Astral Sea

Another plane of existence, generally referred to as “The Plane Above”. You’ll need an insanely high Religion check to innately know all these details, but they’re generally available in most Library Temples of Ioun, so the information is hardly a secret.

Welcome to the world above the world of mortals, an infinite silver expanse dotted by countless small shards of land, scattered larger islands, and the dominions of the gods. Here are some key highlights to keep in mind as you prepare to use the Plane Above in your campaign.
The Astral Sea is a former battlefield still ravaged by the cosmic conflict known as the Dawn War. The deities were the original inhabitants of the astral realm when the world was newly created by the primordials and the mortal races had yet to find their final forms. Along with shaping and refining the creation of the world, the gods had grand plans for a single realm that would link all their dominions together with an all-powerful astral connection known as the Lattice of Heaven.

When the Dawn War began and Tharizdun tried to unmake the Elemental Chaos (and, in the process, the rest of reality), the primordials responded by invading the Plane Above. Gods died, dominions crumbled, and the incomplete Lattice of Heaven was shattered into fragments. The astral world that had nearly become a fantastic interlocked mesh of divine dominions blew apart into an infinite silver sea. Much later, when the gods had eked out a narrow victory in the Dawn War (thanks largely to the intervention of the Xel’Naga), only a few of the divine dominions that survived the devastation still functioned for their deities, hinting at the glory that died forever when the primordials destroyed the Lattice.

Since that time, shattered dominions (those that no longer have a deity), ruins, corpses of forgotten gods and primordials, and war magic left over from the Dawn War still linger within the Astral Sea, whether on shards of matter scattered throughout the astral realm or floating freely through it.

The Astral Sea is the setting for many separate afterlives for mortal worshipers of the gods. Each of the functioning divine dominions has its population constantly refreshed by a small number of exalted, the spirits of dead mortals restored to life in new physical bodies known as soul forms. The exalted are generally not the protagonists of the great stories of the Plane Above, since they generally maintain their immortality only while they stay within their god’s dominion.

Domains, Demi-planes, & Locations

Most every God has his/her/its own demi-plane within the Astral Sea, though they are not all easily connected. In addition, there are many former realms of dead gods and other planes that sort of embody ideas related to the gods or particular concepts. Of course, you’ll likely want to find a Githyanki interdimensional ship (often called a “Spelljammer Ship”) to get you across the Astral Sea from one realm to another. Here are the major domains, though other deities may certainly have their own smaller realms as well, possibly shared with other deities (this is especially true for racial pantheons).

ARVANDOR, The Verdant Isles
The realm of eternal natural beauty ruled over by Corellon & Sehanine. This realm has gone through many changes, especially after Lolth was banished from the realm of her siblings and the World Trees connecting this realm to the Prime Material Plane and the Feywild were destroyed. Ellistrae also has a place here, though she keeps mostly to her own island, where moonlight reflects off every pool and she can watch her followers dance in the night. Arvandor hosts great hunts whenever an abomination escapes the Red Prison of Carceri, and the exalted that dwell here join their gods in hunting the beasts the other gods felt the need to lock away.

Even though the Astral Sea is a three-dimensional void, it has a distinct horizon that forms something like the surface of an ocean. The mists below this surface are darker and denser, while the mists above the surface are brighter and more open. Most creatures and vessels slowly orient themselves toward this subtle demarcation, often without realizing it, in order to travel along the “surface” of the Astral Sea. Vessels in the Astral Sea tend to meet along this nominal surface, creating encounters that begin in a space that seems two-dimensional, though it can become three-dimensional as soon as vessels begin maneuvering for position. The functioning divine dominions all rest along this surface horizon. A vessel approaching an astral dominion normally does so from the dominion’s equivalent of sea level, or from its equator for those dominions that are shaped like globes. It’s unusual, though obviously not impossible, to drop in on a dominion from a pole or the zenith of its sky.

Originally a laboratory where some gods created abominations to fight the primordials, part of Tharizdun’s attempts to break reality involved making this region a self-sufficient source of increasingly awful abominations. To stop them, the gods created the Red Prison, a section of folded space deep beneath the astral sea where the abominations would never escape. However, 4 gods (Corellon, Sehanine, Avandra, and Melora) knew that no prison could ever hold these creatures forever, so they each invested some of their power to divert any abomination that escaped the prison into Arvandor, where the exalted dead of Corellon & Sehanine hunt them through that realm’s infinite forests.

