Cosmology of Creation
- 1 The Prime Material Plane
- 2 The Elemental Planes
- 3 The Energy Planes
- 4 The Silent Black
- 5 The Astral Plane
- 6 The Ethereal "Plane"
- 7 The "Plane" of Shadow
- 8 The Wards of the Will
The Prime Material Plane
Excerpts from the book, The Nascent Seed, by Elliard Baskerbury III
- "In geology, there is a notion of volcanic activity called "hot spots," a spot in the planet's mantle which is particularly hot, right at the planet's crust, causing volcanoes to form in this space. As tectonic plates slide over this spot, the hot spot in the mantle remains stationary, but new areas of the tectonic plate swell and breech with new volcanoes, and over time these new breeches cause island chains to form, such as Devil's Teeth. These events occur over millennia of volcanic activity and tectonic movement.
- A similar case is true of the Prime Material Plane. The Prime Material Plane is called the Prime because it is the plane that sits at the hot spot of all Creation, enjoying the perfect conditions for the sustenance and comfort of the vast majority of life. And, like tectonic plates, the Prime Material is slowly sliding off of this perfect hot spot of elemental confluence, losing its place in the Primacy of all the infinite planes of Creation.
- This hot spot is called the Nascent Seed among civilized races, though it has many names, depending on how far afield you encounter other cosmologists (or, indeed, how educated they are).
- From this, we have determined that there are an unimaginable number of other planes besides the Prime Material, perhaps even an infinite number. Certainly there are the planes which most recently occupied the Nascent Seed, but were shunted aside for us, as well as those planes which might sit upon it once our Prime Material is shifted off of it. Rather than some linear parade of planes marching inevitably through and past the Seed, these planes are all shoved together like bubbles in a foam, and numerous external forces seek to influence their position in relation to the Nascent Seed.
- Furthest away from the Nascent Seed are the two competing forces which cause it to exist. In the broadest terms, these are entropy and enthalpy, but more specifically, they are the Silent Black and the Well of Power, which each exert tremendous energies over all of creation to constantly shuffle matter about, though typically over the course of thousands or millions of years. Both of these planes are so inimical to life that nothing can exist there.
- It is important to note that, when speaking cosmologically of the many planes of Creation, the ideas of spatial relationships are largely irrelevant, and highly ambiguous. While the Nascent Seed could be seen as the perfect nexus between the Silent Black and the Well of Power, its 'position' between the two is hard to explain, since, to someone living within any one of these planes of existence, that plane appears to be the entirety of existence. There are no edges or curves -- they simply go on forever. Thus, while the Silent Black and the Well of Power must, by definition, be the furthest apart of any two planes of existence, they are also in all places at all times.
- (It is for this reason that my colleague, Sir Forderick Alamand, retired early, complaining of constant headaches and also of being constantly watched by invisible monsters from other dimensions.)
- I leave it to the sociologists and anthropologists to describe what the Prime Material Plane actually is. You, my dear reader, may also take it as an exercise to determine it for yourself, if you feel brave enough to do so. Beware, however, that your limited sense of what is should not limit your judgement to what could be, and most especially to what must be."
The So-Called "First World" of the Elves
The Elemental Planes
Air, Earth, Fire, and Water
These four planes are manifestations of the basic physical building blocks of the universe. Each is made up of a single type of energy or element that overwhelms all others. The natives of a particular Elemental Plane are made of the same energy or element as the plane itself.
The Elemental Planes contain the building blocks of reality, a 'well' from which the Prime Material and all its countless imitators are constructed by some unknowable agent. Each Elemental Plane is made up of a single type of energy or element that overwhelms all others. The natives of a particular Elemental Plane are made of the same energy or element as the plane itself.
The four classic Elemental Planes are the Plane of Air, the Plane of Earth, the Plane of Fire, and the Plane of Water—it is from these planes that the creatures known as elementals hail, yet they house many other strange denizens as well, such as the genie races, strange metal-eating xorns, unseen invisible stalkers, and mischievous mephits.
Despite their extreme danger and high levels of peril, the Elemental Planes are relatively easy to get to from the Prime Material, as they are connected in many ways to the Prime Material. As a result, they are comparatively well-known compared to such places as the Astral, Ethereal, Shadow, or Energy planes.
The Energy Planes
Positive, Negative, Light, Dark, and Force
Five commonly known energy planes exist— the first four in two pairs, in opposition, and the Plane of Force, which is posited to be the opposite of the Outer Madness.
