The inner wall of the Shroud, that vast, celestial eggshell surrounding our cosmos, is a firm surface made of pure magic. Upon this surface, very few beings can survive. The vast void between it and Falleron is cold and airless, and while spells and technology may find ways to keep a mortal warm and to allow breathing in such places, survival only means you are alone in a dark expanse of a scale nearly impossible for the mind to fathom.
Yet, not all places are such. The pinpricks of light we see in the night sky, called stars by some, are, in fact, sanctuaries formed on the shroud. Each of these motes of light are planes of energy and power that both bind and connect to Falleron. And through those connections one may travel, if one knows the way.
It is said that each of these planes has a great beaing of power governing it, and this may well be true. Some of the more studied planes have strong connections to divine beings that frequently touch mortal affairs.
Some have questioned if all of the stars have a being of power within them, or if only those stars with such beings are frequently connected to our world. To those of this line of thought, I urge caution. Beings of power are dangerous and unpredictable, and to go snooping around other planes of existing assuming such entities are neither common nor likely to take offense is a surefire way to find yourself obliterated.
With that said, let us look at a few of the more explored planes in brief detail.
The Mortal Plane, or Material Plane, refers to the physical world of Falleron. The physical realities of our world are likely quite familiar with you, having survived long enough to pick up this book. Still, some geological and political specifics of our world will be discussed in later chapters. Like many others, we have our own beings of power that govern our plane: the crafting god Wayland, the avenging goddess Amalas, and the Lovers: Compassion and The Fool. While many mortal beings have gained substantial power, and many more great powers influence our realm from other planes, only these three are of god-like power on our plane.
The Astral Plane is the realm of the soul, the dream, and memory. It is the only unbound plane, existing alongside and within each other plane. The Astral Plane holds a close connection to the thoughts and dreams of mortals and beings of power alike. Dreams of power, spells releasing one to the Astral Plane, and waking visions of the past frequently draw all sorts of beings into this plane over all others. It resembles a sea of stars, with transient, floating structures resembling the memories of those in the area winking in and out of existence. Time and space are fluid in the Astral Plane, occasionally one might encounter memories of the past, or even travelers from other eras. Those with the power to wander the Astral Plane in their dreams have been able to communicate across vast distances, and event across considerable differences in time, with fellow dreamers.
While the Astral Plane is usually associated with the mind’s eye and travel via soul, it is possible to occasionally slip into it via physical form. Doing so is fought with danger, however, as the realm is transient and makes the visions, memories, and nightmares of those within it real to the physical body. Physical material acquired in the Astral Plane nearly always evaporates upon returning to Falleron. Most teleportation magic relies upon the curious properties of the Astral Plane to function, punching a portal or quick travel between two locations by linking those on the Astral Plane. Failure to concentrate, however, can lead to such spells failing and sending those traveling to unknown locations or, worse, stranding them in the sea of stars forever. Some spells which summon the spirits of the dead attempt to tap them through the natures of the Astral Plane, connecting their formerly living souls to a point in time beyond their passing. In many cases, these visions and spirits are simply echoes of those lost to us, rather than their true seemings. Such attempts at resurrection rarely succeed for long, as upon death the spirit is lost as it flows back into the magic that binds the universe. With each attempt to bind an echo of a soul to the mortal plane, the success slowly fades until the creature is little more than a mindless automaton.
Little lives for long on the Astral Plane, and those beings that do tend to be made of raw magical essence. With few exceptions, such entities rarely have self awareness, instead taking on life only as echoes of the memories and imaginings of those venturing into the plane,and returning to formlessness once such travelers depart. An exception to this is the collective entity known as The Great Clont, a powerful amalgamation spirits and memories that all of the Clontish race is connected with. While other rare exceptions do exist, the one true constant of the Astral Plane is the sleeping Goddess, knows as Peace, who sleeps at the heart of the plane, and, indeed, at the heart of all things.
The Ethereal Plane is the reflection of order and true reality, and is bound to the Moon. Unlike other planes, the Ethereal Plane itself has no true form of it’s own, instead reflecting the realities of the realm of Falleron and, when the right conditions are met, even other planes. Rarely entered, the Ethereal Plane functions as a great mirror, revealing the true nature of the world (for those who know how to look). Mortals finding themselves on the Ethereal Plane usually know it instantly, seeing the world in a form of monochrome gray, yet with perfect understanding of the colors and vibrancy everything they see entails. The dangers of entering this plane physically are many, as your mortal form is much more malleable than your ethereal one.
