Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Athasian Elemental Planes Part One

The Elemental Planes of Dark Sun.
The Elemental Planes of Athas are separate from the Elemental Planes in the rest of the Multiverse. This series of articles will attempt to explain the differences and give dungeon masters some ideas, as their players characters take part in the battle for the survival of all creation.

The Elemental Planes are the physical, tangible, material that birthed Athas and all of its creations. Due to the tampering of defilers, life-shapers, and nature benders some of the elemental planes have been altered. Possibly forever.
When most Athasian residents think of the elemental planes, they often only think of just the four elemental planes. They picture the raging inferno of the Elemental Plane of Fire or the endless emerald skies of the Elemental Plane of Air. They envision the unfathomable depths of the Elemental Plane of Water and the crushing stones of the Elemental Plane of Earth. Such thinking is limited in scope, for there is a lot more to the Elemental Planes than these four.
The Elemental Planes are very different from Athas itself. Everything in the Elemental Planes appears and feels more real. The Elemental Planes are raw, powerful, and deadly. They care little for the inhabitants of Athas, save those who can help or harm the planes themselves.
The Elemental Planes consist of four major planes and four minor ones. The major planes are the elemental planes of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The four minor planes are the paraelemental planes of Silt, Sun, Magma, and Rain. Although they are called minor, it does not mean the power in those planes is weaker than the major planes.

The Elemental Planes

Most scholars think of the elemental planes as the fundamental building blocks of Athas. Just as slaves use raw materials to build walls, some force or forces used the materials of the Elemental Planes to construct Athas. Everything and everyone on Athas is made up of pieces of the Elemental Planes. Elemental symbols by Vedeskaja.

Air: The source of all things gaseous, this plane was once a limitless expanse of crisp, clean air. Now, the plane is filled with stale, dull air. Pockets of crisp, clean air float through the sky with the denizens of the plane desperately clinging to them. The endless emerald skies stretch into infinity with few clouds. Dust storms blow through the plane on a regular basis.
Even with the stale air and dust storms, the Elemental Plane of Air is one of the safest for travelers. The air may be stale, but it still breathable.

Earth: The realm of solid matter, the Elemental Plane of Earth is an eternal mass of steadfast stone and soil. This plane once had large pockets of precious stones and veins of pure metal. Now, the plane is mostly made up of dry, lifeless soil. The pockets of precious stones and veins of pure metal have nearly disappeared. Those who travel here must take caution, for the plane attempts to crush everything that is not part of it.
The two greatest difficulties encountered by travels to this plane are the lack of air and inability to move through soil and rock.

Fire: Heat and motion originate from this plane. Unlike the unchanging Earth, Fire is the elemental plane of change. Parts of the Elemental Plane of Fire are the hottest places in existence, but those pockets are becoming more and more rare. Most of the Elemental Plane of Fire is filled with dull red fire and a large amount of smoke and toxic gases.
Traveling to the Elemental Plane of Fire is extremely foolish, as the flames attempt to incinerate everything they come in contact with. There is no breathable air that is not quickly fouled by the toxins floating through the plane.

Water: The source of all liquid and fluidity itself. It was once an endless ocean that stretching into infinity. The water was not too hot, not too cold, and very clean. Now, much of the water is uncomfortably warm and fouled by silt and salt particles. Creatures that live on the elemental plane are extremely protective and territorial. They will attack any outsiders on site, unless they are accompanied and vouched for by another elemental water denizen. Water clerics are always welcome.
The greatest hazard a traveler will face is the lack of breathable air. In addition, there are also occasional currents that may drag a traveler far away from their intended destination.

The Paraelemental Planes

The four major Elemental Planes are held apart by four other planes known as the Paraelemental Planes. These Paraelemental Planes form where aspects of an Elemental Plane mingle with those of another. However, even these planes have been altered by defiling magic and tampering with the natural order.

Magma: Where the Elemental Plane of Fire nears the Elemental Plane of Earth, the stones grow hot and eventually turn to liquid. The Paraelemental Plane of Magma is sometimes hotter than the Elemental Plane of Fire. This plane is a never-ending ocean of magma and it attempts to destroy everything that enters it.

Rain: Once a force to be reckoned with, where Air and Water meet is the Paraelemental Plane of Rain. This plane appears as a vast olive expanse with clouds that continuously pour rain into each other. Streaks of lighting are common passing between them as well. Once these clouds filled the plane, but now they are becoming fewer. The denizens of this plane jealously and ferociously guard them from all non-rain cleric intruders.

Silt: Once the Paraelemental Plane of Mud, this plane exsists where the Elemental Planes of Water and Earth meet. Unfortunately, the Elemental Plane of Water does not have enough remaining moisture to feed this plane, thus turning it into the Paraelemental Plane of Silt. This plane is a huge rolling silt storm that slowly reduces all visitors into tiny particles.

