A Sign of Things to Come
The Celestial Realms
The Celestial realms are a term used to describe the various grouping of planes that make up Celestia and Arcadia, with Elysium generally being regarded as a separate plane of pure good, much as Hades is a plane of pure evil. Together they are collectively called “heaven” but since the definition varies so much from mortal to mortal it’s no surprise there are so many variations.
They are presented here together because, unlike the lower planes, they tend to be united despite their subtle differences. For brevity, the easiest way to distinguish them would be to say that Elysium represents good over all. Petitioners here would unquestioningly break a law to perform a good deed, but would submit to those that served a good end.
Celestia represents regimented good, or righteous good. Petitioners here follow laws, but if one is found to be unjust or not in service of the greater good, they would strike it down and smite those that would corrupt the law for evil. It would be rare for them to break a law, believing that the system should work correctly to ensure the greater good.
Ysgard is wild and is the realm of those that are good, but wouldn’t appreciate being tied down to rules or chain of command. Petitioners here are your loose canons, your singular heroes. People that follow their heart without even a single thought to whether or not it’s allowed.
It is THE place of ultimate goodness; while the peak at the seventh layer of Celestia can lay claim to being the most perfectly good and harmonious state in existence, Elysium on the whole is given to universal goodness without regard for law or chaos.
The place is a paradise, not given over to glory and triumph like the lawful heavens are, or given over to personal achievement and growth like chaotic good planes are. Here nobody needs to work unless they want to, nothing is difficult and you’re always going to find a sympathetic ear and a helpful hand.
Elysium is not dangerous unless you come to the plane with ill intentions. You see, Elysium makes it difficult to actually perform wicked actions; it is strongly good aligned for a start, so anyone travelling here who is not good aligned themselves will suffer mental penalties (yes, even neutral people). Not only that but the plane itself influences the senses, making sights and colors more wonderful, sounds more melodious and smells more pleasant. This influence is so strong that it even makes interactions between individuals feel more empathetic and understanding. The longer you spend in Elysium the less inclined you are to want to leave, eventually becoming trapped by the inherent goodness of the plane. From there you get to live out the rest of your life in peace until you die of old age and then continue living as a petitioner.
This effect does not change your alignment, but it does slowly drain you of your memories, as you slowly become overwhelmed by feelings of tranquility. So you could possibly still be an evil bastard at heart, but you’d have forgotten all of your just as planned machinations and any of the wicked schemes you’ve prepared.
The final defense of the plane, is that it has a sort of “life” all to itself. Travelers of a good nature find the paths through the landscape make the journey more pleasant for them, whilst those evildoers who manage to get past all of the celestials and still have willpower enough to resist the tranquil aura that the plane emanates will find that the landscape frustrates their efforts, by leading them round in circles until they become lost and either are forced to leave the plane or succumb to its good nature.
One last thing to remember is that the plane has a minor positive trait, meaning that even if you managed to cause injury to somebody, their wounds would heal within minutes. While that doesn’t allow for resurrection like on some other planes, it’s just one more obstacle to overcome for those who come here determined to cause harm… and that’s to say nothing about the realms of the goodly deities that live here and the modifications they can make to the traits of the plane.
The top layer would be deceptively similar to the material plane, with the landscape taking a recognizable topography. There are regular seasons and weather patterns, but nothing uncomfortable. That being said, the celestials don’t like strangers dicking with the weather via magic, you don’t need to mess with how the plane works.
The layer is absolutely typical of the “living” nature of Elysium, despite being a place of perfect goodness, misfortunes do still happen. The plane will regularly throw up events like accidental fires or children trapped down wells, but never maliciously and only very rarely do people get injured (they heal quickly afterwards anyway due to the positive trait). These occur in order to continually foster the community spirit, particularly for strangers to the plane where it is presented as an opportunity to test their better natures and get them involved, eventually leading to their inevitable entrapment on the plane.
Eronia is a mountain range of rough terrain and occasionally harsh weather. Rockfalls, lightning storms, uncomfortable summers and bitter winters; life does not appear easy for the petitioners, but it’s probably only because they want it that way. Eronia exists for souls who still want a challenge in the afterlife, but the the layer remains part of Elysium, so no-one is ever in any real danger and time spent here is never tragic or depressing. It is often the heaven for hearty souls and soldiers that have tired of battles and eschewed the warfare of Ysgard.