Mirrors are said to be conduits and portals to the Ethereal Plane. Enchantments, spells, and even some forms of technology that seek to alter or mask the true nature of things rarely have the ability to alter a reflection in the Ethereal Plane if created on the Mortal Plane, with the true nature of the thing remaining permanent. This allows for many forms of augury and divination to operate by referencing the true nature of a being on the Ethereal Plane, rather than how it would appear on Falleron. It is said that if you have the power to alter the Ethereal Plane, you can thus alter the Mortal Plane. A dangerous theory, to be sure, and one yet accomplished on a variety of scales by many forms of magic. Spells such as Alter Self or Polymorph tend to be permanent transfigurations when accomplished on the Ethereal Plane. Similarly, many forms of permanent enchantment of objects and entities involve directly transmuting their Ethereal forms.
Only a small amount of beings dwell exclusively on the Ethereal Plane, and none of them are pleasant to encounter. The great demon Masque dwells on the Ethereal Plane, trapped forever in the Moon’s reflection and unable to escape. Masque’s minions, formless entities trapped in the reflections of each and every mortal, frequently seek to escape. These minions are changelings, doppelgangers, mirror like entities that steal the faces and forms of others to give themselves permanent form. While they take many shapes and have many natures, they are usually safely bound to the Ethereal Plane unless given more permanent form through a spell or technology.
The Celestial Plane is the reflection of light, and is bound to the Sun. The Celestial Plane is a place of seemingly endless power, warmth, and restoration. It is here that many of the the beings of great power that we have come to call Goddesses and Gods reside, watching over the Mortal Plane with a steady parental gaze. The Celestial Plane orbits Falleron with the sun, watching every corner it can with great regularity, but as with the sun there are plenty of times where the Celestials vision is obscured and their power wanes. Without the steady flow of positive energy from the Celestial Plane the world would quickly die, but so too would the world perish with the constant attention of these beings, as they would try to order us to the extent of lacking free will. It is in the balance of attention and neglect that we mortals find our ability to live freely. The plane itself is a place of great light and beauty, though difficult for mortal minds to comprehend.
Divine magics tend to flow directly from the Celestial Plane, and are strongest during the daylight in many cases. Nearly all forms of radiant energy have their source from the Celestial Plane, and many forms of entities directly bound to necrotic energies are unable to withstand even moments under this influence. Even the most powerful spellcasters are unable to conjure necrotic energies on the Celestial Plane, making it an ideal location for banishment or depowering of some of the more sinister sects of magus.
The gods Tamberlain and Gien, whom govern life and light, dwell on the Celestial plane, as do their retainers and attendant creatures. These beings, known as Celestials, tend to be agents of their god or goddess will and rarely operate truly with full free will of their own. The rare occasion in which they are sent to the Mortal Plane tends to be a confusing or liberating experience for them, as their separation from the Celestial Plane, especially at night, frees them from the direct influence of their patron god or goddess.
The Faewild, a reflection of madness, creation, and magic, is one of the most commonly traveled planes by mortals. Bound to the Morning Star, also known as the East Star, the Faewild is a realm where magic seems to have a will of its own. The plane itself resembles a more extreme and exaggerated version of the Mortal Plane, one where magic is less of a passive force and more of one that actively engages and transforms everything it touches. The Faewild’s transformative properties are legendary, and few things that remain there for long remain unchanged in a fundamental way.
The Faewild is a plane that actively seeks to connect with the mortal plane, and has many permanent portals connecting the two planes of existence. These fonts of magic tend to feed our own leylines of magical power, amplifying them and replenishing them when weakened by the forces of the Mortal Realm. Many scholars theorize the Faewild serves as the source of magical energy for all other planes, drawing entropy from the vast void that collects on the shell of the Shroud of Peace and somehow transfiguring entropy into new life and creation. While all magic is amplified on the Faewild, transfiguration magic is especially powerful. As an odd quirk, not fully understood by scientists or arcanists alike, many mortal technologies fail on the Faewild or begin to have unpredictable effects.
The Faewild is widely populated by a vast, ever-changing population of mortal beings. Many types of creatures that are commonplace on the Mortal Plane had their origins on the Faewild, including nearly all Fae and Aberrations. The Fae themselves are varied and many, and while they do organize into the two great courts of Summer and Winter, their forms are fluid and many Fae transform from one nature and court to another many times over their lives. Indeed, beings of the Mortal Plane left stranded in the Faewild also are transformed, and eventually become identical to the Fae in all but their Ethereal form. Two beings of power govern this realm, Auberon God of the Winter Court and Mab, Goddess of the Summer Court.
The Elemental Plane, a plane of primordial order and substance, is another commonly utilized plane. Bound to the Evening Star, also known as the Western Star, the Elemental Plane is the source of the raw material used to connect and create Falleron. The Elemental Plane is a place of extremes. It is a world where giant stone continents float in the sky, where seas of flame stretch off into the horizon, where stormy seas never calm. Pockets of sanctuary exist here and there, but only the very powerful can weather the elements of this plane for long.
