D&D 5E Astral Sea and Wildspace in the 5e Cosmology

Yaarel

Mind Mage
This post is to clarify how the astral plane functions in 5e.

We know from the 5e Spelljammer setting that the astral plane comprises two aspects, the "wildspace" and the "astral sea".

The "wildspace" seems a shallow astral plane, that corresponds to closely to the outer space of the material plane, thus that allows faster-than-light travel for planet hopping. This FTL requires magic to enter, distinguishing the astral wildspace from the material space.

The "astral sea" seems a deep astral plane, the realm of thoughts, that allows planar hopping, including the Good celestial planes within the astral sea.

The starry sky illuminate both the shallow and the deep. The "astral" plane is literally astronomical. This likewise invites a correlation between the mindful archetypes of astrology and the physical locations of astronomy.

The astral plane is the travel routes between the D&D world settings. Some settings might be planets accessible by wildspace, perhaps Greyhawk and Blackmoor and their planet Oerth. Other settings may be planes, accessible by the astral sea, perhaps Eberron.



From the Spelljammer setting description.

"
SET SAIL FOR THE STARS!

A space-based adventure setting for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

The Astral Plane [is] home of the stars and gateway to the heavens.

With the help of magic, spelljammers can
• cross the oceans of Wildspace,
• ply the silvery void known as the Astral Sea,
• and hop between worlds of the D&D multiverse.

The starlit realms of Wildspace and the Astral Sea.

"
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The astral plane is a realm of thought. Physical distances express conceptual differences, and identical concepts have zero space between them.

The shallow astral wildspace appears to be an "information space", albeit one that tracks the physical features of the material world.

Altho heroes can sail thru wildspace, it may be more like a virtual reality − like data in a video game, or in the Matrix virtual reality − except that this modifiable data is the actual info that the universe of matter physicalizes.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Yes, it seems that they are still entertaining some confusion there. I liked Wildspace (partially only, because it suffered from the "space is huge" problem, honestly) and had nothing against the phlogiston (although it suffered even more from that problem), but I always LOVED the Astral Plane, because it's the plane of thought and obeyed completely different rules.

And I'm still waiting to see whether whatever space "Spelljammer" covers has gravity and atmosphere, things that the Astral did not really need, since it was not really physical.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here is a description of the Astral Sea from the 5e Players Handbook.

The Players Handbook describes what the Spelljammer setting refers to as the "astral sea".

"The astral plane is the realm of thought and dream, where visitors travel as disembodied souls to reach the planes of the divine and demonic. It is a great, silvery sea. The same above and below, with swirling wisps of white and gray streaking among motes of light resembling distant stars. Erratic whirlpools of color flicker in midair like spinning coins. Occasional bits of solid matter can be found here, but most of the Astral Plane is an endless, open domain."

Bodies are the virtual bodies of "disembodied" minds, same as the bodies that one sees in a dream.

The "occasional bits of solid matter" are probably better understood to be information constructs, that are in fact identical to the virtual matter that exists in wildspace.

The main difference between the astral sea and the wildspace, is the astral sea is dreamlike, functioning symbolically, semiotically, linguistically. By contrast, the wildspace is a virtual reality that keeps track of things like physical distances and the physical properties of mass. These "realistic" spaces of the wildspace can be imbedded within the dream worlds of the astral sea. Even so, all of it is "information".
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Re the astral plane as a route for teleportation, compare how Star Trek transporters use "information" to teleport bodies between material locations, including data especially to reassemble the unique consciousness elsewhere. Unlike modern science, scifi science understands how the seat of consciousness works. Notably, the astral place relates to consciounsness, in the sense of a thinking and dreaming mind.
 



Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
I'm fairly certain the Astral Plane and Astral Sea are not distinct bodies; they're just synonyms, or different words describing the same thing.

The cosmology seems to me to be laid out like this;

  • Wildspace is the area closest to Material Place worlds. Old lore was that this is essentially the "space" between planets/moons in the same system. Sounds like this will be about the same.
  • Eventually if you travel out in Wildspace far enough, you leave your system and transition into the Astral Sea. In old lore, the Astral Sea and the Astral Plane are just the same thing, and it seems like that will remain the same.
  • Travel far enough through the Astral Sea, and you can reach other planes. This was always the case.

