realm Physical / Metaphysical Law in The Sora | World Anvil


Realms or worlds are large, inhabitable bodies in the Sora, separated from the elemental chaos by an envelope of breathable air, usually with their own photopartum. Realms come in a variety of shapes, sizes, configurations, and climates, running the gamut from simple spheres to complex nested geometric shapes and even in one case the apparent corpse of some massive creature. Realms can be contrasted against minor realms by several properties, including size and habitability.  

Physical Properties

Realms are composed of multiple elements separated and organized to give a stable structure. All elements are present to some degree, though some realms largely consist of one or two elements (such as earth or water) or have only traces of certain elements (usually the energies). The structure can be greatly varied, having a variety of shapes and sizes. Realms are always large, at least 3,000 km across at their widest point and up to approximately 150,000 km for the largest known realms.   Most realms have a photopartum, a source of light and heat for the realm. These photopartum are almost as varied in structure as the realms themselves, though the most common are large spheres of elemental fire. Most realms orbit or are orbited by their photopartum in regular intervals, but some realms have more unusual configurations.   All realms have an envelope of air around them, separating them from the Sora. The air envelopes cover their photopartum as well. Some realms have companion realms which share an air envelope, though these are quite rare. More common are realms which have one or more minor realms within their air envelope, some of which orbit around the realm.  

Typical Shapes

Most realms fall into one of the following basic forms.
  • Planet - a spherical realm. Usually has a variety of climates, but some are single-climate.
  • Toroid - a ring-shaped realm, usually encircling its photopartum. Some toroids are only inhabited on one face of the ring.
  • Plane - a nearly flat realm, either circular or rectangular. Sometimes only one face may be inhabited.
  • Polyhedron - a realm with flat, polygonal faces, such as a cube, pyramid, or octahedron. Oftentimes, the faces are vastly different from one another.
  • Tree - a massive tree, with expansive branches. Usually has roots in a large mound of earth, but some may be bare.

Uncommon Shapes

While most realms have one of the above shapes, some uncommon forms are known.
  • Nested - a realm with a series of internal worlds nested inside each other. There must be at least three distinct layers for the realm to count as nested.
  • Mirrored - a realm with two separate planes facing one another, connected to each other through a spire, column, or other tether.
  • Tube - a hollow, cylindrical realm, typically with the inhabitants and photopartum on the inside.
  • Cluster - a group of rocky islands floating in an air envelope. Some consider this a collection of minor realms rather than a single realm.
  • Ocean - a realm composed primarily of water, occasionally with an earth core. If it has a solid surface, it is icebergs or glaciers.


Realms form apparently spontaneously, when the primordial chaos of the Sora collapses and orders itself. The exact mechanism that precipitates a collapse is not well understood and there are numerous theories surrounding it. Most of the time, the Sora becomes more ordered, forming a nebula, for an extended period before finally collapsing into a realm. However, this is not always the case. Realm formation has been observed in chaotic areas of the Sora numerous times and nebula have been known to exist without collapsing for several centuries at least.   Actual formation of a realm happens fairly quickly. The process begins with the elements forming a swirling, hot mass, leaving behind an area of pure void. Within a few months, the mass begins to differentiate into the different components of the system; the air envelope, the photopartum (if present), and the realm. The air envelope forms first, filling in the void, usually within a few weeks. Photopartums typically form next, usually over the course of a year, though more complex ones may take longer times. Finally, over the course of a decade, the realm itself takes its final shape and configuration.  


Two main theories exist surrounding the mechanism behind realm formation. The two theories are the Divine Genesis theory and the Primordial Seed theory. Both theories have similar levels of support among scholars, explain some aspects of realm formation, but fail to fully account for everything. Other, minor theories exist, but they are not given much credence by scholars and are considered fringe, at best.  

Divine Genesis

According to the Divine Genesis theory, a realm is formed when a new god or group of gods comes into existence. These gods then locate a section of the Sora and use their power to bring order to the elements, shaping the new realm as they please. Proponents of this theory claim this explains why most, but not all, realms are formed from nebulae, as it takes less divine power to collapse a calm section of the Sora, but not all nebulae may be suitable for the realm's creators' desires. This also explains the great variety of realms, as each creator would have their own preferences and designs.   Detractors of the theory claim that the theory merely changes the question to "Where do the gods come from?" rather than answer the question of how realms form. Additionally, they question why gods would create the numerous barren and uninhabited realms that exist throughout the Sora.  

Primordial Seed

Primordial Seed theory claims that realms form through more or less random processes. They believe that once enough nivose or fuliginous energy collects and achieves a critical density in an area, it creates a "primordial seed" which causes a chain reaction, leading to the spontaneous ordering of the surrounding Sora. As both energies are found in living creatures and can be used to animate constructs, the ordering properties of these energies is well known. Nebulae, with their additional stability, provides a greater likelihood of these energies collecting, though even chaotic regions have the ability to gather this energy. This also explains why some realms form without life, as the local balance of elements is not sufficient for it.   Opponents of this theory say it does not explain the myriad of different realm forms, claiming the differences in mixtures of elements could not cause such divergences. Nor have any large collections of energy been found which could be the primordial seed.    


Within a year of forming, around 75% of realms begin to harbor life, usually beginning with plants, then animals. Realms which do not have any life on them within the year will never gain it naturally, though many barren realms have the capability to harbor life if it is brought there. Of those realms which harbor life, around 70% ultimately have sapient life arise within a decade. As with life, realms that do not harbor sapient life within a decade of forming never will naturally. Life and sapience appears to arise spontaneously, just as realms do.   Curiously, it appears similar types of life appear across many realms. While most realms have some sort of unique creatures, there is a much greater similarity between realms than differences. Humans, elves, dwarves, dranomyr, fairies, goblins, varanids, kamakari, and many other sapient races have appeared on numerous different realms, sometimes as the only natives, other times as one of many different races. The exact reason for this is unknown, though there is great speculation.     Usually, a short time after the sapient races appear, the gods of a realm manifest. The gods themselves tend to claim they are the ones who created the realm and its inhabitants, though some scholars claim it is the belief of the sapient races which gives rise to the gods. After this, the fate of the realm is uncertain. Wars, disasters, famines, and many other calamities may befall it, causing the extinction of entire races or even all sapient life on a realm. Alternately, the inhabitants may eventually come together in harmony, develop the secret of soraflight, and join the Sora. Most realms which do this join an existing empire, though a few in particularly remote regions may find the room to found their own empires.  

Cover image: by Denis Khusainov
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