Mapping the Infinite
Being a Gallery of Impossibilities Made Possible by Belief

Copyright 1998 by Jon Winter

Burbank Ralopolis

Beyond the Planes

The Great Unknown. Beyond the Planes. The Fringes of the Multiverse. This is a topic that's obsessed a couple of planewalking cartographers, Corsica and Burbank Ralopolis, for the last Mechanical cycle or more. They reckon that finding the location of the edge of the planes will allow extrapolations to be made about the creation and growth of the planes. In particular, they're interested in learning which planes were born first, who or what is responsible for them, or whether the planes truly are eternal and were never created. "Sometimes things just are", as Corsica is fond of saying. Maybe they'll even discover some of the secrets behind the Great Unknown Force that some Athar tout as the answer to the powers...

The odd couple (Burbank's a male Athar bariaur, Corsica a female Mathematician tiefer; they've been known to cause eyebrows to raise in a few less cosmopolitan establishments) have been married for many years, and seem virtually inseparable. When the Athar sponsored Burbank to find some hard evidence to support the (admittedly rather wild) theories he's been bandying around, it seemed the natural thing for Corsica to accompany him on his sojourn. What started a fact-finding mission rapidly bloomed into a full-scale voyage into the face of the unknown and beyond. In fact, it was tales of their exploits that inspired Palzari's recent production "Edges of Infinity" in her Théatre Brouillard, the chant goes.

The couple's expedition began, as most do, in the Cage. While Corsica researched tomes ancient and modern in the Guvners' library and Magnum Opus' private collection, Burbank recruited an Athar-sympathetic psychic, a mage, a priest and a muscle-bound basher just in case things got risky. After all, you never know what lies at the edge of reality, do you?

Once the right portals had been located and the route mapped out, the band departed from the Shattered Temple, amidst much pomp and circumstance, on the first leg of the voyage. They've still not returned, but the occasional report finds its way to the desk of Factol Terrance, by magic, courier or otherwise, just so he knows where the faction's money's going.

My sources, of course, are everywhere, and I've managed to procure a few snippets of these letters for your delectation. They are a little theoretical at times, but then nobody ever said exploring beyond the known planes was easy...

 

Where the Inner Planes Collide

"We reached the proverbial centre point of the plane of water today, after many weeks of persuading our water weird guides to bring us here. Apparently the elemental water lords will not be pleased at our presence at this sacred place, so we will not tarry long. Using magical scrying means we witnessed the merging of fire, air, earth and water. Glithil [the mage] used a giant pearl to pierce the planar barriers which are at their weakest here, and the reflections that emanated from the pearl's surface were of ful strange in nature.

I have never seen such a sight of such rorty darkness before. Isomer [Corsica's moingo companion] calculated the mixing coefficients of the planes here and determined that the Inner Planes mix at exactly the same rate that the central cog of Regulus rotates. A strange coincidence? More calculations are needed, but alas we must depart this place before we are discovered. I doubt the centres of Earth or Fire will be as easy to attain...perhaps we should try Air."

Burbank Ralopolis

The Ordial Plane

"While we have been unable to find evidence of portals to the Ordial Plane, this does not necessarily disprove its existence; there are apparently few portals to the Astral or Ethereal because of a lack of doorways to which they can be fixed. However, by measuring the Planar Flux Potentials between the Inner and Outer Planes we have determined the magical frequency at which this plane should be present. We may be able to calibrate our tuning fork for use in a plane shift spell...

...Corsica attempted the plane shift using our calculations, and disappeared without trace. An hour later, she slowly re-materialised, covered in cuts and wounds, and only vaguely aware of her surroundings. Alas, she could remember nothing of her journey. More disturbingly, there were marks on her hands which appeared to be symbols. For all our divinations, we have been unable to ascertain if they mean anything."

Burbank Ralopolis

Beyond the Boundaries

"We have entered a new plane which our mimir is unable to identify. We found its entrance far below the surface of the Outlands; we followed deep underground passages, using passwall spells and a rod of passage when the going became blocked. Thirty three miles beneath we found a vast underground cavern with weird portals the like of which we have never before seen; they opened to the touch of living flesh, apparently draining life energy to sustain themselves.

A warp sense spell revealed that the destination was safe, so we established our abjurations and took a jaunt through to see what we would find. The sensation we felt when travelling through the portal was unlike that of a normal portal from the Cage. Rather than being instantaneous it took several seconds, and once our eyes had adjusted to the darkness we could see we were travelling very rapidly through a tube with a mesh of silver bands around and along it. I must admit, it reminded me rather of the Temporal Prime plane, though our mimir did not identify it as such.

Moments later we emerged into a landscape that I simply cannot describe well with words. The place was distorted and twisted, as though the dimensions we take for granted had been crumpled by some cosmic hand. Our mimir appeared dormant; it would not respond. All divination magics we tried to use failed, and though clairsentient psionic powers revealed that there were life forms present in our range of sight, we could not see them. Corsica suggests they were out of phase, though I believe they may have been under the influence of Wild magics like the there/not there spell. It is hard to explain, but I got the distinct impression that space and time were growing and shrinking like living, breathing things here.

