- Jan 30, 2020
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The Eight Planes, by Ianthor the Magus
Translated and edited by Arthur of Eyrdale
Translated and edited by Arthur of Eyrdale
Editor’s Note: This ancient text was written by the fabled elven sage Ianthor in a time long before any human ever set foot on Enarion. Some of its passages have subsequently been found to be inaccurate, and the writing is archaic and strange, but the text remains the foundation of elven magical study today. It is therefore paramount that human mages study this text and learn what we can from the elves.
Foreword: Since the time that great King Aenlorethier sailed across the Silver Sea and the seeding of Eldenrest Grove, we elves have studied the flow of magic through the world in the Old Way. And it is through our studies that we realized our world is one of many reflections. I, Ianthor the Magus, in the four hundredth and thirty second year of Aenlorethier’s Kingdom, in an effort to see knowledge of magic spread through the minds of today’s youth, in this book write down my findings on the cosmological wheel in all its splendor.
I begin my recant with a covering of the framework by which the celestial bodies are arranged. At the center of everything is us, the mortal world. Upon which live elves, dwarves, halflings, mushroomites, goblins, satyrs, and all the creatures of the world. As you will soon know, the mortal world is special for it is not magical in nature, and thus it is here that magic of all kinds can exist. [Editor’s Note: Any half-rate initiate knows the above passage has been found untrue. The rest of this text is mostly agreed as fact, excepting the number of planes of course.] Scattered around our world, in a manner reflecting the common initiate’s runeboard, are the eight magical planes. Each plane is a representation of one of the eight primal forces of magic. The eight planes are divided into two categories, the lesser and greater planes. [Editor’s Note: We now use the term “Elemental” instead of “Lesser.”] The four lesser planes represent the forces of fire, earth, air, and water, and each is dominated by elemental spirits organized into a strict hierarchy. The four greater planes represent the forces of life, death, mind, and body. There are spirits in the greater planes just as in the lesser, some organized into hierarchies, but their forms and nature are less clear. The planes are exceptionally important to all mages, for when we harness the runes to effect magical spellcast upon our world, we draw from these planes of power to make it so. The magic from these planes flow into the mortal world and coalesce throughout the land. I shall continue this text with a description of each plane, and indeed I shall begin with the lesser and progress to the greater planes.
Part I: The Lesser Planes
The Plane of Fire
The Plane of Fire is one associated with heat, change, and destruction. Some would consider this reputation unwarranted. What is known to me is that the plane consists of an ocean of flame, lava, ash, and magma as far as the eye can see. Jutting from the ocean at odd intervals are spires of basalt that spew forth smoke from their summit, blackening the sky, and around these spires are islands of scorched rock. The plane is deathly hot and firestorms and tornadoes are commonplace. As with all the lesser planes, the spirits of this plane are organized into a strict hierarchy. Fire elementals are known to be aggressive and impatient, and they will attack water elementals on sight. From salamanders to firebirds to phoenixes, they are all known for their combat prowess and are known to be dangerous. Some are friendly to mortals and others not. All fire elementals are weak to cold, and so water and ice are effective against them. The most powerful spirit of the plane, the King of Fire, is known by various names as Rhuax, Pyriphlegethon, Arnox, and so on. Elementals from this plane can occasionally be found seeping through the veil in areas aligned with fire, such as volcanoes and lava lakes deep beneath the earth. A mage blessed by luck may even find a portal to the plane in one of these locations, though be wary that surviving on this plane is extremely difficult for mortals. Fire magic is associated with the northwestern direction.
The Plane of Water
Opposite the Plane of Fire, the Plane of Water is aligned with cold, sorrow, patience, and weakness. The plane consists of an endless ocean, the surface of which is dotted with icebergs and frozen isles. Upon these isles the elementals carve their castles of snow and ice, and beneath the waves they carve their castles of coral and rock. The water plane is better known than that of fire, as a prepared mortal can survive for much longer here, though the constant freezing chill will quickly sap them of their strength. Water and ice elementals are known for their methodical behavior, but will turn aggressive the moment they spot a fire elemental. These elementals are stronger in cold and wet places, and as is to be expected, water elementals are particularly strong underwater. Water elementals are often friendly to mortals despite their seemingly mindless nature, and reports of sailors being saved by water aligned beings are somewhat common. All water elementals are weak to heat, and thus fire and lava are effective against them. The dominant spirit of the plane is the Queen of Water, known to me as Thalassalae, who watches over her children like a benevolent mother. Elementals from the water plane are occasionally found deep in great glaciers or underneath the ocean, usually close to portals to the plane. Water magic is associated with the southeastern direction.
