The information contained on this page is only a bare-bones sketch of the Elemental Complex that surrounds Terra. It is presented for use in character creation rather than as a setting -- as a setting, I hope to expand the material here into book-length form.
Travel to the elemental planes is via Plane Shift spell. Few mages undertake the arduous study required to learn this, and Tomos has the majority of them. Government projects have also sponsored the creation of a network of permanent gates to the planes of Earth and Glass, and the continuing investment necessary to maintain a presence there.
Travel between elemental planes also requires gates, but gates appear naturally between planes. The conjecture is that, since the worlds are made of the elements, which must leave the planes to create those worlds, the planes are slightly "porous," and together leave passable holes between each other.
Few planes are capable of supporting life without major preparation, and those only on the Air side of the Complex. Air, Glass, Scorch, Storm, and Ice are the only ones, though you may manage a few seconds on Lightning and Mist. Each plane has a mana-based ecology of supernatural creatures, though the major planes are much more vital. Natural evolution has only taken place on planes with liquid water: the planes of Water, Mud, Acid, Mist, Primordia, and Storm. Of these, only Water has generated intelligent life. The four major planes each house the dual Terran afterlives and their overseeing God or Devil. These are not in fixed places, but can be found and physically entered, if not always safely.
The four major planes are Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Each represents a state of matter(Fire would in more modern terms be a plane of plasma). The recently discovered Plane of Singularity holds more exotic forms of matter but presents great difficulty in even accessing it. There are mixture planes: the secondary planes Glass(Earth and Air), Forge(Earth and Fire), Mud(Earth and Water), Lightning (Air and Fire), Mist (Air and Water), and Acid (Water and Fire). Tertiary planes mix three elements: Scorch is a dry land of hot earth and air; Storm is a groundless plane of winds, lightning and water; Ice is a heatless expanse of air filled with huge chunks of dirty ice being blown about; and Primordia is an airless ocean bottom of rich mud and lava vents.
The site of most Tomosic industry in the Complex, the mines of Earth are worked by laborers and slaves to extract not only valuable minerals but prized Essential Earth, which forms there naturally and is the basis of both Tomosic agricultural fertility and the creation of precious orichalcum for its buildings and armies. The tunnels must be continually refreshed with air and light, and the tectonically advancing strata of the plane must be beaten back to maintain living space, but the long-established operations have grown towns and an identity of their own.
The plane of liquid also creates oils, alcohols, and other complex organic materials, so that under the diffused light of sonoluminescent hydrostells a complex natural ecology and even intelligent life have evolved next to the weird magical creatures that find Water hospitable.
The most homey of the four major planes, Air's clouds are warmed with soft winds and lit by the burning Gossamer that stretches throughout its infinite sky. Though the lack of material makes life here difficult to support, humans have found ways, and foot-powered propeller contraptions float beside arm-flapped wings transporting humans through Air interacting with the lively native elementals and fey creatures.
The infinite energies of Fire test the most hardened adventurers and reduce the unprotected to ash in seconds. Only the brave test their mettle here for the rare reasons to come.
Next to Air, Glass sees the most traffic. Its mines of Essential Glass and production of Glass Armor with protections natural and magical let humans travel through planes they could never survive on their own, carrying magical resistance and their own atmosphere. Its breathable air and solid footing make it almost comfortable, despite its hot storms of skin-slicing splinters and complete sterility.
The heat of Fire separates the stones of Earth into their components here, where the plane is made of purified metals congealed from their long testing. Mines would be too harsh to run on a long-term basis here, but prospectors hope to get lucky. Strange alloys and valuable metals can be found.
Slogging through the muck in Glass Armor may not seem like many people's idea of a good time, but Poultice concentrates the natural fertility of Earth into a deliverable healing form, and a few mushrooms and other fungi can make a trip worth your while.
The effects of Fire's plasma spraying into the atmosphere of Air are quite a sight, if you can survive it. Resist Lightning will do, since you can even breathe here.
Supersaturated air finds a traveller on Mist a covenient condensation point. Unless you've got the Umbrella spell or Glass Armor, you probably don't want to come here, even for the curious perfumes.
From Essential Acid occurring naturally to all manner of extremophile molds with medicinal (and other) properties, the plane of boiling chemicals made when Fire infuses heat and ions into Water has a surprisingly large number of reasons to arrive. Bring your Glass Armor.
The tertiary plane of Scorch abounds with strange energies that some wizards would like to fully understand. Earth-sickness comes to travellers much more rapidly here than to miners on the plane of Earth; it would take a modern scientist to recognize radiation sickness.
Jokingly called "the Plane of Weather," Storm is survivable for a while, and its wild waves and winds are exciting. The few famous sites, which are in fact often associated with weather magics, are as unpredictable as the plane's name, though.
The numbing cold bites where you float in the winds or try to find footing on a tumbling mass of rock and frozen water. Bring heat or you'll become a permanently solidified addition to the landscape.
Archaic lifeforms struggle to move up the evolutionary chain in this world where the most ancient scenes of our own planet are preserved, but the plane's antipathy to atmosphere denies green lifeforms their chance.