Content of the article: "Explore the Para-Elemental Planes of Ice, Magma, Ooze, and Smoke; the borders between the major elemental planes."
- 1 What are the Para-Elemental Planes?
- 2 Traits
- 3 Locations
- 4 Factions & People
- 5 Encounters
- 6 Resources & Further Reading
- 7 Similar Guides
What are the Para-Elemental Planes?
Where the major Inner Planes meet, they form the para-elemental planes, minor planes of existence that combine the materials of two different major elements into a single plane. These planes are Ice, a minor plane of Air and Water; Magma, a minor plane of Earth and Fire; Ooze, a minor plane of Earth and Water; and Smoke, a minor plane of Air and Fire. They are considered minor because of the difficulty of reaching these planes, and the smaller number of inhabitants that reside on them.
These planes, while minor, are far more dangerous than the major planes they adjoin, one of the reasons why they are so scarcely populated. Despite the danger of visiting such places, they each hold unique locales and treasures within their depths.
The para-elemental planes are first introduced in the Manual of the Planes (1987) where their foundations are first laid. It’s not until The Inner Planes (1998) that additional detail is provided on the inhabitants, specifics to the planes, and locations to visit. These planes’ paraelementals are the only creatures that are referenced in 3rd edition and in 4th edition, and while these planes are touched on in 5th edition’s Dungeon Master’s Guide (2014), very little is revealed on them, though Smoke is renamed to Ash.
An Outsider’s Perspective
These minor planes are as varied from each other as the major planes that make them up. For outsiders, these planes are dangerous, but for those who have learned their secrets, can hold hidden treasures unable to be found anywhere else in the planes. Each of these para-elemental planes presents unique challenges to be overcome.
Between the Plane of Air and the Plane of Water, the Plane of Ice is a realm of freezing temperatures where everything freezes eventually. Water, flesh, blood, stone, metal, ice, and even words and thoughts freeze in this plane the closer one travels to the center of it. The entire plane is covered in freezing ice, creating twisting caverns and tunnels, with large chasms that shrink and grow as the ice moves throughout the plane. Those who visit this plane do so to find frozen thoughts in the center of the plane, or to hunt the monsters who roam this plane, like yetis, animentals, ice mephits, and more.
Between the Plane of Earth and the Plane of Fire, the Plane of Magma is a flowing realm of super-heated rock. Large islands of obsidian float across the magma floes, with subterranean lava tubes that run throughout the plane like a spider web and is heavily used by traders and travelers as it is protected from the burning magma. Visitors are often searching across the plane for gems that form from the intense pressure and heat of this plane, as well as powerful wizards who have formed towers to study the elemental power of magma.
Adjoining the Plane of Earth and the Plane of Water, the Plane of Ooze is a horrible realm of stinking gases and caustic muck that floods across the plane. Few visitors willingly travel to this plane, and it seems as if even the inhabitants of this plane want out from the slime, sludge, and muck of this world. Visitors of the plane have difficulty with the sludge-like caustic mud, searching through the wastes of Sigil for valuables, for ooze-gems, strange and rare gems that fetch a high price so long as they are thoroughly cleaned before being taken to market, as well as searching for hidden prisons of ancient creatures bound to Ooze.
Between the Plane of Air and the Plane of Fire, the Plane of Smoke is a large fog bank of smog and smoke, of caustic fumes and burning embers that choke the lungs of those who try to breathe it. Visitors of this plane are often the djinn and efreet who wage a war across this plane, treating it as a vast and bloody battlefield as they attempt to gain elemental ground against the other side. Others who visit this plane do so either as mercenaries or as explorers searching through the smoke-laden air for rare gases that can provide healing, offer new experiences, as well as horrible poisons for assassins.
A Native’s Perspective
The majority of those who are willing to reside and inhabit this plane are the paraelementals and mephits who are formed from their plane. There are other races and creatures of these planes, though they are sparse and many have long ago left these planes for more hospitable planes like the major Inner Planes or the Material Plane. Almost no true powers claim any parts of these planes, though many are working towards taking on the mantle of archomental, primordial, and even godhood.
