When you move into the Astral Plane, do you see a shadow of the Prime you just left? Can you see your physical body Connected to your astral self by the silver cord? In the PH description it states: "It is also possible to travel astrally anywhere in the Prime Material Plane by means of the astral spell, but a second body cannot be formed on the Prime Material Plane. As a general rule, a person astrally projected can be seen only by creatures on the Astral Plane." When you're traveling anywhere in the prime, do you see into it as you're traveling, or do you just gate out and in at the end points of the journey?
Looking up what references I can find, it seems to be implied that there is some overlap. A basilisk can see into the astral plane. A cokatrice can petrify somebody on the astral plane. Gorgons, intellect devourers, etc. all have awareness that extends into the astral plane. A powerword kill pronounced from an astral magic-user will kill a Demi-lich.
Also from the Tomb of Horrors: "Characters who become astral or ethereal in the Tomb will attract a type I-IV demon, with a check made each round." Which to me seems to mean normally a character could move around astrally to avoid the traps, walls, etc. but if you try that in the Tomb you will run into trouble.
We've always played it like the Doctor Strange comic books -- his astral form leaves his physical body and moves around earth invisibly or intangibly, or travels to other planes of existence where it is visible and tangible as if a second physical body has been formed. I would say that yes, if you are looking at your own physical body on the Prime Material Plane you would be able to see the silver cord linking you to it.
The spell description in the PH says "Although astrally projected persons are able to function on the Astral Plane, their actions do not affect creatures not existing on the Astral Plane" (p. 52), and in Appendix IV is stated "it is possible to cast spells, melee, etc. on either the Ethereal or Astral Plane. These activities generally affect only others on the same plane, but can affect other creatures who exist partially or function on either or both planes. Magic spells can be cast from the Ethereal to the Prime Material Plane, but not from the Astral to the Prime Material, except as noted above" (p. 120). I suppose this explains the S1 reference about how a powerword kill pronounced from an astral magic-user will kill a Demi-lich.
Post by geneweigel on Nov 30, 2020 22:12:36 GMT -5
From DRAGON #67 The Astral Plane by Roger E. Moore which had editing and inserts by E. Gary Gygax mentions some of this although its only semi-official:
Prime Material creature — Some Prime Material Plane creatures have a sensory awareness of beings passing “close by” in the Astral Plane, and have the power to harm such beings as well. Common examples of such creatures include the basilisk, catoblepas, cockatrice, gorgon, and medusa; enterprising DM’s could undoubtedly create more monsters of this sort. Creatures like these that can project their influence into the Astral Plane can likewise be attacked by beings on the Astral Plane, though no other Prime Material creatures or objects could be affected by anything in astral space. Only astral travelers who are “adjacent” to another plane (a term to be explained more fully later in this article) will have a chance of meeting these creatures. All other times, the encounter must be rerolled for astral travelers if this particular category is indicated.
Astral space is strange and dreamlike. Adventurers from other planes find that they do not get tired, sleepy, or hungry, and everyone is generally alert. There are no day/night cycles astrally, so time’s passage is difficult to measure. A char acter or creature can feel a sense of movement whenever he/she/it concentrates on moving (travel through astral space is a function of thought), but one usually has little idea of how far one is going. No one ages [except at the 1:365,000 rate, as noted] in astral space for any reason, even by magical means. The various means of astral travel are:
Astral projection (psionic) or Astral Spell Characters using either of these means to go astral should find secure places on the Prime Material Plane to house their bodies and their possessions that will be left behind when their spirits make the voyage. The physical bodies on their home plane will go into suspended animation and require little care while the spirits are gone. Travelers using Astral Spell should hold hands in a circle with their spellcaster, who then goes through all the rituals and causes the group’s members to enter astral space in spirit form together. The bodies are all linked through a single silvery cord to their material bodies; the cord is capable of stretching infinitely from the Prime Material to an Outer Plane. Once in the Astral Plane, the group members may pull apart, move around, engage in combat, and so forth as they please. However, no one may enter another plane from the Astral Plane unless he/she is touching the spellcaster or touching someone else touching the spell caster (the group should join hands before entering another plane). Anyone not so linked to the spellcaster when he or she enters a new plane will be stranded