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

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
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.
They have shown the inside of the DM Screen that shows a chart of the Astral Plane showing spheres and rocks and “Astral Sea” written between everything.

A reasonable assumption is that the named spheres are the planetary systems for D&D worlds, with stars and wildspace inside the spheres.

I’ve shared this screengrab before.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
They have shown the inside of the DM Screen that shows a chart of the Astral Plane showing spheres and rocks and “Astral Sea” written between everything.

A reasonable assumption is that the named spheres are the planetary systems for D&D worlds, with stars and wildspace inside the spheres.
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Per the chart, the circles are presumbably the "wildspace", parts of it where each forms a "sphere", being imbedded within the "astral sea".

But all, both the wildspace and the astral sea, are aspects of the "astral plane", as labeled on the top-left corner of the chart.

In this way, one navigates the astral wildspace, virtually, normally. But one navigates the astral sea, conceptually, symbolically, in a more dreamlike way.

I assume, a person within a wildspace can visibly see the stars that are in the other spheres. However, the stars are overwhelmingly vast distances away. So, the astral sea is the only practicable method to reach them. Meanwhile the "spheres" themselves only exist in the astral sea. They dont exist in the material world.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The material plane has planets, stars, and outer space.

Thus the feywild and shadowfell echoes, likewise, have the fey and shadow aspects of outer space.

Because the wildspace is an astral phenomenon, there can be such thing as feyspace, shadowspace, and etherspace, since these places can exist as concepts within the astral plane.
 





Um... in the real world, a galaxy is maybe 50,000 times larger than a solar system (depending on the galaxy and solar system, of course). So I'm gonna guess wildspace doesn't encompass entire galaxies.
I am half asleep and my old books are in crawl spaces, but if I remember it was bigger then a system but WAY smaller then a galaxy. I remember 'space' being able to have multi systems though... lets see if anyone remembers darksun alien halflings with a moon spaceship/deathstar...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
But all, both the wildspace and the astral sea, are aspects of the "astral plane", as labeled on the top-left corner of the chart.

That's like looking at a map labelled "The Pacific Ocean" and saying that the Philippines are "an aspect of the ocean".

In this way, one navigates the astral wildspace, virtually, normally. But one navigates the astral sea, conceptually, symbolically, in a more dreamlike way.

I don't know if we want to jump to that conclusion. I would be unsurprised if we find that travel via a Spelljammer is rather unlike travel through the Astral without a vessel - that the ship shields the people in it from all the mumbo-jumbo, reducing navigation and travel to being more like, well, travelling in a ship.

Fall overboard, though, and maybe you have a problem.
 

Staffan

Legend
I am half asleep and my old books are in crawl spaces, but if I remember it was bigger then a system but WAY smaller then a galaxy. I remember 'space' being able to have multi systems though... lets see if anyone remembers darksun alien halflings with a moon spaceship/deathstar...
In OG Spelljammer, the default was that a crystal sphere was a single system (although such a system could have multiple suns fire bodies), and its radius was double that of the outermost occupied orbit. So the outermost occupied orbit of Realmspace has the planet of H'Catha, at a distance of 1600 million miles from the Sun, and going from the Sun to that orbit takes 16 days (14 days if you start at Al-Toril's orbit). That puts the crystal sphere another 1600 million miles out, for a total travel time of 32 days (30 from Al-Toril).

As for the Dark Sun space halflings, that was never established in canon because the line was canceled before then. But as I understand it, the idea was that the Messenger, a comet normally showing up every 45 years, would turn out to be a biotech halfling spaceship, and that the increased activity in the Kreen empire west of the Tablelands would be related to it crashing there in Free Year 7 instead of streaking across the heavens.
 
