- 1 Description
- 2 Getting there… and Back
- 3 Survival on the Astral Plane
- 4 Features & Properties
- 5 Hazards
- 6 Locations
- 7 Denizens
- 8 Adventure Seeds
The Astral Plane is a void; sometimes shimmering white, sometimes coruscating purple, sometimes a shifting colour that has no name in the tongues of elf or man. It contains more demi-planes, pocket realms and portals than any other plane. The rest of the planes – all that exist, save the Far Realms – float amid the Great Realm and thus the Astral Plane is coterminous with all others. It also serves as the great highway of the planes, and travellers of all sorts are common. The Astral Plane’s Time and Arcane traits combine to Quicken all spells cast on the plane.
- Subjective directional gravity: The strength of gravity on a plane with this trait is the same as on the Material Plane, but each individual chooses the direction of gravity’s pull. Such a plane has no gravity for unattended objects and nonsentient creatures. This sort of environment can be very disorienting to the newcomer, but is common on “weightless” planes.
Characters on a plane with subjective directional gravity can move normally along a solid surface by imagining “down” near their feet. If suspended in midair, a character “flies” by merely choosing a “down” direction and “falling” that way. Under such a procedure, an individual “falls” 150 feet in the first round and 300 feet in each succeeding round. Movement is straight-line only. In order to stop, one has to slow one’s movement by changing the designated “down” direction (again, moving 150 feet in the new direction in the first round and 300 feet per round thereafter).
It takes a DC 13 Wisdom check to set a new direction of gravity as a free action; this check can be made once per round. Any character who fails this Wisdom check in successive rounds receives advantage on subsequent checks until he or she succeeds.
- Timeless: Age, hunger, thirst, poison, and natural healing don’t function in the Astral Plane, though they resume functioning when the traveler leaves the Astral Plane.
The Astral Plane never mingles with other planes under normal circumstances, although magical accidents can bring about temporary vortices. Such incidents are quickly repaired by the Planewrights. Natural portals to the Astral Plane are rare, and usually occur where the fabric of reality has worn thin or large numbers of entities have used planar travel spells.
There are an infinite number of natural portals leading from the Great Realm to other planes. These are known as colour pools. They form and dissolve randomly as storms run across the Astral Plane.
That is not always a blessing. The Astral Plane is almost completely empty. Matter consists only of a few rare islands of stone. While the subjective gravity of the plane allows travellers to ‘fly’ at great speed, the astral gulfs are much, much too large for a character to get anywhere by controlled falling alone.
Magic such as teleport, an accurate plane shift or an astral vessel is practically a requirement for survival. Unprepared travellers who door to the Astral Plane can find themselves in the middle of an infinite nowhere. Neither starvation nor age will take them, so they must wait for an eternity unless they have some means of calling for aid (or killing themselves). Travellers using astral projection have another problem to deal with – the silver cord that links the projected form to the traveller’s real body. If the cord is cut, the character is slain.
The main feature of a waystation is its aethervane, a complex assemblage of crystals, brass rods, cogs and gauges. Aethervanes are sensitive to the distortions caused by the opening and closing of portals on the Astral Plane. A skilled aethervane operator can detect a portal opening millions of miles away. The waystations send their astral barges to these portals to pick up travellers.
Inside a waystation, a traveller may expect to find a small general store selling supplies (although food and drink are rarely sold), rooms to rent, a common room, a place to book passage on an astral vessel and the chamber containing the aethervane. As gravity is subjective here, chambers tend to be put to multiple uses; a craftsman on a waystation might have his bed and personal effects attached to the ‘floor’ of a room, and his tools and work area on the ‘ceiling’ – when he goes to work, he simply reverses his personal gravity and makes the work area into the floor. Waystations can be surprisingly well equipped for their size.
