Monday, February 5, 2018

My Stupid and Unnecessary D&D Cosmology

So, cosmology. It's very rare in most campaigns for the planes, theology, and origins of the multiverse to be at all relevant beyond what mortals THINK is true, but in my games this stuff comes up all the time. That, and the typical OSR fashion is to simplify things and cut the fat, and I figured, fuck that, why not go against the grain and go so stupid-cosmic that Planescape has to get on my level? So, without further adieu: Aura's Stupid and Unnecessary D&D Cosmology.


In the beginning, and perhaps after the end, there were the Far Realms, maybe. Their nature will be discussed later, but for now, Sages believe it to be a sort of alternate multiverse or primordial chaos of infinite possibility, bubbling and dissolving. There was one such bubble of ethereal protomatter, still and quiescent, free of change, causality, and time. Or so the theory goes.

Perhaps a passing Elder Thing or Outer God stuck in an appendage and swirled it before moving on, as some sort of incidental Prime Mover. And the swirling Ether eventually coalesced into the Planes of Positive and Negative energy. They spun about, endless founts of Creation and Destruction, constantly energizing and polarizing forces around them, until the planes of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air stabilzed around them. From then on, intersectional Elemental Planes of all possible interactions were born. Mud, Salt, Vacuum, Steam, Radiance, Smoke....eventually, Phosphorous, Uranium, Gold, Sodium, etcetera, with the Positive and Negative Energy Planes intersect to create Temporal Energy.

All Positive Energy eventually transitions and converts to the Negative Energy Plane, and in however many kalpas, eventually it is all that will remain. This is Entropy, and the Temporal Energy Plane measures this, and all possible transitions of time. The timeline(s).

Eventually, all the possible extant Elemental Planes intersected to create the Prime Material Plane, though parts of it were too bright and dark to stabilize, creating the mirror worlds of Feywild and Shadowfell. More on these two, later. There are infinite worlds in the Prime Material, as Temporal Energy made every possible outcome of causality extant in its own timeline. Indeed, even if you root down to the First Cause, there are infinite worlds for every POSSIBLE first cause. The Feywild and Shadowfell mirror every possible Prime Material World, and intersect with every possible Elemental plane, save for the Energy Planes. Positive/Temporal/Negative already map to Feywild/Prime/Shadowfell.

The Feywild is the plane where things are more alive, more manic. Everything can talk and bargain here. Everything lives. Every passion is given drive. This plane can change you, and make you a more manic, impulsive, inconsistent person. The Shadowfell is a more dead world. Illusions persist here, forms without substance and substance without form. It is a more mutable plane but its people are more static. The moroseness and depression makes you more resistant to change, drive, and passion. You're reduced, made less.

The Ethereal Plane has near and far shores; the Near Ethereal is less a plane and more a phase-shift to the Material. The state of being intangible. The Ethereal Plane connects all the elemental and material worlds; Demiplanes can exist out here, and you can reach other Prime Material planes save for ones based on your own direct timeline. From Oerth to Krynn, as opposed to Alternate Oerth.

There is also the Astral Plane, the plane born of thought and memory, which connects to and contains the Outer Planes, as in Planescape. The world of Beliefs and Ethos made manifest. The Ethereal and Astral planes intersect to create the Dream Plane, the world where Thought Appears To Have Form. The Dream Plane intersects with the Outer Planes to create the Questing Grounds, the Plane of Narrative, where Thoughts and Symbols Appear to Have Meaning. Archetypes, stories, and narrative causality rule here. Here, travel is only made by progressing stories, and distance is measured by how long a story is told.

The Inner and Outer Planes intersect to create the Ordial Plane, where Belief has Substance. The Plane of Proof. It is the Akashic Records. Anything can be learned and proved here, but this is a perilous place, because ANYTHING can be PROVED here, even if it's not true.
Many who search the Ordial Plane for Truth end up being lost in their truth, and are trapped in a fantasy world of confirmation bias.

The Intersection between Ordial and Narrative is the Meta-World, which intersects with the Multiverse and the Real World. It's the plane of the 4th Wall, where PCs can become aware of the actual truth of their world, and transcend what they are. This plane leads to other campaign worlds and RPG systems. PCs can talk directly to their players and the GM here, and in a text-based game can actually read the text. Portals here lead not to planes, but to stories; different campaigns in the same world, or a movie and its sequel, would all be separate portals.

There is the Mirror Plane; the world behind every mirror. It connects all possible Prime Worlds, essentially where Temporal Energy meets Dream; Alice could tell you all about it, honestly.

The Dungeon Plane is one of the only planes that touches all others, and one of the planes where Demiplanes can be created (the others being Ethereal, Astral, Dream, and Meta). It is alive, and cancerous. An infinite, ever-evolving Megadungeon. It is sentient but perhaps not intelligent. It grows and burrows into the other planes, connecting to places that could be defined as 'dungeon' and expanding them into true Dungeons. These dungeons are like split personalities or perhaps offspring, separate mindshards that can grow into their own. It is the Mythic Underworld, but not the place of the dreaming dead. Every dungeon contains a secret exit into the Dungeon Plane, and thus from Dungeon you can reach all possible places, save for perhaps a place of true peace.

Good luck finding one of those.

The Far Realms are...'not'. There is nothing outside the Outer Planes. Nothing inside the Inner Planes. Nothing before or after the end of time. Nothing on the other side of Dream where no one observes.
But if you go to these places, you find the Madness.

The Far Realms are the Minus World, basically; it's a mindrape zone created phenomelogically when you try to perceive Something where there is Nothing. Perhaps the Far Realm is not truly an alternate cosmology; perhaps it's the Abyss. Not the familiar abyss of chaos and evil... but the Abyss of Choronzon.

The things you encounter there are Not-Things. Hallucinations and shapes in the void moving with agency and half-life because of your perception. If your mind can survive this ego-death, and traverse to the other side of the Far Realms.... you would find a truly empty space, defined by none but you.
You are God.


Maker Anew, of a place that can never be where you were before; purified of every mental and spiritual flaw with no regard to the safety or well-being of your mortal ego-identity.

This is where multiverses come from.