It is said by those who should know, that this world is nothing but a dark shadow of the spirit realms. I have also been told that the spirit world is but a mirror of our own. How is it that we can be shadow and object at the same time, mirror and mirrored? That, I cannot answer. What I do know is this: those domes and spires that I saw in the sky's mist beyond the Veil were like nothing that could exist in our realm. It is my home, and I intend to chase it.
The existence of the spirit world is the single biggest difference between the real world and the Suzerain universe.
Both have a physical world, made up of everything you can touch and see - the ground and sky, trees, rocks, houses, people, and everything else. In Suzerain though, a world of pure energy is laid over the top of the physical world, and beings live there who have no bodies... spirits. Hence the name. You might scoff, saying there's nothing like 'spirits', but ask a shaman and he'll tell you different. With the number of friendly guardian spirits drifting around, it's a well-known fact that something travels the misty byways of unreason. Sometimes it's even willing to talk about it, given the proper incentive.
A spirit is a sentient entity without a physical body. A soul, on the other hand, has a physical body as well. Both are formed of a similar substance, Pulse. The animating source that flows through all living things also forms the material of the soul, not to mention everything else that exists on the spiritual plane. Both souls and true spirits register their presence in the spirit world, but souls haul their body around with them in the solid world like a barge of day-old fish guts while spirits only project an insubstantial, ghostly form.
Those who have traveled to the spirit world tend to be surprised how similar it is to our own. Everything shines with a haunting, silvered radiance like midday moonlight, but all of the solid world's familiar landmarks are where they should be. Since every physical thing has a spiritual 'signature', the spirit world is pretty similar in many ways. The spirit signature of a tree is in the same place as the physical matter which makes up the tree in the physical world. Next to it might be a cat, with its spiritual signature visible next to the tree's in the spirit world.
Every now and again, though, a true spirit will wander through the scene, with no physical body. People in the physical world might be largely unaware of it, or they might see it as a vague ghostly image. The cat will probably freak out and run away - they seem to be more aware of spirits than most of us.
Sound travels strangely in the spirit world, as if it were underwater. At the same time, its meaning isn't so much obscured as magnified until it becomes a symbol for itself. People don't lose any clarity, but tend to perceive each other differently because of a soft charge in the air. Spirits and people communicate telepathically in the spirit world. Even in this silence, eavesdropping on the physical world isn't possible. Voices from the solid realm echo as almost-whispers in the spirit world, tantalizingly close to being intelligible but never quite clear enough to make out the words. The situation is similar for solid bodies hoping to learn the secrets of the spirits.
And that's it. The part of the spirit world most people are aware of (if they're aware of it at all) is the bit that overlays our physical world. There aren't even flesh-eating skeletons instead of normal people. Usually. The spirit world is bigger, though. It stretches off far beyond the borders of the physical, and that's the bit most people never see.
In One Far-Distant Corner...
In a far corner of the spirit world, where it no longer maps to solid objects, lies the Veil and the Maelstrom it hides. There you'll find the most powerful of all spirits, the gods, Great Spirit and other beings of divine power. Occasionally a mortal Hero gets to visit that place at the pleasure of the gods in their various immortal realms.
Travel To and From the Spirit World
Occasionally, a spirit has the ability to manifest in the physical world for a while, forming a body which it inhabits and shifting its senses to the physical world. Others, like poltergeists for instance, can manipulate physical objects from the spirit world. Some spirits even have the power to possess a person, subduing his soul and taking control of the body. All these are well known.
Less well known is the opposite, when a person from the physical world enters the spirit world. However, throughout history a there have been people with the ability to shift their focus away from the physical world and see the silvered overlay of the spirit world. These people are called shamans, and through the emotional bond of ownership they travel with their possessions, unburdened by their physical body. Because of their ability to see the spirit world, in many realms a shaman is called 'sighted'.
Shamans aren't the only people who can shift their senses into the spirit world. Certain races have a natural ability to either shift, or have a permanent dual sight.