Planes of Existence
The world of Tellura is divided into many planes, different dimensions where even the simplest laws of time may bend and break. Each of these planes has a place in the astral sea – the cosmic field of Tellura, from the outermost peripheral planes to the very center of cosmic existence – the primordial planes, where pure elements roil endlessly.
Travel between planes is possible, if difficult, and is not always reversible. Such travel often requires great magic or the assistance of beings such as the gods themselves. It is theorized that since all planes float in the astral sea, travel could be possible with an advanced enough ship – moving off the edge of any plane and sailing to another. This has yet to be confirmed, and the distances are so vast it would be unlikely that a single generation would be able to complete a voyage. The likeliest target from the material plane is any of the echo planes, as they overlay the material, occupying largely the same cosmic space, but this too is as of yet out of reach.
Each plane is also home to its own set of inhabitants, from the aberrations of limbo to the fey of the Feywild. The home of a creature often determines its base instincts and alignment and staying in a plane not home to oneself may cause a being to be altered at a base level. Time may work differently across planes and even with successful return, creatures that make such a journey will forever be changed and may return to a place they do not quite recognize.
At the very edges of cosmic existence are the two peripheral planes, both constantly attempting to expand through the other and gain the upper hand.
Also known as chaos or sometimes the far realm, limbo is the everything from which the world was created by the Timeless. Still encircling the entire known world, at every moment it threatens to close in on the small paradise of Tellura that exists and consume it never to be seen again.
It is believed that travel to limbo would nearly immediately kill a mortal, leaving their soul forever lost in the chaos, unable to be retrieved by Aurora. Should one manage to survive, it would be impossible to come away from limbo without madness, for a mortal’s mind is not designed for such a chaotic environment. In either case, none have yet managed to pierce through the void and reach limbo – at least none that have returned to tell the tale – leaving many to believe that it is impossible.
Some believe that mortals could survive in limbo at least for a short time, for creatures do survive in limbo. Aberrations of all kinds, creatures defying all rules of the mortal worlds, abominations created by chaotic forces which occasionally find their way through the void and enter Tellura, establishing themselves in often bloody ways.
They come from a world of chaos, and so they see that as the natural state – the stability of the material plane offensive to their very nature. For in limbo, the landscape constantly shifts and changes, as if always trying to be something else. Sometimes everything aligns and limbo appears as a stunning landscape of ice and glass, but only for a moment because immediately it will change again, possibly entirely disappearing into smoke and fog.
The creatures that live there change too, limbs getting replaced or shifting through colours and shapes. Scholars who study these aberrations believe they may have influence on the changes that occur to them and the area around them. This influence may manifest as the abilities they carry with them when they appear in Tellura and may be the only reason for their continued survival in limbo. After all, the Timeless themselves came from limbo, and they too have the ability to shape the world to their every whim.
Home of demons, the void is the buffer between limbo and the rest of Tellura. It acts as a shield, the outskirts an unthinkably massive net of stars that hold limbo at bay through incredibly powerful magic. Beyond the stars, the void spawns demons, a second line of defense that tears through aberrations that find their way across.
Also known as the abyss, the void is the opposite of limbo – a truly empty world with only small floating shards of wasted landscape, always torn in perpetual battle. Legions of demons train and war on these gray fields and are rarely defeated. More commonly, it is through stealth and cunning that they are beaten, or sometimes by pact. Few choose to do so, but as ultimately chaotic beings, demons too may choose to turn their gaze inwards to the material planes, especially if they have been summoned before.
Whilst summoning demons to the material plane is understood by mages, moving oneself there is more difficult. Very powerful magic is capable of the feat, as is the theory that sailing to the very edges of the astral sea would bring one to the abyss.
Few have made the journey, and fewer still have survived the horrifying battlefields of the void, but accounts have been made through history of powerful mages and adventurers that have seen the void and lived to tell the tale. They all say the same – it is an extremely dangerous place, becoming more so the closer one gets to limbo. However, it is also a place where magic simply hangs in the air – constantly exuded by the stars that shine in the darkness. A truly amazing, if terrifying sight.
Within the bounds of the peripheral planes lie the supernal – planes of angels, devils, and souls. These vast expanses differ widely from one another, yet all share a close connect – not just to each other but also to the material plane via the ethereal. They are the planes of the dead and yet unborn, the heavens and the hells.
Fields of the Lost
In death, souls are guided by the goddess Aurora to the mistress of the dead, Aequa. There, she judges them and sends them to the heavens or the hells. Yet not all souls can be found by Aurora or by chance are left behind. Those souls eventually fade through the ethereal plane and end up in the fields of the lost.
The fields appear as an endless plain of short, gray grass where souls, like ghosts, can simply spend eternity. There are no features to the landscape and the souls that reside there resemble little more than shades that simply float along. These souls have spent so long deteriorating in the deep ethereal plane after death that there is little left of the person they once were – not even physical details remain, just the basic outline of a humanoid form.
Travel to the fields of the lost is relatively simple, as there are no wards or guards to stop travelers. This is simply because there is nothing there for the living – they cannot interact with the lost souls who cannot even acknowledge the presence of another being. Those who study the afterlife and have been to the fields describe them as an intensely depressive experience, and very few mages with the skill to travel across plains travel there for any purpose.
