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The World of Astlan, is but many of a large number of worlds that exist in transcendental spaces beyond the vision of mere mortals.
These transcendent realms are the homes of beings of both great beneficence and terrible malevolence. These realms include the Worlds of Men, the Deific Realms of the Gods, the Elemental Planes of Nature, the Astral Plane and lastly the dreaded Abyss.
Linking all of these realms of existence is the Astral Plane, it provides the bridge to all other transcendent worlds. We mortals exist in the Worlds of Men, yet the Planes of Man are many, Astlan is simply one version of diverse set of “alternate realities.” Similarly the Deific Realms are composed of many worlds each ruled by a mighty pantheon of divine beings. There are 5 Elemental Planes corresponding to each of the five elemental forces. Lastly, there is but one Abyss, where all that is evil in both the higher and lower realms are consigned to eternal damnation and suffering.
Infinite Worlds that Might Have Been
The planes of man are the multiple planes of existence upon which mankind (mankind here includes elvenkind, dwarvenkind, and other sentient races) resides. In principle there are an infinite number of planes of man, but only those most recently divergent from our own are accessible. Thus only the plane of Astlan, and alternate versions of Astlan are accessible. Rumors persists of methods of traveling to these planes with alternate physical laws, but the Astral Plane certainly does not link the Astlanian worlds to them. Incidentally, note that not all the divergent Astlanian worlds use the same name. We use the name of our own reality to describe all those planes of man where the same laws of magical science and nature apply. Thus only the planes of man where the same laws of nature and magic apply, are accessible via the Astral Plane. Certainly, no individuals from other planes have men have ever been seen, nor has anyone ever found a point of egress to one of these planes on the Astral Plane
Theories do abound that methods similar to the very direct Demonic Gateway spell could potentially be used to contact such worlds. However, no such spells currently exist.
Finally, there seems to be some sort of minimal quanta of difference necessary to access the true “alternate realities.” Theory suggests that one should be able to reach worlds in which a loved one did not die, etc. However, to date, no one has been able to fine tune or adjust any spell tight enough to select out such worlds. Currently only Astlanian-like worlds separated by a certain minimal amount of change are accessible. Typically these are worlds in which major events had very different outcomes.
The reasons for this are not known, however theoreticians have hypothesized a set of Laws of Plausibility that require understanding of extremely advanced mathematics and wizardry to comprehend. Essentially, many of the alternate possibility worlds (i.e. did I have coffee or tea this morning) diverge only for short durations before collapsing back into the primary reality wave function. Hence, some suggest, the reason you may not be able to remember what you had this morning for breakfast in 20 years is because that information has been lost in the collapse of the current probability wave. In simpler, more philosophical terms, neither the past nor the future exist, only the present is real.
The Home of the Gods
The planes of the gods are relatively unknown and hard to classify scientifically. For detailed, if highly unsubstantiated, views on these different planes it is perhaps best, if not wisest, to hold converse with a cleric of a particular pantheon in whose plane one is interested.
They will certainly give you very good ideas about what their deity has told them about the plane and their ‘afterlife,’ but since most deities seem to have aversions to speaking to reliable witnesses (they only speak to prophets and fanatics. Of course, admittedly, speaking to a deity may very well make one a prophet or fanatic, but this is beside the point.) Despite wizardly skepticism of various deities and religions, there is absolutely no doubt that such beings do exist. Their presence and power, as well as the effects achieved by their clerics cannot be denied. Too many instances of apparent divine interventions on scales beyond normal wizardry have occurred, to discount their existence.
The Elemental Planes
The elemental planes are five planes that consist of nothing but raw elemental forces. The five elemental planes are: Fire, Earth, Water, Air and Spirit. The plane of Spirit is also sometimes referred to as the plane of Anima, or even in some circles as the plane of the Element of Raw Man. This represents the fact that mankind as represented on the planes of men is the quintessential embodiment of spirit in flesh, the ideal union to which both spirit and matter aspire. In general, the elemental planes are of a harsh and inhospitable nature to both physical flesh and spirit. They are nothing but raw elemental forces and forms. It is from conflux of these 5 planes that the planes of men are formed.
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