Fauna of Ash
Fauna of Ash

Fauna of Ash


An ashfish before it burrows away to safety

The ashfish are a slippery sort of oddity that captures the imagination. Imagine bein’ a critter that’s the embodiment of indecision—am I a fish? An insect? A sodding reptile? That tough shell makes ’em look like they’re wearin’ helmets. Aye, probably from all the existential crises they go through about what they actually are. Partially blind, y’say? That’s the Plane of Ash for ya—so monochrome that even nature gives up on seein’ properly.

These barmy critters love to dig. They zip through the ash, makin’ it nigh impossible to catch ’em unless you’re quick with a wire net. Their odd dorsal fin-spine-thing? Probably a sensory organ, maybe even their own personal compass in a plane where even directions give up and call it quits. It’s their way of tastin’ the ashen winds, sensing vibrations and avoiding becoming someones dinner.

As for eating ’em? Imagine chewin’ on ash-cured fish jerky. It’s not prime Sigilian fare, but it’ll do. Especially if you’re a stranded planewalker or a peckish salamander. I once saw a gith war party on a survival exercise, spearin’ ashfish like they were collectin’ trophies. They said it tasted like victory. But then, they say that ’bout everythin’.


A descriat digesting its previous meal

You know, every now and then the multiverse coughs up somethin’ so sodding weird that even we jaded planewalkers have to tip our hats. Part duck, part beaver, part bear, these barmy beasts feed on cinders and soot—imagine the mewling hunger that it takes to find ash appetising, eh? So how does this fire-furred mammal survive in a place like Ash, you ask? Well, the descriat’s got a knack, see. It radiates an elemental heat, turning it into a walking furnace. Handy, that, ‘specially if you’re livin’ on a plane that’s as cold as a Harmonium patrol’s sense of humour.

The elemental heat’s so potent, in fact, that it can melt the ash around it, if need be, creating little fireballs as they gobble up soot, cinders, and probably anythin’ else that’s ashen and burnt. I mean, if you could digest the leavin’s of a pyroclastic explosion, you wouldn’t be too fussy, would ya? They’ve got some kinda internal crucible that lets ’em not only digest this stuff but draw energy from it too. It’s like watchin’ a wizard eat spell scrolls and then belchin’ out fireballs. [Touching a descriat or its heat spoor causes 1 hp heat damage per round].

As for livin’ arrangements, they’re pretty solitary beasties, they are. Each descriat’s got its own territory, marked by hotspots that they leave behind them like scent trails. Think of ’em like little lords of their own tiny, scorchin’ fiefdoms. They don’t mingle much, ‘cept to mate or engage in territorial spats.

So, next time you’re walkin’ through Ash and feel an unexpected heatwave, it might not be a wayward emberstorm. Might just be a descriat, enjoyin’ its cinder supper. My advice? Give it a wide berth, unless you fancy becomin’ a side dish at this surreal soiree.

Soot Snake

If you’re ploughing through Ash, ‘specially near the Cinder Wells, you might come across these critters. Mostly harmless, you say? Aye, for the most part, unless you start actin’ the fool. So, here’s the chant: these soot snakes are native to Ash but they’re right fond of the part of the plane nearest to Magma. Those wells are like little pockets of paradise for ’em. You’d think they have it rough, what with the frigid cold ‘n all. But they’ve adapted, see? Their scales are like thermal insulation—keeps ’em from freezin’ their tails off. They’re ambush predators, mostly. They bury themselves in ash, leavin’ just their eyes out. See, they’ve got this ability to make their bodies seem as cold as the surrounding ash, maskin’ their heat signature. Soddin’ ingenious, really. So, they lie in wait, then—WHAM!—they snatch some unsuspectin’ ashfish or, on a bad day, a less-than-lucky planewalker who’s not payin’ attention.

Mostly harmless, eh? Well, they ain’t venomous or anythin’. A bite from one is like gettin’ snapped by a set of rusty calipers. Not lethal but a bit annoyin’. Sort of like those Spiretown folks who think readin’ a few books makes ’em experts on the planes. All in all, if you find yourself near a cinder well and spot a soot snake, give it a nod and go on your merry way. They’re usually not lookin’ for trouble, but will give as good as they get if you start it.


A proper curiosity, those creatures are, both in form and in behaviour. They’ve got the manners of a nosey aunt, always stickin’ their fishy snouts where they shouldn’t. Think of ’em like overly friendly locals who don’t understand the concept of personal space.

Imagine this: you’re tunnelin’ through Ash, mindin’ your own business, and suddenly you feel like you’re being watched. You turn around, and there’s a gang of ulish floating about. They’ve got scales like a mermaid past her prime and eyes like glowin’ orbs that’ve seen too many horrors. Makes you wonder what they’re really lookin’ at.

And, bless me, they love newcomers. If you’re fresh out of a portal, expect to get the ulish welcome treatment. Sometimes they’ll even form a school, swirlin’ around you like you’re the main attraction in the carnival. Annoying? Absolutely. Threatening? Not particularly.

Now, you’re thinkin’, maybe they’re good for a snack, eh? Ha, don’t make that mistake. I tried it once, and let me tell you, it’s like chewin’ on a leather boot that’s been marinated in despair. And I’ve eaten lemure tartare in Baator, mind, so my palate’s far from picky. Those ulish are fit for neither man nor beast, unless you’re keen on ruinin’ your dinner and your mood.

That said, their persistent curiosity’s made more than one sod wonder what they’re really up to. Maybe they’re just simple critters, or maybe—just maybe—they’re the spies of Gazra, lookin’ to keep tabs on who’s treadin’ through his ash-laden domain. ‘Course, that’s just an idea, the kind that blooms when you’ve spent too much time on this plane and start seein’ schemes in every puff of ash. In any case, if you see an ulish or two—or ten—best not to tak too loud in front of ’em, y’know, just in case.

Canonical Sources:

  • Inner Planes [2e] p111
  • Planescape Monstrous Compendium Volume III [2e] p123

Non-Canonical Sources:

  • Jon Winter-Holt, mimir.net
  • PivotSs, Atlas of the Planes: Ash

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