The Spirit World was apparently incompatible with the Great Wheel cosmology, coming as it did from a radically different worldview. It was, however, considered a part of the World Tree cosmology, in which it replaced the Astral Plane, but only over the continent of Kara-Tur, where the Celestial Empire and its Bureaucracy held sway.
It was a transitive plane that was both coexistent with and coterminous with the Material Plane, but only in the continent of Kara-Tur. The Ethereal Plane formed a border region between the Material Plane and the Spirit World.
Although it was, on the whole, a neutral plane with no elemental traits, individual locations could vary and bear local traits and alignments. The Spirit World equivalent of a blacksmith's forge might be fire-dominant, while that of a haunted graveyard could be mildly evil-aligned.
Magic that derived from appropriate veneration—that is, divine magic—was enhanced in the Spirit World, while magic that depended on knowledge—arcane magic—merely functioned as normal. Spells that depended on the Plane of Shadow did not work in the Spirit World, as it had links to that dark realm.
The plane was timeless; though days and nights still passed, the denizens never aged and never hungered and thirsted.
The Spirit World was a realm of extremes, with everything a seemingly greater version of its counterpart on the Material Plane. Every sense was enhanced, made keener and more aware, showing the world in sharp focus. Every sound was more distinct and pleasing to the ear. Colors were brighter or more vibrant, deeper or more intense: in the day, the sky was the purest blue, in the night, a jet black with brilliantly shining stars. So it was to visitors from the material world; the spirits who dwelled there described the material world as but a pale reflection of the Spirit World.
Every natural locale in the material world had a spirit counterpart, but these too were greater in every way. A mountain stood taller and more majestic, a lake was deeper and held purer water, and a tree reached higher and its fruits had stronger taste. Not all sites built by living creatures were repeated in the spirit world, and structures from anthills to castles might be missing, but when they were, they too were larger and sturdier and grander.
Accounting for this, the geography and general terrain of the Spirit World followed that of the material world, namely the continent of Kara-Tur. Distances between landmarks were always the same, regardless of their apparent magnitude.
Every deity, immortal, and spirit of the Celestial Bureaucracy dwelled in a small realm attached to the Spirit World.
The Spirit World was the home of the spirits of all things in the material world: living beings, deceased ancestors, spirits of items, and spirits of places, from the biggest mountain to the smallest stone. For example, a lake in the Spirit World was the abode of a water elemental who served as the spirit of the lake in the material world. A palace in the Spirit World housed the spirits of the ancestors of the ruler of the palace in the material world.
Settled areas in the material world were, in the spirit world, generally heavily populated by the spirits of the deceased. These could be the most hazardous, as the ancestors were very protective of their still-living descendants. For instance, a ninja who sought to slay a lady in her palace might first have to get past the angry ghosts of her ancestors before he delivered her to them. Seeking the protection of their ancestors, rulers preferred to live in the same palace for generations.
Thus the Spirit World was home to all manner of creature, of all kinds, including dragons, elementals, fey, outsiders, and undead. Spellcasters could summon creatures from the Spirit World to the Material Plane.
The Spirit World was the site of the Celestial Heavens, the divine domain of the Celestial Empire. It also contained the Underworld, the hells in which it imprisoned the spirits of the evil dead and disgraced officials of the Bureaucracy. The Shou believed the Underworld to lay in the west, and so thought it unlucky to build a house facing this way.[note 1]
From the material plane, travelers to the Spirit World would often first slip through the Ethereal Plane. Whilst ethereal, they could see both the material world quite clearly and the spirit world as its faint echo. By focusing on that echo, they brought themselves closer to the Spirit World and finally entered it. Spells that formerly allowed passage to the Astral Plane instead applied to the Spirit World, at least within the land of Kara-Tur. The plane shift spell could be used to cross back and forth.
As the material and spirit worlds were coexistent, a traveler who crossed to the Spirit World and made a journey of say 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the north and returned would find themselves 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the north of where they'd started.
The Spirit World held some natural portals to other planes, especially the abodes of greater gods who administered the operation of the universe. A portal to a god's realm stood at the counterpart of an appropriate location in the material world. However, the Spirit World had no links to the Plane of Shadow.
- Discussion of the Celestial Empire and its associated Bureaucracy in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms mentions that it is based in a realm called "Heaven" or the "Celestial Heavens". Player's Guide to Faerûn page 165 confirms the Celestial Bureaucracy is based in the plane of the Spirit World. Taken together, these imply that Heaven is a realm in the Spirit World. The Spirit World covers all of the continent of Kara-Tur, as does the sphere of influence of the Celestial Empire, suggesting that Heaven and the Spirit World are coterminous, even one and the same. For precision, this wiki adopts the view that the Spirit World and Heaven are distinct, with the former being a plane and the latter a realm upon it. It is not unclear where the Underworld is in relation, but it is assumed to also lie in the Spirit World.
- Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 206. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 65. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 24, 25, 26. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 73. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
Prime Material plane • Feywild • Shadowfell • Fugue Plane
Transitive Planes: Astral Plane • Ethereal plane
Inner Planes: Elemental Plane of Air • Elemental Plane of Water • Elemental Plane of Earth • Elemental Plane of Fire • Elemental Chaos
Para-Elemental Planes: Frostfell • Swamp of Oblivion • Fountains of Creation • Great Conflagration
Quasi-Elemental Planes: Lightning • Radiance • Minerals • Steam • Vacuum • Ash • Dust • Salt
Outer Planes: Arcadia • Mount Celestia • Bytopia • Elysium • Beastlands • Arborea • Ysgard • Limbo •
Pandemonium • Abyss (Layers) • Carceri • Hades • Gehenna • Nine Hells • Acheron • Mechanus
Energy planes: Positive Energy plane • Negative Energy plane
Planar Pathways: Infinite Staircase • Oceanus • Mount Olympus • Styx • Yggdrasil
Prime Material plane • Cynosure • Fugue Plane
Transitive Planes: Astral Plane • Ethereal plane • Plane of Shadow • Spirit World
Celestial Outer Planes: Arvandor • Brightwater • Dwarfhome • Dweomerheart • Gates of the Moon • Golden Hills • Green Fields • House of Knowledge • House of the Triad
Fiendish Outer Planes: Abyss (Layers) • Barrens of Doom and Despair • Blood Rift • Clangor • Deep Caverns • Demonweb Pits • Fated Depths • Fury's Heart • Hammergrim • Nine Hells • Nishrek • Supreme Throne
Neutral Outer Planes: Dragon Eyrie • Heliopolis • House of Nature • Jotunheim • Warrior's Rest
Inner Planes: Elemental Plane of Air • Elemental Plane of Earth • Elemental Plane of Fire • Elemental Plane of Water • Positive Energy plane • Negative Energy plane
Planar Pathways: Infinite Staircase • River of Blood • World Tree
Prime Material plane
Fundamental planes: Astral Sea • Elemental Chaos
Astral dominions: Arvandor • Banehold • Celestia • Cynosure • Deep Wilds • Demonweb Pits • Dismal Caverns • Dwarfhome • Eternal Sun • Fugue Plane • Gates of the Moon • Green Fields • House of Knowledge • Nine Hells • Nishrek • Supreme Throne • Towers of Night • Tu'narath • Warrior's Rest
Elemental realms: Abyss (Layers) • City of Brass • Cresting Spires • Fimbulwinter • Hidden Realm • Muspelheim • Root Hold • Sky Home • Steading • Thraotor • Undying Pyre • Zerthadlun
Parallel planes: Feywild • Shadowfell
Anomalous planes: Far Realm