Dimensional Theory of Synjyn the Exile
following was recorded at the Trianym by several mimirs at
six bells yesterday. As dusk started to deepen and the light
boys flocked, two set aside their cries of "Be seen for a
green!" and "A light for the night!" to set their Gehennan
torches at the base of the central podium.
the shadows behind the lectern appeared a gray, gray man,
whose whispery voice carried clearly over the barrikin,
seemingly no further away than the shadows behind the
listeners's ears. He said:
"Good evening to you citizens
of Sigil, fair and foul, planar, prime, proxy, and
petitioner. My name is Synjyn, known in the streets as
the Exile. What? No, I'm not an exile, but the
waggers in the streets can neither understand nor
pronounce four-syllable words like 'expatriot.' O'
course, you can hardly expect sophistication from berks
who think 'blood,' cutter,' and 'basher' are terms of
great respect, can you?"
"Now, if you've all got your skulls
out, I'll lann you the chant about the multiverse that
I've picked up from the Magi, a sect of spell-slingers
and graybeards based out of the plane of Shadow. The
Gray, as they're known, are sort of anti-Indeps. They
think that all you factioneers each have a handle
on what's important, that you've each got a shadow of the
Truth. They put these scraps together into what they call
the 'gray truth,' which must be a rorty dark indeed,
because it's the common chant of stoneheads that these
mages never need to use spell keys; their magic works
everywhere, even where it shouldn't. And what I'm about
to spill is a pretty high-up piece of the gray
"The dark of the multiverse ain't
that it's made up of planes, berks, but that it's made up
of dimensions. Nine of 'em in fact, three sets of
three, a ful number. Each of the three dimensions within
a set is related, and the sets themselves are called
Space, Time, and Form. Now, some of you sods may not grok
what a dimension is, really, so I'll chant you that bit
"First off, a dimension sure as
Sigil ain't no plane. I'm not rattling about the
'extra-dimensional' nor about 'parallel dimensions.'
Those are prime words, coined by clueless graybeards
trying to explain how bags of holding work, or why there
are more worlds than their own pretty prime
"What I'm lanning you is
'dimension' in the sense of measurement, of definition,
of a quality. The dimensions that every little thing in
the Great Ring and beyond has got to part of, or you
wouldn't know it's there. Here, I'll start off easy.
Everybody's heard of the first set of three dimensions,
those of Space. They're height, width, and
this point, the speaker reached down into the light and
sketched a... well, a three-dimensional diagram in the glow
of the light boys's torches. His fingers trailing lines of
darkness in the air, the gray, gray man drew three lines,
each at right angles to another, and all crossing at a
central point. He then labelled them 'X' 'Y' and
"This here is height, or the
up-and-down axis. This one's width, or the left-to-right
axis. And this one's depth, or the back-and-forth axis.
Now then, we've all obviously got measurements in each of
these three dimensions. You sir, yes you, the skinny
githzerai up front, you've got more height than that fat
little halfling squinting between your legs, but he's got
more width than you. And that bariaur in the back's got
more depth than both of you put together. But you've all
got at least a little of each of the three spatial
dimensions, don't you?"
"Well, all the dimensions are like
that. They ain't places you can go visit, no matter what
screed some barmy chronomancers try 'n push."
"Which brings me to the next set of
three dimensions, those of Time. They're sequence,
probability, and entropy. Now bar that, you young
Doomguard! I'll get to entropy, gimme a moment, but I
doubt you'll like what this theory has to say on the
this point, the man reached down into the light beside his
diagram and drew another, exactly similar in shape to the
first, save that it was labelled 'A' 'B' and 'C'.
"Now, this 'A' line here is
sequence, the temporal dimension that most of you sods
are familiar with. It's the line that travels from past
to future. You shouldn't need me to explain the
difference between yesterday and tomorrow. And it should
be obvious to the most addle- coved outsider that
everyone exists in this dimension, 'coz otherwise you
wouldn't be here long enough to hear me flappin' my
bone-box about it."
"Park your ears close now, cutters,
'cause the rest of this chant is pretty dark to most
folks. These next dimensions are the ones that describe
how the planes are put together, and I think that's the
chant you came here to stuff into your grinners,
"The 'B' line is probability. This
is the continuum that measures cause and effect, and
whether actions that happen in sequence are improbable or
probable. You planars might know this line better as the
line between Chaos and Law. You can find Mechanus at one
end of this continuum and Limbo at the other. On the
lawful end of this line, only the expected happens.
Everything is predictable and orderly. On the chaotic end
however, anything goes."