The Plane of Earth
The Plane of Earth, sometimes called Agartha, is a fabled place of riches and splendor. For amidst the walls of the many caves and caverns that make up the plane are veins of ores, gems, and precious materials. Many miners and prospectors have gone insane trying to find a portal to this legendary plane deep beneath the earth. And it is true that any miner who finds himself access to Agartha could acquire a tremendous fortune. But any mage who finds himself on the plane should be wary, for the caves and walls of the Plane of Earth are evershifting. The elementals of this plane, enemies to those of air as they are, are known to meld into the rock and appear at will. In association with the aspect of earth, they guard their treasures greedily and are jealous of any interlopers. To those found worthy, however, the earth offers many bounties in this plane as it does on our world. To the unworthy, bring lightning spells, for the earth elementals are weak to them. As with the other lesser planes, the Plane of Earth is ruled by a legendary elemental spirit, Basalus the King of Earth. He sends his earth gnome children to spy on the mortal world, ever watchful of mortal greed. Earth elementals in kind are some of the most plentiful in our world, as we are creatures of the land and dwell upon and inside it. Some scholars have even suggested the Dewizim race originally found its birthing in the Plane of Earth. Earth magic is associated with the southwestern direction.
The Plane of Air
The Plane of Air opposes the Plane of Earth and is associated with freedom, light, and energy. The plane itself consists of a billowing land of clouds and storms. The ground, if one can call it that, is made of pure clouds, springy to the step and supporting of weight. No matter how far one tries to dig into the clouds, no bottom is ever reached. Dotting the landscape are magnificent castles and spires of pure fog, in which the elementals of the plane dwell. Said elementals are the most varied of all the planes, for they come in sizes large and small, friendly and hostile, from air to lightning and everything in between. Any mage on the plane should make his way to the nearest cloud castle as soon as possible, for a great storm may sweep you away at any moment should you linger in the wilderness. The castles provide shelter and companionship, where the curious air elementals who dwell inside will protect you. Indeed, these elementals are, like those of earth, frequently found in our mortal world, for the sky is their domain and the sky covers all the earth. The air elementals also fight the earth elementals incessantly, as can be seen when lightning strikes the ground. Despite the prevalence of air elementals, portals to the Plane of Air are very difficult to find, considering mortals have no means of flight. An adventurous mage's best option is to convince an air elemental to carry him up to a castle in the sky, where their planar portals are kept safe. The Queen of Air, known to some as Nephele and others as Aella, is as fickle as the weather and the elementals she rules over. She frequently bestows boons or curses upon mages who find their way to her castle, depending on her mood. Air magic is associated with the northeastern direction.
Part 2: The Greater Planes
The Plane of Life
The Plane of Life, also known as the blessed Fae Realm, is associated with stamina, divinity, light, wholeness, and good. It is no surprise that this plane is the source of life in our world. The holy fae and vaettir spirits also originate from this plane, and it is our devotion to them that has brought the race of Elva our glories. This plane is the best known of all the planes, for we frequently travel to it in order to meet with the Fae. The plane consists of endless forests and is divided into four quadrants, each ruled over by one of the seasonal courts. In the north lay the lands of winter ruled by Siocán, the west spring ruled by Eabha, the south summer ruled by Alban, and the east autumn ruled by Fómhar. Lesser Fae serve these courts. The Fae hold a deep connection with the Moon, and its cycles around Enarion lead to a perpetual yearly shift in the powers of the seasonal courts. Only the current reigning court can be contacted from Enarion. During the months of Eclipse and Season’s Turn, when the Moon is vacant from the sky, it is unwise to contact the Fae, for the seasonal spirits are engaged in their yearly war. As we are creatures of life, the Fae smile upon us, and assist us in the endless war against those of undeath. The power of life is much stronger than death in our world, and so Fae creatures can commonly be found, especially in forests. Our druids also regularly summon them in temples and other holy places. Life magic is associated with the western direction.
