At least in our Exalted game the question of “How secure is Elsewhere” is coming up.
To answer that, the first place to look is in the basic book, where “Elsewhere” is introduced.
Charm Concept: Elsewhere
Elsewhere is a place where things exist but do not interact or decay. Things that characters store Elsewhere are “safe enough.” Though Charms could exist to steal things from Elsewhere (and Elsewhere could theoretically have strange monsters, Malfean taint, Wyld energy or some form of entropy), it is sufficiently secure that the First Age Lawgivers never developed a better storage space. Storytellers who want to treat Elsewhere as an actual place with actual events should carefully make sure that this approach does not devalue Elsewhere-using Charms.
Of course, much of that that gets contradicted later; living things seem to still have internal time if they’re Elsewhere (starting with the Yozis, and characters in some of the white wolf’s cartoons), various elsewhere spaces – even those created by different castings of the Invocation From the Mirror spell – can allow people to move about, think, and interact, stuff can easily get lost in Elsewhere, entire realms can drift off there, and gods routinely drill holes into Elsewhere to make private pocket realms – and could presumably find stuff there. Player-characters are never bound by what has been done before – and inventiveness is not confined to PC’s anyway; lots of canon NPC’s have come up with new stuff. As for devaluing charms… canon new charms in later books have “devalued” a LOT of older charms; if that’s what happens, you just have to start using other charms.
In fact, the basic book itself later tells us that Malfeas is located Elsewhere – and there are a LOT of ways to get to Malfeas, and ways for demons (in fact a different way for every major demon) to cross into creation for a bit.
Still, in the basic book, “Elsewhere” is essentially the good old AD&D Bag of Holding – a safe place to stash your stuff and still keep it ready to had while you wander around in normal clothes.
So what else do we know about “Elsewhere”?
The richest source of information is The Black and White Treatise.
- It notes that spirit sanctums, are located Elsewhere, and that Yu-Shan is one big sanctum. (The Yu-Shan book tells us that the Celestial City was carved from Elsewhere while The Wyld tells us that spontaneous portals to Yu-Shan sometimes occur in the borderlands – ergo, the energies of the Wyld can be used to travel to places located in Elsewhere. Some further discussion of ways to get to Yu-Shan can be found HERE).
- Insidious Tendrils of Hate tells us that spells and other effects can travel through Elsewhere – normally following arcane links, which thus must ALSO reach through Elsewhere.
- Invocation From the Mirror tells us that people can exist, move around, and interact in Elsewhere-pockets, and that – once a link is established – mirrors can function as portals to at least one Elsewhere realm. Whether the spell uses a convenient existing pocket or creates and shares one is an open question.
- Invoking the Eyeless Face establishes that it’s both possible to imprison things elsewhere and to pull things out of elsewhere that you aren’t attuned to and didn’t put there – an interesting possibility considering the number of artifacts (stored by people who then died) that are lost there.
- Pressed Beyond the Veil of Time tells us that normally anything sent Elsewhere maintains at least one link with creation that can be used to reach or recall it – and also tells us that it is possible to reach areas lost in elsewhere that are no longer linked to creation, although such a venture is described as “an epic adventure all by itself”. Perhaps you have to go through the Wyld? I can’t think of many alternative routes save – possibly – creating a bridge through Oblivion (a stake through it’s heart!) and just finding a way to move through Elsewhere sounds like a rather boring trip. Besides, that fits in with the known fact that Wyld energies can open gates through Elsewhere.
- Death Mask tells us that spirits can survive in Elsewhere – and continue to experience time of some sort, since they heal there. Perhaps, like mini-yozis, they carry their own internal time – and so will be stuck in a body (if they have a body) which isn’t experiencing any, and so will be totally paralyzed. That’s potentially pretty nasty.
- Black Faith can explicitly transport it’s user to realms lost in Elsewhere, regardless of any defense.
Oadenol’s Codex has a few bits:
- Ultra-Deadly Traps tells us that an elsewhere pocket being sustained by a manse is inescapable unless the manse sustains damage. Of course, this is also a brief subnote. I suspect that the intent is not to tell players that “Oops! You got trapped! You are now out of play indefinitely!” but to present them with a challenge – and thus such a trap is not truly inescapable except for NPC’s.
- Manse Gates can go to quite unimaginable places, including several known to be Elsewhere (and some known to be mobile through both Elsewhere and other dimensions). That’s handy – and gives constructive characters a way to get into almost anywhere.
