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Mount Celestia — Layer the First

The Silver Heaven, The Silver Night, The Threshold, the Evermountain

Themes of the Layer: Confession, repentance, purification

Description: The first and lowest layer of Mount Celestia is Lunia, a shining island mountain of silver-white marble, where all other colours are muted. The Silver Heaven is so-called because the mount is surrounded by the Silver Sea, a vast fresh water sea of holy water teeming with life, from playful white dolphins to flying fish and noble balaena whales. Many small islands are scattered through the Silver Sea, some with castles, shrines or homesteads, and some bearing Beacons of Faith, lighthouses to guide the glittering spirit ships of souls safely through the white coral reefs and to ports like the Bay of Light and the Citadel of Stars.

White Dolphins of the Silver Sea

Portals to the neighbouring planes of Arcadia, Bytopia and the Outlands can be found in the silver surf, and colour pools from the Astral plane dump travellers directly into the water. Above, the Lunian sky is perpetually night-dark, but a myriad of twinkling stars shine light as bright as the day on most Primes. The moon powers Nikkal and Yarikh provide yet more illumination, with their twin full and crescent moons hanging low in the sky.

Once ashore, the petitioners canny enough to have found their way to Celestia can begin their pilgrimage up the Evermountain. The shores, dunes, cliffs and harbours of the layer are called the Threshold by the archons, where their numbers are dwarfed by those of non-empyreal beings and mortals alike. The bustling burgs of the Threshold give way to the Fields of Serenity, far calmer environs where petitioners wait patiently to be allowed to pass the Prime Vallation wall through Heaven’s Gate and into Mount Celestia proper. Heaven-side of the wall, Lunia becomes a much more serene and peaceful place, where only those who deserve to be there – or have a very persuasive personality – are found.

Beings of Lunia: Celestia is home to the race of archons, empyreal beings of benevolent law, with an intimate connection to the plane. At least, they’re benevolent if you display the right kind of attitude; misfits and troublemakers are not welcome here. While the hierarchy of the archons forms the structure of society on the plane, there are also large numbers of aasimon (the beings that the Primes call ‘angels’) who also dwell here – at least the aasimon who lean more towards organisation and law.

More than the other layers of Celestia, Lunia is home to a race of winged lions called lammasu, flying goat-like creatures called shedu and plenty of birdlike humanoid aaracokra.

The White Cliffs of Lunia

Last and certainly most, are the petitioners, the souls of dead mortal cutters who were sufficiently lawful and good in their lives to pass the judgements of their respective pantheons and end up being assigned to an afterlife here. Unlike petitioners on most planes, they almost all appear as reborn as native outsiders, albeit lantern archons, the lowliest of the archon race. With devotion, sacrifice and good deeds some of the more ambitious souls may be promoted through the ranks of the race to higher forms, and others are content to settle down on Celestia and enjoy their well-deserved afterlife before eventually merging with the plane.

Ruler: Like all of Mount Celestia’s layers, Lunia is governed by the Celestial Hebdomad. Barachiel, the patron of trumpet archons, rules the layer from the Citadel of Stars. Barachiel’s main role is to defend the lowest and most accessible layer of Celestial from incursions, usually from fiends but occasionally from more surprising angles. Fortunately, it’s a task he rarely needs to perform as the threefold natural defences of Lunia – the Silver Sea, the Prime Vallation and the spiritual Paths – provide pause for thought to would-be invaders.

Otherworldly Terrain: Silver Sea of holy water. Steep cliffs of white marble. Pristine beaches of black sand. Beautiful shining cities of white stone. Heaven’s Wall, protecting the higher slopes of Lunia from incursions from the water. Heaven’s Gate, the only way through Heaven’s Wall into the main part of Lunia.

Typical Settlements: Lunia is divided into 196 provinces, each governed by a throne archon, who all report to Barachiel. Lunian settlements for ground-dwellers are monochromatic, built from white stone which glitters in the moon and starlight. Meanwhile, avian petitioners, aaracokra, flying archons, shedu and lammasu dwell in cliff eyries woven from silver gossamer silk.

Petitioners and their Path: The coast is dotted with port towns which receive new petitioners who arrive from the Underlands in glittering ships. Lighthouses shine purifying beams as bright as daylight across the seas, vigilant for evil and guiding the ships through Trishina’s Reefs and safely into harbour. The petitioners have to make the final part of the journey themselves, plunging into the holy waters, swimming for the shore, and emerging onto the beach through the surf as if they are reborn. Confessional shrines are situated on the shore line, where new petitioners gather to confess the sins of their lives to non-judgmental balisse aasimon, then relieved of their burden of sin begin their new start on the Heavenly Mountain as lantern archons. Ritual bathhouses can also be found on the shore, and frequently along the Paths of the Holy Mount, as travellers are expected to keep themselves clean, modest and presentable.

The other kind of Path on Mount Celestia

Travelling the Layer: Since Lunia is infinite, a cutter’s got to know the knack of travelling the layer if they want to get from one place to another. In fact there are six ways to travel, each a following a different Spiritual Path which gets a cutter to focus on improving themselves spiritually. These aren’t physical paths on the ground either berk, think of them as spiritual journeys. By selecting and then following a Path, walking through the landscape of Lunia will bring a body closer to the destination they seek. The more closely they stick to their Path, the faster they will travel. Conversely, missed opportunities to demonstrate the behaviours they’ve promised to follow can hamper a berk’s journey or even mean they get further away from their destination. This seems to be one way that Mount Celestia defends it territory from invading forces; without powerful magicks to overcome this property of the plane invaders are doomed to never quite reach the burg they’re trying to attack – or if they try to follow a Path then maybe, just perhaps, they’ll see the error of their ways.