The portal behind us, which had remained open for several minutes, began to throb and shrink. Lest we become hipped in that bizarre place, we quickly returned through the portal. Strangely, we appeared not in the cavern beneath the Outlands but near the base of the Spire itself. This is doubly curious since the Spire does not have an Astral connection...we have no coherent theory as yet to explain this, except that perhaps we stumbled across the entrance to an ancient outer plane that had been crushed by the expansion of the planes of the Great Ring we know today. Maybe these ancient planes are relegated to the spaces above the seven heavens of Mount Celestia, below the six hells of Carceri, or outside the layers of Bytopia? But this sounds too improbable, surely..."

Burbank Ralopolis

Outside of Nothing

"Our next experiment took us to the Astral, where we attempted to test the fabric of the plane. Planologists believe that the Astral is in fact a non-plane; an infinite plane with infinitesimal volume. We hypothesised that if we could find a way to pierce the planar material as we had with the Inner Planes, we might be able to take a look at the outside of the Multiverse. See, if we are inside the Multiverse and it stretches in all directions infinitely around us, we could think of it as a sphere. What lies beyond the sphere? Since it has no edges, we cannot pass beyond them, so the only alternative is to travel through another dimensional space to view the Multiverse from the vantage point that gives.

Corsica suggests an analogy with a cube. It has three dimensions, yet it casts a two dimensional shadow. Depending upon the orientation of the light source, the shadow will be of a different shape. Now, imagine a four dimensional shape. It's impossible to picture it (though I believe elementals can). When a light is shone upon it, it casts a three-dimensional shadow! What if out own multiverse were four dimensional, and we only see its 'shadow'? Depending upon which direction the 'light' comes from, we see very different shapes...this explains the different natures of each plane. Where the shadow varies only slightly, a new planar layer is formed. Perhaps the infinite nature of the Abyss can be explained by a predominantly spherical part of the 4D Multiverse, which gives a very large number of similar shadows?

If we could travel outside of the spatial dimensions which we normally occupy, according to this theory, we could look upon the true shape of the planes...well, that was our reasoning. The choice of the Astral was simple; the planar barrier is very different there, and the place is relatively unpopulated. If anything were to go awry in our experiment, the only injured parties (besides ourselves) would be githyanki, and nobody would really shed a tear over them.

The plan was to force open a couple of extra-dimensional spaces (portable holes, both), and, in combination with a limited wish spell and heavy protective magics, try and induce an Astral rift through which we could slip.

The stage was set, the magics ready, and using telekinesis Glithil placed one inside the other, and lo and behold the very Astral plane ripped asunder. Like air into a vacuum the rift began to suck the fabric of the Multiverse outside (at least, we presumed that's where the rift led). Steeling our protections, we advanced towards the rift (though we were already being drawn closer by the force of its suction). Suddenly, however, from nowhere, the horrific Astral Dreadnought spun towards us, screaming blue murder from is terrible jaws!

Faced with the choice of leaping into the unknown, staying to apologise to the furious dreadnought or fleeing the plane completely, we plumped for the latter and made our exit gracefully with a mass teleport. Just in the nick of time too. Scrying from the safety of the other side of a nearby colour pool showed us the rift healing itself slowly, though the dreadnought seemed to be tending the plane like a mother would a baby. Zoology never was my strong point though, so I'll leave the conclusions to be drawn to some other cutter.

We may yet return to the Astral to repeat the experiment, but with the dreadnought sniffing round our tails I think we might leave it a while..."

Burbank Ralopolis

The Edges of Space and Time

"Our final place to research may yet be the hardest to reach. We plan on finding the mythical Edge of Space and the Beginning and End of Time. Spacer legends of the Rock of Bral tell of a First Crystal Sphere which shattered, giving birth to the rest of the Prime. If we can find this centre point then we can perhaps learn where to find the Edge (at least we'd know which direction it was!) As for the time line, we are attempting to contact the entity known as the Murder, which we believe is an expert at travelling to times near these limits.

However, as yet we have not embarked on these most perilous journeys. I shall contact you again before we depart, Factol, and provide you with more details when we have researched out options further. I remain, as ever, your faithful servant."

Burbank Ralopolis

Summary of Findings

"Despite the many phenomenon we have encountered, I cannot say that we have conclusive proof of the hypotheses we propose. While we have clearly observed planes and dimensions outside those which we normally assume to exist, the nature of these places is still dark. Which, I suppose, ain't too surprising; if these places were easy to find they'd have been discovered years ago. We hope to continue our probing into the Time and Space boundaries, then we will follow up the loose ends we've left behind.

As for the Great Unknown; well those factioneers who believe in it can rest assured that it's managed to remain just as unknown as ever. Which is a good thing for that theory, we suppose."

Burbank Ralopolis

Related Topics

Magnum Opus reports some phenomena which may or may not support the existence of the Ancient Planes which Corsica and Burbank propose. See her Musée Arcane for more details. She's also the original founder of the Ordial Plane Theory to which Corsica and Burbank subscribe. More information of this can be found on the relevant Mapping Infinity page.

Mapping the Infinite: Index

Consult the Mimir Again