paradox42's crazy cosmology
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  1. #1
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    paradox42's crazy cosmology

    Others have been generous enough to share details of their campaigns and worlds, most notably (in recent days) Khisanth the Ancient; I in the meantime dribbled out bits and pieces of mine in conjunction with other things I was posting about. It's never been gathered together in one place, partly because some of these details would have been spoilers for my players (and I know that at least two have and possibly still do read this very forum).

    Since, as recently noted, my game ended, there's no longer any such reason to keep things under wraps. So, I'm starting this thread to post my stuff in, over time, as I go to the trouble of typing it all in (most of it is either in my head, scribbled on paper, or even buried in stuff I made up on spur-of-the-moment to answer questions my players asked during a game session). Perhaps others will find it useful; if not, I'm confident most who come here will find something that's interesting at least.

    A warning, before I begin any postings or musings: I've done a lot of reading over the years, and many of the concepts I employed in constructing my game setting are accordingly abstract and/or difficult for most people to understand. I'll do my best to explain them, but understand in advance that I employ concepts of hard, cutting-edge science and higher mathematics that rarely see light in most fantasy games. The higher-dimensional concepts I employ are frequently confusing to most whom I try explaining them to. That said, even when I made stuff up, I'm extremely detail-oriented in daily life, and was always careful to make sure everything fit with previously-given details or ideas unless I was deliberately "exposing" things I'd told my players in the past as lies/frauds/mistakes/ignorance. So the system as a whole fits together surprisingly well, given how much of a patchwork it actually is.

    For this first post, I'll just mention that the name of this Reality- the name of the Demiurge of it, at any rate- was given in game as DABBATIALDABAOTH (always written by me in all-caps). That was understood to not be its full Truename, but rather just a tiny beginning part of it, intended as a sort of unique "nickname" that one could use to refer to it. My players, being as they were, rarely used either all caps or the full name, and often referred to it as "Dabb" or something similar when they didn't just say "the Demiurge."

  2. #2
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    How the campaign ended

    Since I know several were curious, I'll post below an explanation of what happened in the last session of the game. Quoting from the thread where I discussed the setup:

    Quote Originally Posted by paradox42 View Post
    The game will feature one big combat with an army of gods arrayed against a foe that the PCs for once have no data on other than its appearance and the fact that it's originally from the Eternal Realm- their own probing of it last session caused the Egg it was growing within to "hatch" early, and it's extremely upset about that. It's possible, though probably not likely, that the Final Combat will take more than one session to resolve.

    The reason they were so interested in the Egg was that they discovered that their Demiurge, their Reality, is actually supposed to have seven dimensions instead of just six- which has left a hole that among other things led Thought to go insane with a split personality in an apparent subconscious attempt to fill it. They've seen evidence that a Seventh First One whom they still have no clues about is due to arise soon, if they can make room for it, and that this rise is somehow tied in to the whole waking-Demiurge incident. Which is due to happen about 1 minute into the future, in game time, from the point they're at now (with the Egg having just shattered to release its irate Occupant). This all ties in with the Egg, because they got confirmation very recently that the Egg and its Occupant are somehow preventing the growth of the Demiurge in this seventh dimension, preventing the rise of the Seventh First One, and thereby preventing the Demiurge from growing properly and becoming an acceptable (and accepted) member of Eternal society.

    In other words, they learned that the Demiurge's nasty nature is at least partly due to a sort of universe-level "birth defect" that resulted from being infested with this parasite in the Egg, which they have now released into the Reality they know. Their hope is that by killing it, or at least removing it, they can give the Demiurge the room and energy to grow that it's always lacked, and bring on the rise of the Seventh, which will eventually lead to a completion of the Demiurge's proper growth and a more benign Reality.

    Juxtaposed with this event is the opening of the Final Gate, the portal to the higher dimensions (which they've long called "the Eternal Realm"), which was the original purpose behind a unique breed of spellcaster arising on my game world over 4000 years before the present game date- and the motivation for the civilization which first used this spellcasting to destroy itself in one spectacular ritual which caused the Plane of Shadow to expand from a demiplane into a full plane (as the effect that was commonly known about it, anyway).

