The Astral Plane has existed before humanity, and humanity has just begun to evolve methods of interacting with it. The most common interaction with this realm being in dreams.
The Astral Realm is a wild land of untamed potential, populated by strange flora and fauna. Influenced solely by imagination the Astral Plane has no specific layout or even fixed points save three:
The Wilds: An ancient wilderness created by years of paranoia over things that go bump in the dark. The Wilds take the form of a Forest most commonly or a Misty Marsh, they have also been known to manifest as a Desert or alien landscape. Populated by Nightmare Creatures.
The landscape of The Wilds always appears as a twisted and warped caricature of whatever it takes the form of, so that the Forest isn’t just a forest but a very dark and spooky one where the trees seem to grow into skeletal and menacing shapes.
The Nightmare Creatures keep mostly to themselves and few are openly hostile, some simply seek an end to their own existence.
Most Nightmare Creatures are between level 3 and 7, depending upon what and where it is found, a Nightmare wolf is level 7 in the Forest but level 4 in the Misty Marsh or level 6 in the desert.
Most Nightmare Flora are basically just plants, non harmful if a bit of a bother.
Tentacle Vine: Level 5 Corporeal.
Tentacle Vines are the manipulatory tendrils of a carnivorous flower, most commonly a Snatcher Flower (See next entry) and have been known to have needles which secrete a paralyzing agent. By appearance they aren’t much different from ivy.
Health per vine: 3.
Attacks: Sting Strike, 3 damage, paralyze. Ensnare, 4 Damage, Paralyze, Level Might Check 6 to break.
Snatcher Flower: Level 5 Corporeal.
Snatcher Flowers resemble large Pitcher Plants and their primary offense/defense is their Tentacle Vine (See previous entry) tendrils.
Attack: Once a creature is inside the Pitcher it will take 8 damage per round until dissolved. Pitcher cannot be broken by conventional means.
Sapient Tree: See Bestiary Entry: Page 117.
Veridial: See Bestiary Entry: Page 135.
Fauna: (Ethereal unless otherwise noted).
Nightmare Wolf: Level 7 (Forest), 3 (Misty Marsh), 6 (Desert).
Nightmare wolves can appear singly but are most known for travelling in packs of five or more, Ethereal when stalking and Corporeal when attacking, Nightmare wolves eyes sometimes glow red, their claws are longer than any actual wolf’s and they typically stand eight feet tall at the shoulder. Colouration varies from dark brown to white with blood smears from it’s latest .
Attacks: Claw, 4 damage. Bite, 8 Damage.
Nightmare Swampodile: Found only in Misty Marsh, Corporeal Creature, level 6.
Nightmare Swampodiles are reptiles, that much is certain, but what exactly they are is unknown. Some claim them to be humanoids, others claim them to be crocodiles the size of a house.
Attacks: Claw, 6 damage. Bite, 8 damage.
Ghouls: Humanoid Psychic Parasites, Level 3.
Dark and twisted remnants of former Humans, most are far from malignant and may actually beg for death, when denied this release they will tend to become violent. Most Ghouls prowl just on the edge of perception, drawing a strange high off the paranoia they cause. Ghouls feed upon negative emotions as if they were powerful narcotics, positive or neutral emotions have no effect upon them.
Attacks: Kick/Punch, 2 damage.
Other common enemies: (Sourced from The Strange Bestiary).
All Seeing Eye: See Bestiary Entry: Page 17.
Grotesque: See Bestiary Entry: Page 67.
Killing White Light: (Most commonly found in Misty Marsh) See Bestiary Entry: Page 75.
Phantasmic Parasite: See Bestiary Entry: Page 104.
Night Spider: See Bestiary Entry: Page 97.
Night Wyrm: See Bestiary Entry: Page 98.
Chimera: See Bestiary Entry: Page 30.
Cyclops: See Bestiary Entry: Page 36.
Deionychus: See Bestiary Entry: Page 40.
Elementals: See Bestiary Entry: Pages 48-9.
Ghosts: See Bestiary Entry: Page 60.
Gorgon: See Bestiary Entry: Page 63.
Questing Beast: See Bestiary Entry: Page 111.
All other creatures are treated as Nightmare Creatures, perhaps gaining two levels and Monstrous Size. Attacks deal 2-4 extra damage when given Nightmare form.
*All Credit for Bestiary entries to respective owners.
Paradise Valley: Sometimes known as the Faerie Kingdoms. Idyllic setting ruled by four kingdoms of faeries:
Trealam: Oberon’s Kingdom.
Trealam is a mostly open kingdom, but fiercely militaristic. Denizens live in a relatively calm police state. The Capitol (Dreama (Dray-Ahma) is home to the Knights of Reama, a peacekeeping force within the faerie realms.
A Medieval/Industrial society, chief production centering on weapons and armoury.
The industrial society is dominated by a largely Edwardian Steampunk theme, clockwork, alchemy and steam power are slowly changing the way this kingdom operates.
Largely urban but with immaculately kept grounds and cities, with steam power becoming more common soot has been becoming a bit of an issue, but a new alchemical fuel to power the steam engines promises to clean that up quite soon….
Cities & People:
Gargyllas (Gar-Jee-Lass): Port city, trades mostly in food and agricultural goods. Mayor: Terral Gor, a former Knight of Reama, Terral has since settled down to a quieter life and is now renowned for the roses he keeps in the city hall gardens. Gargyllas is currently beset by a minor group of young upstarts calling themselves the “Golden Gryffons”, there is a modest reward for their capture. Also home to Famous Adventurer Sallenroh Tuf, who will be leading an expedition to Ascentia soon.
Yufrond (Yoo-Frond): Industrial city dominated by steel mills of all kinds. Mayor: Bie, an aristocrat from birth Bie is a bit detached and unaware of his citizens plight. The city is currently undergoing the heaviest of the pollution due to the use of noxious chemicals in the mills and refineries. Cleanup has not yet begun to make a visceral difference as efforts are still lagging behind the output levels. Orphans and child labour are not in short supply. There are rumours circulating that the noxious chemicals are leading to horrific mutations in the city’s rat population.
Intelligent Rat: Level 2 Semi-Humanoid.
A single Rat can only inflict half a point of damage in any one attack, however swarms of twenty or more can inflict 5 damage or more during concentrated attacks, or may simply choose to overwhelm players with superior numbers.
The rats are simply trying to carve out a niche for themselves, if given the opportunity they will jump at the chance to take a job working in a factory, as the harsh chemicals are almost a necessity to their continued survival. Reaching further into the mystery, players may discover a plot to overrun the entire Valley by causing a great many chemical spills…..
Grealac: Titania’s Kingdom.
Home of renowned healers and the most free of the faerie peoples, Titania rules with kindness and justice, forgiving many things but never hesitating to exact justice. Denizens live average, if uneventful lives, with little fuss. Titania’s kingdom is technically a territory of Oberon’s but she is granted full authority to rule within it’s borders.
Agrarian society, chief crops being Wheat and Vegetables (Garden Variety).
Social Society, somewhat Hedonist, dominated by a Fantasy Elven theme, as if taken directly from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Cities & People:
Weale: Home of the annual Great Harvest celebration, currently preparing for said celebration. Mayor: Kormec Taal, A true mayor of the people, will let anyone walk into his office off the street with any problem, immensely popular if slightly corrupt. While the town begins gearing up for the latest festival it seems that someone has been taking various opportunities to steal valuable artefacts while the owners are distracted.
Ioshul: A small, very insular community of farmers tucked away in a far corner of the kingdom, nothing special has ever really happened in Ioshul. Mayor: Puol Vace, dreams of turning Ioshul into a thriving hub of culture and commerce. Someone has been advertising a special new kind of wine that is claimed to send the consumer into a new realm of existence (Spiral dust perhaps)…?
Freemoch: Breal’s Kingdom.
The Breal are a faerie race devoted to protecting nature, their kingdom is markedly more naturalist, cities residing in trees and little, if any, infrastructure, peoples are mostly nomadic, believing the sedentary lifestyle of their cousins to be too restrictive.
