An Overview of the Outlands

The Outlands are known to the Clueless as the "Plane of Concordant Opposition". (Fact is, they get most of the planar names wrong, which is a sure way to mark a Prime.) Just one of many Outer Planes, the Outlands are still a unique place. For starters, it's got entrances to every other Outer Plane, making it a central clearing-house for all sorts of planar beings. And then of course, there's the Spire. A body'd have to be blind to miss that - it rises up out of the Outlands, infinitely tall, with the city of Sigil hovering over the top.
The Clueless figure that, being a plane of perfect neutrality, the Outlands have got to be the most boring place around. It's obvious they haven't spent time there, and they certainly haven't had to cool their heels in the Astral for too long - now that's boring! Sure, the Outlands don't have the burning pits of Baator, the howling madness of Pandemonium, or even the glowing mountain of Celestia. The Land's a little short on big, spectacular landscapes, but it ain't boring, berk.
It's because the plane's neutral that the place is so popular. Anyone with the means can come here - that's one of the properties of the plane. On most of the Great Ring, a power can't enter a plane that's not its home, but on the Outlands any power can come and go as it wants. That doesn't mean it can do anything it wants, though. Visiting powers respect the realms of those deities native to the Outlands, and they usually can't enter them without permission. Even petitioners from other planes can come here, though most of them are from the Upper Planes (the guards of the Lower Planes don't like their prizes getting loose).
Sigil stands at the very heart of the plane, balanced on a spire that disappears into nothingness above. This is important: There's no way to walk from the Outlands, or anywhere else for that matter, into Sigil. The Cage can be reached ONLY through the many doors that open onto its streets.
The realms of the Outlands lie mostly along the outer edges of the plane, close to portals that lead to the Great Ring. There are 13 known realms and there's rumors of more, though no blood's ever found them. Most of these realms are the domains of single powers, but a few are home to several related powers. Each realm adopts the character of its ruling power or powers.
The Outlands (sometimes just called the Land) are at the centre of all things, with gates leading to the other planes. A traveler headed for one of those planes just has to use the right gate. Of Course, creatures from the other side can come thought the gates too, so a berk's got to watch his step.
The gates see a lot of use in both directions, so folks figured it'd be a good idea to build towns around each one. These settlements are known as gate-towns. Funny thing about gate-towns though - they reflect the mood of whatever plane their gate leads to. For example, the poor sods in Bedlam are half-barmy (some would say more than half) just from living next to the gate to Pandemonium. Even the town itself can take on the mood of a plane, buildings and all.
Fact is, if the mindset of a town gets too morally and ethically aligned to its plane it'll get sucked through the gate. The whole burg just disappears from the Outlands and moves to the other plane. It the town of Excelsior gets too good and too lawful, for example, then it'll join the choir on Mount Celestia. What happens next depends on the town. For some places, another copy just pops right up out of nowhere taking the place of the original. Other towns though won't be copied. They'll have to be rebuilt by any cutter willing to life a hammer. In any case, when a town's sucked away the gate stays. It might be a bit worse for wear, but no one can really say for sure.
The gates work both ways though - if a town can go through it can come back out. Parts of the Outer Planes that don't measure up morally and ethically with the rest of their plane can break off and slide into the Outlands. For example, if a paladin built his home on Baator, it just wouldn't work. Sooner or later his place would drift back to the Land. This usually only happens to spots on the upper levels of the plane - the stuff lower down is pretty well anchored. Given the endless nature of the planes, such swapping backwards and forth is of little consequence (for the most part).
Besides the gate-towns, the Outlands have a good number of other spots a traveler should know about. Some are just small villages, but some are the realms of Powers who like the unaligned, free-wheeling nature of the Land. Of course, a truly evil Power setting up shop in the Outlands suffers the same problem as the gate-towns. That is, Loki could create a citadel on the Outlands and fill it with all kinds of evil sods only to have it slip back into his native plane. This means that most Powers of the Outlands are neutral, or, at least, amoral - beyond the ethical and moral definitions of most planars.