"Lemme give you an example." If I
were to pick up this rock and hit that Hardhead sergeant
over there with it, most of you cutters know what the
likely result would be. But there are a bunch of less
likely results too. I could miss, the rock just might
bounce unnoticed off his hard old head, or it could even
spontaneously transmute into a bouquet of flowers in
mid-air. It all depends on where in the probability
continuum things happen to be."
"If some of you bashers ever
wondered how the Xaosmen do the impossible so often, now
you're lanned. Them chaos berks've just got more
improbability in 'em, like that githzerai's got more
height than this halfling."
"The probability dimension also
explains what some folks call parallel dimensions. See,
if you were to just stay still in all the other
dimensions, spatial, sequence, and what not, and only
moved across probability, why you'd be sliding over to
whole new worlds, where the only difference is what the
consequences were to people's decisions and actions. Such
travellers might even be called 'Sliders,' but I won't be
opening that hag's pouch of larvae!"
"The last temporal dimension is
entropy, this 'C' line here. Entropy is the measurement
of how much negative or positive energy something's got,
whether it's falling apart or building up. The obvious
example to use here would've been my friend, Malachi the
Vampire, but he had a dinner engagement with a lovely
young thing in the Lower Ward this evening, and couldn't
be here. Don't matter none, 'cause any berk knows that a
vampire's got more negative energy in 'im than, say, a
dwarf, like you, ma'am. It should also be obvious to the
berk on the street that the Positive Material plane
describes one end of this continuum while the Negative
Material plane's found at t'other."
"What takes a peery look to see is
that the 'C' axis is also the line that can be drawn
between the upper and lower outer planes. Think about it.
Folk in the upper planes concentrate on life and
creation, beauty construction, and peace. In the lower
planes, it's all death and war, destruction, malice and
bleakness. That kind of parallel doesn't happen by
chance, eh? No, the similarities between the upper and
Positive Material planes, and the lower and Negative
Material planes, exist because they all lie close
together on the same spectrum: entropy."
"Now, here's the part of this chant
that makes most Doomguard about as happy as a Gehreleth's
bride. See, entropy's just a continuum according to the
Gray. Any increase in entropy a body might observe is
just an illusion, caused by that sod's change in where he
stands in the great entropy spectrum. And it may be true
that we're all walking the entropy line from positive to
negative, in the same way that it appears we're all
moving down the sequence line from past to future, but
that don't mean you can get rid of the positive end of
the spectrum, any more than you can eliminate the past.
Any berks that would try are gonna be about as successful
as a bunch of spoiled Chessboard kids who've gotten
together to get rid of 'up' because they prefer being
this point, one of the Doomguard, who had been muttering
angrily to themselves, stepped forward, brandishing his
sword. "Rust you, you blek-screaming screed! The only thing
you know about entropy is what I'm going to be
ramming through your backbone on the point of my
gray, gray man's face hardened, and darkened perceptibly.
"There's a fhorge-bred fool in every mob, sure as
crowd in front of the young Sinker parted as he moved toward
the stairs to the podia, but with every step he took, the
shadows in front of him yawned deeper and blacker. Halfway
up the stairs, his paling, determined face and his Doomguard
colours bobbed lonesomely as distant islands in a deep
"I'll show you more entropy
than you ever thought possible if you don't stand down,
boy. Any berk that draws on me is going to lose one of
two things; his dignity or his life. I recommend you
choose dignity, son; you've got less of that and its loss
won't hurt as much."
"I choose your
Doomguard snarled and leapt, and the shadows swallowed him
whole. The torchlight quickly danced back into it's regular
pattern but nothing could be seen of the young Sinker. His
fellows clustered together in obvious disquietude, but said
no more, in apparent appreciation of this unusual
demonstration of destruction.
"Now then. Where was I? Ah
yes, the last bit about entropy."
"You'll notice, with lines 'B' and
'C' here, probability and entropy, that a graybeard could
doughty up a good representation of the Great Ring.
Mechanus and Limbo on opposite ends of the probability
axis, and Elysium and the Waste on either end of the
entropy axis. This is how the Magi put the outer planes
together, but they need another dimension to describe all
27 of the outer planes properly."
"What? Yes, I said twenty-seven!
Were you hipped on Pandemonium or something? It ain't my
fault if you can't count past seventeen. Three triads
tripled, that's the proper number, Rule of Threes all the
way. If you don't know about all 27 of the outer planes,
then you need to come see me personal-like, or arrange
for another mighty big garnish like what paid for this
chant. I only flap my bone-box for grinners if the jink's
from seventh heaven."
"Now, that last dimension needed to
build a proper model of the outer planes is essence, one
of the dimensions of Form. The other two are matter and
energy, sometimes called mass and heat."
that, the gray, gray man leaned down and drew a third
diagram of shadows in the air, exactly similar to the other
two. He labelled the three axes 'M' 'H' and 'E'.
