Gate of Souls
In the Gate of Souls universe there are many planes of existence, also known as realms, and they interlink in a complex tapestry of interactions. Some of these planes exist closer to others, allowing for more extensive interactions, while others are more distant, and can only touch through forced and intentional efforts. The ways in which the planes interact are usually described as follows.
Wells: A Well is a direct and naturally occurring conduit between two planes, they occur when two aspects of the same plane mirror one another, creating a point where the distance between is so short that aware creatures can step between the two realms. Passage is easier for some creatures than others, Archon’s for example can use a well relatively easily, while other beings might have to go through a vision quest or minor ritualistic behavior. Planes that are too different from one another cannot develop Wells, examples of such might include the planes of Air and Earth.
Verges: When entire areas of two separate planes begin to mirror one another this is called a Verge. Such areas are always centered on one or more Wells, and make the surrounding environment more hospitable to creatures from their respective realms. Most often verges are created by changes on one particular plane, and occur most often between the physical world and more distant realms. Should a verge become too closely associated with a plane, it will simply fall into, and be subsumed by that plane. The most commonly recognized verges are known as feywilds, or feylands. These are areas of the physical world that border on the Spirit realm, the Dreaming Sea.
Tears/Rifts: Sometimes an opening between realms is created forcefully, metaphorically rending the barriers between realms. Traditionally these events are known as tears if they are created intentionally, and rifts if they are produced as a random consequence or by some undirected force. Tears and rifts usually last only moments, but allow the free passage of essence or creatures through them, usually with dramatic and potentially disastrous results.
Portals/Gates: An artificially stable tear is known as a Portal or Gate. Generally created through ritual magic, these portals are usually much less dramatic than a tear because they are designed and constructed with specific goals in mind. Usually those goals involve opening for a short period of time to allow passage of a being from one plane to another, anything greater than this requires much more power to accomplish. However, a portal opened with the intent to channel large amounts of energy can be more devastating in effect than any unstable rift.
While their forms and power may vary, all connections between the planes are of the types listed above. Under the description of each plane you will see some comments about how and when they are most likely to form such connections. The planes can be loosely viewed as a diagram of interlocking circles, though that explanation is simplistic as each plane is at least theoretically infinite. In the ‘center’ of the universe is the physical plane. While many distinct islands of stability exist in the physical plane they all ‘float’ within the Unformed Lands. Only through the will and memory of the Kin can these islands of stability be linked. The physical realm manifests aspects of all the Elemental planes, and to a greater or lesser extent can manifest natural connections to any other plane. This is why we place the Physical plane at the center of our diagram, and scholars sometimes refer to it as the Prime. The realm of the Kin is the most subject to all forms of connection with other planes, and thus also most subject to areas becoming subsumed into the other planes. That does not mean that this event is common, but it is well documented and recorded. Entire sub-races or continents might be influenced by elemental or ethereal forces, for good or ill, even without falling entirely to the influence of other realms.
Travel through the planes may potentially occur much faster than in the physical world, assuming the traveler has an associated attunement and/or the nature of the plane is fluid enough to allow this. While in an elemental plane, those with an attunement to that plane can alter it’s substance with relative ease, though this more than any other thing can bring down the ire if it’s denizens. An Archon may even alter and shape the creatures of that realm, at least those with a Being score or rank lower than the Archon’s being.
Described as lying in a ring ‘around’ the Prime, the elemental planes reflect the Aspects of Earth, Blood, Fire, Light, Air, Shadow, Water, and Bone. Each elemental realm contains wells and verges for it’s neighbors in the ring as well as to the Prime and Dreaming Sea. So, in the plane of Earth one can find passage to the realms of Bone and Blood. Connections to the more distant elemental planes, or to the Hells must be artificially created, and are extremely destabilizing to their surroundings. Each elemental realm has a layer that lies close to the Prime, and acts as something of a reflection of the terrain there. Like the Prime, each realm likewise has a chaotic space that lies between it’s fixed territories, but that uncertain space leads deeper into the plane. The farther one travels into the plane, the less understandable it becomes, and those regions that bear no resemblance to the Prime are known as deep places or planar depths.
More of a mystery; the ethereal planes are alternately described as being above, below, within or beyond the Prime. The terminology used varies according to the whims of the speaker, as does the number of planes listed. In truth the only thing consistent between the ethereal planes is that they are Exceptionally difficult to understand, or define.