Outer Plane

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In the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, an Outer Plane is one of a number of general types of planes of existence. They can also be referred to as godly planes, spiritual planes or divine planes. The Outer Planes are home to beings such as deities and otherworldly creatures such as demons, celestials and devils. Each Outer Plane is usually the physical manifestation of a particular moral and ethical alignment and the entities that dwell there often embody the traits related to that alignment.

The intangible and esoteric Outer Planes—the realms of ideals, philosophies, and gods—stand in contrast to the Inner Planes, which compose the material building blocks of reality and the realms of energy and matter.

All Outer Planes are spatially infinite but are composed of features and locations of finite scope. Many of these planes are often split into a collection of further infinites called layers, which are essentially sub-planes that represent one particular facet or theme of the plane. For example, Baator's geography is reminiscent of Hell as depicted in Dante's The Divine Comedy. In addition, each layer may also contain a number of realms. Each realm is the home to an individual deity, or occasionally a collection of deities.

Publication history[edit]

The Outer Planes were presented for the first time in Volume 1, Number 8 of The Dragon, released July 1977. In the article "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D", Gary Gygax mentions that there are 16 Outer Planes and describes the Seven Heavens, the Twin Paradises, and Elysium as "Typical higher planes", Nirvana as the "plane of ultimate Law" and Limbo as the "plane of ultimate Chaos (entropy)", and the Nine Hells, Hades' three glooms, and the 666 layers of the Abyss as "Typical lower planes". Other Outer Planes mentioned by name in the article include the Happy Hunting Grounds, Olympus, Gladsheim, Pandemonium, Tarterus, Gehenna, Acheron, and Arcadia.[1] The Outer Planes were presented again in an appendix of the known planes of existence in the original (1st edition) AD&D Players Handbook, published in June 1978. This appendix included an abstract diagram of the planes, and mentioned the same 16 Outer Planes: The Seven Heavens of absolute lawful good, the Twin Paradises of neutral good lawfuls, the planes of Elysium of neutral good, the Happy Hunting Grounds of neutral good chaotics, the planes of Olympus of absolute good chaotics, the planes of Gladsheim (Asgard, Valhalla, Vanaheim, etc.) of chaotic good neutrals, the planes of Limbo of neutral (absolute) chaos (entropy), the Planes of Pandemonium of chaotic evil neutrals, the 666 layers of the Abyss of absolute chaotic evil, the planes of Tarterus of evil chaotic neutrals, Hades' "Three Glooms" of absolute (neutral) evil, the furnaces of Gehenna of lawful evil neutrals, the Nine Hells of absolute lawful evil, the nether planes of Acheron of lawful evil neutrals, Nirvana of absolute (neutral) lawfuls, and the planes of Arcadia of neutral good lawfuls.[2]

Standard D&D cosmology[edit]

The standard Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cosmology contains seventeen Outer Planes. Cosmologically, they are arranged in a ring of sixteen planes with the Good-aligned planes, or Upper Planes at the top, and the Evil-aligned planes, or Lower Planes at the bottom. The Lawful planes (or Planes of Law) sit to the left, and the Chaotic planes (or Planes of Chaos) to the right. Between all of these sit the Neutral planes, or the Planes of Conflict. One further plane sits in the centre of the ring, the Outlands, being neutral in alignment. At the center of the Outlands is a Spire of infinite height; the city of Sigil floats above the Spire's pinnacle. The standard D&D cosmology is the official cosmology used in the Planescape and Greyhawk campaign settings. Many of the alternative names derive from the 1st-edition Manual of the Planes (1987, ISBN 0-88038-399-2), and the in-game explanation given in the Planescape setting is that these names are used by the "Clueless", or characters from the Prime Material unfamiliar with the planes.