"Like the spatial dimensions
describe how big a thing is and where it exists in
relation to other things, and the temporal dimensions
describe how old a thing is and when it might exist in
relation to other things, the dimensions of form describe
how spiritual a thing is and what it's made of in
relation to other things."
"The matter and energy axes are
pretty self-explanatory. Most bloods know what mass and
heat are, they just ain't lanned to the theory that these
aspects of existence are really dimensions. Hotter things
lie further along this end of the 'H' axis, colder ones
on that end. The same holds for mass as well. Dense and
crystalline things exist at this end of the 'M' continuum
while light and airy things exist at the
"Take sparkbugs for example.
They're nasty, hot little insects found on the inner
planes, anywhere from the plane of Fire to the plane of
Air. They're very light (and thus measure small on the
matter scale) but very hot (and thus measure largely on
the energy scale). And their habitat reflects this, like
it does for most inner planar critters."
"As it turns out, you can map the
elemental planes with the matter and energy dimensions in
the same way you can map the Great Ring with the
probability and entropy axes. The Water and Fire planes
lie on the energy axis, in between the extremes of Ice
and Radiance. On the perpendicular matter axis, the
elemental planes run from the nothingness of Vacuum, to
Air, to Earth, and then to the densely packed crystal of
the Mineral plane."
"And before some wag starts
rattling his box about it, let me say, 'Yes, I know Ice
lies between Air and Water, and Yes, I know it don't make
a straight line from Ice to Water to Fire to Radiance.'
But the unspoken finish to that sentence is the word,
'now.' How old are you bashers, eh? A decade or three? A
century? A millennium? Two? Well, I'm older, and I
remember things the way they used to be before the
celestials came inwards all high and mighty and used
their great holy machine to raise the ice and push out
the fog. Meddling bleachers! Ask Factol Skall if you
dare. He's been around long enough, and he knows the dark
on this. Things change berks, and someday they
might change back, too."
"Since the barrikin's already
started, I might as well bob up the ante. If you add the
entropy axis to the mix of matter and energy, you get the
full 3-D model of the inner planes that most of you have
seen, or at least heard some graybeard howl about. This
is the map you need to show the relationships between all
27 of the inner planes."
"Yes, 27!!!" I ain't being
garnished to teach you lot the Rule of Fives! I've been
to 'em all, and there's 27, not sixteen or
eighteen! Twisted Tanar'ri Testicles! If a number can't
be found on your fingers and toes, half you dreamers
think it's pure grail! Now settle down and let me finish!
You can dismiss this whole chant as barkle if you want,
but at least hear it out."
"The third dimension of Form is
essence. It may sound unfamiliar, but you all already
know about it. Whistles below, you even know the
directions: In and Out. Essence is the line that that
travels from the inner planes to the outer, and the
dimension measures how abstract or spiritual something
is. The more concrete, elemental things and places can be
found on the 'inner' side of the 'E' axis, while the more
abstract, belief-affected things and places can be found
on the 'outer' end of the 'E' axis. Primes, of course,
sit right in the middle."
"Like I said earlier, adding the
essence dimension to the probability- entropy map of the
Great Ring allows you to model the outer planes
proper-like, with the layers added and all. See, as you
go farther into a plane's layers, you'll find that they
get more abstract and prone to affectation by belief. And
you'll notice that this travel seems to be 'up' on some
planes (like Mt. Celestia) and down on others (like the
Abyss). Really, though, a planewalker travelling in this
direction is going only one way: 'out'. This feature of
essence can be found in the Hinterlands, too. Once you
pass the gate towns, you're not just moving away from the
Spire, you're moving 'out' as well, into realms of
greater and greater abstraction."
"So you see, a proper model of the
outer planes has two twists in the Great Ring, one each
at Limbo and Mechanus, (both of which, you'll note, don't
have layers), so that the 'higher' layers of the
upper planes and the 'deeper' layers of the lower planes
both stretch off in the same direction."
"That's it then. The Magi's basic
theory. It ought to raise as many questions as those it
answered for you berks, such as 'If everything can be
defined as a dimension, then why do separate planes
exist, and begin and end where they do?' Well, I'll have
to lann you curious folk to the chant about the Lord of
Anguish and the Borderlands in private, later. Anyone who
wants to discuss a proper payscale for such darks can
reach me at the Pentacle, over on Slacker Street in the
Lower Ward. Or, you can leave a message with one of these
light boys. They know how to find me. Thank you for your
time. Believe well, all!"
that spoken, the gray, gray man vanished into the shadows
behind the Trianym. The light boys retrieved their torches
and the members of the crowd started breaking up, returning
to their daily routines.
Mapping the Infinite: