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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to the Plane of Positive Energy


Today I want to look at a weird little corner of the D&D universe that doesn't get a lot of attention. The Plane of Negative Energy is pretty easy to imagine - it is a place of blackness and evil. Positive energy, to me, is interesting because I can't think of how to make it a cool, fun place to have an adventure in. 

What can be done in a realm of healing and light? It turns out there's a lot of awesome ideas for this plane that have flown under the radar for years.

Here's what I learned: This is the place that souls come from.

I am going to try to present to you an outline of published content for it so you can check it out and see if it fits into your campaign in some way. I'm also going to detail the Quasi-plane of Radiance, because it is linked to the plane of positive energy and there was a pretty epic article about it in Dragon Magazine.

This guide uses material from a few main products:
Categories of Planes: This plane doesn't appear to even be in the official 5e cosmology. In older editions, it is one of the "Inner Planes." I've always found the subdivisions of the planes very confusing. Here are the main categories:
  • The Inner Planes: These are the elemental planes (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) as well as the Positive and Negative Material Planes. 
  • The Outer Planes: This is where most planes dwell, including The Abyss, Hell, Celestia, etc. 
  • The Transitive Planes: The Ethereal Plane, Astral Plane, the Shadowfell and the Feywild.
I feel that I should also note that the ethereal plane is loaded with demiplanes - planes within a plane.

There is also The Outlands (aka The Plane of Concordant Opposition). This is a central area that spans from the center of the multiverse (the city of Sigil) to the Outer Planes.

The Essential Information

  • The plane of positive energy bombards you with healing until you explode. 
  • You need to cast positive energy protection to safely traverse this plane.
  • You need to protect your eyes or you will go blind.
  • This plane is connected to the quasi-planes of lightning, minerals, radiance, and steam.
  • Lifepearls: Sometimes, positive energy congeals into lifepearls that can heal the sick and restore the dead.
  • The Bastion of Unborn Souls: A place where souls grow on crystal trees. This is where souls come from.
  • Quesars: These constructs built by angels guard celestial treasures and are incredibly powerful.
  • Energy Pillar: A huge wall of advancing white brilliance, swallowing and immolating everything in its path.
  • Rainbows in the material plane sometimes have portals that link to the rainbow bridge in the Plane of Radiance.
  • There is a rainbow waterfall that is a portal to anywhere you want to go. It is guarded by a radiant titan.
AD&D 1st Edition

In the Manual of the Planes, we get a snazzy overview.

You Explode: When you go here, you gain 2d6 hit point per round. Once that number exceeds twice your max total, you... explode!

Overhealing: If you get out of the plane before you blow up, you keep those hit points for d20 turns (an AD&D 'turn' is is 10 minutes).

Protection: To travel here, you need to use a spell called positive plane protection. It can't be cast in the plane, it must be done prior to the visit.

No Oxygen: You can't breathe here - you'll need to have a spell or item that can sustain you.

Other Notes
  • There is no ruler of this plane.
  • Vision is limited to 30 feet.
  • Items created by spells that create matter are destroyed by the plane in one round and become "...a rainbow of harmless motes.."
  • Spells always do maximum damage.
Towers: In this plane are a scattered group of great floating towers made of blue flame, lead, solidified clouds or ice. Most are abandoned. Some contain wizards, druids, or exiled Powers from the Lower Planes (!).

There are four Positive Quasi-Planes: Lightning, Radiance, Minerals, and Steam.

The Quasi-Plane of Radiance: When you go here, you need to make a save or you will go blind.
  • Darkness spells let you see normally, or you could wear glasses with "smoked lenses" (sunglasses).
  • There are actual rainbows of flame here.
Radiant Quasi-elemental: These creatures span the entire spectrum of color. They are very hyper, continually move and change. They can be driven off by darkness spells.

AD&D 2nd Edition

The Inner Planes: This book has a lot of great little ideas in it. I love the notion of a party of adventurers coming to this plane to find a life pearl to raise a fallen friend.
  • In this plane, you gain 2d6 hp per round. Once that number doubles your hit point total, you are blasted into pulverized flames.
  • Objects appearing here save vs disintegration or are destroyed.
  • Darkness magic is snuffed out. 
  • Protective Spell: Positive Plane Protection (the 3e version of this spell is right here). 
  • You can't breathe here, but the plane sustains you. You have no need to eat here, either. 
  • You will go blind within a day. You can wear a blindfold to negate the effects, and you will be able to see through it. You also gain danger sense 25 feet 
  • The Planescape faction known as the transcendent order has a "Fortress of Life" here.  
Lifepearls: This is "concentrated creation," an energy seed that could form a new race or plane. These items can heal the sick and restore the dead! These pearls have the powers of a staff of curing and a rod of resurrection with a total of 4d10 charges

D&D 3rd Edition

In the 3e Manual of the Planes, this plane is "...a continual furnace of creation..."