The Eightfold Path requires patience, pacifism, courage, joy, discipline, generosity, kindness and teaching others. The Path of Five Virtues teaches honesty, charity, hope, moderation and tolerance. The Path of Valour requires good deeds. The Path of Renunciation necessitates constant acts of charity, poverty and mortification of the flesh. The Path of Mystic Union demands meditation, cleansing, emptiness, fasting and trances. Finally, the Path of Gnosis requires constant learning, faith, ritual and wisdom of past ages. If a cutter wants to go places – both spiritually as well as bodily – they’ll need to pick a Path and stick to it until they reach their destination.

Locations of Lunia

Powers of Lunia

Philosophies of Lunia

  • The Archonites — a sect of archon-worshipping philosophers
  • The Celestial Host — the standing army of the archons, ready to defend Celestia from invasion – and launch crusades on the Lower Planes.
  • The Order of the Planes Militant — a sect dedicated to defending the territory and values of Mount Celestia at all costs.
  • Lunia’s Paths — spiritual journeys which are the best way to get from A to B on Lunia.
  • The Temperant — a strict Celestian sect promoting abstinence from intoxicating foods, beverages, magics and thoughts.
  • The Knights Hospitaller — a sect seeking to strengthen religious devotion and charity for the poor. The Knights have access to portals to Places Of Need; there is no poverty on Mount Celestia, after all.
  • The Winged Lions — the city watch of Heart’s Faith, composed entirely of the leonine lamassu.

Cutters of Lunia

  • Alamiel, Donachen, Hellison & Sangariel (Lebes’ lammasu harem of Heart’s Faith)
  • Alziel (sword archon defender of the Arch of Triumph)
  • Amabael & Certarari (warden archons of the Pinnacle of Indigo)
  • Arelsis (astral deva protector of the Silver Sea)
  • Arqueros (defender of the Prime Vallation)
  • Archangel Barachiel (tome archon steward of Lunia)
  • Cauldronborn (aasimar mayor of Heart’s Faith)
  • Faralan (hound archon commander of the Sixth Wing of Heart’s Faith)
  • Indigo (wizard owner of the Pinnacle of Indigo)
  • Julera Twice-Crowned (archon lord of the Gate)
  • Kesmorae (legion archon secretary of mortal relations in Heart’s Faith)
  • The Lamplighter (warden archon recordkeeper of Nectar of Life)
  • Lebes (lammasu ruler of Heart’s Faith)
  • Lelian Ged (aasimar speaker in Heaven’s Shore)
  • Madhi Pradhamneshti (human archivist priest of Heart’s Faith)
  • Mahlhevik (reformed wizard owner of Castle Mahlhevik)
  • Oriel (lantern archon)
  • Ragathiel (aasimon empyreal lord, general of the Celestial Host)
  • Sembuel (throne archon ruler of Dolorous Sojourn)
  • Tanagaar (archon lord of the Unbent Forest)
  • Ziamiral (sword archon champion of Barachiel)

Notes on integrating D&D editions & Pathfinder: The Pathfinder setting calls Lunia ‘Threshold’, and Mount Celestia ‘Heaven’. Typical clueless primes! I added those names as synonyms. There are some fantastic locations in the Pathfinder materials, and I’ve integrated those into Lunia. The Lords of the Gate and the Wall are named as the ruler of the layer in Pathfinder rules, and I have demoted them to simply guarding the Prime Vallation, keeping Planescape’s Barachiel in power.

Canonical References

Shore shrine of Lunia

Read this first: Planes of Law, Mount Celestia (2e) p12-15 (layer description)

  • Book of Exalted Deeds (3e) p59 (prestige class), 125-126 (Barachiel stats)
  • Great Beyond (Pathfinder 1e) p37-39 (layer, map)
  • Great Modron March (2e) p24-31 (adventure set in Heart’s Faith)
  • Heaven Unleashed! (Pathfinder 1e) p4-7 (several locations)
  • Manual of the Planes (1e) p87-89 (layer, powers)
  • Manual of the Planes (3e) p87 (map), 132-135 (layer, Bahamut, Castle Mahlhevik, map)
  • Manual of the Planes (5e) p224-226
  • On Hallowed Ground (2e) p148 (Tyr), 154 (Brihaspati)
  • Planar Adventures (Pathfinder 1e) p158-159 (layer [‘Threshold’], Heaven’s Shore, Prime Vallation)
  • Planes of Chaos: the Book of Chaos (2e) p50, 54 (passing mentions only)
  • Planar Handbook (3.5e) p100 (Light of Lunia spell)
  • Planes of Law
    • Cosmological Table Poster (2e)
    • Mount Celestia (2e) p10 (encounters), 12-15 (layer), 26 (adventure), 32 (map)
    • Mount Celestia Poster Map (2e)
    • Monstrous Supplement (2e) – 5-6 (archons), 30-31 (zoveri)
    • Player’s Guide to Law (2e) – 30-32 (Tower of Fire)
  • Planescape Campaign Setting
    • DM’s Guide to the Planes (2e) – 62 (layer)
    • Planar Chart, back (2e)
  • Planewalker’s Handbook (2e) p13 (map), 23 (Silver Sea, Paths)
  • Tales of the Outer Planes (1e) p49-54 (adventure)

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