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Astral Plane

The Astral Plane

Though most normals deny its existence, those who have visited it will cite its existence is irrefutable. The Astral Plane is another world that mirrors the mundane but has no physical presence. It cannot be seen, felt, heard, smelled, or tasted and yet it appears, to those who can visit it, to be identical to our own world.

One only reaches the Astral Plane in a disembodied state; in other words, when one’s soul is literally projected outward from its body and into this extraplanar existence. Though it is not a requirement that one be psychic to enter the Astral Plane, few normals have ever experienced it.

Only those with the ability to completely still their minds and reach out to the aether have the capacity to transcend the Material Plane (the ordinary reality) and in to the Astral. With today’s invasive technology, mundanes who can do this are increasingly rare.

The Astral Plane (often referred to simply as “the Astral”) is an incorporeal world where nothing has physical substance, yet everything can be manipulated. The powers of the mind and soul are dominant here, while the power of the body is negligible. Everything we can see and touch in the real world can be seen on the Astral, though it all has a hazy, somewhat “ghostly” look to it.

Connecting to the Astral Plane

Visiting the Astral is not easy for most people. It requires peace, quiet, and a lot of patience. Most normals who attempt to project their soul to the Astral are unsuccessful, but a few have experienced this phenomenon and, indeed, have learned to master it.

To reach the Astral Plane, one must first find a calm, quiet place free of distraction. This is perhaps one of the most difficult steps, as the entire world seems to conspire against anyone seeking even a moment’s solitude these days. However, should one find such a quiet place, he may attempt to still his mind, then disengage his soul from his body and finally “float” to the Astral.

The Projection Check

After finding a quiet place to meditate, characters wishing to reach the Astral must make a successful Astral Projection, Shamanic Journeying, Soul Travel or similar Spiritual skill check with a Great difficulty.

Moderate distractions increase the difficulty of this check to Superb, and—though it is possible to project ones soul to the Astral when being disturbed—the difficulty to do so is Phenomenal. Upon making a successful projection check, the character may reach out to the Astral for as long as he maintains concentration.

Maintaining concentration requires no check unless the character’s physical body becomes distracted. Once this happens, the character must make another projection check, this time with a Phenomenal difficulty, to remain connected to the Astral.

Distractions

Any number of circumstances could distract a person who is projecting their soul to the Astral. Simple examples include being spoken to, hearing a loud noise, or being jostled. What many novices don’t realize, especially if they are visiting the Astral for the first time, is that their body’s own needs are often the biggest distraction of all.

Though a character who is projecting to the Astral may remain there indefinitely, his physical body still requires all of the mundane things that bodies do, including air, food, water, and sleep. Many spiritual masters have spent years developing their body’s tolerance to the depravation of these essentials, whether by fasting (giving up food and drink for days at a time) or training their endurance.

Experienced astral projectors know to relieve themselves and to ensure they have had ample sustenance and sleep if they are going to be travelling for long periods of time. Generally speaking, a character may travel to the Astral for three (3) hours per level of his Body trait above Poor. For each hour he remains on the Astral after this time, he must make a successful Body check to avoid being distracted (and thus requiring a projection check to remain on the Astral). The difficulty for the Body check begins at Fair and increases by one level for each hour the character remains on the Astral.

For example, Yvonne has a Great (+2) Body attribute. She successfully projects her spirit to the Astral and may stay there for 12 hours before her body begins to fatigue. After 12 hours have passed, she must make a Fair Body check, otherwise she becomes distracted and must make a Phenomenal projection check to remain present on the plane. She succeeds on her check and remains on the plane for another hour.

At the beginning of hour 13, Yvonne must make another Body check to avoid being distracted. This time the difficulty is Good (+1) since it has been another hour since her body first felt the pangs of fatigue. She fails this check and thus is required to make a Phenomenal projection check to remain present, despite her body’s fatigue. Since she fails this check as well, she is plunged back in to her physical body.

Characters who return to their body due to distractions of any sort are dazed for 1 round; they may not take any action as they try to regain a footing on reality. Characters who return to their bodies because of fatigue are not only dazed, but they also suffer one Scratched physical wound for each hour by which they exceeded their maximum. In the example above, Yvonne would plunge back in to her body and be dazed for one round, and she would receive 1 Scratched physical wound due to having exceeded her normal tolerance by 1 hour.

Astral Activities

Astral projection is more than just a neat parlor trick (actually, it makes a terrible parlor trick since onlookers simply observe your body sitting in a meditative state). Those who travel to the Astral do so with a purpose, one that cannot normally be accomplished in physical reality.

The Astral has no boundaries and no physical essence, so spirits projected to this plane of existence can travel anywhere they wish—even through objects and people. This is perhaps the number one reason why astral travelers visit this plane; the ability to get in to any location undetected is a huge draw for a variety of reasons, shady or not.

Characters travelling on the Astral Plane may move through the air, through objects and even through space, since none of these things physically exist on the Astral despite their appearance. It is possible to see and hear anything that is happening within your normal range of perception while on the Astral Plane, though objects appear hazy and sounds are muted.

