Mount Celestia

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In Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game, Mount Celestia or more fully, the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia, or even the Seven Heavens is a lawful good-aligned plane of existence. It is one of a number of alignment-based Outer Planes that form part of the standard Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) cosmology, used in the Planescape, Greyhawk and some editions of the Forgotten Realms campaign settings.

Contents

Publication history

The plane known as the Seven Heavens was mentioned for the first time by name in the article "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D", in The Dragon #8, released July 1977. In the article Gary Gygax describes the plane as one of the "Typical higher planes".[1] The plane was mentioned again in an appendix of the known planes of existence in the original (1st edition) AD&D Players Handbook, published in June 1978, where it was described as "The Seven Heavens of absolute lawful good".[2]

Description

Celestia is the ultimate in law and good. All aspects of Celestia are beautiful and perfect; it is where the souls of many creatures of lawful good alignment go to after death. It is home to numerous celestial creatures including various types of archons, the petitioners of this plane.

Structure

As an outer plane, Celestia is spatially infinite, further consisting of seven infinite layers (or sub-planes). The seven individual layers form a colossal (perhaps infinite) mountain that rises from an infinite sea of holy water on the bottommost layer, to the summit on the topmost layer. Ascending the mountain is analogous to travelling through subsequently higher or 'deeper' layers to the top. Each of the different layers consists of various beautiful mountainous environments becoming more breathtaking the higher the mountain is ascended. Celestia’s first (bottommost) layer shares borders with the neighbouring planes of the Peaceable Kingdoms of Arcadia and the Twin Paradises of Bytopia; travel is possible between Celestia and these planes at certain locations.

Inhabitants

While Mount Celestia is home to all manner of goodly and lawful beings including solars, dragons, phoenix, asuras and hollyphants, as well as the souls of the good petitioners of the planes, its native inhabitants are the varied race of archons. The archons and all of Celestia are ruled over by the members of the Celestial Hebdomad; the ruling council of heaven. The Hebdomad deal with all matters relating to their plane, including dealing with the archons below, the souls of petitioners, goodly and lawful inhabitants of other planes and the defense of the weak and good and all of Celestia itself. The Hebdomad is ruled over by Zaphkiel from the illuminated plane of Chronias, the only remaining member of the seven original martyrs whose souls created the Hebdomad eons ago.

Layers

Celestia consists of seven layers:

Lunia

Mercuria

Venya

Venya, the third layer, is also known as The Pearly Heaven. This layer is somewhat colder than the previous two and its slopes are often seen covered with a gentle layer of snow. Peaceful brooks and carefully terraced fields are common on Venya.

The Green Hills, a separate plane in the 3rd-Edition Forgotten Realms cosmology is located on Venya. It is a place of safety for the many halflings that live here; their crops always give plentiful harvests and there are no large predators to speak of. It is also home to the halfling deity Yondalla, and other members of the halfling pantheon (Arvoreen and Cyrrollalee).[3]

The Fields of Glory are the realm of Heironeous, the deity of justice and valor.

Erathaol the Seer, an incredibly handsome archon with subtle masculine features, governs Venya from his underwater library-fortress of Xiranthador. Within its pearl-lined halls are said to lie more tomes of knowledge than can be read in a thousand lifetimes.

Solania

Solania, the fourth layer, is also called The Crystal Heaven. Many valleys comprise Solania, covered with luminescent fogs and strange scents. The peaks are homes to numerous holy shrines, including monasteries and magnificent cathedrals. Many of the slopes are rich in precious ores and minerals and are mined by populations of dwarves that reside there.

A vast dwarven mansion called Erackinor is located on the slopes of Solania, where the dwarven deity Moradin makes his domain, with his wife Berronar Truesilver. Here exists the giant Soul Forges, that Moradin is said to use to temper the spirits of his people.

Solania is the location of a number of other godly realms, including the couatl deity Jazirian's realm of Uroboros, the Gates of Wisdom, Paladine's realm of The Dome of Creation, Chung Kuel's realm of The Ministry of Virtue, Kuan Yin's realm of The Lotus Garden.

