The Afterworld is the garden of the upper planes; an infinite heavenly greensward wreathed in roses and bright mists. The shining bulwarks of the Firmament defend the Afterworld; it slopes down from the mountain of Heaven to the sharp borders of Order or the rambling woods of the Questing Ground. Most souls that are not condemned to the fires of the Infernum are brought to the Afterworld. Each deity maintains a vast estate on this plane, where their followers and servants dwell in relative bliss and happiness for all eternity. The dead rest easily here.
Getting there… and BackEdit
The Afterworld is protected by a powerful planar barrier; only characters anointed with specific oils in a ceremony appropriate to a particular deity can travel to this plane. Knowing this ritual requires a Knowledge (religion) check (DC 20 for the character’s patron god, DC 30+ for another god). If the ritual is not performed, then the character cannot reach the plane using plane shift. A traveller who uses a particular ritual sacred to a god can only access the region of the plane claimed by that god. For travellers unwilling or unable to use such a ritual, the Afterworld is difficult to enter. Portals from the Firmament and the Halls of Order exist, but they are constantly guarded. The portals from the Questing Ground are much less secure, but reaching them is a task for legendary heroes. The Astral Plane also borders on the Afterworld, but travellers from the Great Realm must cross the Gulf of Azroi.
Most gods dislike mortal interference in the Afterworld; even spells such as raise dead are often frowned upon. The sooner a spell is cast, the better (ideally, before the soul passes through Twilight Mecca and is commended to the Afterworld or thrown into the Chasm).
Survival in the AfterworldEdit
The Afterworld is quite safe. Most of the terrain is similar to regions of the Material Plane – at least, so it appears to mortal travellers. The dead see things differently. The presence of the living in the Afterworld alters the plane; the dead exist in an eternal, timeless, unknowable moment until the influence of the living reminds them of such things as time and form, blood and bone, hunger and thirst.
Features & PropertiesEdit
|... to Astral||7||Coterminous|
|... to Firmament||7||Coterminous|
|... to Halls of Order||7||Coterminous|
|... to Questing Ground||7||Coterminous|
|... to Ethereal||7||Coterminous|
Each of the divine estates of the Afterworld has its own quirks and qualities (indeed, each is a layer of the plane and can have its own Traits). From the perspective of the living, each estate is an expression of the personality and portfolio of that god. The estate of a war god might be filled with drinking halls and tents where warriors remember their deeds of glory; the estate of a power of light could be a dewy field where seven suns dance in the clear blue sky.
The Memory of FormEdit
|Life is Present for...||Surroundings||The Dead|
|One round||No change||Sense of a presence|
|Six rounds||Dim perception of shape of terrain||Vague, misty figure|
|Twelve rounds||Mist shapes itself into the terrain||Dead figure manifests, but is dominated by the interests and portfolio of its deity|
|Two minutes||Terrain becomes solid, but still somewhat idealizedm iconic, or misty||Dead figure can remember something of its life, but is still very otherworldly|
|Ten minutes||Terrain becomes 'normal'||Dead figure is still intangible, but is otherwise as it was in life|
The presence of the living evokes the memory of the dead. The longer a living character remains in a region of the Afterworld, the more tangible it becomes. The surroundings and their resident dead are dragged down towards material existence by the spiritual ‘weight’ of the living. In game terms, the longer a character stays in one place, the greater the effect of his presence. When a character first arrives in the Afterworld, it appears to be shrouded in mists (yet slightly reminiscent, in scent and feel, of sunshine and childhood dreams). The range of a character’s influence on the plane is Long (400 feet + 40 feet/level).
Example: The cleric Tembrook wishes to speak to his late mentor Amae who initiated him into the worship of Veloria's water aspect. He obtains permission to visit the dead and plane shifts to the Afterworld. When he arrives, he finds himself in a mist that smells of salt. As he waits, the terrain around him slowly becomes visible; he stands on a cliff over a rolling ocean where the faces of the drowned dead peer out of the depths. He walks along the shore until he sees the face of Amae. He waits near Amae until she rises from the water. Initially, she is but a mask for the sea goddess, but if Tembrook is patient and respectful, his mortal nature will awaken the memory of form in her.
