Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Athasian Elemental Planes Part Two: The Plane of Air

Symbol by Vedeskaja.

The Elemental Plane of Air 

Ancient writings say the Elemental Plane of Air was once clear and pure. That gentle breezes were common and the air was fresh and clean. They mention clouds rolling through the emerald skies, some even say the sky used to be blue. Today, the Elemental Plane of Air is much different.
Now, the air is stale and dry. Dust swirls through the plane and clouds are as rare as a cool breeze. While it is unlikely a traveler will suffocate, the air in the Elemental Plane is not as refreshing as it once may have been.
All natives of the Elemental Plane of Air have geared their societies and themselves in the battle for their home. This Elemental War rages across all Elemental and Paraelemental Planes. This war has been raging for untold millennia and is not going well for the Elemental Plane of Air.


Even though the Elemental Plane of Air is stale and listless, it is still the most inhabitable Elemental Plane for Athasian travelers. The most common dangers a visitor can expect, besides the inhabitants of the Plane itself, are storms, heat waves, and black blizzards. Storms are becoming more uncommon as the plane slowly gives way to the Planes of Sun and Silt. Heat waves and black blizzards are growing in regularity and strength.

Even though the air is generally stale and motionless, it occasionally builds up into strong winds, gales, and even tempests. These storms can blow a traveler off course, blow valuable supplies away, and tear apart any vehicle that a traveler may be using. These storms can appear very quickly and can dissipate just as fast, but they could linger for quite some time. These storms might move through the plane or stay still, so it is advisable to avoid them.
The DM can use the following table to determine the wind velocity of a given area:
Percentile Roll Force Velocity (MPH) Adj
1-39 Stale 0 0
40-49 Calm Below 2 0
50-54 Light Breeze 3 to 7 0
55-59 Moderate Breeze 8 to 18 0
60-64 Strong Breeze 19 to 31 0
65-69 Light Gale 32 to 39 -1
70-74 Moderate Gale 40 to 47 -2
75-78 Strong Gale 48 to 54 -3
79-81 Light Storm 55 to 60 -4
82-84 Moderate Storm 61 to 66 -5
85-88 Strong Storm 67 to 72 -6
89-92 Hurricane 73 to 176 -7
93-95 Whirlwind 177 to 238 -8
96-98 Cyclone 239 to 299 -9
99-100 Tornado 300+ -10
This table indicates the dice roll (on percentile dice) to produce a given velocity of wind. The force and velocity columns are intended to provide reference points for the DM. The last column indicates an adjustment that can be applied to saving throws, attack rolls, proficiency and ability checks, or anything else the DM feels in appropriate.
Weather conditions on the Elemental Plane of Air are very unpredictable compared to Athas. A storm may last for a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. Changes in wind velocity may happen very quickly. As a rule, changes in wind velocity take place over a single turn. Thus, a given location can jump from a light breeze to any other force, such as a hurricane, in only 10 minutes.
The DM can use the following table to determine the duration of a given wind condition:
1D20 Roll Duration of Current Conditions
1-2 1d6 rounds
3-4 1d6 turns
5-6 1d6 hours
7-8 1d6 days
9-10 2d6 days
11-12 1d6 weeks
13-14 1d6 months
15-16 1d6 years
17-18 1d6 decades
19-20 1d6 centuries

Heat Waves
When the Plane of Paraelemental Sun enters the Elemental Plane of Air a heat wave is created. A heat wave is a swirling vortex of super heated air that burns everything in its path as it drifts through the Plane of Air. It appears as a swirling heat shimmer and if a visitor is not careful, they may mistake it for floating water in the distance.
Anyone or anything that drifts into the fringe of a heat wave must save vs. breath weapon or take damage from the intense heat. Getting caught in a heat wave, or hanging out too close to one, causes damage every round, until the victim leaves the area. It is common for sun paraelementals to ride heat waves into the Plane of Air to do battle with the residents there.
The DM can use the following table to determine the size and damage of a heat wave. The DM should roll twice, once for size and second for damage, large heat waves do not automatically do greater damage.
1D10 Roll Diameter Damage Per Round
1 1d10 yards 1d10
2-3 1d10 x 5 yards 2d10
4-5 1d10 x 10 yards 3d10
6-7 1d10 x 20 yards 4d10
8-9 1d10 x 100 yards 5d10
10 1d10 x 1,000 yards 6d10

Black Blizzards
When the Plane of Paraelemental Silt enters the Elemental Plane of Air a black blizzard forms. A black blizzard is a swirling vortex of coarse silt that drifts through the Plane of Air. It appears as a blackened dust storm and scours everything in it's path.
Anyone or anything that drifts into a black blizzard takes damage based upon how much silt it contains. Getting caught in a black blizzard causes damage every round, until the victim leaves the blizzard. It is common for silt paraelementals to ride heat waves into the Plane of Air to do battle with the residents there.
The DM can use the following table to determine the size and damage of a black blizzard. The DM should roll twice, once for size and second for damage, large black blizzards do not automatically do greater damage.
1D10 Roll Diameter Damage Per Round
1 1d10 yards 1d10
2-3 1d10 x 2 yards 2d10
4-5 1d10 x 4 yards 4d10
6-7 1d10 x 8 yards 6d10
8-9 1d10 x 16 yards 8d10
10 1d10 x 32 yards 10d10

Moving Around

Once a visitor gets to the Elemental Plane of Air, they have to figure out how to get from one place to another. If the visitor can fly, it's no problem, but if they can't fly, things can be a bit more difficult. There is no gravity in the Elemental Plane of Air. However, the does not mean that a person can just float about in midair, carried by the winds.
An inexperienced traveler, upon arriving to the Elemental Plane of Air, usually chooses a direction as down. This is often a subconscious choice, as inexperienced travelers do not fully comprehend an absence of gravity. This subconscious decision will then cause the traveler to fall in the direction they believe is down. They will continue to fall until they hit something, or decide another direction is down. Once a traveler figures out how to travel by falling, they can make a Wisdom check to navigate this way, with bonuses or penalty based upon how familiar they are with the Plane of Air.
Familiarity with Air Modifier
None at all. -6
No firsthand experience -4
Research, but no firsthand experience. -2
Brief firsthand experience. 0
Some firsthand experience. +2
Extensive firsthand experience. +4
Practically a native. +6
Falling travelers fall at a rate of 1,000 feet per round. If the faller strikes something, the traveler and object both take 1d6 points of damage for every 10 feet the faller fell, adjusted for density of item and DM fiat, to a maximum of 20d6 damage. Although dangerous, it is possible to traverse the plane this way.
When nearing their destination, they need to worry about how to stop. If they have warning, it's a simple matter of altering which way is down little by little until the traveler stops where they want. Too late and the traveler has a problem of completely missing their mark, or striking an object. Landing requires a Wisdom check, as above, and a Dexterity check to land safely.
If a character plans on spending time in the Plane of Air often enough, it might be worth buying the Elemental Plane Traveler non-weapon proficiency, which allows a single WIS+6 check to traverse the Plane of Air, by falling, once per trip.


The Elemental Plane of Air is home to wondrous and dangerous creatures. While most of them are natives to the plane, it is possible for some creatures to get accidentally teleported here and move in. A visitor might even run into an air elemental cleric, who has made a permanent home here.

Making their home on a 1,000 foot diameter floating sphere of elemental earth, are a small tribe of six-hundred Aarakocra, called the Aias'rakkar. The Aias'rakkar fled to the Elemental Plane of Air sometime in past. The aarakocra know that they long ago escaped a great calamity, but what exactly what the calamity was has been lost to time.
The aarakocra have created shallow depressions in the earth to build their nests. When they came to the Plane of Air, they brought mice with them to provide a food source that would breed quickly. That is why even though aarakocra do not eat grain, they grow some on their sphere in order to feed the mice.
The leader of the Aias'rakkar is a powerful Aarakocra Air Cleric named Kruarr. She serves the Elemental Lords without question and seeks to destroy all Magma, Silt, and Sun servants. She devotes many of the tribe's resources to battling incursions into the plane. Although she is too old to lead her tribe's warriors into battle against the planes enemies, her niece Qul'rass, does so.

Somehow certain animals native to Athas have found their way into the Elemental Plane of Air. Bats, birds (both large and small), cloud rays, floaters, insects (both large and small), kes'trekel, pterrax, rocs, spinewyrms, and wyverns all make their homes here. There are also winged silt creatures, such as razor wings, and winged sun creatures, such as sun drakes, that invade with the forces from the Elemental Planes of Silt and Sun.
How most of the creatures found their way into the Plane of Air is unknown, because they would have had to find their way through the Gray. It is likely than many of them were purposely brought there by Djinn or other intelligent inhabitants. It is also possible that in the distant past getting to the Plane of Air was much easier.

