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The Pseudoelemental Plane of Force
'cause I'm fulfillin' requests. I apologize in advance for the occasional falling into Planar slang and for apparently being some sort of salty Cager plane-sailor (let's call him Zayn) whenever I write Planar fluff.
The Pseudoelemental Plane of Force
Within the Ethereal Sea* lays a plane few cartographers note, said by some to be a great demiplane like Time and Shadow, by others to be a nascent 5th elemental plane forming to join the Inner Planes, by others to be a lost one once part of their harmony which was sundered at the dawn of the current reality. It is known as the Pseudoelemental Plane of Force by most who speak of it, though it is sometimes called the Elemental Plane of Aether, Quintessence, or Void by others. It is a strange plane, a plane of perpetual night, lit only by stray flames that bled into it from the Plane of Fire, its air thin and near empty, mazes of solid Force forming its contours. Welcome to the Pseudoelemental Plane of Force.
*Edition Note: While all mechanics are presented as 3.5 I default to 2e's much more complete and fleshed out Planar Cosmology. In it the Deep Ethereal was the default rule and the Inner Planes connected to the Ethereal Plane as opposed to the Astral Plane.
What is Force and How Does it Fit
Now I know some berk who thinks he's a blood is already asking what sort of barmie I am rattlin' my bonebox 'bout a 5th Elemental Plane. Surely if there was such a thing even Clueless wizards would know of it and speak of it. Well some do, though I'll admit they're on the rare side. First off I ain't callin' it a 5th Elemental Plane, sure some cutters do, but I ain't ready to make no judgment there. The pseudo, note that, pseudoelemental plane of Force is just that because it don't quite fit with the Inner Planes. It ain't connected to 'em, least not directly. I mean it exists in the Ethereal (3.5: Astral) like 'em but it ain't part of their network. Every berk knows 'bout how the Elemental Planes mix with their neighbors to form the Paraelemental Planes and with Positive and Negative to form the Quasielemental Planes (3.0 Manual of the Planes assumed Inner Planes don't border, 3.5 books assumed they did but make no clear mention of what happens when they do, 1e, 2e use the above, 5e has Paraelementals but I'm not sure about Quasi), well Force don't border any of 'em realms. It's its own place, like a demiplane floatin' free. Course sometimes it still bleeds in, little pockets of one moving into another.
So what is Force I guess is the next question I ought to answer. Every sodding berk, even Clueless ones, know what Earth is it's the ground 'neath their feet, and Water is that stuff ya drink, Air ya breathe, and Fire yeah everyone knows fire. But Force? Well to most it's just somethin' wizards deal with. Solider than stone, lighter than air, and completely impervious. But what is it really? Well I ain't no graybeard philosopher to tell ya for sure. Some claim it is the element of 'Form' the force, yeah the term'nology could use some work, that gives everything else shape. That it mixes in small quantities into everything you see, binding matter together at the smallest level. I ain't sure I believe it. Others simply call it the Aether, that godly element that stands above the others and brings out the best in all thing. Others claim it is 'Permanence' that essence which allows others to endure, and that a creature's lifespan is determined in no small part by its proportion of Force. Most agree it don't mix easy like the others. I mean you take Air and Earth and ya can make Glass, Water and Earth makes ya some wood in the right combination. Force is something else, perhaps more primal, it don't mix least not that ya can observe without the help of magic. Well mostly. The fact that force is inhabited by livin' things, and that some of 'em can be made into undead, is proof it does. After all every livin' thing has Positive Energy in it, and undead need Negative. So if it's alive it's mixed; even elementals are that way.
In practical terms, though, Force is solid and weightless. It is indestructible, save by disintegration, and it is unshapeable. Sometimes it's clear, sometimes it's opaque. Whatever it is, though, only a barmie ever thinks he's put a scratch in it.