Freezing cold. Freezing chill. Miles upon miles of frozen caverns slowly freezing over and then re-freezing again. The inhabitants are cold just like their plane, uncaring for others who hate the cold and ice, looking with cool gazes at those who try to survive in this freezing realm. The inhabitants of this plane are largely the paraelementals who are ruled over by an up and coming archomental known as Cryonax. Cryonax rules from his icy fortress known as the Chiseled Estate and is focused on expanding his empire of ice and has imprisoned hundreds of wizards, some are even water and ice genasi, to help bolster his strengths and see him to victory.
Bubbling molten rock forms vast oceans of churning magma that threatens to burn everything that touches it. Those who live here must struggle against the burning rocks and caustic air of toxic fumes. While there are few settlements on this plane, at least visitable by outsiders, many of them are ruled over by individuals who are researching or hiding. The true rulers of this plane, the mephits, are vicious and cruel, they enjoy dominating any creature who comes to this plane, and by sheer numbers alone, can overtake any others on this plane. They are ruled over by a powerful magma mephit known as Chilimba, who insists that others call him the Searing Emperor, the First General of the Cauldron, and the Master of All Mephits. The mephits rarely negotiate and are seen as pests by outsiders like the efreet and dao who often meet on this plane.
Probably the least inhabited of any of the para-elemental planes, the Plane of Ooze is often thought to be the most inhospitable of the planes, including the quasi-elemental plane of Vacuum or the Negative Energy Plane. It’s not that Ooze kills so quickly, which it does, but because it is such a horrible, stench-ridden, caustic ocean of muck, mud, and other rotting things. Inhabitants of this plane always seem to be wanting to leave, with even the ooze mephits searching desperately for ways off the plane even though they are formed from the plane itself.
While the ooze mephits are the largest group of inhabitants, they have never built settlements on this plane and instead travel in nomadic groups, hunting for outsiders to drown in the murky depths of this plane. Paraelementals often stick to the darkest depths of this plane, while the animentals, animals of elemental form, are as disgusting as the plane itself. Ooze dogs still behave like dogs, but if they try to lick your face, their saliva is like caustic acid that melts through flesh, bone, and armor.
Burning and acidic air, stinging smoke laden with ash, and endless expanses of foul gases make up this plane and hide dark secrets in their clouds. Several creatures claim this plane as their home, though their true numbers are hidden throughout the smoke and gases. The largest presence are the smoke mephits who follow Ehkahk, a simple smoke mephit who has decided that he has the powers of a true archomental, even if he has no special powers. After them, in almost equal numbers, are the smoke paraelementals who ignore the mephits that try to push their insane ruler on them. Instead, these paraelementals follow their Smoke Dukes, powerful paraelementals who rule over settlements and regions.
The atmospheres on each of these planes are heavily influenced by the major elemental planes that they adjoin, combining them and bringing in new hazards. Not every plane is breathable, and each plane has unique hazards that make it difficult to survive traversing them. These planes can support life, but it is a life that has evolved in an alien way to overcome the dangers of each plane.
With its freezing air, the Plane of Ice is aptly named. This plane exists without light except what outsiders and inhabitants create for themselves, and no heat can be squeezed out of this plane. Freezing bodies might form the largest population on this plane, though if rumors are to be believed, those individuals are still alive, you just have to unthaw them. Similar to Earth, Ice is made up of a massive glacier of ice that has tunnels crisscrossing throughout it. There is breathable air throughout the plane, though if travelers end up inside of the ice sheets, or the ice forms up around them, they’ll quickly be cut off and begin suffocation.
Magma has a definite gravity, and thus has a surface to it that most are forced to wade through or sail on an obsidian vessel. The air is sometimes breathable, though it is laced with the burning smoke of fires and magma. To survive these toxic fumes, the air must be filtered or magically treated to make it safe to breathe for those who require it. Trying to peer through this burning haze is largely restricted by the ever-present smoke and foul gases, making it difficult to make out any details from further away than 100 feet.