Energy Bursts: Regions that erupt like miniature suns, doling out 3d10 temporary hit points. You also must save or be blind for d10 rounds.

Animating fields: Invisible regions that can animate objects. If you stumble into one, there's a 50% chance each round that one of your items animates and attacks.

Edge Zone: Safe, hospitable places that have floating towers and shards of other planes.

The Hospice: A floating citadel that is home to holy knights.
  • They restore badly-wounded individuals back to health.
  • Protected by golems.
  • Home to good-aligned individuals from a dozen planes.
Imprisoning Cells: Powerful individuals get imprisoned in floating cells here. They are eventually opened by a curious traveler or sucked into a vortex to another plane.

Energon: Coalescence of energy with an alien intelligence. Xag-yas are from the positive plane, xeg-yis are negative.
  • They favor places that birth or death is occurring.
  • Blow up if killed.
  • Can infuse targets with positive energy, healing 2d8+5.
Bastion of Broken Souls

This is a really high level adventure dealing with Demogorgon and a powerful red dragon named Ashardalon. It has a massive section set in the positive energy plane and it is really fantastic.

It has flavor for the plane:

"This is a place of brilliant white. Pulsating brilliance bleaches out the spectrum and creates stark shadows. Anything more than 5 feet away becomes an indistinct blot of darkness moving against the white background—the blots nearby are certainly your companions. Distance is impossible to gauge within this brilliant environment."

The Bastion of Unborn Souls: This floating building is made of solidified positive energy. It is impenetrable to magical/psionics/scrying.
  • "Only a deity could bring sufficient force to bear and physically force an entrance..."
  • The exterior constantly changes - 3d snowflake, a pulsing crystal, etc. It is 10 miles in diameter
  • To get to the center of the complex, you must be "attuned" to the building by passing through 8 specific rooms.
  • This building is " of many soul fonts.."
  • Inside, crystalline trees sprout preincarnate souls.
  • When a  'ripe' soul falls from the tree in a flash of brighter light - the preincarnate soul takes off, soon to incarnate somewhere in the multiverse. 
  • "If picked before it is ripe, the preincarnate soul withers and dies within 10 rounds."
  • Eating or destroying a soul "...dooms a creature somewhere in the multiverse to a soulless birth."

Creatures: There are a lot of weird creatures inside the bastion:
  • Soulsippers: They can pull out your soul and eat it. You can't be raised. You are gone forever.
  • Soulscapers: Sentient gardeners/druids of energy that fight on the side of the cycle of life.  
  • Crystal Screamers: Parasites who feed on unborn souls
Getting In: Gaining entry to the bastion is really hard. You need a piece of the soul totem, an item that has been shattered into three pieces. In fact, you can't even find the bastion unless you have a piece of the soul totem.
  • Ashardalon has one. He's the colossal red dragon villain of this adventure. He's already inside eating souls.
  • Demogorgon has one.
  • Desayus has one. Desayus is a god who tried and failed to gain control of all unborn souls. He is trapped in a vault in the plane of Pandemonium.
Ring of Positive Energy Protection: This black iron ring enables the wearer to ignore the blinding effect of the Positive Energy Plane. The wearer does not gain the fast healing ability usually conferred by a positive-dominant plane, nor does the character gain additional hit points when he reaches his normal maximum. Spells that channel positive energy - typically healing spells - have no effect on the wearer.

Here's monsters linked to the plane of positive energy from a variety of 3e books:

Glimmerskin: This is a thrill-seeking parasite. It inhabits a willing host and takes the form of radiant armor or a robe. It has a craving for combat and urges you to get into a rumble. It heals you for 5 points per round and gives you a bonus to hit and to your AC.

Lumi: This is weird. These guys don't have necks. Their heads float slightly above their bodies. They build towering cities in the plane of positive energy. They worship light as a concept. They shed light at all times, can't be blinded, and because they have a floating head so they can't be suffocated.

They have rulers known as "High Ecclesiastics" who meet in hidden cathedrals. They are devoted to wiping out liars and deceivers. They literally want to commit genocide on every liar in existence.

