The Ethereal is a term used for a number of border realms. One of these is the Fae Ethereal.
From "A Brief Guide to the Ethereal Plane" - SGT 28
The party I was in, recently had to travel in the Ethereal Plane. So, for those of you contemplating such a trip, here are some notes taken from a mixture of personal observations, notes lodged in the library, and tales told by sages, bards, and adventurers.
The Ethereal has been described as a plane of everything and of nothing. Some philosophers theorise that here is the basic material, which is usually referred to as 'proto-matter', that all the planes are made from, and that it is this stuff that Binders use when they create objects. The Ethereal infuses all matter and surrounds all the Prime and Inner Planes (including the elemental planes).
There are actually two parts to the Ethereal - the Border Ethereal, which surrounds each plane and the Deep Ethereal which fills up the rest. Think of each plane as an island, the Border as the shallow sea around it, and the Deep as the ocean and you won't be too far wrong. Only very rarely does a plane not have a Border, such as the Boundless.
The first impression that a traveller gets when entering the Border Ethereal, whether it be by spell or potion, is of a thick fog that surrounds everything and obscures vision down to tens of feet. There seems to be no visible means of support but the etherial being is able to 'stand' on this stuff. Movement is three dimensional and any usual means are possible, walking, flying, swimming etc. Objects in the plane just left, can be vagurely made out but do not affect the etherial traveller thus walls can be walked through. It should be noted though that certain spells and materials, such as Bound Earth, can create barriers in the Ethereal preventing access by that method.
Details and even fundamentals such as laws of nature vary from journey to journey, even by experienced travellers using a consistent technique.
Below is a story of one such journey. Do not expect similar experiences.
When we were there, we noted that the Solar Mages and the Air Mage had acquired a sense of direction, similar to the ranger sense, but it pointed to the nearest point of a particular plane. In the Solar's case it was the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Radiance while the Air Mage's North was towards the Elemental Plane of Air. I can only surmise that other colleges would be pointed towards the following planes:
- Water - Elemental Plane of Water
- Earth - Elemental Plane of Earth
- Fire - Elemental Plane of Fire
- Ice - Para-Elemental Plane of Ice
- Necromancer - Negative Material Plane
- Shadow - Demi-Plane of Shadow
If there are other Colleges corresponding to the other Para and Quasi planes, members of those Colleges would sense the direction of that plane. A dwarf may have a similar link with the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Mineral.
Getting into the Deep Ethereal is just a matter of willing it so. To any other travellers, it looks like that person has just stepped into a fogbank and disappeared. That traveller will now find themselves standing by a Curtain of Vapourous Colour that marks the border between the Border and the Deep. Getting back to the Border is just a simple matter of stepping through the curtain which appears as a huge hanging sheet of colour that is constantly being agitated. Lights dance across the surface in random patterns.
The colours for each Inner Plane are believed to be:
- Prime Material - Turquoise
- Air - Sky Blue
- Earth - Brown
- Fire - Red
- Water - Green
- Ice - Aquamarine
- Smoke - Pearl
- Ooze - Chocolate
- Magma - Maroon
- Lightning - Violet
- Steam - Ivory
- Radiance - Shifting rainbow pattern
- Mineral - Milky pink
- Vaccuum - Ebony
- Salt - Tan
- Ash - Dark Grey
- Dust - Brownish grey
- Positive Material - Pure white
- Negative Material - Pure black
however many of these are not verified apart from the first six and the last two.
Other colour curtains do exist and these lead to demi-planes. The one we encountered, the Boundless, had a silvery-brown colour. It is recorded that the Demi-Plane of Shadow has a silvery coloured curtain but, again, this has not been verified by recent observation.
The Deep also looks like one is standing in the middle of a thick fog. Going places can be done in the same way as the Border. It is best to know exactly where you are going, or have a guide, otherwise it is so easy to be hopelessly lost.
One thing our party discovered was that summoning a Phantasm on the Ethereal Plane was rather dangerous to us. The phantasm gathered ethereal matter into itself and became freewilled. In that state it wasn't affected by Mind Counters. A Binder Counter was used to slow the accumulation and the phantasm was destroyed as soon as it came into contact with the Curtain. However, it was useful in locating a lost party member.
We encountered no indigenous life forms in our travels but, it is believed some creatures do exist there. Details on them were sketchy.
An artists conception of the Border Ethereal http://dq.sf.org.nz/Ethereal.jpg