A Djinn enchanting a battleaxe.
The second most common inhabitants of the Elemental Plane of Air are the Djinn, singular Djinni. The Djinn are genies native to the Elemental Plane and were created by the Elemental Lords around the time of the Rebirth and were modeled after the rebirth races.
The Djinn have numerous strongholds throughout the Elemental Plane of Air, the largest of which is the Great Fortress of Arabat (which is described below). Most of the Djinn strongholds are constructed of earth and magically fortified glass, but all of them are fortified from attacks from all directions. They are sometimes built on spheres of elemental earth, but they could just as easily be built in a spherical shape without anything natural in the center of them.
The Djinn are all under the rule of their Caliph, who in turn serves the Elemental Lords of Air. Their greatest purpose and responsibility is to fight for the Elemental Plane and it becomes very obvious when interacting with them. Most of the Djinn that a traveler will interact with are warriors and will only be interested in discussing battle and tactics.
Djinni of high standing will usually keep a number of women in their harems, even if married. Male Djinn are polygamist and have many wives. Harem women are often Jann, but some Djinni take mortal women from Athas, although this is very rare. Female Djinn can serve in any position in Djinn society, except Caliph. Djinn do not keep slaves.
The Caliph has a group of thirty-six Noble Djinn advisors, administrators, and numerous messengers who assist him in carrying out his monumental task of administering the war. The Caliph is also served by Viziers, who oversee all fortresses within two days travel of the viziers home. A Sheik leads the individual fortresses and each Sheik has a general, who leads the soldiers of the individual fortresses. If a fortress is attacked by a large force, a tasked messenger genie is sent to the next fortress, which sends aid and dispatches two more messengers to warn the next fortress; in this fashion all fortresses within hundreds of miles are warned.
Djinn may be encountered on Athas carrying out the orders of their superiors, but they usually send Jann if possible.
Djinn suffer the same restrictions as all spellcasters on Athas, no matter if they're on Athas or their home plane. Therefore, the Djinn only create water or wine for 1d6 individuals. If a Djinn creates metal with their magic, the duration is cut in half. In addition to the spells granted to Djinn in the monstrous manual, Athasian Djinn can also cast all divine spells from the domain of air of levels three and lower five times per day.

Air Drakes soar through the endless emerald skies. They are sometimes tamed by Djinn, but most of them unquestionably follow the commands of the Elemental Lords. Therefore, they too are used in the Elemental War. Although rare, air drakes are vicious combatants and the sight of one entering a battle can boost the morale of air's allies and crush the morale of air's enemies.
The Djinn breed Air Drakes in various hidden fortresses throughout the plane.

From the most basic funadmental to the greatest Air Elemental, Elementals are the dominant lifeforms on the Elemental Plane of Air. They make up the greatest number of troops in the Elemental Lords armies, as well as the greatest number of residents in general. Elementals also include elemental kin, such as animentals and aerial servants.
Air Elementals do not build buildings or form much of a society. They are in constant motion and carry out the commands of their masters. Almost all Air Elementals serve the Elemental Lords or the Djinn in the Elemental War. Anything less would be surrendering to their own extinction.

Elemental Lords
The most powerful beings in the Elemental Plane of Air are the Elemental Lords. The Elemental Lords of Air are made up of pure air and have no distinct shape. They do not have names or titles, but all natives of the Elemental Plane of Air show deference to their leadership. They reside inside vortexes of hurricane force winds and are serviced by other elementals, djinn, and jann.
It is unknown if the Elemental Lords of Air grow old. It is possible that the Elemental Lords are the same as they have been since the beginning of time. It is also a mystery how the Elemental Lords of Air communicate with each other as no verbal or telepathic communication can be detected between them. However, they do telepathically communicate with their servants.
The Elemental Lords may travel anywhere in the Elemental Plane of Air instantly, but cannot leave it. They can control storms within the plane, but not heat waves or black blizzards. The Elemental Lords of Air can also control all uncontaminated air in their plane. They can also grant divine spells to anyone who makes a pact to serve the Elemental Plane of Air. Lastly, they can cast any spell in the domain of air at will, including wizard elemental air spells as divine spells, and any spell in the sphere of cosmos three times per day. Elemental Lords are immune to psionics.
These powerful beings are not good or evil. They are the lords of air and care very little for events that do not affect their realm. Their current dilemma is the war between their elemental plane and the Planes of Silt and Sun. The Elemental Lords of Air have allied with the  Planes of Earth, Fire, Rain, and Water against the Paraelemental Planes of Magma, Silt, and Sun.