CELESTIA, The Radiant Throne
This realm is the home of Bahamut, Kord, and Moradin. Each god claims one of the realms infinitely large mountains as his seat of power, and the three occasionally hold court with one another from mountaintop-to-mountaintop, and they engage in a competition of sorts known as the Game of Mountains, though only they know the details of the game. A nightless realm, Celestia is lit by the radiance of its mountains. The light emanating from them varies throughout the day, from rosy and glowing to yellow and bright. At noon, the golden light reaches its brightest, before slowly shading back to orange and then pink again. Generally, silver clouds hang in the sky, providing shade where needed and an occasional brief, refreshing shower; if Kord is in ascendance in the Game of Mountains, however, the silver clouds build into thunderheads and let loose their storms.

The conjoined realm of Bane & Grummsh, the name of Chernoggar is often used as a curse by soldiers who are in a particularly awful melee (“We’ve really entered Chernoggar now, boys!”). It is a realm of perpetual battle, but not in the chaotic way that the Outlands are. Each god is a master general, and each has armies lead by the exalted of his greatest mortal generals. So the combats are… complex, to say the least. In addition to this, Bane has his own Hunting Lands (similar to, but completely separate from those in Arvandor) where he hunts the demons that Grummsh’s greatest exalted ritualists manage to summon up from the Elemental Chaos.

A veiI of mist floats atop the silver waters of the Astral Sea, parting at length to reveal a blue-gray landscape broken by withered rock and gnarled gray trees that clutch the stones tightly. There is no sun or moon; rather, the light of the realm comes from a towering golden statue in the center of the island. The humanoid shape is locked in a half-kneeling posture: It appears to be poised to move forward, extending a hand in front of itself. However, the hand is not out in a shielding gesture. It seems as if the figure is about to attack. but it has not moved in thousands of years. This is the realm of the golden monolith-a broken, unstable graveyard realm roughly one hundred miles in diameter that surrounds a petrified primordial. If the deities know who this great entity was, they aren’t saying. Erishani is the name of the only angel known to have fought in the battle that shattered this realm, and she is long gone. Legends say that Erishani was responsible for petrifying the golden primordial, but that claim is by no means certain.

HESTAVAR, The Bright City
Floating above the Astral Sea on golden clouds, Hestavar is the home domain of Erathis, Ioun, and Pelor… literally the brightest of the gods. Each of these deities has a desire to reunite the disparate realms of the Celestial Sea, though they vary in their methods. Erathis wants to rebuild the Lattice of Heaven, connecting all realms into a new divine collective. Ioun wishes to learn the locations and movements of everything in the Astral Sea, finding a focal formula that will solidify the sea into something else. Pelor feels that the key to connecting the heavens is to shine his light to all corners of the infinite sea. Each of their exalted followers find ways to pursue these goals. Hestavar is also the site where many Shardminds go to try and rebuild the Living Gate, and it appears that Ioun’s servants try to help them.

KALANDURREN, The Darkened Pillars
Glimpsed through the pale gray of its surrounding color veil, Kalandurren’s waterfalls and peaks show little sign that the dominion’s deity is dead-Amoth, the former master of this realm, was slain centuries ago in a battle against the demon princes Orcus, Demogorgon, and Rimmon. Once a traveler pierces the veil, the truth becomes apparent. A forbidding black island floats on a dead-gray sea that flows endlessly toward the observer, falling off the edge of the dominion in an endless waterfall. Overlapping stepped plateaus, each ringed with waterfalls, rise toward two immense mountains that jut into the sky like pillars. Formerly, a miniature sun and moon capped the mountains, and the dominion knew both day and night. The orbs are dark now, snow falls from a perpetually steel-gray sky, and the wind blasting down from the steppes carries the hunting cries of demons. Once a peaceful, well-ordered domain of shining castles and noble warriors, Kalandurren is now a ruined landscape where dark powers squabble over the choicest plunder. Kalandurren was the dominion of the god Amoth, a power of justice and mercy, but thousands of years ago the demon princes Orcus, Demogorgon, and Rimmon took advantage of a cosmic conjunction to storm Kalandurren and destroy it. Amoth destroyed Rimmon and nearly split Demogorgon in two, but Orcus struck down the deity, and the demons prevailed. Divine hosts from the dominions of other deities soon drove out the victorious demons, but Kalandurren was marred forever.

