The Astral Plane is the realm of thought and dream, where visitors travel as disembodied souls to reach the Outer Planes. It is a great silvery sea, the same above and below, with swirling wisps of white and gray streaking among motes of light like distant stars. Most of the Astral Sea is a vast, empty expanse. Visitors occasionally stumble upon the petrified corpse of a dead god or other chunks of rock drifting forever in the silvery void. Much more commonplace are color pools — magical pools of colored light that flicker like radiant, spinning coins. Small floating settlements can be found in here, usually close to a portal entering the plane. These are inhabited by creatures or other beings endemic to the plane. Creatures on the Astral Plane don’t age or suffer from hunger or thirst. For this reason, humanoids that live on the Astral Plane (such as the Githyanki) establish outposts on other planes, often the Material Plane, so their children can grow to maturity.
Astral ProjectionTraveling through the Astral Plane by means of the astral projection spell involves projecting one’s consciousness there, usually in search of a gateway to an Outer Planes to visit. Since the Outer Planes are as much spiritual states of being as they are physical places, this allows a character to manifest in an Outer Plane as if he or she had physically traveled there, but as in a dream. A character’s death — either in the Astral Plane or on the destination plane — causes no actual harm. Only the severing of a character’s silver cord while on the Astral Plane (or the death of his or her helpless physical body on the Material Plane) can result in the character’s true death. Thus, high-level characters sometimes travel to the Outer Planes by way of astral projection rather than seek out a portal or use a more direct spell. Only a few things can sever a traveler’s silver cord, the most common being a psychic wind (described below). The legendary silver swords of the Githyanki also have this ability. A character who travels bodily to the Astral Plane (by means of the plane shift spell or one of the rare portals that leads directly there) has no silver cord.
Color PoolsGateways leading from the Astral Plane to other planes appear as two-dimensional pools of rippling colors. Traveling to another plane requires locating a color pool that leads to the desired plane. These gateways to other planes can be identified by color, finding the right color pool is a matter of chance.
Psychic WindA psychic wind isn’t a physical wind like that found on the Material Plane, but a storm of thought that batters travelers’ minds rather than their bodies. A psychic wind is made up of lost memories, forgotten ideas, minor musings, and subconscious fears that went astray in the Astral Plane and conglomerated into this powerful force. A psychic wind is first sensed as a rapid darkening of the silver-gray sky. After a few rounds, the area becomes as dark as a moonless night. As the sky darkens, the traveler feels buffeting and shaking, as if the plane itself was rebelling against the storm. As quickly as it comes, the psychic wind passes, and the sky returns to normal in a few rounds.
Halisstra opened her eyes and found herself drifting in an endless silver sea. Soft gray clouds moved slowly in the distance, while strange dark streaks twisted violently through the sky, anchored in ends so distant she couldn’t perceive them, their middle parts revolving angrily like pieces of string rolled between a child’s fingertips. She glanced down, wondering what supported her, and saw nothing but more of the strange pearly sky beneath her feet and all around her. She drew in a sudden breath, surprised by the sight, and felt her lungs fill with something sweeter and perhaps a little more solid than air, but instead of gagging or drowning on the stuff she seemed perfectly acclimated to it. An electric thrill raced through her limbs as she found herself mesmerized by the simple act of respiration.
- Richard Baker, Condemnation
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