Similar to the Plane of Water, this entire plane is consumed by the murky mud of ooze, its caustic nature destroying and consuming anything that touches it. The closer one travels to Earth, the thicker the muck grows, making it almost impossible to swim or wade through as if it was made of large chunks of solid-mud, while the closer one travels to Water, the looser and more liquid it gets until its like swamp water, but made of powerful toxic waste. Spells and creatures who can normally breathe water are capable of breathing this filth, though it does nothing to stop it from being toxic and poisonous. Trying to breathe the air is difficult as it is just as toxic as the muck of this plane.
While there is no risk of drowning, like there is on Magma or Ooze, this plane is just as dangerous to breathe in. Filled with the burning embers of long extinguished fires and toxic gases that are highly combustible, this plane is dangerous to breathe in. Those who breathe the fumes of this plane in, unfiltered and unprotected, immediately begin suffocating and dying as their lungs begin bleeding and burning away.
Travel to the Plane
Most people who are looking to travel to these planes are often asked why they would ever do that, doubly so for those who wish to visit the Plane of Ooze. Despite any misgivings a traveler may have of journeying to these planes, it is not extremely difficult for those who are keen on visiting. There are portals in Sigil, the Outlands, and other places across the multiverse that offer ways of arriving in these portals. Sigil has several portals in its sewers and in the Hive that offer connections to the Plane of Ooze, as well as portals to the other planes at random locations as the Lady of Pain sees fit to create them.
Portals to the Plane of Smoke can be found on Bytopia that requires the breath of a gnome to open, and as if they shouldn’t be outdone, Moradin, the god over dwarves, built his portal on the slopes of Mount Celestia in his realm. Ooze has portals on many of the layers of the Abyss, like the 222nd layer where the kingdom of Juiblex is said to be. It’s little surprise that a demon prince of oozes might have some interest in such a horrible and mucky place like Ooze.
If you are trying to get to Magma, there is a well-known portal in a remote portion of the Outlands built of basalt. No one knows who built the portal, and many believe it was quite a small creature who did so as most humanoids have to squeeze through, making it almost impossible for large creatures to access it. Instead, if a traveler is hoping to get to Ice, there are portals known to exist on Cania, the eighth layer of Baator, though that is a difficult portal to access if one isn’t a devil. There is also a portal on Muspelheim, a fiery layer located on Ysgard, though no one is quite sure how it formed or for what purpose.
Portals to these planes can spring up anywhere their specific elements come together in sufficient quantities. Freezing cold oceans on the Material Plane may link to the Plane of Ice, just as the centers of volcanoes may hold a portal to the Plane of Magma. Smoke is often found above large forest fires where toxic air clings to itself, while Ooze portals can often be found in places of swampy detritus and rotted corpses.
Since these planes adjoin the borders of the major elemental planes, they can also be walked to on any of the adjoining planes. This requires a guide, as each of these planes are infinite by their very nature, making it difficult for outsiders to truly understand where these borders are located.
Traversing the Plane
Only those who understand what dangers exist on these planes can truly be prepared for what they face. Traversing any of these planes is no simple task and requires magic, strength, and luck to survive them.
Depending on where a traveler is on the plane, they may have it quite easy or very difficult. In the areas near the Plane of Air, in a region known as Precipice, it is a sheer cliff that must be traversed up to get closer to the center of the plane. Spiked shoes, rope, pickaxes, and more are required to scale these cliffs, or one risks slipping on a slick piece of ice and plummeting to their freezing death hundreds of miles below them. As they journey towards the center of the plane, they must have access to some way to nullify the cold, though even that isn’t enough. Creatures immune to the cold, like white dragons and even creatures of ice, find the cold so painful that even they begin freezing. It isn’t unheard of to come across the frozen body of a creature in the twisting caverns of Ice.
As a traveler moves closer to the Plane of Water, the massive block of ice that forms most of this plane soon gives way to a freezing cold ocean. Icebergs float across the dark oceans, and some swear that the water itself is far colder than even the ice of this plane.
