Bleeding Edge (3.5e Campaign Setting)/Cosmology
The planet Accolade is an Earth-sized planet in an average star system, though home to two moons; the larger and gray Millen, and the diminutive but brightly shining Whitehund which chases it. This material plane is average of what you expect, with an ethereal plane and shadow plane, and the astral plane supporting it within the metaphysical framework. The elemental planes are intact as well, but the world breaks from the traditional setting when it comes to the outer planes. The outer planes are difficult to approach and ill understood, consisting of the Heavens and the spirits of good; the Boneyard, home of calm neutrality; Hell and its foul spirits; Dreaming Leng, home of drifting thoughts, ancient fey, and mysterious chaos; and at last the enigmatic Void. It is said that the gods themselves drift within the Void, communicating to their worshipers in strange whispers carried upon an airless wind.
When accounting for the changes, typically plane-shifting abilities can not travel to these outer planes. Typically travel there is only done under unusual circumstances, alien rituals, or ancient gateways which lead into these zones. Details of these new realms lay below.
The Material, Ethereal, Shadow, Astral, and Inner Planes
These planes remain much as how they are defined in standard D&D cosmology. While this is not unique, there are two places where the transitive planes of the ethereal and shadow meet the material plane. On these strange borders, a curious thing has arose in its place; the invisible feywilds and the subterranean underdark. These are not true planes, as they are technically part of the material (or alternatively, part of the ethereal and shadow if one is deep enough), and one cannot plane shift or teleport into them. Travel there only occurs through portals or hidden gateways.
Said to be the origin of all things fey, the feywilds are places where the material plane and ethereal planes meet. Completely invisible to the material plane, it is said that special areas under special circumstances can open the passage between here and there, becoming lost in the mists and ending up in a colorful, but dangerous, parody of the material plane. It is said that above the ethereal the light of the positive energy plane rains down upon the material plane, giving rise to the "steam" of the ethereal and casting a long shadow in the form of the shadow plane itself. Here, it is none more apparent as the world becomes simply more of itself. Winds are stronger, light is brighter, colors sharper, sound is louder. Here the dancing mad fey spin and twirl and leave mortals confused and lost for an eternity.
The feywild are a dangerous place, both for its extremes and its populace. Though not evil per se, fey are by and large careless and completely uninterested in the affairs of wandering mortals, like a human might see an ant. Woe be said ant who runs into a child with a magnifying glass.
The feywild has the following traits.
- Normal Gravity.
- Finite Shape. While the feywild follows the general terrain of the material plane to a degree, dimensions are altered and shifted and walls of mist often form the edges, leading from feywild layer to feywild layer in different places.
- Alterable Morphic. Like the material plane, you must affect the terrain through normal means.
- Minor-positive dominant. All creatures gain fast healing 2.
- Mildly-neutral aligned. In spite of the high population of chaotic fey, the world is no more influenced by alignment than the material plane is.
- Enhanced magic. Enchantment and Illusion spells are Extended within the feywilds. Such spells are cast as though they were prepared with the Extend Spell feat, though they don't require the higher spell slots.
- Impeded magic. Necromancy spells may fizzle when cast within the feywilds. A spellcaster attempting a necromancy spell must succeed on a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the level of the spell). Spells that produce undead are less effective in general, because the fast healing is a positive energy effect and deals damage to them on the feywild.
Within the lightless depths of the deepest caves in the material plane, it is possible for one to become lost and find themselves in a subterrean expanse which clearly should not fit within the geology of the world. This is the underdark, a land between the material and the shadow, where the normally suffocating caves below form distorted versions of themselves and plunge the environment in pitch black. Passages between here and there seem to spawn naturally, if rarely, but only underground. It is home to many warped shadowy versions of material plane creatures, such as drow and duergar. In fact it is believed that the drow were elves who for some reason or another were pushed into the darkness where they festered and grew foul and bitter. The underdark is a dangerous place, lacking normal food and filled with creatures tougher and hardier than would be found on the surface.