It is possible to hasten this manifestation – the smell and taste of mortal food and drink halves the time it takes the dead to appear, while a handful of soil or stones halves the time it takes terrain to manifest. Blood is even stronger, reducing the time to one-tenth of normal. Furthermore, blood splattered onto one of the dead makes it corporeal for one round per hit point lost in drawing blood (minimum of one). If one of the dead is fed 25 hit points worth of blood, it becomes corporeal for one day.
At the heart of each of the divine estates is a Godhold, a fortress containing a portal to the home plane of the deity who holds the allegiance of the local dead. Celestials and other outsiders serving that god guard the fortress. Especially powerful dead cluster around the walls of the Godhold, ready to rush through to aid their god in times of need. The gods can draw upon the life energy of a soul, merging its essence into their own. Most Afterworlds are a process of refinement through bliss; the soul becomes more and more aligned with the nature of the god until the two are indistinguishable, and this spiritual journey is physically realised by the soul’s journey through the estate to the Godhold. Godholds are also an excellent backdoor to a deity’s personal realm.
Not every deity has an estate in the Afterworld; some prefer to take the souls under their aegis to their own home plane, or have no dead followers (or perhaps their estates are in sealed layers of this plane). Those that do maintain estates create realms that reflect their portfolios and personalities; for example…
The Afterworld of the deity of magic is a spell seen from the inside, an infinitely expanding chant, gesture, thought or act of surpassing beauty. The dead are drawn from their endless reveries within the magic weave by the presence of the living, and manifest initially as iconic representations of famous mages or spells before reverting to the form they wore in life. The Godhold of Magic is a mage’s tower of shimmering light standing in the center of a school where apprentices who died before earning their robes are permitted to continue their studies and become true mages before passing on to become part of the weave.
For the souls of those loyal to Sangaia, the Afterworld is a green symphony of life. It is perfectly formed and harmonious through instinct alone. The dead take the form of animals or plants, and only shift back to human form when in the presence of the living. The Godhold of Nature is a great black bear or wolf-creature, who eats the souls who are joining with the god.
The Afterworld of slaughter runs red with blood; it is an infinite charnel field of mud, gore and bone. The dead roam the land in suits of black mail, armed with axes. There is no death here, only dismemberment, so they fight constantly until there is nothing left of the soul but bloodlust and fury. The Godhold of Slaughter is a chasm that can only be crossed by throwing in sufficient skulls to make a bridge. When a soul crosses, the chasm convulses, spitting out a rain of skulls over the whole plane. These skulls then roll back to their chopped-up bodies, rise up again, and continue to fight.
The God of Roads’ Afterworld is not a place; so much as it is a journey. Whenever a traveller walking down a country lane at night hears a footstep behind him, but sees nothing, then for a moment all the walking dead trod close behind him. The Godhold here is the literal End of the Road.
The gnomish Afterworld is a glittering cavern of infinite size, filled with scientific toys and wonders. Magiteknical automatons roam the caves. The Godhold of the Gnomes is a complex machine that analyses the alchemical content of the soul and balances its essences before sending it onwards.
The valorous Afterworld is a festival, a celebration at the end of every quest. Great knights joust and practice their swordplay, while bards sing tales and act out deeds of heroism. The Godhold of Valor is a mighty fortress that overlooks the festival ground, ruled by a solar king.
The Unclaimed DeadEdit
Not every living thing swears fealty to a god in life; some care nothing for the petty politics of the divine, instead following a moral code derived from universal principles or simply living their lives as they see fit and as their conscience tells them. These dead are judged just like the rest in Twilight Mecca; those who are deemed evil are hurled into the Chasm, while those who escape damnation join the Unclaimed Dead.