Some say the edges of the fields align with the base of the heavens and the uppermost edges of the hells, but due to the massive size of each of those plains, none have been able to truly determine the truth of this assertion. Spending such a long time in the fields of the lost would be sure to drive any mortal into a deep, catatonic depression.
From the base of the heavens many lucky souls look up to see a great mountain, so tall the peak is completely obscured in clouds. These souls live their afterlife at the base of Mount Caelestis where they may follow pursuits that interest them for the rest of time. Here, many farmers make small gardens and smiths create trinkets, honing their abilities. Sailors sail great lakes and artists create depictions of whatever they wish. Here, the dead may enjoy simple pleasures on their own time as they see fit, watched over by angels from afar.
As a soul rises into the lower reaches of the mountainside, the plateaus of greenery and small towns invite them to a life of good company and food, where learning and discovery is shared. Libraries of books interest the reading mind whilst pursuits such as astronomy or alchemy can be trained in workshops. Souls may share their discoveries or work alone, as may they move from pursuit to pursuit as they please.
In the cover of clouds, the middle portions of Mount Caelestis are home to wariors who train and practice, honing their skills and abilities in trials of patience, endurance, and strategy. Warrior angels train and meditate with them, shaping the clouds into battlefields according to the wishes of the training souls. Here, skills can be trained without fear of injury and learning can progress in many facets – from single combat to large-scale strategy and tactics.
Souls are invited to each of these levels and may settle as they wish wherever they find their everlasting peace. However, the highest reaches of Mount Caelestis are reserved only for the souls of those who have proven themselves to be truly worthy of a blessed afterlife. Paragons chosen by the gods and other pure souls as selected by Aequa can share with the gods their true home, Elysium at the very peak of Mount Caelestis. It is said that Elysium appears to each inhabitant as they wish it to be.
Other than Elysium, there are a number of notable locations in the heavens. The Pools of Tranquility are places of healing where souls who left behind loved ones may observe their lives. Similarly, there are holy places on the material plane where reflections of these pools can be seen and on the right nights by the grace of the gods it is said a mortal can see their loved ones who have passed on smiling back at them.
Deep in Mount Caelestis, the forges of Calor burn. It is from this forge that many incredibly powerful items have come, including the very weapons of the gods themselves. Adventurers dream of seeing the wonders hidden within the forge – artifacts of many incredible qualities.
The gardens of Nurta are similarly wondrous, growing heavenly fruits in wild orchards on the slopes of Mount Caelestis that are said to cure all mortal wounds and illnesses.
Though it is a place of peace and comfort, the heavens are tightly defended from incursion. Angel protectors hold any threats at bay – including adventurers who wish to explore the heavens. Unless a soul has been judged worth by Aequa after its death, it is seen as a potential threat and will be barred from the heavens. However, whilst entering the heavens before death is foolish, observing them is permitted through divination magic or contact with deities. Even only through observation, the heavens have an effect on mortal souls, instilling them with feelings of peace and selflessness.
The exact location of the heavens is a mystery, further complicating travel to the plane. Many say that Mount Caelestis stands above the material plane and can be reached by moving upwards through the astral sea, or through portals at holy places on the material plane. Most believe these methods to be only myths, as neither has ever been proven, yet still stories circulate about adventurers sneaking into the heavens and stealing the blessed fruits or celestial creations.
Deep beneath the material plane lie the hells, a plane with nine circles, each worse than the last. Here, devils punish the souls of the wicked with flame and steel.
The first layer of hell, known as Típota, is also the easiest to access. Many tales are told of adventurers who bravely delve into hell through a gate on the material plane that leads into the first layer. Though rare and always incredibly well hidden, these gates have been referenced many times through history as back doors into the underworld.
This entry point into the circles of hell resembles an empty battlefield, broken weapons and broken bones scattered over a charcoal black wasteland. Low-ranked devils roam in search of others to torment whilst souls unlucky enough to be judged unworthy of the heavens but lucky enough to be only assigned to this circle roam aimlessly for all time. These souls are not to be punished further and are condemned to simply exist.
Large crevasses throughout the hells allow for passage between circles and in moving from the first to the second, all trace of the ashen gray sky disappears. The second layer, known as Lagneía, is similar to the first in that is it largely empty. However, the ground slopes here unevenly, always towards the next crevasse, threatening to throw souls deeper into the hells. It is here that souls of lust must endure, forever moving against strong buffeting winds that push them deeper without rest. Where these souls chose to live arbitrarily by lust, they must now forever focus on their single task. Flying devils guard the exits to this realm lest a soul near them but rarely is such a feat achieved.
Laimargía is the third circle of hell, where gluttonous souls lie in a mire, surrounded by rotten fruit and meat, all covered in a deep mud. They forever hunger, but those who bring the food to their lips become sick, throwing it up and only adding to the bog around them. Devils oversee the souls condemned to lie in their own sickness, enjoying their perpetual torment. Occasionally a soul makes a deal with a devil to be taken deeper, if only for a short break from the hunger.
