HARP Bestiary Preview Excerpt: The Elemental Subplane of Air

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell and Guild Companion Publications Ltd © 2016

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"It is a curious property of the airs of this subplane that they provide buoyancy and support such that anyone immersed in this air will not fall countless miles."

A visitor’s first impression of the Subplane of Air would be of apparent emptiness in all directions. As the visitor observes more closely, the eyes will discern distant banks of clouds and tiny fast-moving specks and the ears will hear the gentle susurrus of the breeze as the air enriched by the elemental essence of Air circulates throughout the subplane. There is no sun in the day; there are neither moons nor stars in the night. During its day, this subplane is bathed in a warm light that has no single point of origin. It waxes and wanes as the day progresses, eventually dimming to an illumination equivalent to a clear and starlit sky on the Mortal Plane.

It is a curious property of the airs of this subplane that they provide buoyancy and support such that anyone immersed in this air will not fall countless miles. Rather the Air elemental essence within the atmosphere of the subplane will suspend them safely. An adventurer who wishes to explore this subplane will need wings (natural or artificial) or access to magic spells such as Fly in order to move around. The subplane is a three-dimensional environment - there is a definitive “Up” and an equally certain “Down”. Failure to maintain a watch for threats from above and below in addition to forward and behind has been the undoing of many explorers in this subplane.

And there are many threats for the Subplane of Air is home to a host of aerial creatures. Some, were created by the overlords of the plane. Others, such as the Giant Eagles and Giant Wasps, have simply strayed in from the Mortal Plane and adapted themselves to the environment. Finally there are strange hybrid creatures such as the Sky-whales that have been imported and magically transformed into aerial creatures. More frequently encountered, though potentially dangerous in some circumstances, are flocks of lesser birds and vast swarms of insects. Some of these creatures derive some or all of their sustenance simply from the elemental essence in the air; others still need or desire more conventional food and prey upon the rest. None of the denizens of the Subplane of Air are as foolish to attack the true natives of the plane, namely the Air Elementals, whose home it is.

There is no “Top” to this realm - the subplane appears to stretch upward forever without any discernible thinning of the atmosphere. There is no “Bottom” - there is no ground below, the subplane stretches downward forever. The subplane is not, however, without “airmarks” and identifiable locations. Water suffused with faint traces of elemental Water essence coalesces to form huge drifting droplets that are homes to plankton, algae, and fish, providing food and drink to the airborne creatures. Stranger still are the white fleecy clouds, which range in size from less than a mile across to vast continent-sized expanses. These are not just amalgams of water vapor. Instead, they are veritable floating islands in the sky, known as the Cloudlands. Air elemental essence has been warped by supernatural artifice to create semisolid surfaces in the very clouds. Soil has been imported from the mundane universe and seeded with many varieties of plants and even trees that the birds of the realm may have places to roost and rest. Stone and metal do not naturally occur in the subplane.

Not all regions of Air are so tranquil. Great storms traverse the plane - each a vortex of gale, even hurricane, force whirlwinds, crackling with immense electrical energy. From time to time, the storms collide with the Cloudlands, wreaking havoc and destruction as a Cloudland splinters into fragments. Winged creatures will flee before the storm arrives and hope to return after it passes. Air Elementals will be found rejoicing in the tempest and many spend their entire existence in the embrace of the great storms.