Heroes of the New Day
Constellations & Astrology in our D&D world
These are the most widely-accepted zodiacal signs, used by most of the civilized races who care about such things (humans, elves, halflings, etc). It’s certainly possible that giants, thri-kreen, or orcs have their own astrological systems, but those are not documented anywhere that other humanoids have seen. While most commoners think that there are 12 constellations, actual astrologers will confirm that there are 13, though the last one is a bit odd (see below). Also note that stars may have completely different realities in alternate planes (like the Feywild), so just be aware of that.
All the nitty-gritty details are stuff you’ll only know with a high Arcana check (like the “13 Baleful Stars” thing that Valarie/Akara remembered with a check north of 30), but the general stuff is relatively common knowledge.
Oh, and while putting this together, I found this really cool article written by one of the D&D developers about where he got star names used in many of the Warlock powers. Neat stuff.
Northern Eye… equivalent of the North Star, 13 bright stars that look like a circle (outer 8) with a pupil (inner 5). The top and brightest star, Acamar, is always in the North and useful for navigation. Roughly equivalent to the dragon in Chinese zodiacs, this sign represents power and strength. This is what Akara remembered as once being known as the “13 Baleful Stars”, though you can probably count on one hand the number of folks who know that.
Twin Serpents… sometimes called the “Double Dragons”, this constellation can represent close friendship or intertwined destinies.
The Lumberjack… often depicted as a boy who becomes a man through hard work, this sign represents the forward momentum of change, which can often involve the apparent pain of chopping down things that you thought were permanent. There are many mentions of this constellation in bard songs about boys who became men.
The Longsword… a perfectly-aligned series of stars (with a 2-star hilt at one end), this sign represents certainty. It points from the lumberjack to the bear.
The Bear… a favorite constellation of barbarians and druids, this sign represents the wild energy of the primal source.
The Spider… not in any way associated with Lolth, this sign actually represents the meticulous order and planning of a spider laying down its web, and is a favorite among OCD folks everywhere.
The Flame… the D&D astrological equivalent of the tarot card The Tower, this sign embodies ruin and destruction, though sometimes it’s just chaotic change. This sign was rumored to have been blazing with red stars when The Great Cataclysm happened, but who can be sure of these things?
The Mug… a favorite sign among dwarves and halflings, this sign represents camaraderie, pleasant times, and of course drinking.
The Sickle… prominent in the sky during times of harvest, this sign represents the rewards of planning and hard work.
The Forked Path… a sign that represents uncertainty or mystery, but also the adventure of having choices.
The Owl… symbol of wisdom and knowledge, often said to “see through the darkness of ignorance”. A favorite among Iounic scholars.
The Spell… actually a cloud nebula visible to the naked eye, with stars that make out the corners of a book near it, this constellation represents magic and the arcane power source.
The Emptiness… the mysterious 13th sign, there are no stars in this portion of the sky. Those with looking glasses describe what appear to be great holes of blackness in this region of the sky. Astrologers are mixed on how to interpret this sign, though, and have debated it for centuries. Some think it bodes ill, representing shadow magic and death. Others see it as a clean slate, a new birth (making it popular among some deva astrologers). Others see it as the quiet emptiness that monks seek to attain in that one moment of perfect unity with existence. Still others say that there once was a constellation here, but it disappeared in the Great Cataclysm, or maybe as a result of the Dawn War, or maybe it’s where the Great Crystal Gate was. These debates are limited to scholars, though, as most commoners just don’t realize that they’re missing anything when they look to this part of the sky (so maybe it actually represents VECNA! Or maybe not…).
Other Night Sky Phenomena
The Far Wanderer. Every 250 years or so, a comet called the Far Wanderer crosses the night sky. It’s arrival appears not to be exactly the same each time it arrives (possibly it was thrown off by the Great Cataclysm), so astrologers never know which sign it will appear in, because it could appear at any time of any year, so long as it’s about 250 yrs since the last time it appeared. The comet is said to represent salvation and is seen as a symbol of the watchful eyes of the good Gods. The comet was first documented by an Eladrin astronomer and arcanist named Celestian in the year 2 AC, though he allegedly had reports he’d gained from divinations of previous arrivals of the comet in prior centuries.
Luna. While Sehanine has a general sway over things related to the moon, many Lycanthropes see the moon itself as a separate entity from any deity that claims its power. The moon is tied to tricks of the light, but also to the metal silver and the tides. There are some barbarian tribes (mostly in Norsca) who act differently depending on the phase the moon is in… for instance, they will only go to war when the moon is full. Eladrin have a special connection to Sehanine, and thus to the moon, so the Elvish word for moon, “Luna”, is the default name most races use to name the physical object. Worshippers of Sehanine often refer to Luna as the “eye of Sehanine”.
The Mercury Dragon. There is a constellation, not a major one, that has a particularly weird attribute: it doesn’t stay in the same place. While its 15 stars always form the same dragon-like framework, it has appeared in different night skies in completely different locations, sometimes next to the Emptiness, sometimes weaving down the Forking Path, sometimes conversing with the owl, sometimes not at all, etc. Try as they might, astrologers have not been able to find any logic or reason to the places it shows up. It was an Arkhosian philosopher who named the constellation after the Mercury Dragons, famous for their capricious and quick-to-change mindsets, and the name stuck.
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