To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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The centre of the Outer Planes, the Outlands is a hub of trade, as well as being a taste for would-be planeswalkers to understand what trouble they’re getting themselves into. About 1000 miles away from the centre of the Outlands, the Spire (although some debate it is the centre of the plane) one finds gate-towns, each with a portal to Sigil, and another to another one of the outer planes. Each gate-town takes on characteristics of their “plane”, although some attempt to fight against it.
Magic works strangely as one approaches the Spire; while in a Gate-Town or beyond, magic will function relatively correctly. Once one begins to moves inward, higher level magic becomes more and more difficult (and eventually, outright impossible) to use. Once with 400 miles, even the gods are slowly reduced to mere fractions of their power.
Alignment: True Neutral
Planar features: Normal gravity and time, variable magic. The closer one gets to the spire, the more difficult it is to cast magic. Additionally, mapping the Outlands beyod the gate-towns is nearly impossible.
By Hajzeek Gnarl-Hoof
The Outlands are in the smack center o‘ the Great Wheel. They represent complete neutrality, what some o‘ the clerical bent would call “true neutral”. They‘re also the holdin‘ spot for all those things that don‘t yet fit anywhere else in the Outer Planes; that which is not yet well-defined or which defies bein‘ placed neatly within any one plane‘s basis o‘ belief. Since it touches on all o‘ the Outer Planes, the Outlands are one o‘ the major planes o‘ transit, an‘ it is through this plane that ye‘ll see armies march, merchant caravans pass, an‘ many a planewalker make their winterin‘ quarters.
Not that they need to ‘winter‘ at all really, the Outlands don‘t have much to speak o‘ when it comes to regular weather or even sunlight. Like Sigil, the light in the Outlands dims an‘ brightens on a regular schedule, but there is no apparent sun as the source o‘ it. The environment o‘ any particular place in the Outlands tends to reflect the environment o‘ the nearest planar contact. As an example, near Elysium the land is nice an‘ green an‘ fertile. Near, say, the Abyss, ye‘ll have never seen a harsher more desolate an‘ unfriendly expanse o‘ land. The Outlands can give ye an example o‘ most any type o‘ land ye‘d see on the Prime as ye make yer way around it, so it‘s best to have a rough idea o‘ what manner o‘ plane is closest to where ye‘re goin‘ so ye can be prepared for nice or nasty environments.
The Outlands are constantly growin‘ an‘ fadin‘. Remember what I said about belief formin‘ reality within the Outer Planes? Well, the Outlands are the clearest example o‘ it. Where they border the other planes—at the gate-towns—if the area there gets too much like the other plane, it‘ll just slide on over. One day there will be a town in the Outlands, the next day there won‘t. What determines a slide? Usually it‘s the strength o‘ the local belief, though in the case o‘ gate-towns to the Abyss, usually it‘s ‘cause a tanar‘ri army came rumblin‘ through an‘ killed every other poor sod livin‘ there. Truth is, most petitioners in the gate-towns are tryin’ to get their little burg to shift, they just haven‘t figured out what they‘re doin‘ wrong. Eventually they tumble to the dark o‘ it, though, an‘ so the Outlands seems to be constantly losin‘ little bits an‘ pieces o‘ itself to the rest o‘ the Outer Planes as the belief strengthens.
In a similar manner though, the Outlands is gainin‘ ground as other Outer Planes lose bits o‘ ‘emselves, an‘ as the Hinterlands o‘ the Outlands keep growin‘. The Hinterlands are the lands beyond the gate-towns, an‘ as far as the rest o‘ the planes are concerned, they‘re one big giant question mark. It is in this area that one finds everything that just doesn‘t souse into any other category. The mysterious, the unknown, an‘ the hard to define. Some think it‘s where our beliefs break down. Space an‘ time become wild, an‘ places o‘ the past mingle wit‘ those o‘ the future. It may be where the planes as we know ‘em cease to exist, givin‘ way to nothingness.
