Mars, Venus and Beyond

If you have read Blood & Treasure Second Edition, you might already know that I had a sample planar system that resembles the old geocentric model of the universe combined with Gygax’s idea of the outer and inner planes. At some point, I’m going to expand on these ideas and write a book called The Outre’ Dark – sort of my version of the Manual of the Planes.

To that end, I’ve already written an article in NOD on the planet Pluto, which stands in for the negative energy plane in Nod’s cosmos. This week, I’ve been playing with maps of Mars and Venus (or Martis and Veneris) for the Nod setting, and thought I’d show them off here, along with a few notes on the settings.


In the Nod cosmology, Mars is a planet of Neutrality, over which the forces of Lawful Neutrality and Chaotic Neutrality fight a never-ending war.

  • The humanoid Martians come in a multitude of colors, from purple to amber to burnt sienna (and even some maroons living below the surface). They spawn via spores and do not nurse their young. They may have been engineered by a Zetan civilization that destroyed the plane with atomic weaponry before leaving Martis for Nod, where they were involved in founding the Nabu civilization (destroyed in a similar cataclysm).
  • They are joined on Martis by green mutants in the wastelands and bat people in the mountains.
  • The purple Martians are the most civilized (LN). They dwell in hive cities connected by canals.
  • The amber Martians dwell in the north, and might be considered pragmatic Neutrals.
  • The burnt sienna Martians are nomads (and former seafarers).
  • Atop Olympus Mons there is a monastery of weird Zen Neutral monks.
  • Martians wear little armor (or clothing) and arm themselves with swords, whip-swords, daggers, darts, jezzails and pistols.
  • The Martians also use flying ships (skyremes) levitated by weird rays.
  • There is a plant in the Martian deserts that oozes plastic nodules, which the Martians melt down and use to make a variety of objects.
  • The moons of Martis (those little specs underneath the planet) are home to ghouls, who launch themselves into space when astral ships approach too close.


Veneris is the positive energy plane in Nod’s cosmos. I mixed the idea of positive energy = life with the old ideas of Venus as a jungle world. The map is still in the “rough draft” stage. It is partly inspired by this post at Malevolent and Benign.

  • Humanoid Venusians come in two varieties – the cyan-skinned cave dwellers and the jade-skinned tree dwellers. They are beset by many evils on the planet, for it is populated by numerous beastmen.
  • Venus has very little technology, and all of it in the hands of the gold amazons, who dwell in flying cities. Their sons, the myrmidons, are seafarers and defenders of humanity.
  • Most of the peoples of Veneris have neo-stone age technology, maybe some in the chalcolithic age – giant stone cities, simple weapons, etc. Very Flintstones.
  • There are dinosaurs (though not of the earthly varieties) and other prehistoric animals.
  • Beneath the surface of Veneris is a core of positive energy, which erupts from time to time from volcanoes.
  • The plant life of Veneris is a riot of color. It grows very quickly – a trail cut with machetes would disappear in mere minutes.
  • There are massive oozes on the planet that rise from the seas and cause ecological havoc.
  • The mountains are made of solid gemstone.


I’m adding this one after the fact, having just finished the map. I’m picturing a world almost devoid of plant life with a thin atmosphere where all the real action is under the surface, where the powerful elementals dwell. On the surface, where adventurers are likely to spend their time, there are cities of crystal people who dominate their fellows by dominating the mineral springs they must bathe in to survive, and plundering metallic men who serve the greedy shaitan. I’m using the old idea that Mercury always had one side facing the Sun and the other in perpetual darkness – in this case, the cities of Parahelios and Nyx mark those spots.


Planet Stories … Greatest Covers in Comic History?

Maybe. Maybe not. But this one is a humdinger …

Visit the Comic Book Catacombs and read about Aura, Lord of Jupiter, won’t you?

You couldn’t get this much awesome for 1 slim dime in the modern day, I can assure you.