Those that do so are taken to the fourth circle of hell – Aplistía. Here, the overly avaricious and greedy fight endlessly over great weights of gold, never allowed to sleep for fear of losing their possessions. Constant paranoia follows these souls, and yet they can barely move the golden weights to hide or even claim them and can never believe them safe. Occasionally a devil will throw a gold coin or similar to the souls, only for them to rip and tear at each other in an attempt to collect it. When one finally claims the coin, it disappears, an illegal possession on the plane.
Deeper still into the hells, the wrathful fight over nothing at all, driven to constant anger by the prodding of devils that revel in their torment. They also seek to fight and claim the great city of Dis that stands as a beacon of the devil’s power over their eternal wards in Orgí, the sixth circle. The city is well defended however and will never be taken by souls with no means of doing so. Even if it were, there is little to be gained, for behind the pale marble walls of Dis is only the entrance to the next circle of hell.
The sixth circle is reserved for heretics – those who would openly defy the Protean Gods, most notably by supporting the Elder Gods. These souls are condemned to be trapped as their false gods were, bound by their hands and feet to the walls of the labyrinthine Aíresi. The worst among the heretics may be deserving of their own cell, a punishment to fit their crimes in life devised specifically for them by the devils that roam these endless halls.
Vía, the seventh circle, is home to the violent, an endless river of boiling blood where souls that lived their life with the spilling of blood may now experience that blood for all of eternity. Devils patrol throughout the plane to ensure no souls are able to rise out of the blood for any length of time. Dotted throughout Vía are small copses of trees where those who were violent against themselves, cursed to hang for eternity. These are not the depressed, the lonely, or the scared, but those who relished the pain and blood, the disfigurement of their bodies and the fear that they struck in the sane.
A great waterfall of boiling blood falls into the eighth circle, the layer of hell known as Apáti. Here, thieves, falsifiers, and seducers who had gained by the exploitation of others are condemned to move forth through sticky pitch as they cough and wheeze in sickness. Those fraudulent and malicious are forever drawn forth by the promise of a cure, exploited into the pointless act of mixing the tar pits of hell – a punishment for exploiting others in life with their own sticky fingers.
Finally, the last circle of hell is reserved for those of treachery. Prodosía is so deep in the hells that no warmth reaches it and within the ice of the circle are trapped the treacherous. The betrayal of family, community, guest, or lord was the denial of love and warmth – a warmth these souls will never feel again, unable to even move. The deeper one looks into the ice, the worse the souls – traitors and oathbreakers, and finally at the very deepest center of hell lie the remorseless, never to see light again, condemned to freeze in perpetual darkness.
Though typically described as a group of four planes, the primordial planes are known to border with each other and could be described as a single plane centering around a true elemental chaos in the very center of Tellura. Where each plane borders with another, a fierce battle rages, each element vying for superiority.
The primordial planes connect to the material in places where that element is strongest, forming traversible - if incredibly dangerous - passages through the centers of volcanoes, in endless whirlpools, or similar locations. Through these passages may come the denizens of the primordial planes, creatures which exhibit the qualities of the elements from which they are born – for no creatures born of the primordial planes live a mortal lifecycle, but each is formed form the elements and eventually returns back to that purer form – the form of air, earth, fire, or water.
At the meeting point of the primordial planes, a fierce battle rages, where each element attempts to find superiority over the others. Often, they combine – fire and earth becoming magma or air and water forming ice.
No creatures can survive here, not even those born of an element lest they be torn apart by the others. As such, some say this is the least inhabited plane of Tellura, for even limbo is populated by creatures.
The pure arcane energy of these planes is not without use however, and expeditions to the elemental chaos by extremely talented mages have resulted in the creation of many powerful objects infused with elemental energy. These expeditions have never pierced deeper into the elemental chaos than its shores, typically from the plane of earth, where the ground churns, unstable. Similarly, the shores of the plane of water are like an ever-rushing waterfall, the plane of air like buffeting whirlwinds, and the plane of fire roaring flames.
Plane of Air
Constantly waxing and waning in strength, the winds of the elemental plane of air never stop. No matter where one finds themselves, winds chase them – whether light breezes or gale force whirlwinds. Storms are also common throughout the plane and travelers must always be wary of approaching clouds. There is little in the plane of air to stop the progress of wind, though the plane is not devoid of features as one might suspect.
Once thought to be an empty plane nestled between those of fire and water, the plane of air actually supports a large ecosystem of creatures and biomes. The nimbus hills are sprawling cloud landscapes, dense enough to support various creatures – from aarakocra to cloud giants. However, as the winds blow, the hills change, sometimes slowly with light winds and other times quickly with storms. The clouds may be split apart or forced together, and the creatures that dwell there must always be ready to move, mirroring the air around them. More than a location, the nimbus hills are a terrain within the plane of air that may be stumbled upon in many places.
Perhaps the most famous location of the elemental plane of air is the city of Kuangalia, supported in a large swath of nimbus hills by magic of the locals. The white buildings crafted of marble and quartz gleam in the ambient sunlight of the plane of air and the locals include djinn, aarakocra, and vaati. Travelers who have made it to these reaches of Tellura recall that those who live in the plane of air flit from task to task, never staying still like the air around them. Those same travelers show those same tendencies even on the material plane, at least for a short time after their return.
