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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignments?

    Acheron is between pure law and lawful evil; Gehenna is between pure evil and lawful evil; and Carceri is between pure evil and chaotic evil.

    But this seems wrong to me. It seems to me that Acheron should be where Gehenna is, Gehenna should be where Carceri is, and Carceri should be where Acheron is.

    After all:

    1. Acheron is an endless battlefield with constant bloodshed: to me, that rings of pure evil with only a bit of law thrown in.

    2. Gehenna is a series of gigantic volcanoes constantly blowing up and shooting magma everywhere. The entire plane has 45-degree slopes everywhere. Seems to lean towards chaos, seeing as how fire is falling from the sky, rocks are sliding down at you, and you're always in danger of slipping down the mountainside.

    3. Finally, Carceri is the one that seems the most out of place. It's a gigantic prison. Prisons have rules and a hierarchy of guards, jailors, and wardens. I would think a prison would be extremely lawful.

    The rest of the Great Wheel seems to work fine; it's just these three evil planes which seem off. I'm mostly interested in the Great Wheel specifically, but if there are other D&D cosmologies that have those planes in a similar setup with respect to alignment, and those have some sort of explanation, that would also be useful. Can someone enlighten me?

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blue View Post
    Acheron is between pure law and lawful evil; Gehenna is between pure evil and lawful evil; and Carceri is between pure evil and chaotic evil.

    But this seems wrong to me. It seems to me that Acheron should be where Gehenna is, Gehenna should be where Carceri is, and Carceri should be where Acheron is.

    After all:

    1. Acheron is an endless battlefield with constant bloodshed: to me, that rings of pure evil with only a bit of law thrown in.
    I like the way Lord Gaerth put it:
    Acheron is battle without resolution, law without harmony, order without structure, misery without hope, death without glory, unity without individuality. Acheron is not a plane that hates you; indeed, it is Acheron's utter indifference to you that eventually kills you. Acheron is the grinding monotony of hopelessness, and it is the weary horror of cynicism so great that it consumes morality. The sergeant who grows weary of fighting corruption and embraces bribery goes to Acheron; the office drone who takes out his misery on others by providing them barriers to actual help goes to Acheron. It is the punishment for which there was no crime, the penalty without a violation, the monolithic crushing indifference of Law with no moral compass, of conflict without belief, of tyranny without vanity.

    Acheron doesn't hate you.

    It wants you to die anyway.
    2. Gehenna is a series of gigantic volcanoes constantly blowing up and shooting magma everywhere. The entire plane has 45-degree slopes everywhere. Seems to lean towards chaos, seeing as how fire is falling from the sky, rocks are sliding down at you, and you're always in danger of slipping down the mountainside.
    I think you're reading a bit too much into the physical nature of the plane, consider more what the plane is rather than what it looks like. For contrast, Bytopia is....let's just say a floor and a ceiling, each their own world/layer. That's a strange one and if we just look at the physical nature of it it might seem chaotic, but it's actually a paradise of sorts. Gehenna is the home of those who will never obtain what they want despite their greed, a land of selfishness. That lands more neutral on the law/chaos axis.

    3. Finally, Carceri is the one that seems the most out of place. It's a gigantic prison. Prisons have rules and a hierarchy of guards, jailors, and wardens. I would think a prison would be extremely lawful.
    Carceri is definitely a prison plane, no doubt about it. Leaving aside that a prison doesn't necessarily act lawfully just because it's a prison (also it's not exactly all prisons either, at least in a formal sense, there are jungles, deserts etc), Carceri is the home of betrayers who abused trusts and friendships. Those are types of petitioners who definitely don't scream lawful.
    Last edited by Brookshw; 2019-05-30 at 04:02 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vedhin View Post
    As always, the planes prove to be awesomer than I expected.
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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Carceri isn't a well-run prison with guards.

