The Circle Sea
The Circle Sea is set in a reality of several aligned planes, as per standard 4ed, but there are some differences in tone and use. This page represents the knowledge of reasonably informed people, but there may be other features that are unknown to all but those specially educated or experienced.
The Prime is the main plane of this cosmology, it is considered the most real and most important.
The majority of Humans live on the Prime, along with many other races.
The Bright Reflection is a reflection of the Prime, but with many elements magnified. The days are longer and brighter, plants and animals are often larger, stranger or can simply talk! The land itself is a brighter, cleaner reflection of the Prime; where a small river, stocked with small fish, flows in the Prime, it may be a wide, raging river of white water and leaping, glittering fish in the Bright Reflection.
There is chaotic element to the Bright Reflection as well, while usually the days are longer than the nights, sometimes night or day gets skipped all together! When night comes, bright moonlight usually illuminates the land in unusual and breathtaking ways; the makeup of an area may change in moonlight. Strange weather comes and goes with little warning.
As a Reflection of the Prime, the natural geography of the Feywild (as it known to the Fey) roughly mirrors that of the Prime. There are mountains where there are mountains, rivers where there are rivers, caves where there are caves; but the geography doesn’t match exactly. If the geography of the Prime is dramatically changed, these changes will usually propagate into the Bright Reflection, sometimes instantly, sometimes weeks later.
The Bright Reflection is home to many Fey and talking animals. People from the Prime or other planes may attempt to set up communities here, but this rarely runs smoothly and such communities are usually small or short-lived.
Creatures in the Bright Reflection need to eat and drink more than in the Prime, but food and drink are pleantful and flavourful here, so that’s rarely a problem.
The Dark Reflection is both like the Bright Reflection in how it mirrors the Prime… and unlike the Bright Reflection in pretty much every other way. The Dark Reflection is a dark/cold/slow version of the Prime; where a small river stocked with small fish flows in the Prime, in the Dark Reflection it would be a dirty stream, as wide as in the prime but incredibly shallow or even a dry bed where you hear the river but nothing else.
‘Day’ in the Dark Reflection is generally no brighter than twilight or strong moonlight, illuminating in sterile white without providing warmth. ‘Night’ in the Dark Reflection is usually both pitch-black and accompanied with fog that limits even magical vision and muffles sound.
The Shadowfell (as it is known to those who have visited) has an effect on creatures as well. Short-term visitors find themselves becoming lethargic and depressed, with little appetite (but correspondingly, they need less food and drink to sustain themselves). Long-visitors have been known to almost stop eating altogether or cease needing to sleep (but spending a similar amount of time inhibited by lethargy and boredom).
Shadowpeople or Shadar’kai are humans who have been born in the Shadowfell or let themselves be taken over by it, to the point where they have a little magical power over shadow, but lack the creativity or drive found in exemplary humans; they are the main population of the Dark Reflection, but still an uncommon encounter… the rest of the Shadowfell is home to shadow-creatures or undead, most of which are hostile to visitors.
Adjoining the Elemental Chaos and sharing many of it’s properties, the Abyssal Chaos is plagued and ravaged by dark magic and corruption. This environment warps Genies into Demons and while it empowers mortals, those mortals are warped and changed by their time here.
The Abyssal Chaos is home to Demons and little else. Demon Lords hold ill-defined areas as their dominion and war with their rivals over any subject.
Little is known about the Nine Hells, other than that is inhabited by Devils. People rarely visit, and when they do, they are often killed or captured by Devils and thus unavailable for comment. This plane is divided into nine sections with startlingly different geography and kept under strict control by different groups of Devils.
Planar travel functions through either fixed gates (although almost all of these are temporary or conditional) or Epic rituals/vehicles (Astral Clippers).
Planar gates form naturally and connect a place in one plane to a place in another. Most gates will connect the Prime to another plane, but non-prime to non-prime is possible. When a gate forms between the Prime and either of the Dark or Bright reflections, they will almost always appear in the same area; when a Gate forms to the other planes, it could lead anywhere, as there is no associative geography between these planes.
Most Gates are temporary, lasting only days; rare gates can last an entire year, rarer still are permanent gates. Most people with magical talent or training can examine a gate to determine how long it lasts, and anyone will feel a sense of impending change/doom/silence when a gate begins to close. Long-lasting gates often result in temporary communities forming around them, while permanent gates encourage cities; this, of course, assumes that the gate is in an accessible/hospitable place, and many are not.
Gates often form in places on the Prime that are attuned to the destination: Gates to the Elemental Chaos are often found in place marked and warped with Elemental forces, Gates to the Dark Reflection are often found underground or in natural shade, etc.
Unless the gate is very short-lived, it will not function all the time, some conditions must be met for it to activate. Particular times of the day (dawn/dusk/midday/midnight) are common, as are environmental conditions (raining/bright-sunshine/reflected-sunlight/full-moonlight/fire/covered-by-water). Less common conditions include: bloodshed/death, offerings/ritual-incantations/ritual-behaviour, the presence of an uncommon item or creature, the action of a linked creature (often a Spirit, Fey or Genie).
Planar travel via rituals can happen anywhere, but requires very powerful magic. Certain vehicles (almost always ships or flying ships) have been created through epic magic and have a limited ability to transfer the entire vessel to another Plane.