Where the plane of air nears the elemental plane of fire, dark clouds fill the skies – clouds of ash from which lightning jumps erratically. This is the elemental pseudo-plane of lightning, a dangerous place where only the most skilled of navigators may be able to find safe passage through the electric storms. Visibility is extremely low streaked only with bright flashes of light. Because of this, like all of the transitionary pseudo-planes, it is impossible to truly determine when one leaves the plane of air and enters the plane of fire.
Plane of Earth
Perhaps the most stable plane of all, the elemental plane of earth is a great mountain, filled with deep crevasses and precarious ridges. However, for the inhabitants of the plane, the surface holds little meaning, for the real beauty of the plane of earth lies below, in tunnels carved by xorn or caves opened by the ever so slow shifting of the plane. Here, gems shine and veins of ore sparkle. It is from these places that many rare metals and gems were dug by legendary blacksmiths for their masterwork projects.
However, even for experienced adventurers it is not so easy to simply travel to the plane of earth and collect riches, for the creatures that live here are possessive and greedy, never wishing to give up the treasures they see as theirs. Dao build cities exclusively of precious metals and gems, the most famed of which is Amatshe, where the spires sparkle at the top of Mount Insimbi.
Towards the plane of fire, the mountains grow warm, natural furnaces where many inhabitants have set up forges for their metalwork. The smell of brimstone hangs in the air here and the clanging of metal can be heard without pause.
In the opposite direction, towards the plane of water, mountains give way to mud, great plains of which slowly flow and threaten to immobilize unwary travelers. The mud eventually gives way to a great swamp, the pseudo-plane of poison. The air here becomes thick and hardly breathable, whilst the ground acts like quicksand, always attempting to pull travelers down. Large trees grow here with thick vines on their branches, all covered in a slime that is sticky to the touch and lightly acidic. Dangerous oozes move through the waters which steadily deepen until the ground eventually disappears, giving way to the elemental plane of water.
Those who have spent time on the plane of earth say that though it can be very peaceful, the creatures of the plane never stop working and this becomes the norm. The collection and refinement of materials seems to be all that matters, and this greed can often follow a mortal back should they ever return to the material plane.
Plane of Fire
Believed by many to be an inhospitable wasteland, the elemental plane of fire is more than simply a blazing inferno. Creatures of fire live on cinder-strew badlands where rivers of lava flow from volcanic mountains. Lava lakes with burning shores dot the landscape – places where salamanders and efreeti bathe and battle. Occasionally storms of fire rain down from clouds of ash, typically spreading from the volcano ranges, but otherwise the weather is simply hot, a great sun heating the plane to unbearable levels for mortals.
Like the creatures here, mortal that decide to stay in the plane of fire for some time develop a tendency to act by their passions, often aggressively. Creatures native to this plane can be combative and arguments often develop into more dangerous situations, reflecting the destructive properties of fire. When they return to the material plane, this fiery attitude will sometimes get them in trouble once they are no longer surrounded by those who are used to it.
The badlands are home to many nomadic creatures, tribes that move through the wastes and vie for territory and control. Travelers must keep their eyes open, for even though there are few landmarks, each tribe keeps their claims guarded and always under watch.
Of interest to many travelers are the Charcoal Stacks, an area where tall columns of charcoal stand often aflame. Despite the constant flame, the charcoal never seems to diminish, and for this very reason the charcoal is valuable to blacksmiths for the purpose of creating ever-burning forges, where the coals will always hold heat and never diminish. They are difficult to extract, like attempting to cutting pieces out of a great tree without toppling the entire trunk with the added difficulty of the charcoal always being hot to the touch.
At the border of the plane of fire with the elemental plane of earth, floes of stone float on lava in the elemental pseudo-plane of magma. From the volcanoes in the plane of fire flow rivers of lava that merge with the molten magma under the surface. Stones crumble from the plane of earth and float downstream towards the elemental chaos, forming a most dangerous, always moving pattern of steppingstones. Large spurts of lava jettison from the magma like geysers without warning, keeping this area difficult to pass even for flying creatures. Similar geysers are dotted throughout the plane of fire – sudden, spontaneous, and extremely dangerous.
Plane of Water
Found between the planes of air and of earth, the elemental plane of water is an ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. Waves constantly flow in various directions, following currents under the surface of the water. Islands are few and very far between, typically only small rocky crags that provide rest for merfolk or sirens that wish to breach the surface.
Few ships sail the surface here, and any larger than a small skiff attract attention from the monstrosities of the deep. There are many creatures that never breach the surface, serpents of incredible size that hunt each other, always feeding on the smaller and growing endlessly.
The size of these creatures is nothing compared to the depth of the ocean, which many claim has no bottom. The light that filters through eventually disappears, and even the merfolk tell tales that none who ever swim below the light level ever return. What little has been seen of these creatures has inspired tales of pale monsters, many of which produce their own light, of sizes that exceed any imagination.
Scattered throughout the plane, within the lit areas of the ocean, homes created of woven seaweed are bound together, communities of merfolk and triton that float along the currents. Sometimes these communities come across each other, giving way to trade or combat with about equal regularity.
In the direction of the elemental plane of air, the seas grow cold, then frigid. Large ice floes float along the surface, slowly giving way to icebergs and eventually a wall of ice – the elemental pseudo-plane of ice. The weather here is just as likely to kill a traveler as any creatures that burrow through the ice, great blizzards constantly raging and threatening to freeze any living beings to the core.
