To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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Home of the Elven Court, and the gods of Mount Olympus, Arborea shows the cycles of life. On the top layer, Arvandor, one encounter bountiful “oceans” of edible plants, including fruit and wheat, growing in the wild. This layers is one most think of when this plane is mentioned. On the second layer, Aquallor, one encounters an actual ocean, wracked with storms and without a shore to rest upon. On the bottom layer, Mithardir, one encounters an “ocean” of dust. Bounty, turbulence, dust.
Many wild parties can be found on the plane at any one time. These parties are often the most dangerous things on Arvandor, and travelers should be wary of approaching any fest they have not personally been invited to. Aquallor shares much in common with the Elemental Plane of Water, although one can find oxygen above, and aid below. Mithardir has a harsh, unforgiving environment, but ruins of ancient titans exist for those persistent enough.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Borders: The Beastlands, Ysgard
Connected by: Sylvania (Outlands), the River Oceanus.
Planar features: Normal gravity, time, and magic, but with the exception of Aquallor, it’s middle layer. Traversing the middle layer requires the ability to swim and breath underwater.
An Excerpt from a Sensate induction lecture by Chaminda Vaas
At this point in your introduction to the Society of Sensation, it falls to me to tell you about the Plane where we are considered to exert most influence, namely that of Arborea. Firstly, let me introduce myself. I am Chaminda Vaas, and I have been a Sensate for longer than most of you have been alive, something in the order or 150 years now. I lived on Arborea for around 50 of those years, so I am more than qualified to tell people about the plane.
I can say, with a fair degree of confidence, because I‘ve seen it before, that most of the people currently in this room have missed the idea of what being a Sensate is. You‘ve probably got the idea that it‘s all about finding new ways to get drunk, or have sex, or something equally decadent. Sadly, my experience is that most of the people we recruit are the shallow, vapid type who believes this sort of misinformation.
I am equally confident that most of the people in this room have missed the idea of the plane of Arborea. The common perception is that it is the ultimate party plane, where the booze, the laughter and the fun never stops. Those of you who want to find that in Arborea will probably be able to do so. If nothing else, you can always join the Bacchae, and never be seen again.
What I am about to tell you is for the few who are still listening to my words, and are really hearing them. The few who truly understand what it is to be a Sensate, rather than lusting after pure hedonism. The few who will learn something from my talk that will be useful to them later in their lives, that will be able to look back to this day and say to themselves ‗this is when I really started to learn something about myself‘.
Arborea is everything that you have heard it to be. It is a place of plenty, and enjoyment, of fulfilment. Even today it provides over one third of the produce eaten in Sigil, be that bread, fruit, vegetables, wines or whatever. It is a place that caters to the tastes of the individual, that allows you to express yourself as you would wish to do so. It is the plane where you may find your inner poet, your inner musician, or inner playwright. It is the plane where the Sensates send their less… inspired members, to let them quietly enjoy themselves out of harm‘s way, as much as you can be in this multiverse.
And for those willing to look beneath the surface, Arborea is nothing less than a lesson in the nature of life itself.
Almost everything that I have said about Arborea, and almost everything that you know about Arborea, comes from not only one layer of the plane, but one realm of that plane. That realm is Olympus, home to most of a pantheon of Gods called the Olympians, headed by a power called Zeus. The elves in the audience today will know that the other major realm of the first layer is Arvandor, home to most of the Seldarine, the elven pantheon. These two realms are so closely identified with the layer that depending on who you speak to, the first layer tends to be called either Arvandor or Olympus. The important thing to note is that Arvandor is not quite such a place of revelry as Olympus, and that there is an awful lot of the layer that falls within neither realm, not least the Gilded Hall that the Sensates maintain as their base on Arborea.
If you care to scratch beneath the surface of Arborea, you will find the layer of Ossa, or Aquallor. The second layer of the plane is one of water. You‘d better be able to swim, because no-one is aware of any land anywhere on the layer. Breathing water would be handy as well, because the storms that wrack the layer tend to make the surface untrustworthy for ships, and the best place to be is beneath the waves.
But the real lesson is the third layer. This is the lesson that the wise will take to heart. This is the bit that really teaches you something about life, not just on Arborea, but everywhere. Look really deeply, and you‘ll find something harsh and deadly. In Arborea‘s case, it is the layer of Pelion, or Mithardir. An endless desert of white sand. Few travel there, and few of those return. There is an isolated realm or location of interest on the layer, but you‘d better know exactly where they are because you could spend a dozen lifetimes wandering without finding them. Travel unprepared and Pelion will make your one lifetime all too brief.
And that is what you should really learn about Arborea. Life is struggle. Life is survival. If you need an example of this, look no further than the two main races resident on Arborea; the elves and the eladrin. It is true that both races appreciate fine art, fine poetry, fine wine, fine food and fine living. They appreciate peace and beauty. They like what may be described as the good life. But it is equally true that members of both races would lay down those lives to fight evil, to protect the innocent, to defend the weak. The guardinals and archons may tell you that they do not agree with the emphasis on the individual that the eladrin or the elves place, but that the dedication that those races have to fighting evil, in all its forms, neither the guardinals nor the archons would fault.
Those of you with the right minds, with the right interests, with the right understanding of what the Society of Sensation is about, will learn much from Arborea, and from its residents. You will learn to appreciate the beauty of a tranquil wood at sunrise. The taste of a fine wine. The emotion, the drama, of a good play. The fact that each person must find their own niche, their own appreciation of each sensation, their own understanding. That everyone is different, and unique, and should be treated as such. And that ideas like this, are worth defending, with everything you have to give. That beneath the velvet exterior that, like Arborea, you portray to those who glance casually at you, you must have the steely sinews, the strength, the courage and the determination to fight for individualism and for what is right.
Sylvania (Outland Gate-Town)
By Hajzeek Gnarl-Hoof
Sylvania is a party town, wit‘ plenty o‘ bars, inns, shows, an‘ the like. There‘s tons o‘ eladrin an‘ Sensates (an‘ Sensate eladrin just to make it more fun) all over the place. It is a place teemin‘ wit‘ life an‘ energy at all hours o‘ the day an‘ night, an‘ a body can always be sure to find their particular brand o‘ entertainment in one o‘ the many inns or taverns that litter the streets. If you‘re lookin‘ to relax after a hard couple o‘ days, this is the place.
There is an atmosphere o‘ fierce independence, autonomy, an‘ creativity that permeates the air o‘ Arborea‘s gate-town. The diversity o‘ form an‘ function is readily apparent when walkin‘ down any o‘ Sylvania‘s avenues. Individualism an‘ freedom o‘ expression can be seen in every facet o‘ life, from architecture to economy to nature. Most notable o‘ the architectural variety is the Sensate Embassy, which is a majestic pyramid, created entirely o‘ petrified wood! Amidst the majestic splendor o‘ the Embassy, a body cannot miss the temples that call kip to this jovial an‘ irreverent town. In spite o‘ it all, if a traveler finds their way to Sylvania, they‘re sure to find a good time…an‘ perhaps more!