Part 118: Fake Update: The Outer Planes, With Candrian Illborne!Fake Update: The Outer Planes, With Candrian Illborne!
(And more of Tony Diterlizzi's awesome artwork!)
"The Outer Planes are created of and by belief and thought and faith. They take their imagined form from the Prime Material Plane, shaped into forms that stagger the imagination, built by the accumulation of belief. Belief creates the planes. Belief is power here. Change belief, and you can change the nature of reality. The creatures that are born here - the planeborn, like the fiends and celestials - are truly borne of the thoughts and concepts of mortals. They each express some sort of ideal, and the more powerful the ideal, the more powerful the being - thus, the being that symbolizes love is one of the strongest of all."
"That's why the powers - gods, some call them - live out here. This is where all the faith in them comes - this is where they are at their most pure and most strong. Their realms are extensions of their very beings, manifestations of their godly essence, all of it informed by belief."
"Among the loose unity of planewalkers, we conceive of the infinite Outer Planes as a ring surrounding the plane of ultimate neutrality - the Outlands. The spire atop which Sigil sits is in the center of the Outlands. The further one travels away from the Spire, the less neutral the plane grows, until it spills into the neighboring planes. Each of these planes impinges on the Outlands, spinning themselves into law and chaos, good and evil. The Great Road marks the demarcation between the Outlands and the gate-towns that spring up around the gates to these planes. Beyond the gate towns lie the Hinterlands, uncharted territory that is lost to history, that loses thought. Danger lies in the Hinterlands."
"The Outlands are absolute neutrality. Probably the best place for a body to visit in the Outer Planes, outside of Sigil, if you don't want to have a plane's morality forced into your heart. Everything balances out in the Outlands - as it should be, for the plane that sits at the center of the Outer Planes. Powers' realms are scattered about here, and there are handfuls of 'gate towns' that open into the rest of the Outer Planes. The gate towns usually mirror the philosophy of the plane their gates open on to - and if the balance of belief isn't kept in the town, the town slips into the nearby plane. It's a bad situation for everyone, because few of the folks in the towns really *want* that change. But enough of the Outlands. What more would you know?"
"The Outer Planes differ by morality, not substance. For you, we'll divide the planes into three sets: The Upper Planes of Good, the Lower Planes of Evil, and the Boundary Planes of Neutrality. These are then divided further by Law and Chaos, with the Outlands in the middle."
On the Upper (Good) Planes:
Lawful Candrian gives a small shudder. "I am not the best person to speak of the planes of law," he says, "for the innate structure and ultimate patterns they impose frighten me. I steer clear of them, because I value my individuality more than I value the knowledge they'll bring me. They include regimented Arcadia, nearest of the good planes to the unbending order of Mechanus, and Mount Celestia, home of the archons, an island in the Silver Sea."
Neutral "The neutral upper planes contain the Beastlands, a place of neutrality and goodness, with a slight tinge of chaos, where the animals rule in the eternal noon and night. They hold Bytopia, twin paradise of industry and labor, where all work toward the good of all, and Elysium, the sweetest plane of goodness and calm I have ever come across. Alas, right now I am not well enough to enjoy any of their restorative effects. What would you hear of now?"
Chaotic "These are where I feel at home, though I steer clear of Ysgard, for the most part - the endless battles and tests of mettle among the floating earthbergs of the plane don't do much for my disposition. Arborea, though... " He sighs. "The mountains are taller, the air clearer, the rivers purer, and the game larger than anywhere else. It is a true paradise, a place where passions run high and the wine never ceases to flow. When I have recovered enough of my wits and myself - when we have done with the Outer Planes, you should ask me of the Inner, and I will describe my journey to you - I will return to Arborea's bowers and glades and lose myself for a time."
On the Boundary (Neutral) Planes:
"There are two Boundary Planes to my mind, and they are diametrically opposed. One of them, Mechanus, is the very essence of law, a place where beliefs fit together, interlocking, turning, in a massive machine that is the entire plane. Some folks'd have it that the gears of Mechanus are the engine that drives the planes. The other plane is Limbo, a swirling morass of Chaos that follows no rules, none, and just when a body thinks he's classified its behavior, it goes and changes on him - or it doesn't. You just can't tell. I was in Limbo not too long ago..."
He closes his eyes, remembering: "I had a githzerai guide with me, an anarch who could shape the illogical matter of the plane into forms of his desire. We had fought off the harrying of the slaadi, the chaos-creatures who call that plane home. It seemed there were more than usual, but then, one can never tell what's 'usual' in Limbo... but I digress. In the midst of all this chaos, we came across a series of huge, metal, interlocking cubes, like some sort of puzzle box. It wasn't something we had shaped, consciously or not, and we couldn't find a way inside. It was like... like a bastion of order within the confines of disorder, a seed of law. That is the best I can explain it."
On the Lower (Evil) Planes:
Lawful "As much as I detest the order of the lawful Upper Planes, at least they present a modicum of goodness. Their lower planar counterparts, though... Acheron's a place of ricocheting cubes that never see an end to battle, swarming with the souls of dead humanoids. Baator..." he shivers involuntarily. "Baator is a place best avoided. Those baatezu - the fiends in the corner there - are but the merest expression of the deviant corruption embodied in that soulless machine of order. If you want more, talk to them, but remember: All that is bad about bureaucracy and order originates from Baator, and it spreads like a stain across the hearts of mortals. Though there is some knowledge to be found there, it is rarely worth the spiritual rape the plane inflicts."
Neutral "The neutral planes, eh? They're vile and barely understandable, and they're more insidious on their own than you could ever imagine. Take Gehenna, for example: Four volcanoes in stages of dormancy floating in an infinite void, each of them somehow *alive*, and each of them wanting your soul by whatever means they can get it. Populate it with yugoloths - the worst of the fiends, in my opinion, and you've got the place. The plane of ultimate evil - at least, that's what they call it - is the Gray Waste, a no-place that drains color from your body and spirit, stealing away even your apathy - and it's the site of the worst battlegrounds in the war down there. Don't get me started...Then you've got Carceri on the chaotic side..."
Chaotic "With apologies to your companion," he gestures toward Fall-from-Grace, "the Abyss isn't someplace you should consider going. Where Baator's all orderly, the Abyss is full of chaos and change, and none of it's pleasant. When it becomes something that approximates normality, that's when you should be most wary of it. It's home to the tanar'ri, what most primes call 'demons', and they've got that name for a reason. They are, if you'll excuse me, my lady," and Grace nods her head, "unpredictable and murderous, and the few you can trust are few and far between. Again, my apologies, Lady Grace - you are, as far as I have been able to ascertain, one of those few."