Travel in the Outlands

Between the gate-towns and other populated areas, the bulk of the Outlands is pretty much open, empty space. Here and there a traveler'll run into sharp-toothed mountains, rolling hills, windswept badlands, and forests of all kinds of vegetation. But these places've turned their backs on the "normal" rules for topography, geography and climate. Also, with chunks of the Land always breaking off or adding on, long-term structures like roads don't usually last too long. A body has to make it on his own.
But there's another way for folks who don't feel like walking: taking a gate from Sigil. The city's got a number of magical portals that lead to the gate-towns and some even go further, right into the Outer Planes. These gates are really handy, but the tend to move around. Smart cutters'll find themselves a local guide.
Those who do cross the Land on foot often complain it drives 'em barmy. Journeys take a random amount of time - as Outlanders say "it takes as long as it takes, no more, no less." A body can walk from Rigus to Ribcage in a few days, only to find the return trip takes several weeks. The Clueless usually think that riding a horse'll make the trip faster. Not so. It'll take the same amount of time, no matter how a body goes. Then again, sods who get lost in the Outlands might appreciate a horse to eat.
Time passes on the Outlands similarly to Sigil. There is no sun, no moon and no stars in the skies of the Land, but days do pass - the sky gradually lightens and brightens over the course of 12 hours and then gradually darkens into night, with the brightest part of the day roughly equivalent to midday and the darkest to midnight. The dark of this is cause for much speculation, but the likeliest explanation lies at the power of belief - if enough people expect the day to transpire ina given way it does.

Magic in the Outlands

.As far as the standard restrictions go, most planars call Sigil or the Outlands their home. This makes all those abjure, holy word, and protection from evil spells useless against the majority of planars found on the Outlands. It's a good thing too; otherwise, adventuring would be a pretty tough bet. Spells that use an ethereal pathway need keys before they'll work. Luckily for spellcasters, conjuration/summoning spells can call upon creatures from any Outer Plane or the Astral Plane, which is the biggest range of choices for any of the Outer Planes. It's true that all planes affect magic, but no plane works on it like the Outlands. Go to Mechanus and no matter where a cutter is, his spells might work differently, but they always work differently in the same way. On Mechanus, an illusion won't work, no matter what cog wheel a berk's standing on.

Rings Within the Ring

That ain't the case on the Outlands. Here, where a cutter stands makes all the difference. That's because the plane's divided into 10 layers, like the skins of an onion. See, as a body moves through each layer toward the center of the Outlands, more and more magical power is - well, neutralized - until at the very center there's none left. (Of course, that's where Sigil is, and it promptly breaks all those rules.) None of the layers are of equal thickness, and there's no defined borders, so the only way a cutter knows what layer she's standing in is by casting a spell and seeing it fly or fail.
The outermost layer of the onion is also the thickest. This is where most of the realms are found. Most of the gates, portals, and conduits to the Great Ring spill into this layer. Out here, there's generally no special restrictions on spells beyond the standards. The exception to this set of rules is the gate-towns, the settlements that form around each portal to the Great Ring. In some of these, a little of the magical effect from the nearby plane leaks over and creates special conditions, either enhancing or diminishing a certain school of magic. Not every gate-town is affected, though, so a cutter's wise to ask around before he gets in trouble.
In the second layer from the outside, the power of magic is diminished so that 9th-level spells don't function, including spell-like abilities of creatures. Note that this does not apply to any of the powers. Of Course, while this is bad news for wizards, it don't mean a thing to priests. A side effect of this notion is that the layer is home to several powers who are apathetic to wizards, like those in the Dwarven Mountain. Now, a wizard on the second layer doesn't forget his 9th-level spells, they just don't work when he tries to cast them. As mentioned, there's no warning or signal when this happens, no borderline on the ground or signs to mark the ring, so a cutter's got to keep track of just where he is or there might be a nasty surprise.
In the third layer, 8th-level spells (and spell-like abilities) are shut down. This and all the following effects are cumulative, so on this ring both 8th- and 9th-level spells are affected, and so on. The abilities of powers aren't harmed in this circle, either. Because all this still doesn't mean a thing to priests, this layer's also got realms of powers that are either hostile or indifferent to wizards.
At the fourth layer from the outside, 7th-level spells (and spell-like abilities) cease to function. Now priest spells are affected, so there's very few realms here. Not too many of the powers are indifferent to priests, but a few that are might make their homes here.
At the fifth layer, 6th-level spells (and spell-like abilities) fail. In addition, illusion/phantasm spells are obvious for that they are unless a cutter has the right key to give them force. Level-draining powers also fail at this ring.
At the sixth layer from the outside, 5th-level spell (and spell-like abilities) fail. Poisons are also rendered inert here. Folks dying of poison are sometimes gated here as a quick way to stop the damaging effects since even poison in a body is affected.
At the seventh layer, 4th-level spells (and spell-like abilities) fail. Conduits from the Great Ring can't reach this ring, although there are still doorways to and from Sigil. Getting to this layer is mostly done through the Cage, since few folks want to take the time to hike from the sixth to the seventh ring. The powers of demi-gods are suppressed here. Demipowers still retain their defensive powers - any regeneration, magic resistance, or protections - but all spell-like offensive powers are lost.
At the eighth layer, 3rd level spells (and spell-like abilities) are left impotent. Almost as important, spells and spell-like abilities (including those of all powers) that require an Astral connection fail - nothing can be conjured or summoned to this portion of the plane. Here also, the powers of lesser deities are suppressed like a demigod's in the seventh layer. There are no realms from this point in, but the ring's a popular place for parleys. A power can walk amoung rivals here and still feel protected, especially since his enemy can't summon reinforcements for an ambush.
At the ninth later, 2nd-level spells (and spell-like abilities) no longer function. Even more importantly, the offensive powers of intermediate gods are held in check. At this ring, high level parleys are held.
At the center of the Outlands, around the base of the spire that supports Sigil, is the ultimate negation of power. No magic or godly faculties of any type work here. This is the ultimate in meeting grounds, for here everyone, no matter how powerful, is rendered equal. It's rarely visited, for only the most pressing business can force the greater gods to parley here. Reaching the center requires a tedious overland journey from the edge of the seventh ring, since all Astral connections are severed inside. this radius.
And then there's Sigil. Sitting at the tip of the spire, it's a different world. Spells in the Cage work as if a cutter was on the outermost ring of the plane. Some bloods argue it's because Sigil's in a separate little demiplane that is linked only geographically to the Outlands. Others say it sits at the confluence of energies from the plane. Most folks don't care. All they know is that magic works in the City of Doors.

