Otherworldly Travels

The Cosmology and Various Worlds of the Universe

Saleh'Alire is not the only world to exist... Indeed many worlds exist- each overlapping one another. We call these the Planes of Existence, and Saleh'Alire itself is but just one of them: The Material Plane; some of these planes are accessible from Saleh'Alire through rifts or spells, while others can only be accessed from one of the other planes... But each is a world unique unto itself, with its own natural and metaphysical laws, cities, politics, systems of time and currency, and even races- some of whom have found their way here over the centuries.
— Archivist Anja de Vegte, A Guide to Extraplanar Travel
Beyond the boundaries of what you can see- the various kingdoms and lands, oceans and mountains, and more, of Saleh'Alire- exists a Universe much larger than one could anticipate. Indeed, this universe includes other worlds as well, often described "islands in a metaphysical sea"; while this isn't entirely an accurate description, neither is it truly an inaccurate one either. Regardless, the planar landscape is a unique and interesting one that greatly enriches both the overall nature of the universe- as well as its interest.

Cosmological Setup

  In most Archival models, the planar landscape is divided into two categories based on a number of factors such as planar nature, behavior, location, and structure. These divisions are those of the Spheres, and Realms.   Realms define the tangibility of the planes and where they're located in the model in relation to the Material Plane, and are divided into Inner and Outer quadrants. The Inner Realm consists of those closest to the Material Plane: The Elemental Plane, Feywild, Astral Plane, and Shadowfell. The Outer Realm exists past that, and is further subdvided into two Sects. Here the Upper Sect is comprised of the Celestial and Ethereal planes- with the Liminal and Abyss making up the Lower Sect.   Spheres deal with the metaphysical nature of the planes and the various types of beings who call them home. Here, the Lucent Sphere consists of the Celestial and Abyssal planes- while the Ethereal and Liminal planes make up the Energetic Sphere. And the Elemental, Feywild, Astral, and Shadowfell make up the Formulative Sphere along with the Material Plane.   Regardless of their positions, the planes exist in a state of perpetual motion, constantly orbiting one another at various degrees and speeds. It's this phenomemon that produces the Weave which makes Spellcasting possible- but it also has another effect: The closer one travels to the Material Plain, the more tangible and stable the planes become, and more incorporeal the further from.

The Planes of Existence

Click any box below to read more about the individual planes.
Home of the good aligned Divinities of the Material Plane, and their Deva.  
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Resting place of the Blessed Dead of the Material Plane, who did good deeds during their life.  
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Home of the Archfey and other Fae / fey creatures.  
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Home of the Primordial Titans and other elemental creatures.  
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The home of beasts, monstrocities, and abberations, and the birth place of the universe's Divine.  
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Home of the Flayers and ther psychic / Incorporeal creatures.  
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Home of the Old Ones and other eldritch creatures.  
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Resting place of the Forsaken Dead of the Material Plane, who did evil deeds during their life.  
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Home of the evil aligned Divinities of the Material Plane, and their Devi.  
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Tthe various otherworldly planes of existence are not merely replicas of the Material Plane... Even the Feywild and Shadowfell- often described as being "light" and "dark" parallels of the Material Plane- are considerably different from one another; their metaphysical and natural laws are different. They have their own landscapes, weather, flora, and fauna. Their politics and people are different, as are the customs and languages found among them- and more.   Indeed, traveling to another plane in general makes it quite clear immediately that each and every one of the planes is a unique and individual world in its own right. It is absolutely integral that the extraplanar traveler, regardless of their experience level, recognize this fact and take the appropriate levels of caution and care to ensure they are treated and approached properly when visiting... Those who fail to do so often face disasterous consequences.

Extraplanar Travel

After months of work, today I was finally able to properly attune the portal to the Ethereal Realm. It stayed open only for a few seconds, but it opened! I'm confident that with the proper formula it can eventually be sustained long enough for me to get home.
Faelyn e'ta Naeleth,
stranded on the Celestial Plane
In the typical linear model, the Material Plane sits at the center of the known universe, stationary and unmoving. It's around this point that the planes- all connected to at least one fellow plane- rotate. These interplanar connections produce gateways which allow one to move between the various worlds. Due to the fact the planes exist in a state of perpetual motion, however, these gateways occur sporadically on the planes and are often short lived.   Should one have the itch to travel and manage to successfully find a gateway through which to do so, the trouble doesn't stop with their sporadic nature. Extraplanar travel is often still a confusing and convoluted process due to the way the planes are organized within the universe; not all of the planes can be access directly from one another- let alone specifically from the Material Plane itself.
  Indeed, only the four other Inner Planes of the Formulative Sphere can actually be accessed from the Material directly, at any given moment a gateway is active there. However, while the Elemental Plane, Feywild, Astral Plane, and Shadowfel may produce gateways on the Material? They may only access one another in a sort of circular route of sorts: The Feywild may be accessed by the Elemental Plane - the Elemental Plane via the Shadowfell- the Shadowfell through the Astral Plane- and the Astral Plane via the Feywild; all forming a chain link around the Material Plane that sits in the center of the Formulative Sphere.   While gateways are fairly common among the various planes of the Formulative Sphere- making moving around them easy enough with a bit of patience and the right preparation- the Energetic Sphere of the Outer Realm provides the extraplanar traveler with significantly more trouble comparatively. One contributing factor is the fact that portals to these realms occur much less frequently, and are far more unstable when they do appear... But by far the largest reason is because of the fact that the gateways for each of the planes in this Sphere only occur in their predeceasing realms; the Ethereal Plane's gateways only appear in the Feywild- and gateways for the Liminal Plane only in the Shadowfell. As a result, in order to travel to one you must first travel through the one that precedes it in the proper planar order.   Continuing with this trend, those planes of the Lucent Spehere- the Celestial and Abyssal Planes- are nearly impossible to travel to for all but the very extraplanar beings who live there in the first place; their gateways likely only occur in the predecessing Ethereal and Liminal planes respectively. Likewise, they're unbelievably unstable whenever they do open- and frequently heavily guarded by their denizens to prevent interlopers from crossing through.  
DDespite their short lived and random nature, gateways still remain the most common and accessible method of achieving extraplanar travel for those who wish to do so- largely because of the difficulty of accessing the tools to circumvent them. But while the use of gateways is the dominant method of travel between the planes, it is possible to bypass the need to use them, and instead achieve extraplanar travel through other means. To that end, several tools are available to those who seek them out.   The most common of these circumventions is the use of various spells which allow extraplanar travel (such as Planeshift). But others include the use of specially designed teleportation circles, or items enchanted to produce similar effects to a spell of a similar nature. It should be noted, however, only the most powerful of teleportation spells seem capable of penetrating the barrier of the Lucent Sphere and delivering their traveler to the proper location.

