Planes

General

The frayed world of Athwei, with its scars from the Great War, is in a desolate part of the unstable [[Common Realm]]]. First visited in the Age of Peace by unknown beings, the realm was subsequently and accidentally set upon by the Forefathers of Aklon. The Common realm has warring, diametrically opposed outsider factions that reside in Empyrea and Abgal'la, and it contains a contiguous subrealm known as Shade, which is a dark and confusing realm that is part of the Shadow Realm. There are 'Elemental Realms' charted by early Etrurian magi known as the 'noble realms', realms that have bias towards environmental extremes but are still follow reasonable natural laws, and there are 'Far Realms', which are Eldritch and alien places that have wildly different natural laws that rarely reflect the structures or systems found in nature. Though there is no known end to the realms beyond the Common one, the laws that bind the common realm do not apply in many of them, making them patently unsafe for most humanoids. Ancient societies throughout time have made it their mission to give some semblance of order to this stultifying array of realities, but human understanding of their organization (if any) is based only ephemeral knowledge. Structures exist in some places that suggest that wills of some kind once had systems of travel that moved between realms of some utility to them.

The Veil Between Worlds

To go between realms, one has to find or create a passageway through Shadarak, a space between. Shadarak expands and recedes like an ocean, bringing the Far Realms closer or further away. The veil between worlds is weakest during full moons or on moonless nights, and is also weakened by equinoxes, eclipses and other celestial events. As a result, rituals and ceremonies designed to reach entities in the Far Realms are best conducted on equinoxes, especially during lunar eclipses or other unusual celestial phenomena. A confluence of tides, lunar phase, celestial alignment and season can result in planar events of unusual power or quantity, leading to the general populace's avoidance and fear of important work on auspicious events, or the conduct of beneficial or auspicious rituals when most beneficial.

It is important to note that realm events of significance such as wars, long-time sites of demonic or holy worship, and the deaths of powerful entities or large groups of people tend to disturb the fabric to Shadarak, forming vortices between Mercatia and Far Realms that can linger for some time. A good example of this is the Shadow Rift in eastern Skotha, a persistant tear to the Far Realm of Shade that is regularly the point of incursion for interlopers from the Far Realms. There are many ruins in the Eldritch Ruins and from the Great War that will allow for spontaneous, even unwelcome travel to other worlds, which some believe may account for the continual population of Mercatia by otherworldly entities. Many people believe that the Old Ones may have built machinations beyond the comprehension of Common individuals in these places, or that perhaps they are the result of weaponry or magic used in the Great War.

There are a number of concurrent or convenient realms which scholars and magi regularly access to go about their business. When traveling between realms, it's much easier to move from like environment to like environment. These include Shadarak, a crushing and watery abyss which can easily be accessed from spots deep in Athwei's oceans, Harradan, a relatively safe but mysterious series of relays , Shade, Abgal'la and Empyrea. Shadrak Harradan, while not technically common, both e sily accessible and both offer special prospects to future travellers. Also, it seems that despite their apparent remoteness, prayers to gods of Mercatia are still heard in these desolate places.

The Quick Way

It is possible that those who have led particularly dastardly lives to be sucked straight down into the Plane of Negative Energy, which is an abyss as far below Abgal'la as Empyrea is high above Baraka. Unlike the Netherworld, it is home to a host of horrifying beasts that preside there. It is commonly believed that the first spark of Mercatia was born in the roiling chaos of the Plane of Negative Energy, expanding with light and fire until it pushed away the darkness and then spread through the emptyness.

The Plane of Negative energy has a number of domains within it, including Tartarus, Abgal'la, the coldest, lowest levels of Naraka/Yu Di. It is the penultimate bottom of the universal barrel, and it is inherently chaotic. Unlike the Netherworld or other concurrent planes, The Plane of Negative energy bares no resemblance to the Prime Material Plane. The pressure there crushes all but the most tenacious of strange creatures that call it home, and it is a barren void of sulpherous quagmires and lava pillars.

Known Realms

Shadarak

Harradan - Harradan is an ex

Empyrea - A concurrent transitory super-realm that encompasses the upper realms, including those of air, smoke, and fire. These are also called the Dawn Realms or 'The Great Above', a land of order, cleanliness, sterility, immutability and law. Empyrea is a world of perfection and order created in the image of the god Lowhon the Purifying Light.

Shade - Shadow Realm - A transitory and concurrent realm where the dead are interned until their egos disintegrate or they are summoned elsewhere. It appears to share charactericts with Athwei, though gnarled, twisted and decayed into dim poverty. While theories abound that the shadow realm is a distant future of Athwei, the College of Mages has noted peculiarities with the location of various geographical and astronomical similarities between the two worlds. The Shadow realm seems to have been stripped of water and fertile soil at some point, leaving great expanses of dust and mud that are barely lit by a distant and diffuse red nebula. Within this realm, rare life seems to stir, and even a small population of humanoids live there.

Abgal'la - 'The Great Below', A realm similar in size to Athwei, but made entirely of a mass of entrails and internal organs, dying and growing as needed to support the strange process of birthing the Elder Gods. Within its calcified depths exists a great web built by Utle the Spinner in Darkness, who creates the roads between realms in which the larva are intended to be born.

Nether Realm

Realm Taxonomy

Elemental and Quasi-Elemental planes are similar to Material planes, and they even have their own Upper or Lower planes that connect them to the planes of positive and negative energy. These planes are highly hazardous to most creatures from the Material plane, as they are often penultimate paradigms of fire, cold, earth, air, water. Quasi-Elemental planes are conjunctive Elemental planes, such as the plane of Dust, which is somewhere between the planes of air and earth. Upper and Lower Elemental planes include those such as Sweetwater (Upper Elemental Plane of Water and original home of the Chaldean gods) or Ashakale (Lower Elemental Plane of Fire and Air and current residence of the Old Empire war-god Erra).

Upper Planes

Upper planes are those closer to the plane of Positive Energy (such as the plane of Empyrea or the Kingdom of Jade ). These planes become increasingly axiomatic and intolerable to humanoids as one ascends above the prime material, until they dissipate into the pure energy and light of the plane of Positive Energy itself. The higher planes can be hazardous to outsiders, especially those of chaotic (or even neutral) alignment. Typical dangers in the upper planes include leaves or grass as sharp as crystal, water that burns organic creatures, or wandering shafts of purelight from Empyrea.

Lower Planes

Lower planes are those closer to the plane of Negative Energy (also called Mazarin). These planes become increasingly chaotic and dark as one descends below the prime material. Beings that live in these planes are always chaotic. The lower planes can be hazardous to outsiders, especially those of lawful (or even neutral) alignment. Typical dangers in the lower planes include various undead flora and fauna, shifting mires, a lack of clean food or water, or twisting life-siphons that savage the land.

Concurrent Planes

Concurrent planes are those planes which exist 'beside' (or even inside) the prime material. Technically, the Upper and Lower planes could be considered concurrent to the prime material, but Concurrent planes have only one all encompassing level that may lead to any other upper or lower plane. These planes include the Ethereal plane and the Shadow plane, as well as the plane of Twilight. Concurrent planes are sometimes called Transitory planes, because they often serve as a link between one plane and another. For example, the Shadow plane contains many portals to other planes, but mostly to the Lower planes or the plane of Negative Energy.

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