Petitoners of the Outlands

Every plane's got its quirks, and these show up fairly obviously in its petitioners. The miserable wretches of Gehenna don't know charity, while the fervent of Arcadia are fanatic in their pursuit of evil. Meanwhile, the petitioners of Ysgard madly battle each other for glory every day. Though there are far fewer petitioners of the Outlands (it's not in most mortals' nature to be truly neutral), they reflect their home plane, too. Their lives are the balance, the fulcrum between good and evil, law and chaos.
Some folks think Outlander petitioners would naturally refuse to take sides in any dispute, but that's not the case. The petitioners of the Outlands don't mind getting involved at all - in fact, the problem is keeping them from getting too involved. Here's the chant: Ask a petitioner of the Outlands to do one thing and he does two. If he gives you advice, he's just as likely to advise your enemy. See, the petitioners there have this feeling that every action they take affecting the balance of good and evil (or law and chaos) must be offset by an equal action to the opposite side. Being dutiful petitioners, that's just what they try to do.
So, a basher's got to wonder just what this means. Suppose a petitioner gives directions to Plague-Mort. Does that mean he's got to find somebody and give them directions to Glorium, just to balance things out? No, there's no law, chaos, good, or evil inherent in giving directions. However, if an Outlander petitioner smuggles a body away from the hunting fiends of Plague-Mort - a good act by most standards - then he's going to feel compelled to fix the balance. That same petitioner might raise the alarm as soon as the sod's out of town, or he might betray the next berk that's hunted by the fiends. A petitioner's balancing doesn't have to be done immediately. Pure fact is, most of them carry little tallies of their deeds, sometimes in their heads and sometimes in little books.
What's this mean for a cutter who's got to deal with such folk? Well, most planars try not to ask too much of an Outlander petitioner; a body never knows when he's going to tip the balance, after all. When that cutter asks for something he knows is good, evil, lawful, or chaotic, he's a wise one to expect some kind of backfire. If he hires an Outlander petitioner-mercenary to help him raid the Fated's headquarters in Sigil, he's a leatherhead to expect the merc to sneak in quiet. The petitioner's more likely to bellow out their arrival -just to balance things out between the two groups. 'Course, the petitioner might not do anything now and balance accounts out at some other time, with some other person. Or, he might be balancing the scales now - a body never knows for sure. How they decide when to fix the balance is something no blood's ever figured out. Ask a petitioner and he can't or won't tell, either. Folks in Sigil figure the Outlanders just like to torment others, keeping them on hooks - will they act this time or won't they? It might be true, as more than enough berks get burned up with the suspense.
This business leads to other surprises from the Outlanders. Sometimes they do things that seem like downright meanness, like lying or hurting a body for no visible reason. Ask them about it and they're just "paying back the balance." Of course, other times they'll do things that, if a body didn't know better, would just be barmy generosity. An Outlander might suddenly offer advice, give information, or cut his prices without explanation. Fact is, it's all done from the balance book they make, and folks who make the Outlands their home just get used to it.

A Quick Tour of the Gate-towns

What follows is a quick "birs-eye view of the 16 gate-towns that lay around the "edge" of th Outlands. Each is discussed in more detail in it's relevant page, but no discussion of the Outlands would be complete without a quick mention of these vitally important towns.

