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Dungeons & Dragons’ Elemental Inner Planes, Explained


The Material Plane of the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse is surrounded by the four Inner Planes, which are composed of air, earth, fire, and water.

The Dungeons & Dragons multiverse is composed of numerous planar realms that contain the building blocks of reality, as well as the afterlives that house the dead. D&D‘s four Inner Planes are also its elemental planes, which are needed to maintain the fabric of existence.

D&D campaign settings exist on the Material Plane, the universe’s equivalent of the “real,” natural world. The Material Plane shares its space with two other planes: the Feywild and Shadowfell. The Feywild is the home of faeries and similar magical beasts, who commonly interact with mortals. Shadowfell is an all-black-and-white plane with landscape that can easily be altered by the will of powerful spellcasters. These three are surrounded by the Ethereal Plane, a mist-filled realm that keeps them separated from the Inner Planes.

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It’s common for adventurers to visits places like the Feywild and Shadowfell, as they are similar enough to the Material Plane for humanoids to survive without magical protection. The same cannot be said for the inhospitable Inner Planes; adventurers will need to prepare to face some of the harshest environments imaginable if they have a need to visit one of the elemental realms.

D&D’s Elemental Planes

There are four Inner Planes: the Elemental Plane of Air, the Elemental Plane of Earth, the Elemental Plane of Fire, and the Elemental Plane of Water. The makeup of each differs depending on its proximity to the Material Plane. The closer an Inner Plane is to the Material Plane, the more familiar it will seem to adventurers.

It’s possible to find cities and humanoids in parts of the Inner Planes, and the fact that D&D‘s elementals can breed with humans means not all of their residents will seem strange. Each plane tends to house creatures associated with the elements, such as the golem-like Xorn of the Elemental Plane of Earth, as well as the elementals themselves. There are also incredibly powerful evil elementals that rule over others, like Imix of the Elemental Plane of Earth. These have appeared in several classic D&D adventures.

If players are brave enough to venture further out into the Inner Planes, things become less familiar. Each plane starts to resemble its purest form, making it harder to travel without powerful magical spells that protect the party from the environment. If a traveler goes far enough, they will reach the Elemental Chaos, where the boundaries of the Inner Planes start to break down – and where some truly alien monsters exist. Luckily, Dungeons & Dragons players rarely have need to venture this far from the Material Plane they call home.

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