Luckily for travelers, gravity exists on this plane and makes getting around it somewhat simple. Those who can fly can easily soar above the burning magma, though they still must deal with the toxic fumes that rise to meet them. Those who lack such an ability have a few other options. They can try and trudge through the magma, half walking and half swimming through the burning magma. This is a slow and painful process as the sticky fire burns anything within it that isn’t protected.
Another option is to hire a dao obsidian ship that can sail across the churning sludge of Magma. These ships aren’t cheap but have natural bubbles of breathable air that are maintained around it with magic, making it the safest and easiest ride across the plane. The dao aren’t to be trusted as they have been known to make slaves of those who would hire their ships. Beyond simply swimming through the magma, there is also a complex lava tube network that spans the entire plane. In these hollow tubes, a traveler is protected from the sizzling magma, though the tubes do nothing to cleanse the air. Large trading caravans and explorers rely on these tubes to safely travel from Earth to Fire.
Depending on where a traveler is on the plane, it may require them to swim through the thin muds of the plane, or they have to half-dig, half-swim through the thick muck. The ooze-mud near Water is liquidy enough to easily swim through, though the caustic nature of the plane means any swimmers must have some spells to stop them from being dissolved by the acidic muck. Closer to Earth, the muck gets thicker and harder to bypass, forcing those to dig and channel their way through the marshes of acidic mud. A traveler could also remain still and just allow the currents of muck that move through this plane to carry them off, moving wherever the languid currents carry them.
Traveling across this plane is virtually identical to traveling on the Plane of Air, one must simply determine their ‘down’ and fall in that direction. There is no gravity on this plane, and most visitors who visit this plane find it easy to use the same tricks they’d use on the Plane of Air, here. One of the biggest differences though is that visibility is greatly reduced and typically travelers can only see up to 30 feet in front of them. This means they have to be constantly focused on what they are falling towards as earth motes can suddenly appear, and if they aren't fast enough, they may splat into it.
These planes adjoin the major elemental planes, as well as border several quasi-elemental planes. Each plane has six borders that behave slightly differently than the core of the plane, providing new hazards and dangers for travelers. Most settlements often form up around the most hospitable borders, leaving other borders devoid of life if it is too dangerous to reside there.
Ice shares borders with the Plane of Air, Lightning, Steam, Water, Salt, and Vacuum, each creating a unique interaction with the blistering cold of ice. Lightning and Ice creates a field of soft snow, blowing pleasantly across the landscape in a realm known as the Shimmering Drifts. While it may seem pleasant at first, if these electrical-charged snowflakes touch a creature, it can cause the creature to lose their wits and act as if they are under the effects of a confusion spell. Steam and Ice create the realm of the Fog of Unyielding Frost, a place of super-cold vapors that if breathed can freeze your lungs solid. While it is survivable in this realm, those who reside or travel through here must always have some sort of protection from the cold.
Traveling towards Air is the region known as Precipice, this is at the very ‘top’ of Ice where snow-capped mountains and sheer ice cliffs creak and groan as the ice continues to grow. No sun illuminates this realm, making it so that to climb atop these cliffs or mountains, one must travel in the pitch-black of night. Moving downward, through the frozen ground towards Water, it eventually turns into the frigid place known as the Sea of Frozen Lives, a surfaceless ocean of suspended icebergs. It is said that even the water is colder than the ice that holds it and that the icebergs that float in this liquid were once travelers who succumb to the cold.
Salt and Ice form a realm known as the Stinging Storm, a raging tempest of salt-water and acrid crystals that hail across the realm. Those who get caught in a storm are forced to contend with crystals of all sizes hailing down in a devastating bludgeoning cacophony of pain and acidic burns. Where Ice reaches Vacuum, it creates the Frigid Void, a realm free of ice and snow but it still retains its painful cold as well as the deadly void of nothing.
There are only a few sites on Ice, for if you stop moving on this plane, you are likely to join the frozen statues. Traveling through the ice channels, even the warmth of a fire is a danger as it can melt some of the ice around you, turning it into a chilling liquid that splashes down on you and then instantly refreezes with you in the center of this ice block. It is best to travel with a magically-created light spell and protect oneself from the cold using magic.