Outer Planes
Celestia Bytopia Elysium Beastlands Arborea
Arcadia ↑Good↑ Ysgard
Mechanus ←Lawful Outlands Chaotic→ Limbo
Acheron ↓Evil↓ Pandemonium
Baator Gehenna Hades Carceri Abyss


Name Alternative Name(s) Alignment Description Notable native inhabitants
Elysium Blessed Fields Neutral good The plane of peace and unadulterated goodness.
  • Guardinals - noble immortal humanoids with bestial features
  • Pelor - The sun-deity
The Beastlands Happy Hunting Grounds Neutral good / Chaotic good The plane of idealized nature.
Arborea Arvandor, Olympus, Olympian Glades Chaotic good Fey realm of passion, abundance and nature's caprice.
Ysgard Asgard, Gladsheim, Heroic Domains Chaotic neutral / Chaotic good The eternal battleground where true heroes prove their valor.
Limbo Plane of Ever-Changing Chaos Chaotic neutral An alien, anarchistic and unpredictable plane.
Pandemonium Plane of Windswept Depths Chaotic evil / Chaotic neutral An infinite network of pitch-black catacombs, with winds that drive men mad.
The Abyss Plane of Infinite Layers Chaotic evil Evil lands of shocking perversity and unpredictable horror.
  • Tanar'ri Demons - Mortal enemies of the Baatezu
  • Obyrith Demons - Lovecraftian ancestors to the Tanar'ri
  • Loumara Demons - Newest race of demons born by the dying dreams of evil gods
  • Lolth - Spider Goddess of the Drow
  • Demogorgon - Beastly Prince of Demons
  • Graz'zt - The Dark Prince
  • Orcus - The Demon Lord of the Undead
  • Iggwilv - Witch Queen of Perrenland, Mother of Demigod Iuz. Infamous author of the blasphemous Demonomicon. The true identity of Tasha, member of the infamous adventuring group known as the Company of Seven.
Carceri Tarterus, Tartarus Neutral evil / Chaotic evil Liars, cheats and traitors are imprisoned here by their own deceptions.
  • Nerull - God of murder and darkness
  • Titans exiled from Olympus
  • Demodands (Gehreleth)
  • Yugoloths - presence largely confined to Othrys
The Gray Waste Hades Neutral evil Here, all emotion and compassion is drained away, until only hopelessness, selfishness and apathy remain as baatezu and tanar'ri meet and clash in a colorless expanse.
Gehenna Plane of Bleak Eternity Neutral evil / Lawful evil Volcanic realm of evil schemes and merciless cliffs.
Baator Hell; The Nine Hells Lawful evil A realm of oppression, torment, and diabolical plots
  • Baatezu (Devils) - mortal enemies of the Tanar'ri
  • Tiamat - The Chromatic Dragon
  • Kurtulmak - God of Kobolds
  • Asmodeus - Lord of the Ninth. Previously believed to have used the name Satan as one of numerous aliases.
Acheron The Infernal Battlefield Lawful neutral / Lawful evil A plane of constant, pointless war, where identity is forever lost.
Mechanus Nirvana Lawful neutral This clockwork plane is the ultimate in order; scholars and constructs live here.
Arcadia The Land of Perfect Order, Plane of Peaceable Kingdoms Lawful neutral / Lawful good A peaceful world of wildlands and kingdoms where all live in harmony.
Mount Celestia The Seven Heavens Lawful good Countless paladins and saints have ascended here.
Bytopia Twin Paradises Neutral good / Lawful good Gnomes and other industrious folk dwell here.
The Outlands Plane of Concordant Opposition True Neutral The plane between all other outer planes.

Forgotten Realms cosmology[edit]

The Forgotten Realms cosmology was originally the same as that of a standard Dungeons & Dragons campaign. The cosmology for the 3rd edition of D&D was altered substantially so that it contained twenty-six Outer Planes, arranged in a tree-like structure around the central 'trunk' of the material plane of Toril. Unlike the Outer Planes of the standard D&D cosmology which were heavily alignment-based, the Outer Planes of the Forgotten Realms cosmology were faith-based. The planes of the Forgotten Realms were retooled in the 4th edition to match the new default cosmology, with many of the planes or realms being relocated to the Astral Sea, and a handful now located in the Elemental Chaos.

The Barrens of Doom and Despair plane is designed to be inhospitable to Dungeons & Dragons players. Even though there is little light or water, other characters from the franchise can be found here. Five deities make their homes here, including Bane (his home was previously referred to as Acheron), Beshaba, Hoar, Loviatar, and Talona. The Barrens of Doom and Despair consist of a single infinite plane, with no constituent layers. It links via the Astral Plane to the planes of the Prime Material (such as Toril) and a number of portals directly connect it with Hammergrim and the Blood Rift. Beshaba's realm, the Blood Tor, links directly to the Abyss.