Another common theory is that it‘s where the true ideas o‘ the Outlands reside, those concepts that are distinct an‘ powerful yet can be turned to any purpose, good or evil, lawful or chaotic. Picture a field o‘ mirrors, a tower o‘ eternally ringin‘ bells, towns devoted to the meanings o‘ a single word, streams o‘ colors, an‘ so forth. Perhaps the powers o‘ the Hinterlands are embodiments o‘ mortal archetypes, those models that we empower wit‘ our associated beliefs in ‘em: the Mother, the King, the Philosopher, or the Planewalker. Recognized by the collective minds o‘ the multiverse, it seems fittin‘ that such ideas would live in a place that is distinct yet ill-defined an‘ obscure.
Travel in the Hinterlands is probably the best example o‘ travel by belief in the Outer Planes. The Hinterlands defy mappin‘, an‘ one day‘s travel may find ye in a place where it takes four days to get back to where ye started. The land shifts, an‘ between a glance at yer friend (don‘t travel without a buddy system, ok? I‘d like to see ye back again, ye know) ye‘ll find the nice mountain valley ye were travelin‘ along has transmuted into a seaside beach path. The Hinterlands is a fun, if extremely confusin‘, journey. But ye can generally get where ye‘re goin‘ if ye know where it is ye‘re aimin‘ for. It may take a day, a week or longer, but ye‘ll get there. As for gettin‘ back; no matter how far out into the Hinterlands ye‘ve traveled, if ye set yer sights on returnin‘ to the Ringlands it‘ll take no less than one day an‘ no more than three. Myself, I say there‘s a lot of very dangerous and very odd things out there and unless y‘crossin‘ my palm with a hefty amount of jink, you‘d best find someone else to take you on a tour.
While the Hinterlands stretch beyond the gate-towns, the area between ‘em is called the Ringlands. This is a gigantic circle o‘ land, about 2400 miles in diameter which forms the known Outlands. Therein are divine realms, mortal towns an‘ kingdoms, monstrous dens, merchant roads, an‘ o‘ course, the gate-towns ‘emselves. It doesn‘t feature as many unique planar features as the other Outer Planes, an‘ instead runs the gamut o‘ terrain found on the Prime Material (not that such environments can‘t be interestin‘ an‘ deadly, too).
The residents o‘ the Ringlands are a fairly mixed lot, some choosin‘ to not devote ‘emselves to any particular philosophy an‘ others actively servin‘ their notion o‘ Balance in any way they can. Petitioners o‘ the Outlands have a bad reputation for their tendency to swin‘ back an‘ forth, followin‘ a good deed wit‘ an evil one, in order to maintain their neutrality. That‘s just a small minority, though, as most o‘ ‘em just want to serve their power or, in the case o‘ those near the gate-towns, merge wit‘ the plane o‘ their desire. Dead souls aside, there are lots o‘ folk who make kip in the Outlands cause they see a profit to be had in the communities along the valuable tradin‘ routes or who fancy the idea o‘ buildin‘ their own societies where the gods are less likely to interfere.
What gives the Ringlands their name is the ol‘ concentric ring formation o‘ the land. Leadin‘ up to the Spire in the center, at a width o‘ about 100 miles give or take – they move – are a series o‘ rings. Each ring steadily degrades the use o‘ magic within its boundaries, startin‘ wit‘ the most powerful spells first. This even happens to the spells that some bloods can cast as naturally as breathin‘, an‘ the powers o‘ the mind wielded by psions. It can also be quite annoyin‘ when a teleport misfires an‘ lands ye close enough to the Spire to prevent ye from teleportin‘ to where ye wanted to go, meanin‘ ye have a quite obnoxious walk ahead o‘ ye. More importantly for some folks (like the Athar), the strength o‘ the gods ‘emselves begin to fail as they get closer to the Spire. Oh, they‘re still powers an‘ should be respected, but they start to get to where they can‘t throw lightning at ye or blow ye up by thinkin‘ it. All things considered, this does make the Outlands a great place to hold a meetin‘ if ye don‘t trust the other side.