Thought to be the place that every visitor should see, at a spot deep in the ice is a strange world that is unaffected by the growing realm of ice. It appears like a massive sphere with its ice-walls perfectly polished to a high sheen, making it easy to peer through the ice for hundreds of feet. There is even a large light in the center of this sphere that illuminates the entire structure in a brilliant light, but the beauty of ice isn’t the reason to visit. That reason is the thousands of creatures that are ‘buried’ in the ice, these creatures, and even humanoids, have been taken from all across the multiverse and stored in the solid ice here.
No one knows who is doing this, or for what reason, but travelers from all over who study specific creatures often venture here for a chance to look at one of their specimens up close through the ice.
The Chiseled Estate
Located on Precipice is the icy fortress of Cryonax, a colossal structure that extends well over a mile above the surface of the ice, and stretches far below in a vast underground network. In the very center lies a throne room where Cryonax rules from, watching over his realm and forming his plans on extending his power over ice and pushing the freezing reach of Ice onto other planes. Found throughout his twisting fortress are yetis, frost-covered umber hulks, snowy ropers made of ice, and massive dire-beasts formed of ice and snow who safeguard his fortress from intruders.
Magma shares borders with the Plane of Fire, Ash, Dust, Earth, Mineral, and Radiance, each creating a unique interaction with the bubbling and churning mass of molten rock. Radiance and Magma create the realm known as the Glowing Dunes, often thought to be one of the deadliest places in all the Inner Planes. Rolling hills are made of volcanic ash, and as one travels closer to Radiance the dust becomes metallic and radiates out energy and light. Those who travel across the hills risk catching a horrible disease or curse, no one truly knows what exactly it is but even those who are immune to such things can catch it. This disease or curse causes blistering skin, blindness, baldness, and hundreds of other symptoms before the eventual death. On the border of Mineral and Magma is the realm of the Obsidian Forest, with massive spires of volcanic glass and crystals that rise out of the burning wasteland. Its thought that evil creatures of stone reside here, having fleed from a powerful archomental known as Ogremoch located on the Plane of Earth.
Traveling towards Earth, the magma thickens and creates an area of basalt cliffs and spires that overlook rivers and lakes of lava known as the Scorched Wastes, this area is largely devoid of life except for firenewts and salamanders. In the opposite direction, heading towards Fire is a realm known as the Searing Mists where fires erupt in massive explosions across the almost liquid-like magma that flows quickly across the surface like a massive churning ocean. At the very edge of the border against the Plane of Fire is a curtain of searing droplets of molten stone that form a fog-like haze separating the two planes.
Traveling towards the Negative Energy Plane presents the two options of Ash and Dust. Where Ash and Magma meet is the region known as the Chalk Islands where islands of chalk rise up surrounded by rivers and oceans of magma. The islands are freezing cold and filled with the choking ash of their plane, while the magma creates rivers of boiling heat, making it quite difficult for travelers to contend with such extremes. Dust and Magma form the Sands, a realm of desert-like qualities, though it is the coolest place on Magma. Moving through the sands, the particles slowly become more and more powder-like, wreaking havoc on metal and mechanical items that begin rusting and corroding.
Few settlements have formed up on Magma, as it is quite a dangerous place to spend too much time thanks to the sudden jets of flame that explode across the surface. A few cities are known to exist on the surface of this realm, as well as more than a few laboratories and magical towers manned by sages and wizards who wish to be left alone so they might work on their magic in peace.
Fields of Nevermore
On the surface of this plane is a cool crust of stone that has grown thick enough to be used as the foundation of a city. While typically such stone would melt into the magma, there is a great and powerful artifact at the center of this city known as the chillsword which has been planted in the magma itself as an attempt to destroy this artifact in ancient times. Unfortunately for the wielder, not even the melting magma of this plane could destroy the artifact, and instead the blade formed a cooled area where a settlement would eventually rise around. While the air is still dangerous and filled with toxins, ambitious travelers who are searching for a respite from this plane took a liking to the area and eventually formed a large city, creating strange breathing devices that transform the toxins of this plane into breathable air.