The first pair consists of the Positive Energy Plane (from which the animating spark of life hails) and the Negative Energy Plane (from which the sinister taint of undeath hails). Energy from both planes infuses reality, the ebb and flow of this energy running through all creatures to bear them along the journey from birth to death.
The second pair consists of the Plane of Light (from which all light originates) and the Plane of Darkness (into which all light flows and is extinguished). Both of these Planes bleed their characteristics into all other planes, which is why light and dark are universal in most planes. Note that there is some high-level debate as to which way Light and Dark flows: Some sages believe it flows as light into dark, while others feel that Darkness flows over Lightness.
The last Energy Plane is the Plane of Force, which is an extremely hostile realm (even for a higher energy plane). The Plane of Force suffuses into all reality and is the source of all motion, power, and agency. Pure Force effects tend to be rare, very strong, and difficult to resist.
Based upon extensive studies, the highest mages, sages, and ciphers believe that there is a (possibly infinite) progression of 'nested' demi-planes within the Plane of Force, each of higher and higher power, leading toward the Fount of Reality. These tales are probably apocryphal, as no mortal has direct evidence of any of this, although the ciphers and sages insist their arithmetic scribbling's demand that it be so.
These 'nested demiplanes' may include such places as Solaria, Hellecore, and Apocolyptica, assuming such places exist at all.
Excerpt from Solarian Waspines: The Great Abominations of Solaria, by General Mortemius Roam of Celegia.
- "Solarian Waspines originate from a magically hyperactive version of reality, often called 'Solaria', less commonly The Sunward Reaches, Temperest, or Hellcore. Solaria is highly difficult to reach from the Prime Plane, and even more difficult to survive due to the extremely hostile environment. (See Report: Bathing in the Firestorm: Living, Moving, and Spellcasting within High Mana Realities.) The reasons for Solaria's difficult conditions lie in the fundamental aspects of the plane itself. Solaria is a version of reality in which the overall power level is extremely high, compared to most. As a result, Waspines express very high levels of power compared to most creatures of the Prime Material, at the expense that they have difficulty surviving in less energy intense realities. (See Report: Conversion of Mount Canderly Caldera to Extra Planar Habitat.) Most versions of reality are what they consider to be freezing cold and dark places with nothing of interest within them. Of all the known realities, Solaria is the highest-energy place known to support any intelligent life, although the degree of sentience of the Waspines is debated. There are semi-apocryphal reports of even higher-energy realities, but no intelligent life is said to originate there. (See Report: Apocolyptica, The Infinite Well?)
- Solaria is very high in energy and mana, and as a result looks little like the Prime Material. There is no 'ground', the entire demi-infinity instead being a limitless expanse of blazing light-filled space. Gravity is partially conventional for such realities, being locally expressed but universally defined: Away from any mass all creatures seem able to fly by will, but will experience a universal 'down' next to any of the floating features. Within this buoyant photonic sea exists a realm of white-hot clouds, giant drifting stones (driftstones) and long floating strands of viscous fluids. (In truth, the clouds are actually vapors of stone: The liquids are usually molten metals and the stones are far more durable substances with no known Prime analog.) (See Report: Solarian Driftstone: Potential Resource for Ultimate Dweomermetals?) Masses of free-floating flames are very common terrain features, often clinging to the drifting blocks of stone. (Again, the flames are vapors of Prime material fundaments.) "Plant" life here is heavily mineral and flame based, although the viscous ichor/lava fluid also figures prominently. Many of the "animal" Iifeforms are partially or totally incorporeal or energy-based or both, with bits of flesh/stone/ichor mixed in. One hundred and one suns blaze their light into the realm, and since there is no fixed earth, the suns blaze from all directions, above, to all sides, and even from beneath. There is no nighttime, although the motions of the suns create very complex patterns of shadow and analogs of constellations. "
Editor's Note: Roam's journals, while apparently quite well-referenced and thoroughly researched, have been widely debunked by several scholars of the Celegian Ministry of Science. In fact, Roam himself publicly renounced many of his works as exaggerations and lies, claiming he only wanted to further his career in the Exploration Corps of the Celegian Army. His death soon thereafter was only quietly noted by authorities, making it apparent that he died of shame. Those conspiracy kooks who claim he was forced to recant his research because the Celegian Army wished to weaponize the entities living within the Plane Solaria have never found any shred of evidence to support it.
