8/9/13

Montporte Cosmological Notes: On The Planes

I recently posted a short description of the cosmology of Montporte Dungeon Campaign. In today's post, I’ll give a bit more detail about the Five Planes. I may also do some posts on the individual planes at a later date, but don’t hold me to that.

The average inhabitant of Montporte would have very little knowledge of the planes. Even this scant knowledge is corrupted by ignorance, superstitions, and just plain inaccurate information. Humans, in particular, display very little knowledge of or interest in the planes. Elves and dwarves, being the Elder Races of Aarde, know the most. Gnomes and halflings fall somewhere in the middle.

The Five Planes
The known universe, in which the Montporte Dungeon exists, contains five planes. They are:
  • Aarde: The plane where humans and their ilk dwell.
  • Ioucura: The plane of madness.
  • Syvyys: The plane of demons.
  • Umírající: The plane of the fey.
  • Zaj: The plane of dragons.
The spatial relationship of the planes has been speculated on by many scholars and mages over the years, but the reality is that no one really understands where one plane is in regards to any of the other four. No one even knows if there is space or matter or even existence in between the planes. Despite this lack of knowledge, scholars do generally agree that Aarde lies in the middle of the other four planes.

The planes do appear to “move” in some way, at least in relationship to each other. There are times when each plane seems somehow to be "closer" to Aarde and other times when each plane seems "further away." Syvvys is the one exception to this, as it always appears at the same “distance” from Aarde. Umírající and Zaj “move” in a regularly cyclical pattern in relationship to Aarde. Umírající is typically the “closest” to Aarde, except when Ioucura pops up right nearby Aarde.  Ioucura’s “movement” is completely random. The “proximity” of one plane to another greatly influences the ease or difficulty of travel between them.

The Plane of Aarde
The plane of Aarde lies at the heart of the known universe. In Aarde is the home of human cities, the elven dales, and the dwarven mountain strongholds. Montporte and its environs are part of Aarde. For the player characters, Aarde is home.

Aarde features a wider diversity of life and lifeforms than the other four planes combined. All manner of creature, mundane and magical, can be found here. Among the humanoid races, the elves and dwarves, hold a special place as the Elder races. Humans, gnomes, and halflings have been around for less time. Love them or hate them, humans are the dominate race. They bring a dynamism that is unique to them, because or in spite of their shorter life span.

Travel from Aarde to the other planes is impossible without the use of rare and powerful magic. Despite the challenge, denizens from the other planes do find their way to Aarde on occasion. Summoning spells, magical gateways, and dreams (in the case of Ioucura) are all ways that “outsiders,” as non-Aardian creatures all called, end up in Aarde.

There are areas in Aarde where the fabric of existence has been stretched thin. In these areas, travel to and from Aarde happens more frequently—sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. Mountain building (orogeny), the persistent presence of powerful magic, the close proximity to large bodies of waters, and even lightning can stretch the fabric that is Aarde.

The Montporte Dungeon lies in the foothills of the Dragonfang Mountains, the largest, highest and oldest mountain range of Aarde. Historically, the Montporte area has been the site of countless acts of magic, great and small. While travel between planes is always next to impossible, few areas of Aarde offer easier access from other planes as does the Montporte area.

The Plane of Ioucura
Ioucura is the plane of nightmares and madness. It is the plane of chaos, entropy and unmaking. The distance between Aarde and Ioucura is occasionally bridged when mortals of Aarde are sleeping, through bizarre dreams and nightmares. Insanity also creates a path from Ioucura.

Unspeakable horrors of the worst sort do, on occasion, cross over into Aarde and are made manifest in the flesh in the form of magical aberrations.

The Plane of Syvyys
Demons dwell on the plane of Syvyys but seek every occasion to make their way to Aarde, as they feed off of the life energies of mortals. Elves are immune to this demon feeding and have earned the special enmity of demonkind.

Demons fall into one of three groups: Lesser, greater, and lords. Each demon is unique and even the lesser demons are incredibly powerful, violent, and cruel. Any semblance of order that exists in Syvyss is there only through the threat and use of violence.

Each demon has a true name, known only to itself. Knowing a demon's name gives one power over that demon, although the demon will seek every opportunity to kill any being that knows its name.

The Plane of Umírající
Umírající is the plane of fey creatures and it is a plane filled with natural beauty. Yet, just below that beauty lies danger and death. The creatures of Umírající are divided into three camps: The Summer Court, the Winter Court, and the Wild Ones.

The Summer and Winter Courts are made up of nobility, with each noble being unique and extremely powerful. Each Court also has a vast array of folk and creatures who live under the rule of the respective Courts and are there to serve and obey the nobility.

The Wild Ones do not owe loyalty to either Court. They include:
  • The Hunters--A few very powerful and unique beings that seek to hunt and owe no allegiance to anyone but the Hunt. 
  • The Pack--The minions of the hunt who join in on larger hunts, but otherwise go their own way. 
  • The Beasts--Unintelligent magical and mundane creatures that live in the forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers of Umírající. 
  • The Loners--Powerful and unique creatures who live on their own, without regard to Courts or the Hunt.
Umírající is the most hospitable plane for those from Aarde, but it is still treacherous, even for the powerful and wary. Likewise, Aarde is visited more by the fey than any other outsiders.

The Plane of Zaj
Zaj is a mysterious place and nothing is known of the plane itself. It is inhabited by dragons, perhaps the most powerful of all creatures in the five planes. Each dragon is said to have the power of 10 wizards and can breath fire enough to melt the very roots of the mountains.

Dragons are not cruel and do not delight in the suffering of other creatures. Yet, at the same time, they have very little regard for anyone other than themselves. They are known to visit Aarde on occasion. Sometimes it is to seek knowledge, for they have an unquenchable thirst to study and know every aspect of the universe. They also are notorious hoarders and will travel about, accumulating great piles of treasure.  

Other Planes and Universes
Scholars and sages have speculated about the existence of other planes and even universes beyond the Five Planes. If there is any concrete evidence or information regarding such things, however, it has not been recorded.

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