While not a wizard himself, Targath Reniume had commissioned over a dozen powerful wizards to construct for him a tower on Magma. Some believe that he paid them with illicit goods that he had acquired, with the most unbelievable rumors that he had stolen the moaning diamond and gave it to them. This tower is made out of permanent walls of force, making it an invisible tower in the churning magma. It rises several stories above the plane of Magma and far below it where it is anchored to the lava tube network that crisscrosses the plane.
He is happy to allow visitors to rest at his home, often only requiring news of the world outside for a comfortable bed and a lavish supper. No one is quite sure how Targath moves from his tower and out into the many worlds outside, but he seems to be able to travel with a care-free demeanor and can almost will himself to appear anywhere in the multiverse.
The Plane of Ooze shares borders with the Plane of Earth, Dust, Salt, Water, Steam, and Mineral, each creating a unique realm as it interacts with the stench swamps of Ooze. At the borders of Steam and Ooze, it creates the realm of the Choking Gale, where the ooze and muck grow thin and eventually turns into strong winds that spray oily poisons over those who journey here. Rolling clouds of toxic vapor twist and pummel visitors across this realm, choking and burning even those who are immune to poison, its vapors clinging to skin and causing horrific burns. Between Ooze and Mineral, the ooze is said to congeal into a molasses-like substance that grows thicker and thicker the closer one travels to Mineral. This realm, known as the Slag Marshes, has a thin atmosphere, that is at least breathable, but it tastes of metal and the sludge of this marsh eats its way through clothes, skin, and even bone.
Traveling towards Earth, the muck and ooze thicken until it becomes a thick mud that sucks at your feet as you move through it. This realm, known as the Muckmire, often solidifies and hardens around those who move through it, as there is little moisture here. This hardened muck quickly freezes travelers in place much like amber sap from a tree that freezes around an insect. It's not uncommon for motes of this hardened material to float to the surface with a horrified, and long-dead, creature trapped within it. On the opposite side of this plane, as one travels to Water, the muck and ooze grow thin in a region known as the Bile Sea where the ‘water’ clings to the skin like caustic acid. There are a few fish that have come over from Water, though they are horrible creatures with most slowly rotting in the ocean, making it that much more unappealing to visitors.
Moving off to the Negative Energy Plane, Ooze shares borders with Salt and Dust. Traveling towards the borders of Salt and Ooze, the ooze thickens and becomes briny, with muck so caustic it corrodes metal almost immediately. Even magically protected weapons and armor begin to rust away into the Stagnant Sea. At the border of Dust and Ooze, is the realm known as the Oasis of Filth, a place so thick with disease that creatures concoct a massive variety of plagues, illnesses, and fevers that can only be found on this plane.
It's no surprise that even the inhabitants of this realm seem to be seeking any way out of this plane. It is almost unheard of to find any traveler that has ever had a positive experience in this plane, making it so that few have any reason of setting up a permanent settlement on the sucking muds of this plane.
The Trash Heap
Sigil might have the largest concentration of portals to Ooze, but that is because it needs a place to put its waste material as there is nowhere in the city. Instead, it gets pumped through one of their portals, often requiring the dabus to clear out any clogs, and ends up in Ooze. Miles upon miles of junk litter this plane, rotting food, weapons, and even the occasional body, sometimes still alive, floats across this area. While many might turn their nose up, the trash heap is inhabited by dozens of individuals looking through the junk as sometimes there are treasures and lost items of high value worth living out here for.
This plane is quite useful for those who wish to entomb and entrap creatures using powerful magics to sink targets into the muck. These trapped creatures create cysts in the mire, and they are preserved, like living fossils. While cysts are impossible to see through, making it difficult to tell what is on the other side, they can provide some clues as a giant will form a cyst that is 15 feet or more in length, while a kobold may only create one a few feet tall. Occasionally these cysts might rupture, spilling forth their contents onto the plane, and while many might drown on the filth around them, several have escaped their confines, driven insane by the untold eons trapped on this plane. On rare occasions, travelers have walked on cysts that have risen to the surface, accidentally rupturing the cyst and spilling out whatever creature had been locked away.