Harsh and unforgiving, this realm is even more challenging to survive in as magic is difficult to draw upon beyond the most primordial evocation spells. Transmutation and enchantment rarely work at all, and abjuration only haltingly. Despite this, it is essential to understand that the Elemental Plane is the source of all of our evocation magic. The flames springing from your fingertips as you cast fireball are drawn from this deep reservoir of raw elemental magic. Masters of evocation are often nearly unstoppable if they find themselves on the Elemental Plane.
Only the very strong can survive on the Elemental Plane, or those which are directly bound to the elements. Giants of all kinds find homes on this plane and frequently bring their incredibly powerful evocation affinities with them should they wander into the Mortal Plane. Similarly, elemental beings, intelligences found within flames or waves or stones, live on this plane quite easily and wage their eternal wars against each other for greater territory. Ruling over these beings are the god Selnoir and goddess Alethia, representing power and order.
The Annwyn, also known as Roaming Shadow, is a plane of shadow and darkness. Unlike the other planes, it bears no light, though it does have a fixed position and can be observed as it eclipses lesser planes on the shroud. Like the Moon and the Sun, it is not on the shroud itself but instead orbits in the spaces between, always directly opposite of the sun. At midnight it is at its strongest, and when the moon eclipses the sun, the midnight side of Falleron becomes one with the Annwyn for a short period of time, with the denizens of both able to move freely between their realms before the light of the Celestial Plane returns. However, when the moon eclipses the Annwyn, it is said those that would die are instead spared, their spirits being released to wander the Astral Plane without threat of being drawn into the shadows. The Annwyn is a place of shadow, rarely lit save by the ambient light of the other planes shining overhead. Life cannot remain on Annwyn for long, and slowly it will leech out of whatever living being walks the silent ways until the soul of the creature is totally weakened and obliterated. Annwyn’s surface is covered in decay and dust, resembling a vast, shadowy desert, with only a few sanctuaries of light and safety to be found. Such sanctuaries are treacherous, however, as they frequently are illusions sought to trap mortals. A few rare places are sheltered by powerful evocation spells, but frequently require a high price for such safety.
This is because the Annwyn is the source of dark, necrotic energy for Falleron. From it comes death and destruction, and those that seek to use these powers must always sacrifice more in the way of life then they receive through the shadow. Necromancy is at its strongest when Annwyn is closest, and the undead creatures frequently feel strongest as Annwyn reaches its zenith. When a mortal dies, the Annwyn reaches out and takes the soul, drawing it into its realm to be consumed and broken down into raw magical energy, which then, in turn, seeps out into the Shroud. For this reason the Annwyn serves a very valuable, if tragic, purpose in keeping our world alive.
Only undead creatures may life on Annwyn safely, all others must pay a terrible toll at every moment, or be protected by sufficiently strong abjuration to keep the necrotic energies at bay. Many forms of undead dwell in the Annwyn, created by the goddess Morrigan, ruler of this realm, as a simulacrum of life to keep her company. The most powerful of these are the Fallen Vampire, beings of intelligence which manage to live on her realm. Many of the sanctuaries mortals find are operated by such creatures, often desiring those they shelter to act as cattle for their consumption. The god Samhain also dwells on this plane. This trickster god seeps out into the mortal plane at night to steal away sources of life and light to bring back to his dark realm as prizes and delights for his beloved Morrigan.
The Vault of Want is a terrible plane warded by mortal influence at nearly every time of day. Located directly behind the Sun, it cannot be seen by mortal eyes and the secrets and evils locked within have been well guarded by Tamberlain and Gien since the dawning of the world. The Vault is a sealed world, blocked from entry from all save those who know the key. Few have discovered the nature of the key, and those that have wreaked such havoc upon Falleron that their knowledge was destroyed utterly each time to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Their writings, often mad rants of the power hungry and homicidal, are all we have to describe the vault and what lies within. And from these, we know it to be a vast, volcanic chamber filled with treasures uncounted. They describe works of art, vast hordes of gold, libraries of hidden knowledge, and all manner of other wonders perpetually being consumed by hungry flames and doused in the blood of those who seek them.
It is unclear what magic might avail travelers to this realm, save that entry and exit is next to impossible. Drawing entities out from the Vault requires vast energies, though entry is considered substantially easier, if you are interested in a one way trip to eternal torment. One would presume that radiant energy would be especially strong here, as the plane is located adjacent to the Celestial Plane, but such things are only the conjectures of an old man. Should you be foolish enough to try to reach the Vault of Want, I take no responsibility in the efficacy of your prepared spell list.