    The PCs now know that this type of spellcasting derives its power directly from the Demiurge itself, through "Sources" which are in fact avatars of the Demiurge constantly locked into a barely-balanced equilibrium in one lonely layer of the Far Realm, sort of like the three goddesses in Final Fantasy VI (for those who've played that game). The goal of the beings who discovered and first used these Sources was always to expand the Shadow Plane (which they call the Bridge Plane) in such a manner as to reach a special spot deep within the Far Realm, where they could complete a Ritual of Opening that would open a portal to That Which Is Beyond the Far Realm. They didn't understand precisely what that meant, just that being the explorers they were they wanted to go there; however, over the course of many years of playing and campaign time the PCs have learned that this Final Gate will actually lead to the Eternal Realm. Furthermore, the Ritual of Opening itself was originally devised apparently by Fate/Aditi herself, the First One most closely linked with the Prime Planes, and is nothing less than her attempt to create an escape hatch if the Demiurge should wake up and be impossible to placate or hold.

    The Ritual of Opening, due to the timing on various planes and synchronization with the great Ring formed of braided cosmic string that's in the PCs' own universe, is due to complete and open the Final Gate at the same moment the Demiurge awakes; therefore the PCs have that great event set against their present predicament as well- and even with access to time travel effects they're feeling pressed for time. The hope is that once the Final Gate is open, they'll be able to get help from sympathetic Eternals on the other side who might be able to fix the problems- stop the Demiurge from destroying everything- that sort of thing.
    Stats for the "parasite" are posted here.

    Following the combat with the baby Brane Dragon (and the players did learn that name thanks to a couple party members with Psychometry), the party of 12 immediately teleported to the Ring, where they used the open portal to get to the Ritual a few (subjective) minutes before the Final Gate opened up. And open it did- once the Ritual was completed, the rock wall that had been its focus was replaced by a spherical portal leading to a locale that was brilliant white, dotted with black "stars-" the Eternal Realm.

    From the other side of the open Gate stepped a Being unlike anything the PCs had ever seen before; I didn't give much description but said "if I said that it has a generally humanoid shape, and is more purple/dark blue/dark red than otherwise, it would not be completely inaccurate." The Being announced that it had come because its "CHILD" (this Being spoke in all-caps as well) was now free of the parasite. Its first action was to suggest (more to itself than anyone else) a "RESET" of the Reality. An NPC asked for the Being's name, which it gave as "MY NAME IS TOO LONG FOR YOU TO PROCESS. HOWEVER, IF YOU WISH TO USE AN ABBREVIATED VERSION OF IT, YOU MAY CALL ME SEPHIROSOPHIA." It then went on to explain that the "reset" it had just suggested would mean that "THE BASE REALITY IS BROUGHT BACK TO ITS INITIAL UNFORMED STATE, SO THAT IT CAN GROW AGAIN FROM THE BEGINNING."

    This prospect, as expected, was rather unpalatable to the PCs- since it would mean that everything, including them, and everyone, except the proper Seven First Ones, would be in effect "deleted" so that the Seven could reshape the DABBATIALDABAOTH Reality over again as if there had never been a parasite. They toyed with the idea of fighting "SEPH" until one of them got Psychometry on the Being showing that it had 150,000 hit dice, each one a d1000, plus some ability giving it x10 hit points (for a grand total of 1.5 billion)- for starters. So instead, they argued with it.

    And got SEPH to admit that there was another way. Even if the little events inside DABB were "TINY, AND TRITE," as SEPH said much later in the conversation, and thus essentially like the politics and lives of bacteria would be to us as Earth humans. SEPH realized, looking around, that the missing Seventh First One was in fact among the gathered entities at the Final Gate, only needing an infusion of power (for example, an infusion sheared off of SEPH's own seventh dimension) to grow to a level which would allow it to compete and prosper alongside the original Six. And of course, as SEPH noted this, it was looking squarely at the party of PCs.