    It's a place where you dump various anuses, with special focus on traitors, and let them fend for themselves with no supervision, and no way out. For all eternity.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blue View Post

    3. Finally, Carceri is the one that seems the most out of place. It's a gigantic prison. Prisons have rules and a hierarchy of guards, jailors, and wardens.
    This one doesn't. There is no distinction between prisoners and jailors, incarcerated and incarcerator. The only difference between the two is which side of the bars you think you're on, but the joke's on you: you're on the inside, and no matter how you struggle you're never going to get out again. It is the prison of the self taken to the point of absurdity.

    Lord_Gareth's description of Archeron is perfect.

    Gehenna is evil bound by the single iron law of hatred. You, personally, are hated. By the inhabitants of the plane, by the land within the plane, by the very atmosphere and the nature of reality. It doesn't know you exist, really, and if it did it wouldn't care, but it is bound to hate you anyway. It is the fiery expressing of that single organizing principle that makes it lawful, in contrast to, say, the grinding misery of Hades or the crab bucket of Carceri.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    I like to think that gehreleths are not entirely delusional when they consider themselves the jailers of Carceri. At the very least, they are known to leave the plane for the purpose of recapturing escapees.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I like to think that gehreleths are not entirely delusional when they consider themselves the jailers of Carceri. At the very least, they are known to leave the plane for the purpose of recapturing escapees.
    Gehreleths are those who've so embraced the horrors of the place that they cannot be at home anywhere else. Theirs is the prison of the addict: they cannot abide being anywhere but Carceri, where their ability to inflict petty cruelties on their lessers is sated. Not even they like it there, but they like it less everywhere else. And the need to leave it, to endure the rest of the multiverse, is its own punishment.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I like to think that gehreleths are not entirely delusional when they consider themselves the jailers of Carceri. At the very least, they are known to leave the plane for the purpose of recapturing escapees.
    And trying to mess with Loth's, but ultimately they're a "made" race with no other home and are connected to Carceri to reproduce, and are pretty much hated and despised by the other fiendish races. The plane's just as much their prison.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vedhin View Post
    As always, the planes prove to be awesomer than I expected.
    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    Logic just does not fit in with the real world. And only the guilty throw fallacy's around.
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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Acheron and Gehenna both share a theme of ‘my in-group above all others’... with Acheron being about losing your own identity into the identity of your tribe/nation/army/ideology in a way that is without ideal or goal beyond just support of your group... a place where your devotion to the cause is more important than the cause itself, where loyalty and self-sacrifice are displayed at their worst, and where ultimately you will ‘die’ nameless and forgotten to the larger press of your chosen team color

    Gehenna is a plane where the only way to gain anything is by the direct harm of others; there is no cooperation possible beyond the cooperation of one group to exploit another. The plane is devastatingly dangerous and resource-bare, so that the only semblance of safety or comfort is that gained by seizing it (or at least withholding it) from others; most often in the Lawful-leaning banding together of organized crime, racist groupings, etc... it isn’t a place where one powerful entity can seize what it wills from those weaker than it (that is the Abyss); but where everyone is equally vulnerable and the path to excel is deciding who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’... drawing a line that leaves enough people ‘in’ to defend what you have (and capture more); and enough people ‘out’ to not strain resources (or run out of victims)

    Carceri isn’t hard to understand when you get that it is a prison run by the prisoners, a place where you are sealed away in your own little pocket without any semblance of limitation on your hedonistic tendencies or perversions of any kind; because you are eternally stuck with everyone else just as sick and loathsome as you are
    Last edited by Naanomi; 2019-05-30 at 09:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Gehreleths are those who've so embraced the horrors of the place that they cannot be at home anywhere else. Theirs is the prison of the addict: they cannot abide being anywhere but Carceri, where their ability to inflict petty cruelties on their lessers is sated. Not even they like it there, but they like it less everywhere else. And the need to leave it, to endure the rest of the multiverse, is its own punishment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brookshw View Post
    And trying to mess with Loth's, but ultimately they're a "made" race with no other home and are connected to Carceri to reproduce, and are pretty much hated and despised by the other fiendish races. The plane's just as much their prison.
    I do not contest that they are prisoners as well. I am just giving them credence on the jailer part.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Carceri is a prison.
    Chaotic evil people break the law.
    If you break the law you go to prison (generalization alert)
    Chaotic Evil people go to prison
    I restate that Carceri is a prison
    A prison for CHAOTIC EVIL people.
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    Use your smite bite to fight the plight right. Fill the site with light and give fright to wights as a knight of the night, teeth white; mission forthright, evil in flight. Despite the blight within, you perform the rite, ignore any contrite slight, fangs alight, soul bright.