|Diminuitive||2-8||5 gp||Two 1st level fighters or warriors on a Barge|
|Tiny||9-40||20 gp||Four 1st level fighters led by a 3rd level Fighter, accompanied by a 1st level cleric or sorcerer|
|Small||41-90||50 gp||Ten 1st level fighters led by two 3rd level fighters, accompanied by a 2nd level cleric and sorcerer|
|Medium||91-200||100 gp||Double the defences of a Small station, plus three wizards with wands of fireball|
|Large||201-500||250 gp||Double the defences of a Medium station, plus an astral longship|
|Huge||501-1,200||750 gp||Double the defences of a Large station, plus bound guardian monsters such as arrowhawks|
|Gargantuan||1,201-2,500||1,500 gp||Double the defences of a Huge station, plus an astral warship|
|Colossal||2,501+||5,000 gp||Double the defences of a Gargantuan station, plus a chain lightning cannon|
|1||Diminutive||Humans||Welcoming||All astral barges are missing.|
|2||Tiny||Humans||Greedy||Strange disease on board.|
|3||Small||Elves||Nervous||Station is threatened by a monster.|
|4||Small||Gnomes||Hostile||Station is threatened by invaders.|
|6||Medium||Celephates||Confused||Aethervane is malfunctioning.|
|7||Medium||Psychomagnates||Wary||Magical items for sale.|
|8||Large||Undead||Festive||Station crew are pirates.|
|9||Large||Constructs||Bored||Station crew are insane.|
|10||Huge||Mixed race||Preoccupied||Portal has opened within the station.|
|11||Gargantuan||Mixed race||Mournful||Station is in the grip of civil war.|
|12||Colossal||Mixed race||Religious||All is as it seems.|
- Detect Nearest Portal (DC 11): The aethervane detects the nearest portal (which will usually be 1d100 x 1d100 miles away).
- Plot Portals (DC 12): The aethervane detects all active portals within 100,000 miles.
- Plot Course (DC 10): The aethervane operator can plot a course to a specific portal to guide a barge or teleport spell.
- Examine Portal (DC 13): The aethervane operator can examine the aura of a portal as if he were observing it using detect portal (see page 27).
The speed attainable by astral barges is extraordinary; the vessels flit in and out of the dimensions and attain velocities greater than even the swiftest air elemental (up to five thousand miles per day). However, the magical field that propels the barge is very fragile – if one barge comes within two dozen miles of another, both are slowed to the speed of a mundane vessel. Therefore, shipping routes on the Astral Plane are carefully planned and interceptions and piracy are common.
Some astral barges are converted from seagoing vessels, while others were built on the Astral Plane, and look like nothing that ever sailed – after all, they need no streamlined hull nor sails. A cargo ship, for example, might be nothing but four wooden canoes containing the psychic rowers, with a huge net strung between them.
The heart of an astral barge is the astral keel, the magical device that propels the barge. Most keels are driven by the will of the ‘rowers,’ except for magekeels (which drain spell slots – each spell slot gives as much ‘push’ as one rower) and binding-keels (which rely on magically bound creatures of high Wisdom such as gynosphinxes).
Vaults are a different and far more dangerous matter. A long-lost civilisation had the custom of entombing its vanquished foes in magically sealed vaults instead of merely killing them. These vaults blocked escape from within. The trapped creatures would float through the Astral Plane for millennia until they took their own lives – a fitting punishment for the enemies of the greatest empire in all creation (sadly, no living sage has ever learned the name of this ancient civilisation).
All vaults are identical – cubes of black marble floating through the astral gulf, with a single sealed door on each side leading inwards. When examined with detect magic, the vault radiates ancient moderate conjuration and abjuration magic. The vault cannot be entered using any sort of dimensional travel, as the inside of the vault is locked with a dimensional anchor effect. However, the door of a vault can be opened by a thief (Open Lock, DC 11 + 1d10) and the contents looted – assuming the vault’s prisoner is not still alive. To determine if the victim is still alive, have the denizens of the vault make Constitution saves (DC 10 + 1d10); if the save succeeds, the denizens have endured the centuries.
|1d8||Prisoner||Possessions & Treasure||CR|
|1||Bearded Devil||Amulet of natural armour +1, 400 gp, four vials of contact poison (nitharit, initial damage 0, secondary damage 3d6 Con, Constitution save DC 11). The vials of poison are attached to the front of the character and break if he successfully grapples an opponent.||3|
|3||Barbed Devil||Three elemental gems, one each of Earth, Air and Water, 500 gp.||5|
|5||Spirit Naga||500 gp, ornamental necklace worth 500 gp containing a bead of force and a potion of cure serious wounds.||8|
|7||Djinni||Ornamental lamp worth 1,500 gp.||11|
|8||Pit Fiend||3,000 pp; forty soul-rubies, worth 1,000 gp, stud the fiend’s tail; +3 flaming morningstar, cloak of resistance +5.||20|
If a character fails the Constitution save, he is blown off course for 1d4+1 days. Astrally projecting characters must make an additional Constitution save at the same DC or die as their silver cord snaps.
If a character fails the Wisdom save, his mind is blasted by the chaotic energies of the astral storm. He is stunned for 1d6 hours, and has 1d4 languages replaced by an equal number of random languages. Spellcasters who fail the Wisdom save have 2d10 random prepared spells or unused spell spots replaced by an equal number of random spells (these replacement spells do not have to be ones the caster knows – they are simply psychic junk vomited into the character’s brain).