The Pseudoelemental Plane of Force is an infinite expanse, wouldn't be a question whether it was a mere demiplane or not if anyone had ever found an end to it. The Pseudoelemental Plane of Force is by nature completely unlit, a great infinite darkness marred only by walls and planes of invisible or opaque Force. Of course like all planes sometimes things leak in, even if such leaks aren't as common as in the Elemental Planes. Clumps of Earth can be found in Force where food and such can grow, and there are even some native plants that grow on the planes of Force. The plane has a thin atmosphere, breathable by natives though foreigners have some trouble acclimating at times (this is equivalent to a low to high peak ~10,000 ft), though at places it grows thin all the way to nothingness and at others it thickens though these air rich pockets tend to mark a recent leak from Air and fade away quickly enough. The eternal night is lit by the occasional flash when Fire, Radiance, or Positive Energy bleeds in and is released or the more constant light of 'Candle Stars' where such energies leaked in and found themselves a natural container of Force which held them tight, in an eternal flame. Water occasionally floats, and freezes, in the near void.
The pseudoelemental plane of force has an average temperature of approximately freezing (for determining cold protection natives of the pseudoelemental plane are considered to be native to Cold Terrain) as while it is filled with energy this energy is in a state of perfect stasis. See Force don't release its energy as fire like most things, and it even blocks and contains the energy of the fires trapped in it. Couple that with the thin air and you have a wasted near void.
The pseudoelemental plane of force is like air in that it has subjective directional gravity, that means a cutter makes his own by believing in it. Course unlike air visible pockets ain't common so many a berk finds himself just floatin' at first till they get it into their head 'that way is down', and gettin' that in your head on Force is a dangerous thing. See on Force the ground ain't visible more often than not. So when ya think ya have plenty of time to stop yaself ya find out that ya just hit somethin' completely unyielding at 'terminal' velocity (Because of the completely unyielding nature of Force falling onto it deals damage in d8s instead of d6s).
Course Force affects magic some too. Spells to create or manipulate Force are empowered and enlarged here, that means that Magic Missile just got a little better. The Forceward spell, though, just fails completely, and the overlapping layers of Force interfere with teleportation. All teleportation effects have half their normal range and long ranged ones have it worse. Teleportation over 1 mile is reduced to 1% of its normal range (or 1 mile whichever is greater) and even normally infinite teleportation like Greater Teleportation won't get a cutter where he wants to go merely teleporting a few hundred miles (10 miles per caster level of infinite range teleportation). Course Wish ain't affected one bit, it's just too powerful I guess even for the plane to stop. Planar travel is difficult too. It requires a DC 25 - Spell level Charisma check to use any spell to travel to Force or travel from it, meanin' Plane Shift ain't reliable even if ya've got the right rod and callin' effects sometimes fail. Summoning ain't affected though, and the Maze spell is all 'bout manipulating the nature of Force. With that said Maze don't work one bit on Force, see it brings them to a reflection of Force, sort of taking a piece of what makes it hard to leave and puttin' them there, unfortunately on Force itself it makes it just as hard to put them there.
