Cosmography in The Midnight Sea | World Anvil


Over centuries of scientific advancement, the cosmography of the universe has been continuously redrawn as understanding of how the planes of existence interact with each other has improved. Current scientific models suggest a complex, multi-dimensional hypersphere composed of 22 planes: the material, astral, fey, ethereal, shadow, hadal, and outer planes. The first six of these are organized into near-identical pairs, mirroring each other at different energy states, while these pairs are bordered by the 16 outer planes.

The Prime Planar System

All star systems are pockets of what is called wildspace: manifestations of the material plane which exist within the greater astral plane. The Feywild and Shadowfell function as mirrors to these material plane bubbles, existing in parallel with each system in opposing cosmic "directions." The hadal (or "elemental") plane is the the transitive astral-analogue plane for the Shadowfells, and exists at a lower energy state than the rest of the planar system. By contrast, the ethereal plane is the transitive astral-analogue plane for the Feywilds, and exists in a higher energy state than the rest of the planar system. Both function, therefore, as a sort of hyperspace and subspace pairing with normal space. Being the source of magic, the ethereal plane lends its energy to the lower planes via the Weave, which is then harnessed to fulfill the extreme energy cost of spelljamming.

Creation Myth

It is said, in the most ancient draconic lore, that the cosmic dragons Tiamat and Bahamut were the creators of the universe. They worked in perfect harmony to bring the planar system into existence, but after the God Invasion and the shattering of their beloved child Sardior, they fell into conflict. Legend tells that the two grand beings became sealed away in the heart of the galaxy, within the Cataract, where creation itself could not bear the weight of twin demiurges and so collapsed in on itself around them.

The Outer Planes

The aligned celestial and infernal planes, meanwhile, border the astral plane directly and mark the outer bounds of the known universe, arranged in a loop to form the collective outer planes -the geometric plane of this loop is perpendicular to the Feywild-Shadowfell axis. The outer planes are represented by prominent pseudo-constellations that form a sixteen-part zodiac used to navigate the astral sea. All star systems -as pockets of the material plane gestalt- possess mildly varying physical principles based on their location relative to the aligned outer planes.  
  1. Mechanus, the Plane of Law
  2. Arcadia, the Plane of Good-aligned Law
  3. Celestia, the Plane of Lawful Good
  4. Bytopia, the Plane of Law-aligned Good
  5. Elysium, the Plane of Good
  6. The Beastlands, the Plane of Chaos-aligned Good
  7. Arborea, the Plane of Chaotic Good
  8. Ysgard, the Plane of Good-aligned Chaos
  9. Limbo, the Plane of Chaos
  10. Pandemonium, the Plane of Evil-aligned Chaos
  11. The Abyss, the Plane of Chaotic Evil
  12. Carceri, the Plane of Chaos-aligned Evil
  13. Erebus, the Plane of Evil
  14. Gehenna, the Plane of Law-aligned Evil
  15. Baator, the Plane of Lawful Evil
  16. Acheron, the Plane of Evil-aligned Law
The Midnight Sea
A map of the known astral sea, seen from the supergalactic position (the "direction" of the Feywild). Lateral space is divided into sixteen sectors, aligned with each of the sixteen outer planes and represented by their associated constellations. From the far left, going clockwise:
  1. The Watchmaker (Mechanus, the Plane of Law)
  2. The Shepherd (Arcadia, the Plane of Good-aligned Law)
  3. The Defender (Celestia, the Plane of Lawful Good)
  4. The Twins (Bytopia, the Plane of Law-aligned Good)
  5. The Sage (Elysium, the Plane of Good)
  6. The Beast (The Beastlands, the Plane of Chaos-aligned Good)
  7. The Lover (Arborea, the Plane of Chaotic Good)
  8. The Hero (Ysgard, the Plane of Good-aligned Chaos)
  9. The Changeling (Limbo, the Plane of Chaos)
  10. The Liar (Pandemonium, the Plane of Evil-aligned Chaos)
  11. The Leviathan (The Abyss, the Plane of Chaotic Evil)
  12. The Sentinel (Carceri, the Plane of Chaos-aligned Evil)
  13. The Enemy (Erebus, the Plane of Evil)
  14. The Thief (Gehenna, the Plane of Law-aligned Evil)
  15. The Traitor (Baator, the Plane of Lawful Evil)
  16. The Soldier (Acheron, the Plane of Evil-aligned Law)

The Universal Whole

The universe contains a spiral structure called the galaxy, composed of gas, dust, astral flotsam, and star systems gravitationally bound together by their collective mass. At the center of the galaxy resides a supermassive black hole, the Cataract, about which swirls a vast region of distorted spacetime called the Maelstrom where the planar boundaries are weaker, strengthening the influence of interplanar magic on the local systems. The outer edge of the Maelstrom is a hub of interstellar civilization, but venturing deeper is quite dangerous. The galaxy is bordered by the aligned outer planes, beyond which is the unknown void where other universes drift in the aether.


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