One thing we know of the Vault of Want with absolute certainty is that it has many inhabitants. Demonic, infernal entities remain trapped within, the most powerful of which is the dreaded Chimera, a being of flame and fangs with an insatiable appetite for greed and ruin. The Chimera, if loosed from the Vault, seeks only to satisfy its own pleasures and to destroy all it touches. Lesser demonic entities, such as Succubi and Incubi, are frequently called forth from this realm to serve the pleasures of the power-hungry and foolish. Such pleasures and power they bring only sate the greed of their summoners for a short time, and in time bring all around them into Ruin.
The Abyss is another plane of great evil, though one far easier to find in the Shroud of Peace. This realm lies visible in the sky in both day and night, remaining fixed above the southern pole of Falleron. Its eerie green light marks the location where the only being to ever pierce the shroud, The Fool, entered the world. While the shroud closed behind The Fool, sealing him within our realms just as assuredly as the rest of us, it still weakened the shroud slightly in this one place, and in the moment of the Fools passing, strange and eldritch energies from beyond the shroud warped and altered the area around it. Over time, this realm grew, altered by these forces, to become the Abyss, a realm of eternal torment and pain. Portals between the Abyss and other planes are frequent, if actively combatted by most of the other gods and goddesses after what became of Leviathan.
While not immediately lethal to those mortals who venture into the Abyss, existing on this plane is suffering incarnate. While Annwyn slowly weakens you, The Abyss strengthens and alters your form to become more susceptible to its influence and energies. Transfiguration magic is powerful here, and those that wander into the realm frequently become altered into horrific, bloated, pain filled beings more often resembling sea-life than man. Pustules and plagues emerge from the land itself, bringing suffering to those who get to close but never the release of death. Many spells rely upon these traits and recklessly summon forces from the Abyss to the mortal plane for their own purposes, most well known of which is the Black Tentacles spell.
The Abyss has many denizens, most of which are mortals or other beings of power who, attracted by the strange green light of the plane, entered only to become corrupted by the forces from beyond the Shroud. Such demonic, aberrant creatures seek only to bring pain to others, so warped by the forces of the Abyss, and actively will enslave what mortals they can to bring back to their realm for conversion. Most terrifying of these is the Leviathan, once a god of another plane, enslaved and corrupted into a being of power for the unknowable, destructive energies of the plane.
The Brumatory is a realm of scales and warmth amidst the dark heart of the northern skies. Tied to the North Star, high above the northermost pole of Falleron, the Brumatory is the home plane of dragons, from which most emerge throughout the year to roam the other planes and to which they return to brumate in the cold winters. The plane itself at first appears cold and bleak, a vast plane of ice lit only by the occasional plume of steam. But beneath the ice lies a vast series of caves filled with everything a dormant dragon needs to remain warm. Vast grottos of boiling water line caves lit by the warm lights of lava flows serve as second homes to the various dragons of the world during the winter months.
A single mote of light shines out the ice with a warm red glow, marking the Northern Star and giving it the ruby light so often referred to in songs and stories. This is the vast Yulehall of Saint Claws, the Dragonqueen. The mother of all dragons, Saint Claws is beloved not only by lizardfolk and dragons, but also by mortals alike as, once per year, on Drakemas, she travels to Falleron on a sledge pulled by her nine-headed dragon to give gifts to those who had not wronged her brood. Few know the sinister truth of these gifts outside of the Faewild, as they are created by fae slaves imprisoned by her husband, Krampus the Hunter, throughout the year.
For his part, Krampus is a great horned dragon that leads the wild hunt through the outer planes. While he ignores the Mortal Plane, the Faewild is one of his prime hunting grounds where he chases after all fae he comes across, giving them two options: join the hunt and become his horrific hounds, or be captured and brought to Yulehall to forge trinkets and toys for the mortal plane until the next Drakemas. This day is celebrated on the Faewild only as Noelf, for by the end of the night there are no elves enslaved on Brumatory. This peace is short lived, as the next morning the Hunt begins anew, and the dragons return to the mortal plane.
Pocket Dimensions & Other Planes exist in a great number, too many to count with mortal eyes in a lifetime, but their powers and influence on the Mortal Plane are weak compared to these other great planes. Some exist with a specific form or reflection, some are merely minor realms filled with minor beings. Many have god-like beings that simply do not care about the Mortal Plane, still others have their own desires and troubles beyond all of these.
Many minor planes or locations on the vast Shroud are altered into temporary planes by those with the ability and power to create them. From lesser pockets of space used to expand a Bag of Holding’s storage to temporary bubbles of shelter for the spellcaster on-the-go, such temporary planes are frequent and almost common. But be warned! You are still on the shroud, and if your pocket of space is too close to another plane, it is possible for those beyond to influence or reach through your portal.