There are many models for the arrangement of the Outer and Inner Planes in relation to the Material Plane, each of them different and all of them at least partially true.

At its most basic level the Material Plane exists at the centre of the arrangement of the planes, around that and at the same time existing in the same space are the infinite Inner Planes that provide energy and substance to the Material Plane.

The Inner Planes are actually a single plane that is so vast as to be beyond infinite. The different energies (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) that make up this Inner Plane coalesce into enormous sections that are incorrectly thought to be separate planes in their own right. These energy sections constantly move and change over the course of thousands of millennia, and where the different energies meet they create new energies that are often termed Quasi Elemental Planes of Steam, Lightning, Lava, etc. Occasionally great portions of a section will be calved off and float like an island of energy into a different energy and persist for many millions of years before ultimately being consumed. The Inner Planes are every changing and unfathomably vast, and at their centre lies the great vortex of the last layer of the Abyss that connects all the way to the Outer Plane.

Around the outside of the Material Plane are the Outer Planes, many believe the Outer Planes are arranged in blocks around the outside of the sphere that is the conjunction of Material and Inner Planes, but in reality each Outer Plane is a pattern of constantly morphing bridges that connect to other Outer Planes and make the Outer Planes resemble an overlapping layer of planes (each nearly infinite in size) with a spider web of bridges and connections to other planes.

Throughout the entire planar cosmology are the Positive Energy Plane and the Negative Energy Plane that give life and death to everything in the Multiverse. There planes are so powerful that they consume all matter, and so are separated from the Material, Inner, and Outer Planes, occupying the same relative planar space but isolated from it by a supposedly impenetrable planar boundary. The leakage from these energy planes is what gives life to all beings in the Multiverse (positive energy being the basic element of a soul), or allows undead creatures to exist and propagate.

Lastly there exist the Transitive Planes that act as boundaries between the Material, Inner, Outer, and Energy Planes, limiting the exposure and connection between the sometimes antagonistic energies and elements that exist. The Ethereal Plane borders the Material and the Inner Planes. The Astral Plane borders the Material and the Outer Planes. The Faeree Plane borders the Material and Positive Energy Plane. The Shadow Plane borders the Material and Negative Energy Plane.

Limited connections between the various planes are possible using Gates and Portals, but normally connections are only made between planes of the same type (Outer Planes or Inner Planes) or between planes and the Material Plane.

The Afterlife

The afterlife is a complicated affair ad in order to understand how it works one must understand the nature of life and a soul.

All living beings in the Multiverse are animated by varying degrees of positive energy (undead beings are animated by negative energy). In large enough amounts positive energy is able to retain information from past experiences and this is the beginning of sentient life with memories and a personality, what humanoids everywhere term a soul.

When a being dies the positive energy animating their form leaves. In small enough amounts (from plants and bacteria) the positive energy almost instantly dissipates and is lost, but in sentient lifeforms the “soul” persists and moves almost instantly to the Astral Plane, retaining some information of its former life.

From here the journey becomes complex, depending upon what memories a soul retains and its personality. The strongest souls retain the most memories of their past life and are more likely to remember whatever drove them to succeed, these beings may attempt to return to the Material Plane by a method known as reincarnation, or for the more malevolent beings they may attempt to possess another being and replace or subdue its soul.

Those souls in the Astral Plane are drawn towards the Outer Planes as though it were a beacon of light. Those that do not choose to follow the light somehow become beings of negative energy and transist to the Ethereal Plane, where they become ghosts and such. Other souls are consumed by the denizens of the Astral Plane and never make it to their destination.

The destination of those souls that make it is the first stage of the afterlife, the outermost of the, Outer Planes known as Fugue, a misty realm of nothingness that borders the Gray Waste of Hades. This infinite wasteland is home to all manner of creatures from across the Outer Planes, Devils, Demons, Daemons, Angels, anyone that serves a greater power, for it is here that millions of souls arrive every moment from across the Multiverse looking to arrive at or escape the ultimate fate of their afterlife.

Devils and Daemons attempt to bargain with these souls, helping them to escape their ultimate fate by offering them an alternative (although the reality of that alternative may not be as advertised or necessarily better than the fate they fear the most). Angels and other servitors seek to direct and protect those souls as they travel towards the domain of their relative judge of the dead (god of the underworld, god of death, etc), or if there is no such destination then they will take them directly to the plane of their lord (with the soul’s permission).

Each soul has its own belief in an afterlife, that is the destination they are drawn to like a beacon. For the Faerunian Pantheon, all souls are drawn towards the Bone Castle of Myrkul (or Cyric) or the Crystal Spire of Kelemvor (depending upon the timeframe), the souls of the Mulhorandi Pantheon are drawn towards Osiris’ domain, elven souls seek out Corellon Larethian’s domain. Most such judges of the dead have gates that link from the Fugue to their own domain, and servitors direct those souls to the correct place.

Those souls that do not follow a pantheon must await a servant of some Outer Plane that most closely matches his personality, to ferry them onwards where they become part of the new plane.

Once a soul has arrived at his place of judgement it is then up to the god of the dead to judge the final destination of a soul. Some end up in eternal punishment for not following the ethos of their panthon, others are consumed for betraying their pantheon or deity (few individuals are monotheistic). Most souls will end up being sent to the domain of a deity they favour or that closely matches their actions in life, or a deity that favours them.

Once at the domain of a deity the soul can be transformed into a servitor (for those most worthy), becoming angels or other beings in direct service to their god. Most souls remain in the domain for a time, living whatever peaceful afterlife was promised as they are slowly absorbed by the deity in question.

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