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The First World

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 128
Located before, between, and beyond the Material Plane, the First World is a dimension of extremes and unpredictability. While the Shadow Plane straddles the metaphysical gulf between the Material Plane and the Negative Energy Plane, the First World lies between the Material Plane and the Positive Energy Plane. The First World has been said to be a sort of “first draft” of reality—under a sky of whirling stars and moons that change shape and texture as they track their way through the vibrant heavens, inconsistent natural laws and wellsprings of primal magic and natural splendor create vistas unfathomable to mortal minds. Here stand ancient forests as tall as mountains, living lakes and rivers, traveling faerie courts alternately benevolent or sadistic, and landscapes of all manner that constantly shift and reinvent themselves. And ruling over all in this realm are those powerful entities known as the Eldest. It is from this realm that dread linnorms, fey creatures, the original gnomes, and far stranger beings hail.

First World Planar Traits

The First World has the following planar traits. For more information on planar traits, see Planar Traits.

Erratic Time: Time progresses faster in some areas and slower in others, often according to the whim of the Eldest or other powerful individuals. For most visitors from other planes, their own timestream clings to them like a protective shell, but it’s not uncommon for a creature who spends a day in the First World to find upon their return home that a year or more has passed.

Highly Morphic: The First World can be altered by strong-willed individuals, such as the Eldest.

Minor Positive Dominant: The First World grants fast healing to creatures only in certain areas where life is particularly potent and concentrated.

Mildly Neutral-Aligned: The First World does not impart alignment-based Charisma check penalties to anyone.

History of the First World

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 128
To account for the full history of the First World is to look back before the beginning of time itself, to a period in history before history when the Material Plane did not yet exist. Ancient legends hold that mortal life began in the First World. If these tales are to believed, in this early pregenesis period of all things, a coalition of deities decided to create a new form of life, but unlike existing servitors (outsiders such as angels and devils), these new “mortal” entities would serve a greater function, acting as filters for the fundamental life energy of the universe. The energy would be translated into discrete, self-directing portions called “souls,” which would use the experience of a finite lifespan to shape and expand the realities of the Great Beyond itself.

Of course, these new beings would need a place to live apart from the domains of the gods, and so the gods crafted the First World—a vast blank canvas where they could experiment with reality and try out different laws for how existence and mortal life could or should operate. After an age of experimentation, they had a fully functional model for the realm that would become known as the Material Plane.

And then, like so many great artists, they painted directly over it.

When the Material Plane came into being, the gods didn’t erase the original experiments. They did not destroy these original “doodles and blueprints” but merely abandoned them. Thus, this rough draft continued to grow and evolve on its own, eventually stabilizing, more or less, into the reality known today as the First World.

Whether these stories are true in totality or only in part, the fact of the First World remains: it is an ancient realm filled with mystery and danger and a reality where vast secrets and mind-expanding truths await discovery side by side with the ever-present opportunity for death and destruction. It is nature unrestrained—a primal and primeval wilderness where everything that exists does so on a grand scale.

Features and Inhabitants

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 129
While the majority of the Material Plane’s universe is empty space populated by a diverse and seemingly endless number of different star systems and worlds, the First World is simply that: a single world that seems to stretch forever in every direction. Everything in the Material Plane has analogues in the First World, but the First World versions are often exaggerated in some way. Mountains are taller, oceans are deeper, and forests grow at unusual angles. Colors are more vibrant, flavors more potent; everything is amplified to oversaturated extremes, the cause of which is the First World’s proximity to the Positive Energy Plane. Much as the Shadow Plane is a realm of muted colors and near darkness due to its proximity to the Negative Energy Plane, so too is the First World skewed in the opposite direction.

The flora and fauna of the First World both resembles that of the Material Plane and exceeds it. What entities resided on the First World in its fledgling moments remains unknown, but ancient dragons and other primal forces of nature are likely candidates. Since then, all manner of wildly alien and unimaginable creatures have come to call the First World home, themselves exaggerated in much the same way as the plane’s geography. Creatures are more vivacious, more energetic, and more fecund. The most widespread of the First World’s denizens are creatures of the fey type, making up more than half of the First World’s populace, but they are neither the first denizens of the plane nor the most powerful. Any creature found on the Material Plane could conceivably be found in the First World, different from their mortal cousins in subtle or dramatic ways. The easiest way to represent the differences between a Material Plane creature and its First World counterpart is to apply the fey creature template. But even something as simple as changing a creature’s appearance or abilities can transform a mundane specimen into a denizen of the First World.

Between the suffusion of positive energy throughout the First World and the unique qualities drafted into its planar tapestry, the cycle of life and death is not linear as it is on the Material Plane. Creatures native to the First World that die either are outright reborn anywhere from a day to a year after their death or are otherwise recycled into the plane and reconstituted as another member of their kind. Some creatures even lead asynchronous lives, having memories of versions of themselves that have not come to pass (or may never) rather than just memories of their pasts. As such, natives of the First World do not always understand the concept of death; this can lead to deadly misunderstandings with travelers from the Material Plane or natives of the First World stranded on the Material Plane. In the latter case, the death of a First World native on the Material Plane is the absolute end of its life, and the soul is instead subject to the rules of the Material Plane—often without realizing it until it is too late.

Notable inhabitants of the First World include creatures of the animal, fey, plant, and vermin types. Of the fey, the most legendary of the First World denizens are the members of the wild hunt, but all fey have ties back to this realm. Beyond animals, fey, and plants, the following creatures are among those most often encountered in this dimension: almirajes, animal lords, bandersnatches, blink dogs, catoblepases, cerynitis, delgeths, drakainias, drakes (all), elementals (all), elohims, ettercaps, fachens, faerie dragons, fey creatures, giant eagles, grodairs, grootslangs, jabberwocks, jubjub birds, leucrottas, linnorms, manitous, pegasi, sards, shining children, thrasfyrs, thunderbirds, unicorns, vishaps, wendigos, will-o’-wisps, worgs, winter wolves, and yeth hounds. Undead are incredibly rare in the First World, but those that do exist there tend to be powerful and unique.

Getting to the First World

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 130
The First World is a coterminous plane and therefore overlaps the Material Plane, but unlike the Shadow Plane, the First World does not mimic the Material Plane’s geography. Ley lines, supernatural conduits that connect the planes and channel experiences, magic, memories, and the souls of the dead and the unborn through them, crisscross the First World just as they do the Material Plane. Unlike those on the Material Plane, ley lines found in the First World do not stay in one place for long and typically wander vast distances, writhing through the world like disquieted snakes. Where these ley lines penetrate the barrier between the First World and the Material Plane, thin spots known as breaches form, allowing passage between the First World and the Material Plane without the aid of magic. These breaches typically manifest as circles of mushrooms, puddles of water with a rainbow-hued surface, trees in a peculiar arch, or other seemingly innocuous patterns. Simply stepping through one of these portals is often enough to travel from one plane to the other, but breaches are not always two-sided. Some doorways to the Material Plane are one-way, stranding extraplanar travelers in a seemingly dull and lifeless world, while Material visitors to the First World could be stranded for decades or more as they try to find a way back home. Other means of traveling to and from the First World include powerful spells such as fey gate, gate, and plane shift.

Hazards of the First World

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 130
In the First World, the terrain itself can be as dangerous as any denizen. The following are just a handful of hazards found on the borders of or within this fey realm. These hazards can also manifest on the Material Plane in areas where ley lines from the First World cross over and weaken the boundaries between realms.