The Unclaimed Dead dwell at the edges of the Gulf of Azroi. The Azroi are drawn from their ranks, as are many of the other entities who safeguard the continuation of existence. The land of the Unclaimed Dead is the one part of the Afterworld that requires no special ceremony to reach, so these dead are used to visitors and travellers from other planes.
The Docks of HeavenEdit
Souls are brought from the Halls of Order to the Afterworld by ship, silver and black barges mostly, although other vessels are sometimes pressed into service. These vessels are crewed by dead wardens and make berth at the Docks of Heaven. This shining port extends out over the Gulf of Azroi. Representatives of every god and power visit the Docks of Heaven to collect the souls bound for one estate or another. For the newly deceased, the Docks are one final hubbub of confusion and indignity before the afterlife. Some souls go astray in the docks, stolen by diabolic press-gangers and succubi or converted at the last moment to a different faith.
The Docks of Heaven are one of the more curious places on the planes; as agents from every deity and demigod are present, the docks are afire with stratagems, rumors, conspiracies, and deceits. There are celestials here who have not looked upon the pure light of the Firmament in aeons, and instead have spent their time with infernal giants and corrupt knaves.
Individual estates can have their own hazards, but some dangers are common throughout the plane.
Hungry Souls (CR2+)Edit
Not every one of the dead rests peacefully. Some are disturbed by the presence of the living or events occurring in the world they left behind, and so desire a return to the flesh. Swarms of these ghosts sometimes descend upon living travellers. They appear to be wisps of white mist rushing through the plane. These wisps make incorporeal touch attacks on travellers with an attack bonus of +5; each hit deals 1d6 points of damage by drinking blood straight from the veins. Every time it drinks, the soul becomes visible for an instant. If the soul drains 25 points of blood, it becomes corporeal and usually attacks. A soul appears just as it did in life.
Deathly Echoes (CR9)Edit
In rare instances, travellers can unwittingly run afoul of the memories of the dead. This is especially common in cases where a group of souls died as one, in war or disaster. The travellers suddenly find themselves reliving the memories of the dead – fighting in a war, trapped in a mine, in a burning house. 1d6 + 5 rounds after the hallucination begins, the deaths begin; whenever the characters in the hallucination fail at anything, they die. Every blow becomes lethal; every failed Balance check or Reflex save drops the character into the flames. When a character dies in the hallucination, he must make a Fortitude save (DC 25) or die in reality. The character gets a +1 insight bonus to the Fortitude save for every round he survives in the hallucination.
For example, if a character is plunged into the deathly echo of the slaughter of the Company of the Ox by a medusa archer, he would get a +1 bonus for every round in which he avoided the gaze and the poisoned arrows of the medusa.
The Gulf of AzroEdit
This great chasm divides the living from the dead. It is a dark void, starless and empty save for the dim, hostile lights of the azroi themselves. They are a race who guard and protect the dead from hostile, interfering powers. The Gulf of Azroi has a singular property known as mazing; every footstep (five foot step) conjures a new maze of force, as per the maze spell. The azroi and the barges of order are immune to this effect.
The azroi dwell in glowing hives that cling to the precipices and high places of the Afterworld. They do not take kindly to their charges being disturbed, nor do they especially trust the gods that have colonized their realm. Whispers without a discernable source suggest that once the azroi preyed on the dead, grabbing souls that wandered too close to their homes, but in ages past they were bound by the powers of Law to watch over the land of the dead. Whatever the truth, the eerie Gulf of Azroi is not a place to linger long.