Mechanus is the embodiment of Law in the multiverse. Located on the edge of the Astral Sea farthest from the Elemental Chaos, everything in Mechanus happens exactly on schedule. Each cog sub-realm in this realm is an interconnected part of a massively complex whole. Mechanus doesn’t interact much with the other realms in the Astral Sea (or any of the other dimensions), though there are rumors that this is because the realm suffered some damage in the Dawn War when a primordial’s corpse was thrown into it by Grummsh. Many of the resident creatures of Mechanus are mechanical in appearance, and there are many who believe that Mechanus is the origin point of the Warforged (though there are plenty of other theories conflicting this claim).

The Astral Sea isn’t just home to the heavens, but also the hells. Asmodeus forged the Nine Hells from the rift in the Astral Realm created by Tharizdun’s attack in the Dawn War. This realm, unlike all others in the Astral Sea, can be entered by any wandering soul or exalted being in the heavens… though they can never leave. Asmodeus’s archdevils have rules they must abide by, though they hardly convey these rules to those they encounter in their roamings across the Astral Sea and other dimensions. While one might think the other gods could do away with this awful place… but for some reason they don’t. Could Asmodeus be using the many souls his devils take to give him some kind of power to hold the other gods at bay?

Dark tunnels weave together for hundreds of miles before opening onto caverns filled with terrors out ofnightmares. The cold inhabits tunnels and caves alike, until sudden cruel warmth heralds the arrival of an abomination that melts flesh and bone. But before all else is the ever-present wind, a harsh, scouring, maddening force that reduces mor· tals to gibbering ruin … and eventually to bone and ash. This is Pandemonium, a vast, twisted shell of a ruined world that somehow attracts more than its share of mortal exiles and misplaced outsiders. Some say that the tunnels are the veins of Tharizdun, and the stone his flesh-but ifthis is so, then they are the cast·off shell ofa deity long since departed from the dominion he created, and the wind is his parting breath, infused with the madness of the Far Realm. Pandemonium is not a place anyone wants to visit for an extended period, but the promise of ancient treasures hidden in its catacombs draws adventurers.

SHOM, The White Desert
Behind a brilliant blue veil, a shimmering white wasteland extends for more than seven hundred
miles, broken here and there by ruined cities, mesas of orange rock, and scattered oases. This is the white desert of Shom, a dominion that lost its deity in the battles of the Dawn War. Memories of the deity, known as the God of the Word, are hazy. One day Shom will have a new deity, if Erathis gets her way. When the God of the Word created Shom, he also created its sun and its moon-gold and silver vessels that sail scores of miles above the dominion’s surface. The god is long gone, but the magic vessels maintain their orbits and their defensive wards against pirates and treasure·seekers that try to steal the sun and the moon. If the mortals who populated Shorn had been as impervious to harm as the dominion’s satellites, Shom might have survived.

While technically located in the Outlands, Sigil also exists partially in the Astral Sea, and doors in this city connect to many individual divine realms. Though dealing with that awful city is more than difficult, many find it much easier than trying to traverse the infinite oceans of the Astral Sea.

TU’NARATH, Citadel of the Githyanki
Tu’narath is the capital city of the githyanki civilization. It is the fortress home of their current ruler, Vlaakith the lich-queen. Tu’narath serves as the nexus for the githyanki’s navigational charts, the supply point for their mobile shipyards, and the major permanent settlement of githyanki culture in the Astral Sea. All of the other githyanki settlements and citadels are designed to be abandoned if superior forces should attack them; githyanki military thinking advises that it is better to preserve your troops and slay the enemy with a savage counterattack than to allow yourself to be trapped and whittled down until you are too weak to attack.

Tytherion ia a realm of unending gloom and despair so palpable that one can smell it on the arid winds, and home of two of the darkest deities to torment the cosmos. In the high mesas and plateaus of Samaragd , the murderous serpent god Zehir coils through an endless labyrinth of caverns beneath the temples and sacrificial shrines. Throughout the lowland deeps called Azharul, the voracious dragon god Tiamat broods over ancient hoards and covets all that is not already hers. The exalted of both deities are known as darksworn. Their paths seldom cross, so one of the few mercies that uninvited guests in Tytherion can expect is that they won’t have to fight the forces of both deities at the same time.

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Astral Sea

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