Sea of Thought
The Sea of Thought is a realm beyond the physical world. It's a limitless and dynamic place composed entirely of imagination and memory — terrifyingly full of possibilities. You visit the Sea of Thought when you dream. When you think. When you reminisce. When you invent. When you cast spells. The Sea of Thought is known by many names. The "astral plane." The "dream world." The "realm of the mind." The "higher consciousness." Some minds are better suited at navigating these waters than others.
All mana comes from the Sea of Thought. When a mage sleeps, he dreams, so he drinks from the water and replenishes his own well of mana. When a mage casts a spell, he focuses his mind on the outcome and surrenders some amount of mana. Bound by the laws of the universe, an elemental manifests to collect the mana, siphon power from the Sea of Thought, and activate the effects of the spell.
The mana one finds in physical form throughout the Mortal World is in actuality tiny amounts of pure elements from the Sea of Thought that have leaked through into our reality. Crystalline mana is a hunk of earth, ice, or metal. Liquid mana is a swig of water or slime. Gaseous mana is a wisp of fire, air, or electricity. A mage with solid, liquid, or gaseous mana in hand can replenish his own well without making the trip.
Elementals themselves hail from the Sea of Thought. If you conceptualize mana, magic, and the Sea of Thought as components in an incomprehensibly sophisticated computer system, then elementals are its artificial intelligence. An elemental exists as a sentient consciousness, capable of thought, reason, and free will just like any humanoid, but without a living body or an eternal spirit.
Elementals can depart the Sea of Thought and manifest in the Mortal World under one of three scenarios.
- First, they can be summoned temporarily by a mage.
- Second, they can be tasked by one of the Immortals to carry out some mission.
- Third, they can be drawn toward a high concentration of their associated element to guard, observe, or assist it.
Since elementals maintain a connection to the Sea of Thought, those who manifest in the Mortal World can cast spells at will without the use of mana. When an elemental is slain in the Mortal World, they simply return to the Sea of Thought. The only way to truly "kill" an elemental is to fight it on its home turf.
The minds of sentient creatures in the Mortal World border the Sea of Thought — even animals dream. However, a truly sapient creature is capable of projecting its own mind into the Sea of Thought and leaving its home world for a spell. Over the course of history, countless mages, mystics, psychics, oracles, sages, and scholars have utilized the Sea of Thought as a meeting place, a sanctuary, a prison, and a library. Those who sail this sea are called wanderers.
A wanderer first establishes a link to the Sea of Thought and projects an avatar of his mind there. This connection to limitless magical power sustains his physical body and places it in a state of suspended animation. In game terms, he becomes immune to lethal Stamina Drain, poison, and disease, but cannot regenerate HP. When he rejoins the Mortal World, he will be just as hungry, thirsty, injured, sick, and tired as when he left. If fatal harm befalls the wanderer's body while he's navigating the Sea of Thought, his mind is yanked back to the Mortal World to greet death. Whether your voyage lasts minutes or millennia, it's foolish to wander and leave your body unguarded.
Once the wanderer detaches his consciousness from the Mortal World, he opens the doorway into the Sea of Thought. He steps through into a quiet and foggy place called the vestibule. Here the wanderer confronts an image of his own body in perfect stasis surrounded by muted impressions of the environment he previously occupied. The vestibule is a figment of the imagination that represents the way home. Only within the vestibule can the wanderer communicate with anyone near his body in the Mortal World. Each wanderer enters and exists the Sea of Thought through their own private vestibule, which grants passage only to the wanderer to whom it belongs.
As he leaves the safety of the vestibule, the wanderer arrives in his own personal island in the Sea of Thought. These islands are where dreams occur and where memories reside. Every mind is arranged differently, so one island may house a massive library filled with books containing meticulously-organized memories, whereas another island may contain a sprawling marketplace where merchants hawk recollections. An island is shaped by its owner's experiences and dreams, but wanderers can purposefully reshape their own domains. They need not even appear as literal islands — wanderers have crafted cities floating in the clouds, echoing caverns beneath the earth, and asteroid fields adrift in space. Architecture, vegetation, inhabitants, landscape, weather, and even gravity are mutable with a thought. Anything the wanderer desires can be summoned within the confines of their island.
The Sea of Thought comprises three regions: Zenith, Horizon, and Nadir.
At the center is Horizon, although some prefer to call this place "the surface" or "the skyline." It is the realm of dreams and memory, where the islands of wanderers can be found and where elementals spend most of their time. This region is also home to waysides, which are permanent settlements imagined by a collective of minds working in tandem. Wanderers can visit waysides to exchange ideas and share information with others, although not all inhabitants share such altruistic motivations. Islands and waysides can exist in Horizon as long as minds reside there or live to remember them. Once the memories of a place in Horizon are lost, it sinks to Nadir.
Below Horizon lies the bottomless void of Nadir. Wanderers might also refer to this place as "the depths" or "oblivion." It is empty, lifeless, and oppressive. A wanderer who visits Nadir is besieged by hopelessness and doubt. The crushing depths are teeming with forgotten knowledge, sunken waysides, and deceased elementals. A daring explorer of the Sea of Thought might be able to recover one of these, but tread carefully. Wanderers who spend too long in Nadir risk losing their way back.
The vaulting expanse above Horizon is known as Zenith. Some know it as "the firmament" or "enlightenment." Zenith is permeated by radiant energy. Spending time here fills a wanderer with aspirations, creativity, and motivation. Zenith is the domain of inspiration, where new ideas are formed and elementals are spawned. It is also the source of prophecy and precognition. Such raw creative power is overwhelming to most mortal minds; extend your stay at the risk of your own sanity.
The imagined body a wanderer receives in the Sea of Thought feels just as solid as the one he left in the Mortal World. The bone that supports it is mana. The blood that flows through its veins is mana. The muscle that shapes it is mana. That said, it can be bruised, cut, pierced, and burned just like living flesh. Pain within the Sea of Thought seems authentic enough, but since wanderers leave their living bodies in the Mortal World, they are invulnerable to many of the conditions which threaten our mortal coils.
First, wanderers are immune to Stamina Drain since minds themselves do not require sustenance, oxygen, or warmth. This makes them immune to the dehydrated, exposed, starving, and suffocating conditions. Similarly, wanderers do not tire from exertion since they do not require sleep and all movement in the Sea of Thought is imagined. Second, wanderers are immune to the infected and poisoned conditions. Diseases and toxins are biological threats; if deprived of a living body and its vulnerabilities, contaminants pose no danger.
Wanderers enter into combat just as easily and frequently as citizens of the Mortal World. Often times, they fight other wanderers. Other times, they battle elementals. Some wanderers are unlucky enough to confront the horrifying creatures that escape from nightmares. Damage inflicted in combat is only as real as the attacker imagines. Whereas most dreamers are ineffective at throwing punches, wanderers can dole out the hurt just fine. A wanderer who runs out of HP in the Sea of Thought is immediately snapped back to the Mortal World where he wakes with a start. An elemental who runs out of HP in the Sea of Thought plummets to Nadir where lifeless sleep awaits it. Imagined creatures who run out of HP simply dissolve.