D&D 5E What is the Astral Sea according to 5e?

The Players Handbook describes why matter cannot exist in a realm of thought.

Heh, of course, "magic" can allow a rock or a spelljammer ship to exist in a realm of thought ... by translating these objects of matter into information constructs that can exist there.




Players Handbook 301-302.
It does not say they can’t exist there. The stuff there would still be matter anyway as things from there can come to the material plane.
 

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Yaarel

He Mage
It does not say they can’t exist there. The stuff there would still be matter anyway as things from there can come to the material plane.
If matter requires space and if there is no space there, then matter cannot exist there.

The three-dimensions of the physical universe, dont exist inside a dream.
 



The great thing is you can leave it diagetically vague. "Some sages postulate that when a spelljammer enters the Astral Sea, the ship and its crew physically cease to exist, and are transformed into purely mental constructs in that realm of insubstantial dreams. Upon exiting into physical reality once more, the ship and crew are reconstituted again. Other sages say that this is obviously absurd."
 

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Guest 7034872

Guest
The great thing is you can leave it diagetically vague. "Some sages postulate that when a spelljammer enters the Astral Sea, the ship and its crew physically cease to exist, and are transformed into purely mental constructs in that realm of insubstantial dreams. Upon exiting into physical reality once more, the ship and crew are reconstituted again. Other sages say that this is obviously absurd."
Yep, that's exactly how they handled it in 2e: "Don't try so hard to be absolutely consistent." It's good advice, too.

In my own case I think I've undone myself through excessive ambition: I want an Astral Plane that doesn't just sound wildly disorienting and alien in its flavor text, but really is that disorienting and alien in the way players interact with it. I have found a way to do that, but what I came up with doesn't fit at all well with how the book handles in-plane combat and movement. I tried hard, but it's like Dirty Harry says: "A man's got to know his limitations."
 

The astral plane is a thought scape, where symbols, archetypes, cultures, ideals, take on a life of their own. One must learn how to navigate. For example to arrive at a dominion of Good ethical ideals normally requires oneself to be Good, whence the symbolic affinity with that dominion.

Part of the magic of a spelljammer ship is to dematerialize into a thought construct, but also is to navigate the thought scape, including by linguistic means.
I don’t feel that answers my question at all. How does this work in game mechanics? What is the structure, if any, of thought in the game.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I don’t feel that answers my question at all. How does this work in game mechanics? What is the structure, if any, of thought in the game.

D&D is primarily a combat game. 5e wants mechanics for social interaction and exploration, but still, mechanics of a mindscape are probably gonna be combat mechanics.

With regard to the setting concept, the astral plane is a realm of thought, something like a Platonic realm of ideas, or a Jungian collective unconsciousness of archetypes. The concepts and symbols and assumptions that a culture uses to organize day-to-day activities become semi-autonomous realities. It is something like a novel becoming a reallife twilight zone. But these stories tend to be deep stories, culturally enduring narratives, that make "reality" make sense and feel true. For example, pretty much all cultures value and depend on the roles of mothers, so in a realm of thought expect to encounter some form of mother archetype. Adventurers who journey thru these thought scapes confront various cultural archetypes, for better or for worse.

The archetypal constructs from particular cultures occur in the "astral dominions". The "astral sea" is more like empty space having a dream. The "astral wildspace" is more like the sun and planets of a solar system having a dream. But dominions are more often about human dreams or the dreams of various creature types.

Note, many of the dominions organize by an ethical alignment, NG, N, NE, etcetra. So often various archetypes from unrelated cultures sometimes get clustered together, because these archetypes share the concept − the "idea" − of a comparable ethic in common. Things are "near" to each other, when they have many cognitive associations in common, and "far away" when they have little or nothing in common. Think of alignment as an information tag, and the astral plane as "sorting" its information database to assemble all of the archetypes that have the same or similar alignment tag into the same dominion.

But the astral plane can alternatively "sort" the data according to a different tag. Maybe a dominion is all of the symbols from a particular culture, like Brasil or Japan. Then the adventurers experience these clusters of encounters because they share a nationality in common.

The thought scape is fluid. Things organize via linguistic (including semiotic) associations.