Planar Phenomenon

Planar Phenomenon is a broad category that includes a number of far reaching events which occur as a direct byproduct of the rotation of the planes around one another. One example of these phenomena are the gateways themselves, which make travel between the planes possible. Another example are Wild Magic Surges- or temporary regions with an increased unpredictability of magic. Planar Phases, too, are another wherein an extraplanar item may occasionally phase "onto" another plane for a brief amount of time... By far the most common- and perhaps most deadly- type of planar phenomenon, however, is the Ethereal Storm.
We were near Premot when the storm struck; one of the worst I've seen in all my travels yet... Poor Jorah tried lighting a fire for supper with his magic, and the backlash summoned an Ice Devil that attacked us!
Sijmen Yorvik,
Extraplanar Traveler
  Ethereal Storms are incredibly large, moving variations of the standard Wild Magic Surge, which, on a base level, are not unlike the normal thunderstorms which occur on the Material Real every day... While they may appear and act in similar ways, however, during these events Wild Magic flows rampant and unchecked within the affected area. As a result, magic in the affected region increases in power, but often becomes disasterously unpredictable as well- leading to a wide variety of (frequently devastating) consequences for any Arcanist unlucky enough to get caught in their midsts.   Planar Collisions are another common phenomenon. These are similar to Planar Phases- though on a much larger scale; instead of an object or two shifting planes as the result of a close pass, during a Planar Collision, two or more planes "collide" with one another in a metaphysical sense- merging the two together temporarily. During these events, entire landscapes or cities from the merging planes may overlap one another and become a single landscape for a time. These are far less dangerous to planar inhabitants than they sound- but they may still lead to travelers being stranded on a plane other than the one they were originally inhabiting if they're not careful.  

Planar Wardens

If Therinhal can't bypass the wards soon and infiltrate the city on his own accord, then perhaps at this moment we require a Warden to fight a Warden... The Liminal Warden, perhaps? Go now, and seek guidance from the Seryn- but hurry! If we don't succeed in the next few hours we'll have little enough hope of taking Zaltar as is.
— Capt. Zahra Khorushi to Arcanist Tajule Cieth during the Seige of Zaltar
  Regardless of which plane one visits, each has a distinct group of native creatures- typically called Planar Wardens- tasked with its protection. For the Celestial Plane, these Wardens are the Deva- whereas the Devi protect the Abyssal Plane. The Material Plane, as the birth place of the Divine, is likewise protected by both in kind. The Feywild and Shadowfell by contrast are protected by the Archfey and Old Ones respectively- and the Elemental Plane by Titans; Wardens of other realms are not yet known, and still wait to be discovered or named.   In some cases, Wardens may also act as the rulers of the plane- such as in the case of the Archfey of the Feywild , or the Old Ones of the Shadowfell. For this reason, some choose to hide their identities from outsiders, but especially from extraplanar travelers. Some Planar Wardens may be petitioned to protect other realms temporarily- while others are fickle in nature and couldn't be bothered. In all cases, however, these Wardens are incredibly powerful beings and should not be crossed. Doing so frequently proves to be disastrous for the individual who crosses them, whether intentionally done or not.  

Cover image: Encyclopedias by James L.W
This article has no secrets.


Author's Notes

Read Before You Comment
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people ask questions about the things in it. I want both. I encourage both. And it makes me incredibly giddy whenever I get either.   However, there's a time and a place for critique in particular- mostly when I've actually asked for it (which usually happens in World Anvil's discord server). And when I do ask for critique, there are two major things I politely request that you do not include in your commentary:   ➤ The first is any sort of critique on the way I've chosen to organize or format something; Saleh'Alire is not a narrative world written for reader enjoyment... It's is a living campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. To that end, it's written and organized for my players and I, specifically for ease of use during gameplay- and our organization needs are sometimes very different than others'.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've found a typo, i've blatantly misued a word, or something is unclear because of how I've worded it? Then respectfully: Don't comment on it; as a native English speaker of the SAE dialect, language critique in particular will almost always be unwelcome unless it's absolutely necessary.   If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great")- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it. Because I genuinely do enjoy watching people explore and interact with my setting, and ask questions about it, and I'd definitely love to hear from you... Just be respectful about it, yeah?

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3 Sep, 2020 13:50

this is so cool! i love the unpredictive nature of the portals.

3 Sep, 2020 15:33

Thanks, hun :D I'm glad you liked it!