Tired of boring old Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Heart? Try one of the para- or quasi- elemental planes, and maybe at last escape those planeteer pukes.
There comes a point in any D&D campaign’s life when the players hit a certain power level, the DM hits a certain boredom level, and someone gets the bright idea to take just a little bit of a planar jaunt. As the cycle goes you’ll end up travelling to the Ethereal Plane, then maybe the Shadowfell, then from there it’s Elemental planes and after that it’s anyone’s guess. Assuming you survive the Plane of Fire.
But why not take a page from the older editions–2nd Edition specifically, and try and unearth (literally) these exotic planar locales. I’m talking about para- and quasi-elemental planes. If you’ve never heard of them, here’s a brief overview. Paraelemental Planes are the regions that form where the elemental planes butt up against each other. Fire and Air make the Plane of Smoke, for example. Quasi-elemental planes on the other hand, are places where the positive or negative energy planes touch each other–Positive Energy and Air make lightning, for instance.
Now this cosmology hasn’t been relevant in a while–5th Edition has its own particular spin on the cosmos, but these planes make for excellent adventuring ideas. There are a lot of weird planes out there, but here are a few just to get you started.
Plane of Lightning
This is a quasi-elemental plane that’s formed where the plane of Air meets the Positive Energy Plane. Home to all kinds of lightning-based creatures like Blue Dragons, Lightning Mephits, Lightning Elementals and more–the entire plane is a roiling storm that’s chock full of energy. This is a plane of potential, of power. Be sure and wear your lightning-resistant cloaks. A fun place to send adventurers looking for a powerful source of energy for something they need.
Plane of Ooze
A plane known for its secrets, the paraelemental plane of Ooze is formed where the Planes of Earth and Water run up against each other. All mud and slime, a quivering ocher ocean of muck, there’s not a lot to immediately recommend this place to visitors. Little relieves the unending ocean of muck. Toward the plane of Earth, the mud grows drier, filled with abrasive grit, and toward Water it thins into rippling silt that a cutter can sometimes swim through. Drifting through it all are blocks of stone and puddles of clear water. This is a great place to pursue an escaping enemy–the chase can be slowed by all the muck and monsters.
Plane of Ash
Ash. Miles upon miles of choking ash that starts where the plane of Fire butts up against the Negative Energy Plane. Where the roiling elemental fires begin to die, the air grows thicker and ash begins to swirl. Creeping tendrils that start out little by little until you’re swimming in an ocean of ash, charcoal, and soot. Home to creatures infused with the smouldering energy of ash, this is a wasteland–a barren place of choking possibilities. This is a great plane for that wasteland/apocalyptic feel. Especially if your players have recently played Dark Souls 3…
Plane of Magma
A paraelemental plane formed where the plane of Fire meets the plane of Earth, the plane of Magma is a constantly churning river of molten rock that shifts and burbles as scabrous, hardening chunks of rock are swept back into the molten flow. Full of eruptions and inhospitability, fire-and-lava loving creatures make their home here, whether it’s near the plane of Fire where geysers of lava sprey into the air, or closer to the plane of Earth where pillars of solid rock float, borne away by the searing tide. If you want a place for a villain’s lair and a very cool showdown, this is as good as it gets.
Plane of Ice
This one feels like it should be in 5th Edition, given how many ice levels there seem to be. Whether frost giants or frost maidens, or ice caverns you can run across in any given book. This plane is equally dangerous and inhospitable, though it’s borne out of Wind and Water flushing up against each other. Depending on which edition you’re drawing from, the plane is endless winter, an iceberg bobbing atop the elemental plane of Water, or a spindly cylinder somewhere in the cosmos. Either way, you’ll need more than cold whether gear to survive here.
There are plenty of others to try. The plane of Smoke is woke, the plane of Dust is…well you’ll want your allergens. But even if you’re not using these as planes in and of themselves, they make for great locations that you can identify on the various planes. You could have the plane of Earth get more oozy as it gets nearer the plane of Water and find some interesting muck monsters or literal sunken locales–what’s old can be new again, so check them out today!