The least populated of Elysium’s layers, and possibly the most dangerous. Belierin is a fog-filled swamp that appears at odds with the nature of the plane. There isn’t a lot of travel on the layer and the Guardinals are especially suspicious of strangers moving around freely on the layer. The reason for this is that is believed that Belierin is used as a prison for powerful evil creatures, which are brought here to keep them contained by the confusingly good aura of the plane.
The celestials do regularly engage monsters that stumble their way out of the fog, therefore it is probably the only place in Elysium where the inhabitants might be in any real danger. It is still a place of ultimate goodness and there are towns built around gigantic lighthouses. In fact, excursions on this layer are fairly common, and it’s believed that ungoverned portals to the lower planes may spontaneously open here.
One interesting difference about Thalasia compared to the rest of the plane is that those mortals who succumb to the inherent good aura of the plane and become trapped are permitted to to retain their memories and their powers, they simply have no more desire to leave and are at peace with themselves. This means that Thalasia is an attractive place to journey for retirement where research can continue in peace or unfinished works be given more time to complete. It also makes the layer a haven for very powerful beings and a good recruitment grounds for souls that can be promoted into more powerful celestial creatures.
This layer is an endless ocean stretching off into infinity, but unlike Aquallor, the landscape is dotted with island realms of various gods or noble heroes. Even petitioners who want to spend some time alone can make themselves an island home here.
Thalasia is also the source of the River Oceanus which is like the good version of the River Styx, the water that flows from here will cross it’s way back through the layers of Elysium and down through the Beastlands and Arborea where it will eventually be deposited in the endless ocean of Aquallor.
Elysium might as well be Narnia in that it is populated by anthropomorphic animal-celestials called Guardinals whose leader is a celestial lion called Aslan Talsid. The celestial lion and his companions don’t have a court or kingdom like the Archons or Eladrin do, and instead they just wander the plane doing good deeds.
Petitioners that arrive in Elysium don’t take on any particular forms or shapes, they appear almost exactly as they did in life albeit considerably more chilled out. Interestingly, Elysian petitioners retain memories of their past lives and can keep up to four character levels from whichever careers they had before they passed away. This is in contrast to those mortals who get trapped on the plane and lose their memories instead.
Beyond the outsiders that live here, you can find all sorts of good races depending on which deities also make their homes here.
This plane is one of goodness born of cooperation, where sould that understand that laws exist so no individual need fear another, and that organization can be leveraged to reduce suffering and ensure the needy are cared for. Here, the predominant philosophy is that ithe ungoverned nature of creatures leads to selfish and impulsive acts that ultimately lead to evil. In truth, Celestia is a term for several planes that are similar in this way, but keep in mind that the idea of physical proximity is not applicable to planes of reality, and they are only grouped as Celestia for two reasons: 1) They are morally similar. 2) The planes can be accessed from one another via permanent planar portals.
The lowest and first layer of Celestia is Lunia, also referred to as The Silver Heaven, due to its vast dark Silver Sea of holy water and beautiful shining cities of white stone. The Silver Sea itself is pure freshwater, not salt, filled with many aquatic life forms. Numerous portals to other planes connect near to the shores, the masses of holy water acting as an effective deterrent to evil outsiders. The sky above Lunia is perpetually dark, filled with beautiful constellations of silver stars bright enough to illuminate the base of the mountain. Innocence is the theme here.
Lunia is the location of Sharlindlar’s realm of Healing Circle.
Lunia is ruled over by the archon Barachiel, the patron of trumpet archons, whose Citadel of Stars sits on the shores of the Silver Sea. Barachiel is charged with defending Celestia from incursion, a task which, even on this lowest and most accessible layer, he rarely has to act upon.
The second layer, called Mercuria is also known as The Golden Heaven, so called because a mysterious golden light permeates everything within it. Gentle hills and lush green valleys comprise this layer, dotted with small settlements of archons and other good-aligned beings. Mercuria is known for its great tombs and monuments to noble fighters and paladins who now rest on this layer. These warriors are honoured during an annual Day of Memory.