Like the Djinn, the Ethilum were created by the Elemental Lords around the time of the Rebirth. Unlike the Djinn, however, the Ethilum were created with the assistance of three other Elemental Lords from the three other elemental planes. This cooperation grants the Ethilum powerful elemental spells, the same as a twentieth level druid with major access to the sphere of air.
Ethilum are ruvoka with pale blue skin, pointed ears, sharp features, long flowing hair, and large white feathered wings. The Ethilum fight with javelins and whips and always wear white clothing. Ethilum serve the Elemental Lords as powerful troops and support members of the armies of Djinn and Jann. They sometimes serve the Elemental Lords as guardians of important locations on Athas as well.
Ethilum organize themselves into tribes, but despite their tribal structure, the Ethillum are generally loners. If a traveler stumbles across a Ethilum, they usually find only a single individual on a mysterious task. Sometimes this Ethilum will approach trusted travelers to ask for help in accomplishing the Ethilum's goals. Those who offer their aid can expect to be rewarded with a minor bit of elemental magic, or perhaps even the Ethilum’s help in achieving some end of their own. However, they shouldn’t expect to learn what the Ethilums’s up to, as they won’t reveal the ultimate purpose of their mission.
The Ethilum aren’t interested in any affairs that don't concern them or their elemental plane.

It is unclear when or how this small group of three-hundred Halfings entered the Elemental Plane of Air, but they have made their home in an irregular shaped ball of elemental earth. Their culture is very similar to the Rhul-than of the Jagged Cliffs region of Athas, but on a much smaller scale.
These Halflings survive by using their life-shaped creations to travel and gather the supplies they need. They always find their way back to their ball, because it drifts very slowly through the Plane of Air. The Halflings do not take part in the Elemental War, but do keep themselves ready for battle. Creatures from the Paraelemental Planes have been known to attack the Halflings from time to time.

The Jann of the Elemental Plane of Air are generally used as troops and servants of the Djinn. The Jann are allowed to have their own tribal structure, but are always under the command of a Djinn Vizier or Sheik. Like the Djinn, the Jann's society is geared toward war with the Paraelemental Planes of Silt and Sun.
In combat, Jann divide themselves into infantry, cavalry, archers, healers, and siege forces. The infantry is a main bulk of the fighting force and fight in units of one thousand soldiers. A single army might have five to six infantry units. Cavalry fight on the backs of elemental beasts, rocs, pterrax, or wyverns. There is not a set number of cavalry troops for an army, but generals feel most comfortable if they have at least one hundred. Archers use longbows made of wood or bone and fight in units of one hundred archers. An army will have at least five archer units. Healers are air clerics of various levels and serve the army in units of ten. Ideally an army will have at least five units of healers. Siege forces are generally made up of combat focused air clerics, psionicsists, and siege engine crews who fight in units of ten. Most armies do not have siege forces, unless they are attacking a fortress, so special requisition is required from ones superior to gain a unit.
Jann may be encountered alone or in pairs on Athas, carrying out the orders of their superiors.
Like the Djinn, the Jann suffer the same restrictions as all Athasian spellcasters. Jann generally wear non-metal scale or brigandine armor and use wicker and leather shields. Wood spears are the weapon of choice for Jann, with bone or obsidian scimitars as a backup weapon. Most carry a bone or obsidian jambiya as a weapon of last resort. Jann do not suffer any penalty for dwelling indefinitely on the Elemental Planes and must travel through the Gray to reach Athas.

A few small clans of Kenku have made the Elemental Plane of Air their home. Two of the clans have made their homes on two sides of a flat piece of hard slate that floats end over end through the plane. These two clans often hire themselves to the Djinn as assassins and spies in the Elemental War. In return, the Kenku are provided with food, water, and wooden goods.

Air elemental beasts are common on the Plane of Air. They are prized by djinni as guardian beasts and as trackers and hunters. Elemental beasts are invisible on the Plane of Air, but are visible to natives of the plane. Dusters are elemental vermin that are an annoyance to the vast majority of the residents on the Elemental Plane of Air. Other monstrous creatures, especially ones that fly like the xerichou, are possibly present on the Elemental Plane of Air. In fact, any creature that flies and breaths air may be encountered here, but generally in very small numbers.

