Thursday, March 3, 2011

Google-Sourcing the Planes

Those who know the real me know that I work as a commercial real estate researcher in fabulous Las Vegas. A good portion of my job involves maintaining a database of c. 5000 property records and c. 7000 availability records - and that means hours of data entry. If you're not familiar with the concept of data entry, allow me to assure you that it can be just as boring as it sounds. So, every hour or so I poke my head above the waves of data and look around - sometimes that means Facebook, sometimes checking email, and sometimes doing a random search in Google. Thus - today's post ...

So, I randomly decide to do an image search today for "Paradise". Well, not entirely randomly - somebody was playing Van Halen in a nearby cubicle. Anyhow - it struck me that it might be fun to see how the planes of the Great Wheel look via Google image searches.

We'll start our tour of the planes on the Astral Plane. Google's Astral Plane is bluish white it seems - some areas lighter, others darker. I'm picturing symbols floating about, each standing for something of COSMIC IMPORTANCE and thus generally ignored by the folks that actually walk the planes - killers of things and takers of stuff.

Paradise to modern humans is a tropical island - warm sun, white sands, crystal clear waters. The last thing it needs are adventurers messing everything up. Should therefore be the first place on any chaotic's itinerary.

If Google is to be believed, Elysium is a resort for the gods. I'm seeing a virtual paradise surrounded by a desert of red sands patrolled by robots and tanks. In the middle there's a deific resort hotel where all the beautiful people of the planes come to be seen (and presumably robbed by the likes of Loki and Raven).

The Happy Hunting Grounds are enlivened by introducing of race cars, giant see-through hippos and rousing games of cricket. Apparently the HHG is the outer plane's answer to a sport's park/recreation center. Buffalo hunting, golf, racing - a place for the gods to stretch their legs and get a little exercise.

If you want to search for Olympus, search for Mount Olympus - otherwise you get cameras. So we have a lofty peak populated by half naked god-models with very human appetites for sex and power. The gods of Gladsheim will go out and romp with you, while the gods of Olympus will totally use you for their amusement. Adventurers beware - they're laughing at you, not with you.

Let's be honest - it's Asgard. Gladsheim is Asgard. An image search for Asgard gives you Kirby  vikings, heroic landscapes and lofty buildings. I see Gladsheim as being the most hexcrawl worthy of the planes - a place for old adventurers to go and hang out with the gods and kick around the godly fjords and mountains and forests looking for godly things to kill that one may acquire their godly stuff. Fewer viking babes in the search results than I would have liked, though.

Limbo is either a plane of people bending over backwards to walk under sticks or Hell's waiting room. There's a walled city there surrounding by huge people, two giants doing something that seems deeply inappropriate, weird demons - a real grab bag of horrors.

Pandemonium is Hell's downtown - lots of civic buildings and demonic politicians (i.e. politicians). There's probably a tax for everything and you need a license to walk down the street or pick your nose. Tammany Hall taken to its extreme.

The never-ending plane of demons in D & D becomes a plane of water and pro wrestlers in Google Images. I'm imaging the demons "organized" into a myriad of wrestling federations, all gunning for the belt currently held by Demogorgon. Few suspect that Vince McMahon is the power behind the throne. Okay - everybody suspects it.

Hell's prison - a little less exciting than Hell itseld, large guys with mauls, surprised monkeys, half-finished mosaics and cramped titans plotting revenge against the gods of Olympus. If you hate the Olympians, you can make some great contacts in Tartarus. Just don't bring up the "Tarterus Incident" - still a sore subject in those parts.

Hades illustrates the problem of doing an image search for anything that has ever appeared in a Disney movie. I had to search for Hades + Underworld, and still got the big blue flamehead. Naturally, the images are all Hades-centric, so I'm picturing a land of the dead ruled by an arch-egotist. Like a Hitler/Mussolini/Kaddafi/Sadam-type, he has statues and images of himself everywhere. The plane also looks pretty adventurous - boiling seas, burning caverns, weird cities - all things an old schooler can get behind.

Gehenna is a real place - a valley in Israel. In a way, that makes the images of Gehenna the most interesting of the Lower Planes - in place of a heavy metal album cover, we get a lower plane that looks rather mundane. Or would be mundane if Chuck Norris hadn't shown up to kick some demonic ass. I'm seeing a plane of souls that don't know they've been damned, but do know they aren't happy and can't figure out what to do to change things. They're trapped in their own lack of imagination.

Fire, darkness, devils chewing on people's heads, torment, hags, Hello Kitty, Meatloaf, AC/DC and a rapper with regrettable dental hygiene. Welcome to Hell. I'm guessing Hell makes all the other Lower Planes roll their eyes - how cliched! Come on Lucifer - a billion years of fire and brimstone - how about something new? Lucifer smites the critic, of course, but deep down he knows he's completely out of ideas. Hell is where the movers and shakers of the Lower Planes congregate, because Hell understands the concept of the D&D end game: Baron - Marquis - Count - Duke - King.

Acheron is the plane of Death Metal. 'Nuff said. Raggi's demonic equivalent publishes a 'zine there.

I wonder how the enlightened, centered Buddhas are handling the introduction of Kurt Cobain to their ordered paradise. Eh - they probably just ignore him.

Google Arcadia is a lovely land of crystal clear waters, tall trees and massive war ships that ply sea and sky. Personally, I don't see how the addition of sky ships can't improve a plane that is otherwise so boring.

No major surprise to the color scheme here - whites and celestial blues. The giant carrot is a nice touch, and I'd love it if the first thing you saw when you reached Heaven's astral shores was a "You Are Here" sort of map. A map is organized (i.e. Lawful) and helpful (i.e. Good), so it makes sense. Also notice Shep, Heaven's answer to Cerebrus. I think I'd like a Heaven of solars, planetars and devas who look like push-over Hallmark card angels - especially when they lay the celestial smack down on the adventurers who - let's again be honest - are almost certainly up to no good.


  1. "Acheron is the plane of Death Metal" - I think I lived in the flat above Acheron for a while ;)

    Genius, as always!

  2. That was a really cool idea for a post.

  3. Wow. Interesting connections there. Definitely some stuff there to act as a springboard for the imagination.

  4. Flea - I'm picturing the devils that live on Acheron being waaaay too into the whole "devil" thing. The inhabitants of Hell probably roll their eyes a bit when they visit - "We get it - death, destruction, pain. Chill a little. Where's the Starbucks?"

    Dan & Trey - Thanks. Totally unplanned post, but sometimes those are the most fun.

  5. This is great. Amusingly insightful, even.

  6. <-- Would totally buy a poster of a composite image cosmology map

  7. "Fewer viking babes in the search results than I would have liked, though."

    That's true of all my searches.

    This is a cool idea. I really like how the color schemes come through at a glance.

  8. It was a fun post to do. Glad everyone seems to have enjoyed it.

  9. Just got around to reading this one, but it's great!


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