Magic on the Planes The planes are magical, plain and simple. Every piece of ground and every planar creature ever to live has a bit of the planes’ magic in them. Every spellcaster needs to know the ways of things if they’re going to survive the first trip beyond the Prime Plane. Many planes have their own unique alterations to magic that are best read about rather than discovered first hand. Most of this information can be researched or bought, but per the Rule of Three, there are three axioms that are relatively universal across the multiverse and should be considered before casting a spell: Dimensional Relations, Planar Natives, and Spell Alterations.
In the end, virtually all of the planes are connected: the Inner Planes connect to the Prime Plane through the Ethereal, the Prime Plane connects to the Outer Planes through the Astral, and the Outer Planes connect to the Inner Planes through the Ordial Plane. That isn’t to say all the planes are accessible from one another, however. Primes don’t recognize this because the Prime Material connects to both the Ethereal and the Astral Planes (and they know nothing of the Ordial); but the Inner Planes have no direct access to the Astral, and the Outer Planes have no connection to the Ethereal. When someone casts a spell that creates a connection to a plane that isn’t bordered by the current plane, the spell simply fails. For example, casting etherealness on the Outer Planes isn’t going to work; there’s no Ethereal Plane to connect to. The same applies to casting astral projection on one of the Inner Planes. That’s why every spellcaster should have an understanding of the cosmology and dimensional relations before venturing out on to the planes. Dimensional relations are not quite as restrictive as you might imagine. It only applies to spells that affect planar boundaries; thus summoning, banishing, and divination spells work normally in most parts of the multiverse. In addition, because the Pseudo Planes are coexistent with the entire multiverse, spells that draw on the Planes of Dream, Shadow, or Time operate as well. Extradimensional spaces are a special case. These tiny pockets of space are hidden from normal senses and can be found on just about any plane, with the exception of the Astral Plane due to its unique nature.
- Spells that need to contact the Astral Plane: Astral Projection, Dimension Door, Divination, Interplanar Message, Raise Dead, Reincarnation, Resurrection, Speak with Dead, Summon Monster (I – IX), Teleport, Teleportation Circle, Teleport Without Error, Vanish, Zone of Respite.
- Spells that need to contact the Ethereal Plane: Blink, Chamber, Elemental Body, Elemental Swarm, Energy Drain, Ethereal Jaunt, Etherealness, Greater Shadow Conjuration, Greater Shadow Evocation, Invisibility Purge, Leomund’s secret chest, Leomund’s tiny hut (F), Major Creation, Make Manifest, Mass Manifest, Maze (F), Minor Creation, Negative Energy Protection, Positive Energy Protection, Safety, Shades, Shadow Conjuration, Shadow Evocation, Shadow Walk, Summon Monster (I – IX), Zone of Revelation
- Spells that might need to contact the Astral OR the Ethereal Plane:Banishment, Commune, Contact other Plane, Dimension Anchor, Divine Inspiration, Drawmij Instant Summons, Gate, Hallow, Hornung’s Random Dispatcher, Planar Binding, Plane Shift, Reality Maelstrom, Unhallow, Vanish, Vision, Zone of Respite.
- Spells that are base in dimensions (doesn’t work on Astral Plane): Deeppockets, Extradimensional Detection, Extradimensional Manipulation, Extradimensional Pocket, Leomund’s Secret Chest, Maze, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, Rope Trick, Seclusion, Transformation.
Everyone has a home plane, the place where they were born, one of the few places they’re considered native. While traveling through the multiverse most creatures are considered extraplanar and become susceptible to certain magical effects. When a creature is on its home plane it’s not extraplanar, however, and therefore becomes immune to spells and effects that target extraplanar creatures, such as the ever-popular protection from evil and banishment spells. Banishing tanar’ri to their home plane just isn’t going to work when their already in the Abyss. Nor will a gate or planar ally spell cast by someone on the same plane grab them, as those spells must reach out to other planes. Other creatures have stronger connections to their home plane, and gain strength when on their territory or gradually lose power after an extended time away. Petitioners are a good example of this property; while on their home plane most petitioners are immune to necromantic spells of any kind as their soul’s connection to their home plane cannot be altered. Some exemplar are weaker on certain planes or cannot even leave their own, perhaps due to conflicts between their nature and the energies of other realms. Another important note to remember is no creature is considered extraplanar on the Border or Pseudo Planes, due to their unique connection with the Cardinal Planes. In addition, no spell can banish anyone from Sigil. At first thought, it might seem an obvious choice to memorize spells to banish extraplanar creatures while traveling on the planes. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that most of the creatures planewalkers meet while traveling are on their home plane already, and it’s the planewalkers who are the extraplanar creature. Furthermore, spells like holy word can become a real double-edged sword when they accidentally banish your companions! Thus, spells that affect extraplanar creatures are often only at their full potential when used as a defense for one’s own plane. On the other hand, spells that prevent planar travel such as dimensional anchor can be very handy in avoiding banishment.
