Magic and the Spire
Magic and the Spire

Magic and the Spire

Magic and the Spire

Every basher who walks the Outlands knows that the Spire has a neutralising effect on magic, even the magic of the powers. As you get closer to the Spire, magic is more and more nullified, until in the foothills of the Spire, a god has no more supernatural power than a mortal. A cutter would be wise to track the change in the magical weave, lest items they carry, or spells they cast fizzle out. Temporarily, of course; your magic sword might stop working as expected near the Spire but you can still hit a berk with the sharp bit, and its magic will return when you move back out. And of course, creatures you can only harm with magical weapons also lose that protection the same time your sword dies out, so there’s a weird kind of balance there too cutter.

Chant goes there’s a ring of ruins surrounding the Spire where careless wizards learned an expensive lesson: Owners of walking castles beware; many’s the berk whose fancy mobile home ground to a halt when they crossed over too close to the Spire, the magic weave forsook them, and the walking castle very quickly became a falling castle. Good luck getting that one started up again. 

There ain’t no markings or signposts to show where the magic flux changes, in fact they say the boundaries move in and out like they’re breathing. A basher with the ability to detect magic can spot where the auras shift easily enough. Until they reach the Spire itself of course, when even simple cantrips fizzle out.

There are persistent rumours that the rilmani are actually able to use some kind of magic at the Spire. Whether this chant is true, or just screed, isn’t clear. This author suggests being very careful not to annoy any rilmani on their home ground.

Ring NumberAreaEffect on MagicEffect on Physics
11The HinterlandsAll magic functions normallyDistances work strangely; see the Hinterlands page for more details
10The Brinklands10th level spells fail (if the rules you’re using has them!)
9The Ringlands9th level spells (and equivalent spell-like abilities) fail
8The Ringlands8th level spells fail
7The Ringlands7th level spells fail
6The Ringlands6th level spells fail; walking castles failNegative energy draining ceases to function
5The Ringlands5th level spells fail; +5 magic items become +4Poisons no longer function
4The Spirelands4th level spells fail; demipowers lose their abilities; +4
items become +3
Planar conduits fail; planar pathways not found beyond this ring
3The Spirelands3rd level spells fail; lesser powers lose their abilities; +3 items become +2Astral connections impossible; portals no longer found—you have to walk from here, cutters
2The Spirelands2nd level spells fail; intermediate powers lose their abilities; +2 items become +1Time slows down by half
1The SpireAll magic fails; even greater powers rendered powerlessEntropy ceases altogether

Source: Jon Winter-Holt, Canonwatch: I’ve taken the 1e AD&D and 2e Planescape magic tables and modified a few things slightly. In the oriignal rules psionics just cut out at the 6th ring—the Planescape writers were self-confessedly not fans of psionics! Pathfinder psychics use spells anyway, so that’s easy enough to convert. I do not pretend to understand what 5e D&D has done with psionics so have fun working that out depending on if/how you implement them! My suggestion would be to phase them out at a similar rate to magic so that at the Spire, everyone is equal. Regarding the rilmani, in 2e Planescape there was no mention of them using magic at the Spire, but the 5e books suggest they can. Use whichever rules work for you!


  1. Arcades Sabboth

    Labeling the rings this way is confusing. I think it’s better to keep the labels used in Sigil and Beyond (in the chart, not the text!) where the Spirel is 0 and the 1st ring is where 1st level magic is possible. Then your chart would correspond to the one in 2e.

    My other suggestion is that for Epic play, you can keep track of rings further into the Hinterlands, with each allowing another level of Epic magic to work, as well as being magically morphic for non-aligned spells.

    What do you think of the way the rings work in 3e? The Manual of the Planes changed where the Astral connections and poisons poop out.

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