Gettin' to Force
As I already told ya it ain't easy to reach Force, if'n it was more cutters would have heard of it and even most bloods counted as canny by those who matter often ain't heard of Force. Even knowing about Force is a rarity (Knowledge the Planes DC 20 to know it is actually reported and includes inaccuracies, knowledge checks to identify Force natives or otherwise dealing with Force that would normally have a DC of less than 30 have their DC increase by 10 - 1/2 the amount above 10 they would be; i.e. 15 becomes 23 [25 - 5/2 rounded up], 18 becomes 24 [28 - 4], 25 becomes 28 [35 - 7.5 rounded up] etc), those who make a study of such things know of it, but even they have imperfect knowledge. Reaching Force ain't easy either. While there are a few permanent portals, most of these lead to a region called the Mazes of Force. While Force don't have true Para and Quasi planes these are the closest it's got. They are a mix of Force and the plane of origin, but the energy don't fuse like with Fire and Air, instead its a choppy heterogenous mix. The most famous Maze of Force is called the Wind Tunnel (Knowledge DC 24 know of it, DC 27 know roughly where on Air and scant details of its nature). It's a sucking vortex from Air to Force. 100 ft wide on average, it is lined in all directions with walls of force and teleportation beyond these simply leads to an infinite airless and lightless void. Now that wouldn't be too bad save for a few things. First off its filled with invisible planes of force, and force winds (see below) are a common feature of the tunnel. Second is the wind, it blows constantly from Air to Force. At the best of times it’s a gale, and it’s more common for it to reach a full blown hurricane or tornado than not (Ranges from Windstorm when calm up to Tornado speeds). Third is the gravity, see while the two planes are both planes where belief equals gravity, the Mazes are weird realms and between Air and Force it always goes one way; Air is up Force is down. Put these three together and you’ve got a dangerous trip. Couple that with the winds in Air blowing towards the tunnel and the fact that it is only loosely anchored near Storm and you’ve got a sparsely populated region on Air. Force the entry is better fixed and mostly it’s a temperate and air dense region of the plane so it’s one of the few places a cutter can find himself an inn and some civilization or what civilization there is on Force. Course where there’s danger and need there’s some blood that will make money from it. In the case of the Wind Tunnel there’re two cutters who have set themselves up as the main profiteers off the trip. One is a wind prince, that’s air genasi to some, named Valjira. Valjira runs himself an air ship which takes the voyage every about 4 days, flyin’ back 2 days later, tornado force winds not wishstanding. It’s 200 GP a berth, or 100 GP a human sized head, though if you’ve got a large group Valjira will take an extra trip but it’ll cost ya, usually it’ll run you at least 4000 gold. Still the Storm’s Eye is the way to travel in style, the ship’s enchantments weakening the winds and givin’ ya a relatively calm 9 hour journey. The other option is the air elemental monolith Ohm. Ohm is large enough he can handle the wins, ‘least he can on a good day, but when the wind is ‘spected to rise even he won’t fly. Ohm is quicker, less than an hour down and normally only an hour up, but it’s a bit more dangerous; after all you’re just clinging to a giant air elemental in a hurricane, and while only 100 GP a head for a charter trip it’s not for the faint of heart.
There are other means of reaching Force ‘course, but none are as well traveled as the Wind Tunnel. Naturally occurring vortexes on the Prime are nigh unheard of, since there ain’t much Force that just spontaneously manifests, so most travel is through unreliable spells, or through a few known passages.
Hazards of Force
I done already mention the hazards of the invisible ground ya can fall into without realizing it’s there, the low amounts of air, and the sheer chill of the plane, but Force ain’t so nice not to have other hazards more unique to it. Now all of these are hazards for sure, but there are worse things.
Take for example the Force Winds. Now you don’t see many true winds in Force, there just ain’t that much Air for there to be wind, ‘least if ya ain’t near a gate to Air or a place where it’s just rushed in. But little pieces of Force, and I do mean tiny, fly ‘cross the plane all the time. These ‘Force Winds’ will push ya back just the same as normal winds, maybe a little slower but every bit as certain to (Except for Listen check results treat force winds as 2 categories faster on the Wind Effects table, and increase the DC to avoid being pushed by an additional 5), but that ain’t the worst bit of Force Winds. See the little bits of Force’ll hit ya and hit ya hard. Any exposed creature or object within the path of Force Winds is gonna get cut up pretty bad (Light force winds deal 1d6 damage a round to exposed creatures and objects, moderate deal 2d6, strong deal 3d6, severe deal 5d6, the very rare windstorm deals 8d6, the nigh unheard of hurricane deals 12d6, and a tornado would deal 20d6, this damage is halved before hardness so a stone building will survive mostly intact). ‘Coure most natives seem unharmed by the force winds (Creatures with the Force subtype take no damage and gain a +5 on saves to resist Force Wind), still ain’t in no means comf’ble even for ‘em.
