What are the planes like in the time of Starfinder


General Discussion


So a long time ago there was a thread on the official D20 modern forums about how the planes would be different in modern times. I am wondering the same thing about how the planes are different in Starfinder. Like do they have advanced technology, cities etc? I was thinking Hell might be like Oceania in 1984, since they seem like the epitome of LE. Also I imagine Axis would still be a city but be a lot bigger and more futuristic (think like Coruscant from Star Wars)


Well, the devils have found ways to turn some of their most powerful warriors into transforming Mecha, so at the very least they’ve been keeping up with the technology race.


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Planes like that don't have stages of technology, they just exist as they are. Beings from those particular planes take on appearances with arms and armor that are appropriate for the era. So an angel may be equipped with a rail gun in Starfinder, while the same angel would be equipped with a bow in a more medieval setting, for example.

This is paraphrasing what a dev said in an interview I saw some time ago.


I think that the planes evolve because creatures that die end up there, bringing their knowledge of technology and culture with them. I think that the afterlife is somewhat behind the technology curve because it has to wait for creatures to pass on in order to get the seeds of the ideas of new tech to grow into eternal concepts.

I see this as a potentially fun plot device; heaven, the abyss, and hell might all be at odds trying to find the soul of a mortal who created a powerful new weapon, or a new way to store energy, or whatnot.

Shadow Lodge

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Hell gets so many souls from end user license agreements that no one reads?


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On the other hand, it seems like the outer planes might get the really dangerous technology first, if the initial researchers get themselves killed while working on it.


I'm remembering a little tid bit in one of the books about colossal factories in hell, and azatas communicating on a great planar data network. Where was that?


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It's absurd to think the technology available to the outer planes has ever changed. Civilizations with technology more advanced than that in the Pact Worlds existed aeons before the Pathfinder/Starfinder timeline, and they sent their souls to the outerplanes (and were subject to interplanar trade) just as much as those in the present day. If outsiders aren't using high tech weapons when they interact with medieval societies it's not because they don't have access to it and haven't had access to it for a good fraction of a billion or more years.

The only significant thing about the Starfinder era is that the drift and resulting contact and technology dissemination means that low tech socities will start plunging as a percentage of active galaxy-wide civilizations. Of course, since the drift may be limited to the one galaxy, it's a tiny rounding error in the overall universe balance of souls and technological distribution.


Based on the outsiders shown so far, it seems like the outer planes have a similar level of tech as the Pact Worlds. Alien Archive has nanite inevitables, starship devils, and the barachius angels who try to prevent technology being used for evil (their entry also makes reference to hacker-devils).

As to why their tech seems to have advanced at the same rate as that of the Pact Worlds, the simplest answer is probably that Starfinder and Pathfinder have different genres. That said, it's possible that the outer planes work in such a way that a location in an outer plane maps to a location in the material plane. So if you die in the Pact Worlds, you end up in an area of whatever outer plane you end up on nearby other people from the Pact Worlds. This would help to explain, for example, why outsiders summoned in Pathfinder didn't have laser rifles and whatnot even though Androffans already existed back then. I'm sure there are some inconsistencies with that explanation though.


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i would make the planes thematically more advanced, but in practical terms, it's kind of a wash.

that being said, were i to ever be DMing a game where the planes were a thing, i'd make them ruins. The Drift is devouring them piece by piece, the Gap ruined their sense of permanence and timelessness, and magic is... different.

As such, going to even a place like Hell or Heaven in SF is a different experience than in PF. The great lords of the outer planes are no longer so assured of their ultimate power. Their continent spanning palaces are collapsing, their lieutenants vanish, and even their own number are not safe as their power dwindles and their realms shrink.


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Why exactly would the planes be falling apart? Yes Golarion is destroyed/missing but it's just one planet in a gigantic universe so I doubt it would be enough to effect the entire Great Beyond. Also does anyone else like my idea of making Hell like 1984? Particularly the city of Dis seems like it would be this way. Maybe have detect thoughts devices everywhere to make sure no one is thinking anything Dispater would disapprove of.


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Also, the Outer Planes aren't merely infinite, they are multiple different infinite planes. There is no meaningful textual support for the idea that the Drift is a cosmic armageddon. So it occasionally gobbles up a bubble of otherplanar real estate. You know what else does that? Every other plane in existence that shares a border with another plane.