The underdark has the following traits.
- Normal Gravity.
- Normal Time.
- Self-Contained Shape. The underdark may not match up with the material plane's cave systems, but they are constrained to the same spherical planet. It is uncertain exactly what would happen if one was to reach the surface of the underdark, but it is theorized that it would bring you right into the Plane of Shadow itself.
- Alterable Morphic. Like the material plane, you must affect the terrain through normal means.
- Mildly-neutral aligned. In spite of the high population of evil creatures, the world is no more influenced by alignment than the material plane is.
- Impeded magic. Divination and teleportation spells may fizzle when cast within the underdark due to a mysterious radiation known as faerzress. For divinations every creature in an area affected by faerzress receives a +4 bonus on Will saves against all divination spells, including scrying and greater scrying spells. For teleportation, spells of the conjuration (teleportation) subschool do not work reliably over distances greater than 1 mile when either the origin or the destination is within an area affected by faerzress.
A character who casts a teleport spell or uses an ability or item that duplicates that effect must make a DC 35 Spellcraft check. Success indicates that the spell works properly; failure means that the teleporting character automatically suffers a mishap, just as if he or she had rolled 100 on the table in the teleport spell description, followed by an "off-target" result.
A character using a normally infallible form of teleportation magic (such as word of recall or greater teleport) must also make a DC 25 Spellcraft check. Again, success indicates that the spell works properly, and failure means the character suffers a mishap and an off-target result, as described above.
The Outer Planes
Unlike the inner planes, the outer planes are distant and mysterious. There is no array of planes for each sub alignment, but rather a loose collection of distant lands. Travel to the outer planes by magic is not possible, they can only be accessed through strange rituals, ancient portals, or other obscure methods of arrival and departure. Travel to the outer planes is almost always hazardous, for mortals stand out like a sore thumb in these worlds.
The Heavens Above
The forces of good are said to gather within the heavens, where angels, archons, and other good aligned outsiders can be found. It is also said to be home to the kingdoms of the blessed dead, where the soul of the righteous appear to enjoy their afterlife before eventually choosing sublimation into the light, or rebirth into the world. Few have visited this realm, for while the celestials are good they are also protective of the souls in their keep, and suspicious of impure mortal souls which would dare tread their sacred ground before they have been judged and permitted. Information about the afterlife is scarce, for the heavens are vast and the outsiders merely caretakers by their own admission. The gods are mysterious even to them, ever distant and speaking rarely.
Souls within the heavens are said to take on many forms, typically that of how they seemed in the prime of their life with a halo above their heads.
Forms of the traditional D&D planes may be seen from location to location, with some areas specializing for lawful good and others chaotic good. They remain part of the same world, and one could walk from Mount Celestia to the Arboreal Glades. For each area they would have the planar traits specific to them, such as the Arboreal Glades being mildly good and mildly chaotic-aligned.
For all purposes, consider The Heavens Above to be the equivalent of any of the good aligned outer planes.
The Boneyard Between
Not everyone can be a saint, but nor are they terrible beings. The fate of many creatures in the world is to join the realm of the dead known as the Boneyard. Though spooky in appearance, for it is a massive graveyard with cities of bone, the land is peaceful and its inhabitants kind. Here creatures live much like they did on the material plane, though free of suffering, thirst, and need. They follow their own little pursuits, guided by neutral outsider spirits of various sorts and generally leaving other spirits alone. On one end of the spectrum, giant frogs manipulate a great ever-changing swamp whose mud takes on the form of whatever they desire. On the other, a city of brass and steel rumbles with the efficiency of society working together for the greater good, extraplanar robots handling day to day tasks. And within the middle the black cloaked reapers watch the souls of those that have passed, keeping vigil.
Souls within the boneyard are said to take on many forms, but typically that of an undead or ghostly form of themselves in life. They are not undead, but their existence is a reminder to their own mortality. Like the heavens, forms of the traditional D&D planes may be seen from location to location, with some areas specializing for lawful neutral and others chaotic neutral.
