Planar Cosmology

The Material Plane that holds the world of Toril is one of many planes of existence. Beyond Toril are domains of raw elemental matter and energy, realms of pure thought and ethos, the homes of demons and angels, and the dominions of the gods.

Many spells and magic items can draw energy from these planes, summon the creatures that dwell there, communicate with their denizens, and allow adventurers to travel there. As your character achieves greater power and higher levels, you might undertake a quest to rescue a friend from the horrific depths of the Abyss, or find yourself hoisting a tankard with the friendly giants of Ysgard. You might walk on streets made of solid fire or lest your mettle on a battlefield where the fallen are resurrected with each dawn.

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The separation between the planes is called the Veil, and the Veil is stronger in some places and at some times than others. Since mortals began using magic, they have found the Veil to be thin in some places on Toril. Fey creatures often slip back and forth between Toril and the Feywild and sometimes entire Fey cities can shift between the planes.

Beyond these “accidents”, it is possible to travel between these worlds and planes using magic. Clerics and Mages of sufficient power may plane shift between worlds or create portals and gates taking them from one plane to another and there are ships, such as Spelljammers, that can sail between the planes. And countless permanent gates between the planes have been created over the ages of mortals for those who know where to find them and how to activate them.

MATERIAL ECHOES

The Material Plane is a richly magical place, and its magical nature is reflected in the two planes that share its central place in the multiverse. The Feywild and the Shadowfell are parallel dimensions occupying the same cosmological space, so they are often called echo planes or mirror planes to the Material Plane. The worlds and landscapes of these planes mirror the natural world of the Material Plane but reflect those features into different forms-more marvelous and magical in the Feywild, distorted and colorless in the Shadowfell. Where a volcano stands in the Material Plane, a mountain topped with skyscraper-sized crystals that glow with internal fire towers in the Feywild, and a jagged rock outcropping resembling a skull marks the spot on the Shadowfell.

The Feywild, also called the Plane of Faerie (or simply Faerie), is a land of soft lights and wonder, a country of little people with great desires, a place of music and death. It is a realm of eternal twilight, with slow lanterns bobbing in the gentle breeze and huge fireflies buzzing through graves and fields. The sky is alight with the faded colors of the setting, or perhaps rising, sun. But, in fact, the sun never truly sets or rises; it remains stationary, dusky and low in the sky. Away from the settled areas ruled by the Seelie Court, the land is a tangle of sharp-toothed brambles and syrupy fens-perfect territory for the Unseelie to hunt their prey. Fey creatures, such as those brought to the world by conjure woodland beings and similar spells, dwell in the Feywild.

The Shadowfell, also called the Plane of Shadow, is a darkly lighted dimension, a world of black and white where color has been leached from everything. It is a place of toxic darkness that hates the light, where the sky is a black vault with neither sun nor stars. In the Shadowfell, pockets of pure evil exist. These Domains of Dread always form around an unrepentantly evil person or creature and act as both prison and playground for these sources of evil.

The Material Plane, Feywild, and Shadowfell are permeated, surrounded and connected by the Ethereal Plane, a misty, fog-bound dimension that is sometimes described as a great ocean. Its shores, called the Border Ethereal, overlap the Material Plane, the Feywild and the Shadowfell, so that every location on those planes has a corresponding location on the Ethereal Plane. Certain creatures can see into the Border Ethereal. and the see invisibility and true seeing spell grant that ability. Some magical effects also extend from the Material Plane into the Border Ethereal, particularly effects that use force energy such as forcecage and wall of force. The depths of the plane, the Deep Ethereal, are a region of swirling mists and colorful fogs. The Deep Ethereal connects to, and some say is bounded by the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea.

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE PLANES

Like a dome above the other planes, the Positive Plane is the source of radiant energy and the raw life force that suffuses all living beings, from the puny to the sublime, Its dark reflection is the Negative Plane, the source of necrotic energy that destroys the living and animates the undead.

BEYOND THE MATERIAL

Beyond the Material Plane. the various planes of existence are realms of myth and mystery. They’re not simply other worlds. but different qualities of being, formed and governed by spiritual and elemental principles abstracted from the ordinary world.

PLANAR TRAVEL

When adventurers travel into other planes of existence, they are undertaking a legendary journey across the thresholds of existence to a mythic destination where they strive to complete their quest. Such a journey is the stuff of legend. Braving the realms of the dead, seeking out the celestial servants of a deity, or bargaining with an efreeti in its home city will be the subject of song and story for years to come.

Travel to the planes beyond the Material Plane can be accomplished in two ways: by casting a spell or by using a planar portal.

Spells. A number of spells allow direct or indirect access to other planes of existence. Plane shift and gate can transport adventurers directly to any other plane of existence. with different degrees of precision.