Sun: Where the Elemental Plane of Air and Fire meet, the brilliance of the crimson sun reigns supreme. If one finds themselves on this plane, it will appear as if they are inside the sun itself. While not as hot as the planes of Fire and Magma, the Paraelemental Plane of the Sun is still deadly hot to unprotected visitors. The brightness of it blinds and confuses visitors. So content in its supremacy, the denizens of the plane do not fear intruders.
By: Alberto Bontempi

The Gray

Leaving Athas and going to the Elemental Planes is not simple feat. The Gray covers Athas like a blanket and takes all those who die into its embrace. The Gray appears as an infinite plane of gray mist, with no visible light source.
A traveler must pass through the Gray to reach the Elemental Planes. Often the Gray prevents movement through it, but it may also allow travelers to pass into it, only to trap them there. It is not known what happens to those lost in the Gray, but it is likely they die of thirst and eventually join the swirling mists.
It is possible, although unlikely, to encounter a recently deceased spirit in the Gray. These spirits aimlessly wander the plane, but eventually are dissolved and vanish forever.
If a character tries to travel to or from Athas in a planar fashion, there’s a chance he’ll get lost in the Gray. In the Gray, lost characters get one chance each day to find their way back to where they started. In no case can they go forward! The check consists of rolling your Intelligence score or less on 1d100. If this check fails, not only does the character remain lost, but the life-sapping effects of the Gray begin to take a toll. The character permanently losses one Constitution point. If the character can’t find his way back and his Constitution score falls to 0, he is absorbed into the Gray and dies. If he does return, lost Constitution points can only be restored by powerful magic.
In addition, both wizard and priest spells that provide access to or contact with other planes require an additional check to see if the energy of the spell cuts through the barrier formed by the Gray.
A priest reaching out to their patron element doesn’t need to make this check. Other characters modify the check by adding their level to the number rolled. The same holds true for those trying to contact or reach Athas. The barrier formed by the Gray impedes travel in both directions.
DMs may use the following chart to determine if, based on the result of the check, if the spell succeeds in contacting the Elemental or Paraelemental plane.
Result Intensity
01-08 Lost
09-65 Failure
66-100 Success
A Lost result indicates that the caster has been lost in the Gray (if he was using a travel spell) or that the spell fails. A Failure result indicates that the spell is cast but doesn’t work. A Success result indicates that the spell works.

The Ethereal Plane

Between the Gray and the Elemental Planes is the Ethereal Plane.The Ethereal Plane is a misty realm filled with multicolored swirling fog. It is sometimes referred to as an ocean of mist and, like water, has shallow and deep areas.
The shallow areas are called the Border Ethereal and that is where the Ethereral Plane converges with the Elemental and Paraelemental Planes. When in the Border Ethereal, the traveler is actually on both planes at the same time. The traveler can see into both planes, but can only interact with things on the Ethereal Plane. Other creatures who are on the converged plane cannot see the ethereal traveler without magical or psionic aid.
Crossing through a misty multicolored curtain, a traveler passes from the Border Ethereal to the Deep Ethereal. This is the space between the Elemental and Paraelemental Planes and the Gray. It is possible, although unlikely to encounter small planes in the Ethereal that are vastly different from Athas or the Elemental and Paraelemental Planes. Some of these small planes may only exist temporarily.
To go to one of the Elemental or Paraelemental planes, a traveler would have to leave Athas and enter the Gray, travel through the Deep Ethereal and enter the Border Ethereal of any of the Elemental or Paraelemental planes. Traveling through the Ethereal Plane is accomplished by the power of thought. All a traveler has to do is think of their destination and they will travel in the correct direction. Time and distance are distorted on the Ethereal Plane, so traveling through it is strange to those unaccustomed to it.
Some travelers have encountered creatures living in the Ethereal Plane. Some of these strange creatures may resemble creatures living on Athas, but most do not. In addition, as strange as it sounds, the Ethereal plane has storms. These storms are dangerous, as they can throw a traveler into the Gray or any Elemental or Paraelemental Plane.

Elemental Pockets

It is not uncommon to encounter pieces of other Elemental and Paraelemental Planes in each other. For example, a piece of Elemental Earth may be spotted floating through the endless skies of the Elemental Plane of Air. The most common elemental pockets are of the Paraelemental Planes, except Rain, displacing portions of the Elemental Planes. As the Elemental Planes lose strength, the Paraelemental planes are able to encroach more and more into their planes.
Earth Pockets on the Elemental Plane of Air
There are two different types of Elemental Pockets. The first type is a pure pocket. These are the pure, unaltered versions of an Elemental or Paraelemental Plane inside another. For example, a fireball from the Elemental Plane of Fire floating unaffected by the Elemental Plane of Water. For some unknown reason, the two Planes don't interact at all.
The second type is a mixed pocket. Mixed pockets are when the two types of materials interact and mix. The fireball from the Elemental Plane of Fire inside the Elemental Plane of Water would probably explode into a burst of super heated steam. Mixed pockets are the most common type of Elemental Pockets.
Elemental Pockets may be as small as ten yards or as large as a hundred miles. If the pockets are stable, they tend to attract all sorts of creatures suitable to the environment. These pockets commonly become battle grounds if the pockets are from rival Elements and/or Paraelements. Residents of the planes will strive to rid their plane of a rival Elemental Pocket whenever possible.