The other, and larger hazard is the planes of Force themselves. Ya see they move. While their movement ain’t normally fast like the winds they do move all the time. It’s a slow crawl usually, but sometimes it gets fast ‘nough to be a problem. If two planes are pushing together that’s usually instant death for any creature caught ‘tween ‘em though a strong enough being might theoretically push ‘em apart, that’s a pretty big might, though (DC would theoretically be based on size, a 100-ft plane would be DC 20+ depending upon speed, and many are measured in miles). Only way to survive is not to get caught so ya got to keep your wits about ya.
Movement in Force
I ain’t gonna go into a long discussion ‘bout it since really gettin’ ‘bout Force is pract’ly the same as movin’ ‘bout Air. Ya fly if ya can, ya pick a direction and fall if ya can’t, and on occasion ya’ walk about on the “ground”. Sure the “ground” in Force is a whole lot more common, after all the sheets of Force just sort of form all about, and sure it’s sometimes invisible, but at its heart it’s all the same.
Inhabitants of Force
Course this brings me to the deadliest hazards of any plane. That’s right the natives. Ya see nothin’ the planes can throw at ya will put you in the deadbook quite as effectively as an intelligent life form.
Like any elemental plane Force has got itself its elementals and, it ain’t vacuum, its mephitis. And like the 4 it even is said to have genies, though only one that I can confirm is the ruler of Keyhole, the burg on the Force side of the Wind Tunnel.
Mechanics for these inhabitants can be found in the thread Monsters of Force.
Force elementals mostly keep to ‘emselves, same could be said of most natives of Force. They dwell among the planes of Force and can even pass through ‘em. Now this is a slow process ‘course, but it’s fast enough to keep ‘em from havin’ to worry about bein’ crushed. Usually force elementals live by the motto of live and let live, and if ya just don’t bother ‘em they’ll let ya be. ‘Course clueless wizards like to bother and between summoning magic, calling, and attempts to use ‘em as slave labor for their telekinetic abilities quite a few have taken a dislike to overt shows of magic. But don’t go ‘bout throwin’ spells and ya ought to be fine… well if the plane didn’t try and force ya to use ‘em to survive.
Force mephits are one of the native species most likely to interact, for better or worse, with a non-native. They are curious little creatures that see themselves as rightful kings. The elementals don’t do anything to disabuse ‘em of this notion long as the mephits leave ‘em be, and the zjanbeet seem mostly amused by it when the rare and reclusive genie even meet the mephits. Now when dealin’ with a force mephit ya have two options. Play to their vanity, for they are vane little creatures, let ‘em think they are the wisest, the most beautiful, and greatest being ever, and if ya can convince ‘em that doin’ what ya want is their idea. The other option is play to their curiosity, they love new knowledge whether it’s a simple little trick or the dark of the Lady herself the little imps will usually bend over backwards for it.
The zjanbeet (singular zjanbeeti) are the genies of Force. They see themselves as not kings, but gods, claiming to predate the Powers themselves and to be the true deities of genie kind. Now I’m not the sort to go bowin’ to every self-proclaimed divinity, but the zjanbeet definitely have a good deal of power to back it up. They’d be a force to be reckoned with if they wanted to, as they’re able to wield a near mastery of magic after all, but for the most part they live lives of contented hedonism. They have their palaces in Force and if ya see one it’s worth approachin’ they enjoy guests as long as they’re respectful, and some even enjoy theological arguments with priests of “the lesser gods”. Just ‘pect your host to be arrogant and don’t ‘spect any favors beyond hospitality.