The steady flow of the elemental plane of water is soothing to travelers, and many say they find peace floating along the waves. When they return to the material plane, they bring with them an aura of calm and tranquility.
Existing parallel to the material plane, the echo planes are places similar to, but distinctly different from the material. Almost like reflections, the echo planes show exaggerations of some qualities of the material plane.
These planes exist in much the small cosmic space as the material, offset only by a small margin. Each of these planes overlaps with the others and the borders between each are thin, most of all on the material plane. Portals to each of the echo planes can be found scattered throughout the discs of the material plane in places where the cosmic borders overlap.
Like the feywild is a rough opposite of the shadowfell, the dreamsteppe is the opposite of the material plane. Where the material plane is grounded and constant, the dreamsteppe is constantly changing. Where there are definite truths and lies or acts of good and evil, on the dreamsteppe such concepts are not differentiated. Just as the material plane is shaped by physical work of the hands, the dreamsteppe is shaped by the mind, the thoughts of the creatures who have learned how to do so.
To many mortals, the dreamsteppe is familiar yet exotic, for many see the dreamsteppe as they sleep, and some are even able to learn how to shape it from the safety of their beds. Not all recognize this as a real place - many commoners believe their dreams to be only figments of their imaginations.
This is also in part that unlike the other echo planes, the dreamsteppe is more difficult to access by magic. Because of its ever-changing nature, pinpointing a location to travel to is difficult, and arrival can always be dangerous. The plane feeds on the thoughts of its inhabitants - the trained mind can shape and form it, but the untrained mind may begin to see its fears and nightmares. One must be prepared and mentally strong upon arrival in the steppe.
Despite this, there are native creatures to this plane. Beings known as vedalken inhabit this plane, shaping the areas they call home into paradises by mastering their minds and thoughts from a very young age. These few stable oases can be difficult to find and are often kept that way in order to preserve them. Select few mortals have access to these places and they are sworn to secrecy - by magic if need be.
The effects of the dreamsteppe on mortals can be varied. Mortals may easily go mad, beset by their fears or regrets. However, those who persevere find themselves in control of their minds and ultimately calm. Many mortals also say that time spent in the dreamsteppe begins to blur together, and when they leave, they remember little if anything at all. Such effects may be removed by magic, and adventurers should be prepared to do so lest they forget their time and discoveries in the dreamsteppe.
Some find their minds open to the energies that flow through the plane, their dreams infused with power. Beings with this connection become known as kalashtar and some may find their powers translate to the material plane, where their dreams become much more, memories of the dreamsteppe.
Though it may change on a whim, the base terrain of the dreamsteppe is similar to the material plane painted in pale pastel colours that run together like paint. The hills slowly roll across the landscape and the trees sway as they are pulled along. Leaves flow into the air like paint disappearing on the wind and where waves lap at shores the water flows into the sand, never seeming to pull back into the ocean.
Other than the vedalken, most creatures that live on this plane have no physical bodies, spirits which can affect the world but are safe from the effects it might have on them. Some believe these spirits to be sleeping minds, and some of them may very well be - powerful enough imaginations to have constant presence on the dreamsteppe. Other creatures of dreams may also appear here in order to guide lost minds - unicorns, nightmares, or even sometimes the souls of the dead may be sent by the gods or other powerful beings to commune with the dreaming.
Also known as the plane of faerie, the plane of truth, or simply as the fae, the feywild is a place where magic thrives, often believed to be the upper or better echo of the material plane. Here, faeries and hags live in forests of lush trees and rivers of pure water rush into seas where the water glimmers in the twilight sun.
The sky of the feywild is perpetually purple in hue, trending towards a light pink during the day and a dark indigo at night, the sun seems to shine as if through a filter. However, the light levels of the feywild remain relatively stable, and many mortals find they need to actively pay attention in order to discern day from night. For most creatures of the feywild, this makes no difference. They sleep when they are tired and roam when they are not, true to their instincts.
For the creatures of the feywild are nothing if not true. Of the many hags, faeries, satyrs, eladrin, and even giants and blights, no creatures born of the feywild can lie. Yet because of this, they are also perhaps the least likely to tell the truth, preferring to omit key details and otherwise trick mortals and each other into agreeing to deals that are not quite as they seem. Some, such as the hags, do so maliciously in an attempt to further their own insidious plots. Others, like the eladrin may simply do so because they know no other way. Mortals who spend time on the plane of faerie will begin to assimilate this trait.
Another trait the denizens of the fae share is their susceptibility to cold iron, a dark metal from the shadowfell that burns fey creatures on contact. Adventurers would be wise to travel with weapons of this kind for their protection, yet should also be advised to keep them hidden, for just revealing such a weapon is seen as a threat on this plane. The magic of the feywild also produces a metal found nowhere else. This metal, called brightsteel shines with a dim light and is very effective against creatures of the shadowfell.
Adventurers who choose to make their way to the feywild have a number of ways to get there. There are locations on the material plane where the cosmic borders grow thin and simply by stepping through, mortals can arrive in the feywild. Such places may be immediately obvious – a waterfall flowing in reverse or an archway on a hill that looks out into a foreign sky – whilst others may be more difficult to spot – a forest which never seems to end when travelling in a southern direction or a field of flowers that bloom in a specific pattern after the rain.