    That sight is dynamite.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Carceri is chaotic because it's not a formalized official system of punishments appropriate to committed crimes. Carceri is anarchy, where there's no rules, it's everyone for himself, and there's no organization or anything you can trust or rely on.
    It's evil and chaotic, but in a more subdued way than the Abyss, so I think it's right where it should be.

    Archeron is one of the two planes I never fully understood. The other one being Arcadia. Arcadia maybe even easier to understand, as static blandness seems to be kind of its thing. But why Archeron is the place where orcs and goblins are in permanent war has always been beyond me.
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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    I feel that opportunities have been missed.

    Why design the prison plane as a giant oubliette, when a harsh penitentiary would have been so fitting for the LN/LE entry?

    Why put the eternal battlefield at a point of the River Styx where the Blood War would only occasionally spill?

    So while it would be a very different version of these planes, I agree with the OP.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Blue View Post
    It seems to me that Acheron should be where Gehenna is, Gehenna should be where Carceri is, and Carceri should be where Acheron is.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Carceri is on the chaotic side of evil because it is not governed by law. Acheron is the plane of warfare, not "just" random fighting. Organized, army-level warfare. Structured for the purpose of wars, fought to maintain the structures that were built for the purpose of war.

    Carceri is a penal colony. There are no laws imposed by anybody outside. It's a no-man's land where the only rules are the power and will of the evil people sent there.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I feel that opportunities have been missed.

    Why design the prison plane as a giant oubliette, when a harsh penitentiary would have been so fitting for the LN/LE entry?

    Why put the eternal battlefield at a point of the River Styx where the Blood War would only occasionally spill?

    So while it would be a very different version of these planes, I agree with the OP.
    Archeron predates the Blood War. It (and Ysgard, which is its opposite) are about War, capital W, and its different aspects. The Blood War is just a conflict that happens to be occurring. It's important, but the nature of the Outer Planes is determined by metaphysics, not current events.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Why design the prison plane as a giant oubliette, when a harsh penitentiary would have been so fitting for the LN/LE entry?
    In part I imagine it's the nature of the demondand (i.e., NOT lawful).

    I recall n fan theory from a while back regarding Carceri's origins, which while not completely canon, has some elements of canon in it. Theory went, Carceri wasn't originally a plane, it was a part of Hades, held by the Loth's. When Apomp decided to split from the other baernaloths and create the demondand rather than work with the baernaloths to keep developing the loths, he (it?) really pissed them off. Baernaloths aren't exactly pushovers, they're roughly archfiends/demon lords in their own right, and that comes with a lot of power. As punishment the Baernaloths took a hunk of hades, tore it off, and created Carceri from it to serve as Apomp's prison/punishment.

    Assuming there is any truth to the theory, the nature of the planes creators (i.e., loths) goes a long way to explaining why it's alignment is what it is. This is not a refutation of the general power struggles/structures exist on Carceri and how they aren't exactly lawful.

    If you're looking for a harsh penitentiary, that's kind of the Nine Hells thing. Wait, scratch the "kind of", that is the Nine Hells thing.
    Last edited by Brookshw; 2019-05-31 at 08:27 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vedhin View Post
    As always, the planes prove to be awesomer than I expected.
    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    Logic just does not fit in with the real world. And only the guilty throw fallacy's around.
    Avatar courtesy of Linklele

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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Law and Chaos are both quivering nonsense that has little to no correspondence to any objective rubric. Try not to overthink it too much.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    Law and Chaos are both quivering nonsense that has little to no correspondence to any objective rubric. Try not to overthink it too much.
    Sure they do. Law is about preordination and causality. Chaos is about seemingly-random, acausal occurences. The lenses of philosophy and mortal choice and behavior through which those properties are examined are what create the underlying "you know it when you see it" sort of thing that's going on with it. The conflicts arise when you start to think the lens is all that's there.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Carceri is a penal colony. There are no laws imposed by anybody outside. It's a no-man's land where the only rules are the power and will of the evil people sent there.
    The planes is called the prison of the multiverse, but that's more a cultural interpretation than its actual nature.

