Friday, July 20, 2018

Campaign Setting: Platescape: The Inner Planes of Flavor

Apologies to Zeb Cook

Flavorful Inner Planes Plates

The fundamental building blocks of all cuisine. All food in the multiverse is composed of these forces, and many spells directly draw upon connections to these realities.

All of these plates of reality are at least somewhat hospitable to humanoid life, but for one reason or another, it's usually not possible to build a civilization within them.

The Primary Four Elements of Foodstuff

The Elemental Plate of Seeds - Grains, legumes, and nuts as far as the eye can see. Vast powdery deserts of flour. Incredibly dry. Hazards include dust explosions, angry pasta elementals, and grain entrapment.

The sun beats down, heating the plane, worsening the winds and increasing the chances of explosive dust storms. Yes, the sun is visible here. The sun exists in all realities. All food energy ultimately comes from the sun, and someday the sun will in turn eat all worlds.

Except the sand is Quinoa.
Photo by Dan Grinwis

The Elemental Plate of Meat - More appropriately called the Plate of Animal Protein. Whenever magical healing knits together a wound, this is where the replacement flesh originates.

When first told of the Plate of Meat, many people imagine human anatomy writ large: miles of blood vessel tunnels, stomachs the size of cities, and mountains of bone. And yes, those places exist on this plate. There is, in fact, a thriving vampire metropolis deep within the body of one such living continent.

But the Plate of meat has many more sights to see. Fields of flaky fried fish. Rivers of milk. Eggs the size of boulders. There are regions where tiny pieces of meat precipitate out of the air, leading to the growth of bizarre carnivorous coral-reefs.

And if you happen to be made of living meat yourself, then this world will accelerate your healing and enhance your strength. Don't dwell too long though, or you'll get turbo cancer.

The Elemental Plate of Vegetables - An infinite jungle with plant life in all directions. The hints of sunlight seem to peak through the leaves above, but climbing higher reveals more levels of vegetation. The ground below is thick with roots and tubers. Any bodies of water are overrun with water lilies and seaweed.

There are trading posts and exploration stations here, as well as the occasional wizard tower, but it's impossible to establish a long lasting colony for the same reason that there are no fauna in this Plate. Reproduction is impossible here. Even the plants grow without seeds and instead spread by branching and budding and mutating.
Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, North Garden
Every plant in this image has a use in food or medicine.

The Elemental Plate of Sweets - The plane of sweets. Aka Candyland. Every kid has heard stories of this place. Rivers of honey.  Minty fresh breezes. Clouds of candy floss. Ripe Cranberries fall from the sky, and molten treacle flows deep beneath the ground.

And of course, the candycastle: seat of power for the Bubblegum dynasty. This powerful group of sentient pseudo-oozes controls a trade empire spanning worlds.

One of the most ruthless business empires in the cosmos.
(Screenshot from Adventure Time)

Contrary to the romantic stories told to children, this plate is actually quite a hostile place. Water can only be found in the occasional fruit-falls, and there are very few sources of protein  in this sticky land. Even with rations, travelers often report feeling fatigued and developing health problems after staying here for more than a few weeks.

Insectoid races seem to be immune to this effect. Some scholars believe the chitin in their shells, being formed from glucose, may provide some sort of protective magical resonance. Whatever the cause, this immunity has allowed the formians and giant beefolk to thrive here.


An outdated map of the elemental plates.
What the explorers thought was a separate elemental plate of dairy
was actually just a parallel earth taken over by cows.

Demi-glacemental Plates 

Where the energies of two primary elemental plates intersect, a demi-glacemental plane is formed. These are passages between the the primary plates, and are also complex worlds unto themselves.

Meat and Seed intersect to form the Boiling Oil Ocean.
A vast bubbling ocean of oil. Often hot enough to sear flesh. In a few rare places, the oil is cool enough for giant islands of butter to form. Beware the fried kalamari kraken.

Sweets and Seeds together form the Pastry Plains.
A vast desert of crumbly fields and fluffy hills. If you want to find water here, you'll have to dig deep into the crust.

Along the boundary of Sweets and Veggies lays the Valley of Unripened Fruit.
The infinite jungle of vegetables thins out. Patches of sugarcane and sugar beets grow more common, and nearly every surface is covered in unripe fruits. As the fruit ripens, it eventually phases out of existence, presumably to re-manifest as weather patterns in Candyland.

Meat and Veggies intersect to form the vast Shallow Sea.
Full of seaweed and other aquatic plants. Teaming with mussels and clams. Enormous coral reefs contain portals to the Plate of Meat, and  mutant fish live along this inter-dimensional boundary.

In addition, small transitory portals can sometimes be found in puddles of cream between Meat and Sweets, but these passages are rarer and don't open to worlds of their own.

Aristotle's characterization of the elemental foods.

The Preparation Plates and associated boundary plates

In addition to the primary elemental plates, there are two more plates which embody the essence of food preparation rather than the substance of food itself.

The Elemental Plate of Fermentation - Also called the Plate of Rot or the Plate of Fungus. A paradoxical world embodying both decay and preservation.