The palace of the good dragon deity Bahamut moves about the first four layers of Celestia. It is made entirely from Bahamut’s enormous treasure hoard, with walls made of mithral and windows composed of huge gemstones. Inside, seven great wyrms closely guard the huge hoard of amassed treasure.
Mercuria is ruled over by the sword-wielding Domiel from the Golden Spire of Aurilon, a 400-foot-tall (120 m) golden tower in the midst of a valley fed by four rivers.
Venya, the third layer, is also known as The Pearly Heaven. This layer is somewhat colder than the previous two and its slopes are often seen covered with a gentle layer of snow. Peaceful brooks and carefully terraced fields are common on Venya. The Fields of Glory are the realm of Finder, God of the Life Cycle and Transformation.
Erathaol the Seer, an incredibly handsome archon with subtle masculine features, governs Venya from his underwater library-fortress of Xiranthador. Within its pearl-lined halls are said to lie more tomes of knowledge than can be read in a thousand lifetimes.
Solania, the fourth layer, is also called The Crystal Heaven. Many valleys comprise Solania, covered with luminescent fogs and strange scents. The peaks are homes to numerous holy shrines, including monasteries and magnificent cathedrals. Many of the slopes are rich in precious ores and minerals and are mined by populations of dwarves that reside there. Solania is the location of a number of other godly realms, including Myhriss’ realm of The Lotus Garden, Nobanion’s realm of Evernight, and the permanent entrance to Dwarfhaum.
Pistis Sophia, called the Ascetic due to her monk like tendencies, holds no abode but travels the misty hills of her layer, helping out all who greet her along the way.
Mertion, The Platinum Heaven, is a layer of gentle slopes and wide plains. The many great citadels that dot the layer are the mustering grounds for forces of paladins and celestial creatures.
The City of Tempered Souls, Empyrea is located on the edge of a cold mountain lake. It is known to host many magical fountains with powerful healing properties, as well as many hospitals and expert healers.
Raziel, known to his peers as the Firestar for his judicious wrath, rules Mertion from Empyrea. As the patron of paladins and warriors, he holds no permanent fortress but can be found in any of the city’s many hospitals and infirmaries, providing spiritual guidance and protection to the clerics and patients within.
The sixth layer, Jovar, is The Glittering Heaven. Its hills are studded with precious gemstones that glitter in the light.
Yetsirah, The Heavenly City is a huge seven-layered ziggurat, with a large staircase on each face connecting the terraces of each layer. The stones that make up the city are made of precious gemstones, similar to those seen around the surrounding hills. On the topmost terrace is the bridge of al-Sihal, formed of pure light. Here lies the portal to the topmost layer of Celestia, Chronias; the bridge of sheer blinding light known as the Bridge of al-Sihal is guarded by one of the mightiest of the solar named Xerona who allows those who are righteous and good to pass.
Yetsirah and all of Jovar is ruled over by Sealtiel the Defender. Sealtiel commands one of the most impressive standing armies in the Heavens from his fortress of Pax Exaltea, and is charged with preventing impure beings from reaching the uppermost layer of Celestia.
Chronias is the topmost and final layer of Celestia, also called The Illuminated Heaven. There is no real account or description of Chronias, as no entity that has entered has ever returned. It is thought to be the ultimate goal of the inhabitants of Celestia to ascend the layers one by one in order to reach Chronias, where their souls will join with the essence of the plane itself.
If anyone can be said to rule in Chronias, that being would be Zaphkiel. Zaphkiel is the mysterious ruler of the Hebdomad, and is the only one who has held his position since it was created; all other previous members having perished in combating fiends or gone on to join the essence of their planes. Zaphkiel embodies the “perfect good”, and only the most righteous and exalted individuals can stand in his presence without being consumed. Zaphkiel is the patron of dead children and stillborn babies and watches over their spirits. Beyond this Zaphkiel’s motivations and plans are unknowable, though it is known that he intends to make the planes as good as they can be, and only he can promote an archon into the Hebdomad.
