Our next stop in The Planes series is the Plane of Air- a plane of endless air and the djinni.
What is the Plane of Air
The Plane of Air is located in the Inner Planes and is the home for air elementals, djinni, endless blue skies, and castles floating on clouds. This plane is the most hospitable of the Inner Planes and tourists and travelers flock to these airs to take in the view and trade with the djinni. Many inexperienced travels can get turned around on this plane, falling forever until they eventually slam into something or die from starvation, but those that know how the plane works can easily make a life here.
The Plane of Air was developed in the 1st edition’s Manual of the Planes (1987)
and introduced the concept of an infinite plane of air with motes of earth and other elements floating throughout this plane. In 4th edition, it was merged into the Elemental Chaos and with the 5th edition returning it to its place in the Inner Planes.
This plane is home to not only the good-aligned djinni, but to elementals of air, and anyone else who stumbles onto this plane and decides to stay. Even great flocks of birds, and large beasts like rocs, have made their home on this plane, flying and soaring from air current to air current.
An Outsider’s Perspective
Visiting the Plane of Air is one of the few chances a traveler may ever see such beautiful views and have the ability to soar through the skies like a majestic bird. The first problem a new traveler to the plane will experience is that there is a distinct lack of ground to stand on unless they are fortunate enough to end up on one of the rare earth motes. Once a traveler appears on this plane, their first unconscious thoughts determine a ‘down’ and then they immediately begin ‘falling’ down. If there are a group of travelers, they will typically fall in the same direction, reinforcing the opinion that they are falling ‘down’.
Unfortunately for travelers, there is no actual ‘down’ as there is no ground to be above. Instead, travelers continue to fall ‘down’ until they finally hit something, many times a traveler can die of hunger and thirst before they finally accomplish such a feat. Inanimate objects, on the other hand, have no mind to tell them what ‘down’ is and so they continue moving forward in whatever direction momentum is influencing them, only coming to a stop once that momentum is worn away. Objects of all sorts can be found scattered across this plane, deposited to this plane from all across the multiverse, with even pieces of other elemental planes found in large chunks.
Most motes of other elemental properties, like earth motes, water motes, or dust motes, can be found in a spherical shape. Earth motes are prized above all else by travelers and visitors hoping to make a home in this plane with many wizards building their towers on these spheres. The other spheres all have their uses, like creatures who require water to survive will congregate around the spherical water motes to not die of thirst, though they have to be careful that they don’t think that ‘down’ is through the sphere of water or they might drown.
A Native’s Perspective
Most of the natives of this plane have an affinity for open skies and moving on wings across the sapphire blue air. Those creatures who value dexterity and maneuverability often find this plane to be a natural home to them, and the travelers who spend enough time here to master this plane find this a home like no other.
The most common types of creatures found on this plane are the elementals that come in all shapes and sizes, though they aren’t very easy to discern as they are like the wind, invisible and blowing to wherever they wish. Apart from the elementals, the next natural group are the djinni who reside in their large castles who float on solid clouds and who maintain their vast kingdom against the attacks from the efreeti, their sworn enemies. The air genasi also make up a sizable portion of the population, and due to their lack of natural flight abilities, employ large vessels that fly through this plane utilizing hot air captured in massive bags with which their ships are hung from. There are dozens of air genasi dukes, though one of them is quickly moving across the plane with a powerful military force.
Apart from the natural inhabitants of the plane are the outsiders who have lived here so long they might as well be natives. These include tourists who found no reason to leave, wizards who wish to have some sort of solitude, and the merchants who travel from earthmote to earthmote, selling food and supplies to those in need. Because the Plane of Air is only home to air, there were no other materials on this plane except for air, over the hundreds of thousands of years since the creation of the planes, the Plane of Air is slowly acquiring more and more stuff. This stuff comes from the other Inner Planes or from thin spots between the Plane of Air and the Material Plane where flocks of birds, debris and more can accidentally be sucked into this plane. Scavengers move across this plane, building structures from whatever they can scavenge.
An easy way of determining who owns an earthmote is based on the construction of the building. If it is made up of a variety of materials and looks thrown together, it is probably a non-native making their home here. If it looks to be made of clouds and airy-glass, that is a palace of the djinni, and while they aren’t against visitors, they dislike uninvited guests.
The Plane of Air is filled with air, which makes this plane the most hospitable of the Inner Planes. A creature who first arrives here will likely only see the blue sapphire sky around them, endless in every direction, this clear sky is like a cloudless summer day and allows a creature to see twice as far as they normally would. Drifting at the edges of this plane are the borders that lead to other planes, and thus the atmosphere acts differently.
Moving to the border with the Plane of Water brings a chill in the air as ice and snow begin filling the sky, as you continue getting closer the ice and snow become thicker and the temperature continues to plummet. This is known as the Mistral Reach and once a traveler makes their way through all the ice and snow, they come across a massive, unmoving wall of ice that is dotted with caverns, the Frostfell, also known as the Plane of Ice.
