From PathfinderWiki
The Maelstrom.

Cerulean Void
Subjective directional or normal
Chaotic neutral; strongly chaos-aligned
Swathes of malleable and ever-changing planescape
Source: Planar Adventures, pg(s). 184ff.

Collectively referred to as the Maelstrom (pronounced MEYL-struhm),1 vast swathes of uncharted, unclaimed terrain metaphysically border and surround each of the planes on the Outer Sphere. Mysterious and dangerously chaotic lands untouched by the gods, these regions lack the cohesive stability present in all of the other planes; even the brutal depths of the Outer Rifts possess a structure that the Maelstrom does not. Some scholars believe the Maelstrom to be ancient, pre-dating all other places in the multiverse, with the possible exception of the Outer Rifts. Certainly, the proteans are associated with the discovery of the Outer Rifts.2


For another meaning of "Borderlands", please see Borderlands (Osogen).

Rather than some ever-changing sea of randomness, when viewed from the edge of another plane the Maelstrom appears much like that of its adjacent neighbor. The Maelstrom spans two regions: the Borderlands, a broken ring around the perimeter of the plane, and the Cerulean Void, an ocean of liquid quintessence that can freeze or evaporate without warning. The differences grow more profound as one travels further from the stabilizing Borderlands to the mutable freedom of perpetual change of the Cerulean Void. The Maelstrom defies the efforts of mapmakers, as its very character shifts and flows like the tide of an unseen ocean, to which the Borderlands are but shores and calm shallows.345

Crystalline forests melt like candle wax into shallow brine seas with jewel-like icebergs, and then sublimate to vast parched deserts, all within the stretch of days. Still, islands of stability do exist within the depths of the Maelstrom. These islands are ruled by petty gods, exiled fiends, and fallen celestials, and even the rare stronghold of a mortal wizard or priest-king can be found holding itself against the metaphysical lapping tide.3

The Maelstrom is infused with the quintessence of destroyed outsiders whose energies failed to reach planes of their own alignments, and it grows by eroding and consuming quintessence from planes of the Outer Sphere. Such quintessence returns to its unaligned potentiality via the Antipode, an aeon-guarded hub that redistributes it back to the Creation's Forge.6


A protean gazes at the Maelstrom.

Souls whose life mirrored the chaotic randomness of the plane undergo perpetual change in the Maelstrom, and chaotic powers may draft them to fight in wars on the ordered city of Axis.7

As it touches all other Outer Planes, the Maelstrom's Borderlands are full of wanderers, exiles, and armies from other planes, entities that sometimes possess characteristics and behaviors at odds with their origins. The native inhabitants of the Maelstrom are the chaos beasts, living incarnations of entropy; the valkyries and einherjar, risen soldiers; chaos incarna; and the ancient serpentine proteans. The Maelstrom's shades, known as the shapeless, are incorporeal and constantly change their shapes; most of them end up becoming chaos beasts, unless they specifically asked a protean chorus for transformation into one of them, or qualified for the status of valkyrie or einherji.5

Claiming to be the first children of the Outer Sphere, the keketar, imentesh, and naunet proteans worship the Maelstrom itself and the godlike beings they refer to as the Speakers of the Depths, whom scholars speculate to be something akin to a pair of conjoined gods or a single dualistic entity.3

Hunduns are uneasily accepted within the Maelstrom, as they embrace its destructive aspects even though they shun its creative ones, and are largely left to their own pursuits by the proteans.8 Screaming owlbears are also said to inhabit the Maelstrom.9

Resident deities

The Maelstrom is home to one of the most diverse collection of divinities in the Outer Planes.5 Roaming the infinite vastness of the Maelstrom's sea is the titanic vessel known as the Seawraith, Besmara's flagship and home. The Pirate Queen leads an armada of shade-crewed ships and drags floating wreckage, loot, and crazed undying sailors in her ship's wake.10 Meanwhile, the lord of river travel, Hanspur, claims large portions of the River Styx that passes through the Maelstrom as his own territory, battling daemons who seek to plunder the realm's souls. The rivers he claims twist and divide without cause, never staying in the same place for long.11

Perhaps one of the more hospitable places in the Maelstrom belongs to Naderi, goddess of romantic tragedy, whose realm is the pristine Palace of Love Eternal. The palace is filled with gardens and groves, sun-dappled clearings, with ponds and streams of clear water. Her shades wander the various locales as couples, as if seeking something they left behind in their mortal lives.12 The goddess of illusion magic and mirrors, Sivanah, makes her home in Sivanah's Realm, a strange place of which little is known. Travelers may pass through it without knowing they passed through anywhere except through a preponderance of mirrors, and the realm itself is always changing location and appearance.13

On Golarion

Warpglass is a physical manifestation of Maelstrom quintessence, and has been fashioned on Golarion into certain types of items, including weapons and the Cane of the Maelstrom.14


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Erik Mona, et al. “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 247. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. James Jacobs. “Premortality” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 2. Paizo Inc., 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 F. Wesley Schneider. (June 25, 2008). "There Are More Things in Heaven and Earth...", Paizo Blog.
  4. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 244–245. Paizo Inc., 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Robert Brookes, et al. “Chapter 3: The Great Beyond” in Planar Adventures, 185–189. Paizo Inc., 2018
  6. F. Wesley Schneider. “The River of Souls” in Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh, 71. Paizo Inc., 2014
  7. Matthew Goodall, et al. “Bastions of Balance” in Champions of Balance, 13. Paizo Inc., 2014
  8. John Compton, et al. “The Monitors” in Concordance of Rivals, 25. Paizo Inc., 2019
  9. Richard Pett. Owlbear” in Dungeon Denizens Revisited, 37–38. Paizo Inc., 2009
  10. Robert Brookes, et al. Besmara” in Inner Sea Faiths, 27. Paizo Inc., 2016
  11. Robert Brookes, et al. Hanspur” in Inner Sea Faiths, 63. Paizo Inc., 2016
  12. Robert Brookes, et al. Naderi” in Inner Sea Faiths, 81. Paizo Inc., 2016
  13. Robert Brookes, et al. Sivanah” in Inner Sea Faiths, 87. Paizo Inc., 2016
  14. Benjamin U. Fields, et al. “Player Rules” in Ruins of the Radiant Siege, 73–75. Paizo Inc., 2020