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The Far Realm, also called Outside, is an extradimensional plane in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Situated very far from the planes of the standard Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, it is rarely included in campaign settings.
The Far Realm is similar to the outer realms of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Geography and Characteristics
The Far Realm is composed of an infinite number of layers, but unlike those of many Outer Planes, the layers of the Far Realm are thin. A Far Realm layer can range from an inch to a mile thick. On average, each layer is separated from the other by about ten feet. Travelers are able to see through many layers simultaneously. Usually twenty layers can be seen at once, each one blurrier than the last. The layers are also highly morphic. On the whim of the alien entities that drift through them, the layers continually evaporate, divide, spawn, and breathe. Changes in the elemental and energy traits of the layers continuously occur, creating the Far Realm equivalent of a storm. These changes can be seen from far off, moving from layer to layer as a storm moves across the face of a normal world.
Features and creatures of the Far Realm are multidimensional and can exist on more than one layer simultaneously. The layers of the Far Realm are like a stack of translucent parchment, and the multilayered creatures are like a single dot marked upon each parchment, seemingly coalescing into a three-dimensional object. The translucent layers seem to fade away on either side and are pierced with free-floating rivers of milk-white liquid that sometimes flow along a layer's edge for a few feet before plunging into the next. Strange blue globes rain down from unseen heights, bursting when they strike an object and releasing ticks the size of horses that immediately scuttle off in search of blood. Gelatinous worms wriggle from layer to layer through tentacled vegetation encrusted with orange moss, all of which is suspended above an amoebic sea. Vast multilayered shapes drift through the layers, the smallest being the size of a city.
Gravity and time do not exist in the Far Realm. The entities of the Far Realm float around in dark nothingness. The air is syrupy thick, and strong strokes are needed to swim through it. Another type of movement that is allowed in the Far Realm is passage between layers, which requires only a thought. Non-natives to the Far Realm can only exist on one layer at a time, but large Far Realm entities often exist in several layers simultaneously.
The Far Realm has many different inhabitants, many of them sentient. Some resemble mammals, while others are insectoid. Some are even as powerful as deities (whether they are sentient or not may be difficult to assess). When confronted with beings from the Material Plane, the Inner Planes, or the Outer Planes, Far Realm entities often take the form of creatures familiar to the viewer, although they are usually horribly disfigured and grotesque.
The simplest natives of the Far Realm are the pseudonatural creatures that roam the different layers, occupied with unguessable errands. They dwell beyond time itself and the regular planes of existence, living forever in a state of seeming insanity. When summoned to the Material Plane (which is a very rare and extremely difficult task), they often emulate and take the shape of familiar creatures, although they are always more gruesome than their earthly counterparts. Sometimes, however, they appear in a form more closely related to their origins, usually a mass of writhing tentacles, although more terrible forms are always possible.
The next step up in the bizarre evolution of the Far Realm inhabitants would be the Kaorti. Born from an exploring order of Imaskari wizards known as the Quin, the Kaorti eventually returned to the Material Plane, which they could no longer inhabit. The first of them died out, but the second wave came in suits of protective resin, and used the same secretion to form protective cysts to live in. They now seek to conquer the Material Plane and turn it into a new Far Realm. They have created several creatures for this task: the flying mount creatures known as Skybleeders, the living siege engines known as the Rukanyr, the Urquirshes which provide endless quantities of protective resin, and the deadly Thruocks, egg-implanting ravagers.
The Lords over the Far Realm are the Uvuudaum. These are horrifying creatures that have two arms where you would expect to find them on a human. However, the similarities end there. The lower body has six arms instead of legs splayed spiderlike below it. Loose clothing drapes its grotesque legs. The real horror is the tail-like appendage replacing what would be the head on a normal creature. At the very end of the appendage is an iron hard spike.
Mortal travelers to the Far Realm would usually be subject to insanity. All sorts of horrifying changes can occur to them, such as eyes sprouting from their palms. They can also relive a hundred warped memories simultaneously.
There are no known portals to the Far Realm. Ancient elves once pierced the boundary of eons by creating a portal to the Far Realm, called the "Vast Gate." However, their civilization imploded in bloody terror, and since then, the portal's location remains unknown to most, though it lies hidden within Firestorm Peak. There are other methods for reaching the Far Realm, though, such as traveling to the beginning or end of time or finding the true Dreamheart (the heart of the Region of Dreams) past the Portal of Sleep.
Xaxox is a relic from the Material Plane—a stone keep securely lashed to the trunk of a desiccated tree a mile in diameter. It was an outpost of adventurous wizards who desired to explore and study the bizarre and mysterious Far Realm. Their expedition was disastrous, and the survivors have lost all traces of rational thought. Some powerful wizards and their servants yet wander amid the wreckage of a laboratory, barracks, kitchen, small library, and specimen cells.
Daruth Winterwood was the elven wizard in charge of the expedition; his brain is now literally filled with spiders. He still seeks to return Xaxox to the Prime Material plane intact. Once in a while, he manages to open a small portal, allowing the essence of the Far Realm to seep onto some random plane, which causes the dreams of those nearby to be affected. If someone manages to assist Daruth from the other side of the portals, a permanent portal could open between the Far Realm and the Material Plane, creating utter chaos. Anticipation of the wave of insanity that would follow is what continues to inspire Daruth's mania.
Xoriat, the Realm of Madness
The Eberron campaign setting has a specific plane in its cosmology that is based heavily upon the Far Realm: Xoriat, the Realm of Madness. Xoriat and its inhabitants are treated as a major force in the history of Eberron, as opposed to the "normal" treatment in other settings where the Far Realm is a rarely-employed option. Where the Far Realm is unthinkably remote, the plane of Xoriat orbits Eberron through the Astral Plane, always distant but an undeniable fixture of the cosmology.
The physical description of Xoriat is almost identical to that of the Far Realm, being made of an infinity of "thin" layers which are alien and anathema to the inhabitants of the material world. There is more of an hierarchy within Xoriat than in the Far Realm, as the former is dominated by a monstrous race of "fleshcrafters" known as the Daelkyr, who use their magic to create aberrations for their armies and tools. Within the Eberron setting, nearly all aberrations come from Xoriat, changing their ecology and origins greatly from the norm, and even changing how they organize: beholders were created to be living siege engines, for example, while the illithids served as potent lieutenants in the armies of the Daelkyr.
Perhaps the greatest deviation from the Far Realm is the particular interest the inhabitants of Xoriat have in the world of Eberron. Where the Far Realm is dangerous to material reality simply from being so alien, the beings of Xoriat actively seek to occupy and control the material world, and twist its races into new troops and tools. When Xoriat was last coterminous with Eberron, many thousands of years ago, the Daelkyr and their armies invaded. The invasion was opposed by a great hobgoblin empire and various orders of druids, and both were nearly broken before victory. The Gatekeepers sect of druids created great seals that forced Xoriat into a distant orbit that would never return, and trapped the Daelkyr and most of their armies underground in the depths of Khyber. Mad cultists who serve the Daelkyr occasionally try to break these seals and free their masters, but are opposed primarily by the Gatekeepers who stand vigil still.
- Cagle, Eric, Jesse Decker, James Jacobs, Erik Mona, Matthew Sernett, Chris Thomasson, and James Wyatt. Fiend Folio (Wizards of the Coast, 2003).
- Cordell, Bruce R. "Enter The Far Realm." Dragon #330 (Wizards of the Coast, April 2005).
- Cordell, Bruce R. The Gates of Firestorm Peak (TSR, 1999).
- Jacobs, James. "The Ecology of the Kaorti." Dragon #358 (Wizards of the Coast, August 2007).
- "Githzerai Far Realm raiders" — From Planewalker.com (the official website of the Planescape setting), this article tells about the rrakkma adventurers from Limbo who journey to the Far Realm. This is an unofficial, fan-made interpretation.
- Brief introduction on the Far Realm at Planewalker.com
- Brief description of the Far Realm at Planewalker.com
- Information about the Kaorti and other Far Realm creatures at the official Dungeons & Dragons website
- Information on blood elementals at the official Dungeons & Dragons website
- "Blood Mother," from the official Dungeons & Dragons website
- A story about the Kaorti from an unofficial website
- A Far Realm entity known as an Uvuudaum with various pseudonatural creatures, displayed in Manual of the Planes
- Kaorti, displayed in Fiend Folio
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