From a planar perspective, Otera is unusually isolated compared to traditional D&D campaign settings. The Ethereal and Astral Planes exist as companion planes to the Prime Material, but apart from the existence of magically created private demiplanes, these are the only other planes known to have ever existed in all the collected knowledge and histories available to scholars in Solace.
Notably, there are no infernal Hells, no layers of the Abyss, and no Celestial realms in this setting, and there never were. Likewise, there was never a Shadowfell or a Feywild. The elves of Otera first appeared on the Material Plane around the same time as the other humanoid races. Fiends, celestials and fey were completely unknown to this world until post-Godfall, when such creatures began to appear on the Material Plane in connection with the chaotic and transformative energies of the Maelstrom. Indeed, relatively little is actually known about these types of creatures in 999 AG, and what is known is not common knowledge, apart from that they exist and are connected somehow to the Storm.
Below is a description of what is commonly known about the planes by those who have studied such things (i.e., apprenticed under a wizard, proficiency in Arcana, studied magic and/or the planes at the University, etc.):
- The Astral Plane: A realm of thought and dream, where visitors travel as disembodied souls. Also, for some, a place of nightmares… there are things that whisper from the Astral Plane. Ancient things that exist beyond time or reason. The Astral Plane is also naturally a gateway plane, linked to various points on both the Material and Ethereal planes.
- The Ethereal Plane: A misty, fog-bound dimension that overlaps the Material Plane, so that each location on the Material plane has a corresponding location on the Ethereal. The Ethereal Plane also functions (and is sometimes referred to) as the Spirit Realm, and is generally understood to be where mortal souls go in between lifetimes… though some spirits seem to linger here indefinitely, unable to move on.
It is generally understood that, in this world, souls endlessly reincarnate, living out multiple lifetimes one after the other. In Solace, the vast majority of people accept this cycle as the natural order of things. Souls that have not yet reincarnated are thought to typically reside as spirits in the Ethereal Plane. It is exceedingly rare for living humanoids to remember their past lives, though there are accounts of dealings with disembodied spirits who claim to recall multiple lifetimes they have lived.
The lack of a permanent afterlife means that even though it’s possible to magically resurrect dead creatures, doing so in Otera is complicated. The longer a person has been dead, the more likely they are to have already passed back into the cycle of reincarnation. A soul that has already reincarnated into a new body may have no wish to abandon its current life to resume a former one, or may simply prove impossible to retrieve.
Mechanically, this comes into play primarily when trying to resurrect NPCs. It’s generally up to a player whether their deceased PC’s soul is available for resurrection.
The speak with dead spell summons an echo of a departed spirit, functioning as described RAW regardless of how long ago the creature died.