Automata
Estimated population: 10,000
Gate-town to the plane of Mechanus, the plane of ultimate law and home to the modrons, Automata is the most perfect and ordered burg in the Outlands, seeming more like a machine than a living place. Inside its rectangular walls the city's laid out as clean as a cartographer's study.
The town's a perfect grid; it'd take a leatherhead to get lost here.The buildings look like they were stamped by the same hand, and places are made different only where needed (for example, a stable has larger entrances than a tavern). Building's rise one to four stories, but each story's always twelve feet tall and carved of the same shining, gray-red stone. Bits of colour in a sign or awning liven the place up a bit, but that's all got to be cleared by the Council of Order.

Bedlam
Estimated population: 50,000
Some towns in the Outlands have good parts and bad parts. Bedlam on the other hand, has bad parts and worse parts. It's spread out like a giant fan from against the side of Maurash, a hill of volcanic stone and residue. At the bottom of the hill (the base of the fan) is the Gate to Pandemonium, and from there eight worn roads spread outward and run like spires up the slope.
The worst of it is at the bottom of the hill. That area pays the music for being so close to the gate - it's strangled by chaos from the plane beyond. Here, kips and shops of every architectural style jam together at can't-be angle, with little regard for their neighbours. Throw in some strangely-curved walls and corners that seem to alter space itself, and you've got the kind of place that makes a berk look twice.
Head uphill though and the place starts to take a saner turn - the roads get a bit more workable, the buildings a touch more steady. The really top-shelf quarters (top-shelf for Bedlam anyway) are found near the top of the hill in what's called the Citadel district.

Curst
Estimated population: 15,000
Curst is a near-circular walled city, with the Gate to Carceri right at the centre of town. Four main streets lead straight out from the gate to exits in the wall. Like ripples from a stone dropped pool, the five roads spread out from the centre of town, each one larger than the last.
In the middle of town, a body'll find government offices, the treasury, and the jail, in addition to the gate. This area's called the Gate Square by locals, and it's surrounded by the first ring road. Beyond the first ring are the homes in Curst, built for folks with the most jink in their pockets.
Beyond the second ring are the merchants and warehouses, beyond the third are craftsmen and their workshops, and beyond the fourth are the stables, taverns, and kips of labouring sods. Beyond the fifth ring road is the wall around the city.
The inside of the wall's covered with razorvine and patrolled by the Wall Watch. The bashers of the Watch don't seem to worry about letting visitors into Curst, but they cast a peery eye on any berk trying to leave. Unless they see proof of immediate business elsewhere, the standing order is to keep folks in - an order that's backed up by the razorvine.

Ecstasy
Estimated population: 25,000
The first thing visitors notice about Ecstasy is the plinths. Fact is, Ecstasy's known as the "City of Plinths", because the landscape's dotted with them - tall monoliths made of stone or iron. Something the Clueless might not notice is all the bodies on top of the plinths. These cutters are petitioners of Elysium, who sometimes sit up on a plinth for days, just contemplating the multiverse.
The rest of the town is pretty much like the petitioners, with no one in a great hurry to do anything. Ecstasy's a pastoral community where bodies have all they need, a town of plenty and peace. Most of the trouble comes from outsiders, and a true native of Ecstasy defines an "outsider" as "any berk who got here after I did."
As a town, Ecstasy's a sprawling, open place, with large manors and buildings grouped around the major crossroads. Gardens, orchards, and other greenery make up the rest, and, of course, the plinths are everywhere. It's a mixed pot of styles and forms, but most visitors find the end result somehow very pleasing.

Excelsior
Estimated population: 25,000 (including the picket keeps)
When a prime talks about a city where the streets are paved with gold, he's usually flapping his bone-box over nothing. But when a planar talks about a place like that, chances are he's talking about Excelsior, gate-town to Mount Celestia. Here, the town and streets are made of a yellow brick mixed with flecks of enchanted silver and steel - the whole place literally glows. It's a rich, ambient light, strong enough the read by in the evening, but not so strong that travelers can't find some sleep at a kip. The buildings feel warm all the time, too, so the only fires need are for cooking only.
The town's not walled off - it don't need to be. Anywhere from three to a dozen floating castles (called picket keeps) circle Excelsior like moons. Each keep's the home of a paladin lord and his retinue, and these cutters protect the town. Every few decade, a keep lands at the edge of town and stays.