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Here's a quick overview of how stuff has been in the Spelljammer in the past (2e), as well as the Astral Plane (2e and 5e are essentially identical) for those who never knew or don't recall:

-Wildspace was simply outer space, looking basically like we imagine it to look. It's where you are once you get outside of a planet's atmosphere. While there are some tweaks based on fantasy physics, there is no such thing as "regular space" contrasted with Wildspace.
-Wildspace (ie, space) covered solar systems (though systems might orbit something other than a star, I'm calling them "solar systems" for accessibility) exclusively. The stars you saw in the night sky were not other suns. They were points of light with various explanations based on the particular solar system you were in.
-Each solar system was contained by an opaque dark shell called a crystal sphere. Its distance from the sun (or other body) at the center of the system was twice the distance to the furthest fixed planetary (or other) orbit. The stars are usually features on the inside of the crystal sphere. Doors can open in these crystal spheres allowing you to exit.
-Outside of crystal spheres normal space (ie, Wildspace) was replaced with the Phlogiston. Instead of blackness with stars, your ship was immersed in a rainbow fluid with distinct magical properties, and a stronger implied connection to the Inner and Ethereal Planes than the Astral Plane. This is the interstellar medium you sail through to reach any other crystal sphere.
-All of the above is part of the Material Plane. No planar travel happens while sailing through Wildspace or the Phlogiston.
-The Astral Plane is a silvery expanse cosmologically between the Material Plane and the Outer Planes. 5e does not present the Outer Planes as floating in the Astral Plane as 4e did, but returns the Outer Planes to the previous view of a Great Wheel (while leaving open that this is mortal minds trying to comprehend the infinite and might only be a representation). The Astra Sea is just another term for the Astral Plane.

Based on the teasers, here is what I'm assuming (subject to further information) is the new configuration:
-Wildspace is the same as above, with the exception that stars may represent different things now.
-There are no crystal spheres (at least not as we know them).
-There is no Phlogiston. When you sail beyond the area of normal space surrounding a solar system, you enter the Astral Plane.
-The art revealed (never reliable) seems to present a more "spacey" looking Astral Plane, which perhaps means they are going to make some sort of "Border Astral" plane where the Rock of Bral and other neo-Spelljammer communities might exist. Or they might change what the Astral Plane looks like. Or it could just be art that doesn't match the text.
 

JEB

Legend
-Wildspace (ie, space) covered solar systems (though systems might orbit something other than a star, I'm calling them "solar systems" for accessibility) exclusively. The stars you saw in the night sky were not other suns. They were points of light with various explanations based on the particular solar system you were in.
Hmm. If they did get rid of crystal spheres in 5E, but the only way to get to other star systems is through the Astral Sea, what would stars be now? All you should see past your system is the grey haze of the Astral Sea's border. Might be an argument for some kind of crystal sphere replacement.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here's a quick overview of how stuff has been in the Spelljammer in the past (2e), as well as the Astral Plane (2e and 5e are essentially identical) for those who never knew or don't recall:

-Wildspace was simply outer space, looking basically like we imagine it to look. It's where you are once you get outside of a planet's atmosphere. While there are some tweaks based on fantasy physics, there is no such thing as "regular space" contrasted with Wildspace.
-Wildspace (ie, space) covered solar systems (though systems might orbit something other than a star, I'm calling them "solar systems" for accessibility) exclusively. The stars you saw in the night sky were not other suns. They were points of light with various explanations based on the particular solar system you were in.
-Each solar system was contained by an opaque dark shell called a crystal sphere. Its distance from the sun (or other body) at the center of the system was twice the distance to the furthest fixed planetary (or other) orbit. The stars are usually features on the inside of the crystal sphere. Doors can open in these crystal spheres allowing you to exit.
-Outside of crystal spheres normal space (ie, Wildspace) was replaced with the Phlogiston. Instead of blackness with stars, your ship was immersed in a rainbow fluid with distinct magical properties, and a stronger implied connection to the Inner and Ethereal Planes than the Astral Plane. This is the interstellar medium you sail through to reach any other crystal sphere.
-All of the above is part of the Material Plane. No planar travel happens while sailing through Wildspace or the Phlogiston.
-The Astral Plane is a silvery expanse cosmologically between the Material Plane and the Outer Planes. 5e does not present the Outer Planes as floating in the Astral Plane as 4e did, but returns the Outer Planes to the previous view of a Great Wheel (while leaving open that this is mortal minds trying to comprehend the infinite and might only be a representation). The Astra Sea is just another term for the Astral Plane.