    When you put someone into Carceri, it's not about an execution of justice, but throwing someone to the dogs. Figuratively, and occasionally also literally.

    It's also the lower plane that best represents "Hell, that's the other people". If you end up there as a petitioner, send there by the cosmic laws of the multiverse according to your personality, then your punishment is to be trapped with other people just as awful as you.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The planes is called the prison of the multiverse, but that's more a cultural interpretation than its actual nature.

    When you put someone into Carceri, it's not about an execution of justice, but throwing someone to the dogs. Figuratively, and occasionally also literally.

    It's also the lower plane that best represents "Hell, that's the other people". If you end up there as a petitioner, send there by the cosmic laws of the multiverse according to your personality, then your punishment is to be trapped with other people just as awful as you.
    And if you end up there by accident, ha-ha oh well you're basically stuck there now because justice is a lie.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Now I want to run Apomps like the Joker from The Dark Knight.

    "To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."
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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Now I want to run Apomps like the Joker from The Dark Knight.

    "To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."
    Arkham Asylum is a pretty good reference for Carceri.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by QuickLyRaiNbow View Post
    Arkham Asylum is a pretty good reference for Carceri.
    Except that is harder to get out

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    Except that is harder to get out
    It doesn't constantly drag you back to it, though.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by QuickLyRaiNbow View Post
    It doesn't constantly drag you back to it, though.
    That's what the Batman is for.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    I like that some of the planes don't seem to "work" where they are placed. It makes it seem like the multiverse is a lived-in place.

    Maybe Carceri is a plane of Chaos and Evil, but over millennia, based on the kind of chaotic and evil people that went there, it became a prison plane, despite the idea of a prison not being particularly chaotic. Acheron is just a plane that came about with a Lawful-with-an-evil-tinge, but it wasn't a plane of neverending war until the petitioners and gods that came to be there made it one.

    If I wanted to write a story that features a decadent, hedonistic city where anything goes, and people come from all over the world to gamble and play, I might not choose the middle of the Nevada desert as the most fitting place to put it, but there Las Vegas is, just because. I see Acheron as a planar Las Vegas; it's become what it is for Reasons, apart from Where and What it is.

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I feel that opportunities have been missed.

    Why design the prison plane as a giant oubliette, when a harsh penitentiary would have been so fitting for the LN/LE entry?

    Why put the eternal battlefield at a point of the River Styx where the Blood War would only occasionally spill?

    So while it would be a very different version of these planes, I agree with the OP.
    In a big way, Acheron and Carceri are so Lawful/Chaotic precisely because of how they seem to be the opposite. It is their mockery of the other alignment that makes them the alignment they are.

    Acheron doesn’t stand between Baator and the Abyss because that would serve a purpose. Acheron doesn’t have a purpose. Its pointlessness is the very nature of its essence. It is grinding futility, conflict with no victors or even losers, really. Someone losing would imply a change in the field, an implicit victory for someone else (if nothing else, they weren’t the ones who lost). No, instead, the fight is endless and for precisely that reason meaningless. All the apparent “chaos” of war, all the random movement of the plane, none of it matters—and in not mattering, it becomes utterly uniform. We often think of entropy as a force of Chaos, but in the end—when entropy has “won” at the heat-death of the universe—the universe would be left entirely uniform, with no pockets of difference or variation. What could be more Lawful than that? Acheron is the same way—nothing changes, nothing stands out, and all that randomness just becomes meaningless white noise—and white noise is defined by its very uniformity. Acheron mocks Chaos by showing that “perfect chaos”—and note the oxymoron—is in fact Lawful.