Etherealness allows adventurers to enter the Ethereal Plane and travel from there to any of the planes it touches-the Shadowfell. the Feywild, or the Elemental Planes. And the astral projection spell lets adventurers project themselves into the Astral Sea and travel to the Outer Planes.

Portals. A portal is a general term for a stationary interplanar connection that links a specific location on one plane to a specific location on another. Some portals are like doorways, a clear window, or a fog-shrouded passage, and simply stepping through it effects the interplanar travel. Others are locations – circles of standing stones, soaring towers, sailing ships, or even whole towns-that exist in multiple planes at once or flicker from one plane to another in turn. Some are vortices, typically joining an Elemental Plane with a very similar location on the Material Plane, such as the heart of a volcano (leading to the Plane of Fire) or the depths of the ocean (to the Plane of Water).

The Elemental Chaos

The Elemental Chaos is the raw material of creation, that from which the universe arose. Untouched by the stabilizing divine influence that formed the world into a more or less permanent state, the Elemental Chaos is a roiling tempest of matter and energy, constantly created and destroyed by the mixing of the four primal elements, air, earth, fire and water. At times, areas coalesce into coherent shapes and terrain, but much of it resembles a stormy sea of churning destruction. The Chaos is at once the foundation of the world and the greatest threat to its existence. By its nature, the Elemental Chaos seeks to pull the created world into its embrace, and return it to its component parts.

There are four infinitely vast regions of the Elemental Chaos composed on only one element, and these regions are often referred to as the Planes of Air, Earth, Fire and Water.

The Abyss

Manifesting as yawning cracks and chasms descending below the Elemental Chaos’ surface, the malignant chaos of the Abyss seeks only to absorb and defile the rest of reality. Its native demons, ruled over by godlike demon lords, war amongst themselves and against anything brought within their reach, causing pain and destruction for no other reason than because they can. It is chaos- and evil-aligned.

Most of the inhabitants of the Elemental Chaos share a primal drive toward entropy. Many are creative in their own ways, building structures and civilizations, tearing them down, then beginning anew. Demons, however, driven by an insatiable thirst for destruction, seek to draw the entire universe into the vortex of annihilation that is the Abyss, their home.

OUTER PLANES

If the Inner Planes are the raw matter and energy that makes up the multiverse, the Outer Planes are the direction. thought and purpose for such construction. Accordingly. many sages refer to the Outer Planes as divine planes, spiritual planes. or godly planes, for the Outer Planes are best known as the homes of deities.

When discussing anything to do with deities, the language used must be highly metaphorical. Their actual homes are not literally “places” at all, but exemplify the idea that the Outer Planes are realms of thought and spirit. As with the Elemental Planes, one can imagine the perceptible part of the Outer Planes as a sort of border region, while extensive spiritual regions lie beyond ordinary sensory experience.

Even in those perceptible regions, appearances can be deceptive. Initially, many of the Outer Planes appear hospitable and familiar to natives of the Material Plane. But the landscape can change at the whims of the powerful forces that live on the Outer Planes. The desires of the mighty forces that dwell on these planes can remake them completely, effectively erasing and rebuilding existence itself to better fulfill their own needs.

Distance is a virtually meaningless concept on the Outer Planes. The perceptible regions of the planes often seem quite small, but they can also stretch on to what seems like infinity. It might be possible to take a guided tour of the Nine Hells, from the first layer to the ninth, in a single day-if the powers of the Hells desire it. Or it could take weeks for travelers to make a grueling trek across a single layer.

The Astral Sea

The Astral Sea is the realm of thought and dream, where visitors travel as disembodied souls to reach the planes of the divine and demonic. It is a great, silvery sea. the same above and below, with swirling wisps of white and gray streaking among motes of light resembling distant stars. Erratic whirlpools of color flicker in midair like spinning coins. Occasional bits of solid matter can be found here, but most of the Astral Plane is an endless, open domain.

The Solar Barge

The Astral Sea is infused with radiant light spreading from the Solar Barge of Heliopolis, home of the Mulhorandi Pantheon. Considered by many to be ancient gods worshiped on many different worlds, the Muhorandi Pantheon is the only pantheon whose dominion exists on the Astral Sea.

Outland

At the center of the Astral Sea is the plane of neutrality, known as Outland. Crossing the border (or landing as the Githyanki say), one finds themselves in a circular world, which is dominated by a great central spire. Atop this spire is the Dominion of Kelemvor known as the Fugue Plane.

The Great Wheel

The circular shape of Outland gave rise to the idea that the alignment planes are shaped like a great wheel around the Astral Sea. Most planar scholars diagram the planes as the Great Wheel, but the Githyanki who sail the Astral Sea scoff at such a simplistic diagram.

The most well-known Outer Planes are a group of planes that correspond to the alignments and the shades of distinction between them. Inside each of these alignment planes exist the Dominions of the Gods, which are infinite planes in their own right.

The Planes

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Planar Cosmology

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