astrally; the stranded character can return to the home plane only if slain, in which case the material body reawakens (see the section on Movement and Combat). Astral projection is similar to Astral Spell in all respects, except that only one person at a time may travel by means of this power. When using either of these forms of astral projection, characters will find that all non-magical items on their persons will be left behind on the home plane; only magical items may be brought along, and many of these will have altered capabilities as described in the last section of this article. Because this may mean that spell components, armor, and weapons, not to mention mundane things like decent clothing, will not be had, spellcasters may use or develop a simple spell like Nystul’s Magic Aura, which makes an item magical without giving it any special powers. Such a dweomer will allow items to pass through astral space to an Outer Plane so long as the spell’s duration is not exceeded [prior to going to the plane]. Things that become nonmagical in astral space or on an Outer Plane, should this spell wear off, will not be carried into another plane until the spell is renewed. The spellcaster will receive an instinctual warning when he or she has arrived at the point where astral space connects with the Outer Plane or Prime Material Plane desired. At this point, when all travelers are joined together again, the spellcaster can will the group to move “adjacent” to the new plane; at this point the group will still be in astral space, but will now be able to view clearly the environment of the new plane. If it is another Prime Material Plane, this point is as far as the group can go; they can look about, but not enter the plane. If an Outer Plane has been reached, the group may then (while still linked together) cause their spirits to form material bodies on the new plane, and will bring all magical items with them. Note that those items which (for some reason, as detailed in a later section) became fully non-magical when entering the Astral Plane will not go into an Outer Plane, but may be taken back to the Prime Material. When a group is “adjacent” to another plane, their presence may only be detected by highly intelligent or powerful creatures (as per the DMG), or by the use of such things as a Detect Invisibility spell or Dust of Appearance. Few spells may be cast across plane boundaries, either to or from the Astral Plane or any other, and only certain rare magical devices can affect creatures on other planes. It is conceivable that a deity may cause certain sections of an Outer Plane to be “opaque” so that no one may spy on that area from the Astral Plane, and no one (except the deity and minions) may enter that area from astral space. Astrally projecting characters will travel for some 7-12 hours before reaching another plane, either an Outer or a Prime Material one. The spellcaster or psionic character may purposely try to lengthen the voyage before reaching the other plane; each such attempt lengthens the trip by 3-6 hours, and may result in another encounter check being made (see below). The return trip from another plane will take another 7-12 hours.
Probability travel (psionic), Plane Shift (spell), or device These methods of travel are similar in several ways. If a group of persons is able to travel together using one of these modes, they must join hands before the power, spell, or device goes into effect. Group members will be transferred at once, along with all of their equipment (magical or non-magical), to another plane; if going to an Outer Plane, the group will not pass through astral space. However, these travel modes may simply take a group to astral space if this is desired. Once the desired plane has been reached, the power, spell, or device transporting the group ceases to work, and the group may split up and move about as desired. Leaving the plane is done in the same manner used to arrive at the plane. It is obviously possible for someone to strand characters on other planes using any of these travel modes. Stranded characters will not be able to leave the plane they are left on unless given assistance, or unless they possess spells, powers, or devices to help them leave. No silver cords are formed using any of these travel modes; instead, the characters’ bodies have been brought along.
Last Edit: Nov 30, 2020 22:13:23 GMT -5 by geneweigel
Personally I try to differentiate the Astral vs. Ethereal planar experiences: I see the Astral as silver-space/sensory void vs. the Ethereal which is the shadowy Prime overlay (the Prime is ghostly while the ghost is physical while in the Ethereal). So while the Astral connects to the Prime, it doesn't have that geographical/orienteering overlay in my mind that the Ethereal does---you can travel point-to-point, but you don't get the experience of seeing the Prime as a reference (going up/down/through mountains, going through walls, etc.) that you do with the Ethereal. I see Astral awarenesses/effects from creatures as "highlights" that are "foregrounded" in the Astral, but they don't have Prime context, they're just there and you suddenly come across them, almost like landmines (re: speed of Astral travel from Moore/Gygax article Gene quoted).