Sadly, as few other scholars claim any knowledge or expertise on Solaria, Roam's journals are the only potential source of information.
The Well of Power
Also known as the Fount of Reality or the Nascent Seed, the Well is that place from which all flows. It is widely supposed to be 'within' the Plane of Force, but it exists at such a high level of power no mortal has ever gotten any proof of its existence. There is fierce debate among the learned as to whether there is one Fount or many, or even if the Fount, the Well, and the Seed are completely different things. Exploration of such matters usually drive the curious past the Apotheosis, and once that terrible threshold is passed, little useful information trickles back.
The Silent Black
The Silent Black is assumed to be what lies past the edges of the Astral Sea. It is sometimes called The Silence, or the Place of Stillness, or even Purgatory. It is the place where everything winds downs and grows tired and eventually grinds to a stop. The Silence is a place of uncertain borders and unstable existence, were things can easily slip into the Final Madness, the True Void. The edges, borders, properties, and even existence of the Silent Black is uncertain, and some scholars believe the Silent Black is simply the 'safe' portions of the Outer Madness, while others feel that the Outer Madness is simply those portions of the Silent Black which have gone mad.
The truth is unknown, and may actually be unknowable by mortals.
The Outer Madness
Also known as the Deep Dark, the End, the Terrible Black, the Void, and a million other names each as bleak and terrible.
Beyond the infinite expanses of the Silent Black, underneath the Hells and above the Heavens, outside the edges of reality as we know it, existence eventually grows mad with the ennui of nothingness. The expanse of the Outer Madness flows away in all possible directions through all possible flows of time, forever. This would be a very boring place, except that in the Outer Madness, there are monsters.
The Astral Plane
A silvery void that connects the Material and Inner Planes to the Outer Planes, the astral plane is the medium through which the souls of the departed travel to the afterlife. The Celestial Cascade is a vast structure within the Astral Plane which facilitates this transport of souls. Souls are valuable to those with few scruples, and as a result, the Celestial Cascade is enormously well-defended, and the secrets of reaching it require Deific might, or close to it. Despite the near-certainty that the Celestial Cascade exists, there is very little information about it in the hands of mortals.
A traveler in the Astral Plane sees the plane as a vast empty void periodically dotted with tiny motes of physical reality calved off of the countless planes it overlaps. These motes may look like distorted 'bubbles' of reality, or as panes like holes in the void, or as circular motes of land, or flying mountains, or as disconnected, jagged landscapes, or may other manifestations. Despite the terrors of the Astral Plane, it is generally the safest of the planes...for certain values of safe.
The Ethereal "Plane"
The Ethereal Plane is a ghostly realm that exists as a buffer between the Material Plane and the Shadow Plane, overlapping each. A traveler in the Ethereal plane experiences the real world as if the world were an insubstantial ghost, and can move through solid objects without being seen in the real world. Strange creatures dwell in the Ethereal Plane, as well as ghosts and dreams, many of which can sometimes extend their influence into the real world in mysterious and terrifying ways.
The Ethereal Plane possibly borders the Outer Madness, and from the Ethereal Plane some sages have detected multiple versions of the Realm of Shadows, as well.
The Ethereal Plane is generally easier to reach than the Astral Sea, but is less well explored than the Silvery Ocean, because the Ethereal Plane is a perilous place indeed, and escaping the Ethereal Plane can be a severe trial.
The "Plane" of Shadow
The eerie and deadly Shadow Plane is a grim, colorless “duplicate” of the Material Plane. It overlaps with the Material Plane but may be smaller or larger in size, and is in many ways a warped and mocking “reflection” of the Material Plane, one infused with negative energy and serving as home for strange monsters like undead shadows and worse.
Explorers report that for every creature in the Prime Material, there exists an analog in the Shaded Place, and many times, there are many different versions of such analogs. Nothing is ever certain in the Plane of Shadow, except that every wonder you witness will be more awful than the last.
There is some evidence that the Shadow Realm is actually many realms, and there may be multiple iterations of Shadow. There are reports of travelers who enter the Shadow Lands and come back to a Prime Material that they forever feel is slightly different than the one they came from. Such effects may be seen as permanent alterations of the mind of the traveler, because the alternative, that there are alternate Prime Planes, is almost certainly impossible.
Of course, the possibility that Shadow Stuff infects your mind and permanently alters you is perhaps even worse....