For all purposes, consider The Boneyard to be the equivalent of any of the neutral aligned outer planes without good or evil.
The Hells Below
Some people simply do not deserve peace in death. The powers of evil form in the hells before, with devils running a twisted form of law and order keeping souls "safe" from the roving demons which populate this land. Neither subjugation by force or by threat are particularly desirable fates to most, yet some intentionally come down here seeking power. For while the celestials and boneyard spirits keep to themselves, the fiends are all the more happy to work with mortals and bring their influence upon the world above. Some even follow the whims of darker minded gods, though they remain mysterious to even the most powerful demon or devil.
Souls within the hells are said to take on many forms, but typically take on an appearance tortured, warped, or twisted of themselves. It is often suitable for their own inner ugliness that they possessed in life. Like the heavens, forms of the traditional D&D planes may be seen from location to location, with some areas specializing for lawful evil and others chaotic evil.
For all purposes, consider The Hells Below to be the equivalent of any of the evil aligned outer planes.
It is a realm that exists, yet doesn't.
It is the Plane of Dreams and Nightmares alike.
It is chaos unformed, shaped by desire.
The Dreaming Leng is said to be the realm of dreams itself. All beings which dream are said to scrape its surface in their slumber, only to forget it upon waking. Even those in a deep sleep rarely approach more than a few inches deep into its chaotic surface. Those that go truly deep will find a psychic maelstrom humming with the minds and knowledge of all living beings, a web of sentience that weaves all things together. Here, dreams become reality and wishes come true. But these wishes are a subconscious force and those without a strong force of will may easily find themselves in a nightmare they cannot escape from. Stranger still are beings which exist in this land, ancient eldritch formless monstrosities, Lovecraftian beings whose minds travel the cosmos, and Quori nightmare spirits. It is said that the true fey originated from here, and that the feywilds are but limited weakened forms of what they once were.
There is not much land in the Dreaming Leng, or at least not on a permanent basis. Self-contained bubbles of dream drift around like floating islands, unaware of the presence of others. Some places remain stable, providing a sort of land even without an apparent dreamer involved. The largest of these landmasses it simply known as Leng, and it is home to strange alien humanoids, giant spiders, and talking cats.
The Dreaming Leng possesses the same planar traits as the Region of Dreams from the Manual from the Planes. For all purposes, consider the Dreaming Leng to be the equivalent of the Region of Dreams. It's deeper parts are equivalent to the Far Realm.
It is the realm of the gods unseen.
It is the endless black void of space.
It is the host of the truth, and the source of all things.
The Void is the most mysterious plane of them all. To those few souls who have claimed to witness it, all they can report is an endless black sky devoid of air or matter. In the distance, stars shine gently with no one to witness. The Void seems to be outer space, and yet it is also apparently a world of its own. Somewhere in this expanse the gods dance, but if any had seen them none have returned alive to tell the tale. It is said that the power of the gods is so great that their very existence warps reality, turning your feeble biology into physics in an instant. In the extreme rare cases where a portal to the Void may exist, it usually leads to a rare chunk of matter floating in the dark. A floating abandoned castle, a mysterious station, and haunting stone monolith, and other such things can be found in the expanse.
The void has the following traits.
- Subjective Directional Gravity. There is no up or down, but with force of will one can project oneself into a direction of their choice.
- Infinite. It is not known if the Void even has an edge.
- Divinely Morphic. This is the realm of the gods, and all are at their mercy here.
- Mildly-neutral aligned. This is only for the Void itself. In the presence of a deity, the alignment changes to Major aligned to the appropriate alignment.
- Limited Magic. Creatures with less than caster level 10 are unable to cast at all, and must still succeed on a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the level of the spell). If the check fails, the spell does not function but is still lost as a prepared spell or spell slot. If the check succeeds, the spell functions normally. Epic level creatures, and divine beings, and the occasional rare creature who has entered the realm under "special protection" may cast normally.