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Metaphysician wrote:
Also, the Outer Planes aren't merely infinite, they are multiple different infinite planes. There is no meaningful textual support for the idea that the Drift is a cosmic armageddon. So it occasionally gobbles up a bubble of otherplanar real estate. You know what else does that? Every other plane in existence that shares a border with another plane.

Yes. You can run it that way. And there's no textual support for how I would run the Planes... but that's not as cool.

If the Drift is just gobbling up stuff and nobody cares, then what's the point?

But if it's gobbling up stuff, and that stuff matters? And it's visibly undermining the supernal world? That's AWESOME. The great palaces of the angels and devils are falling into ruin. The demons are wild beasts in a shrinking cage... etc. etc.


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Yakman wrote:

Yes. You can run it that way. And there's no textual support for how I would run the Planes... but that's not as cool.

If the Drift is just gobbling up stuff and nobody cares, then what's the point?

But if it's gobbling up stuff, and that stuff matters? And it's visibly undermining the supernal world? That's AWESOME. The great palaces of the angels and devils are falling into ruin. The demons are wild beasts in a shrinking cage... etc. etc.

But then you get questions about why none of the Gods seem to have a problem with the Drift. Like, if using the Drift was causing some kind of universal collapse, you'd expect the various Gods and Demons and their worshippers to be doing everything in their not inconsiderable power to suppress the usage of Drift drives.


If they had just let us overwrite the First World (it's not like they've used it for much in quite a while), we wouldn't have to scrounge up a new transitive plane out of whatever scrap is in arm's reach.


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Paladrone wrote:
Yakman wrote:

Yes. You can run it that way. And there's no textual support for how I would run the Planes... but that's not as cool.

If the Drift is just gobbling up stuff and nobody cares, then what's the point?

But if it's gobbling up stuff, and that stuff matters? And it's visibly undermining the supernal world? That's AWESOME. The great palaces of the angels and devils are falling into ruin. The demons are wild beasts in a shrinking cage... etc. etc.

But then you get questions about why none of the Gods seem to have a problem with the Drift. Like, if using the Drift was causing some kind of universal collapse, you'd expect the various Gods and Demons and their worshippers to be doing everything in their not inconsiderable power to suppress the usage of Drift drives.

that's an interesting conundrum. like the Gap. and the Drift itself. lots of unexplained things in Starfinder. ;-)


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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Hell gets so many souls from end user license agreements that no one reads?

I realize your joking but that actually sounds like a pretty cool idea for a adventure. Some new virtual reality game or the like comes out but the EULA has a line saying you agree to give your soul to (insert contract devil's name here). The players would have to kill the devil before he can claim all the people's souls.

Shadow Lodge

Now thinking that everyone should sell their soul to the church of pharasma for a credit just to make sure you don't accidentally trade it away with a click...


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At least one person would catch the soul trap, then spread the knowledge of it across the infospheres like wildfire. I've seen it happen in real life time and time again (someone finding something disagreeable in the fine print and letting as many other people know about it as possible).

Shadow Lodge

Ravingdork wrote:
At least one person would catch the soul trap, then spread the knowledge of it across the infospheres like wildfire. I've seen it happen in real life time and time again (someone finding something disagreeable in the fine print and letting as many other people know about it as possible).

Which is why hell spams such messages all the time till no one cares about them anymore


I imagine the planes are the source of ~50% of the galaxy's spam e-mail.

I was going to say lower planes, but the others probably send quite a few too.


Yakman wrote:
Paladrone wrote:
Yakman wrote:

Yes. You can run it that way. And there's no textual support for how I would run the Planes... but that's not as cool.

If the Drift is just gobbling up stuff and nobody cares, then what's the point?

But if it's gobbling up stuff, and that stuff matters? And it's visibly undermining the supernal world? That's AWESOME. The great palaces of the angels and devils are falling into ruin. The demons are wild beasts in a shrinking cage... etc. etc.