Eberron cosmology[edit]

This is a description of the Eberron Cosmology prior to the Eberron fourth edition rules. For 4th edition cosmology information, please see World of Eberron.

The Eberron cosmology, used in the original Eberron campaign setting, contained thirteen Outer Planes in 3rd edition, and gained at least two for 4th edition under the new cosmology. They exhibit traits similar to those of the standard D&D cosmology but also some (Irian, Mabar, Fernia, and Risia) appear more like Inner Planes. The cosmology was unique in that the Outer Planes orbited around Eberron through the Astral plane, now they are floating like other planes in the Astral sea. As they orbited, their overlap with the material plane changed and access to those planes became easier or restricted.

Name Alignment Enhanced magic Impeded magic Coterminous / Remote / Orbit
Daanvi, the Perfect Order Law (strong) Lawful Chaotic 100 years / 100 years / 400 years
Dal Quor, the Region of Dreams None Illusion None never / always / off orbit
Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead None None All 1 year / 1 year / 100 years
Fernia, the Sea of Fire Evil Fire Cold 1 month / 1 month / 5 years
Irian, the Eternal Day None Positive energy Negative energy 10 days / 10 days / 3 years
Kythri, the Churning Chaos Chaos (strong) Chaotic Lawful erratic / erratic / erratic
Lamannia, the Twilight Forest None Druidic None 7 days / 7 days / 1 year
Mabar, the Endless Night None Negative energy Positive energy 3 days / 5 days / 5 years
Risia, the Plane of Ice Evil Cold Fire 1 month / 1 month / 5 years
Shavarath, the Battleground Varies Weapon-related Pacifying, charms 1 year / unknown / 36 years
Syrania, the Azure Sky Good (strong) Good Evil 1 day / 1 day / 10 years
Thelanis, the Faerie Court None Arcane None 7 years / 14 years / 225 years
Xoriat, the Realm of Madness Evil None None unknown / unknown / millennia
Thelanis, the Feywild[3]
Dolurrh, the Shadowfell[3]

See also Chapter 5 of the Eberron Campaign Setting[4]

Like most other D&D campaign settings, in 3rd edition D&D Eberron has a number of planes. Besides the Prime Material Plane, the Ethereal Plane, the Plane of Shadow, and the Astral Plane, the Eberron Campaign Setting has thirteen relatively unique planes. Gates or portals to any of the planes are very rare. These thirteen planes metaphysically orbit around Eberron, and depending on their current location are considered in one of four states.[5]

  • Waxing/Waning - The plane is either approaching or moving away from Eberron. Planar travel occurs as normal.
  • Coterminous - The plane actually touches Eberron, and certain effects are strengthened in Eberron. Also, it may be possible to travel between planes by going to an appropriate spot. For example, when Risia, the Plain of Ice is coterminous, one may enter the plane from Eberron by walking into a blizzard. Because of seals placed by the Gatekeeper druids, Xoriat, the Realm of Madness, is incapable of becoming coterminous with Eberron.
  • Remote - The plane is furthest from Eberron, and certain effects are weakened in Eberron. Also, reaching a remote plane with the spell plane shift is difficult and requires a high Spellcraft DC check. Because of the conflict between the Quori and the giants of Xen'drik, Dal Quor is always considered remote from Eberron.

4th Edition Cosmology[edit]

In the 4th Edition, most of the Outer Planes have been replaced by Astral Domains in the Astral Sea. Known Astral Domains include Celestia and the Nine Hells. The Abyss is an exception; it is now located in the Elemental Chaos.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Gygax, Gary (July 1977). "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D". The Dragon #8 (TSR) I (8): 4. 
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-935696-01-6. 
  3. ^ a b Design & Development: Reimagining the Planes
  4. ^ excerpt from Chapter 5 of the Eberron Campaign Setting.
  5. ^ Smith, Mat (2004-03-09). "Some Perspective on the World of Eberron". Retrieved 2006-04-09. 

References[edit]