Highest use of Elemental Magics and understanding of the natural laws of the Astral Plane.
Society tends to be more tribal in nature, dominated by a Wood Elf/Druidic Theme.
Anyone seen to be disrespectful to the world around them is looked down upon, anyone seen to cause malicious harm is to be reeducated.
Cities & People:
Fardelk: Renowned for their medicine, home to the Order of Freal, an elite organization devoted to furthering the medicinal sciences, by any means necessary. Mayor: Grea Tor, a member of the Order of Freal and fanatically devoted to protecting nature, looks upon anyone from outside the kingdom as a heretic. Recently vagrants and business ambassadors from other kingdoms have begun disappearing and those who were sent to investigate have likewise disappeared, there are several substantial rewards for information leading to their recovery.
Marajeanus: A nexus point for ruffians and highwaymen, a criminal haven as it were. Bandit Lord: Derak Nomac, biggest, baddest around. The only people who make an honest living here are dead.
The Berrellan Kingdom:
The smallest of the Faerie kingdoms, home to the Dream Chasm, which is said to hold the Chrystal of Emmarch, an alien artefact which is said to activate once every hundred years, creating a harmonious resonance which echoes throughout the entire Astral Plane, causing radical shifts in the structure of the Realm.
Society in this kingdom is primarily family centred and mining based, the most precious mineral mined being Evethryl, a mineral composed of the remains of a race of giant beetle, which when tempered, if five times lighter and four times stronger than steel.
Borders with Ascentia.
Dominated by a Steampunk/SteamGrunge theme. While the Berrellan Kingdom is more technologically advanced than some, it’s next to a third world country, it’s technological advances having come at the expense of its people, lands and economy. It is now relying entirely on aid from Breal in order to bounce back from the traumas.
The people now live in a sort of refugee state, the resources of the kingdom kept under tight lock and key. Anyone caught stealing is summarily executed, these are hard times after all….
Cities & People:
Tork: A city once known as the gleaming gem of the Chasm, now more of a cesspit. Mayor: Rea Tael, a bright young man who is doing everything he can to clean up the kingdom. Since over half the city is uninhabitable due to a toxic spill land and food are at a premium, there is a thriving black market for those brave enough to descend into the abandoned mines and catacombs beneath the city in order to find exotic foodstuffs.
Allagmak: Right on the Ascentian border this town is relatively untouched by pollution but is prone to disappearing into a nether realm for short periods of time, when it returns the denizens have been changed somehow but the effect fades quickly. Mayor: Treama Dul, a bit alienated (Due to contact with The Strange), unaware of problems facing the kingdom at large. Where, oh were, does that city go? That city, that city, that city, oh!
The Final land, known as Ascentia, is primarily shrouded in mystery, speculations and rumours of ethereal and spectral creatures abound….
However the truth of Ascentia is much more mysterious:
While it is indeed a land of strange and supernatural phenomenon, it is also connected directly to the Aleph Component hidden within the Earth’s core. Hidden deep within this land is a palace constructed of an unfamiliar metallic alloy, inside players may find an Aleph Interface, Only one who has taken the Dreams Lucidly focus or someone with a set of Information Lenses of level five or above may make sense of the controls.
Investigations into this will reveal that the Astral Plane is a nexus point between Earth and somewhere else, somewhere the Strange can’t quite touch….
However reaching this point is nigh impossible as the landscape of Ascentia is impossible to navigate by any conventional means, your footsteps take you nowhere, flying just leads you straight back out again, and the furthest anyone has ventured inside is 400 yards, a trip which took six weeks and five false starts.
Occasionally a human, perhaps something more (See Posthuman Bestiary Entry: Page 107) will venture out. They can speak in common tongue, but never seem inclined to speak of their homeland, sometimes they are known to trade in strange and powerful artefacts (High level Cyphers) in exchange for basic supplies or food crops.
If players choose to venture into Ascentia they will find a nightmare realm where their innermost secrets are turned against them. Within relatively more stable points players may find small societies of Posthumans, who may or may not feel inclined to be helpful, in general they view the Palace as sacred ground.