The only really big change here, is that the Phlogiston seems to be scrapped and its role subsumed by the Astral Sea. Which I'm glad, never really saw the point of it.

The status of Crystal Spheres is a little murkier. I don't think the concept is entirely scrapped as its been mentioned before in lore videos, explaining the status of Eberron for example, but perhaps its name/purpose has changed somewhat.
 

Can you find the exact quote. Presumamably the shallow wildspace borders the deep "astral" sea.
Wildspace has just always been just been well space in the Material Plane. Once you go far enough from the planet you are in Wildspace. Once you reach the edge of Wildspace the Crystal Sphere you can exit in to the Phlogiston. That's how it was in 2e. Currently all that seems to have changed is that rather then the exit being into the Phlogiston it's to the Astral Plane instead.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Wildspace has just always been just been well space in the Material Plane. Once you go far enough from the planet you are in Wildspace. Once you reach the edge of Wildspace the Crystal Sphere you can exit in to the Phlogiston. That's how it was in 2e. Currently all that seems to have changed is that rather then the exit being into the Phlogiston it's to the Astral Plane instead.
That 2e model suggests wildspace is a radius around one sun or at most a galaxy or so. By contrast, the 5e description seems to imply many or all of the stars in the sky.

I agree there can be a transition between wildspace and astral sea. But then the astral sea has no overlap with the material plane and is instead a silvery void, a realm of thought.
 



Yaarel

Mind Mage
I'll add, I feel very vindicated. I guessed like two years ago that if Spelljammer came, the Phlogiston would be ditched in favor of the Astral, and it's fun to be right about something so inconsequential.
Me too.

Admittedly, the terms "crystal sphere" and "phlogiston" might still exist in 5e, but in ways that make sense in the 5e cosmology.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I don't think we have gotten enough description yet to make a call on that.
I read this sentence,

"Home of the stars and gateway to the heavens, the Astral Plane teems with excitement and possibility,"

to mean:

The 5e astral plane is itself the home of all of the stars in the universe of the material plane.

This is why it is called the "astral" plane.

Even so, the actual stars are in the aspect of the astral plane, called "wildspace". It is a way to handwaive the reallife distances between stars.

Meanwhile, the astral sea the astral plane proper, the one that the Players Handbook describes. But this astral sea is a realm of though and dream and lacks spacial distances.

Thus:
• "home of the stars" describes the wildspace.
• "gateway to the heavens" describes the astral sea bordering the celestial planes.
 


I read this sentence,

"Home of the stars and gateway to the heavens, the Astral Plane teems with excitement and possibility,"

to mean:

The 5e astral plane is itself the home of all of the stars in the universe of the material plane.

This is why it is called the "astral" plane.

Even so, the actual stars are in the aspect of the astral plane, called "wildspace". It is a way to handwaive the reallife distances between stars.

Meanwhile, the astral sea the astral plane proper, the one that the Players Handbook describes. But this astral sea is a realm of though and dream and lacks spacial distances.

Thus:
• "home of the stars" describes the wildspace.
• "gateway to the heavens" describes the astral sea bordering the celestial planes.
Misunderstood I guess.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Wildspace never tended to have stars in it. They were just glints in the Phlogiston. Which is the same for the Astral probably.
Stars in Spelljammer were usually attached to the Crystal Sphere in some way. In some of the settings they were portals to the Plane of Radiance that would fry you if you tried to pass through them. I think in Greyspace they were massive gems embedded in the Crystal Sphere. You couldn't generally see the phlogiston through the crystal sphere in most systems - IIRC they were opaque.
 

Depending on how they present the fine details in the 5e Spelljammer guide, it might be possible to have both traveling into the Astral Sea from wildspace and the prior editions' lore about crystal spheres + phlogiston at the same time. I'm planning to try and bridge the gap for my Realmspace project on DMsGuild. I'm hoping that they don't blatantly say that there are no crystal spheres in the actual text, and don't say that there is nothing but Astral Sea beyond wildspace for specific settings.
 



An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top