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.
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. 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.
Standard D&D cosmology
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. Depictions usually display the Lawful planes (or Planes of Law) 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.
|Name||Alternative Name(s)||Alignment||Description||Notable native inhabitants|
|Elysium||Blessed Fields||Neutral good||The plane of peace and unadulterated goodness.|
|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.||
|Carceri||Tarterus, Tartarus||Neutral evil / Chaotic evil||Liars, cheats and traitors are imprisoned here by their own deceptions.|
|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|
|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
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.
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|
|Dolurrh, the Shadowfell|
See also Chapter 5 of the Eberron Campaign Setting
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.
- 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
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.
- Gygax, Gary (July 1977). "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D". The Dragon #8. TSR. I (8): 4.
- Gygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-935696-01-6.
- Design & Development: Reimagining the Planes
- excerpt from Chapter 5 of the Eberron Campaign Setting.
- Smith, Mat (2004-03-09). "Some Perspective on the World of Eberron". Retrieved 2006-04-09.
- Baker, Richard; Wyatt, James (2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Cook, David. Player's Handbook (TSR, 1989).
- Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes (TSR, 1987).
- Grubb, Jeff, David Noonan, and Bruce Cordell. Manual of the Planes (Wizards of the Coast, 2001).
- Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002).