But then you get questions about why none of the Gods seem to have a problem with the Drift. Like, if using the Drift was causing some kind of universal collapse, you'd expect the various Gods and Demons and their worshippers to be doing everything in their not inconsiderable power to suppress the usage of Drift drives.
that's an interesting conundrum. like the Gap. and the Drift itself. lots of unexplained things in Starfinder. ;-)

Well the reason why is that in the grand scheme of things this is just another drop in the bucket. The outer planes have dealt with the constant erosion of existence for aeons now. The Maelstrom is constantly eating away at them and recycling that soul energy back into new souls, and they are constantly shoving more souls into the plane to make up for lost space. So really they have so much experience dealing with this i doubt it even pops up on their radar short of the occasional accident where someone notable gets yanked into the drift for a bit.


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Hazrond wrote:
Yakman wrote:
Paladrone wrote:
Yakman wrote:

Yes. You can run it that way. And there's no textual support for how I would run the Planes... but that's not as cool.

If the Drift is just gobbling up stuff and nobody cares, then what's the point?

But if it's gobbling up stuff, and that stuff matters? And it's visibly undermining the supernal world? That's AWESOME. The great palaces of the angels and devils are falling into ruin. The demons are wild beasts in a shrinking cage... etc. etc.

But then you get questions about why none of the Gods seem to have a problem with the Drift. Like, if using the Drift was causing some kind of universal collapse, you'd expect the various Gods and Demons and their worshippers to be doing everything in their not inconsiderable power to suppress the usage of Drift drives.
that's an interesting conundrum. like the Gap. and the Drift itself. lots of unexplained things in Starfinder. ;-)
Well the reason why is that in the grand scheme of things this is just another drop in the bucket. The outer planes have dealt with the constant erosion of existence for aeons now. The Maelstrom is constantly eating away at them and recycling that soul energy back into new souls, and they are constantly shoving more souls into the plane to make up for lost space. So really they have so much experience dealing with this i doubt it even pops up on their radar short of the occasional accident where someone notable gets yanked into the drift for a bit.

eh.

but that's not cool. ;-)

There was always, let's call it... erosion... of the Planes. But generally, this was counterbalanced by the generation of new "space" as the boundaries shift and fall away.

But now... well... there's a new game in the multiverse. And it's eating away not at the edges of the planes, but all over. Swallowing mountain tops of heaven, chewing away at layers of the Hells, ripping out whole cogs of Axis, etc. The Drift threatens the entirety of the once assumed transit of the Planes.

Turn the archons into techno-barbaric angels flying above post-apocalyptic heavenscape. Make the demons even more insane and angry as their home / cage shrinks and their food sources become ever more precious. Even the Horsemen tremble as their soul reservoirs vanish.


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I don't imagine there is much change going on in the plans. Technology exists to improve our lives and break our limits. What do beings made of magic need this for?

How does this jive with the technological outsiders in the Alien Archives? Simple, they've always been there. Or at least as long as mortals have had tech of that level. They just don't interact with less advanced cultures because they exist to interact with tech.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Now thinking that everyone should sell their soul to the church of pharasma for a credit just to make sure you don't accidentally trade it away with a click...

My new canon: the Church of Pharasma does exactly that, essentially, as part of the basic Pharasmin rites that nearly every sentient in existence participates in throughout civilization. Though its less of a purchase and more of a lien.

The effective result is that any claim by another party on an individual's soul is metaphysically dragged to supernatural court, as a contested spiritual claim. The judge, natch, is Pharasma. Thus, no deity or outsider can claim a person's soul without the agreement actually passing inspection by Pharasma. A legitimate bargain made in passable-faith with all the proper spiritual laws followed? Sure. Click-through soul contracts? Not so much.

( Well, or you can just grab someone's soul and take it, but that isn't a *legal* claim anymore, which opens you up to problems. Like the outer planar equivalent of bounty hunters come to kill your ass for breach of treaty, if you draw too much heat disproportionate to your own power. Mind, if your only "stealing" souls that would have probably gone to your plane anyway, nobody is likely to care overly. . . )


Yakman wrote:

eh.

but that's not cool. ;-)

There was always, let's call it... erosion... of the Planes. But generally, this was counterbalanced by the generation of new "space" as the boundaries shift and fall away.

But now... well... there's a new game in the multiverse. And it's eating away not at the edges of the planes, but all over. Swallowing mountain tops of heaven, chewing away at layers of the Hells, ripping out whole cogs of Axis, etc. The Drift threatens the entirety of the once...

