The elemental planes of Athas are not the same planes as the elemental planes in the Great Wheel. They share the names and many of the characteristics, but they are not the same territory.
I agree. I just spent like 10 posts discussing it with Sysane
Here is my updated version of the Athasian Cosmos. I think this is the definitive version that makes the most sense.
thumbs up Pretty comprehensive. The only change I’d make to that would be to have The Black much closer/superimposed/beneath Athas and the Ethereal given how close they are cosmologically. Arguably that’s a semantic difference though.
Agreed Bryan. Dark Sun is a mess. While the game designers seem to have had an initial plan, that had to be altered to accommodate Troy Denning going off on his own tangents in the PP. Late 2nd Ed DS tries to tidy things up into a coherent whole, but they didn’t get the time or the resources to do it.
Dragon Kings got a partial rewrite/update with Defilers and Preservers, but the planar mechanics would have presumably been given the definitive treatment in a clerical tome - clerics on Athas being the closest thing to planar specialists Athas has.
Oh! The graphic is not meant to be distance. The Black is as near or far as its metaphysical location happens to be at any particular time or place.
That said, its possible that the Black might be similar to the 2E Demiplane of Shadow. If that is the case, then it is a Demiplane within the Ethereal Plane, conterminous with Athas.
What does everyone think? EDIT: Graphic included.
This is why I hate metaphysics.
Joking aside, I hew to the idea of the Black being a reflection of Athas, and therefore being coterminous and coexistent, as per the 3E Manual of the Planes writeup of the default Plane of Shadow.
As to whether it should be a demiplane, I’m more relaxed about its planar status. On the one hand, late 2E Dragon Magaine had a Demiplane of Shadow writeup that suggested it might become a full fledged plane in the future, which seems to be where 3E took it.
Is the Black the same as the Demi/Plane of Shadow? No. It fulfills many of the functions but is also different (the cold for one thing). I’d suggest maybe having it as it’s own plane, not within the Ethereal, but coexistent and coterminous with Athas. Whether it’s coexistent with the Astral, Ethereal or the Gray is another matter. I lean towards it being shut off by itself and not directly connected to the Transitive Planes. Thoughts?
I thought that coexistent ARE transitive.
Sorry Red, I don’t understand your comment.
I thought that a coexistent plane are transitive within the planes that they coexist with. For example, enter the plane of shadow, emerge at the prime material equivalent of where you moved to in the plane of shadow.
Ah right. Sorry, I was using Transitive Plane in the 3E MotP context - Astral, Ethereal and Shadow. I guess any plane can be small ‘t’ transitive as you said. 3E seems to like grouping planes - Inner, Outer, Transitive for the most part.
OK. I will use the 3E Manual of the Planes as my baseline.
We know that Athasian cosmology falls under ‘Variant Planes and Cosmologies’. Now lets look in detail.
There are 2 transitive planes. The Black and the Ethereal planes. According to the manual of the planes, they are generally:
From the Plane of Shadow to the Ethereal Plane, or Vice Versa: In the D&D cosmology, these two planes are coexistent with the Material Plane, but not with each other. Spells and effects that use the Plane of Shadow do not function on the Ethereal Plane, and spells and spell-like effects that use the Ethereal Plane don’t work on the Plane of Shadow. Travelers can’t go directly from one plane to another. If you decide that these two planes are coexistent in your campaign, then spells from one plane should function on the other. This means that your characters can have ethereal encounters on the Plane of Shadow and shadow encounters on the Ethereal Plane. Individuals traveling from one plane to the other would gain or lose their insubstantial ethereal bodies.
This is fine by me. The Black and the Ethereal are transitive planes that are coexistent with the world of Athas, but not with each other, and thus to get from one to the other, you must pass through Athas.
The Astral Plane does not exist on Athas.
Now - what of the Far-Realm? I would guess its conterminous with certain specific parts of Athas (my headcanon is Eldaarich).
The Plane of Mirrors? If it exists, it is conterminous.
The Spirit World? If it exists, its coexistent with Athas, and not with the Black or the Ethereal.
My thoughts exactly.
Astral I would say exists, but you have to punch through the Gray to reach it and that’s difficult (but not impossible to my mind - the table on p.10 of D&P works for me).
Hmmm…Far Realm is one place I loathe with a passion. Being autistic having something that has no rules and is utterly weird is complete anathema to my mindset. But, looking at the question, yes, I think there might be a few areas on Athas where the Far Realm touches. Eldaarich could be one (something has shattered Daskinor’s mind, and I’m not entirely sure goblin curses can explain it).