Princess Vara, despite getting a smaller font than Reef Ryan, appears to get the cover (I can’t imagine why), if in fact those aliens getting slapped around are the Green Legions of Xalan. She’s wearing her gold-plated titanium Venusian lady-parts armor (protection where you need it, when you need it – AC +1) and wielding a short sword while riding something that came out of a random monster generator.

Let’s tick off the alien parts on that beast – lower body of a horse, feet of a camel, talons of an eagle, neck of a hairy lizard, ears of an Elfquest elf, horn of a … I have no idea … and beak of abject, eye-poking horror. It needs some stats (S&W and Space Princess this time):

AREMIHC: HD 4; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 talons (1d4), beak (1d6) and gore (1d6); Move 18; Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Run x5, only surprised on 1 on 1d8.

AREMIHC: HD 4; DEF 17; FIGHT 11 (Beak/Gore 1d8, Talons 1d4); MOVE F; STR 7; DEX 5; KNO 0; MEN 3; Special: None.

 The Green Legions are somewhere in the kobold-goblin-orc continuum – I’d go with goblin stats, since they’re clearly pretty easy to pick up and hurl. I dig the polearms and golden shields with the suns. They also have a sweet ride in the background – you can’t beat old school starship design, I always say.

I also dig the “Slaver-Hordes of Neptune” – good name for a Space Princess module – maybe a sci-fi version of the classic Slavers series for AD&D.

A Fantasy Cosmos

While writing (or, to some degree, copy/pasting from the SRD) Blood & Treasure the other day, I finally came to the section on the planes. I decided, for a sample cosmos (and I do mean sample – there is no official cosmology for Blood & Treasure), to present something like the one I use for NOD. I thought folks might like to see it, but note – it lacks a mention of Hell or the Firmament at the moment.


This cosmology of planes is inspired by the old Ptolomaic view of the universe, i.e. The Earth at the center of the universe surrounded by “crystalline spheres” containing the different planets and beyond them the Empyrean Heaven of God and the angels. At the center of Earth lies Hell, essentially a plane within a plane.

In this conception, the Ethereal Plane extends beyond Earth to the Moon, but no further. The Astral Plane extends throughout the entire universe, to the borders of the Empyrean Heaven.
All of the planes (i.e. planets) in this cosmology other than the Empyrean Heaven are self-contained spheres. Heaven is infinite.

Earth and the Moon are the Material Plane, the center of the universe. The Moon differs from Earth only in that it is mildly-chaotic. They define what is considered normal. The Material Plane has the following traits:

• Normal gravity.

• Normal Time

• Alterable morphic.

• No Elemental or Energy Traits (specific locations may have these traits, however)

• Mildly neutral-aligned (mildly chaos-aligned for the Moon).

• Normal magic.

The Ethereal Plane is coexistent with the Material Plane and the plane of Luna. The Material Plane itself is visible from the Ethereal Plane, but it appears muted and indistinct, its colors blurring into each other and its edges turning fuzzy.

While it is possible to see into the Material Plane from the Ethereal Plane, the Ethereal Plane is usually invisible to those on the Material Plane. Normally, creatures on the Ethereal Plane cannot attack creatures on the Material Plane, and vice versa. A traveler on the Ethereal Plane is invisible, incorporeal, and silent to someone on the Material Plane.

The Ethereal Plane is mostly empty of structures and impediments. However, the plane has its own inhabitants. Some of these are other ethereal travelers, but the ghosts found here pose a particular peril to those who walk the fog.
It has the following traits.

• No gravity.

• Alterable morphic. The plane contains little to alter, however.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Normal magic. Spells function normally on the Ethereal Plane, though they do not cross into the Material Plane. The only exceptions are spells and spell-like abilities that have the force descriptor and abjuration spells that affect ethereal beings. Spellcasters on the Material Plane must have some way to detect foes on the Ethereal Plane before targeting them with force-based spells, of course. While it’s possible to hit ethereal enemies with a force spell cast on the Material Plane, the reverse isn’t possible. No magical attacks cross from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane, including force attacks.

The Plane of Shadow is a dimly lit dimension that is both coterminous to and coexistent with the Material Plane. It overlaps the Material Plane much as the Ethereal Plane does, so a planar traveler can use the Plane of Shadow to cover great distances quickly.

