Ascent Along the Way
A Layer is like a rung on the endless ladder of The Way, generally taking the shape of a vast circular valley with the Tower in the center. As one moves away from the tower, the valley begins to curve upward, and is broken by rugged hills. Toward the edges of a Layer, one will be forced to traverse steeper and more difficult terrain, until arrested by impenetrable mountains of obsidian. A wise traveler goes no further than this.
No two Layers are ever quite the same, and Layers themselves can change. Some Layers are barren and empty, with only scouring winds and trackless desert, lit by a hellish light. Other Layers are home to ancient swamps where the dead never die; oceans of burning acid and poisonous gas; vast troughs of shattered stone and burbling magma; writhing jungles of living vines that consume flesh. On the rare occasion that a Layer is not anathema to mortals, they will gather there, attempting to eke out a life in whatever conditions may arise.
Each Layer can have its own unique atmospheric and meteorological qualities; temperature, climate and weather, and the very composition of the air will vary from Layer to Layer. While the Tower will always contain a breathable atmosphere, the Layers may not. Furthermore, the Layers may or may not be lighted, and may or may not have night and day cycles—they may even be trapped in a state of perpetual dusk, or have ambient light that seems to ooze from everywhere, casting no shadows at all. Weather, too, will vary widely, from dry and violent winds to hot, muggy downpours. As often as not, the Layer may have air that is too poisonous to breathe safely, laden with toxins of myriad variety.
Layer flora and fauna
The natural life on any given Layer can be as varied as the climates and weather. Layers can be home to anything from dense jungles thick with wild beasts to grassy steppes with only the wind to rush through; on the other hand, a Layer is more likely to be a cauldron of venting steam and ash or stinking mire of rotting things than it is to be any of the two former possibilities.