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

Copyright 1998 by John "Mr. Niceguy" Wright

MapSynjyn the Exile

The Extra Dimensional Theory of Synjyn the Exile

The following was recorded at the Trianym by several mimirs at six bells yesterday. As dusk started to deepen and the light boys flocked, two set aside their cries of "Be seen for a green!" and "A light for the night!" to set their Gehennan torches at the base of the central podium.

From the shadows behind the lectern appeared a gray, gray man, whose whispery voice carried clearly over the barrikin, seemingly no further away than the shadows behind the listeners's ears. He said:

"Good evening to you citizens of Sigil, fair and foul, planar, prime, proxy, and petitioner. My name is Synjyn, known in the streets as the Exile. What? No, I'm not an exile, but the waggers in the streets can neither understand nor pronounce four-syllable words like 'expatriot.' O' course, you can hardly expect sophistication from berks who think 'blood,' cutter,' and 'basher' are terms of great respect, can you?"

"Now, if you've all got your skulls out, I'll lann you the chant about the multiverse that I've picked up from the Magi, a sect of spell-slingers and graybeards based out of the plane of Shadow. The Gray, as they're known, are sort of anti-Indeps. They think that all you factioneers each have a handle on what's important, that you've each got a shadow of the Truth. They put these scraps together into what they call the 'gray truth,' which must be a rorty dark indeed, because it's the common chant of stoneheads that these mages never need to use spell keys; their magic works everywhere, even where it shouldn't. And what I'm about to spill is a pretty high-up piece of the gray truth."

"The dark of the multiverse ain't that it's made up of planes, berks, but that it's made up of dimensions. Nine of 'em in fact, three sets of three, a ful number. Each of the three dimensions within a set is related, and the sets themselves are called Space, Time, and Form. Now, some of you sods may not grok what a dimension is, really, so I'll chant you that bit first."

"First off, a dimension sure as Sigil ain't no plane. I'm not rattling about the 'extra-dimensional' nor about 'parallel dimensions.' Those are prime words, coined by clueless graybeards trying to explain how bags of holding work, or why there are more worlds than their own pretty prime nest."

"What I'm lanning you is 'dimension' in the sense of measurement, of definition, of a quality. The dimensions that every little thing in the Great Ring and beyond has got to part of, or you wouldn't know it's there. Here, I'll start off easy. Everybody's heard of the first set of three dimensions, those of Space. They're height, width, and depth."

At this point, the speaker reached down into the light and sketched a... well, a three-dimensional diagram in the glow of the light boys's torches. His fingers trailing lines of darkness in the air, the gray, gray man drew three lines, each at right angles to another, and all crossing at a central point. He then labelled them 'X' 'Y' and 'Z'.

"This here is height, or the up-and-down axis. This one's width, or the left-to-right axis. And this one's depth, or the back-and-forth axis. Now then, we've all obviously got measurements in each of these three dimensions. You sir, yes you, the skinny githzerai up front, you've got more height than that fat little halfling squinting between your legs, but he's got more width than you. And that bariaur in the back's got more depth than both of you put together. But you've all got at least a little of each of the three spatial dimensions, don't you?"

"Well, all the dimensions are like that. They ain't places you can go visit, no matter what screed some barmy chronomancers try 'n push."

"Which brings me to the next set of three dimensions, those of Time. They're sequence, probability, and entropy. Now bar that, you young Doomguard! I'll get to entropy, gimme a moment, but I doubt you'll like what this theory has to say on the subject."

At this point, the man reached down into the light beside his diagram and drew another, exactly similar in shape to the first, save that it was labelled 'A' 'B' and 'C'.

"Now, this 'A' line here is sequence, the temporal dimension that most of you sods are familiar with. It's the line that travels from past to future. You shouldn't need me to explain the difference between yesterday and tomorrow. And it should be obvious to the most addle- coved outsider that everyone exists in this dimension, 'coz otherwise you wouldn't be here long enough to hear me flappin' my bone-box about it."

"Park your ears close now, cutters, 'cause the rest of this chant is pretty dark to most folks. These next dimensions are the ones that describe how the planes are put together, and I think that's the chant you came here to stuff into your grinners, eh?"

"The 'B' line is probability. This is the continuum that measures cause and effect, and whether actions that happen in sequence are improbable or probable. You planars might know this line better as the line between Chaos and Law. You can find Mechanus at one end of this continuum and Limbo at the other. On the lawful end of this line, only the expected happens. Everything is predictable and orderly. On the chaotic end however, anything goes."

