First Edition AD&D
The home of the Original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game at Dragonsfoot!
Updated regularly.
Section Editor: Steve steve@dragonsfoot.orgForum support for this section available.Newsletter Available for this section.
Planar Travel Guide

By Tony Reeves.

Going to the Planes can be the one of the most rewarding, and challenging areas a player can do. Conversely, they are also one of the most deadly. Many dungeon masters prefer to avoid running adventures in the planes, simply because of the difficultly involved, and a lack of precise information such as there is available for other campaign areas.  There is a lot that isn’t covered in the manuals in regard to planar travel, so in order to run an adventure it requires a vivid imagination on the part of the DM.  I have enjoyed running many adventures in the planes, so I’ll try to give a few hints to you on how to get there, and how to stay alive. For some DM’s this data could also be of some use.

Portals & Gates

There are numerous ways to get to the planes, but there are also drawbacks to each of them. Portals and Gates are the most simple and very best means of travel. What I’ve found is that both are exactly the same so for this part I‘ll just refer to gates for both. Both one way and two way gates exist.  A one way gate may allow you to pass through it to another plane of existence, but once you go through it, you may find that the gate doesn’t exist in the other plane at all, so another means of return must be found.   A two way gate can lead both to a plane, and return back to the original, or it may return you to another plane altogether.  All gates are either permanent or temporary and this depends on the deity, or Power that rules that particular area.  So again you might go through a gate only to find it is gone.  Generally the gates can lead to any plane of existence. This includes the inner places such as the elemental plane of Air, water, or Fire.  One must be very careful when going through a gate as since not only are many of them guarded, but also one may not know where one will end up! It‘s not to cool to think you‘re going to the elemental plane of water to land instead on the plane of Fire!

How do you know what gate goes where? Well, most gates are color coded. For instance a red gate may lead to the elemental plane of fire, a blue may lead to Olympus. Don’t count on this though, as many adventurers have died by passing through a gate that they thought was going one place and ending on another. Generally boils down to a very nasty trick by a devious Dungeon Master. Another sneaky trick by DM’s is to include the use of portal keys or stones.

Portal keys.

Some gates will not allow you to pass into, or out of them without a certain key.  Portal keys can be anything, such as speaking a certain word, phrase, or having a certain item in one’s hand or on one’s person.  Some DM’s simplify this to merely mean the use of a certain kind of colored, or valuable stone, or gem. Again this will depend on how sly your DM is.


Curtains are the colored “veils” between the different planes.  Such as between the plane of Gladsheim and the 7th Heavens. While walking, swimming etc, one may be able to pass from one plane to another quite easily.  Some curtains are translucent or transparent while others are opaque and can’t be seen through at all. This generally is left to the DM as is the coloration of the curtain. Again a wily Dungeon Master may color the curtain so as to trick you. Deities or other rulers of the plane may also stop one from passing through the veil at their whim.                

Spells and magic items

There are various spells and magic items that allow or promote planar travel; however some do not allow the user to control where one goes. This is a major drawback! Again you could end up on the 400th layer of Hell, and not be able to get back to the Prime material plane! Bummer!

Magic items may leave one stranded, or allow multiple trips before failing. Amazing how these particular items seem to fail when needed most! That’s one reason I say they are the most unreliable. Also some spells won’t work on certain planes, so if you’re playing a mage then you should be extremely cautious of what spells you suspect might not work. It’s always a good idea to have a plan for leaving too, just in case things get a bit hairy and you need a quick exit (of course on some planes the ruling power may not want  or even allow you to leave!)  Scrolls are one of the best means of flight unless you’re on the elemental plane of Water or Fire! Even better though is a “ring of the planes.” This wonderful object will allow you to travel at will once per day (or more depending on your DM) to any given plane or one specific plane.  Keep in mind that there are many ways to travel, and if you want to survive, then think about how you are going to get back in one piece!

How to stay alive!