Other more stable methods have been devised over many years. Elves of the material plane have connected to their planar brethren the eladrin, and portals have been established, where with the right reputation an adventurer might gain access. Talented spellcasters can simply shift themselves and others to the feywild should they please. Many also say that should a ship be created that can successfully navigate the astral sea, the shores of the feywild would be within reach.
Leaving the feywild is of similar difficulty, though a way back across may not always be in the same place as the original way through. As with any of the echo planes, a return will likely not be at the same time that one came through in either. Months spent in the feywild might be only hours on the material plane or days in the feywild could be years on the material plane.
When leaving, one must also be careful to do so only when all prior engagements in the feywild have been resolved. Agreeing to a meeting or a dance in the feywild is a promise that cannot be broken without consequence, consequences which may follow one back to the material plane. For the same reason, one must be careful with whom they spend time in the feywild and pay particular attention to what they agree to. Even a simple nod may be taken as agreement to creatures that don’t recognize direct deceit.
One would not wish to miss a dance in the fae anyway. The fey creatures of this realm are well known for their enchanting celebrations, where whole days melt away in dance and song. The Summer Court, a large conclave of fey is known to captivate mortals with their celebrations, and though no harm is meant, one must be extremely careful not to lose track of oneself in the festivities. The creatures of the feywild have long lifespans, and celebrations for them may continue for many years without pause - a charmed mortal may never see the end of them.
Such a charmed mortal may also wander off, believing the entirety of the feywild to be so welcoming and joyous. Yet it is not, for where the forests of the feywild thicken and the low mountains rise, hags and giants lurk, welcoming mortal flesh for their next meal. Sometimes called the unseelie, these fey are dangerous and tricky, looking to corrupt mortal souls and gain from it - hags may be willing to strike deals in exchange for a wandering mortal’s life. The rules of the feywild still apply - the hag will never lie, yet always attempt to trick or mislead, and a mortal who breaks a promise will have to watch their back forevermore.
The dreaded shadowfell is the plane of apathy, dusk, lies and deceit. Where creatures of the feywild only tell the truth, those of the shadowfell never do, should they speak at all. Many creatures here wander, lost and hungry. Some of them used to be mortals, reduced to little more than husks by the grim energy of the shadowfell.
Mortals who venture into the shadowfell must be extremely careful. The eternal dusk of the plane keeps the forests of withered trees dark and the winding paths unsafe. Lakes of cold, still water may surprise those who travel off the beaten path, yet it seems the traveled roads only lead to ambush. Crows track travelers, hopping from leafless branch to leafless branch, framed by pale moonlight through cloudy skies. The dead grass crackles and the gnarled roots of trees stick out of the ground to trip unsuspecting travelers.
Few mortals retain their sanity for very long in this place, and even the local denizens are rarely of strong mind. Here there live shadar’kai, cousins to the dark drow, as well as kenku, believed to be cursed since the Sundering to never speak their own words. Sorrowsworn roam the planes and even the dragons of the shadowfell as infused with the dark energy. Those who return whole to the material plane often take years to recover and tell of the pure despair and apathy that pervades the plane.
Some who stay in the plane of dusk manage to find their way to a more populated society and live in relative safety. The shadowfell is dotted with small enclaves of crumbling buildings and half-built walls. Torches burn dimly, carried by guards that wander the outskirts while the inhabitants live a slow life, knowing that nothing they do will last here. Clothes deteriorate just as quickly as they can be sewn, walls crumble as they are built, and even the water gets dirty as one drinks. Crops grow pitifully small, raised by torchlight and necessity. Hunters bring back small, tough game that barely feeds the common man.
Yet here are places of more effective life. Some shadar’kai have learned to protect their minds and hold their sanity. They train in martial arts and magic, drawing on the shadows of the plane to aid them in stealth and surprise. Their strongholds attract attention from many, but they defend themselves with lethal force, only taking in those they believe may aid them. Even within however, one must remain on guard, for whilst their mind may be protected from apathy, deceit runs rampant and the webs of alliances are near-impossible to truly comprehend.
There are few methods maintained to travel to the shadowfell, and those who guard the entrances must rotate frequently to not fall into apathy. These typically connect to contacts in small villages that are maintained by the guards to create a façade for the portal. Groups that travel to the plane are very targeted in goal and well defended, usually by adventurers carrying weapons of brightsteel, a metal from the feywild that seems to burn the creatures of the shadowfell. The main reasons to travel here are to obtain cold iron from the dim caves and craggy mountains, to study the ambient magic of the plane, or, for those with less noble intentions, to hire assassins or other criminals from amongst the shadar’kai or kenku. Mortals who travel to the shadowfell would do best to make their journey brief, for the energy of the plane will quickly invade their minds and cause them to drag their feet. The longer they stay, the more entrenched they become.