Movanic Deva: They are the "rank-and-file soldiers in the never-ending war of good against evil." They can cast raise dead once per day and they are immune to magical death effects.

They serve the needs of the material plane, the negative plane and the positive plane. They have milky white skin and silvery eyes. No animal or plant will attack them and they can deflect spells with their flaming swords.

Quesar: These creatures are constructs created by angel to guard over treasures.They have blue skin and they emit radiant energy " a star brought to ground."  They have the power to blind everyone in a 120 foot radius! They can fire off bursts of energy that hits all within 15 feet for 22d6 and acts as a disintegrate spell. 

Ravid: These are 7 foot long serpents. Inanimate objects near them come alive and follow them around. Their tail injures undead and doles out an "..unpleasant tingle in living creatures..."

Vivacious Creature: I find the name very amusing. This is a 'template' to slap on a creature. They can fly. They can shoot a ray of positive energy that heals the living and harms the undead. They have an aura that heals you one hit point per round. This creature is vivacious indeed.

Dragon Magazine #371 - The Limitless Light

This is "a tour of the plane of radiance."
  • The sky is full of shimmering, ever-changing lights. Below is a "twilight bowl" with no gravity filled with stars of every color.
  • There are drifting islands that coast about on planar winds.
  • When you arrive, you must make a DC 15 will save or be fascinated indefinitely unless someone snaps you out of it.
  • Light spells are enhanced.
  • Darkness spells require a check.
The Rainbow Bridge: There's a 15 foot wide indestructible rainbow bridge that connects floating islands. The rainbow bridge extends to other planes. Whenever a rainbow appears on the prime material plane, there is a chance it has a portal to the plane of radiance.

The Portal to Anywhere: One part of the bridge leads to a huge, roaring multi-colored waterfall that pours from a gigantic, crystal prism onto the bridge. The place where the waterfall strikes is a portal to anywhere, any time. It is guarded by a radiant titan name Riis, who wields a sword called crystal lightning.

Radiant Clouds
: Enter one and you might be dazed for d4 minutes.

Chromatic Tornado: It 6d6 damage and hits you with a color spray spell (!!) every round until you are expelled from it.


Creatures: This quasi-plane is home to couatls, lammasus, will-o-wisps and lillends. There are also some harpies, rakshasas and ravids.

New Level 6 Cleric Spell: Rainbow: Summon a rainbow-hued longbow, along with a full quiver of arrows. each color arrow has a different effect.

Floating City: This is Conil-a-ald (aka the Harp of Glass) It is a vast city on an island with towers of spun glass and streets of opal.
  • Violence is prohibited in the city.
  • Ruler: Chysera of the Luminescent voice, a lillend.
  • She has 7 childen who preserve and create art.
  • Citizens are glimmerfolk, lillends, sphinxes, and a few gnomes and humans.
There is an accompanying article with a few new races and monsters.

Glimmerfolk: Humans with gold skin and halos known as "nimlis." They nimlis are 3 globes of immaterial colored light floating nearby. Glimmerfolk can use them to cast a spell, causing it to 'burn out' for the day. The more nimlis they burn out, the more powerful the spell:
  • Use 1: Dancing lights, daze, flare.
  • Use 2: Color spray or magic missile.
  • Use 3: Mirror image or invisibility.
Prismfly Swarm: Flesh-eating prismflies look like fireflies, have crystal abdomens that flash different colors.

Radiant Creatures: "Afire with the light of a rising son.. a semi-translucent mass of shimmering, shifting colors and sparkling lights." They have a rainbow aura which dazzles people within 30 feet.

Rainbow Dweller: Humanoid shape made up of flowing, luminescent colors and bursts of sparkling life. They have a translucent humanoid form and alien psychologies. They have all sorts of powers:
  • Color Burst: 15 foot radius burst of shocking, brilliant light.
  • If you fail a save, looking at them fascinates you for as long as it is in range.


Adam said...

This is fantastic. Im pretty much going to incorporate all of this into one of my campaigns. I didnt start playing D&D seriously until 5th edition, so I dont have the long term experience to know about stuff like this. Thanks for compiling!

Sean said...

Adam: Awesome! Thank you. I would say that even people who have played for 30 years don't know all that much, either. Most of us played in one or two corners of the multiverse. So, some people are deeply familiar with Dark Sun but don't know anything about Eberron. It is really fun to go through all of the old products and pull ideas out. The positive energy plane feels completely untouched and there's all this snazzy material just waiting to be used and built upon.

IthiaDM said...

The dragon magazine you are referring to is actually #321, not 371.