100 Planes Part Four: Heavenly Realms

And now we move on to the higher planes. The realms of gods and demons and philosophical conflicts far above mortal worlds. Those reading this might live in worlds with vastly varying cosmology, especially up in the heavens, so we’ll try to keep the terms general. Though they’re inspired by the classic D&D great wheel, these planes can fit in many cosmologies.

This is part of my celebratory 100 planes for my 100th post. If you want more lesser known extraplanar locations, click below!

Art by Esteban M. Moraga

Domains

Gods and powerful spirits tend to have domains, planes of their own that they can shape as they will. The greatest of these are known as the heavens and hells, but there are hundreds of smaller ones.

61. A Place of Rest. An unassuming cottage and garden, floating through a starry void. Inside a great fire roars in the hearth, and an old woman sits beside it. She is the Goddess of the Hearth, and this is a place of peace and reprieve. There is always space around the fire, and always enough stew in the pot (The cottage and the pot will grow if need be). Despite her unassuming form she is a major deity, and you will find it quite impossible to quarrel while in this plane. 

62. The Big Score. Realm of the god of thieves, this plane is one enormous game. The realm is constantly changing shape, but there’s always a heist afoot. Though the plane is decorated with all of the greatest stolen treasures of the multiverse, the real treasure is a simple iron crown. Whichever spirit possesses that crown is recognized as the master of thieves, and is allowed to reshape the whole realm to protect it. The only rule is that you must retrieve it from your vault and wear it at the weekly gala (which you also get to plan).

Minor heists of various treasures are always occuring, and you’re welcome to try to steal any priceless artifact you wish. But the thieves involved in the grander game are of inhuman brilliance, and no matter what you’re doing you’ll be a part of the heist somehow, helping one of the players. 

Art by Woari

63. The Wild Hunt. The personal subplane of the Lord of the Hunt. The hunt itself takes place over dozens of realms, but here lies the staging grounds. A massive longhouse in a dark wood. A dragon skull hangs over the entrance, and hundreds of trophies line the interior walls. The huntsman’s throne sits at the head and the hunters rip into meat along the table. Fey, man, and hound alike eat side by side.

The woods themselves are a hunting ground, though more for practice than for sport. They boast to each other and see who can strike a deer from the greatest distance, or wrestle a boar barehanded. 

64. House of Smoke and Light. The domain of a god of illusions. Appears as a luxurious manor house with velvet furniture and dark wood panelling. There is no exterior. Most people here are smoking out of long pipes, and a haze covers the entire house.

As one might expect, many things in this home are illusory. Half of the people are nothing but enchanted smoke. There is no way to tell how big the house is with no exterior, but huge sections of it have no visible entrance. There is a several hundred seat theatre, a massive domed greenhouse, and a thirteen story tower, among others. 

65. The Crimson Court. Never one to let down a stereotype, the God of Vampires lives in exactly the kind of domain you’d expect. A decadent castle, in the french style, with a heavy reliance on red. Bathed in perpetual night, time is kept with the turning of the seasons. The castle is surrounded by gardens, lawns, and a large hedge maze. Vampires come here to supplicate and give mortals as offerings, as well as to socialize. The mortals act as servants, entertainment, and food. 

However, this is only a facade, to placate the modern crop of vampires. The God is their god as well, of course. But the real work happens under the castle. Miles of crypt and cave descending down into the dark, where the ancient ones and the heads of families can focus on grander plans. Hewn into great stone caverns are ancient portals to the hells, and even to some stranger places. 

66. Full Moon Grotto. The moonlit lands, where lycanthropes of all stripes come to pay homage to the Moon God, lord of shapeshifters and change. This is not the Moon God’s actual domain (that’s on the moon), but the domain of the facet of her that is mother to the lycanthropes. A land of caves, huge outcrops, and thick dark forests. 

It is situated close to Faerie, but is not part of it as the Wild Hunt is. The Archetypical Beasts, the gods of wild animals, cross over into this realm frequently. They are the other half of the lycanthrope pantheon, and come here to receive tribute and act out their eternal dance of predator and prey with each other. The supplicants do wild rituals to try to align their beastial selves more with the archetypes. 

67. The Wine Sea. Technically part of the elemental planes, specifically a border plane of water and fire. However, the God of Wine, Feasts, and Debauchery has laid claim to the region. Ethanol, like most substances, has a region of the elemental planes. This was a pure sea of it until the God of Wine transformed it to be more suitable to his purposes. Now the seas are made of wines, ales, and liquors. 

