Parent Pages: Islands

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Structure of the Archipelago

The following is not widely known about the Archipelago. The Modrons know, but will not talk about it.

The Archipelago is not a natural environment.

First, it's a demi-plane floating in the Deep Ethereal Plane.

Second, the islands were magically pulled from various worlds of the Prime Material Plane.

Three, the sun isn't real. It may provide some small amount of warmth (enough to get a sun burn), but it isn't enough to keep the ground warm.


When the creator of the plane pulled the islands in, he neglected the fact that most worlds gain much of their heat from below the surface. He simply didn't know this and didn't create any kind of active volcanic system below them. After a short time, everything started to freeze up, like an out of season winter.

Eventually, he contracted the Modrons to solve this. He used them because they have much more experience with pocket dimensions.

The Modrons immediately brought in the Modron Cube and began digging out and enchanting massive tunnels at the base of the plane, below everything else. Next they opened a huge elemental vortex to the Plane of Fire and used it to power a massive boiler system. The tunnels were used as steam lines to transfer the heat wherever it was needed. In turn, the steam heated the rocks and lava pooled under many of the islands in a way that resembles nature. However, it is far more stable.

Even though there are many volcanic vents in the region, the only major volcanic events that occur are caused by the inhabitants of the Archipelago, usually through magic.

On the other hand, to add a sense of realism to everything, the Modrons have added a system to cause occasional earthquakes. These happen in regular intervals in a seemingly-random pattern based on a fractal calculation.

At first, the Modron Cube wasn't visible above water, but about one hundred years ago, it was pushed just barely above the water line by volcanic activity. It is slowly rising, which the Modrons are planning to put a stop to soon.


Surface Caves
Active Volcanism
Steam Tunnels/Modron Tunnels

Please note: there is a certain bit of overlap between these layers.

For example, there are vents that go all the way from the surface down to the Active Volcanism Layer. Also, there is no defined divider between the Surface Caves and the Underdark.


There is some empty space above the Archipelago. It has all the usual conditions, such as vacuum. Eventually, as you go further and further up, you'll reach the top of the sky, which is like a gigantic, incredibly-detailed, constantly-changing mural. The stars match the sky of the home world of the demi-plane's creator, except in the Tatters.

Special note should be made of the fact that orbit (and therefore zero-G) cannot be achieved. There's simply no way to orbit and everything will always fall toward the ground.

The only heavenly body that is real in any sense of the term, is the Moon.

Planar Separation

The creator of this plane saw fit to build it as a sort of hiding place and thus, it is very difficult to get in and out without knowing the way. He alone has the knowledge to build spell keys that can get around these limitations.

This has the following effects:

  • Scrying in or out simply doesn't work, even if enhanced with Cosmic.
  • Interplanar communication is possible as long as the conversation is initiated from the inside. The one exception to this seems to be divine communication, but that's practically impossible to interfere with, anyway.
  • While using Jumper to reach the Border Ethereal or to likewise return is no more difficult than anywhere else, Jumpers will find it nearly impossible to travel anywhere else or to enter from the outside. This takes the form of a -15 penalty to such attempts (Cosmic will not help get around this).
    • If used as part of a summoning effect, the summoner and the summoned form a bridge that can pierce this effect. Again, this is because it's initiated from the inside.
    • Summoned beings with the ability to return from whence they were summoned (such as Elementals) can do so without penalty, because they retain a link to their previous location through the effect that summoned them in the first place.

Planar Portals and Gates

Despite the strong barriers designed to prevent planar travel, there are still portals and gates to the outside. They are, however, quite rare and not widely known.

Here are a few examples of natural, stable portals:

  • Elemental vortexes are entirely natural and impossible to block.
    • They're also quite hard to reach and dangerous to use.
  • There's a portal to Sigil, the City of Doors (a planar nexus said to connect to everywhere) in the Lost Gardens. The portal key is petrified adventurer blood carried by anyone walking through a particular hedge archway. Carrying a petrified adventurer will not trigger it. The blood must be removed from the body and then petrified.
    • The creator of the plane does not object to this portal, because Sigil is neutral ground. His enemies cannot enter Sigil, due to the Lady of Pain's influence.
    • Their mortal servants can, but he considers mortals to be little more than a nuisance.
    • Regardless, no one aside from a small number of Sigil residents have used this portal.
  • There are a number of doors that lead to the Infinite Staircase. These are all in places involved in profound creativity.
    • The creator of the plane has destroyed a number of these doors, because he doesn't like the fact that they could be used by his enemies.
    • However, new ones appear faster than he can find and destroy them.
  • The World Well is a portal nexus created through a severe wild magic surge.
    • The small island this accident transformed was immediately separated from the Archipelago and set adrift in the Tatters.
      • The portals themselves are hooked into the fabric of reality so tightly that destroying them would create a huge planar rift.
      • The creator of the demiplane is looking for a way to safely collapse them.
      • He doesn't consider this a high priority, because the portals can only be opened from inside the Archipelago.
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