Journeying thru the thought scape, is more like trying to remember something that is on the tip of ones tongue. One might find something specific difficult to remember, but then relax, think of something else, then actually arrive at the memory via a different path of cognitive associations.


Regarding "space". There is no space. This is easy to understand. I guess that everyone reading this post has played a video game. There is no space. It is just electrical bits and bites of a computer to track data. No matter how "real" the computer screen might feel − everything is just information constructs.

Similarly, a dream. One can dream vividly about flying across the land or meeting a friend in a house. But everything is information constructs happening inside ones own skull. There is no "space". Pure information.
 
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D&D is primarily a combat game. 5e wants mechanics for social interaction and exploration, but still, mechanics of a mindscape are probably gonna be combat mechanics.

With regard to the setting concept, the astral plane is a realm of thought, something like a Platonic realm of ideas, or a Jungian collective unconsciousness of archetypes. The concepts and symbols and assumptions that a culture uses to organize day-to-day activities become semi-autonomous realities. It is something like a novel becoming a reallife twilight zone. But these stories tend to be deep stories, culturally enduring narratives, that make "reality" make sense and feel true. For example, pretty much all cultures value and depend on the roles of mothers, so in a realm of thought expect to encounter some form of mother archetype. Adventurers who journey thru these thought scapes confront various cultural archetypes, for better or for worse.

The archetypal constructs from particular cultures occur in the "astral dominions". The "astral sea" is more like empty space having a dream. The "astral wildspace" is more like the sun and planets of a solar system having a dream. But dominions are more often about human dreams or the dreams of various creature types.

Note, many of the dominions organize by an ethical alignment, NG, N, NE, etcetra. So often various archetypes from unrelated cultures sometimes get clustered together, because these archetypes share the concept − the "idea" − of a comparable ethic in common. Things are "near" to each other, when they have many cognitive associations in common, and "far away" when they have little or nothing in common. Think of alignment as an information tag, and the astral plane as "sorting" its information database to assemble all of the archetypes that have the same or similar alignment tag into the same dominion.

But the astral plane can alternatively "sort" the data according to a different tag. Maybe a dominion is all of the symbols from a particular culture, like Brasil or Japan. Then the adventurers experience these clusters of encounters because they share a nationality in common.

The thought scape is fluid. Things organize via linguistic (including semiotic) associations.

Journeying thru the thought scape, is more like trying to remember something that is on the tip of ones tongue. One might find something specific difficult to remember, but then relax, think of something else, then actually arrive at the memory via a different path of cognitive associations.


Regarding "space". There is no space. This is easy to understand. I guess that everyone reading this post has played a video game. There is no space. It is just electrical bits and bites of a computer to track data. No matter how "real" the computer screen might feel − everything is just information constructs.

Similarly, a dream. One can dream vividly about flying across the land or meeting a friend in a house. But everything is information constructs happening inside ones own skull. There is no "space". Pure information.
Lovely, yet you still didn’t answer my quesrion. Therefor I feel I must conclude: you have no idea yourself. Which is 100% ok.
 

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Guest 7034872

Guest
With regard to the setting concept, the astral plane is a realm of thought, something like a Platonic realm of ideas, or a Jungian collective unconsciousness of archetypes.
That is exactly how I've designed my version of it. Speed of travel then becomes a function of speed of thought and recall, not physical characteristics (yay for the gnomes!). "Proximity," similarly, is about logical or conceptual proximity, not spatial ('cuz there is no space), so travel gets pretty strange pretty much right away. It works great so long as there's no combat.

Question: if the astral is just a thoughtscape, why can’t PCs do anything they can think of?
As for your original question here, Uni, I'll say there are two principal reasons (per my imagining of the plane):
  1. It's a shared domain, not a private one, so your thoughts limit the range of effect of my thoughts and vice versa.
  2. (This might sound subtle and nitpicky, but it does matter.) At least in my imagining of it, the Astral Plane is less a domain of thinking (a creature's mental activity) and more a domain of concepts (Platonic Forms, which are the mind-independent abstract stuff about which creatures think when they do math and such stuff). In a Platonic domain, concepts aren't under our control any more than physical matter is.
 

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