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. of the Astral Plane is an endless, open domain.
The Astral Plane is the realm of thought and dream, where visitors travel as disembodied souls to reach the Outer Planes. It is a great silvery sea, the same above and below, with swirling wisps of white and gray streaking among motes of light like 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 Sea is a vast, empty expanse. Visitors occasionally stumble upon the petrified corpse of a dead god or other chunks of rock drifting forever in the silvery void. Much more commonplace are color pools – magical pools of colored light that flicker like radiant, spinning coins.
Creatures on the Astral Plane don’t age or suffer from hunger or thirst. For this reason, humanoids that live on the Astral Plane establish outposts on other planes, often the Material Plane, so their children can grow to maturity.
A traveler in the Astral Plane can move by simply thinking about moving, but distance has little meaning. The smarter a creature is, the easier it can control its movement by act of will.
Denizens of the Astral Plane
Planar travelers and refugees from other planes wander the expanses of the Astral Plane. The most prominent denizens of the Astral Plane are the githyanki, an outcast group of reavers that sail sleek astral ships, slaughter astral travelers, and raid planes touched by the Astral. Their city, Tu’narath, floats through the Astral Plane on a chunk of rock that is actually the body of a dead god.
Celestials, fiends, and mortal explorers often scour the Astral Plane for color pools leading to desired destinations. Travelers who linger for too long in the Astral might have an encounter with one or more wandering angels, demons, devils, night hags, yugoloths, or other planar travelers.
Traveling through the Astral Plane by means of astral projection involves projecting one’s consciousness there, usually in search of a gateway to an Outer Plane to visit. Since the Outer Planes are as much spiritual states of being as they are physical places, this allows a visitor to manifest in an Outer Plane as if he or she had physically traveled there, but as in a dream.
An individual’s death – either in the Astral Plane or on the destination plane – causes no actual harm. Only the severing of its silver cord while on the Astral Plane (or the death of his or her helpless physical body on the Material Plane) can result in a person’s true death. Thus, powerful explorers sometimes travel to the Outer Planes by way of astral projection rather than eek out a portal or use a more direct incantation.
Only a few things can sever a traveler’s silver cord, the most common being a psychic wind. The legendary silver swords of the githyanki also have this ability. A character who travels bodily to the Astral Plane (by means of a spell or one of the rare portals that leads directly there) has no silver cord.
Gateways leading from the Astral Plane to other planes appear as two-dimensional pools of rippling colors. Traveling to another plane requires locating a color pool that leads to the desired plane. These gateways to other planes can be identified by color, however finding the right color pool is a matter of chance.
A psychic wind isn’t a physical wind like that found on the Material Plane, but a storm of thought that batters travelers' minds rather than their bodies. A psychic wind is made up of lost memories, forgotten ideas, minor musings, and subconscious fears that went astray in the Astral Plane and conglomerated into this powerful force.
A psychic wind is first sensed as a rapid darkening of the silver-gray sky. After a few seconds, the area becomes as dark as a moonless night. As the sky darkens, the traveler feels buffeting and shaking, as if the plane itself was rebelling against the storm. As quickly as it comes, the psychic wind passes, and the sky returns to normal eventually.
The psychic wind has two kinds of effects: a location effect and a mental effect. It can lead a group of travelers journeying together astray from their desired path, and can lead to any of them becoming unconscious, stunned, or even induce madness.