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Dungeons & Dragons Outer Planes & Afterlives Explained

Demons and angels are a common sight in Dungeons & Dragons, and they have their own homes in the multiverse. D&D‘s Outer Planes contain its various afterlives – the realms where gods reside and where reality is shaped by beliefs.

Most D&D campaign settings exist on the Material Plane, which is flanked by the Feywild and Shadowfell. These three planes are blanketed by the Ethereal Plane, a boundary that keeps them separate from the realms beyond. The Ethereal Plane is surrounded by D&D‘s four Inner Planes, each of which is based on one of the classic elements. The elemental planes are necessary to maintain reality, and they can be influenced by residents of the Material Plane with certain magical effects, like summoning spells.

Outside of the Inner Planes are the realms of the divine. These are known as the Outer Planes, and they consist of different locations that are based on D&D‘s alignment system. If a mortal dies on the Material Plane, their soul is guided to one of the Outer Planes. The mortal’s actions in life determine which Outer Plane they go to.

How D&D’s Afterlife Works In The Outer Planes

There are sixteen Outer Planes, all ruled over by deities and powerful beings. It’s common for gods from different campaign settings to share a plane but maintain their own space. Mount Celestia, for example, houses both Heironeous from Greyhawk and Torm from the Forgotten Realms. These planes also contain creatures like angels, demons, and devils, all of which serve the rulers of their respective realms. The sixteen planes (and their corresponding alignments) are:

  • Mount Celestia (lawful good)
  • Bytopia (lawful/neutral good)
  • Elysium (neutral good)
  • The Beastlands (neutral/chaotic good)
  • Arborea (chaotic good)
  • Ysgard (chaotic good/neutral)
  • Limbo (chaotic neutral)
  • Pandemonium (chaotic neutral/evil)
  • The Abyss (chaotic evil)
  • Carceri (chaotic evil/neutral evil)
  • Hades (neutral evil)
  • Gehenna (neutral evil/lawful evil)
  • Baator (lawful evil)
  • Acheron (lawful evil/neutral)
  • Mechanus (lawful neutral)
  • Arcadia (lawful neutral/good)

While a quick jaunt to heaven or hell might not be the experience most players expect, it’s possible for mortals to travel to the Outer Planes with the aid of magical spells or portals, just like the Inner Planes. These realms represent pure beliefs given form, without the restrictions of the Material Plane’s physical rules to keep things in check. They are bound to the wills of their rulers, which means they can change at a moment’s notice. There are many Dungeons & Dragons adventures that involve a trip to the Outer Planes, but all characters will visit them eventually (unless they have a phylactery handy).