# Cosmology The multiverse of the Forgotten Realms. ![[assets/covers-supplements/mordenkainens-tomb-of-foes.webp]] Toril and Abeir, held together in the natural world, are situated amid other planes of existence. Most theoreticians place the Astral Sea, the domain of the gods and the resting place of their dominions, above the world. A mixture of energy and elements exists below in the Elemental Chaos; at its bottom, the Abyss roils with demonic malice. Alongside the world are its reflections: the mystical Feywild, a place of boisterous life and magic, and the gloomy Shadowfell, a dim realm of decay and apathy. The Spellplague began, for all intents and purposes, in the dominions of the gods. Cyric murdered Mystra, unraveling magic in the cosmos and destroying her dominion. At the same time, Abeir and Toril happened in alignment. This cataclysmic coincidence led to upheaval, shaking apart the primeval order, opening up holes in defenses, and reshaping elements. When it was over, a realignment of power had brought forth a new order - the cosmos as it exists today. In many ways, the planes are easier to explore than they were before. Although many otherworldly locales are hostile and no place for any sensible mortal, few places have features that kill a visitor outright. Those with the power can travel the dimensions to whatever end they desire. ## :: The Astral Sea The home of the gods, this plane is a realm of pure thought and creativity. The province of mind and spirit, the Astral Sea is where pure imagination can become real. This great silvery void contains the dominions of the gods. ### Travel Traveling to the Astral Sea requires only the proper ritual, or passage through pathways found in the world, the Feywild, and especially the Shadowfell. Traveling in the Astral Sea is as easy as flying. Mortal creatures that have the ability to travel the planes can journey to, traverse, and even inhabit the Sea’s dominions. Some dominions are inhospitable, however, and few deities take kindly to the intrusion of mortals who come uninvited. ### Dominions Once arranged like a tree, the divine dominions have begun drifting in the Astral Sea since the Spellplague. During the Spellplague, old dominions fell, were merged, or disappeared entirely, and new ones arose. Each dominion is a vast but finite space, home of one or more gods who use their divine power to maintain its structure. #### Lost Dominions In the history of Toril, numerous deities have died by various means. Others have changed allegiances or suffered from the effects of the Spellplague. A few disappeared into Abeir. Indeed, whole pantheons have left Faerûn or have been destroyed. When a dominion is abandoned or destroyed, it largely fades from existence or breaks apart. However, remnants of it sometimes persist in the Astral Sea. The same is true for the corpses of slain deities — some remain intact, some leave signs behind, and others simply disappear. Other astral entities sometimes inhabit these fragments. It is possible to draw power from such astral flotsam, so finding one can be tremendously beneficial. Of all astral entities, the githyanki are best at accumulating such valuable assets. #### The Afterlife The souls of those who die travel through the Shadowfell to the Fugue Plane. There they await judgment. Some pass out of creation before any ruling comes, others after. Where these souls go, not even the gods know. One with strong faith and capabilities might be taken to the dominion of its deity to serve him or her beyond life. Others remain on the Fugue Plane as aides to the god of death. A few cling to the Shadowfell or the world, continuing on as ghosts or other insubstantial undead. ### Traits Dominions have traits dictated by the powerful entities that inhabit them. A dominion might have an alignment derived primarily from the greater god that controls it and secondarily from the other divinities that share the place. Dominions can also connect to various locales within the cosmos—other dominions, planes, or realms in the Elemental Chaos. Agreements among deities and other entities forge these links. A greater god controls each dominion, but other gods often share it, though they don’t necessarily work with the primary divinity. Lesser divine beings called exarchs also inhabit each dominion and serve one or more of the gods. ### Demiplanes Within the Astral Sea, a strong will focused on a particular idea can carve out and hold a small space apart from other dominions. This realm can be as big as the power used to create it allows, but it is always limited and smaller than the dominion of a deity. Most demiplanes form due to deliberate creation, but a few exist as folds or pockets in the planar arrangement. A demiplane has any trait its creator sets. It might have no gravity, an inhospitable environment, or a landscape that can be molded at a thought, and it might combine several traits. Most demiplanes exist for a purpose, but their form follows their function. Similarly, a demiplane is usually tied to a specific place on another plane or dominion. The demiplane’s use determines its location and access points. How the demiplane is used can affect how it changes and what happens there. Many demiplanes already exist, created by magic and later abandoned. ## :: The Elemental Chaos The primordials dwell in this roiling storm of raw creation. Mingling and clashing types of energy, firmament and earth, fire, and water—all make up the reality of the Elemental Chaos. Shaped of disparate elemental dimensions that were once native to Toril, together with a plane that once existed as a cosmological relative of Abeir, the Chaos is where the elements frolic and fight without the overarching control of morality or reason. One element might even act like another - earth swirling like water, floating like air or fire falling like rain. Specific locales within the Chaos might seem normal or pleasant by worldly standards, but otherworldly displays and threats are commonplace. The only constant is change. ### Travel Getting to the Elemental Chaos usually requires a ritual. Still, places where the Chaos touches the world are numerous, and through these, a creature might pass from one realm to another. The lands of the Chaos can be harsh, desolate, or both, but traveling upon them is otherwise as easy as traversing a similar worldly landscape. ### Realms Much of the Elemental Chaos is a dangerous wilderness with wondrous sights and unpredictable inhabitants. Great primordial beings of elemental nature lord over realms within the Chaos. As the deities maintain their dominions in the Astral Sea, so do primordials keep their realms here. Many creatures, great and small, call the Elemental Chaos home. Some of these have carved out homes and kingdoms amid the maelstrom. ***City of Brass.*** Efreets of the Elemental Chaos divide many fiery realms among themselves, forming a feudal hierarchy wherein lesser fire beings serve them. Their chief holding is the City of Brass, an ancient metropolis kept tolerable to various life forms so planar travelers can gather and trade. ***Djinn Motes.*** Clannish djinns congregate under tribal leaders on chunks of earth floating high above the Chaos’s roiling landscape. These beings of air move their holdings to make war on efreets and titans alike. ***Githzerai Monasteries.*** The githzerai have settlements in the Elemental Chaos. Inside, they hone their bodies and minds to perfection. ### Traits A mighty enough creature can organize the Elemental Chaos to its liking, imposing an order of sorts in a limited area. A great fire-being covers its realm in fire, while a creature of frost makes ice dominant. In such realms, the entropy of the Elemental Chaos is quelled by the shaping will. A realm can have an alignment matching that of its primordial master. Realms here can have connections like those of dominions in the Astral Sea. The Elemental Chaos has strong ties to the world and the astral dominion known as the Deep Wilds. Individual elemental realms connect to dominions where ties remain strong between primordials that were once thought to be gods and those that still are. ## :: The Feywild The world’s bright reflection, this plane is home to noble fey and terrible monsters. The Feywild is a magical and mysterious echo of the world. Called Faerie in ancient texts and Elven works, the Feywild is home to countless fey and the origin of Toril’s elves and eladrin and their deities. Its relationship with the world has waxed and waned over the millennia. During bygone times, eladrin built secret realms in Faerûn more closely connected to the Feywild than was the case in the rest of the world. Perhaps through these connections, the Spellplague pulled the Feywild back into Toril’s proximity. The Feywild is a twilight realm of stunning natural beauty and raw magic. Its landscapes are full of splendor and danger foreign to the mortal world. Many of its creatures have existed in the world for ages, but not in so terrible and organized a form as they do in the Feywild. Some correspondence exists between worldly terrain and the fey lands. Although not every feature of Toril has a twin in the Feywild, many do. ### Travel The Feywild is easy to reach since the barrier between it and the world is often quite thin. The world and the Feywild occasionally converge, allowing whole realms to exist in both planes or pass between the two. In some places, a traveler doesn’t need a ritual to cross and might even stumble into the Feywild unawares. In other places, fey crossroads allow access to those who know the proper rites. The Feywild is so walled off from the world in certain places, however, that powerful magic is required to cross the boundary. The Feywild is at once indescribably beautiful and darkly perilous. Traveling there is like moving about the world, but magic and fey creatures run riot on this enchanted plane. The needs of creatures from the world are seldom considered, and more than a few fey are actively malicious. ***Connections.