Some parts of this plate are dominated by forests of giant mushrooms, with toxic spores filling the air. In other regions, beneficial fungi have exhausted local resources, leaving the area sterile and relatively safe for animal life. Not that dead wastelands covered in organic waste are particularly pleasant, mind you.

Myconids abound, but they're usually not strong to pose a threat to the armed and wary. Slimes on the other hand...

The Elemental Plate of Seasoning - It's nearly impossible to find anything of sustenance here. But flavors can be found in their purest form. There are pools of pure acid, and storms of dust which tastes sweet on the tongue but provides no energy. Occasionally, waves of pure heat or frost sweep across the landscape. But this plate is most famous for the vast expanses of salt.

Just as the primary plates of flavor intersect to form boundary plates, so too do the preparation plates interact with with the primary plates to form quichelemental plates.

Seeds ferment into the Breaded Bluffs. Rivers of soy sauce run across the soft and porous landscape. Occasionally, a valley will be filled with a forest of bread mold.

Animal protein ferments into the Cheesy Chasms. At its best, this plane is full of towering blocks of cheese and cured hams. At its worst, one can find pools of spoiled milk and mounds of rotting meat.

Veggies ferment into the Pickled Pasture. Open fields of pickled vegetables, broken up by acidic lakes of brine. The air here stings the eyes and nose.

Sweets ferment into Alcohol.  This plate is well-traveled, but no maps exist, and reports from explorers into this plane are notoriously unreliable.

Where Seasoning meets Seeds, one can find the Plate of Pungency, the world of pepper. Visually, the plate is hard to distinguish from the plate of seeds. However, as soon as you step into this world, and your whole body feels lit up with fire, the difference becomes clear. The heat is illusory, however. You may sweat and feel pain, but your flesh won't burn.

At the intersection of Meat and Seasoning is The Smokehouse. Warm, smoke-filled air. Forests of jerky. Somewhere within this plate, you can find the legendary fountain of BBQ sauce.

Where seasoning transitions to vegetables, there lays the Herbal Shrubland. Plant life thins out. The ground is covered in dried out and ground up herbs and spices. An intensely smelly place.

Finally, the energy of seasoning purifies sweets into the pure Crystalline Peaks. There isn't much to see in this barren mountainous realm, but what can be seen is quite beautiful. Sunset shining through the translucent mountains is absolutely stunning.

Why visit the Inner Plates of Flavor?

  1. A blight wipes out the crops for a kingdom. The royal wizards want a team of adventures to navigate to the City of Grass within the Plate of Seeds, and negotiate a trade deal with the Effwheat (grain genies)
  2. Someone important was completely incinerated. The can be brought back magically if you have a piece of their body, but the whole incineration thing makes that tricky. Fortunately, a kinds of flesh can be found in the plane of meat, including perfect copies of everyone's bodies.
  3. A terrible molasses flood is causing havoc in a major city after the local government violates a treaty with the Bubblegum dynasty. The portal can only be closed from the other side.
  4.  A royal expedition ventured through a portal into the plate of vegetables to establish trails and an outpost. Rewards will be given to anyone who can can find info on the team's whereabouts. (They were killed by a meat-hating potato elemental.)
  5. The mold for making the perfect cheese is kept in a vault deep with the castle of the mushroom king. Steal a sample of this mold, and the resulting cheese can be sold for a phenomenally high price.
  6. A portal to the plate of seasoning pours forth thousands of pounds of high-grade pink salt. The angry salt elementals which pour forth can be captured and sold as either labor or spice. To really make bank you'll need to head through the portal and wrangle some salty dogies.
  7. The king wishes to hold a grand banquet, and demands a kalamari kraken from the plate of oil as his main course.
  8. A horrible plague is spreading. Sages have visions of  a miracle medicine somewhere within the Breaded Bluffs.
  9. A giant fitness-obsessed witch is brewing a potion of buffness. To maximize her gains, the witch need the most pure beef jerky, which can only be found deep within the blistering heat of The Smokehouse.
  10. Tourism
  11. A monastery known as the "Spicy Spire" exists in the plate of pungency. Here, monks shape and concentrate the artificial heat to test their resolve. If you train with them, you can learn to ignore all forms of illusionary attack.
  12. A local Lord is offering a golden ring as prize for growing the largest onion in the county fair. Unbeknownst to him, the ring is a powerful magical artefact that you can't afford to let fall into the hands of your rival, the Dread-Farmer MacDonald. You don't know how to grow onions, so you could either steal the ring or venture into the elemental plates to find a really big onion.
  13. You have a dream vision about a miraculous new recipe, but the details are hazy. Travel to each of the six elemental plates for inspiration so that your idea can ripen to its full potential.


  1. Fuck yes. This so many times this. Okay, I'm getting off my ass and finally starting up Stewscape and no one can stop me.

    1. I will hold you to this as a legally binding statement with the whole interblag as witness.

  2. This is fantastic! I love the breakdown of this cosmology. I'm definitely going to use this in an upcoming game.

  3. Really enjoyed this, though I wonder whether I'll ever get someone to play it with me.