The center of the subplane is the eponymous Wine Sea, in the center of which sits the god’s party island. It’s humid and warm, but the water vapor is really ethanol vapor. Even breathing will get you drunk. Ships come in day in and day out to trade for the pure and exotic liquors of the plane, exchanging food and a baffling variety of drugs. 

Some of the original alcohol elementals and ethanol genies still hold out against the Wine God’s rule. They live as pirates, sinking merchant ships with spouts of liquid fire and running drug empires with the stolen goods. 

68. Unhallowed Hive. Unhallowed here may make you think of liches and dark magic, but here it only means that it is no longer a divine realm. This is the realm of bees, but Aristaeus the Bee God abandoned it to seek greater fortunes in the new World Tree. Now the bees serve no god, a hive of iconoclasts. They mostly make postmodern art and works of bee philosophy instead of honey these days.

The Bee God served as a sort of queen analog in the hive, and with him gone, the bees are anarchic. Most are now governed by small direct democracies. Not that you could interact with them, the bees only speak bee. They’re mostly peaceful, as long as you don’t use any divine magic near them. They hate gods. 

Art by Woo Chul Lee

Heavens’ Borders

The heavens are thought of as separate, closed off realms. However, like all boundless planes they share borders with others. These are a few of those.

69. The Black Field. There have rarely been any agreements between heaven and hell. However, the Warrior’s Heaven, sometimes known as Valhalla, is a violent paradise. And the Hall of the Hell Knights, where devils muster to fight against chaos, is a strangely honorable damnation. The two have come to an understanding, but certainly not a peace. The Black Field is the embodiment of that agreement, and the border between their realms.

The realm is ever shifting, always presenting a new battlefield for testing new stratagems and training warriors. The constants are the scorched grass and protruding black rocks. The war is constant, unlike the merry halls of valhalla, devils do not respect time off from battle. Gleaming warriors clash against flaming devils, only to rise again. The commanders agree on new skirmish goals constantly: take that hill, steal this idol, defeat this specific warrior. 

70. The Polaris Market. About the size of two city blocks, constrained by a stonework dome adorned with constellations. This market is connected to several cities across heaven and hell. The Iron City of Dis, the City in the Sky, Ten Thousand Castles, and more. This place is prevented from turning into an epicenter of war by one quirk: You can only leave through the door you entered. 

Instead this became a place of trade. Though angels would never barter with demons, both will work with the more ethically neutral visitors. Most of the trade is in luxury goods, like ambrosia. The highly magical nature of the traders does put some interesting services on the table as well. No consistent currency exists, so the system is entirely by barter. 

71. The White Font. A rare border between the higher planes and the elemental ones. This is where the plane of Water meets Heaven. A mountain sized fountain that spews out an endless stream of holy water. It glitters silver as a bright light atop the fountain reflects down.

The font is populated and guarded by merfolk angels, that look like alabaster flying fish as they dart between the hundreds of terraces and waterfalls.  

72. The Black Font. The counterpart to the White Font, where the plane of water meets the Hells. A deep terraced pit, with unhallowed water flowing from holes around the rim down into the deepest recesses. The walls are onyx black, making the water look abyssaly deep in every pool.

Some of the pools have caves connecting them, a fact hidden by the black stone. They hold the resident of this fountain: a titanic demonic kraken. It has black skin to hide itself and long tentacles that can reach most of the pool. It’s mouth is at the nadir of the font, where it can collect anything or anybody dragged down by the water. It is also fully sapient, and may speak with you if it fails to eat you.

73. The Beloved Beasts. A border of Faerie where it gets near to Heaven. It has the combined exaggerations of both, ending up appearing as a caricature of goodness. A heavy fairytale aesthetic, but highly sanitized. White castles, rolling green hills, and very occasionally a fey playing the role of a cartoonish and ineffective villain. 

The notable feature about this place is the animals. They’re much friendlier, and much more intelligent. Some can talk, and some are even anthropomorphic. The people who live here do so side by side with animals. 

Pieces of the Great Machine

The Great Machine, called Mechanus by some, is a heaven and a machine all at once. It has many pieces, subroutines that contribute to the greater goal in some unknown way. This plane too has borders, each of which is a gargantuan contraption of its own.

74. The Hell Engine. Where the Great Machine meets Hell. The demiplane itself is a massive drill, burrowing through rock and the conceptual borders of hell alike. The drill bit itself is a planar boundary, which may be difficult to conceptualize, but suffice it to say that the interior and exterior dimensions need not match at any point. 