Going in the opposite direction to the border of the Plane of Fire brings with it thicker air filled with smoke and ash. Hot, dry winds scour across this part of the plane, most natural plants find a very difficult life here and finding food is a great concern to any who travel across this area. As you continue going further, the air is filled with choking ash and fire licks out across the sky. This is the Sirocco Straits and is filled with gargoyles and Plane of Earth allies planning an attack on the domains of the djinni. Once you pass through the straits, you enter the Great Conflagration or the Plane of Ash.
Travel to the Plane
Much like the rest of the Inner Planes, the Plane of Air can be accidentally stumbled upon, whisking you away into the plane. This typically happens to those on the Material Plane if they are hit by a tornado or hurricane as many theorize that at the eye these wind cyclones is a portal to the Plane of Air. Unfortunately for those who research such things, it is very difficult to determine when and where a tornado will appear, causing incomplete research to lead only to conjecture.
Apart from being swept up in a tornado, a creature can also arrive in the Plane of Air through a variety of more ‘permanent’ portals throughout the Material Plane as well as throughout the Outer Planes. Most worlds are said to have two to three portals located somewhere high in their atmosphere that closely resembles the Plane of Air, meaning that there are no mountains, clouds or anything else to obstruct the view of the sky. Creatures with wings cannot fly so high and instead must rely on magic to propel you so high up where the air is thin and it is a clear, sunny day.
The Outer Plane is also said to have several permanent portals to the Plane of Air, as Sigil relies on the plane to circulate the air inside of the plane, though those portals are closely guarded by the dabus and the Lady of Pain to ensure that no one messes with them or attempts to come through that shouldn’t. There are also rumors of portals at the top of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, and in fact, there are two of them that blow the leaves of Yggdrasil, though you must reach the very height of the World Tree and not be blown off to access them.
Another way of arriving in this plane is to simply travel from its counterpart planes, traveling from the Plane of Fire can be dangerous for anyone as you must contend with the heat of the plane as well as moving through the Great Conflagration and its massive ash storms that can choke and strangle a creature. Traveling from the Plane of Water is a much easier journey, except you must cross the Frostfell, which can be dangerous depending on where you are. Those who journey high above the Frostfell and never move through the great glacier of ice are relatively safe, while those who move through the tunnels and on top of the Frostfell must contend with the inhabitants, like yetis and remorhazes who call the plane home.
Traversing the Plane
Traveling across the plane is simple for those with wings, they merely flap their wings and take off to wherever they want. Even creatures that swim find it easy to just begin swimming through the air, allowing them to swim alongside the birds soaring through the air. The real problem is for the creatures who have no natural ability to fly or swim as their mind immediately wants to know which way is ‘down’. Once a body determines which way is ‘down’, which is pretty immediate, they immediately begin falling ‘down’.
If a creature is used to the Plane of Air, or at least has a guide instructing them, they can attempt to change what their ‘down’ is and ‘fall’ their way across the plane, changing their falling direction by forcing their mind to pick a new ‘down’ direction. Many travelers find this a fun and exciting way to travel and even amateurs can quickly grasp the how of it so long as they don’t hit anything on their initial fall down. One issue with changing your ‘down’ is that you still have a lot of momentum that you must bleed off and so when a traveler wishes to land on an earth mote, they must quickly and accurately change their ‘down’ to bleed off momentum as they plummet to the mote.
The way this works is that a creature falls to the mote, once they are roughly a minute from slamming into their destination, they simply swap what their ‘down’ is and their momentum will be so great that they continue to fall ‘up’. If a creature has timed it correctly, right where the end of the momentum will carry them ‘up’, they should be just close enough to the mote to quickly change their ‘down’ towards the mote and lightly land on the earth mote. Of course, this all takes practiced skill and most who attempt this have a rather hard landing their first time.
Across the Plane of Air are dangerous storms that can bring with them horrifying natural disasters. What might be a light breeze blowing across the plane could quickly, and without warning, become a dangerous maelstrom of air causing destruction. Wind storms rage across the plane and mostly only take a few minutes until they move on, but some areas might be exposed to a single storm for centuries before its energies finally bleed away.
One of the most fascinating natural wonders of the Plane of Air are the tornadoes that occur throughout the plane. Unlike the Material Plane where they have a ‘down’ direction, the winds have no such pulls on them and a tornado forms into a torus shape, a ring of spinning air. These tornadoes are dangerous to contend with and often bring with them hail, dust storms, or even just buffeting winds so powerful that some outsiders have claimed to see it pull the skin from bone.