The Plane of Shadow is also coterminous to other planes. With the right spell, a character can use the Plane of Shadow to visit other realities.

The Plane of Shadow is a world of black and white; color itself has been bleached from the environment. It is otherwise appears similar to the Material Plane.

Despite the lack of light sources, various plants, animals, and humanoids call the Plane of Shadow home.

The Plane of Shadow is magically morphic, and parts continually flow onto other planes. As a result, creating a precise map of the plane is next to impossible, despite the presence of landmarks.

The Plane of Shadow has the following traits.

• Magically morphic. Certain spells modify the base material of the Plane of Shadow. The utility and power of these spells within the Plane of Shadow make them particularly useful for explorers and natives alike.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Enhanced magic. Spells of shadow are enhanced on the Plane of Shadow. Such spells are cast as though they were prepared with the Maximize Spell feat. Shadow conjuration and shadow evocation spells are 30% as powerful as the conjurations and evocations they mimic (as opposed to 20%). Greater shadow conjuration and greater shadow evocation are 70% as powerful (not 60%), and a shades spell conjures at 90% of the power of the original (not 80%).

• Impeded magic. Spells that use or generate light or fire may fizzle when cast on the Plane of Shadow. Spells that produce light are less effective in general, because all light sources have their ranges halved here. Despite the dark nature of the Plane of Shadow, spells that produce, use, or manipulate darkness are unaffected by the plane.

The Astral Plane is the space between the planes. When a character moves through an interplanar portal or projects her spirit to a different plane of existence, she travels through the Astral Plane. Spells that allow instantaneous movement across a plane briefly touch the Astral Plane.

The Astral Plane is a great, endless sphere of clear silvery sky, both above and below. Occasional bits of solid matter can be found here, but most of the Astral Plane is an endless, open domain. Both planar travelers and refugees from other planes call the Astral Plane home.

The Astral Plane has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity.

• Timeless. Age, hunger, thirst, poison, and natural healing don’t function in the Astral Plane, though they resume functioning when the traveler leaves the Astral Plane.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Enhanced magic. All spells and spell-like abilities used within the Astral Plane may be employed as if they were improved by the Quicken Spell feat. Already quickened spells and spell-like abilities are unaffected, as are spells from magic items. Spells so quickened are still prepared and cast at their unmodified level. As with the Quicken Spell feat, only one quickened spell can be cast per round.

Mercury is a solid sphere of rock and metal burrowed through by a multitude if tunnels and caverns. An unwary and unprepared traveler to Mercury may find himself entombed within this vast solidity of material and have his life crushed into nothingness, his powdered remains a warning to any foolish enough to follow.

Despite its solid, unyielding nature, Mercury is varied in its consistency, ranging from soft soil to veins of heavier and more valuable metal.

Mercury has the following traits.

• Earth-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use, manipulate, or create earth or stone are both empowered and extended (as if the Empower Spell and Extend Spell metamagic feats had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already empowered or extended are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create air (including spells that summon air elementals or outsiders with the air subtype) are impeded.

Venus is a lush world of brilliant, almost blinding color and overgrown vegetation and animals. Some area of the plane are so fertile that entering them can actually cause a person to explode with life.

Venus has the following traits.

• Normal gravity.

• Minor positive-dominant. Some regions of the plane have the major positive-dominant trait instead, and those islands may be inhabited by various divinities of fertility and life.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use positive energy, including cure spells, are maximized (as if the Maximize Spell metamagic feat had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized are unaffected by this benefit. Class abilities that use positive energy, such as turning and destroying undead, gain a +10 bonus on the roll to determine Hit Dice affected.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use negative energy (including inflict spells) are impeded.

Mars is an earth-like plane dedicated to neutrality in the war between Law and Chaos. It is a small sphere and taken up by red, sandstone hills, shallow, salty seas, lowlands of red, tuberous plants watered by vast canals and gleaming, ancient cities slowly falling into ruin. The various people of Mars are warriors who glory in combat.

Mars has the following traits.