Based on the teasers, here is what I'm assuming (subject to further information) is the new configuration:
-Wildspace is the same as above, with the exception that stars may represent different things now.
-There are no crystal spheres (at least not as we know them).
-There is no Phlogiston. When you sail beyond the area of normal space surrounding a solar system, you enter the Astral Plane.
-The art revealed (never reliable) seems to present a more "spacey" looking Astral Plane, which perhaps means they are going to make some sort of "Border Astral" plane where the Rock of Bral and other neo-Spelljammer communities might exist. Or they might change what the Astral Plane looks like. Or it could just be art that doesn't match the text.
I suspect this is the difference of Spelljammer between 5e and 2e.

The 5e material plane will have reallife astrophysics: vacuum of space, stars being suns vast distances away. Reallife.

Therefore, the fantasy physics of 2e will instead be an aspect of the "augmented reality" that overlaps each solar system or analogous cluster. This overlay is astral stuff.

The stuff of the astral plane is made out of "thought", or in this case virtual information constructs. Notably, the astral plane can preserve mental qualities including the unique consciousness of a soul.

To exit reallife astrophysics and enter the 5e fantasy physics, the spelljammer and its crew dematerialize and translate into virtual information constructs instead.

Thus, the spelljammer ship can sail the fantasy physics within the 5e astral wildspace.
 

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 doesn’t seem the be the 5e definition though
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
I suspect this is the difference of Spelljammer between 5e and 2e.

The 5e material plane will have reallife astrophysics: vacuum of space, stars being suns vast distances away. Reallife.

Therefore, the fantasy physics of 2e will instead be an aspect of the "augmented reality" that overlaps each solar system or analogous cluster. This overlay is astral stuff.

The stuff of the astral plane is made out of "thought", or in this case virtual information constructs. Notably, the astral plane can preserve mental qualities including the unique consciousness of a soul.

To exit reallife astrophysics and enter the 5e fantasy physics, the spelljammer and its crew dematerialize and translate into virtual information constructs instead.

Thus, the spelljammer ship can sail the fantasy physics within the 5e astral wildspace.
This is all great conjecture, but there is only one very large obstacle - the settings of DnD take place within the material plane, most of which have a rather relaxed attitude to real life physics.

The only way around this would be to use an idea from Modern Age: Threefold - which essentially has Earth-like planes, magic planes (they run on magic and thus modern physics means squat), and Hell planes where the inhabitants are made to suffer.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
This is all great conjecture, but there is only one very large obstacle - the settings of DnD take place within the material plane, most of which have a rather relaxed attitude to real life physics.
It is normal to enter the astral plane from one point in the material plane and exit in an other point in the material plane. The astral plane facilitates travel - the opposite of an obstacle. While in the astral plane, one navigates between the two points by means of thoughts and dreams, often in the form of familiarity with the other point, or something significant from there.

The only way around this would be to use an idea from Modern Age: Threefold - which essentially has Earth-like planes, magic planes (they run on magic and thus modern physics means squat), and Hell planes where the inhabitants are made to suffer.
Each world setting has its own cosmological assumptions, map and concepts. If a setting is in outerspace, the Spelljammer setting needs a way to respect that. Making Spelljammer a separate mindscape is win-win. The world settings can be whatever they are. The Spelljammer version of one is only an astral reimagination of it. Not the setting itself.

Now, one can use Spelljammer to navigate between different kinds of world settings. However once the spelljammer ship materializes into a world, its crew are actually in that world, including all of its cosmological assumptions. They are no longer in the Spelljammer setting nor its Spelljammer assumptions. To reenter the Spelljammer setting, they would need to dematerialize back into its mindscape
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
@Rogerd1

Note, because the Spelljammer setting is an astral mindscape, one can travel to any imaginable place: including earthlike solar systems, magical demiplanes, or astral domains of celestials or fiends. One navigates in a dreamlike way.

Presumably the spelljammer helm facilitates this dreamlike symbolically associative navigation thru thoughts. But a stranded person can presumably learn how to navigate the astral plane via skill checks. Familiar locations would be easier. Navigating the astral plane would probably feel something like lucid dreaming.
 


That's like looking at a map labelled "The Pacific Ocean" and saying that the Philippines are "an aspect of the ocean".



I don't know if we want to jump to that conclusion. I would be unsurprised if we find that travel via a Spelljammer is rather unlike travel through the Astral without a vessel - that the ship shields the people in it from all the mumbo-jumbo, reducing navigation and travel to being more like, well, travelling in a ship.

Fall overboard, though, and maybe you have a problem.
I think this is their opinion of how things work
 

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