But again, then you have to change the complete base assumptions of the entire campaign setting. Like, if using the Drift Super-Murdered the souls of the dead and was destabilizing the entire fabric of reality, only Evil people will be using it. Because it's one thing to use a drive that has a tiny chance of stranding some random Outsider in the drift and another thing entirely to use an engine that runs on the souls of the righteous and brings the end of all things.


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Paladrone wrote:
Yakman wrote:

eh.

but that's not cool. ;-)

There was always, let's call it... erosion... of the Planes. But generally, this was counterbalanced by the generation of new "space" as the boundaries shift and fall away.

But now... well... there's a new game in the multiverse. And it's eating away not at the edges of the planes, but all over. Swallowing mountain tops of heaven, chewing away at layers of the Hells, ripping out whole cogs of Axis, etc. The Drift threatens the entirety of the once...

But again, then you have to change the complete base assumptions of the entire campaign setting. Like, if using the Drift Super-Murdered the souls of the dead and was destabilizing the entire fabric of reality, only Evil people will be using it. Because it's one thing to use a drive that has a tiny chance of stranding some random Outsider in the drift and another thing entirely to use an engine that runs on the souls of the righteous and brings the end of all things.

it's not destabilizing reality. it's destabilizing the outer planes. which are kinda not real. so whatever.

we pollute in real life. we know that the actions we take are bad for the world and will ruin life on this planet. but we do it anyway. you aren't "evil" if you drive a car. no more than you are "evil" for using the Drift.

Shadow Lodge

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Perhaps the planes haven't changed at all, but mortals perceptions of them have.

Asmodueous has always had the ontological manifestation of binding contracts, but whether mortals see it as a stack of papers or an end user license agreement depends entirely on their perspective. Your brain just can't handle the pure being of a thing so it manifests to you as something you understand.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Perhaps the planes haven't changed at all, but mortals perceptions of them have.

Asmodueous has always had the ontological manifestation of binding contracts, but whether mortals see it as a stack of papers or an end user license agreement depends entirely on their perspective. Your brain just can't handle the pure being of a thing so it manifests to you as something you understand.

i like it.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

Perhaps the planes haven't changed at all, but mortals perceptions of them have.

Asmodueous has always had the ontological manifestation of binding contracts, but whether mortals see it as a stack of papers or an end user license agreement depends entirely on their perspective. Your brain just can't handle the pure being of a thing so it manifests to you as something you understand.

True enough. In the Ramayana, Rama (an avatar of Vishnu) kills 14,000 full hordes of demons in an hour. Really, what does it matter if he uses his bow or a Capitol-Class Unstable Particle Howitzer? The demons are still pretty dead.

The outer planes have always been about mortal perception. Back in the Planescape days, entire cities could be absorbed by one plane or another based on the balance of beliefs, and the afterlife for any individual can be based on their own subconscious beliefs.


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Yakman,

While I personally wouldn't run it that way, you're ideas are super cool.

----

I think that soul contracts still require a signature in blood, so no clickable souls sales for me.

----

I'm waiting for Paizo's take on the Outer Sphere. I hope I'm not waiting for years.


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RainOfSteel wrote:

Yakman,

I think that soul contracts still require a signature in blood, so no clickable souls sales for me.

"Insert Blood into a licenced Blood Port or use previous given blood through your PactPal(tm) account."


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In Pathfinder’s time, there are alien civilizations with most of Starfinder’s technology. (The exception is easy FTL; that’s new.)

If it was just a matter of having souls with the right information show up, daemons in Pathfinder would all be using much more efficient killing methods.

It’s all filtered by perceptions or culture or something, though. If a character from Pathfinder’s Golarion planeshifts to Heaven’s public-access city, they’re going to find lots of human visitors, some dwarves and elves, and so on, and probably a higher concentration of aasimar, but it’s not going to be vesk and sentient slugs. The advanced alien races of Pathfinder’s time don’t have azatas showing up with bows and arrows.


The cosmology is actually extremely inefficient at transferring mortal knowledge to the outer planes since 99.99% of being's memories are wiped before they arrive at their final destination. It wouldn't surprise me if most deities were too focused on Golarion to start figuring out tech from other locations. Maybe the planes only got off their butt when some adventurer showed up with a couple tanks.


Yakman wrote:
Hazrond wrote:
Yakman wrote:
Paladrone wrote:
Yakman wrote:

Yes. You can run it that way. And there's no textual support for how I would run the Planes... but that's not as cool.