Faunel
Estimated population: 1,000 or so humanoids, and probably twice as many other creatures.
Picture a great human city made of stone. Now, picture it in ruins, with crumbling and broken buildings, cracked fountains that spill old water, and cathedrals split in half by trees. Nothing but wreckage, tied up in knots of vines and vegetation like a meal splattered in a spiders web. The air's always hot and wet, and heavy downpours seem to come out of nowhere, followed by rainbows (or moonbows at night).
Now, picture the ruins inhabited by humanoids, animals and planar creatures. That's Faunel, gateway to The Beastlands - a broken city, full of life. Those who need structures to survive build with the old stone, but most bodies just form tents out of multi-coloured tarps. The colours and markings of the tarps are unique, so a cutter can pretty much find her way around town, but it ain't always easy to pick a path through the mixture of clutter and vines.
Legend tells that the ruins actually came from prime material worlds. Chunks of abandoned cities are said to fall into the Outlands and become just another wreck in Faunel. True or not, there's plenty of chant that hints at gates to many prime worlds in the town's debris.

Fortitude
Estimated population: 5,000
Some planars call Fortitude "The Egg," because the town sits inside a wall that curves to make a perfect oval. Near one end is the Gate to Arcadia, and near the other is a large stadium called the Confessional. The two man entrances to the city are at either end, but plenty of smaller entryways dot the whole length of the town.
The streets of Fortitude are broad boulevards, spanning beautiful parks and orchards. Fact is, a good half of the land's filled with groves, parks and fountains, and the other half with buildings. The blocks are all clean and well kept, each offering a body a good mix of different shops. Most buildings in this version of Fortitude have first stories of stone and upper floors of wood and mud, topped off by thatched roofs.

Glorium
Estimated population: 300
Natives of Sigil tend to think of any city smaller than theirs as being a "burg", which makes Glorium a burg by most planar standards. It's an assortment of longhouses and worksheds tucked along the shores of a deep fjord, with mountains on each side that seem to rise half as high as the spire itself. There's a single perilous path down through the cliffs, but most cutters prefer to sail into Glorium by sea.
There are actually two different gates leading into Ysgard in Glorium. The first is a maelstrom found at the mouth of the fjord, large enough for a ship to sail into the chaotic realms of the plane. This entrance, called Watergate, reveals itself twice a day. The gate is an entrance to fabled Yggdrasil itself, found in the mountains above town.
The town's got a temporary look to it, more like a winter camp of wandering raiders than a permanent settlement. That suits the locals just fine, since they don't really want that many visitors.

Hopeless
Estimated population: 20,000
The best thins about Hopeless is that it's easy for a body to find her way around. It's a walled city with just one entrance, and that entrance a single road spirals down into a deep pit, ending in a courtyard at the bottom where the Gate to the Grey Waste rests. A traveler can always tell that she's reached Hopeless too - the entrance gate is a screaming human face carved in red stone, its eyes blank and blind, red tears cut by erosion running down its cheeks.
That red stone of the Screaming Gate (as it's called by the locals) is the only bright colour in the whole town. The rest of Hopeless is built of gray stone and gray, weathered wood that becomes gloomier the farther a body goes beneath ground level.

Plague-Mort
Estimated population: 20,000
Plague-Mort is an Outlander town that demonstrates a basic rule of the Abyss - the strongest bashers thrive and so as they see fit with the weak. In this case, though, the weak make up most of the town. Plague-Mort's as bundle of shacks, kips and ruins clustered about the walls of a shining, silver-steel keep. In the keep sits the Arch-Lector, who rules the city with an iron fist. Outside the keep is the rest of the burg, with temples, residences, and merchant districts left to fend for themselves. As a result, most of the town is gray, wrecked and abandoned.
The Arch-Lector's keep though, is a grand, ornate building. It's roof shines with metallic tiles, and its eaves are dotted with gargoyles, real and otherwise. Razorvine and bloodthorns cover the keep's walls to make sure that oursiders stay out, protecting the many archways about the keep walls, one of which hides the Gate to the Abyss.

Ribcage
Estimated population: 35,000
The Vale of the Spine is a towering ridge of mountains that starts near the plane of Baator and creeps spireward almost to the river Ma'at. A smaller spur of the mountain range separates for a brief space into two parallel ridges, forming a tight valley between them. The narrow peaks of each ridge curve inward, looming over the valley like the ribs of some insanely huge (and thankfully dead) beast.
The town of Ribcage is tucked neatly into this space, filling it entirely. The natives have walled up the gaps between the mountains, so travelers on foot have to use the large iron gates at each end of the valley. Once inside, visitors'll find that the town's full of towers and private keeps. Most houses are built of shiny black or smooth gray stone, and high-ups with wealth and power show off by covering their cases in ornate decorations. The brick roads of Ribcage are the color of fresh blood.
The most impressive place in town in the Citadel, the home of Quentill Paracs, the Lord of Ribcage. It's a self-contained city within a city. The walls are carved from solid blocks of obsidian and ebony, and its steel portcullis is laved with strange and exotic items. Any berk who catches a gander at the Citadel knows who runs this burg.