A character who fails both saves is swept through a portal into a random plane.
The energies of an astral storm open up 2d10 portals into random planes. The storm also attracts swarms of astral parasites, some of which accidentally swim into these portals and are destroyed. The portals become two-way portals for a brief time and creatures or matter from the other planes may fall onto the Astral Plane. This is how most erratics form, and there is a 10% chance that a storm leaves 1d4 new erratics in its wake. A fleet of astral barges looking for useful erratics shows up soon after a storm clears.
When one of the opposites is the infinite fury of the Positive Energy Plane, and the other is the equally infinite and hateful void of the Negative Energy Plane, this attraction can be lethal. A starc occurs when an astral current carries Positive Energy close to the Negative Plane, or vice versa. Huge, thousandmile- wide, tendrils of energy lash out from one plane, seeking hungrily for the other. These tendrils are easy enough to avoid, as they move quite slowly until they close to within a mile of each other. Then, the formation of the starc is imminent.
For an unfortunate traveller caught in the middle, between the two tentacles, a starc looks like a host of whirlwinds, occupying an area 5 + 1d10 miles in radius. Half of the whirlwinds reach up from the Negative Energy Plane and are dark and eerie; the other half extend down from the Positive Energy Realm and burn with a terrible light. A starc lasts for 20 + 2d20 rounds before grounding. Each round, roll on the Starc Impact table for each traveller.
A character can attempt to fall into Positive tendrils – this is a move action, and means that a result of ‘none’ on the Starc Impact table becomes a result of ‘Positive Tendril’.
When a starc grounds itself, the main tendrils of Positive and Negative energy find each other and cancel each other out. The result is a massive explosion of force. Any characters within the area of effect of the starc are dealt 10d10 points of force damage (Constitution save, DC 17 for half).
There is a 5% chance that a starc leaves a planar seed (see page 228) behind after it grounds itself.
|8-12||Positive Tendril||Character must make a Dexterity save (DC 13) or gain 2d10 hit points. If this brings the character above his maximum hit point total, he continues to gain temporary hit points that vanish after one day. If the character reaches twice his maximum hit point total, he explodes.|
|13-17||Negative Tendril||Character must make a Dexterity save (DC 13) or lose 2d10 hit points. A death ward spell guards against this effect.|
|18-20||Minor Starc Discharge||The character is caught between two tendrils of Positive and Negative energy that are cancelling each other out. The detonation deals 3d10 points of force damage to the character (Constitution save, DC 12 for half damage).|
If another highest level spell or power is used within 300 feet of where the first was used, make another check, adding the levels of the arcane spells or powers together, and subtracting one for every round that has elapsed since the first ability was used. Subsequent spell uses also add to the total in the same way.
Example: Three 5th level wizards are duelling on the Astral Plane. One casts haste on himself – this is his highest level spell, so the Games Master makes a nova check, rolling 1d20+3 against DC 20. The check fails. Next round, the other two wizards cast dispel magic and fireball at the hasted wizard. Two more nova checks are made. The first is at +5 (third level dispel magic + third level haste – one elapsed round), while the second is at +8 (third level dispel magic + third level haste + third level fireball – one elapsed round). The third check succeeds, and a nova forms.
A nova lasts for a number of rounds equal to the modifier to the roll that created it, so our example nova will last eight rounds. A nova manifests as an explosion of crackling colour, centred on the character whose spell or power tipped the balance. The nova extends for 1d6 x 100 feet in all directions. Any arcane spellcasters or psionic characters within the area of effect of the nova must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 15) each round or the nova forces them to cast an arcane spell or begin to manifest a power. The caster may choose which arcane spell or power to use, but he must cast a spell or manifest a power if able. Especially potent novas can drain a wizard of all his spells.
A character casting an arcane spell may make a Arcana check (DC 12 + one half the level of the spell) to ‘dampen’ it and ensure that it does not contribute towards triggering a nova. If this Arcana check is failed, the spell is lost.
From the unfortunate traveller’s perspective, the portal does not open onto the Astral Plane – instead, it leads to a steel chamber, with a single door and a large altar in the centre. The glabrezu demands that travellers pay a toll (usually 5,000 gp in gold or magic items). If a suitable toll is placed on the altar, the tollbooth vanishes. Otherwise, the door opens, leading to a gauntlet of progressively more dangerous traps and monsters. At each stage, Erthiz offers the traveller another chance to pay the toll, which increases by 5,000 gp after each door; most travellers refuse at first, but pay up as the dangers intensify.