If the Drift is just gobbling up stuff and nobody cares, then what's the point?

But if it's gobbling up stuff, and that stuff matters? And it's visibly undermining the supernal world? That's AWESOME. The great palaces of the angels and devils are falling into ruin. The demons are wild beasts in a shrinking cage... etc. etc.

But then you get questions about why none of the Gods seem to have a problem with the Drift. Like, if using the Drift was causing some kind of universal collapse, you'd expect the various Gods and Demons and their worshippers to be doing everything in their not inconsiderable power to suppress the usage of Drift drives.
that's an interesting conundrum. like the Gap. and the Drift itself. lots of unexplained things in Starfinder. ;-)
Well the reason why is that in the grand scheme of things this is just another drop in the bucket. The outer planes have dealt with the constant erosion of existence for aeons now. The Maelstrom is constantly eating away at them and recycling that soul energy back into new souls, and they are constantly shoving more souls into the plane to make up for lost space. So really they have so much experience dealing with this i doubt it even pops up on their radar short of the occasional accident where someone notable gets yanked into the drift for a bit.

eh.

but that's not cool. ;-)

There was always, let's call it... erosion... of the Planes. But generally, this was counterbalanced by the generation of new "space" as the boundaries shift and fall away.

But now... well... there's a new game in the multiverse. And it's eating away not at the edges of the planes, but all over. Swallowing mountain tops of heaven, chewing away at layers of the Hells, ripping out whole cogs of Axis, etc. The Drift threatens the entirety of the once...

Is it canon? No.

Is it a cool idea that will provide a lot of plot hooks for adventures? Yeah it is.

There are some fiddly edges to it, but really not all that many more than in canon Starfinder cosmology.

To address one of those ragged edges: The reason that the outer planes would care about the erosion of the planes now when they didn't before is because the effect is happening faster now. The previously existing sources of erosion are still in effect. Now the Drift is another source in addition to all of those.

For anyone who has taken differential equations in college, it would be like where a stable system has become imbalanced because of a change to the rates. Now no initial conditions are capable of trending to anything other than zero.


The Sideromancer wrote:
The cosmology is actually extremely inefficient at transferring mortal knowledge to the outer planes since 99.99% of being's memories are wiped before they arrive at their final destination. It wouldn't surprise me if most deities were too focused on Golarion to start figuring out tech from other locations. Maybe the planes only got off their butt when some adventurer showed up with a couple tanks.

Asmodeus, Lamashtu, and Pharasma definitely pull souls from across the galaxy and probably the universe. Asmodeus has more malebranche dedicated to invading mortal worlds than there are mortals on Golarion. He’s known about every mortal techno losing the first stone axe was invented.


Sure, they pull souls from everywhere, but that doesn't mean they're getting information from said souls. To my knowledge, no process exists to ask souls questions before they are wiped of their memories and sent off as petitioners.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Sure, they pull souls from everywhere, but that doesn't mean they're getting information from said souls. To my knowledge, no process exists to ask souls questions before they are wiped of their memories and sent off as petitioners.

They have outsiders devoted to observing and influencing the mortals who provide those souls. Asmodeus has military organizations headed by quasi-deities devoted to conquering every planet inhabited by mortals. Those organizations necessarily include intelligence departments who have more than a casual interest in the weapon technologies availble to the mortals to fight back.

And several dukes of hell are devoted to weapon/engine of destruction production. If devils on Golarion aren't using technological weapons against Golarion natives, it's not because they don't have entire legions armed with plamsa cannons, antimatter missiles, and gravity weapons standing by somewhere.

The celestial planes aren't just ignoring this stuff and hoping for the best when they get invaded.

Pharasma isn't hating on the undead and wanting her minions to do something about them without them noticing that there's an entire planet of them with supertechnology and learning about it.

A succubus seducing the technomancer emperor of a few star systems isn't restricted to only taking levels in rogue and bard.


Sorta going back to my original post and seeing everyone else's take on it. I'm not too fond of the idea that outer planes (abyss, heaven, hell etc.) are somehow perceived as underdeveloped medieval-esque civilizations, rather than being relatively abstract entities that are beyond mortal conceptions. The material plane constantly advancing on their own while the outer planes depend on mortal minds for their "advancement" doesn't really do it, for me.

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