"Lemme give you an example." If I were to pick up this rock and hit that Hardhead sergeant over there with it, most of you cutters know what the likely result would be. But there are a bunch of less likely results too. I could miss, the rock just might bounce unnoticed off his hard old head, or it could even spontaneously transmute into a bouquet of flowers in mid-air. It all depends on where in the probability continuum things happen to be."

"If some of you bashers ever wondered how the Xaosmen do the impossible so often, now you're lanned. Them chaos berks've just got more improbability in 'em, like that githzerai's got more height than this halfling."

"The probability dimension also explains what some folks call parallel dimensions. See, if you were to just stay still in all the other dimensions, spatial, sequence, and what not, and only moved across probability, why you'd be sliding over to whole new worlds, where the only difference is what the consequences were to people's decisions and actions. Such travellers might even be called 'Sliders,' but I won't be opening that hag's pouch of larvae!"

"The last temporal dimension is entropy, this 'C' line here. Entropy is the measurement of how much negative or positive energy something's got, whether it's falling apart or building up. The obvious example to use here would've been my friend, Malachi the Vampire, but he had a dinner engagement with a lovely young thing in the Lower Ward this evening, and couldn't be here. Don't matter none, 'cause any berk knows that a vampire's got more negative energy in 'im than, say, a dwarf, like you, ma'am. It should also be obvious to the berk on the street that the Positive Material plane describes one end of this continuum while the Negative Material plane's found at t'other."

"What takes a peery look to see is that the 'C' axis is also the line that can be drawn between the upper and lower outer planes. Think about it. Folk in the upper planes concentrate on life and creation, beauty construction, and peace. In the lower planes, it's all death and war, destruction, malice and bleakness. That kind of parallel doesn't happen by chance, eh? No, the similarities between the upper and Positive Material planes, and the lower and Negative Material planes, exist because they all lie close together on the same spectrum: entropy."

"Now, here's the part of this chant that makes most Doomguard about as happy as a Gehreleth's bride. See, entropy's just a continuum according to the Gray. Any increase in entropy a body might observe is just an illusion, caused by that sod's change in where he stands in the great entropy spectrum. And it may be true that we're all walking the entropy line from positive to negative, in the same way that it appears we're all moving down the sequence line from past to future, but that don't mean you can get rid of the positive end of the spectrum, any more than you can eliminate the past. Any berks that would try are gonna be about as successful as a bunch of spoiled Chessboard kids who've gotten together to get rid of 'up' because they prefer being 'down.'"

At this point, one of the Doomguard, who had been muttering angrily to themselves, stepped forward, brandishing his sword. "Rust you, you blek-screaming screed! The only thing you know about entropy is what I'm going to be ramming through your backbone on the point of my sword!"

The gray, gray man's face hardened, and darkened perceptibly. "There's a fhorge-bred fool in every mob, sure as Sigil."

The crowd in front of the young Sinker parted as he moved toward the stairs to the podia, but with every step he took, the shadows in front of him yawned deeper and blacker. Halfway up the stairs, his paling, determined face and his Doomguard colours bobbed lonesomely as distant islands in a deep umbral sea.

"I'll show you more entropy than you ever thought possible if you don't stand down, boy. Any berk that draws on me is going to lose one of two things; his dignity or his life. I recommend you choose dignity, son; you've got less of that and its loss won't hurt as much."

"I choose your life!!"

The Doomguard snarled and leapt, and the shadows swallowed him whole. The torchlight quickly danced back into it's regular pattern but nothing could be seen of the young Sinker. His fellows clustered together in obvious disquietude, but said no more, in apparent appreciation of this unusual demonstration of destruction.

"Now then. Where was I? Ah yes, the last bit about entropy."

"You'll notice, with lines 'B' and 'C' here, probability and entropy, that a graybeard could doughty up a good representation of the Great Ring. Mechanus and Limbo on opposite ends of the probability axis, and Elysium and the Waste on either end of the entropy axis. This is how the Magi put the outer planes together, but they need another dimension to describe all 27 of the outer planes properly."

"What? Yes, I said twenty-seven! Were you hipped on Pandemonium or something? It ain't my fault if you can't count past seventeen. Three triads tripled, that's the proper number, Rule of Threes all the way. If you don't know about all 27 of the outer planes, then you need to come see me personal-like, or arrange for another mighty big garnish like what paid for this chant. I only flap my bone-box for grinners if the jink's from seventh heaven."

"Now, that last dimension needed to build a proper model of the outer planes is essence, one of the dimensions of Form. The other two are matter and energy, sometimes called mass and heat."