Elemental Air Pockets: Air pockets appear as large open areas and are often more hospitable than the surrounding plane. It is possible to move around the Air Pocket as if a traveler were on the Elemental Plane of Air. There is a high probability that Air Pockets will be inhabited. Mixed Air pockets usually don't last long on other planes and explode into a multitude of bubbles.

Elemental Earth Pockets: Pockets of Elemental Earth appear as floating mountains or boulders floating through the other plane. There is a good chance that Earth Pockets will be inhabited. Mixed Earth pockets melt into mud, magma, or are quickly broken up into small chucks of Earth.

Elemental Fire Pockets: Fire Pockets appear as a glowing balls of flame. The flames do not burn the surrounding plane, but will burn anyone touching it. They have a low probability of being inhabited and if they are, they'd have to be immune to the scorching flames. Mixed Fire Pockets burn everything around it in a brilliant flash and will burn out rather quickly, unless there is fuel for the fire to continue.

Elemental Water Pockets: Pockets of Elemental Water appear as floating spheres of liquid water. There is a moderate chance the water will be inhabited by water breathing creatures. Mixed water pockets turn their surroundings into mud on the Planes of Earth and Silt, super heated steam on the Planes of Fire, Magma, and Sun, small water bubbles on the Plane of Air, and breaks apart on the Plane of Rain.

Paraelemental Magma Pockets: Magma Pockets appear as a liquid orbs of magma. The heat will not burn the surrounding plane, but will burn anyone touching it. On most planes, they have a low probability of being inhabited and if they are, they'd have to be immune to the immense heat. If found on the Elemental Plane of Fire, they are almost always battlegrounds between Magma and Fire creatures.

Paraelemental Rain Pockets: Rain Pockets appear as clouds, which pour rain and shoot lighting through it. The rain does not pour out of a Pure Pocket, but instead is recycled back into the cloud. The presence of inhabitants depends on the size of the pocket. The larger the pocket, the greater the chance of inhabitants and less of a likelihood of being struck by lightning. Mixed Rain Pockets appear as storms that pour rain and crash lighting onto the surrounding plane.

Paraelemental Silt Pockets: Silt Pockets appear as dust storms or balls of swirling silt. Their is a low probably of Silt Pockets being inhabited and if they are, the inhabitant would have to be immune to silt damage. Touching a Silt Pocket is dangerous, as the swirling silt inside can scour flesh from bones. Mixed Silt Pockets cause the surrounding plane to become filthy with silt. Silt smothers flames in the Plane of Fire and scours loose soil in the Plane of Earth.

Sun Explosion
Paraelemental Sun Pockets: Pockets of Paraelemental Sun appear as miniature suns. Pure Sun Pockets do not burn the surrounding plane, but will harm anyone touching it. It is extremely rare for inhabitants to be present inside a Sun Pocket, as the inhabitant would have to be immune to the Suns radiance and heat. Mixed pockets of Paraelemental Sun explode into a burst of heat and light.

Traveling Considerations

When traveling through the Elemental and Paraelemental Planes, it is important to remember that the planes can be extremely dangerous, of course. However, most beings from Athas fail to remember that on the Elemental and Paraelemental Planes there is no gravity. So, a traveler may be attacked from not only the front, sides, and rear, but from above and below as well.
In addition magic and psionics may work differently based upon which Elemental and Paraelemental Plane the traveler finds themselves on. For example, all banishment type abilities will not affect a creature on their home plane, but may work on the traveler.
Any cleric or wizard who casts an elemental spell while on the opposing Elemental or Paraelemental Plane reduces the effectiveness of that spell by one level. However, a cleric or wizard who casts and elemental spell while on the same plane as where they currently inhabit increases the effectiveness of that spell by one level. For example, a fireball cast on the Elemental Plane of Water is cast as one level lower of the caster, but on the Elemental Plane of Fire is cast as one level higher of the caster.
Clerics are considered in conjunction when visiting the Elemental or Paraelemental Plane in which they have a pact. So, an Earth Cleric is in conjunction when on the Elemental Plane of Earth and receives all of the benefits normally allowed. See DSS2 Accessory Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

Part Two will detail the Elemental Plane of Air.

No comments:

Post a Comment