The Plane of Death
The Plane of Death opposes the Plane of Life. It is associated with poison, rot, darkness, and wickedness. This plane is a wretched place, a mockery of the mortal realm sheltered and perverted in shadow. The forlorn souls of the dead, those that were not claimed by deities of worth, wander this lonely plane in perpetuity. Each soul that arrives in the plane is claimed by one of the ruling spirits of the plane, who fashions the soul into a form of death creature in their own image, whether that be a wight, wraith, lich, or other creature of malintent. The plane itself saps the life from any who visit, rendering visits short and infrequent lest a mage seeks to join the innumerous ranks of the dead. Souls that languish in this plane forget the world and are forgotten by it. This process renders the soul a bitter and forgetful shell of their former selves, and all dead souls harbor a hatred for the living. Eventually, when the soul has been completely forgotten by the world, its lifeforce is recycled into raw creatia and from that creatia new souls are born anew. The influence of death is weak in our world, relative to life, but is still stronger than most. It is for this reason that undead creatures are occasionally found wandering in places associated with the plane, such as crypts or graveyards. Most undead creatures in the mortal world are bereft of their own will, mindless puppets of some necromancer or nefarious spirit, and not in control of their own actions. They should be put down with impunity, regardless of the form they take. Death magic is associated with the eastern direction.
The Astral Plane
At first glance, the Astral Plane bears similarities to that of Air. It is a place beset by clouds, but unlike those in the Plane of Air, these clouds are not true clouds but wisps of thought and threads of fate. For the Astral Plane is the plane of thought, spirituality, ethereality, fate, and psyche. In essence, it is the plane of the mind. Dotted around the plane, hidden in the ever-changing and immaterial landscape, lay many solid islands. Each island is protected against the flows of the wisp wind. The islands are inhabited by different sets of astral-aligned creatures, and the islands reflect their inhabitants’ preferences. The creatures of the astral plane are likely the most diverse in nature, which almost certainly reflects the diversity of thought that exists in the world. Most astral creatures can be broadly divided into two main groups, however, angels and demons. Angels are generally amenable to mortal interaction whereas demons are mostly untrustworthy and dangerous. The two groups of creatures hate each other and war constantly, and seem to represent various aspects of the mind itself. Angels and demons both take great interest in mortals, likely because they trade in souls more than any other types of creatures. Some of my fellow sages have theorized that all angels and demons were once mortals that joined the plane upon their death. This theory is obviously hogwash, but its existence is proof enough to the frequency of the machinations of astral creatures. The influence of the astral plane is primarily felt in the mortal world both through the deals offered by its denizens as well as through the stars, with each star acting as a portal to a different astral island. Astral magic is associated with the northern direction, where the brightest star lies.
The Temporal Plane
The Temporal Plane is the strangest of the planes, and hence I have reserved its description for last. Nominally, it opposes the Astral Plane, but in truthfulness it seems to oppose all rational thought and sensibility, and the plane acts as a parody both of our world and of the other magical planes. The plane itself is alien and weird, taking the form of an endless voidal expanse, around which are dotted islands and small globe worlds. Each island floats in the black chasm, with its own gravity, oriented in random directions. On each island world are found collections of objects, usually of mundane crafts such as chairs, wagons, or shields. The creatures of this plane are just as strange as their dwelling. Some take the form of clockwork imitations of living creatures, acting as mindless automatons. Others take the form of possessed items, such as walking armor or floating swords. I have yet to encounter a temporal being interested in communication, and no ruling spirits of the plane have made themselves known to me. In this way, the temporal plane is unique. My studies have led to the conclusion that the temporal plane is responsible for the mundane physics that govern our world. Gravity, chemistry, etcetera, are all regulated by temporal magic. It is thus by using temporal magic that force itself can be manipulated. Opposing the astral plane, it is also the plane of the body. And so perhaps the forces of the world are the “body” of our world acting upon us… but that is just my theory. I hope that the next generation of mages comes to a better understanding of the mysterious temporal plane. Temporal magic is associated with the southern direction.