The Citadel of Ice and Steel
The greatest of the djinni cloud castles is the home of the Grand Caliph of all Djinni, this soaring castle is immense and looks like a wind-swept oval that is several miles wide. Unlike many other locations, this djinni castle is actually falling and the rush of air makes travel for any with no ability to fly impossible as they have no stairs. The citadel is made up of steel and never melting ice mined from the Frostfell, this gives the palace a strange blue and grey coloring that is as distinct as it is beautiful. The djinni palace is filled with swooping architecture and is the home to not only the Grand Caliph but to their court and a multitude of djinni nobles.
Taifun, the Palace of Tempests
This floating mountain resides close to the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Lightning and has a massive stone fortress built on top of it. Not only does the fortress provide an imposing sight for even hardened warriors, but stretching out from the fortress is a spiderweb of docks filled with airships. This is the palace of the Haalifith, an air genasi who is one of the “wind dukes” of the Plane of Air. Haalifith is currently on a campaign to take over the Plane of Air but is starting with the other air genasi wind dukes and slowly growing his army of airships and soldiers. Most consider Haalifith to be a bit insane, but there is no doubt that he is quickly gaining power in the Plane of Air.
Not too far from the Citadel of Ice and Steel is a strange phenomenon, not simply because it always seems to be close to the citadel that is plummeting down the Plane of Air. The Waterspout is a pair of vortices both linked to the Plane of Water, and a great torrent of water thunders 500 yards before disappearing into the other vortice and back into the Plane of Water. One of the strangest parts of this waterspout is that this is the only place that operates like that on the Plane of Air, most of the time it simply disperses into a mist across the Plane of Air, but instead, this water moves from one vortex to the next as if something is controlling it. Regardless of why it works the way it does, the djinni and marid use this waterspout as a way of accessing each other’s plane and conducting trade and diplomatic missions.
Factions & People
These genies are the rules of the Plane of Air and spend much of their time in their palaces and castles, working on their defenses against the Earth and Fire elementals and genie attempting to take over the plane. The djinni are good-aligned, and while they do have slaves, they treat them more like servants with kindness and protection. The djinni are known for being mischievous, but rarely do their mischief end in pain or suffering from the recipient as that isn’t their way.
The Plane of Air is the source of creation for air elementals and the mephits, these elementals are often invisible to the naked eye as they appear as the wind. The air elementals are rarely aggressive or mean, and if treated with respect, can help new visitors to the plane not plummet to a messy end.
A variety of deities can be found in the Plane of Air, the most notorious among them being Yan-C-Bin the Prince of Evil Air. There are a variety of other archomentals, greater powers of their respective elements though not as strong as the gods of the Outer Planes, from the Akadi the Queen of the Air-Elementals to Chan the Princess of the Good Air. These archomentals have their agendas and rarely strike out at each other, for if they do it could lead to the worst storms to ever come crashing through the Plane of Air.
It is said that Bahamut can teleport his palace from the slopes of Mount Celestia to the Plane of Air, though no one has seen that in living memory. Many are unsure why Bahamut would do such a thing, but it’s also been reported that his palace has appeared in the Astral Plane and other locations, so it may just be that Bahamut enjoys traveling the planes, or has a much more nefarious purpose.
Encounters Battling Airships
- Across the sky, the signs of fire and smoke can be seen. As the party falls through the air, they can see the view of two airships firing ballistae and spraying fire on another airship. Haalifith’s airships are closing in on the third airship, attempting to make the ship plummet and kill the crew. Chan’s Request
- The archomental, Chan the Princess of Good Air, is worried that her counterpart, Yan-C-Bin, is planning on attacking one of the wind dukes who worships Chan. A representative has approached a party of adventurers to see if they can find out his plans and put a stop to it before it can happen. Chan can’t be seen taking part in this as it might invite Yan-C-Bin to take a more active opposition to her plans. Griffon Rides
- The most reliable method of traveling from one town to the next is on the back of the griffons. This journey is largely boring, not encountering anything across the blue skies until they finally finish their journey at the next town, only to see it under siege to airships to Haalifith. Unfortunately, one of the airships has spotted the griffon and is hurtling towards the group. Landing Troubles
- Falling through the air, a castle made of steel and ice suddenly comes into view. At this rate, the party is going to slam into the castle, staining the beautiful ice walls red. For some reason, they are unable to change their ‘down’ and just as they fear the worst, griffons soar out of the palace and grab on to them, carrying them down onto ground of the palace, where a rather peeved djinni interrogates them for spying. Pidgeon Problem
- A small town on a nice earthmote was recently swarmed by pigeons, every time they get rid of them they seem to reappear back. They are worried that this problem might never end and their town will be drowned in bird guano.
Resources & Further Reading Manual of the Planes
(1st edition) For more information on random encounters in the Plane of Air. The Inner Planes
(2nd edition) For more information on creatures and locales in the Plane of Air. Monster Manual
(5th edition) For more information on the djinni.
DnDBehindTheScreen The Elemental Plane of Air