The Planes and What Lies Beyond the Veil
Commoners know few things about the alternate planes and the realities that lie outside their own. Well educated nobels may know more about what lies beyond, but those without a truly arcane education have problems understanding the planes, much less believing in them. Planar travel is limited by the displacement of the Firstwork due to the Dusk War. Those powerful enough to open cross-planar gateways are barred by a variety of arcane constrictions.
It is possible to link another plane to the Firstwork, but this form of magical travel is a one way process. Creatures can be summoned from distant realities to the mortal shores of the prime material world, but mortals cannot enter the other planes as long as they possess their mortal body. Astral projection and death are the only possible ways that a mortal will ever see the golden lights of Hestavar or blazing spires of the City of Brass.
The Prime Material – The Firstwork
The Firstwork is the sole world floating in the void of the Prime Material Plane of existence. The Firstwork is flat with a single continent protruding from the depths of the ocean which covers the rest of the world. This world is inexplicably ancient, signs of forgotten wars and primeval civilizations being found in locations thought to be undiscovered. All origin stories of the The Firstwork are shrouded in a certain amount of mystery and many of them are contradictory. The Prime Material plane was the only plane to survive the Dusk War, and may possess the key to restoring the planes. This makes the world incredibly important to the few surviving extraplanar entities.
The Prime Material – The Underdark
Deep beneath the surface of the Firstwork lies a massive subterranean realm often referred to as the Underdark. This land of caverns and underground oceans is far below the depths of humanity’s dungeons and cellars. Filled with nightmares unimaginable, the Underdark is home to outcast races and those who fled into its dark embrace in order to survive during the rising waters of the Storm Eternal. Lit by nothing except glowing fungi and the flames of carried torches, few who venture into the depths of this horrid realm ever return.
The Fey Wilds
The scholars and priests who actually believe in the plane usually refer to the Feywild as the “Elder World”. Myths, legends, and fables about the Elder World abound. The stories tell of a mysterious land of exceptional beauty, warped by strange magic and governed by courts of pagan deities. It is widely believed that the Feywild was the original world of the Prime Material Plane before The One True God cleansed the Firstwork and created Humanity. Supposedly creatures from this strange world enter the natural world through fey crossings, most of which are notoriously difficult to detect because they exist only at certain times or under rare conditions (such as in the light of a full moon during the summer solstice). Planar scholars claim that this plane was destroyed during the Dusk War, but splinters of the Feywild continue to exist where these fey crossings anchor them to the mortal world. These spots are often called the Fey Wilds and can be found in areas where man has never trodden. Mankind does its best to avoid encountering a Fey Wild, going so far as to completely avoid entire forests due to the rumors that a Fey Wild may be present. Roads circumnavigate such forest and harvesting lumber from these forests is met with capital punishment in all but the most vile of kingdoms. Most folk who blunder into the Feywild never return, while those who claim to have ventured there and returned are utterly mad. The elves of Llelethan have strong ties to the Feywild, but even they shun this Elder World and the madcap politics of the fey courts.
The Shadow Falls and the Underworld
In ancient times, when the Feywild stood proud, there was another plane which ruled from the shadows. This plane was called the Shadowfell or the Afterworld. Much like the Feywild, it was a place best avoided by mortals. And much like the Feywild, it is believed that the Shadowfell was destroyed during the Dusk War. The Raven Queen, goddess of Death and Fate lived in the Shadowfell during this cataclysm. She managed to save a large portion of the plane during the Dusk War by binding the souls of the dead to the pagan god of torture’s home in The Underdark. This act killed the ancient god of torture, but saved Letherna, the City of The Dead. With Letherna and the Raven Queen now residing in the underdark, the Shadowfell has earned a new name; the Underworld. The rest of the Shadowfell is not entirely gone; the shadow energy of the plane can still be found in spots where shadow-crossings used to be located. Graveyards, massacre sites and warzones are avoided at night, because it is at this time that the denizens of the dead plane can cross through to harass the living. Sometimes these locations can serve as crossings to bizarre and nightmarish kingdoms, called Domains of Dread. The After World does not abide the living, which is why only the dead find peace there. The Underworld is also where the spirits of the deceased dwell for a time before being judged by the Raven Queen and then continuing their journey to the afterlife. Due to the Underworld laying beneath the feet of the living, spirits will often escape this bleak realm to haunt the natural world as ghosts, wraiths, and other horrors.