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

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Of course this raises the question, why not just develop a spell that moves your ship directly to the Astral, or open a Gate and sail through?

Simple answer - those spells require a spellcaster of sufficient level to cast them. Then your ship doesn't move without that high level spellcaster. Gate, for example, is a 9th level spell, and will only admit things at most 20' across. That's a bit of a limit if you want t move a lot of cargo...

We don't know how helms for the new Spelljammer will work yet, but broadly - By Xanathar's rules, you don't need to cast spells to make a magic item in 5e, so if you have the recipe to build the helm, you no longer need that rare high level spellcaster.
 

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Staffan

Legend
We don't know how helms for the new Spelljammer will work yet, but broadly - By Xanathar's rules, you don't need to cast spells to make a magic item in 5e, so if you have the recipe to build the helm, you no longer need that rare high level spellcaster.
In OG Spelljammer, making helms was a proprietary technology of the Arcane (later renamed as Mercane, I believe). I don't know if that's a thing they'll keep, but it was there in the old rules.

As for the physical properties of Wildspace, space in Spelljammer was still a vacuum. The main thing that worked differently was gravity. Every "loose" object would exert its own gravity of 1G. Small things (like people) would tend to have this gravity pointing toward their center, but larger things would create a gravity plane. This gravity would hold an envelope of air close to either a person or a vessel. That's why the knight can stand on the open deck of their squid ship and breathe freely, not because there's air/ether in space.
 

Staffan

Legend
Of course this raises the question, why not just develop a spell that moves your ship directly to the Astral, or open a Gate and sail through?
That's always been one of the big meta-questions about Spelljammer: why go to all the trouble and expense of traveling through space to get from Greyhawk to Waterdeep when plane shift is right there?

The answer, of course, is that plane shift is a 5th level spell (in 2e – 7th in 5e). So that would indicate that spelljamming would be a thing mostly for low-to-mid-level characters, before plane shift becomes available. Plane shift also requires a key in the form of a tuning fork, with each plane requiring a different key. This means that plane shift is mostly useful if you know where you're going, and not for exploring to see what's out there.
 

Hussar

Legend
That's always been one of the big meta-questions about Spelljammer: why go to all the trouble and expense of traveling through space to get from Greyhawk to Waterdeep when plane shift is right there?

The answer, of course, is that plane shift is a 5th level spell (in 2e – 7th in 5e). So that would indicate that spelljamming would be a thing mostly for low-to-mid-level characters, before plane shift becomes available. Plane shift also requires a key in the form of a tuning fork, with each plane requiring a different key. This means that plane shift is mostly useful if you know where you're going, and not for exploring to see what's out there.
Additionally, isn't Plane Shift limited to 8 people? That's not a lot of cargo. Could be a work around if you start using bags of holding and the like, I suppose, but, it also might just be one of those things we're not supposed to question as it's a lot more fun if we have honking big flying ships. :D
 





Rogerd1

Explorer
I would be inclined to steal from Palladium on this one.

Astral Domains: This is where the mystical entities reside.
Astral Kingdoms are demi-planes that could literally be anything - Including the 5e KS Hereafter (it looks neat), or Kisarta.
Astral Sea is where the players travel.

Personally, I'd prefer to keep the Astral plane strictly as a way to travel between planes (9 hells, 7 heavens, etc.) rather than mixing it with outer space and traveling between planets
You could use what was in 4e, or steal blatantly from Champions rpg on this one.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In OG Spelljammer, making helms was a proprietary technology of the Arcane (later renamed as Mercane, I believe). I don't know if that's a thing they'll keep, but it was there in the old rules.

Okay. I don't think that changes my point in the slightest.
 



Micah Sweet

Legend
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 don't think those terms map to actual description, but are rather marketing buzz-phrases. We don't have enough information to tell anything more detailed than Wildspace around the systems, followed by a vague silvery mist tradition to the Astral Sea. How that works exactly or even if it works the same for every bubble of Wildspace is unknown.

While I prefer crystal spheres and Phlogiston, it sounds like there's going to be a lot of stuff here that can be easily used in a game following the old paradigm, so I'm looking forward to it.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
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.
I'm hoping for an old school sidebar suggesting the original system as an alternative.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
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.
Stands to reason. Since the mirror planes didn't exist in 2e, this would be a literal new space to explore.
 


Micah Sweet

Legend
Additionally, isn't Plane Shift limited to 8 people? That's not a lot of cargo. Could be a work around if you start using bags of holding and the like, I suppose, but, it also might just be one of those things we're not supposed to question as it's a lot more fun if we have honking big flying ships. :D
See, I will always prefer explanations in universe over straight Rule of Cool. Avoiding a need for high level casters does that for me though.
 




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