The Roll of Glorious Divinity tells us…
- “A god’s sanctum is a creation of her own soul, a pocket bored through immaterial reality and into Elsewhere” and that immaterial spirit doors connect them to creation. It also tells us that the Deep Wyld or Total Chaos can “dissolve” a spirit door, and kill anyone inside – presumably by flooding the place with Wyld energies and absorbing it. Gods have the innate ability to carve space from Elsewhere, although Elementals explicitly do not.
- It also tells us that “many powers aren’t designed to work between… “realms of existence.” – but that the Incarnae are not subject to this limitation (presumably that’s either an inherent function of having a very high essence or they have supplementary charms that bypass the limitation). By implication, you CAN design powers that work between such realms – but most people don’t bother.
From Wonders of the Lost Age…
- The Gates of Auspicious Passage travel through Elsewhere. It’s likely that most forms of “teleportation” do.
- Cache Eggs tell us that – sometimes – an unattuned artifact retains enough connection to whoever stowed it there to be recalled from elsewhere by a new Exalt, but that this is very difficult. Presumably the timeless nature of elsewhere preserves the vestiges of the old link.
That does open up an interesting can of worms though… Wouldn’t the soul also share a part of that old link? Does that mean that ANYONE with reincarnating soul and an active essence pool might be able to pull some weird artifact out of Elsewhere? Can ghosts do it? Why not? Might a lot of dead Solars have already reclaimed their artifacts?
From Yu-Shan we have that bit about the place being “carved from elsewhere”, but we are also informed that the Most Perfect Lotus of Heavenly Designs and the Loom of Fate create more space inside themselves than they take up by existing partially Elsewhere. Evidently extra space from Elsewhere can be overlapped into reality without much of a seam.
- Also from the Yu-Shan book we have the “Gaol of Roaring Thunder” – a wave formation that rolls across the seas. “Inside, hidden Elsewhere, is a prison for beings too important to kill out of hand but too dangerous to ever allow free. Ancient ghosts, powerful Celestial criminals, renegade demons, and even the odd Exalted pet of a high-ranking Celestial god are locked in the orichalcum and soulsteel cells.” That doesn’t really say much new about Elsewhere, but it IS an interesting little pocket realm.
According to Graceful Wicked Masques Raksha store all KINDS of stuff elsewhere (they can access it without bothering with a charm in the Wyld) and have died by the millions in Creation. That could be all kinds of fun if you develop a way to access Elsewhere or to pull unattuned things out of it. A device or charm that can randomly pull out natural hazards, uncontrolled behemoths, Wyld mutants, and dangerous chaotic items is JUST what every campaign needs isn’t it? Especially if you can convince someone to actually PAY for the thing instead of just inflicting it on them.
According to the Abyssals book, and the Slave-Spawn Summons spell, things may be summoned through Elsewhere. Of course, the basic book told us that much… Most of the other official references I can find are redundant; they’re usually referring to simply storing stuff Elsewhere via various charms.
So: Elsewhere is timeless in itself, although spirits can easily bring some time of their own along. It has an apparently endless supply of dimensional folds and pockets. It may not be truly secure, but it’s not at all bad as long as you’re not using a segment that someone’s added a door to – and it’s not as if ANYWHERE in Exalted is really secure; it is, after all, a setting where any kind of barrier or secure location is usually either some major treasure, cosmic evil in a can, or both – and there will be someone trying to kick in the door soon enough.
If there isn’t an external link or door handy, Elsewhere is usually pretty secure – but hardly universally so. Like most things it can also be a handy source of plot hooks if you look at it carefully…
As far as Charles and Aden – his Elsewhere-based “inner world” – go, he has an additional problem; As the equivalent of a Chancel-7, Aden normally manifests seven secondary entrances at “random but sensible locations” within seven miles of Charles’s current location. When sealed, those doors conceal themselves with twenty automatic successes and require a difficulty 14 larceny (or another properly stunted skill) check to get through – but, in Exalted, and much less in a city full of gods like Yu-Shan, such difficulties – while formidable – are hardly insurmountable. Moreover, there are probably many other ways to sense them or to exploit that link. Charles could have written up his charms so as to avoid that complication – but complications are a large part of what makes the game fun, so he’s quite intentionally got a lot of complicating features in his charmset.