One of the lesser-known methods of traveling the planes, the Infinite Staircase extends anywhere creativity can be found. Its reach is nearly as vast as that of Sigil itself, though it holds its own hazards and difficulties. The Staircase ascends up from the Gates of the Moon, the realm of the goddess Selune on the plane of Ysgard, and it is watched over by the enigmatic lillendi. Here can also be found the headquarters for the Planewalker's Guild, a once-renown guild of planar travelers that today is barely a blip on the multiverse.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, the Infinite Staircase is in fact many separate flights. From the bottom of the 200-foot-wide shaft, known as the Base, indeed spirals up a single silver set of stairs, 20 feet wide. Green tendrils of ivy hang from this staircase irregularly, needing neither rain nor sun by all appearances, and lending this lower section its occasional alternate name of the Ivy. The shaft itself seems to widen as one ascends, soon fading from sight. However, nearly 1000 feet above the base, too far to see from the bottom of the shaft, rests the first landing, itself 200 feet wide, and from which rise a number of separate flights of stairs, each of different designs, materials, and constructions. The ultimate destinations of these flights cannot be seen, seeming to merely stretch into the shadowy darkness, as visibility in this realm is limited to a mere 250 feet regardless of what sort of vision a person uses. More landings can be found as one ascends, however. Some have additional single flights continuing upwards, some have many, and some end with no further stairs.
The Infinite Staircase is attracted by nothing more than creativity itself. Though rarely found in the middle of nowhere near an especially creative individual, links to it are thus most often found within the cities of the planes. Thus, portals on the Staircase always take the form of doors, strangely enough even those indeed found in the middle of nowhere. They are usually found somewhere where most will ignore its presence — often a forsaken cellar or abandoned building, but sometimes merely an out of the way spot in a person's basement. These doors are always found on one of the staircase's landings, and every landing but the first always possesses a single door, from a simple wooden construction to a large metal valve to, rarely, an open archway. Unlike portals, the area beyond the doors of the Infinite Staircase seem directly connected, as if you were merely stepping from one room to another. Though a person can look through the doorway, environmental hazards such as great heat or floods of water are held back through some mystical means. The environment around the landing is often telling of the area beyond, with darker areas of the Staircase more likely to lead to the Lower Planes, while brighter areas are more likely to lead to the Upper.
Hazards and Pitfalls
The stairs of the Staircase can be a confusing matter, curving and distorting in a manner too subtle for those climbing them to tell. However, occasionally, a person will spot another staircase stretching sideways from the darkness, or even upside-down entirely. On rare occasions, people have even met other people climbing "down" the underside of their own flight. Because of this confusing nature, traveling the staircase by any method but walking is not recommended. Flight is fairly safe, as long as a person never strays more than 25 feet or so from their path. Travel farther than this, however, such as trying to hop from one staircase to another in the distance, has a 25% chance of catching the flier in an invisible fold in space, flinging them into some random plane. Most victims of such an event are rarely seen again. Teleporting between locations in the Staircase carries a similar danger, and teleporting from the Staircase to a location off of it, even through a doorway or to another location on Ysgard, is impossible without a teleportation spell that allows planar travel. Falling off the staircase entirely poses its own obvious risks. Beyond the chance of getting caught in a fold, the emptiness of the Staircase means a basher'll likely be falling for quite some time. Such a falling victim will plummet for 10d100 feet before hitting something, whether it be another landing or the base of the Staircase. Occasionally, due to the odd nature of the Staircase, a person may spot such a victim falling what from their perspective appears to be upwards, but such instances pose no danger for their own personal gravity; for any individual, gravity is what they would expect it to be.
Spellcasting can be somewhat tricky on the Staircase as well. Since it extends from Ysgard, the area within the Staircase is affected magically as if it were on that plane. To cast a spell at all, a wizard must have access to the proper rune; each spell school has its own rune. This rune must be inscribed on the material components of a spell if a given spell as them, or if not, it must be spoken aloud. Inscribing the rune on components can be done at the time of casting or in advance, and takes 1d6 minutes to complete. Luckily for most, the lillendi tend to be fairly free with knowledge of these runes, as are many members of the Planewalker's Guild. There are some exceptions to this general rule, however.
- Spells which increase strength or ability in physical combat can be cast without runes.
- Monster summoning spells here can only summon forth einheriar.
- Divination spells are doubled in range and duration, but a group or place cannot be scried, only individuals.
- Necromancy spells are treated as one spell level higher than normal for purposes of memorization.
- Wild magic spells gain an effective +1 to caster level when cast.
- Weather-affecting spells, including fog- and wind-related spells, never work.
Clerics have their own troubles, of course; they gain an effective -1 to caster level for every plane that separates them and their deity. Magical weapons, however, are not affected by the location of the Staircase. Wherever they were enchanted, they keep their full enchantment when used on the Staircase.
Finally, there is the ultimate hazard of the Staircase, and the one most difficult for a berk to fight off, if they even wish to try. This realm is said to have the ability to sense a cutter's true wishes, their deepest heart's desire. And occasionally, it'll present it to them. When a person's traveling alone, they may find a new path, a stairway they never noticed before. Upon ascending it, they'll be led to a landing, on which is a portal that leads to the fulfillment of their deepest whim. A person that steps through this doorway and accepts their desire is never seen again, but a person that resists the temptation and leaves the landing can never again find that staircase or that landing. This only occurs to a lone traveler, but it is a true fulfillment. As far as anyone knows, at least.
Because even up and down are unreliable terms here, most folks that commonly use the Staircase for travel refer to specific known regions instead.
- The Base, or the Ivy - the region between the base of the Staircase and the first landing.
- The Planewalker's Guild Headquarters - a shanty town of tents spread across one of the larger landings. About 6 hours travel from the bottom of the Staircase.
- The Stone Columns - a region where odd pillars of stone rise up and around the staircases with no apparent source. None have ever seen the bases or tops of these columns, if they even exist.
- The Blue Mushroom area - a region where odd blue fungus can be found occasionally growing on the underside of the staircases. Most believe these originally spread due to some miscast spell or misfired magical item. About nine hours' travel from the Planewalker's Guild headquarters.
- Tales from the Infinite Staircase, pgs. 15-18, 21