The pantheon of gods does not include a separate dwarven pantheon as it does for halflings and elves. This is because dwarven gods are actually part of the overall pantheon of the spheres, unlike elves with largely broke away from other gods after the Blood Wars. Because of this, dwarven gods are worshiped along with all others. Moradin, for example, patron god and creator of dwarves, sits at the head of the Sphere of Light. Still, when it comes to the heavenly planes, the dwarven gods tend to sit separately in a plane known as Dwarfhaum. The rarity here is that Dwarfhaum, despite being planar bound in Celestia, is also the home to dwarf gods that are not good or lawfully aligned. This is believed to be due to the dwarvish affinity for clan and family being greater than the moral principles that might divide them. Dwarves believe this is their creator, Moradin, setting an example – showing his creations that if HE can set aside his differences with his kin in the name of solidarity and fellowship, THEY can as well. The name for this dwarven-only pantheon (the clan of dwarven gods) is known as Morndinsamman. This comprises 10 of the 84 gods of the Spheres – or about 12% of all gods making their home in the plane of Dwarfhaum.
The plane is represented a vast mountain range, teeming with wildlife but mostly undisturbed on the surface – only occasional gateways into the mountains can be seen. These gateways lead to the individual realms of the Dwarf gods.
Realms (clans of petitioners)
- Moradin, head of the Sphere of Light, God of Creation and Truth, resides under the largest peak in Dwarfhaum with his petitioners who live as a clan in his realm known as Erackinor. The patron god and creator of all dwarves has the largest clan by far.
- Abbathor, as the God of Greed, and Laduguer, God of Unhappiness and Slavery, are the few dwarvish gods that are not lawful or good but resides in this plane. They reside in a subterranean palace in the realm called Ylatis, and is covered in gold and jewels across every surface, but the air chokes with the fumes of continual mining and smelting of gold. Petitioners here are punished as slaves continually mining riches for Abbathor under the ever-watchfule ye of Laduguer.
- Berronar, Goddess of Mercy, lives with Moradin in Erackinor as his celestial bride.
- Clanggedin, God of Soldiers, Safety, and Home resides within the halls of Mount Clanggedin, his realm here. His halls are quiet, homey, and adorned with the trophies of innumerable victories. A pleasant scent of clean linen and roasted turkey fills his realm, and it is always pleasantly warm.
- Dugmaren, God of Scholarship, Discovery, and Invention, shares the realm called Dwarven Mountain with Dumathoin, God of Mining and Underground Exploration, and Hanseath, God of Drinking, Carousing, and Hangovers. Their realm is one where the days are spent working, inventing, mining, exploring, and the nights are spent feasting and partying.
- Muamman, God of Wanderers, and Mya, Goddess of Clan and Family, share the realm called the Cavern of Rest together as husband and wife. The Cavern itself is an ever-shifting series of tunnels and halls. The couple represents the duality of dwarven nature – Muamman is driven to explore and adventure while Mya tends the hearthfire and petitioners, who live here together not unlike a very large family.
House of the Triad
The House of the Triad exemplifies the rule of law upholding the principles of good. It is a resplendent plane of majestic marble halls, gleaming palaces, and heavenly radiance. The enormous central mountain, Celestia, is the home of the archons, and is something of a divine realm itself, though no deity lives there. Many of them live on the other surrounding mountains. Angels serve here as well, and take on the bulk of the missions to other planes. Also, formians live here and serve the gods, but generally they live ordered lives without interruption from the divine.
Most of the petitioners here are lantern archons, who have no planar commitment and can leave the House at will.
Realms (halls of the house)
- Helm – The Vigilant One, resides on Everwatch, which is a floating watchtower of the plane. Whenever a visitor comes to this plane, Everwatch is there with its guardian. The guardian, covered in a suit of mithral full plate, detects the alignment and purposes of visitors and can call heavenly defenders in the case of invasion.
- Ilmater – The Crying god, rules on the mountain known as Martyrdom, and has a great open-air temple where the souls of the petitioners are rewarded for their endurance and perseverance in life. No one can feel pain or fatigue here. Ilmater’s realm is known as a place of comfort and rest.