Rigus
Estimated population: 20,000
Rigus is a huge, permanent military encampment, rising wall upon wall and battlement upon battlement to dominate this part of the Land. The camp's divided into seven stacked rings, each built all the way around a great hill. The largest ring's set around the bottom of the hill, and the smallest (called the Crown) is set at the top. The Gate to Acheron is far below the surface with a stairway in the Crown will lead a body straight to it. Octagonal walls of iron separate each ring from the others; a wall surrounds the bottom ring too, to block Rigus off from the rest of the Outlands. Travelers can use a gate in the bottom wall, but watch it - the wall's been treated with mild poisons to keep rust monsters (and some say all visitors) at bay.

Sylvania
Estimated population: 1,000
Travelers who get the yawn from more peaceful spots like Ecstasy will find this burg a little more bone-rattling. It may not have a huge population for a gate-town, but Sylvania's known as a non-stop party. The natives revel night and day in a constant beat of drums and drinking songs, Olympian dirges and elven ballads, and the hoarse shouts of petitioners, planars, and primes. Here, sensual delights swirl and blend, and a cutter'd swear she could taste the drumbeats or see the meaty smell of cooking flesh.
It's easy for a berk to get lost here, especially if she's been bubbing it up at a tavern or three. Sylvania's shaped like a rough circle, but the whole town's full of curved, winding streets that meet and cross at odd angles. Buildings in Sylvania are just as barmy, a hodge-podge of stones and styles. Lots of them are shaped like animals, ships, or human faces, and of 'em even move. Cogs and waterwheels turn, whole buildings revolve in place, and houses sometimes fold in on themselves, creating brand new structures.
For travelers who like their flora large, Sylvania's got some of the wildest greens in the Land: huge plants and trees that swallow up entire blocks. Elves like to make their homes in the shadows and branches.
Sylvania is surrounded by woods, and somewhere in those woods is the Gate to Arborea.

Torch
Estimated population: 17,000
Torch is built upon the slopes of a set of volcanic spires formed from hardened molten rock. Around the spires is a blood-red march, which often floods into the lower parts of town, bringing pestilence, death, plague, boils and killer frogs. As a result, the high-up cutters in Torch are just that - the ones who live furthest up the slopes, away from the marsh.
But, as the locals say, "Trouble below, trouble above". Some of the spires are still active, and they continually spit out lava and gases that ignite upon exposure to the air. The light from these constant flames gives the town its name and keeps it bright day and night. Fact is, Torch never truly sleeps, but instead is busy around the clock. (Besides, a body'd have a hard time dozing comfortably with fire over his head and frogs at his feet).
Torch offers travelers the Gate to Gehenna, but it sure don't make it easy for them. The gate looks like a blood-red eye or carnelian hovering in midair, a hundred feet or so off the ground.

Tradegate
Estimated population: 20,000
Tradegate, home of the Gate to Bytopia, is a city if commerce, a swirling hive of activity, with old structures constantly being knocked down and new ones put up in their places. Of Course, the new stuffs just like the old, but the natives don't seem to mind.
The burg's a walled city of grayish stone, shaped like a star, with a great open plaza in the middle.The plaza's known as the grand bazaar, the centre of trade in this part of the Outlands. It's a sprawling collection of booths and stands, built on a checkerboard pattern of gold and purple tiles. Buyers come all the way from Torch and Curst to poke through the goods, and there's always a crowd.
Even primes who've done some gate-hopping in their day might have a tricky time with the Gate to Bytopia. The gate's actually a creature named Master Trader, a large Bariaur with ornate, curved horns. He wanders the forests near town, sometimes straying as far spireward as Tir na Og, and a body gets to Bytopia by making a successful trade with him.

