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

Copyright 1998 by Jon Winter

Inner PlanesPuras Ignitus

"The Inner Planes: They're the Source and the Destination."

You'd probably say he was biased, being a fire genasi and all, but Puras Ignitus reckons the first, and foremost, planes in the Multiverse are the Inner Planes. As he says: "All other planes are made from the Elements. Without them, nothing would have substance. Philosophy's all very well, but if the people talking it don't exist then it ain't really relevant any more!"

Puras' construction of the Inner Planes is a sophisticated three-dimensional model, sphere-like in shape. Around the meridian of the sphere are situated the True Elements and where these overlap, the Para-Elements.

The Positive and Negative Energy Planes are placed at the apex and nadir of the sphere respectively, and where these overlap with the True Elements, the Positive and Negative Quasi-Elemental Planes are born.

[Voilà wishes to point out that Puras doesn't explain why the Energy Planes and Para-Elemental Planes do not overlap! However, this thorny topic is dealt with by Kristias Fireflight in his essay on the Quasiplanes]

Elemental Planes Map
Click on this map for a labelled full sized version (74K)
Pictured in this manner, the Inner Planes appear rather like a Cage. Any cage must hold a prisoner (just ask the Lady of Pain), and this one's no exception, cutters. In the centre of the Inner Planes, bounded by all the elements necessary for its own construction, lies the Prime Material.

The Prime, in fact, occurs as a mixture of all elements as the Inner Planes overlap imperfectly inside the cage. Some Prime Worlds lie closer to one component of the cage, and therefore the world is biased towards that aspect.

Take Athas for example. Puras speculates that this blasted world of burning deserts lies somewhere near the periphery of the Prime, very close to the Planes of Fire, Magma, Ash and Dust. That's why the place is so bloody horrible to live in. The fact it's near the periphery accounts for why it's so hard to get to. The mysterious Gray Plane could be explained by the strange properties which ether adopts near the edge of the Inner Planes.

Ether, you see, permeates the Inner Planes and Prime like a solvent. It washes against all these planes, dissolving a bit here, a chunk there, and making sure everything stays as pure as it can. Or it could be that it's the ether responsible for mixing up the elements to form the Prime: Nobody's quite sure on that point.

Wide-awake bloods have probably already wondered how all this overlapping of planes affects their ability to travel from Inner Plane to Inner Plane. For a start, it's different from the Outer Planes. No matter how far you walk on the Great Ring, you'll never be able to walk from one plane to the next without using a portal. 'Least, that's how the chant goes. Well, that just ain't true on the Inner Planes, or so says Puras...

See, if you know the dark, like Elementals and Genies do, you can, for example, walk Firewards in the Plane of Earth. You'll find the Earth plane gets hotter and more liquid, till it turns into lava and gives way to the Para-Elemental Plane of Magma. Likewise, continue Firewards through Magma and the viscous liquid becomes more sulphurous and hotter, eventually igniting from nothing -- the Plane of Fire.

Thing is, no planewalker's ever been able to find the way from one Inner to the next without an Elemental guide or some similar native. Why? Puras says it's all in the dimensions of the plane. Although a prime'd think that since the Inners must overlap therefore they couldn't be infinite, in actual fact they are. Very infinite indeed. The Elementals, however, are able to perceive something that prime-born races simply can't conceive -- a fourth spatial dimension.

Think about it -- on the Inner Planes, you can walk left or right (that's one dimension), up or down (that's two), forward or back (a third). Puras says elementals can move ana and kata (that's what he calls 'em) as well. Apparently, this means they can move in and out of the Border Ethereal, or from one state of matter to the next. Any creature following them can move in these directions too -- it's just they don't even realise they're doing it. In theory at least, if a human could visualise this fourth dimension he could make the trip on his own. Puras reckons that's simply impossible...

"Prime-born races just ain't able to see the Fourth [dimension]", says Puras. "Maybe they just never evolved it, or perhaps their powers say fit not to grant it to 'em. Maybe the powers don't see it either, and that's why they largely stay away from the Inner."

Why have primes never learned to see the Fourth? I suggest it's a matter of necessity. After all, it ain't every day a lion or tiger lunges at you out of the fourth dimension, so maybe the need to be able to comprehend it never arose. Puras says that the fourth spatial dimension does exist on the Prime, only it's very weak, and possibly on the wane. He reckons it might be the reason wizards can bind elementals to their will on the Prime -- they arrive confused and disorientated by the lack of the Fourth.

According to the oldest records, the Outer Planes have never had a Fourth Dimension. In fact, the self-same books claim the Third one is on the wane out there -- could be why planes are stacked up in layers, says Puras. If this conjecture leads you to the conclusion that maybe the Inner Planes had a Fifth dimension, you'd concur with Puras. He can't prove it, (and refuses to tell me more about it), but I'd hazard that the spatial dimensions as we know them are succumbing to entropy on a massive scale.

Maybe the Sinkers have a point after all...

Voila!

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