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Exploring the Grim Reality of Death in D&D’s Planescape

Exploring the Grim Reality of Death in D&D’s Planescape

Dungeons & Dragons’ Planescape ⁤setting looks at the harsh ⁤realities of death⁣ in a novel and unique way. Death isn’t feared and doesn’t bring‍ the end of‌ all things; ​instead, it is a journey to a new life that’s different from the one before.‍ Players can explore ⁣this aspect ‍of ⁤the game through Planescape’s cosmology, a set of planes‍ that represent death, the ‍string of life’s experiences, and the afterlife. Here, we explore the different planes of death and the eerie implications they suggest about⁢ what ⁣happens to our characters⁤ after they die.

The Transitive Planes

The‍ Transitive Planes of Planescape consist of the Plane of Shadow, the Ethereal Plane, and the Astral Plane. These three planes are considered the entryways into death, representing⁢ the transition between life and the afterlife. In the Plane of​ Shadow, characters find a world shrouded in darkness, in which they ‍can experience their own memories​ and‌ thoughts in an altered form. The Ethereal Plane is a more incorporeal realm, shifting in⁤ and out of the ‌material​ world like a fog. It is often populated with spiritual entities that‌ have yet to pass ‌on, as well as lost souls. Finally, the ⁣Astral Plane‍ is the furthest plane from the physical realm, where one can observe the entire cosmology at once.

The Inner Planes

The​ Inner Planes are planes that represent the physical world and⁢ embody‌ different aspects of the life-death cycle. These planes include the Positive Energy Plane, the Negative ⁣Energy ‍Plane, the Elemental Planes, the Para-Elemental Planes, ​and the Quasi-Elemental Planes. The Positive and Negative Energy‌ Planes represent ⁢the forces‌ of life and death, respectively. The Elemental Planes are composed⁤ of the four classic elements — air, water, earth, and fire — each⁣ of which embodies a different emotion associated⁤ with death. The Para-Elemental Planes consist of the four elements found​ at the edges of the ‍Material Plane, ​and represent the ⁣extremes of the human experience. Finally, the Quasi-Elemental​ Planes represent the four elements that can be found between the Material Plane​ and ‍the​ Outer Planes: ice, smoke, ooze, and magma.

The Outer Planes

The Outer Planes are where characters journey after death, representing the afterlife and ultimate fate of the soul. Depending‍ on one’s alignment ‍and ⁤beliefs — either determined by the character or by the Dungeon Master — these planes could take on a variety of forms. For example, ‌the Evil Outer Planes might represent a⁣ Hell-like landscape, where the wicked are punished for their sins. Likewise, the Good Outer Planes could represent a Heaven-like realm, where the virtuous are rewarded for their good deeds. In either case,⁣ the planes are densely populated and highly varied, making ​the individual afterlife experiences unique and strange to explore.


By exploring Planescape, players can gain a greater appreciation of death and its implications in Dungeons & Dragons. The different planes and their associations with different aspects of life and death create a rich cosmology in which players can explore the harsh reality of mortality. By⁤ understanding and coming to terms with death, players can get a better grasp of their characters and their fate, and experience the⁣ game in a deeper ⁣and more meaningful way.


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