If not by teleportation or gateway, there are other ways to arrive at the shadowfell. Some believe that should a ship be created that can travel through the astral sea, it would need only dip below the material plane to arrive in the shadowfell, the darker, deeper echo plane. Less theoretically, mortals may be lost to the shadowfell through places on the material plane where the cosmic boundaries grow thin. Dark forests may shift unsuspecting commoners on nights of the eclipse, when even starlight is covered by clouds. Dark corners of graveyards may hold open graves that when fallen into transport one into the shadowfell with no way to return.
Yet whereas the feywild presents ways to return, the shadowfell looks to trap its inhabitants, and there are very few natural ways to cross back. Some believe that such crossings may only be found when the clouds of the shadowfell sky part and the moons light the way, though many claim this does not occur in the plane of deceit.
Once, many aeons ago, the material plane was a vast landscape of mountains, plains, and seas that gave the mortal races a place to live and love under the eye of the gods. In those days, the gods had not yet divided, and the races were guided by all of them. Now, however, the material plane has been divided in an event known as the Sundering, where the many gods fought amongst themselves and created the divide between Elder and Protean Gods.
It was the Sundering that broke the material plane, dividing it into the material discs. Each disc floats slowly through a small part of the astral sea, orbiting each other in unknown patterns. Sometimes these discs meet, coming together for a time before pulling apart again. This is not a destructive process as many would believe, but, facilitated by magic, the discs come together in a bright green flash of light on the horizon, then stay together as if magnetically for some time before disappearing in a similar manner.
This process is unpredictable, though some say there may be a way of divining when it may happen again. Planes may meet for as brief a period as a couple hours or may sometimes stay connected for hundreds or even thousands of years. Multiple discs may meet at the same time, creating a chain or a cluster that can be traversed, allowing extremely varied peoples and cultures to come together or to clash.
Scholars cannot claim to know how many discs exist – there may be some that drift alone, never connecting to others, lost in the outskirts of the material plane. Others connect often and even have systems of portals for travel between them. These discs are known as the core and are well documented across each disc.
Each disc is different, presenting varied cultures and peoples, technology and magic levels, as well as climates and biomes. Some discs are also smaller than others – discs may hold only an archipelago, or they could hold multiple continents. Between the discs on the material plane, there are also pieces of discs that were broken off during the Sundering. These are known as shards, and they may occasionally drift into the discs, floating above or beside them.
Many adventurers and researchers travel to the edge of their disc, wondering what the view could present. From the edge of the disc, there is only nothingness – endless space extending as far as the eye can see, sometimes with a shard or two floating along. Other discs cannot be seen in this way however, as the veil of the astral sea prevents it. They simply seem to appear in a flash of green light.
It has been this way since the Sundering and will likely remain ever so, for only the magic of the Ancients or the Timeless could bind the material plane together again, but the Ancients still sleep and the Timeless only ever watch. This is not the only change the Sundering caused. Many mortal races went extinct in those days, massacred by the destruction of the gods. In an apology to the peoples of their world, the protean gods decided that the world would be best to forget the horrors of divine war. They cleared the minds of the mortals that survived and brought them back to a state of primitivism, able to regrow in the world. But the gods were unable to truly reset the material plane, and so, hidden throughout the discs, are artifacts of that era – ruins, weapons, and tomes of knowledge that lie hidden throughout the world, waiting to be found. These are relics of incredible value, and many collectors and scholars would do just about anything to get their hands on one.
Apart from the last remains of the Sundering, the material plane has moved on, outgrowing its difficult past. New races have risen to prominence and live in nations that rise and fall with the passage of time. Alongside the elves, gnomes, and dwarves whose lineage still survives from the Sundering live humans, halflings, dragonborn, minotaur, and orcs, with members of each race as varied as the races themselves.
Even amongst the core material discs, this variance is great. On the disc of Alaam, drow, duergar, and svirfneblin live under rings that cast great shadows over the rocky deserts and fungal forests. Áras is known for more traditional forests, though extremely infused with magic, where centaur, elves, gnomes, and many kinds of tinyfolk and fey creatures mix as they please. Cerc is much better known for its order, the great Dragonborn empire of Ancora holding influence over much of the disc. On Jorden, dwarves and humans create great works of technology, utilizing power generated by steam and bottling it for usage in various projects. Méros is much less advanced, a disc where minotaur and mousefolk build temples of marble and sail the seas of adventure with bronze weaponry. In the jungles of Tlalli, yuan-ti build temples where sacrifice is given and, on the plains, aarakocra hunt in the wake of great wurms. The disc once known as Hasiera is no more however, having ruptured under great magical stress caused by a massive war between the githyanki and the githzerai. These races are now doomed to live on what is called the shattered disc, the remains of Hasiera that still float in the astral sea.
These are not the only discs, but the best known of the core, places where histories intertwine and portals lead. Other discs may be discovered, holding races yet unknown and adventures yet unheard of. Many scholars and mages study what they can of the discs but it is extremely difficult to glean any real knowledge and so the material plane remains shrouded in the astral sea. Some believe that perhaps a ship designed to traverse the astral sea could move between the discs and enlighten mortals as to what lies in between, but to this day, none have been able to design such a vessel.
Sometimes together and sometimes on their own, the material discs continue to develop and support mortal life. Commoners throughout farm and create, adventurers explore, and monarchs rule. Of these people, the gods may choose to appoint paragons who followed their calling. Wars are fought and heroes inspire great tales. It is here on the material plane, where life is lived.
