense until you arrive at the plane of earth.
Where the plane of fire meets the plane of earth is a blackened and charred wasteland of hot rock. Occasionally the plane of earth will quake, opening small fissures that reach out to the plane of fire. This intense heat, mixed with the pressures of the earth plane closing back in create various pockets of raw gems which make their way to the PMP by traveling earth elementals who leave them in their wake. Mountains of rock burst across the divide creating a hellscape. Shards of obsidian the size of mountains force their way from the stone. These landscapes crumble as quickly as they form.
The border between these two planes is the surface of an ocean blanketed with dense fog. As you move into the plane of air, the fog thins into transparent air. Air bubbles spontaneously form under the surface of the water giving this ocean a carbonated look.
Raging firestorms make the border between two planes more fluid than all the rest. Hot gases rush in all directions and spontaneous gouts of fire belch into the plane of air, while cool breezes and pockets of tranquility occasionally find their way into the plane of fire.
- Always dimly lit and leached of all color. Light sources do not produce light, although they may produce heat if they normally do (e.g. a torch will burn hot enough that you don’t want to touch it, but it will shed no light. The flames will be visible as dancing bits of gray).
- There is a shadow plane of each of the Material Planes, taking on the form of the material plane in the same a footprint is the form of a foot. It is a shadow of the world.
- Life: almost non-existent.
- All the gods, except Felumbra, have fixed positions in the sky. Felumbra takes the form of the moon, and cruises around the world.
- Inaccessible to creatures from the PMP
- Comets are movement between the Celestial Plane and the PMP
- Any god coming to the PMP would be visible for a period of days (maybe a week or so) to everybody on the PMP and all the gods.
- Gods cannot sneak into the PMP
The Ethereal Plane
The Ethereal Plane is the space between the material world and the spirit world. It has the shape of the material world without living or dead matter. Existence in this plane is a combination of both borders. To imagine the ethereal plane, think of a snapshot of the material world, then remove all gasses, living mater, and dead matter. What remains is projected like a 3 dimensional, slightly out of focus, silhouette. These projections are the boundaries of the ethereal plane, and while they are immutable, their surfaces and edges are hazy to a depth of 2”. The space of the ethereal plane is a dimly illuminated misty vapor known as ether. When creatures exist in the ethereal plane, their surface manifests as condensation in the ether, but they maintain a gaseous quality.
As the material world changes, so does the ethereal. Should a creature run into a projection, either by moving to the projection or the projection moving to the creature, the creature will typically flow harmlessly along the edge of the projection, like a gas against a solid. This makes ethereal creatures immune to attacks from the material world. There are some exceptions to this rule.
Items made from mithril, or those enchanted to exist in the ethereal plane have non-hazy projections that can affect ethereal creatures. Lead has solid, non-hazy, edges but is inert. Silver is much the same as lead, but rather than be inert is reflective.
Magical energy disrupts the ether much the same as it disrupts the material world.
The material plane is energy positive, the spirit plane (Felumbra / The moon) is energy negative, and the ethereal plane is energy neutral. Any bridge to the ethereal plane will create an energy flow in on direction: Material > ethereal > spirit. In the material world this usually takes the form of a cold spot, although should the bridge be mobile its movement may cause flickering flames, rustling leaves or papers, etc. Ethereal creatures projecting into the material world are sensitive to the high energies of the material plane. Sunlight is so bright as to be blinding and direct light can cause damage and searing pain to ethereal creatures.