Welcome to the Other Side of the Sky. The Vault of Stars is a vast plane of black stone, stretching in every direction as far as the eye can see. Low grey clouds hang eternally overhead. Huge pools of bright light are dotted throughout the Plane – these are the stars. Look up into the night sky, and you look upon the black stone of the vault, marked by the shimmering pools of starlight. Some claim to have detected a slight curve to the plain, suggesting that the whole Vault of Stars is actually a great globe that contains all the worlds.
Getting there… and BackEdit
The Vault of Stars is the Elysium of the Outer Planes. It lies between the Halls of Order and Tarassein, so there are numerous portals to all of the outer planes at the edges of the Vault. Many of these portals are located on the shores of major star-pools. Others lead to the various fortresses and glades controlled by the Fey. Natural portals to the Vault of Stars are always controlled by celestial alignments; a particular configuration of the stars is required for a particular portal to open. Rare minglings occur at twilight, when a particular glade merges with a Material forest. There are also said to be permanent portals in the uttermost east and west, used by the sun and moon to travel between the Material Plane and the Other Side of the Sky.
Survival in the Vault of StarsEdit
The Vault is dim and cold, but not especially dangerous. There is little shelter (but then there is little need for shelter, as the clouds never change and the air is still) and little food (save in the glades, and only the most unwise would hunt there). In short, when one wishes to cross the infinite arch of the cosmos, one should dress warmly and bring trail rations. Knowledge (arcana) gives a +2 synergy bonus to Survival checks when navigating the Vault, as those who know the constellations well can plot a path between star-pools.
Features & PropertiesEdit
|Size||16||Infinite but repeating|
|Some regions are strongly Neutral|
|... to Astral||7||Coterminous|
|... to Outer Planes||7||Coterminous|
The stony floor of the Vault is made out of a strange blackish rock or crystal. It is almost impenetrably hard (Hardness 28, HP 50/inch) and can only be worked with adamantine tools. A handful of fortresses and towers have been made out of this stone, known as Lapis Exilis, and in one region of the plane, some ancient hand has dug dozens of strange canals between a constellation of pools, as if intending to remake the heavens.
Some have compared the Vault to a desert; while there is no parching sun here, most of the land is trackless and empty, broken only by the occasional oasis of life surrounding a star. Not all stars support life, only those that walk the narrow path between too dim and too bright.
A star is a lake of light, several hundred feet across. The liquid of each lake is a unique mix; some stars draw on positive energy, others on negative. Some are hot enough to sear flesh; others are so hot that a droplet could scorch a kingdom, yet others are colder than the most bitter winter. Roll 1d10 for the Fire trait effects of a star, and roll +/- 1d8 for its Positive or Negative effects. The star’s influence is limited to its waters and its immediate shoreline (1d10 x 10 feet from the edge of the water, and this distance can vary as the star waxes and wanes). Most stars are home to a reannan.
While the Vault is not the only plane that is home to the Fey, there are many thousands of the fair folk living in the twilight forests. Most of their holdings are closer to the chaotic edge of the plane, on the shorelines of friendly stars. The largest glade is the Gloamwood, a great forest that threads its way through the constellation of the Thief, but smaller glades can be found throughout the Vault. A glade resembles an earthly forest in twilight and is inhabited by many Fey (mostly sprites and dryads, although there are stranger and more powerful entities). Glades are eerily quiet; often, the only sound is the songs of the Fey dancing around the lake.
A starhollow is the empty place where there was once a star; and now, there is only a dry basin incised into the stone. At the center of every starhollow is a simple cairn containing the body of the reannan who once embodied the star. The Fey are naturally immortal and cannot understand death, nor can they mourn, so the cairns are built and the funerary rites performed by a sect of human monks called the Waiting Brethren. A few starhollows are haunted by undead reannan (apply the lich template to the reannan).
There are few major hazards in the Vault. For the most part, it is a tranquil, quiet realm of Arcadian glooms and patient stars. Still, there are dangers on the Other Side of the Sky.
The path of souls is well known – souls are created in Tarassein and then pass through life until they reach the Halls of Order. Some souls are exalted, and follow the paths of Good overseen by the Firmament, while others are foul and base and descend towards the Infernum. Most souls, however, simply cross the Vault of Stars. The watchful stars oversee their petty destinies. In some places, the fate-pull or ‘wyrd’ of the stars is very strong. These regions are referred to as Starwheels, and are strongly aligned to neutrality. Those whose fate is overseen by Gods of Good or the Demon Princes of the Infernum are weakened here. Starwheels are often claimed as holdings by powerful neutral entities.
At the heart of a Starwheel is a Point of Balance. At a Point of Balance, fate is precisely divided between all alignments and deities; a single step or thought can move a character from one wyrd to another. This has the following effects:
Firstly, no divination spell can perceive anything that occurs at a Point of Balance. It is as if everyone and everything there were perfectly mind blanked.