- Torm – The True Deity’s realm is the mountain called Trueheart. Torm’s palace is in the heart of the realm and resembles a huge military fortress, with walls of mithral, battlements of diamond, and gates of adamantine. It is guarded by legions of angels and archons serving the cause of good and law.
- Baravar – The Just god rules the third mountain which is crowned with The Court. This is where the Triad frequently consult. Whenever there is need for a trial amongst the gods, Baravar serves as judge. No one can lie or bluff here.
- Siamorphe – Between the Court and Celestia lies a beautiful valley. This is the realms of Siamorphe, who lives in an Alabaster Palace, surrounded by perfect gardens and fountains.
- Bahamut – Co-ruled Mercuria, the second heaven of Celestia, during his time as a celestial paragon.
The theme of Ysgard is the glory of heroic, individual struggle. According to myth, the twilight of the gods will begin on this plane. Ysgard is also a plane of inspiration and creativity. True poetry is said to be found in giants’ wells and the mead of the gods. The World Tree, Yggdrasil, has the most connections on this plane.
Ysgard is a place of raw elements, where rivers of earth, ice, and fire crash together in the howling sky; a place where waves crash in wild oceans. It’s the homeland of the heroic bariaurs, the giants and their gods, and the mystical fensir. The goat or sheep-bodied, centauroid bariaurs roam Ysgard’s layers and adjacent planes freely, battling giants and embracing their liberty and love of life. The lillends are serpentine celestials whose duty it is to guard plane. The squirrel-like, chattering ratatosks scamper up and down the World Ash Yggdrasil.
Fearsome giants dwell in Ysgard, mighty enough to challenge the gods themselves. Their lesser cousins the fensir are a wise but ravenous race found on the first layer of the plane.
Servants of the gods include angels, einheriar, and valkyries.
Niflheim (Old Norse: “Niðavellir”) and it means (“Mist home” or “Mist World”) is the darkest and coldest region in the world according to Norse mythology. Niflheim is the first of the nine worlds and Niflheim is placed in the northern region of Ginnungagap. The eldest of the three wells are located in Niflheim which is called Hvergelmir “bubbling boiling spring” and it is protected by the huge dragon called Nidhug (Níðhöggr).
It is said that all cold rivers come from the well called Hvergelmir, and it is said to be the source of the eleven rivers in Norse mythology. The well Hvergelmir is the origin of all living and the place where every living being will go back. Elivagar “ice waves” are the rivers which existed in Niflheim at the beginning of the world. They were the streams floating out of Hvergelmir. The water from Elivagar flowed down the mountains to the plains of Ginnungagap, where it solidified to frost and ice, which gradually formed a very dense layer. This is the reason that it is very cold in the northern plains. As the world tree Yggdrasil started to grow, it stretched one of its three large roots far into Niflheim and drew water from the spring Hvergelmir.
The first layer of Ysgard, known as Gladsheim, takes the form of rivers of earth (or “earthbergs”) stretching across the sky. On the larger earthbergs are oceans and continents. The underside of the earthbergs burns with fire and molten rock. The layer of Gladsheim is the location of a number of godly realms, including Olidammara’s realm of Winesong, and Surtr and Thrym’s realm of Jotunheim.
The realm of Asgard on the first layer of Ysgard is the home of the Verden gods.
In the middle of the world, high up in the sky is Asgard (Old Norse: “Ásgarðr”). It’s the home of the Gods and Goddesses. The male Gods in Asgard, are called Aesir, and the female Gods are called Asynjur. Odin is the ruler of Asgard and the chief of the Aesir. Odin is married to Frigg; and she is the Queen of the Aesir. Inside the gates of Asgard is Valhalla; it’s the place where half of the Vikings “Einherjer” that died in battle will go for the afterlife, the other half goes to Fólkvangr.
Muspelheim, the second layer of Ysgard, is similar to the first layer of that plane in that it is made up of shifting rivers of earth that form vast arches through the sky. Unlike the first layer (Gladsheim), the earth here is covered in lava and flames as hot as the Elemental Plane of Fire. This please is home to the pantheon of giant’s gods, which reside in the realm if Avfnir.