*** Travel to astral dominions is possible through the Feywild. Arvandor, the Deep Wilds, and Gates of the Moon all have direct connections that allow easy access to places in the Feywild. The reverse is also true, although planar crossings are usually dangerous or well-guarded. ### Territories Originally home to the elves and eladrin, the Feywild is also the motherland of all fey. It includes the ruins of destroyed and abandoned elven and eladrin territories. It also contains grand kingdoms of eladrin that never came to Toril and the sinister domains of Fomorian lords and their lackeys, the cyclopses. Neither force can be relied upon to be good, as the word is conventionally used, but the Fomorians are certainly the more wicked. In between these major forces, other fey kingdoms and holdings exist. Fey dominate the Feywild, and their power extends into worldly places such as the Forest of Amtar (Dambrath), the Curna Mountains (Estagund), the Forest of Lethyr (Great Dale), Gulthandor (Dragon Coast), the High Forest (Luruar), the Hordelands, Rashemen, the Yuirwood (Aglarond), and other wild regions of Faerûn. Elven and eladrin holdings, such as Elfharrow, Evereska, the Moonshaes, Shilmista (Tethyr), and the Wealdath (Tethyr), have strong ties to the Feywild. #### Mag Tureah Hate festers within the Feywild’s subterranean lands, which are known as the Feydark. In those dim depths lies the Fortress of Mag Tureah, home of the great Fomorian king Bres. Mag Tureah’s iron towers stand inside a realm-sized cavern. Onyx dotted with glowing gems and crystal makes up the cavern’s vault. It looks, for all intents, like the world’s night sky, with the light sometimes even waxing to a misty, illusory twilight. Sculpted black stone adorns the great grotto, forming curtains and pillars that seem to disappear into the false sky. Mag Tureah is a maze of iron and stone, unlike other Fomorian holds. It holds abundant portals to and from Toril, all of which open and collapse unpredictably. More than one unlucky mortal has stumbled into Bres's realm from an ancient worldly ruin, only to be enslaved by the fomorian’s servants. Bres sits inside on an iron throne, plotting how to put the fortress’s erratic gateways to wicked use. #### Sildëyuir Sildëyuir was once a demiplane connecting to Aglarond’s Yuirwood. The eladrin of Yuireshanyaar (sometimes referred to as star elves) created it to escape human incursions into their realm. Sildëyuir is located at the same place in the Feywild as the Yuirwood in the world. Because the Yuirwood is rife with Spellplague, no portal allows passage between the two. Even so, the Sildëyuir fey risk opening ways into the Yuirwood from time to time. Since the leaders of Myth Drannor learned of Sildëyuir, many of Faerûn’s fey have departed for the settlements that make up this Feywild realm. Under a twilight sky filled with stars, elegant glass citadels rise above Sildëyuir’s wondrous silver trees. Eladrin, elves, and their kin have settled here sparsely. Despite recent influxes of population, the holds of Sildëyuir are usually far apart. Its leaders meet only rarely, and its untamed areas teem with fey creatures. ## :: The Shadowfell A dreary echo of the world, this is the land of lost souls and of creatures that haunt the darkness. A gloomy echo of Toril, the Shadowfell is at once ancient and new. The dark goddess Shar reshaped what was then known as the Plane of Shadow during the years of chaos following the Spellplague. In her craft, she folded in the energy of death that didn’t make the transition to the Elemental Chaos. She renamed her creation the Shadowfell, which became its common name among mortals, though some still refer to it simply as “Shadow.” The Shadowfell is a dim, eerie place. Where the Feywild reflects the world in breathtaking ways, the Shadowfell reveals a decaying, nightmare landscape of dull colors. A brooding half-light replaces the Feywild’s fanciful twilight, and every feature of the place seems macabre and threatening. Fields of necrotic energy, usually too weak to do more than unnerve the living, wander across the baleful shadowscape. ### Travel Crossing into the Shadowfell is harder than crossing to the Feywild. Merely stumbling into Shadow is fairly uncommon. Still, places within the world connect to the Shadowfell through a thin veil. These portals are easy to spot and are common in the deep Underdark, miles below the surface. Native creatures stalk travelers here. So do the restless dead, the souls of those who pass into Shadow but refuse to move on. The humanoids of the Shadowfell are at least as bad as fey. Worse still, creatures that serve Shar, Sseth, Talona, and Orcus make their way into the Shadowfell for various nefarious purposes. True safety is hard to come by in these dark lands. ***Connections.