The interior of the mechanism looks much like the Great Machine, but supplemented by the black metals and magic of hell. Everything runs in a hectic overdrive, rather than the steady rhythm of the Machine. Cyborg demons scurry about repairing the damage they do with their own overclocking.

As for the exterior, there is an ever deepening hole in hell. What they are digging towards is anyone’s guess. It surely spells bad news, whatever it is.

75. The Orrery. The border between the Great Machine and Heaven. A set of thousands of swirling lenses and spheres, all rotating around a giant central platform. This machine tracks the planes themselves, recording their relative position and intersections. The arms are impossibly thin filigree brass, and the planes themselves are represented by beautiful stained glass orbs.

Because planes are boundless three dimensional spaces that somehow still have borders and relative positions, they cannot be mapped in three dimensions. So this orrey is a four dimensional sphere. A human brain can’t perceive this extra dimension, so what you’re seeing is only a projection. You’ll see objects move in impossible ways. More importantly, this means you can’t read the map. You’ll need one of the astronomers to assist you with your query. 

76. The Dream Clock. Where the Great Machine penetrates down through the psychic plane into the land of Dreams. Dreamland relies on a huge number of temporal anomalies to function properly. This device draws up the latent chaotic time of Faerie and orders it in a way the Dream Lords can use.

The big hand of the clock keeps dream time, stretching out the sleeping hours. Thirteen little hands for the thirteen types of Dream, spinning about and sometimes wandering down the other hands of the clock, letting them know when they must return to work. A black hand counting down until the True Nightmare must begin. A hand that runs backwards, putting the future in the past, so that Prophetic Dream can help people remember things that are yet to come.

77. The Furnace. Huge pipes and nozzles creep out of the sea of fire. The heat is concentrated and focused towards the central chamber. There, each nozzle focuses towards the zero point, a single point of unimaginable heat. In that heat, anything nonmagical is incinerated instantly. Its other use is tempering the artifacts wielded by high gods. 

The chamber itself is huge, and wildly hot even by the standards of the plane of fire. Catwalks and loading arms surround it, allowing people to move the largest objects into the furnace. The top of the chamber is taken up by the engine, which transforms the excess heat into wild shaking rotation in the gears and shafts, which is transferred up into the Machine. 

78. The Gyre. Deep in the plane of Water, this machine spins. Great paddles trail through the water, creating an incredible vortex. Slow at the outside, but faster and faster as you approach the center. The blades move so fast at the middle that they leave trails of vacuum behind them, even in the crushing depths.

Surrounding the central mechanism are a number of sleek devices. They rest, their shapes so perfect and their hulls so smooth that the water slides off of them and they stay stationary. If one wavers or falls prey to the gyre, it is collected by the mechanical observers and taken away, to be replaced with a superior version soon.

79. The Sifter. The top of this machine is a great maw. A yawning pit that calls out for more. The space above is hollowed out as mechanical workers carve further and further into the plane for more rock to feed into the machine.

The mechanism below is a complex sorting machine. One gullet branching into a thousand tubes, with scales, filters, magnets, and magical machines separating the flow at every branch. Despite only getting crushed rock as inputs, the machine is complete. Anything that ends up in the gullet would get sorted into its own final location. Researchers discovered this by jumping into the gullet and getting sorted into the human and dwarf buckets at the end of the line (with some major bruising along the way).

Each bucket has its own purpose for the machine. Iron dust forged into iron, stone sorted into sizes for construction, gemstones collected to be traded for more material. Some buckets are emptied immediately, and some are only collected once an age. The motives are inscrutable. 

80. Nothing and Everything. Two enormous spherical pressure chambers. Each sphere is covered in cylindrical pumps the size of the empire state building. The machine keeps one chamber in a perfect vacuum, and the other at so crushing a pressure that it should have long ago collapsed into a star. 

The mechanism connecting them is a giant valve. A gateway so strong a titan could not force it open. Occasionally, it will open, and the ensuing equalization of pressure sends a wind through that tunnel of unimaginable proportions. It would flay a man at a touch. It scours rocks into dust. 

5 thoughts on “100 Planes Part Four: Heavenly Realms

  1. Ooh, I love the mention of Ten Thousand Castles.
    Tying shizz together in that sorta lovecraftian way where a lot of the concepts are the same, but with different fine details etc.
    (Also just the concept of Ten Thousand Castles is rad)

    Like

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