The Embassy of GravediggersEdit
Only the dead truly know how they wish for their mortal affairs and chattels to be dealt with. Some arrange for mediums and clerics to speak with the dead to ensure that their inheritors are keeping to whatever instructions were left behind; others possess the living or slip into the Dream Plane to deliver messages. Most, however, merely consult with the Embassy of Gravediggers. That this ebony tower should so resemble a gravestone is perhaps an accident. Every true mortician and gravedigger knows the secret ways to the embassy – dig at a certain place in a cemetery on a certain night, and the earth will fall away revealing a black tunnel leading into the Afterworld. The dead who are especially concerned with the disposition of their mortal affairs can beg favors of the gravedigger’s guild, exchanging tales of buried treasure or other useful secrets in exchange for their aid. The master of the Embassy is an ancient and lugubrious necromancer-child named Lenore, who is unique among the gravediggers, as she is already dead.
There are those who cannot bear to live without form or substance, for whom the thought of an eternity with only the immaterial delights of the Afterworld is intolerable. These unfortunate souls sometimes run afoul of the imps who, by ancient compact with the Azroi, are permitted to roam the Afterworld (the various celestials and other divine emanations in the Godholds have no such agreement with the imps, so the creatures are hunted from any estates they trespass in).
Those souls who listen to the imp’s blandishments are brought to Puppet City, a strange two-layered metropolis. The upper level is a bizarre machine filled with iron cages and pulleys. Below is the mortal world in microcosm, a land of artificial fields, rivers, deserts, mountains and cities. The corpses of the dead are exhumed by imps and brought through via hidden portals or the gravedigger’s secret ways and tied to the ropes hanging down from the upper level of Puppet City. The souls are then fused into the iron cages above, from which they can control their body below as if it was a puppet. They then go about a macabre recreation of life, working and trading and even coupling in decayed huskpuppets.
Perhaps Puppet City is a devilish scheme by the imps to drag souls out of heaven and down into hell, or perhaps it is more sinister than that, a grotesque attempt to cheapen and sully the mysteries of life and death.
Medium Outsider (Extraplanar)
Hit Dice: 2d8+4 (13 hp)
Initiative: +2 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
Armor Class: 17 (+2 Dex, +3 hide, +2 heavy wooden shield), touch 12, flat-footed 15
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +1/+2
Attack: Scimitar +2 melee (1d6+1)
Full Attack: Scimitar +2 melee (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. /5 ft.
Special Attacks: Disrupt Undead
Special Qualities: Deathsense, Reanimation
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +4
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8, Luk 10
Skills: Diplomacy +4, Hide +7, Intimidate +4, Listen +6, Move Silently +7, Sense Motive +6, Spot +6, Survival +6
Climate/Terrain: The Afterworld
Organization: Solitary or hunting party (1d4+3)
Challenge Rating: 1
Alignment: Usually lawful good
Advancement: By class
Level adjustment: +2
The creatures are human in appearance, but wear bands of black and white makeup or war paint on their faces. There is not a single scrap of color anywhere on their forms – they are entirely dressed in black, white, and shades of grey, from their fur boots to their steel helms and bright swords.
The dead wardens are spectral rangers who watch the boundaries of the Afterworld, aiding the azroi in the defense of the dead. The wardens are also responsible for hunting down any souls who are stolen from or escape the Afterworld unlawfully. Despite their appearance, name, and general demeanor, the Dead Wardens are not undead, nor are they drawn from the ranks of the dead. They are a race unto themselves, living beings who dwell in the land of the dead. The old songs of the Wardens speak of a time when their whole race, from the eldest to the new-born, were slaughtered by their enemies and brought as a whole to the lands of the dead. The gods took pity on them and returned them to life within the borders of death. Their humble presence does not awaken the dead under most circumstances – shedding their blood, however, will still attract the attention of the dead. The wardens have a most curious relationship with their own dead – dying is simply a return home. Their little villages are watched over by great cloudy hosts of the ancestors.
Dead wardens are adept at using the terrain of the various estates to their advantage. Their Deathsense ability allows them to work out what the estate will look like when it manifests, so a warden might hide behind a bank of mist before it solidifies into a drinking bench in Valhalla or a serene statue in the Garden of Reflection. When forced to leave the Afterworld, they prefer to keep to the shadows and strike from ambush.