Secondly, any actions taken at a Point of Balance are magnified a thousandfold in terms of their impact on a character’s alignment. A character who betrays another here becomes Chaotic Evil, as if he had betrayed a whole nation to their enemies. A minor act of charity is enough to turn someone good. Normal atonement spells cost no experience at a point of balance, and the spell can be used to atone for even the most heinous, unforgivable crimes which are beyond its usual remit if the experience cost is paid (outsiders can change their alignment using atonement at a Point of Balance.)
Holes in the Sky (CR3)Edit
There are a handful of holes in the sky, places where the rock of the Vault floor has either been worn or cut through. Spotting these holes is rather tricky – the rock is perfectly black, and the emptiness of the hole is also perfectly black. A Search check at DC 12 will locate a hole, as will a Spot check at DC 22. Otherwise, a character who encounter a hole must make a Reflex save at DC 16 or fall in.
The shell of the Vault averages one mile in thickness, so if the hole is evenly cut, the character will slam into the bottom of the pit and take 20d6 damage. Few holes are evenly cut; most are filled with jagged edges, ledges and protrusions, so a character only takes 2d4 x 1d6 damage. If the hole is evenly cut (25% chance), then there is usually (90% chance) a portal at the bottom of the hole, which transports the faller either to the Astral Plane, the Plane of Air or (in rare, unfortunate cases) to the upper reaches of the sky in the Material Plane. Some travellers have reported seeing tunnels cut into the sides of these holes, suggesting that some great labyrinth or system of underground canals connects the stars from beneath, from inside the black sky. This labyrinth has never been explored.
Tentacled Thing (CR7)Edit
The grey clouds that hang low above the Vault have never been truly explored, and it is believed they extend for infinity. They are not entirely empty – something lives in the clouds, and occasionally the something (or somethings) reach down with mile-long rugose tentacles and try to scoop up unfortunate travellers. The tentacles drop with an eerie silence, so characters must make a Spot check (DC 16) to notice the tentacles in order to avoid being caught flat-footed. 1d4+1 tentacles drop down at a time.
The tentacles make grapple attacks, using the Improved Grapple feat. They have an attack bonus of +12, and a Grapple bonus of +16. If a tentacle grapples a target, it begins to lift the target into the clouds. The target may make attacks on the tentacle as it rises, as may any travellers on the ground. The tentacle has an Armor Class of 18, and can sustain 100 points of damage before dropping the target. The tentacle takes 1d6+1 rounds to reach the clouds while carrying a victim. If the target fails to free himself from the tentacle before it vanishes into the clouds, he is devoured by…whatever is up there. Victims of the Tentacled Thing can be raised, but never remember what they encountered in the clouds (nor can Divination spells learn anything about them). Some tales hold that the thing likes music, and can be compelled to drop a victim if a tune is played for it. Other, equally widespread tales merely suggest it has a taste for bards.
All maps of the Vault are based on the constellations.
The seven ages are, according to the bards, Infant, Schoolboy, Lover, Soldier, Justice, Elder, Second Childhood. The astromancers reckon them less poetically as Infant, Apprenticeship, Youth, Journeyman, Master, Elder and Rebirth.
City of Regret (Small City):
AL N; Variable gp limit; Assets equal to those of the travellers gp; Pop Varies – thirty sphinxes, some travellers, many shades; Isolated and Bizarre mix. Power Centers: Life and Death.
City of RegretEdit
The City of Regret is one of the most curious cities in all the Planes. It is located somewhere near the center of the Vault, by the north star. The city is encompassed by walls of black stone, pierced by two great doors. One gate is the Gate of Beginnings, the other the Gate of Endings. Inside, the city is divided into seven districts, each of which has its own walls. Passing from one district to another requires that the traveller overcome a guardian. However, the guardian and the appearance of the districts vary for each traveller – to walk the streets and laneways of the City of Regret is to walk through one’s own life and memories. The seven districts correspond to the seven ages of the traveller, from mewling infant to wrinkled elder. Most of the inhabitants of the city are mere phantoms of memory conjured up by a traveller, although many ancient and powerful sphinxes also dwell in the city.
A traveller in the City of Regret can obtain hints about his future by the appearance and nature of the various districts; a young adventurer who will obtain wealth and fame, then die a ghastly death in battle might walk through a humble District of Infants and District of Schoolboys, to a District of Lovers or District of Soldiers full of heroic statues, arenas and gaudy wealth, and finally into a gory red lake where the three last Districts should be.
When several travellers pass through the Beginning Gate together, the various districts subdivide to reflect each traveller’s life. The Beginning Gate opens only inward; the Ending Gate only outwards. The Ending Gate is guarded by a doorman who says that he stands in proxy for his master, and can be bribed for the sum of merely two gold pieces.
The Twilight CourtEdit
The proud Fey accept no judge or authority save their own rulers, and the only court of appeal these rulers recognize is the Twilight Court. This court is located in the heart of the Gloamwood, at a Starwheel. The accused and the accuser are brought to the court, then subjected to potent illusions. As divinations fail at a Starwheel, these illusions are impenetrable. The accused and accusers are tricked into the truth of their souls by these illusions. Often, the Fey judges create the illusion that the court has been held, the case judged, and that all concerned can go free; the illusion then presents images that try the disputants’ morals and ethics. The disputants, believing they are long since gone from the court, act according to their natures – and because of the magnifying effects of a Starwheel, their true natures quickly become manifest.