Xaos
Estimated population: 1,000. No, 2,000...err...40,000? Probably 5.
So close to the plane of ultimate chaos, Xaos (KAY-oss) is a town gone mad. The whole place is in a constant state of flux, awash in the power of elemental chaos. The only thing a berk can count on is that he can't count on anything (and sometimes he can't even count on that). No map or mapper can nail Xaos (SACK-so) down. Fact is, a body's mind just can't tumble to how reality swirls and rearranges itself in this place. Even the name of the town changes from time to time, the letters jostling about randomly in search of a new identity.
The region surrounding Xaos (AX-os) is a mess of rocks, swamps, pits, fields - every kind of terrain and climate, really, all lit by rainbows of light. To get to the town, a cutter's just got to plunge into the most frightening and mind-warping area. Next thing he knows, he'll be there (like it or not).
The Gate to Limbo changes along with Xaos (AY-socks). One minute it's a small blue pyramid in the palm of an iron statue, the next it's a glowing ball of exhausted spirits drifting through the market place. But, no matter what it looks like, for some reason a body can always mark it as the Gate to Limbo.

Realms in the Outlands

The realms of the Outlands lie mostly along the outer edges of the plane, close to portals that lead to the Great Ring. There are 13 known realms and there's rumors of more, though no blood's ever found them. Most of these realms are the domains of single powers, but a few are home to several related powers. Each realm adopts the character of its ruling power or powers. The most significant or best-known ones are described below

Tir Na Og
"The Land of Youth" is the largest of the realms in the Land, and home to most powers of the Celtic pantheon: Daghdha, Diancecht, Goibhniu, Lugh, Manannan rnac Lir, Morrigan, and Oghma. The realm is divided into lesser areas, where particular powers are dominant. For instance, Mag mell (Field of Happiness) is the domain of Daghdha. Here the woods are lush and well tended, intermixed with fields of oats, wheat, and barley. Orchards of apples and sloes seem to grow with haphazard neatness. There are no cities in Tir na Og, only villages and lone homesteads. The petitioners there live in rural contentment, supporting themselves mainly through hunting, farming and weaving.
In another part of the realm are the workshops of Goibhniu, built at the bases of exposed hills. Far distant is Tir fo Thuinn, the Land Under the Waves. This is the domain of Manannan mac Lir. On the surface there is nothing, but below the waves is an entire kingdom peopled by petitioners who farm, herd, and labor as if they were on the surface.

The Norns
This realm can be reached only by crossing a wilderness more savage than most. It's a tiny realm, but one that possesses great power. Here the Norns of Norse lore huddle among the roots of the planespanning Yggdrasil. The canopy is so thick that the realm's like a great cavern. The few petitioners here are unhappy shades waiting to hear from the Norns. These powers huddle round the Well of Urd to read the fates of men and gods. Sometimes a prime or a planar'll consult them, but it's bad business to learn one's future before it's time.

Sheela Peryroyl's Realm
This area is small; indeed, everything about it is undersized, as befits a power of the halflings. There are no cities or towns here, only a single, extensive orchard and a large halfling farm, partially above ground, but mostly below. The petitioners here are all halflings, tending the great orchard and farm.

The Dwarven Mountain
So named for the breed of its petitioners and its powers, this realm lies under the influence of Dugmaren Brightmantle, Dumathoin, and Vergadain. The whole realm takes the form of a gigantic rocky mountain. The powers take no interest in the mountain's surface, so there are random petitioner and planar settlements on its slope that have little to do with the realm. Inside, the mountain is honeycombed with caverns. Those nearest the peak are the domain of Vergadain, which is notorious for its gaming halls and rumored treasure houses, as befits a god of luck and wealth. Further down is the domain of Dugmaren. There, the caverns are a wild disarray of furnaces, forges, smelters, villages, and libraries filled with esoteric tomes on metallurgy and other iron crafts. The deepest part of the realm is claimed by Dumathoin. This area is nothing but cold caverns and mines coiling around great veins of ore. It is rumored that the petitioners of this domain spend their days and nights secretly singing the chants that cause the veins to swell and grow. Very little is actually smelted, for the petitioners here prize metal only in its natural state.
The petitioners here are all dwarves, if a sod couldn't guess, although there's more than a few run-ins with folks from the realms of Gzemnid Ilsensine,and others on the surface.

Semuanya's Bog
The far shore of Tir fo Thuinn barely rises above the plane's equivalent of sea level, becoming a nest for lizard men and other bog lovers. The petitioners found here are truly unique: lizard men, all. It's a mostly deserted realm, although some independent-minded planars, including more than one desperate outlaw, have set their kip here.