Though these are not true planes, the transitive planes occupy the spaces between the many planes of Tellura. Each provides methods of transitioning between the planes and are often empty – few if any creatures are native to these planes, but many learn to utilize them to their benefit.
Pervading all of Tellura, the astral sea is the physical space between the planes. Many mages have considered the possibility of creating astral ships that can move in all directions utilizing the psychic winds to navigate through, but none have managed to develop a design they are confident in.
Part of the difficult comes from the fact that though the astral sea can be navigated physically, it does not follow physical laws. Creatures can float with ease but have little to allow them to change direction. They may also breathe yet the psychic winds are not of air but of the energy that pervades the plane.
Moving into the astral sea from any other is relatively simple, if difficult. One must only travel to the edge of the world and step off. They may fall for a time, but will eventually reach the astral sea, where they can travel onward. In order to return, once a traveler has arrived, they must land at the shores of a plane, battling against the return of gravity and the effects it may have on their ship.
In the astral sea, silver mist hangs, obscuring vision of much of the plane. Occasionally blown by psychic wind, it may reveal a path but generally only serves to make navigation much more difficult. As such, from the astral sea very little of the planes can be seen – only their shores. However, there are also other locations in the sea. Small islands may float, drifting endlessly. Some may have passengers – creatures or plants that have survived despite the constant twilight. Great monstrosities of limbo that manage to get through the void may also travel here, and though rare, meetings with these creatures are most often deadly.
Such creatures are most common in the deep astral sea, beyond the material and echo planes. The astral sea within this region is believed to be much safer, protected not just by the void, but by angels and devils of the heavens and hells, as well as the elementals of their planes. It is also believed that to even travel from the material to the primordial planes through the astral sea would take several lifetimes even of the most long-lived races, and the only feasible travel would be between material discs and possibly to the echo planes.
Called by some the ghost plane, the ethereal plane borders each of the other planes, an invisible, silent companion. Creatures that move into the ethereal plane can see the plane they originated from but cannot interact with the plane, allowing them to move like a ghost – in any direction as well as through obstacles like walls or floors.
However, visibility on the plane is limited – a pale blue mist shrouds everything. Creatures that can see into the ethereal plane see everything in the same pale blue colour, and this also determines how mortals see ghosts or other ethereal creatures.
Many believe that because of the freedom of travel on the ethereal plane, it could be used to move between planes, though many believe this to be a foolish notion. Because creatures of the plane cannot interact with objects, such a journey would have to be taken on foot – a creature would die of old age before it reached its destination even if it discovered a way to eat and drink on the plane.
As a creature moves deeper into the ethereal plane, distance becomes meaningless. Once away from the borders of a plane, what is known as the deep ethereal behaves in a different manner, where space and time have no meaning. A creature could travel for what feels like weeks and miles, yet never move an inch and return just after they left. Other creatures simply never return, likely moving over millions of miles and not being able to return home, the mists of the ethereal plane shrouding the way from them. For this reason, very few mortals undertake any travel in the deep ethereal, and those that do are highly skilled mages, capable of returning home by means of teleportation. Their journeys are simply for study, for they need not use the plane to travel.
For some, the plane – at least the border regions – provide means of escape or ambush. Some creatures such as the phase spider have perfected techniques of hunting that involve shunting itself into the ethereal plane, then only reappearing to ambush prey.
Some tales say the ethereal plane is also where the souls of the newly dead go and where they are met by Aurora for guidance to Aequa’s judgement. However, this has never been confirmed though many have attempted to study it. The myth likely comes from the ghosts that haunt places of their death, though this is possible likely because the soul itself chose not to move on and remained in the ethereal on purpose.
Though many have tried to pinpoint its location, none have discovered where the nexus lies in the cosmology of Tellura. Accessible only by doorways that appear and disappear without warning or pattern, the nexus is a large network of hallways and stairs that opens into any location in all of Tellura – if one can only find the right door.
All routes in the nexus eventually lead to its center, the city of doors known as Sigil. Here, clockwork creatures can point a traveler on their way for the right price. Goods and information of all kinds ends up in Sigil, though rarely is any of it meant to find its way there. There is no promise that a traveler can find a route to return to Sigil once it has been left, and doorways to return to the nexus may never reappear again.
From Sigil, hallways and stairs lead out in every direction, though the direction they travel is meaningless. Hallways that never curve or turn might simply lead right back to Sigil. When traveled in the opposite direction however, they can lead to a very different place. Along these halls, portals may open or close at any time to anywhere, yet the clockwork beings always seem to know where to go for just the right one.
On the far side, these doorways appear in a multitude of ways – sometimes simply as doors that may stand against a wall or entirely on their own. Occasionally, these doors even replace doors that already exist. Other times a door to the nexus might simply be behind the bark of a tree or under a large boulder. It may appear as a brightly lit portal of huge dimensions or as a small, simple hole in the world.
The halls of the nexus however are always uniform – a pale gold colour with static, unmoving lights in the ceiling exactly 10 feet apart. The walls cannot be scratched, and the lights cannot be moved or broken. Even enchanted adamantine weapons simply slide across them without leaving a mark, though any clockwork being that catches an outsider attempting to damage the nexus may see this as cause to defend its home.