Spellcasters have to be mindful of the schools and types of spells they use on different planes. Every plane treats the schools and subtypes differently; spells and spell-like abilities may be enhanced, impeded, limited, or altered in some other way depending on where they are cast. These effects are not even constant for a single plane; various layers or realms of a plane may alter how magic operates in completely different ways. Most spell alterations are based on the nature of the plane or that of the presiding deities, and can be overridden by gods or particularly clever mortals. Of course, some spell alterations can be quite beneficial, but overall it’s better to have an idea what the outcome will be before casting the spell. Like most things, belief is often the biggest factor in how magic is affected on the planes. There are a countless number of ways different spellcasters can achieve similar results, but in regions where one paradigm of magic is dominant other methods of magic will often become limited. For example, the planars of Ysgard mostly worship the Asgardian Pantheon, which has since time began used the lore of runes as a source of power and wisdom. Furthermore, Ysgard is a plane of hard work and perseverance; life there isn’t easy unless you’ve put in the effort to make it so. Thus, you can expect spells that create something for nothing to have trouble functioning, but incorporating the rune lore (and thus adapting to the predominant belief) might improve a spellcaster’s chances of performing spells successfully. Another more poignant example is the Abyss; rumors hold that either the Abyssal Lords or the plane itself twists all magic so that it can bring about only evil results, making it extremely dangerous for spellcasters who do not make some sort of deal with the local demons. There are four categories of magic traits. The first three are the most spread throughout a single plane and unlikely to change, while the last can change from realm to realm or over time.
- Enhanced Magic: Particular spells and spell-like abilities are easier to use or are more powerful in effect on these planes. If a spell is enhanced, certain metamagic feats can be applied to it without changing the spell slot required or casting time. Spellcasters on that plane are considered to have this feat for the purpose of applying it to that spell.
- Impeded Magic: Particular spells and spell-like abilities are more difficult to cast on these planes, often because the nature of the plane interferes with the spell. Impeded magic planes may stop spells based on their school, subschool, descriptors, or level. Individual spells are rarely impeded on a plane-wide basis, but they may be impeded in the realm of a god or other powerful being. To cast an impeded spell, the caster must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the level of the spell). If the check fails, the spell does not function and is lost.
- Limited Magic: These planes only permit spells and spell-like abilities from certain schools, subschools, descriptors, or levels to be cast. Other spells and spell-like abilities simply do not work.
- Altered Magic: These planes have specific and unique changes to certain spells based on their school, subschool, descriptors, level, or by the spell itself. The changes can be as minor as an additional visual or auditory effect, the requirement for a certain type of material component, or the spell could produce a completely opposite effect than what was intended. Planes with altered magic represent the greatest hazard to spellcasters, and are good reason to give pause before casting spells on a plane you’re not familiar with.
Whether arcane, divine, or psionic, magical items carry their magic within. Yet magical equipment is still affected by dimensional relations and spell alterations, particularly any which simulate spells. Take a ring of invisibility to a plane where illusion spells do not function and the ring won’t work either. More importantly, some magical items may attract attention from the natives of a plane. An unholy weapon brought onto the Upper Planes is a beacon of evil to the celestials and deities there. Spells or equipment that can be used to hide magical auras are especially useful when carrying such items.
Spell keys attune the caster’s spell to the magical forces of a plane, allowing spells to operate normally when they would otherwise be altered. Like portal keys, they can come in nearly any form, such as drawing a rune in the air, whistling a tune, or offering a sacrifice, and are normally based on the specific plane and spell. Spell keys come in two types: general and specific. General spell keys allow spellcasters to use a school, subschool, or descriptor of spells correctly, such as allowing abjurations to operate correctly in the Abyss or making summoning work in Baator. Specific spell keys are tied to a single spell and region, for instance allowing power word: kill to work on Mount Celestia. Using spell keys may require extending the casting time of a spell and cannot be negated by metamagic feats. Thus, a spell key that requires playing a flute cannot be used with Silent Spell, and one that requires tracing a rune cannot be used with Still Spell. They also cannot be used in conjunction with magic items to attune their magical effects to the plane. Nonetheless, spell keys are highly prized by spellcasters on the planes, creating a market for those willing to sell their secrets (or make them up). There aren’t spell keys for every situation, however, as it seems some planar absolutes just cannot be bypassed.