Gzemnid and Ilsensine's Realm
No blood knows if these two powers share one realm or if they just lack the imagination to make their realms different. Both rule over caverns that run deeper than even the dwarf realm, and all the tunnels merge together. Things foul and dangerous are supposed to stalk the halls, and most bashers figure there's secret portals to the Lower Planes here. Certainly, the darker fiends of the Lower Planes take residence in these realms when business brings them to the Outlands.
Gzemnid's realm is a dangerous and deadly maze. Illusions, distortions, and subtle charms predominate here to match the beholder god's nature. There's no settlements - a petitioner's got to go it on his own, setting up his own nest somewhere in the passages. The petitioners themselves are an unpleasant lot: a few beholders and a goodly number of thieves. They're willing to make deals, but they're always on the watch for their own rewards.
Ilsensine's realm is the more dangerous of the two. The illithid god exists here only because it conspires against Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos alike. Planar adventurers don't like to go here because the place pulses with a mind-wracking drone that burns in a basher's head. Nor are they welcome, since the ruling power prefers those whom it can control. Still, it's said that here a cutter can learn nearly anything that transpires on another plane - if he can stay sane long enough to find Ilsensine and ask the question. It's quite possible that Ilsensine maintains realms on other planes, or that it's a god-brain whose neurons flow to the other planes, much like the roots of Yggdrasil.

The Palace of Judgement
This realm is a single massive palace, along with its appropriate bureaucracies, granaries, stables, and side-palaces. The entire realm is enclosed in a wall of red brick, patrolled by vigilant petitioners. This is the realm of Yen-Wang-Yeh, judge of the Ten Law Courts and king of the Eighteen Hells. Here, all those petitioners under the sway of the Celestial Bureaucracy are received, judged, and consigned to their appropriate planes and realms.
The Palace of Judgment's a unique case. There's conduits there to every realm of the Celestial Bureaucracy (the pantheon of high-ups who call themselves Chinese): Acheron, Gehenna, Mechanus, Mount Celestia, and the Prime Material Plane are just a few. These pipes are used to shoot petitioners along to their justly deserved places (so figure the ones to the Lower Planes get used a bit more than those to the Upper Planes). Therefore, the petitioners there aren't only petitioners of the Outlands. If any newly dead sod falls under the Celestial Bureaucracy's purview, then he's got to come here first, so there's petitioners destined for every plane walking around the Palace. Those that're judged and assigned to be kept on the Outlands usually wind up as clerks and petty bureaucrats for the whole operation. The Palace is big, too. The chant is there's 9,001 rooms behind its walls. Probably the only being who knows for sure is Yen-Wang-Yeh himself.

Tvashtri's Laboratory
This realm borders the Dwarven Mountain. A cutter might even mistake it for part of Dugmaren Brightmantle's domain. It looks like an endless workshop filled with columns, pipes, catwalks, brightly polished devices of all types, and near-endless book stacks that disappear into darkness. Libraries are jammed next to armories, forges next to kitchens. It's the realm of Tvashtri, god of artifice and science. Here, the petitioners spend their days inventing and building. Most are human, but there's a good number of gnomes hard at work, too. It's the place to go for the best gear a cutter could need, although some say the magic's better in Tir na Og or the Dwarven Mountain.

Thoth's Estate
Thoth's realm is a big one. It's a collection of several villages and towns that dot the banks of the Ma'at, that rises out of Semuanya's Bog and flows through Thoth's realm. A basher's got to watch out for crocodiles and crocodile-like creatures here. At the center of the realm is Thebestys, the great city of Thoth, and at its center is the Great Library. A cutter is supposed to be able to find the answer to anything here, if he can just find the right scroll. The petitioners are a normal lot, living ordinary lives along the river.

The Hidden Realm
It's a laugh to say this realm's well known, since no sod can ever seem to find it. Most bloods figure it's really a demiplane somehow attached to the Outlands. By report, it's the home of the giant deity, Annam. Most tale tellers say it's a completely barren mountain with a single crystal tower at the top. That's where Annam sits, surrounded by a thousand-piece orrery of the multiverse that spins in perfect time, all around him. The way they tell it, he's a lonely, sad god, but that may just be dressing for the sake of the story.

The Mausoleum of Chronepsis
This realm is a compact one, as it's got no petitioners and only one inhabitant - Chronepsis, the dragon god of fate. His realm is a great cavern in the mountains near the Dwarven Mountain. Here he rests, surrounded by hourglasses that slowly dribble out the sands of life for every dragon and dragon-kin of the multiverse.

The Court of Light
This is the realm of Shekinester, the naga goddess. It's relatively close to the Palace of Judgment. Her petitioners are nagas of all types, although the worst and best wind up on other planes. Only a leatherhead comes here, as old Shekinester's an unpredictable power. A cutter never knows just what aspect her realm's going to reflect - Weaver, Empowerer, or Preserver. It's also risky going to her realm because her petitioners just might decide a berk's got to be "initiated" into some mystery, and that can be an unpleasant process. On the other hand, there's a lure to these mysteries, because a few of the berks that return from here have insights denied to other bloods.