The Plane of Smoke shares borders with the Plane of Air, Lightning, Radiance, Fire, Ash, and Vacuum, each creating unique interactions with the choking gases of this plane. Lightning forms the darkened realm known as the Aurora, where brilliant waves of colors rip across the sky like lightning. It is said to be one of the natural wonders of the multiverse, a place that all must-see for its pure beauty. Next to this realm is the border of Radiance and Smoke, creating a realm known as the Sea of Stars that is also a vast expanse of darkness, but this one holds flakes of light and energy that zip and move across the expanse like lightning bugs. This glistening, radiant energy is dangerous to touch, but another wonder to behold for its beauty.
Traveling to the Plane of Air, the smoke and heat begin decreasing on this plane but before one can reach the purified air of the self-named plane, they must enter through a gloom known as the Eternal Haze. This realm is completely poisonous with stranges gases and toxins not seen, or breathed, anywhere else in the multiverse. In the opposite direction, as one heads towards the border of the Plane of Fire and Smoke, is the realm known as the Scaled. This area is so hot that, while there are no flames, it is just as hot as Fire with smoke so thick that a traveler can’t see more than a few feet, if that, in front of them. It is said that all the smoke from Fire travels to this area, and gathers up in thick clouds that are impassable unless led by an efreet.
Heading towards the Negative Energy Plane are the planes of Ash and Vacuum. At the border of Smoke and Ash is a place known as the Ember where flakes of super-heated ash move across the lit sky like from a campfire. This ash sears and blisters whatever it touches, making it a dangerous realm to stay for long in. At the borders of Vacuum and Smoke is the horrible realm of the Gray Way that is as deadly as it is subtle. The air here is not toxic, but it is still dangerous to breathe in as the vapors cause hallucinations and madness in all. Those who breathe in this realm, even for a short time, begin losing themselves in the madness, forgetting what it is to be alive and unalive, what is good vs evil, and becoming brutal and kind in the same moment. This horrible condition is thought to be only removed by a powerful restoration spell, but it's said that those who survive such a condition are forever changed.
Unlike many of the other para-planes, this plane is often traveled though many of its travelers are efreet soldiers and djinn warriors who wage their battles across the entire plane.
The Choking Palace
Ehkahk, a semi-what powerful mephit, lays claim to this floating castle made of black iron that drifts across the plane. His palace holds a large library filled with a jumbled mess of esoteric lore, for Ehkahk prizes himself as a scholar and has gathered up any type of book or piece of lore that he can, filling his shelves with strange knowledge that may be best locked away. Hundreds of mephit scribes are sent across the plane, and beyond, searching for more knowledge to fill Ehkahk’s shelves. The Great Ehkahk is even quite a writer himself as he writes massive amounts in his journals that he stores in his libraries, though no one is quite sure why he does so. While Ehkahk, the Smoldering Duke, has made no moves against the other planes, many wonder if he is simply biding his time and growing his power so that he might truly become an archomental.
The Hidden City
Secreted somewhere in the plane, this massive city is built atop a natural spring of water, the only one like it in all the plane of smoke. Magic and smoke help to make this city almost impossible to find, safeguarding it from opposing forces that would like nothing more than to destroy the city or take it over as a large fortification. Djinn and efreet and are interested in finding and securing this city, with the djinn wanting to create an alliance with the city to house their armies, while the efreet wishes to enslave the occupants and transform the city into their fortress. Even the Smoldering Duke, the tyrant mephit, wishes to control the town, though it is more out of jealously that something could be hidden in the smokes that he so dearly loves.
The rulers of the Hidden City are always twin heirs, at least for the past eight generations, and go to great lengths to ensure that those worthy travelers who need food and shelter can find the city. They are always open to those who are running away from the oppression of the genies, helping outsiders so long as they can find the city and are worthy of their protection.
