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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Having recently decided to delve back into the depths of the D&D world (Dungeons and Dragons for the uneducated), I picked up two books I've been meaning to get for a long while now. These books, while not for the faint-hearted or easily confused are a must-have resource for any DM (ahem, Dungeon Master) seeking to add a little mayhem and interest to their campaign, and the second book is a must-have for any player trying to get by in such a world. The Manual of the Planes and Planar Handbook are fantastic read throughs and I highly suggest both of them regardless of whether or not you are into planar development at all.

Having really only just started the Manual of the Planes I've already encountered some awesome detail that I almost felt lost for not knowing earlier. I don't want to give anything away about the contents of the book (and if you're interested in them and don't want to purchase, I will gladly send you over a pdf copy of either or both books via AOL Instant Messenger should you e-mail me), but the first plane discussed is the Astral Plane. This plane acts as the gateway to many other planes, and even dimension doors that seemingly move players from the Material Plane to another plane, such as an elemental plane, briefly touch the Astral Plane. The book describes travel to the Astral Plane possible through a spell such as astral projection, giving the reader the idea that the physical form of the player cannot actually exist on the plane. But the Githyanki are native to the Astral Plane, and therefore it must be possible to physically travel to this plane. Keep this in mind.

Two of the main planar traits of the Astral Plane are No Gravity and Timeless. The first is self-explanatory and really just interesting and not what I want to discuss here anyway. The second trait is defined operationally as "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)." Thus, this would imply that metabolism does not run its course, but seemingly blood must still run in our veins and subjectively, the projection or physical body that exists on the plane still experiences "time" in a particular way simply because they can choose to "wait" via campaign commands. Also, time is implied to exist to some degree because combat is described in a later section, and as all us D&D freaks know, one round of combat is equivalent to six Material Plane seconds. It would appear then that time does exist to some degree subjectively because there are events and things that take place within the confines of certain amounts of "time", even on the Astral Plane.

Now taking these two things into account--the fact that one can truly physically manifest him/herself onto the Astral Plane and that time does seem to pass subjectively (although only implied via the text and assumed by me) because combat can exist, then consider this..

Velar, Cleric of Heironeous has recently been dealt a near-fatal blow on the Material Plane and begins bleeding the death from the subdual (physically-altering) damage he has sustained; a broken arm, some crushed ribs, and a cracked femur. He can still breathe but heavily, and is in an incredible amount of pain. He has expended all his spells per day and thus cannot heal himself. He is surviving on sheer will and his body has begun the healing process as is natual on the Material Plane. Suddenly, Velar is transported to the Astral Plane where he is manifested physically (because as we discussed this must be possible), where his body's metabolism shuts down due to the Timeless effect of the Astral Plane.

Does Velar bleed to death? Can Velar go into shock because of the subdual damage he has sustained and cannot heal because he has exhausted his spell reserves? (Because of the Timeless effect's removal of natural healing effects, only magical healing is possible.) Is his body still experiencing "time" in such a way that he still feels pain continually?

Under the circumstances that "time" is experienced only subjectively, and under the acursed assumption that the body cannot exist without the mind, then if it is possible for Velar to bleed to death, then "time" therefor must exist in the mind of the character. Velar can die then, not just be reduced below 0 HP, but die. If natural healing cannot occur and the body's metabolism cannot function normally to heal wounds, then is the opposite true as well instead? That Velar's body, while continuing to experience agonizing pain, cannot die because of the effect of Timelessness? So can the Astral Plane be a prison of pain for those suffering mortal wounds and subdual damage?

Honestly I dunno why I think about these things, but it's sort of interesting. Then again, so is anything that defies the laws of physics outright. It is difficult to comprehend because we are so accustomed to existing within our four dimensions, one of which is time.

Anyhow, I highly recommend these books to D&D fans if you don't already have them. Comments, questions, and requests for the book can be left, posted, or made via the comments section, the tag-board, or e-mail repectively. Have fun!

Grey (3:24 AM)

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