There could be a counterpart to Qwith - a servant of Rajaat who plumbed the planar depths, found the Far Realm and caused an incursion by Kaorti. That could make for a great campaign - the PCs realise a secret cabal of Kaorti defilers is trying to bring down civilisation from within and the SMs have so far been the lynchpins holding them back. Yeah, lets have a few isolated portals to the Far Realm on Athas. One under Eldaarich turning Daskinor inside out, one isolated fortress from Rajaat’s time, home to a Kaorti cabal, and a 3rd that no one suspects exists…yet.
I’ve never liked the Plane of Mirrors, but if we went with it, it’s access points would be rare and dimly lit - I see silvered glass mirrors as incredibly rare on Athas, with most mirrors being polished copper or obsidian. This would in turn reduce the visibility and clarity of the realm within.
The Spirit World doesn’t really work in a world where spirits get absorbed into the Gray before slowly dissipating away. I suppose there could be a Spirit Trap World, created by an incredibly powerful being, one that appears idyllic and heavenly, but is actually a way of entrapping souls in a certain area and using them as a spell battery. I may be taking too much of World of Warcraft’s Shadowlands into that though.
An alternative would be some sort of Spirit World that is the source/abode of Spirits of the Land - a druidic inner plane if you will. I’m not sure how any of that would work as the idea’s only just come to me. With either the Spirit of the Land or the Spirit Trap ideas, neither would be accessible from a plane other than Athas itself.
Is there a dream realm? I know in 3.5 dream travel psionics and epic spells could reach other planes.
The 3E MotP has a dream realm, Eberron has a version as well, along with various 3rd party products. Dream realms tend to get conflated with Mindscapes in my head and are way more effort than I can be bothered with. That said, nothing says you can’t have one of the SMs proficient in dream-based magic and playing around with the dream realm.
Lets come up with 10 different reasons that Daskinor could be insane at some point.
Anyway, Far-Realm a solid maybe. Mirrors, no. Dream, probably not. The Spirit World is supposed to be a more idealized version of the material world, according to the Manual of the Planes.
The Spirit World is a realm brought into sharp focus. Colors are brighter, sounds more distinct, and every sense is more keenly aware of its surroundings. Some of its denizens say that the Material Plane is just a pale reflection of the Spirit World’s vibrancy. It is a dimension of ultimates.
The Spirit World is part of a cosmology radically different from the Great Wheel. In this cosmology, there are spirits for everything, from the greatest mountain to the smallest flower, as well as spirits of ancestors and objects long passed into history. The Spirit World is the plane where the spirits of all things, living and unliving, make their homes.
The Spirit World is a Transitive Plane that replaces the Astral Plane of the D&D cosmology. Unlike that plane, the Spirit World is both coexistent with and coterminous to the Material Plane, matching its terrain. A valley in the Spirit World corresponds to a valley on the Material Plane, and where there is a waterfall in one, there is a waterfall in the other. In the case of the Spirit World, however, the waterfall is higher, its water more pure, and its sound more pleasing than that of its equivalent on the Material Plane. The Spirit World’s waterfall would likely be the home of a water elemental that serves as the spirit of the waterfall.
Living creatures and their structures, from beaver dams to palaces, do not necessarily have direct analogs. However, where a citadel stands on the Material Plane, a similar citadel (though greater and stronger) may stand in the Spirit World, occupied by the spirits of revered ancestors of the Material Plane citadel’s ruler.
So the kinds of spirits would not be the dead (they go try to go to the Outer Planes and end up in the Gray instead), but the various nature and inanimate creatures. Of course, if Athas has a Spirit World it is going to be completely wrecked. You could probably add some fey in there as well, also wrecked.
Done. Thread created. I drew a blank after 7.
Agreed. Dream realm would be better represented by semi-permanent mindscapes (given Athas’ psionic intensity).
I dislike the Spirit World generally, but a wrecked version is rather redundant as Athas and it’s connected planes are wrecked to begin with. Adding Fey in sounds a bit too much like the Feywild from 4th Ed.
There were fey in 2e though. I mean, Pyreen are about as fey as you can get.
I changed my mind about the mirrors. I re-read Manual of the Planes, at it appears the mirror plane isn’t really a singular plane, but an ad hoc plane that comes into existence when there are mirrors around.
So it the Plane(s) of mirrors could exist. The only question is whether it suits the flavor of Athas.
Lemme play devil’s advocate here and drop that if the Dead Lands (2E version) had been released they added the paraelemental plane of obsidian to the mix. If that’s the case, what others are there… and how does that affect your view of the cosmetology?
I know it created a bunch of obsidian, but I thought it was a portal to the paraelemental plane of magma? Can somebody with access to some version of the document confirm?
Edit: even if it does say paraelemental plane of obsidian, the easy solution is to just make it a subsection or alternate name for the paraelemental plane of magma, given that the plane of magma is full of obsidian.