Note: Knowledge of the planes is rare in the Wilderlands. Characters need ranks in Knowledge (the planes) or a planar Knowledge (region) skill to know anything detailed on this page.
Common Knowledge (among adventurers) DC 10
Few scholars agree on much when it comes to cosmology. It is difficult enough for travelers to agree on the precise distance between places on a normal map, much less measure the relationship among places that cannot be reached through conventional means.
The planes are vast beyond the scale of mortal imagination, and most planes have regions that are lethal to mortal travelers. Outsiders, though familiar with at least their home plane, fare little better in their planar wanderings. Traveling from one end of the Wilderlands to another is a perilous undertaking for seasoned adventurers, but at least they only need navigate the four points of the compass.
The rare deliberate planar travelers either take advantage of fixed gates (which go to specific destinations), or a planeshift spell (which requires a focus unique to each destination plane). While some planes are contiguous or have coterminal routes, most travelers stick to familiar methods that get them as close as possible to their desired destination. If a traveler wants to get somewhere they’ve never been before, the safest choice is to find someone familiar with the destination to provide a planeshift and lead them the rest of the way.
Though scholars may disagree on the specifics, most agree on a majority of the following points:
- The material plane is the realm where mortals reside. Among its residents, it is called the Prime, or the Prime Material plane.
- The Planar Membrane forms like a film around the material plane, separating it from the Shadowlands, the land of mists and treachery. The Shadowlands separate into layers, each with its own perils to the unwary traveler.
- The eerie mists of the Ether surround the material plane like a shroud. Ghosts and other frights use it to project themselves into the material world. Some rare and freakish beasts are apparently native to this place, but for most beings it is a fog through which one must travel, not a place to stay overlong. Occasionally, especially late on still foggy nights near graveyards and other quiet places, the mists can lead the unwary traveler into the ether. Precious few ever return to tell the tale.
- When mortals die, their souls fall “down” through the ether into the Shadow, a harrowing pit at the bottom of the cosmos, where the unhallowed dead and deeper horrors rule. If the newly deceased paid sufficient homage, their patron gods provide passage to a better place before the Shadow’s hardened denizens feast on their tender souls.
- Flying “up” through the ether, the mists eventually part to reveal the dizzying heights of abstraction called the astral plane. Though hard to find, it is said that portals exist in the astral plane that lead (one way) to almost any destination.
- The elemental planes thrive in the ether, and stretch from their roots in the Shadow “up” into the astral reaches. Some cosmologists consider all elements to be on one plane. Others count four planes of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air — but perhaps also Metal, Wood, Smoke, Dust, Magma, Salt, Positive Energy, Negative Energy, and even other materials. The elemental planes flow together as ambiguously as oceans. They host a half dozen major cities of genie-kind, which are frequent trade destinations with accommodations for travelers brave and resourceful enough to make the journey.
- Time, while not constant on all planes, tends to flow in a similar manner. Different planes may have unusual cycles of day and night (or none at all), a strange progression of seasons, but they almost always observe yearly cycles that are common across the planes. Some planes appear linked to the cycles of Luna, Gorm, or Ioun, but all the planes light up with strange portents and power when Heaven’s Bridge lights up the skies of the material plane. Mortal sages consider this to be a product of the material plane casting its influence upon the Shadowlands, and most planars scoff at this notion.
Common Knowledge among planars (DC 10), Uncommon Knowledge among mortals (DC 20)
- Analogous to the elemental planes, a host of other planes spreads through the astral reaches. They are collectively referred to as the outer planes. These planes are woven from the astral fabric, but their properties can be fine-tuned by their owners over time. Each outer plane imprints itself in some way into the terrain of the astral plane, the Dream, and the Shadow.
- The Heavens are full of celestial beings of ineffable beauty, including angels, archons, and eladrin. The Heavens appear as motes of star-like light in the sky of the Shadow.
- The Hells are full of devils, demons, and their kin, who fight among themselves as fiercely as they clash with the denizens of the celestial planes. Caves and crevasses in the Shadow lead into the Hells.
- Many gods keep vast kingdoms of their own design, divine realms that are not part of another plane. Other gods choose to plant their realms within other planes. Regardless of the location, gods keep the souls of their faithful safe within their divine realms. These personal realms can manifest in the Shadow as stars or caves, craggy mountaintops, or other inhospitable places.
- The Dream is sometimes considered part of the astral or ethereal plane. It is the realm from which the fey and their ilk reach out to meddle in mortal dreams.
- Also often considered a part of the astral plane, the clockwork realm of Mechanus and the roiling storm of Limbo are seen as embodying order and chaos, respectively.
Uncommon Knowledge: DC 20
- The plane of entropy is a tumble-down place of the lost and forgotten, populated by “drifters” who scavenge memories and trinkets that slip through the cracks of the world. Wherever the fabric of the worlds frays, drifters could just slip through for a few moments to grab anything they can carry, and haul it back to their tattered realm. It is often omitted from cosmological studies, as it is intrinsically hard to quantify.
Obscure Knowledge: DC 25
- Hidden in plain sight on every plane are portals to Axis Mundi, a strange world of corridors, catwalks, and tunnels. These passageways connect the planes, and resourceful beings can use them to go almost anywhere, without a single planeshift or teleport.
- The astral reaches extend seemingly endlessly, though only the most rarified thoughtforms can navigate its increasingly abstract topology. Beyond The Dream, past the realms of gods known to mortals, lie the disembodied realms of the Noösphere. From that ephemeral realm, pure concepts vie and jostle in a bizarre ecosystem unbound by flesh and physics. They dream their way into the rest of the cosmos, manifesting as myths, gossip, music, riddles, and motifs.
Hidden Knowledge: DC 30
- It is said that there is a plane of “Extropy” analogous to the entropic plane. Though hotly disputed by any sages who imagine to understand the planes, even most gods do not deign to shed light on the subject. A realm of boundless creation seems like a marvelous resource to access. No wizard of Tula, genie prince, or acquisitive [[Drifter | drifter] has claimed to know anything useful about this plane and been able to support such a claim.