However never insult a zjanbeeti, and never, ever bind a genie in their presence. Like I said, they see themselves as the true deities of genie kind. This means they see the lesser races of genie as their responsibility. Every zjanbeet, it is said, can sense whenever a genie is called and if they see someone as abusin’ genies they can intervene. Now if a zjanbeeti intercepts a call for a genie the absolute last thing to do is call another genie to help ya fight them. First off another zjanbeeti will arrive instead, and secondly now it’ll be really pissed. Usually they won’t hurt ya if ya promise not to do it again and maybe make some reparations towards genie kind, but only a truly powerful mage would consider fightin’ a zjanbeeti.
Usually, though, they’re content to sit in their palaces. Zjanbeet have whatever they need or desire, after all they can make matter from nothing and rival, if not surpass, the finest craftsmen in every field. So they want for nothing, but occasionally company. Living in family groups of husband, wife, and sometimes children, the only reason zjanbeet lack company is by choice however. If you must deal with zjanbeet play on their respect for hospitality, their respect for a fair challenge, and their vanity. They see themselves as gods, kowtow and bow and treat ‘em as gods and it’ll go better for you.
Supposedly the zjanbeet are ruled by a group of patriarchs and matriarchs, which act like true powers in many regards ‘cording to the tales, but ain’t no graybeard I know of that can confirm they exist save the zjanbeet and even they can’t be sure of the number. General consensus is that there’s probably 3 and almost certainly no more than 7 but even their subjects can’t say for sure. ‘sides the patriarchs and matriarchs the only zjanbeet of note is Serafsia. Serafsia rules Keyhole, the burg at the Wind Tunnel, and that means Serafsia rules the largest city on the Plane. While tiny compared to the City of Brass, and Serafsia’s personal involvement is light, it does mean the zjanbeeti’s favor is a valuable thing. ‘Course the only thing she seems to care about is the city and the races of genie as a whole. She rules with a light hand, very rarely directly acting in the governance of the city although legally she possesses absolute authority to overturn any decision of the city’s elected senate and has vetoed the election of certain senators before. The only times she’s likely to act is a direct attack on the city, and in the last 4000 years only two tanar’ri generals and a Clueless purple dragon have been dumb ‘nough to try that.
Zwane consider themselves the descendants of the zjanbeet. The zjanbeet don't particularly like this belief and not even a zwane is fool enough to discuss it to their face. The zwane are nomads, making a meager living out of great ships wrought primarily from stone that floats in from Earth. They occasionally settle on a verdant patch of livable ground, but normally move through the midnight skies of Force seeking potable water and edible plants or hunting flocks of force eaters. The zwane are noteworthy as the most common human-like inhabitants of Force; the native civilization ya could say. Now they're important cause they're travelers. The mephits and elementals they travel too, but one moves only rarely when curiosity gets the better of them and the other while moving almost continuously they care for little and notice next to nothing save things that endangered 'em in the past. The zwane, however, have human-like minds and priorities, and are the people to talk to if ya want to know where the strangest sites and places of potential interest on the plane are. Course they're human-like, ya'll need somethin' to get 'em to sing, jink is the norm but it ain't unheard of for a zwane to serve as guide in exchange for a farm somewhere safe.
You want Force not to be super hard to reach? Remove the restriction on planar travel and the Mazes of Force. This was designed to attempt to fit it into the Great Wheel cosmology as it was used in editions where it was fleshed out, thus it needed an explanation for why it didn't mesh with the traditional elemental planes and their cosmology. In 3.0's horribly gutted version (I am still mad at 3.0's Manual of the Planes) it's much easier to work in without anything special. The Inner Planes don't touch, they don't connect, and it can just be. However the later books in 3.0/3.5 went with something nebulously in between the older cosmology and what was presented in 3.0's Manual of the Planes so salt to taste I guess you could say.
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Re: The Pseudoelemental Plane of Force
Fascinating, and I'm faintly amused at the burly old sailor wit grizzled hair telling the story.-~-~-~-
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Re: The Pseudoelemental Plane of Force
You, my friend, have outdone yourself. I do want to thank you greatly for taking my request, but I can tell this was done by someone who cared. Cheers!