Slyphs are afraid of traveling to Athas, so most of them prefer to stay on the Elemental Plane of Air. The slyphs talk about an event when all the slyphs on Athas were killed, so they are reluctant to return. However, their very existence is to serve the Elemental Lords, so they will go if needed.
Sylphs are beautiful, humanoid women with wings like dragonflies. Their wings are 4-5 feet long and translucent, clear, or spotted with iridescent color. Their long, bright, hair may be any "normal" color, or blue, purple, or green. They wear flowing, diaphanous robes which accent their wings or hair. They are generally friendly to those who do not seek to harm the Plane of Air.
Slyph's build nests throughout the Elemental Plane of Air, preferring places out of reach of ground dwellers. Rafters of Djinni strongholds will often have slyph nests built among them. Slyph's are all female and breed with males of Djinni, Jann, or less commonly elves and humans native to Athas. They lay eggs that are pearly white in color and all of their children are slyph.
In the Elemental War, slyph's serve as messengers and magical shock troops. They dislike using weapons and will only use one if there is no other choice. If forced, or commanded to, they prefer bows and other ranged weapons. The exception to this rule are an elite force of one-hundred slyphs who were trained in the use of spears, hit-and-run tactics, and assassination. These elite troops are called the jundiin and answer only to the Elemental Lords.

Other Races
It is possible that other intelligent races exist on the Elemental Plane of Air, but they do not take a major part in the Elemental War and are not present in great numbers.

The Sites

The Battleground of Silt
Small grains of silt are whipped into a furry where the Paraelemental forces of Silt and the Elemental forces of Air clash in battle. The Battleground of Silt surrounds a giant, seemingly permanent, black blizzard that rages around a portal to the Elemental Plane of Silt. Anyone entering this blizzard takes 10d10 damage, unless immune to silt damage. One of the Elemental Lords of Air stays close to the battle site, doing its best to keep the blizzard from growing by using its ability to control the wind.
At all times, troops, elementals, drakes, and other elemental forces fight in a seemingly endless battle for domination. Every year the forces of Silt push deeper into the Elemental Plane of Air and the black blizzard of The Battleground of Silt grows larger. It is painfully obvious to the residents of the Elemental Plane of Air that the battle for their home will ultimately be lost unless something changes. Still, they fight on and hope that the tide of the war will eventually turn in their favor.

The Great Fortress of Arabat
This dodecahedron fortress has magically enhanced stone walls that are three yards thick. Each point, or vertex, of the dodecahedron has a tower, for a total of twenty, that is always manned by air elementals and Jann archers. The towers are placed exactly thirty yards away from each other. Around the fortress blows a swirling vortex sphere of powerful air currents. There are only two gates on the fortress, which are made of magically reinforced wood with bronze inlays. The gates are guarded by air elemental beasts, air elementals, and Jann troops.
The Great Fortress of Arabat is the home of the Djinn Caliph, his family, and his advisors. There are no gardens or works of art, the Fortress is geared toward war. Various weapon and armor makers work tirelessly to create the armaments needed to fight the forces invading their plane. Genies of all kinds are constantly traveling to and from the fortress to carry out the plans of the Caliph. The plans that may one day lead to victory.

The Obsidian Pyramid
This mysterious pyramid is constructed of obsidian and gleams brightly in the emerald sky. The obsidian is perfectly smooth and contains no blemishes. There are no doors or windows on the floating pyramid and no one knows its purpose or function. The pyramid steadily floats without swaying.
Those who have magically, or psionically bypassed the solid walls of the pyramid have never emerged from the structure. At one time, there were Djinn and Jann that had devoted themselves to the study of The Obsidian Pyramid. These Djinn and Jann did not make much progress in their study and soon had to devote themselves to the Elemental War.
There is a matching pyramid on the Elemental Plane of Fire.

The Radiant Battleground
Thousands of paraelemental troops from the Paraelemental Plane of Sun pour into the Elemental Plane of Air to do battle in a series of giant heat waves with the natives of the Plane of Air. The portal at the center of The Radiant Battleground appears as the Athasian sun, with heat waves blasting off of it, carrying forces from the Paraelemental Plane of Sun with them. These heat waves are intercepted by the forces of air and fighting commences. Heat waves from the Radiant Battleground do 6d10 damage, but vary in size. One of the Elemental Lords of Air stays close to the battle site, doing its best to keep the heat waves from penetrating into the plane by using its ability to control the wind.
At all times, troops, elementals, drakes, and other elemental forces fight in a seemingly endless battle for domination. Every year, the heat waves pouring off of the portal increase in size and frequency. Some of the waves are able to fly past the defending forces, deep into the Plane of Air. The Djinn general who guards the portal has to send specialized groups to hunt down and destroy these invaders.

Part Three will cover the Elemental Plane of Earth.

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