With that, the gray, gray man leaned down and drew a third diagram of shadows in the air, exactly similar to the other two. He labelled the three axes 'M' 'H' and 'E'.

"Like the spatial dimensions describe how big a thing is and where it exists in relation to other things, and the temporal dimensions describe how old a thing is and when it might exist in relation to other things, the dimensions of form describe how spiritual a thing is and what it's made of in relation to other things."

"The matter and energy axes are pretty self-explanatory. Most bloods know what mass and heat are, they just ain't lanned to the theory that these aspects of existence are really dimensions. Hotter things lie further along this end of the 'H' axis, colder ones on that end. The same holds for mass as well. Dense and crystalline things exist at this end of the 'M' continuum while light and airy things exist at the other."

"Take sparkbugs for example. They're nasty, hot little insects found on the inner planes, anywhere from the plane of Fire to the plane of Air. They're very light (and thus measure small on the matter scale) but very hot (and thus measure largely on the energy scale). And their habitat reflects this, like it does for most inner planar critters."

"As it turns out, you can map the elemental planes with the matter and energy dimensions in the same way you can map the Great Ring with the probability and entropy axes. The Water and Fire planes lie on the energy axis, in between the extremes of Ice and Radiance. On the perpendicular matter axis, the elemental planes run from the nothingness of Vacuum, to Air, to Earth, and then to the densely packed crystal of the Mineral plane."

"And before some wag starts rattling his box about it, let me say, 'Yes, I know Ice lies between Air and Water, and Yes, I know it don't make a straight line from Ice to Water to Fire to Radiance.' But the unspoken finish to that sentence is the word, 'now.' How old are you bashers, eh? A decade or three? A century? A millennium? Two? Well, I'm older, and I remember things the way they used to be before the celestials came inwards all high and mighty and used their great holy machine to raise the ice and push out the fog. Meddling bleachers! Ask Factol Skall if you dare. He's been around long enough, and he knows the dark on this. Things change berks, and someday they might change back, too."

"Since the barrikin's already started, I might as well bob up the ante. If you add the entropy axis to the mix of matter and energy, you get the full 3-D model of the inner planes that most of you have seen, or at least heard some graybeard howl about. This is the map you need to show the relationships between all 27 of the inner planes."

"Yes, 27!!!" I ain't being garnished to teach you lot the Rule of Fives! I've been to 'em all, and there's 27, not sixteen or eighteen! Twisted Tanar'ri Testicles! If a number can't be found on your fingers and toes, half you dreamers think it's pure grail! Now settle down and let me finish! You can dismiss this whole chant as barkle if you want, but at least hear it out."

"The third dimension of Form is essence. It may sound unfamiliar, but you all already know about it. Whistles below, you even know the directions: In and Out. Essence is the line that that travels from the inner planes to the outer, and the dimension measures how abstract or spiritual something is. The more concrete, elemental things and places can be found on the 'inner' side of the 'E' axis, while the more abstract, belief-affected things and places can be found on the 'outer' end of the 'E' axis. Primes, of course, sit right in the middle."

"Like I said earlier, adding the essence dimension to the probability- entropy map of the Great Ring allows you to model the outer planes proper-like, with the layers added and all. See, as you go farther into a plane's layers, you'll find that they get more abstract and prone to affectation by belief. And you'll notice that this travel seems to be 'up' on some planes (like Mt. Celestia) and down on others (like the Abyss). Really, though, a planewalker travelling in this direction is going only one way: 'out'. This feature of essence can be found in the Hinterlands, too. Once you pass the gate towns, you're not just moving away from the Spire, you're moving 'out' as well, into realms of greater and greater abstraction."

"So you see, a proper model of the outer planes has two twists in the Great Ring, one each at Limbo and Mechanus, (both of which, you'll note, don't have layers), so that the 'higher' layers of the upper planes and the 'deeper' layers of the lower planes both stretch off in the same direction."

"That's it then. The Magi's basic theory. It ought to raise as many questions as those it answered for you berks, such as 'If everything can be defined as a dimension, then why do separate planes exist, and begin and end where they do?' Well, I'll have to lann you curious folk to the chant about the Lord of Anguish and the Borderlands in private, later. Anyone who wants to discuss a proper payscale for such darks can reach me at the Pentacle, over on Slacker Street in the Lower Ward. Or, you can leave a message with one of these light boys. They know how to find me. Thank you for your time. Believe well, all!"

With that spoken, the gray, gray man vanished into the shadows behind the Trianym. The light boys retrieved their torches and the members of the crowd started breaking up, returning to their daily routines.

Mapping the Infinite: Index

Consult the Mimir Again