It can be difficult to get the full picture of what is happening in a given location, but experienced travelers are adept at piecing together what they experience and determining what it all means.

It is not normally possible to physically affect the material world from the Astral. Because no object that appears on the Astral has any physical substance, there is no way to manipulate anything. One may attempt to control astral objects using his mind however and indeed combat on the Astral Plane is always a contest of wits and spirit as opposed to brute force and agility.

Characters with psychic abilities may use ESP to try to better perceive their surroundings and characters with other psionic powers may attempt to use them while in an astral form, though the normal limitations that apply to physically manipulating matter (and energy) still apply.

Astral Combat

Should two Astral beings meet and have cause to quarrel, they may find themselves participating in astral combat. This form of non-physical combat is highly dangerous as it poses particularly severe threats to those involved.

Astral combat, like physical combat, is tracked using a character’s Wound Track. All damage endured while on the Astral is considered mental damage however, since no physical body is present. Attack- ing and defending are similar in many ways, but the attributes used to determine a fight’s outcome are different.

Use of Mental Force

On the Astral Plane, the one with the strongest will—not the strongest body—is the one who will emerge victorious. Instead of using physically-oriented combat skills, such as firearms or martial arts, Astral warriors have an Astral Combat skill. This skill should be tied to a character’s Focus or Spirit attribute, and it will represent the character’s ability to overpower another Astral Being.

Physical weapons and armor modifiers do not apply, nor do any physical objects or skills. Battle on the Astral is purely a matter of wits. Use of psionic powers is permitted, though many powers simply lack the ability to manifest on the Astral Plane. Since fire, electricity, and cold do not exist on the Astral, for example, psionic powers which produce or manipulate these forces simply do not function there. Other powers, such as telekinesis may work despite the opponent not having a physical form, since they represent exerting ones will over another.

Resolve all combat checks as normal, with the above substitutions. If a character takes damage it is treated as mental damage, and the character must make a Superb projection check to remain on the Astral Plane. If a character is Incapacitated or brought to Near Death status while on the Astral, he risks suffering very severe results.

Defeating an Astral Being

If an Astral Being is reduced to Incapacitated or Near Death status, its link to its physical body is severed. The physical body’s functions do not cease, but it becomes a soulless husk incapable of motion or thought. It is essentially comatose, though it continues to breathe and maintain sustainable levels of bodily functions on its own. However, it is subject to death from thirst or starvation, and it is highly susceptible to physical forms of attack.

To return to its body, the soul must be retrieved and guided back by another being. The creature that defeated the Astral Being may have also obtained dominance over the soul once it was defeated and may not be willing to give it up without a fight or a bargain of some kind.

Soul Retrieval

Finding a soul can be tricky at best. The easiest way to begin a search would be to enter the Astral Plane from the same physical location as the being’s physical body. If the soul is not in the immediate vicinity, one can use ESP or other powers to attempt to locate it.

The further away from its body the soul travelled, the harder it might be to find. Furthermore, if the creature that defeated the soul chose to capture it and take it elsewhere, it may complicate search efforts.

Some branches of law enforcement and some psychic private investigators specialize in soul retrievals. If nobody in the character’s group is capable, they may be able to contact someone for help, but they need to act quickly before the soul’s body dies. If the body dies, the soul becomes lost on the Astral forever and may one day find itself preying on other Astral Beings.

Astral Predators and other Beings

Not all beings on the Astral Plane have physical bodies attached to the Material. The Astral is also home to souls which live there, most of whom are ex-humans who lost their physical lives while projecting. These souls sometimes go mad after spending years, even decades, living in the Astral world with the ability to look in to it, but not return to it. Many of these souls become Astral Predators.

Predators seek fresh souls who arrive on the Astral Plane and attempt to submit them to their will. Experts claim these predators have the ability to track a soul back to its body and commandeer the vessel while the soul remains outside. This phenomenon explains why many people go insane for seemingly no reason; the soul inside their body simply isn’t their own, and likely has spent decades brooding over its lack of substantiality.

There are other Astral Beings which have always lived on the Astral and are not necessarily insane. These beings can come in any variety of shapes and often creatures of folklore and legend have a basis in the reality of the Astral Plane. Giants, unicorns, trolls, and fairies exist on the Astral as mere spirits, though they rarely appear to Astral travelers.

The shapes these beings take are subjective; they represent the way a human sees that soul’s’ personality and are not indicative of their true nature. Faeries, for example, are Astral Beings with flighty personalities while giants have forceful personalities.

It may be possible to befriend one of these beings and have them act as a travelling companion and guardian. Of course, it may also be possible to make an enemy of one of these Astral Beings and find yourself doing astral combat with a soul far more powerful than your own.

Astral Rogues Gallery

Following are some examples of beings you might expect to find on a journey to the Astral Plane. Note that Astral Beings have no physical form, therefore beings such as giants, which are traditional- ly viewed as physically powerful beings, have no Body attribute. Powerful Astral Beings instead have superior mental traits and forceful or boisterous personalities. Remember that the physical forms we perceive are a representation manifested by the person perceiving them.

Editor’s Note: The list of Astral beings has been moved to its own page: Astral Beings.