To begin with, you’ve got to be able to face whatever elements are present at paradise you’re vacationing to. The elemental plane of fire (Note: Please forgive me for using the plane of Fire so frequently but it is an Elemental Plane most of you will find most familiar!)  for example. One must find a way of protecting oneself from the searing flames and from the gasses and smoke! A simple ring of fire protection will allow you to live about twenty seconds longer than without it! A scroll of protection from elemental fire or scroll of the elements would give you full protection until the duration ran out. So these are quite useful in a pinch. Remember though, one successful dispel magic will remove this protection and render you vulnerable to the full effects of the fire!  Of better use are unguents, lotions, oils, potions, or best of all the “Amulet of the Planes” which bestows invulnerability to all of the natural planar elements and allows one to survive....except for food!

You’ve got to eat and drink. Water is abundant on some of the planes such as elemental plane of Water, not so abundant on the elemental plane of Fire! Even some of the water in the Hells is drinkable for instance, the river Styx. You just forget everything after you drink it. So remember to protect your water or be able to create it at will. A “bottomless jug” is good, so is the cleric spell create water.

Food is the same way. Go to the Happy Hunting Grounds and somebody might get mad when you eat that huge white buck you just killed! The cleric spell Create food and create water is one of the best, or simpler still a bag of holding that‘s been filled with non perishables.  Last but not least - money.  On some planes, gold, silver, gems, and most other things of monetary value on the prime material plane work fine or can be exchanged. On others planes they are absolutely worthless. What need does a Fire elemental have for something that’s going to melt in his hand in a few seconds? This is the key though. It is a well know fact that most Fire elementals enjoy smelling items as they burn up, (unfortunately some would also enjoy smelling you burn too!). Bring sandalwood or other rare woods or even incense instead and they are likely to trade rare gems, advice, or other things you might desire.    


Make sure you carry weapons capable of damaging creatures natural to the plane you are visiting.  The good news is that when you attack most simple creatures, such as a fire squirrel, or lightning snake, or earthen bumblebee you will need a +1 weapon generally. The bad news is that others native to the plains such as Marids, Genii, Djinn, Dao, Demons, Devils, Modrons, Archons, Solars, etc. will require +2 or +3 weapons and that mighty +4 holy Avenger your paladin just brought will just barely kill the bumblebee. Fact is the farther you are away from the plane where the weapon was made, the weaker the weapon becomes! Of course in some cases simple silver or cold iron weapons are sufficient to get your point across.  The best weapons are plane walker weapons or ones that are native to the plane that you are going to or created such that they can be carried to any plane with no loss of power.   A last word of advice here. Some elementals, demons, devils, or other residents don’t like some of the other residents that inhabit the planes. For instance, fire elementals don’t like water elementals. Devils don’t like demons, etc.   So keep an eye out for natural items that might have a significant effect on the plane that you are going to. An endless decanter of water can be a tremendous boon on the elemental plane of Fire!


Magic user spells don’t generally get altered much in the plains with the exception of divination or summoning spells. These can be really tricky especially if your DM is quite a trickster. How about summoning a high level demon on accident with NO way to control it whatsoever? Divination too can be answered by the nearest local residents or “powers.” So be careful and think about your surroundings.  Cleric or Druidical spells are roughly the same with one major problem. The farther you are from your Deity the harder it is to receive the higher level spells. The exception to this is use of spell keys which basically are gems or other object capable of either storing spells or allowing direct contact with one’s deity. These are the best way to assure that your cleric’s spells can be granted as necessary. ..Depending of course on one’s deity!



The material on this page is either copyrighted (© 1999 - 2023) Dragonsfoot Web Team or has been used under permission. You may download, store, redistribute or generally circulate any of the material found on this page but you must keep all copyright information intact and distribute files as is. No modification is permitted without express permission from the Dragonsfoot Web Team. You may not claim this work as your own unless you are the original author. Enquiries may be sent to
Dragonsfoot acknowledges all copyrights, trademarks and registered trademarks detailed on this page that do not belong to Dragonsfoot and make no challenges to the ownership of said property rights.

Dragonsfoot Data Protection Policy