Despite his demonic nature and mercenary attitude, Erthiz is not especially evil, and he is extremely knowledgeable on the subject of portals and planar travel. He also pays handsomely for new and rare monsters to stock his tollbooth.
Eidolon is generally recognised as a neutral place, where agents of the various great powers can meet and deal with each other. Some gods even travel incognito on board, lest they be recognised by thousands of their worshippers packed into the hold.
What Was Promised Lies Beyond This Gate For Those Who Know.
The cryptic inscription has attracted sages and thieves from across the cosmos, all trying to open the gate. A small city, Telos, has grown up on the surface of the seal. The two-hundred-foot-wide ravines of the inscription have been colonised, and the buildings of Telos are located within the message. Each letter is a different district, so a Telosian might advise a traveller to try the third S for blacksmiths, or the G temple district for clerics.
Telos (Small City): AL LN; 15,000 gp limit; Assets 5,625,000 gp; Pop 7,500; Integrated (practically any race imaginable). Power Centres: Philosopher’s Guild (LN), T’nazzin the Locksmith (Psychomagnate King, CN).
Aether mouths are curious predators that disguise themselves as natural portals. They can camouflage most of their corpulent forms to look identical to the shifting energies of the Astral Plane, leaving only their glowing oval mouths visible. The mouth looks exactly like a portal. Travellers are permitted a Wisdom (Perception) check (opposed by the aether mouth’s Dexterity (Stealth) check) to notice the tiny imperfections in the Astral Plane around the portal. Characters examining the portal with arcane sight may use Spellcraft instead of Spot. Any character walking through the ‘portal’ is actually walking right into the creature’s stomach, and is automatically Swallowed Whole.
Aether mouths are sometimes captured and forced to gate in creatures from other planes, but the beasts soon sicken and die in captivity.
Aether mouths wait for food to walk through them, by mimicking portals to other well travelled planes. They sometimes pretend to be portals to one plane, wait to see if a traveller takes the bait, then close their mouth, scuttle a short distance, and open a portal to a different ‘plane’ a short distance away. If the deception fails and the aether mouth must fight, it extrudes claws and summons defenders.
Mimic Variant: Aether Mouth
An aether mouth has the following changes:
- Size Huge
- Hit Points 76 (9d12 + 18)
- Innate Spellcasting: The aether mouth’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma. It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components. It has the following druid spells prepared:
- 3/day:: conjure animals (Any animal so conjured has a flight speed equal to its land speed or swim speed.)
Astral parasites are the vermin of the Great Realm, a species (or rather, hundreds of similar species) that graze contentedly on stray thoughts, emotions and magical emanations that flow through the Astral Plane. They are spawned in their millions from starcs and other major astral events, and swarm through the plane in vast hosts. They are almost useless as a food source, as only other native creatures can digest the energies of a dying parasite. They vanish seconds after being slain.
Astral parasites are only dangerous when they focus on a particular character’s mind. A swarm of parasites can suck up stray thoughts and emotions using their psychic drain ability. The swarm can be driven off by killing 30 + 1d20% of its members.
Octopus Variant: Astral Parasite
An astral parasite has the following changes:
- Type Aberration
- Speed fly 30 ft.
- The astral parasite gains the following action: Psychic Drain: An astral parasite can target a character and feed off his mind. For every twenty parasites feeding, the character suffers a –1 penalty to all Wisdom saves.
Astral whales feed on parasites just as baleen whales feed on plankton.
Killer Whale Variant: Astral Whale
An astral whale has the following changes:
- Size Gargantuan
- Hit Points 138 (12d20 + 12)
- Speed fly 60 ft.
- The astral whale gains the following action: Gravity Pulse: The astral whale emits a pulse of energy in a cone 360 feet long and 120 feet wide. Any creatures caught in the cone must make a Constitution save (DC 12) or be unable to use the Subjective Gravity trait of the Astral to move for 1d12 rounds. Native astral creatures with a Fly speed cannot move if they fail the save. Astral whales are immune to the gravity pulses of other whales.
Celephates are among the more curious entities encountered on the Astral Plane. They are floating stone heads, with booming laughs and forceful personalities. They are a curious and boastful race, always getting into trouble and flaunting their power and intelligence. They are also extremely knowledgeable, famed for their learning.