    In short, Acheron is the plane of “War never changes.”

    Carceri, on the other hand, is far more straightforward in its mockery. It presents a facade of Law, in appearing to be a prison, but as QuickLyRaiNbow excellently put it, that is delusion—both sides of the bars are equally prisoner and jailer. But note that Carceri is not Pandemonium—where mocking Chaos is Acheron’s raison d'ętre, for Carceri it is almost accidental in its pursuit of its true goal: despair. Carceri fuels despair by offering the illusion of hope, and one of the hopes that Carceri offers is the hope of being in charge, of being in control. There is no such thing on Carceri, of course, but those who think there is struggle in futility to have it—and since it doesn’t exist, those hopes are endlessly dashed by the plane’s mocking refusal to allow them any control. And here we also see how Carceri avoids what Acheron embraces—small pockets of temporary order, of imagined control, are allowed to exist within the seething riot. Carceri will let you fool yourself into thinking you are accomplishing something—Acheron grinds any such delusions away with all its inexorable might.

    In short, Carceri might be summed up with “A penitentiary for those who are not penitent is nothing more than an inn for the evil.”

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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    I think almost all of us are talking about Planescape here.

    But I believe that the planes preceede Planescape by a good number of years. There was a Manual of the Planes for 1st edition after all. Did Carceri and Archeron exist back then, and were they described as appearing in the ways they are in Planescape?
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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I think almost all of us are talking about Planescape here.

    But I believe that the planes preceede Planescape by a good number of years. There was a Manual of the Planes for 1st edition after all. Did Carceri and Archeron exist back then, and were they described as appearing in the ways they are in Planescape?
    They did though Carceri was named Tarterus, they've existed pre the 1e MoP. As of 1e, they were generally how we think of them today (with scattered descriptions before that, though the Immortal Rules was probably the best early source).
    Quote Originally Posted by Vedhin View Post
    As always, the planes prove to be awesomer than I expected.
    Quote Originally Posted by jedipotter View Post
    Logic just does not fit in with the real world. And only the guilty throw fallacy's around.
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    Default Re: Why do the planes of Acheron, Gehenna and Carceri seem to be of the wrong alignme

    One excellent resource I've found during my scrying sessions is http://www.pathguy.com/planes.html , which contains a lot of information about the planes of existence. I think a lot of it makes a great deal of sense- the outer planes aren't just physical places in the multiverse but embodiments and distillations of the cosmic forces of alignment, and the spiritual destination of mortal souls.

    So Acheron isn't Lawful-leaning Evil because of its endless war. Rather, it promotes a spiritual state of existence where one loses their identity to the collective, wages war on hated "others" to belong to their "superior" group, and casual cruelty and violence is encouraged against "lesser others". Surrendering your free will and conscience to your society.

    Likewise, Gehenna is Lawful Evil-leaning because its state of being encourages petty power structures, but moreover it encourages and promotes acts of petty and impersonal cruelty. It's less about the explosive landscape, and more about how in that landscape you have to disregard others in order to thrive. If you, and your group, are to survive in Gehenna, you cant respect those not of your group. Land, food, supplies... there just isn't enough to go around. And when you take from another to further yourself, well... it ain't personal, kid. It's just business.

    Carceri, as others have said, is Chaotic-leaning Evil. It is the spiritual home of those who harm others without regard for law or ethos, where depraved criminal souls are sent for their final destination. And as others have so succinctly put it, it's not lawful because there is no law here. Think more along the lines of Mad Max or Fist of the North Star. A prison in that it contains them, but wherein all these lawless souls are left to run rampant amongst themselves.

    One of my favorite bits of insight from that resource is that, the concepts embodied in these planes are things that people whose souls belong there actually believe they want. Few souls ever end up in a wrong final destination, rather, they are drawn to a place that best mirrors their own heart.
    Walk boldly, and discover a world of wonder...

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