Disrupt Undead (Su): Once per day, as part of a full-attack action, a dead warden can give any weapon he touches the disruption property, even if the weapon is not a bludgeoning weapon. This property only lasts for a number of rounds equal to the dead wardens Hit Dice.
Reanimation (Su): A Dead Warden has special dispensation to return from the dead. If slain, he rises again fully healed 2d10 rounds later. This ability can only be used once.
Huge Outsider (Extraplanar)
Hit Dice: 12d8+96 (150 hp)
Speed: Fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 24 (-2 Size, +16 natural), touch 24, flat-footed 24
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +9/+26
Attack: Slam +18 melee (1d8+9+2d6 electrical)
Full Attack: Slam +18/+13 melee (1d8+9+2d6 electrical)
Space/Reach: 15 ft. /15 ft.
Special Attacks: Terrible Stare, Thunderous Strike, Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Thousand Eyes, Gulf Walk, Spell-like abilities
Saves: Fort +16, Ref +8, Will +11
Abilities: Str 28, Dex 10, Con 26, Int 18, Wis 18, Cha 22, Luk 10
Skills: Bluff +18, Concentration +20, Diplomacy +21, Escape Artist +12, Heal +17, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Knowledge (history) +17, Knowledge (the planes) +17, Listen +16,
Search +16, Sense Motive +16, Spellcraft +18, Spot +17
Climate/Terrain: The Afterworld
Challenge Rating: 10
Alignment: Always lawful neutral
Advancement: 13-18 (Huge), 19-30 (Gargantuan), 31-64 (Colossal)
This entity is a cloud of angry darkness; thousands of burning eyeballs flit around the edges of the clouds, and lightning-flashes within illuminate the shapes of eldritch symbols in the deep shadows.
There are numerous forms of azroi; the thousand-eyed form is the most commonly encountered, but there are also Bright Circle, Bleak, and All-Consuming Azroi. These bizarre entities dwell in the feared Gulf of Azroi, a dangerous region on the edge of the Afterworld. The azroi are avaricious and unpleasant company, but are bound by ancient oaths and geases to defend the Afterworld; however, many of them spend much time and effort trying to circumvent these oaths and break the spells. They always keep their word, but are as greedy and as prone to wilfully misinterpret the wording of a bargain as the most stubborn and petty genie.
The azroi are worshipped as deities by several cults, especially among the minotaurs. They gleefully accept worship, as they consider lesser creatures to be nothing more than playthings and entertainment for outsiders. They live in fear of an apparently mythical race of beings called the Glith.
The azroi use divide and conquer to defeat their foes, wrapping an enemy in mazes and then plane shifting to each in turn. The safest way to battle one is inside a dimensional lock.
Terrible Stare (Su): By concentrating all of its thousand eyes on a foe, the azroi can shatter the enemy’s mind. This is a gaze attack that affects all within 60 feet. Those affected must make a Fortitude save (DC 22) or be affected by a feeblemind effect for 12 rounds.
Thunderous Strike (Su): Anyone hit by an azroi’s slam attack is dealt 2d6 points of electrical damage and must make a Fortitude save (DC 11) or be deafened for one hour.
Thousand Eyes (Su): The azroi is surrounded by a great swarm of floating eyes. It is permanently under the effects of true seeing, and cannot be surprised or flanked. It may cast greater prying eyes at will as a free action.
Gulf Walk (Su): Azroi are not affected by the maze-like hazards of the Gulf of Azroi or normal maze spells.
Spell-Like Abilities (Sp): At will – maze, plane shift, dispel magic. All spells have a saving throw of DC 16 + the spell level. The creature’s normal tactics are to use the Terrible Stare on a target, wrap it in a maze, then plane shift to that maze to destroy that creature in a one-on-one confrontation.