Pistis Sophia, called the Ascetic due to her monk like tendencies, holds no abode but travels the misty hills of her layer, helping out all who greet her along the way.

Mertion

Mertion, The Platinum Heaven, is a layer of gentle slopes and wide plains. The many great citadels that dot the layer are the mustering grounds for forces of paladins and celestial creatures.

The City of Tempered Souls, Empyrea is located on the edge of a cold mountain lake. It is known to host many magical fountains with powerful healing properties, as well as many hospitals and expert healers.

Raziel, known to his peers as the Firestar for his judicious wrath, rules Mertion from Empyrea. As the patron of paladins and warriors, he holds no permanent fortress but can be found in any of the city's many hospitals and infirmaries, providing spiritual guidance and protection to the clerics and patients within.

Jovar

The sixth layer, Jovar, is The Glittering Heaven. Its hills are studded with precious gemstones that glitter in the light.

Yetsirah, The Heavenly City is a huge seven-layered ziggurat, with a large staircase on each face connecting the terraces of each layer. The stones that make up the city are made of precious gemstones, similar to those seen around the surrounding hills. On the topmost terrace is the bridge of al-Sihal, formed of pure light. Here lies the portal to the topmost layer of Celestia, Chronias; the bridge of sheer blinding light known as the Bridge of al-Sihal is guarded by one of the mightiest of the solar named Xerona who allows those who are righteous and good to pass.

Yetsirah and all of Jovar is ruled over by Sealtiel the Defender. Sealtiel commands one of the most impressive standing armies in the Heavens from his fortress of Pax Exaltea, and is charged with preventing impure beings from reaching the uppermost layer of Celestia.

Chronias

Chronias is the topmost and final layer of Celestia, also called The Illuminated Heaven. There is no real account or description of Chronias, as no entity that has entered has ever returned.

It is thought to be the ultimate goal of the inhabitants of Celestia to ascend the layers one by one in order to reach Chronias, where their souls will join with the essence of the plane itself.

If anyone can even be said to rule in Chronias, that being would be Zaphkiel. Zaphkiel is the mysterious ruler of the Hebdomad, and is the only one who has held his position since it was created; all other previous members having perished in combating fiends or gone on to join the essence of their planes. Zaphkiel embodies the "perfect good", and only the most righteous and exalted individuals can stand in his presence without being consumed. Zaphkiel is the patron of dead children and stillborn babies and watches over their spirits. Beyond this Zaphkiel's motivations and plans are unknowable, though it is known that he intends to make the planes as good as they can be, and only he can promote an archon into the Hebdomad.

Fauna

Fourth edition

In the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Mount Celestia is known as Celestia, the Radiant Throne. Celestia is the dominion of Bahamut, Kord, Moradin and their exarchs. Instead of a single mountain, Celestia takes the form of a "range of seven mountains that runs about 120 miles and reaches a height of 10 miles and is surrounded by a narrow sea."[4] The peaks, in ascending order, are Venya (the haunt of Kord), Solania (where Moradin keeps his forge), Mertion (Bahamut's dwelling), Jusor, Fulghen, Perantia and Chronias. The exalted of the three gods engage in a series of war exercises, the Game of Mountains."[5]

Historical influences

The Seven Heavens are loosely based on the Nine Spheres of Heaven (skipping the Seventh Sphere and combining the Eighth and Ninth) in Dante's The Divine Comedy, in the same way that the Nine Hells of Baator are based on his Nine Circles of Hell.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Gygax, Gary (1977-07). "Planes: The Concepts of Spatial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D". The Dragon #8 (TSR) I (8): 4. 
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-935696-01-6. 
  3. ^ Baker, Richard; Wyatt J. (2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5. 
  4. ^ Manual of the Planes (2008), page 91
  5. ^ The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea (2010)

References

Outer Planes
CelestiaBytopiaElysiumBeastlandsArborea
Arcadia↑Good↑Ysgard
Mechanus←LawfulOutlandsChaotic→Limbo
Acheron↓Evil↓Pandemonium
BaatorGehennaHadesCarceriAbyss