Gwynharwyf, the Whirling Fury, was known to wander about this layer when not leading barbarian hordes in battle. She did not have a specific realm to call home.
Muspelheim (Old Norse: “Múspellsheimr”) was created far to the south of the world in Norse mythology. Muspelheim is a burning hot place, filled with lava, flames, sparks, and soot. Muspelheim is the home the of fire giants, fire demons and ruled by the giant Surtr. He is a sworn enemy of the Aesir. Surtr will ride out with his flaming sword in his hand at Ragnarok “Ragnarök” “the end of the world” Surtr will then attack Asgard, “the home of the Gods” and turn it into a flaming inferno.
Jotunheim (Old Norse: “Jötunheimr or Útgarðr”) is the home of the giants (also called Jotuns). They are the sworn enemies of the Aesir. Jotunheim consists mostly of rocks, wilderness, and dense forests, and it lies in the snowy regions on the outermost shores of the ocean. Because of this, the giants live mostly from the fish from the rivers, and the animals from the forest, because there is no fertile land in Jotunheim.
The giants and the Aesir are constantly fighting, but it also happens from time to time, that love affairs will occur. Odin, Thor and a few others, had lovers who were giants. Loki also came from Jotunheim, but he was accepted by the Aesir and lived in Asgard. Jotunheim is separated from Asgard by the river Iving, which never freezes over. Mimir’s well of wisdom is in Jotunheim, beneath the Midgard root of the ash tree Yggdrasil. The stronghold of Utgard is so big that it is hard to see the top of it. And there the feared Jotun king Utgard-Loki lives. Utgard is carved from blocks of snow and glistening icicles.
Vanaheim (Old Norse: “Vanaheimr”) is the home of the Vanir Gods. The Vanir Gods is an old branch of Gods. The Vanir are masters of sorcery and magic. They are also widely acknowledged for their talent to predict the future. Nobody knows where exactly the land, Vanaheim is located, or even how it looks like. When the war between the Aesir and the Vanir ended, three of the Vanir came to live in Asgard, Njord and his children Freya and Freyr.
Svartalfheim (Old Norse: “Niðavellir or Svartálfaheimr”) is the home of the dwarves, they live under the rocks, in caves and underground. Hreidmar was the king of Svartalfheim, Svartalfheim means Dark fields. The dwarves are masters of craftsmanship. The Gods of Asgard have received many powerful gifts. Like , the magical ring Draupnir and also Gungnir, Odin’s spear.
Nidavellir is the third layer of Ysgard, a subterranean realm of caves and underground passages. The terrain on this chaotic plane shifts unpredictably, so caverns and byways may open and close. The city of Ashbringer, also known as the Great Bellows and the Chorus of Ringing Anvils, is located here.
It is said there is a connection to Dwarfhaum in Celestia from here, but it is a cosmic secret. The dwarves in general seem to regularly defy yet support the cosmic order.
This is where all the dishonorable dead, thieves, murderers and those the Gods and Goddesses feel is not brave enough to go to Valhalla or Folkvangr. Helheim is ruled by Hel, Helheim is a very grim and cold place, and any person who arrives here will never feel joy and happiness again. Hel will use all the dead in her realm at Ragnarök to attack the Gods and Goddesses, which will be the end of the world.
Alfheim (Old Norse: “Álfheimr or Ljósálfheimr”) is right next to Asgard in the heaven. The light elves are beautiful creatures. They are considered the “guardian angels” The God Freyr, is the ruler of Alfheim. The Light elves are minor Gods of nature and fertility; they can help or hinder humans with their knowledge of magical powers. They also often delivered an inspiration to art or music.
This is the Verden word for Arborea, which borders Ysgard. More specifically, it is the term for the general area where the two planes bleed together.
Midgard (Old Norse: “Miðgarðr”) “middle earth” is located in the middle of the world, below Asgard. Midgard and Asgard are connected by Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge. Midgard is surrounded by a huge ocean that is impassable.
The Ocean is occupied by a huge sea serpent, the Midgard Serpent. The Midgard serpent is so huge that it encircles the world entirely, and biting its own tail. Odin and his two brothers Vili and Ve created the humans from an Ash log, the man and from an elm log, the woman.