*** The Shadowfell connects to the Fugue Plane and the Towers of Night. The dead travel through the Shadowfell on their journey to the afterlife, although some remain in the world or the Shadowfell, afraid or unable to cross into the hereafter. ### Territories Large parts of the Shadowfell are bleak and monster-haunted reflections of the world. Such places are rarely settled, except by ghosts, specters, and other undead. Small communities of dark ones (humans descended from the Netherese of old), shadar-kai, the more social undead, or a mix of these types offer a semblance of shelter. However, any such place is only slightly preferable to the Shadowfell’s wilds. Death giants and nightwalkers, some of which serve Shar, control parts of the Shadowfell. Devotees of dark deities and demons set up shrines, temples, and domains within Shadow. Necromancers situate their labs in or connected to, the Shadowfell to study its part in undeath. Some powerful undead also live within the Shadowfell, taking advantage of its shelter from a hostile world. Those not native to Shadow often maintain a means of passage back to Toril. #### Foundation of Loss Like an inverted tower, a deep, black well marks where Shar once lived. Her home now stands in the astral dominion of the Towers of Night, but the Mistress of the Night once all but ruled Shadow. Foundation of Loss is a reminder of that truth and a doorway to Shar’s new home. Palpable grief pervades the area as if the site mourns her departure. Bleak tales suggest that only Shar’s faithful can manage to visit the place and return. In fact, some take it upon themselves to find the Foundation in an unholy pilgrimage. Therefore, foul dangers and evil beings devoted to darkness surround the location. Unkindnesses of shadowravens emerge from the deep to harry and hunt the unwary. Some say that secrets of creation and unmaking can be learned within the Foundation itself. Sorrowsworn birthed in the darkness guard those secrets, challenging all who seek their destiny within the hollow well. #### Shadow Keep Hidden within the bleak landscape of the Shadowfell is the abode of a god gone missing sometime before or during the Spellplague. All but forgotten now, the Master of All Thieves, Mask, kept a citadel built totally of shadow. He used it as a hideout when he tired of his wanderings and mischief among the planes. Since Mask’s disappearance, his Chosen sometimes occupy the keep. Shadow Keep is barely visible in the gloom of the Shadowfell, and before noticing it as more than a deeper shadow, one can walk directly into its walls. Those walls are nonetheless solid. Mask’s old lair hasn’t crumbled despite the absence of its master. Long ago, a portion of the keep was transformed into the legendary Fane of Shadows, a temple that travels worlds and planes serving the inscrutable agendas of the various gods and goddesses of shadows, twilight, and darkness. It is said that Mask manipulated the other deities so that he was able to appoint the guardian of the Fane, a being of unknown identity. Mask’s Shadow Keep is one of the anchor points for the Fane. It returns occasionally, materializing from the darkness and reattaching to the keep. The keep and the Fane no doubt hold vast treasures and artifacts Mask pilfered from the farthest reaches of the cosmos. Both edifices also contain other fearsome caretakers and traps set to ensnare or kill the unwelcome. ## :: The Far Realm Outside the known cosmos is a realm where the laws of reality that most beings recognize have no hold. Few, aside from scholars, even know that this maddening dimension exists. The learned can only speculate what the Far Realm truly is and what it contains. By most accounts, this alien place lies beyond matter, spirit, and sanity. Where the Far Realm touches the world, its insanity seeps in. This influence can be as simple as regular nightmares afflicting the residents of a town or as involved as a significant warping of the environment and its inhabitants. Strange creatures sometimes emerge from such a tainted landscape, usually fading from existence as the barrier between reality and the Far Realm again strengthens. Bizarre creatures such as mind flayers, aboleths, destrachans, and foulspawn are all progeny of the Far Realm’s mixing with other realities. They seek to make the world more compatible with their utterly alien mindset. The greater god Ghaunadaur is the mightiest of all entities that are thought to be touched by the Far Realm.