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

Copyright 1998 by Jon Winter

Outer PlanesSoma Purusha

Infinite Creatures and Immiscible Morals

Soma Purusha's not only a great friend of mine, he's also an accomplished planewalker. We've never met face to face, but I've received many letters from him as he travels from planar burg to planar burg. Anyhow, you ain't interested in me, you want to learn philosophy, right? Well, Purusha's got a slant, that's for sure.

Soma Purusha's had more than one brush with dubious moral activities -- I'm sure he won't mind me telling you that much. Doubtless you have too. But have you ever stopped to consider the emotions that've been generated when you're doing whatever it is you're doing? The adrenalin thrill when you nick something and get away with it. The buzz of the dark when you bob a cony. The self-satisfaction when you give a quipper your last green. But you never gave it another thought, right?

Well, think of it like Soma does: If you get that emotional burst when you're living your -- lets' be honest -- insignificant life, imagine what the Planes must feel like. Yeah, you heard me. Just think about it: An infinite expanse which embodies an emotion, action or moral duty. Stop for a second and try to imagine the boundless buzz of emotions which could be running through the planes like rats through the Hive Ward. Beggars belief, don't it.

I have to say "could be", of course, because some of the planes sure don't look like they're alive. Appearances can be deceiving, reckons Soma -- the planes are more sentient than they let on. Like great beasties they huddle together in the Void, feeding on belief and swapping stories of ideas with their neighbours. 'Course, these infinite creatures only sit next to the ones they get along with best -- hence the order of the Great Ring...

Outer Planes Map
Notice, cutters, that even Limbo remains in the same place. Now think: If it really were the Plane of Chaos, would it remain in the same place? Unlikely. As it is, the only two infinite creatures which'll put up with it next to them are 'Ysgard' and 'Pandemonium', so that's where it stays.

"How do the Layers fit in then, Voilà!?" I hear you ask. Well, bashers, Soma's a little cagey on that one. Perhaps they're aspects of the Infinite Creatures' personalities, or maybe they're groups of beasts rather than single ones. At least that's explain how layers can shift around. Picture sites and burgs on the planes as their possessions -- they can be handed about (when a so-called Planar Conjunction Occurs), or get lost altogether. When the creatures communicate with one another, portals are opened and close -- planewalkers make use of these threads of thought by stepping into one and out the next!

And the Lady of Pain? Well, she'd be the Lion Tamer, perhaps, keeping these beasties in line, or maybe they've chased her up the Spire. When you're speculating as much as Soma is, it don't really matter. It's the thought that counts.

But I digress (and by rather a lot, too!) While I don't go as far as Soma on the "planes are alive" front, I'm keen on his idea of emotions pulsing through the planes. These are probably created by actions and thoughts of inhabitants of the planes, as well as belief drawn from the Primes...So all the malicious thoughts of cruelty and hurt get funnelled into the Abyss (by some mechanism best left imagined!) and gather there.

If you've ever seen a mixture of liquids, say lamp oil and water, you'll understand this next bit. Strange as it may seem, they simply won't mix. They're the same state (liquid), but different "phases". Shake 'em up and they churn around, but they'll separate out again. Same with a box of rocks, in fact...shake them up and the big ones rise to the top and the small ones go to the bottom (shows that gravity don't always make sense too, that!).

Now I reckon the Outer Planes are a little like that. Each is made of morals and ethics that are broadly similar, but subtly different. It's the broadness that separates plane from plane, but it's the subtlety that makes one layer above the next. On Baator, for instance, it's no accident that the most heinously evil layers have sunk to the bottom, to make Nessus. "Evil's a heavy weight to bear", as they say. Similarly, the goodest of the good on Mount Celestia has risen to the top to form Chronias. All over the planes you can see this principle -- the most pure of any belief rises or sinks to the place it belongs.

By this token, a shift in the distribution of morals on a plane could cause the layers to bob like corks. Perhaps if the Lord or Lady or Baator (a blood learns to keep his options open) built a new palace on Caina, the icy layer and Nessus'd swap around. Who knows?

"What of one-layer planes?" You ask...Mechanus simply mixes better than the rest. Limbo couldn't get much more mixed up than it it -- in fact, it looks almost as if someone's shaking it up right now. They say there used to be five layers; maybe they'll return if the shaking stops? Even the Outlands is organised in rings. The most neutral of the neutral floats towards the Spire. Look where the rilmani ended up, after all.

'Course, none of this neatly explains the Lady of Pain, does it? Funny that...

Voila!

Mapping the Infinite: Index

Consult the Mimir Again