A little scientific essay and lecture, written by a greybeard from my campaign
On the Nature of Creatures
By Professor Iochar Grithemin Ivander Blake
The multiverse holds living creatures in myriads of shapes and forms. Nevertheless, all these creatures show basic similarities, which together form the very definition of life. Therefore we shall first define what makes a living being.
A creature is always formed of two basic parts: a physical body, formed of any combination of the basic four elements which make up all matter, and an Animus, a spirit, which gives movement, thought and purpose to the body.
Now, by characterizing the different kinds of animi and body compositions, we can divide living beings in three basic groups, which also relate to the three great regions of the multiverse: the inner, outer and material planes.
The first group are the elementals, the creatures of the inner planes. Their bodies consist of raw and unrefinded elemental matter in large quantities and they are, in fact, mosty defined by their bodies. Scholars have long debated over the kind of Spirit animating these bodies. The most widely accepted theory is that the spirits are born from the elemental matter of the plane, which, basically, combines body and Animus to one single being. This exciting similarity is responsible for many of the traits of elemental beings. Because they are formed from the basic blocks of existence in both spirit and body, these two can never be seperated.
The inhabitants of the material planes are the mortal creatures. Now, here the term mortal is used with a different meaning than the one normally assinged to it: Not to define how long a creature lives, but what happens to it after it's death. The mortal body is, like the elemental body, formed from the elements. The mixture and composition, however, is incredibly more complictated. All four elements, together with positive and negative energy are required to form a mortal body and it's complexity still holds many mysteries to even the greatest scholars. The mortal Animus, however, is an entirely different structure from it's body: it is the structure we call soul. The origin or composition of a soul is still unknown, however it is clear that it is not formed from the normal elements. Unlike elemental creatures, the mortals soul can be seperated from it's body, as it happens upon death or under special circumstances, like astral projection. Now, the soul has one further astonishing feature: after the death of it's original body it leaves the material plane and migrates to the outer planes via the astral. There it formes a new body out of the matter of the outer planes and becomes the being we call a petitioner. The petitioner and the exemplar, the creature we will discuss in the next paragraph, are in fact so similar in many aspects that they have often been characterized as one group: the outsiders or externarii.
The exemplars are similar to the elementals in one aspect: their Animi and bodies are formed from the same matter. However, in their case, this matter is not fundamentally elemental in origin, instead they originate from the fabric of the outer planes. After creation, their Animi take on quasi-soul properties, while their bodies take on quasi-elemental traits. Ergo, the exemplar is a being of pure idea, like the outer planes themselves.
In conclusion, it can be said that all the planes harbor creatures similar to their very nature: the inner planes the elementals, creatures of pure matter, the outer planes exemplars, creatures of pure idea and the material planes a mixture of both.
Thank you for listening, questions will be answered during the next break.