• Light gravity.

• Strongly neutral-aligned. Lawfuls and chaotic suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Limited magic. The following spells operate normally on Mars: Detect thoughts (ESP), xxx. All other spells fail to operate here.

• Flowing time. Time passes more quickly on Mars than the Material Plane. A year spent on Mars corresponds to a day on the Material Plane.

Everything is alight on the Sun. The ground is nothing more than great, evershifting plates of compressed flame. The air ripples with the heat of continual firestorms, and the most common liquid is magma, not water. The oceans are made of liquid flame, and the mountains ooze with molten lava. Fire survives here without need for fuel or air, but flammables brought onto the plane are consumed readily.

The Sun has the following traits.

• Fire-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor are both maximized and enlarged (as if the Maximize Spell and Enlarge Spell had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized or enlarged are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water (including spells that summon water elementals or outsiders with the water subtype) are impeded.

Jupiter is a giant spheric plane of air. At the heart of Jupiter there is a core of iron and adamantine, and there are other bits of solid ground and water vapor floating amid the endless, roiling skies of Jupiter.

Jupiter is the home of all manner of airborne creatures. Indeed, flying creatures find themselves at a great advantage on this plane. While travelers without flight can survive easily here, they are at a disadvantage.

Jupiter has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity. Inhabitants of the plane determine their own “down” direction. Objects not under the motive force of others do not move.

• Air-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use, manipulate, or create air are both empowered and enlarged (as if the Empower Spell and Enlarge Spell metamagic feats had been used on them).

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create earth (including spells that summon earth elementals or earth-based outsiders) are impeded.

Saturn is a plane infused with chaos, and therefore quite alien to most folk of the Material Plane. It is covered by all manner of fascinating land-scapes, including ashen plains cut by streams of mercury, swamps of sentient ooze, thickets of mineral plants like sheaves of swords and towering mountains of vapor, all under a greenish-black sky illuminated by the plane’s wondrous rings from which ioun stones are plucked.

Saturn has the following traits:

• Strongly chaos-aligned. Lawfuls suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Wild magic.

Neptune is a sea without a floor or a surface; an entirely fluid sphere lit by a diffuse glow. It is one of the more hospitable of the Inner Planes once a traveler gets past the problem of breathing.

The eternal oceans of this plane vary between ice cold and boiling hot, between saline and fresh. They are perpetually in motion, wracked by currents and tides. The plane’s permanent settlements form around bits of flotsam and jetsam suspended within this endless liquid. These settlements drift on the tides of the plane of Neptune.

Neptune has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity. The gravity here works similar to that of the Elemental Plane of Air. But sinking or rising on the Elemental Plane of Water is slower (and less dangerous) than on the Elemental Plane of Air.

• Water-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water are both extended and enlarged (as if the Extend Spell and Enlarge Spell metamagic feats had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already extended or enlarged are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor are impeded.

Uranus is the opposite of Saturn, a plane of law and perfection. Uranus has the same landscapes as the Material Plane, but they are each perfect and slightly angular, often repetitious, as though made by the will of a single artist. The skies and landscapes of Uranus all carry a metallic hue – warm coppers, brilliant silvers and dazzling golds.
Uranus has the following traits:

• Strongly law-aligned. Chaotics suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Static. Uranus cannot be altered by visitors.

• Timeless. Time does not flow on Uranus.

To an observer, there’s little to see on Pluto. It is a dark, empty place, an eternal pit where a traveler can fall until the plane itself steals away all light and life. Pluto is the most hostile of the planets, and the most uncaring and intolerant of life. Only creatures immune to its life-draining energies can survive there.

Pluto has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity.

• Major negative-dominant. Some areas within the plane have only the minor negative-dominant trait, and these islands tend to be inhabited.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use negative energy are maximized. Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized are unaffected by this benefit. Class abilities that use negative energy, such as rebuking and controlling undead, gain a +10 bonus on the roll.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use positive energy, including cure spells, are impeded. Characters on this plane take a –10 penalty on Fortitude saving throws made to regain lost levels from a life drain attack.