Now, the way magic works is odd. Ye would think the weakest spells were the ones to go first, but that‘s just not so. It‘s the highest power ones that go first, like magic itself is runnin‘ out o‘ juice to power the most powerful o‘ spells the closer ye get to the Spire. The effect starts just within the gate-towns, an‘ covers even those magics bandied about by archmages (who really ought to be out puttin‘ ‘emselves to some good use instead o‘ tryin‘ t‘ prove somethin‘ on the Outlands). Where the rings ‘emselves are places is a little fuzzy, as the Outlands shift around often enough that one finds it hard to measure exactly where one ring begins an‘ the next ends without just walkin‘ every few feet an‘ tryin‘ to cast a spell. It‘s not like anyone‘s walked round the Spire nine times wit‘ a paintbrush to draw a line. So, the best we have is an estimate o‘ distance.
Climbin‘ the Spire is a joke a lot o‘ planars would play on the clueless primes they meet. Unless ye‘ve got a thing for hopeless causes, don‘t bother. The Spire is a great mountain, or spike o‘ rock the size o‘ a mountain, in the middle o‘ the Ringlands. It‘s visible from the entirety o‘ the Outlands, an‘ dimly atop it may be seen the little tiny ring that is Sigil. But as far as anyone knows the damn thing is infinitely tall. An‘ without magical assistance, it‘s not like one can swiftly go to the top. If ye are goin‘ to climb, an‘ there are some spectacular views an‘ puzzlin‘ things up the side o‘ the Spire worth seein‘, ye‘ll want to be either a very experienced climber or have wings. Preferably both. But don‘t bother climbin‘ it to try an‘ get into Sigil. Like I said, infinitely tall. Even if ye can see Sigil up there, ye won‘t ever reach. It‘s a planar paradox, so don‘t give yerself too big a headache tryin‘ to figure it out.
At the foot o‘ the Spire even the gods cannot reach, which is just as well for at least some o‘ the residents there. The Athar, those god-hatin‘ an‘ currently god-fearin‘ factioners moved to the foot o‘ the Spire after they were tossed out o‘ Sigil by the Lady of Pain, along wit‘ all the other factions. A lot o‘ ‘em are too scared to go back to Sigil an‘ too scared to wander out o‘ the Outlands an‘ face the wrath o‘ the gods they‘ve ticked off in the past. Looks like their buildin‘ a whole community there bereft o‘ magic or divine aid, barmy as that sounds.
The other residents o‘ the area are ones ye‘d better respect greatly, or just avoid if at all possible. I‘m talkin‘ about the rilmani, the exemplars o‘ true neutrality in the multiverse, who live at the center o‘ the Outlands as well. Chant is they view ‘emselves as defenders o‘ Balance an‘ subtly interfere whenever the forces o‘ one alignment appear to be on the verge o‘ dominatin‘ another, though that hasn‘t stopped layers from shiftin‘ an‘ gods from fallin‘, so who knows what the dark o‘ it is. They‘re a mysterious lot an‘ quite defensive o‘ their secrets, so one had best approach ‘em cautiously.
Arranged evenly at the edges o‘ the known Outlands an‘ the Hinterlands are the gate-towns, named such ‘cause each possesses two large portals, one that leads to Sigil an‘ one that leads to the Outer Plane the burg‘s closest to. Along wit‘ the fact that the Great Road also makes use o‘ the gate-towns as pathways between the Outer Planes, each town is a prominent locale in its own right. In the land between ‘em an‘ the Spire one will see the most foot traffic on the planes in the form o‘ armies, merchants, adventurers, an‘ even migratin‘ animals. An‘ one can make a pretty large load o‘ jink escortin‘ merchants to protect ‘em against the bandits an‘ thieves around the towns.
When a gate-town slips into another plane, a new town on the Outlands takes its place, seemin‘ly at random. The portals move to the new gate-town an‘ the process starts over again. Most o‘ the current batch have been around for decades or longer, but the years since the Faction War have some changes in the gate-towns, so give a close ear an‘ we‘ll get ye all caught up to date.
(Note: the individual plane pages for a description of their corresponding gate-town)
Mount Celestia: Excelsior
The Beastlands: Faunel
The Abyss: Blight
The Gray Waste: Hopeless