The small Reverse Observatory is located at the edge of a Hole in the Sky. It is the home of a trio of immortal sages whose knowledge of astrology is so extensive, they were taken up into the heavens to be counsellors to the reannan. The three sages observe the world below, paying particular attention to telescopes and magical research. They divine the future of the world in patterns of knowledge and learning; an inventor here aligns with a library there, and if a comet-like messenger crosses their path, then…well, only the sages know what will transpire. One sage is known to encourage astrology and learning; another grumpily fears that it will lead to literal disasters. The third is too busy pursuing a particular reannan to care much for his duties. Some say that these sages are the fabled Chronomancers, the three servants and masters of time itself while others believe they are simply very powerful astromancers.
The River of StarsEdit
The River of Stars stretches across the entire Vault. In places, it is so narrow that a child could hop across it; in others, it is wider than the sea. The river is fed with liquid from thousands of stars, and is the main (indeed, only) artery of travel and trade in the sky. Fey gondolas with adamantine hulls ply the river, as well as pleasure-boats used to entertain reannan.
The native inhabitants of the Vault of Stars include the reannan and other Fey, sphinxes, and gorgons. Numerous travellers also use the Vault and especially the River of Stars as a quick, non-astral route across the Outer Planes.
Medium Fey (Extraplanar)
Hit Dice: 16d6+64 (120 hp)
Speed: Move 40-ft, Swim 80-ft.
Armor Class: 31 (+7 dexterity, +10 natural, +4 mage armor), touch 21, flat-footed 24
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +8/+9
Attack: +12 melee (1d8+3, brilliant energy longsword +2) or +19 ranged (1d8+3, longbow +3)
Full Attack: +12/+7 melee (1d8+3, brilliant energy longsword +2) or +19/+14 ranged (1d8+3, longbow +3)
Space/Reach: 5-ft. /5-ft.
Special Attacks: Spell-like abilities, manipulate wyrd
Special Qualities: Summon weapons, energy control, immunity to cold, electricity and fire, fey traits, SR 25
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +17, Will +13
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 24, Con 18, Int 16, Wis 16, Cha 25, Luk 20
Skills: Astral Charting +20, Bluff +26, Concentration +22, Diplomacy +30, Hide +26, Knowledge (arcana) +22, Knowledge (the planes) +22, Listen +22, Sense Motive +22, Spot +22, Swim +10*
Climate/Terrain: Vault of Stars or aquatic
Challenge Rating: 12
Treasure: Double standard
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: By character class
The maiden rising from the radiant pool is clad in the finest white samite. Her hair cascades around her slim shoulders as she extends a hand – which is suddenly holding a bright sword.
Reannan are to stars as dryads are to trees and naiads are to rivers; the incarnation of a natural phenomenon. They are among the most powerful and proudest of all Fey. A reannan spends most of the time either submerged in her star-pool, or else walking along its shores. Some are lonely creatures who welcome travellers; others are close enough to converse with their sisters, or even go swimming on the River of Stars.
All known reannan resemble tall, beautiful maidens, although they apparently have other forms (the star-maidens speak of ‘red dwarfs’ and ‘blue giants’). Most reannan are neutral, but some are good or evil. These latter star-maidens are usually part of a particular constellation that is sacred to a good or evil deity, and are referred to as the handmaidens of that god. Other reannan are referred to as ‘fallen reannan’ – this does not mean they have turned to evil, merely that they have travelled to the Material Plane when their star fell from heaven. These fallen reannan are often patrons of sacred lakes that constantly reflect the starry night sky.
Reannan have a vast array of potent spell-like abilities, but they are also skilled warriors. Some reannan have special champions to aid in their defence, either enchanted mortals or allied Fey.
Manipulate Wyrd (Su): The stars oversee fate, so a star-maiden can alter the course of a foe’s destiny. As a swift action once per round, a star-maiden can inflict a cumulative –2 penalty on a foe’s attack rolls and Armor Class. The maximum penalty that can be inflicted is –8 for a true neutral character, -4 for a character who is neutral good or neutral evil, and –2 for a character whose alignment does not have a neutral component.
Summon Weapons (Su): As a swift action, a reannan can summon a +2 brilliant energy longsword or a +3 longbow. She can give these weapons to others if she chooses, but the weapons vanish if the reannan is slain. A reannan with at least one paladin or cleric level can summon a holy avenger instead if she wishes.
Energy Control (Su): A reannan is immune to all death effects and negative energy, as if protected by a perfect death ward. She is also immune to the dangers of too much positive energy.
Spell-like abilities (Sp): At will: mage armor, daylight, searing light, water breathing, water walk, blindness, dispel magic, haste, word of recall; 3/day: flame strike, seeming, sunbeam, sunburst; 1/day: meteor swarm, plane shift, planar ally. All spells are cast as a 16th level sorcerer (save DC 17 + spell level).