Factions & People
The genies don’t reside on the para-elemental planes but do wage their wars across them. The djinn and efreet, from the planes of Air and Fire respectively, wage their war across Smoke. The dao and marid, from the planes of Earth and Water respectively, wage their war across Ooze. Dao and efreet often meet secretly on Magma, conducting trade missions as well as planning their attacks on their hated enemies. While the djinn and marid meet on Ice, neither much care for the freezing temperatures and, while they are not hostile with each other, rarely take to planning engagements against their enemies.
The genies also use these planes as hunting grounds, moving across the planes in search of elemental animals of these planes, or hunting the mephits and paraelementals. The genies see the mephits as nothing more than vermin and pests, slaughtering large numbers of them like they would rodents.
No true power lays claim to any portion of these planes, this might be because these planes are so difficult to get to or that they are just too hazardous for outsiders to visit that the gods have decided it isn’t worth the effort. There are a wide variety of individuals who believe themselves to be gods, archomentals, or primordials, though few, if any, truly hold such power.
On Ice is an individual that is the closest to becoming a true archomental, also known as a primordial. Standing at 15-feet tall and covered in white fur, he is often said to resemble that of a powerful yeti or a massive polar bear that stands on its hind legs. Cryonax often thinks of himself as a deity already, though he has yet to prove his true power against others, something many believe he aims to fix. He is hoping to expand his rule to the entire plane of Ice, and even for Ice to replace one of the major Inner Planes in importance. Some say he dreams of a day where he can freeze over the entire multiverse, ruling it with a freezing fist.
The elementals of these planes are known as the paraelementals and include mephits and elementals. They are thought to be the plane given sentience and are summoned by spellcasters looking to trap elemental energies or control them in battle. While the elementals often have unique names to describe themselves, rarely if ever going by the title of paraelemental or mephit, they are categorized as such by scholars who study such creatures and beings.
The paraelementals of these planes are wary and unfriendly, treating others with extreme caution and even hostility. Their planes are often turned into large battlefields between the warring genie factions who fight and slaughter other creatures indiscriminately across the plane. They can still be treated with, though they are typically only swayed by goods that they see as valuable. Smoke elementals value rare gases and strange perfumes while an ice elemental may value magical items that deal with the cold and create cold spells.
Ehkahk's Books – A rumor in Sigil has been making the rounds, that there is an insane mephit on the Plane of Smoke searching for hidden books and lost knowledge to fill his shelves. Claims to be paying top coin and, those who can bring him valuable knowledge will be given large expanses of land, or smoke as the case might be, in the Plane of Smoke. They may even be elevated to the prestige of being a noble among the mephits, a questionable title if ever there was one.
Frozen Thoughts – At the very center of the Plane of Ice, even thoughts freeze into crystals of unique forms. Scavengers and explorers brave these painfully cold realms in search of hidden information and ancient knowledge, selling these ideas to the highest bidders. Rumors are that the true name of a demon prince might be found in its frozen form, frozen on the lips of someone long dead.
Lost Dabus – The Lady of Pain’s dabus are in charge of the operations of Sigil, which means they have to unclog the sewers from time-to-time that lead into the Plane of Ooze. Unfortunately, a temporary closed on a dabus doing such maintenance and is wandering the planes seeking a way back to Sigil.
Obsidian Sails – Travel across the Plane of Magma is quite easy for those willing to pay for passage on one of the dao's obsidian ships. Unfortunately, many of these vessels have been commandeered by pirates, and while the magma pirates are incredibly rare, they aren't unheard of on the flowing oceans of lava.
The Zoo – The mysterious caretaker of the Arcolantha is hiring a group of adventurers to bring several creatures to its realm so that it might freeze them inside of its walls for all to enjoy. These creatures are rare and difficult to find or might be incredibly deadly, but the pay is good, and it's a chance to find out who actually owns the Arcolantha.
Resources & Further Reading
Manual of the Planes (1st edition) / For more information on the introduction of the Para-Elemental Planes.
The Inner Planes (2nd edition) / For more information on the locations and people in the Para-Elemental Planes.
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