They are integrated into astral society as viziers, sages, overseers and spellcasters, as they rely on humanoids for many tasks. The celephates have telekinetic abilities, as they have no hands or other limbs. A celephate in an urban environment is usually encountered with two or three ‘hands’ or servants. Celephates reproduce asexually – when a celephate feels the urge to produce an offspring, it takes a lump of rock, shapes it with its telekinetic powers, then shoots a bolt of lightning into the head’s eyesockets. The new celephate comes to life fully grown, inheriting many of the skills of its ‘parent’.
They worship an obscure deity named Hutut-Novgrod, the Guardian of the Goal.
Celephates tend to charge lustily into combat, using their flight to dance out of range of enemies. They also shout taunts and insults at foes, which are doubly disconcerting when coming from a giant, flying stone head that is burning with its own inner flames.
Blue Dragon Wyrmling Reskin: Celephate
A celephate has the following changes:
- Alignment Any
- Type Monstrosity
- Speed fly 60 ft.
- Languages Common, Primordial, Celestial
- Innate Spellcasting: The celephate’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma. It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components. It has the following druid spells prepared:
- At will: mage hand
- Replace the Blue Dragon Wyrmling’s bite action option with the following: Headbutt: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) bludgeoning damage plus 3 (1d6) lightning damage.
Since they left the heavens, the exilarchs – once united in their common, unwavering cause – have become divided. Some have stayed true to their ideals, launching attacks on bastions of evil and judging all others according to the strictest criteria. Others try to win back the favour of the gods by searching for some grand quest or gesture for redemption, while other exilarchs have inverted their morality and become as perfectly evil as they can be. The one thing they all still have in common is a fanatical devotion to purity. Exilarchs look like they are composed of multiple beings, like a set of torsos all branching off a single point. Each portion can act independently – an exilarch gets only one move action in a round, but each ‘body section’ can attack or cast spells on its own.
Angel or Devil Variant: Exilarch
An exilarch has the following changes:
- Type Fiend
- Alignment Any Lawful
Psychomagnates are not originally native to the Astral Plane, but they moved there en masse when their own plane slid into chaos centuries ago. They are a strong and intelligent race, but see most other humanoids as nothing but slaves and cannon fodder until they prove themselves. Their society is driven purely by merit; a psychomagnate who accomplishes nothing is often treated as a slave, while a human hero who completes a great task is honoured and respected as an equal. The psychomagnate fighting style relies on trips and keeping the opponent down as much as possible. They have adapted this style to the Astral Plane by combining their attacks with their natural ability to manipulate energy fields.
Psychomagnates welcome combat, as it gives them a chance to prove their skills. They prefer single combat, and issue challenges and invitations to one-on- one duels when they can.
Oni Reskin: Psychomagnate
A psychomagnate has the following changes:
- Alignment Any Chaotic
- Size Medium
- Type Monstrosity
- Hit Points 97 (13d8 + 39)
- Languages Common, Psychomagnate
- The psychomagnate gains the following action: Energy Field: Psychomagnates can project a glowing purple energy field around themselves. This field has a radius of 30 feet. The field deflects all incoming arrows, rays and other range attacks 20% of the time. Furthermore, anyone trying to use the Astral Plane’s subjective gravity to move within the field must make a Will save (DC 13) – failure means the character cannot move this round using subjective gravity. If a psychomagnate trips a foe inside the energy field, the field deals an extra 1d6 points of lightning damage. Activating the field is an action, and it lasts for ten minutes.
- The characters are hired to locate a fabled lost portal. They are given a portable aethervane and a description of the portal’s traits. They must scour the Astral Plane for astral storms and other portal-opening phenomena, then quickly scan for the desired portal. Their employer has not informed them where the portal goes – will their curiosity take them beyond the Great Realm and into the unknown?
- Something is moving, out there in the Planes. Waystation after waystation is found bereft of crew. In every case, they left suddenly as if in a panic, but the station’s structure is intact and sound. As a strange darkness closes over the Great Realm, where will the characters take refuge?
- A god dies. All his worshippers, servants, armies and treasures are unceremoniously dropped into the Astral Plane. For scavengers, it is a wonderful opportunity, but others are looking at a suddenly homeless army and wondering where they will go – and just where did their god go, anyway?
- Whenever an extradimensional space is ruptured, its contents are spilled onto the Astral Plane. An important document or relic was stored in such a space, and a magical accident has occurred. The characters have to go to the Great Realm and find a needle in what amounts to an infinite haystack – however, it soon turns out that the ‘accident’ was deliberate. No one is going to notice a few extra corpses floating on the astral gulf, anyway.