    So began the argument between interested players to decide which one of them would step into the place of the missing First One and assume the role, destined to become an integral and inseparable part of a properly growing and developing DABBATIALDABAOTH. It took some time to narrow down the candidates, even with the new wrinkle that was introduced next.

    Because the Masters of that ancient race who had brought Urgic Magic to the homeworld of the PCs, who had first desired to cast the great Ritual of Opening and pass Beyond their Reality, now took their leave of said Reality by using the Gate they had finally succeeded in creating. One by one, they passed through and Transcended, presumably to one day become Eternals (like SEPH, and DABB) themselves. SEPHIROSOPHIA commented on their passing that "YOU ARE SMALL AND STUNTED, BUT YOU HAVE YOUR OWN STORIES TO TELL. THEY WOULD GROW AND BECOME IF YOU DIVORCE FROM DABBATIALDABAOTH."

    This was the option that most PCs eventually took, when it was pointed out that this layer- being deep in the Far Realm- was truly outside any silly linear notion of time or causality. This single fact meant that this Final Gate was the only one that would ever touch this Reality, and that the entities gathered there to witness it were therefore the only ones out of all times and all spaces in all cosmologies (more on that in future posts in this thread) with the chance to Transcend.

    In other words, I told the players, "count the number of versions of yourselves who are here. Those versions are the only versions of you who have this chance. As SEPHIROSOPHIA told you, you all have stories growing within you. Step through that Final Gate, the open Portal to the Eternal Realm, and those stories will grow and Become... real. They, and you, will Become Realities in their own right... but nothing other than SEPHIROSOPHIA is coming through the open Portal. If you leave, if you step through now, you will most assuredly never return to the places you once knew and loved. You will instead BECOME places you know and love, new places to be sure, but not the places you started from."

    And so, the players made their choices, character by character. Being gods, they did have an option that mortals lack- namely, the option to leave an avatar behind if they Transcended, or to send an avatar through to Transcend in their place if they chose to stay. Several PCs took their real selves, and avatars along with, through the Final Gate to forever leave the DABBATIALDABAOTH Reality behind them. Most eventually chose to pass through the Final Gate themselves, but leave an avatar behind to watch over their religions and the places and people that had once been so important to them. In one character's case, he passed through the Final Gate, but given his personality, the avatar he'd meant to leave behind disobeyed after becoming its own creature and went through the Final Gate itself a few minutes later (this was all done by the player, and had nothing to do with any of the rest of us- we just laughed and agreed that it was exactly what the character could be expected to do). In the end, three PCs chose to stay behind in their real, original selves, while just sending avatars through the Final Gate to leave a mark on Eternity.

    One of those three did it because she (the character; her player is actually male) was really a homebody at heart, personality-wise, and her player didn't think she'd be willing to leave her home behind forever even given the chance to make a new one. The other two stayed for an altogether more interesting reason- they were the last two who still wanted the position of Seventh First One even knowing that it would mean staying behind and giving up Transcendence. One of them made an excellent case for becoming a "Memory" First One, while the other argued that his character would make a First One of "Creation" and would be better. Neither one was willing to give it up, so I (through SEPHIROSOPHIA) resolved the conflict by commenting "BUT, YOU ARE THE SEVENTH. DO YOU NOT SEE IT? BOTH OF YOU ARE."

    The (formerly) two characters agreed that this was a particularly elegant solution, and merged their characters into one greater being which then received the infusion of power from SEPH's own fully-grown Seventh dimension. This being, representing both Memory and Creation, needed to be its own concept, but in a moment of perfect accord, all players present (within half a minute of the question being posed) agreed that the necessary concept was in fact Evolution. I finished this up by describing it thusly: "Evolution begins the long, difficult task of fixing the connections between the other sorry Dimensions of this tired old Reality and breathing new life into them. Evolution is what COMPLETES them. Evolution is what lets them GROW and BECOME. Evolution is what will someday allow them to reach their full Potential."

    And with that last task complete, the last of the entities desiring Transcendence passed through the Final Gate, and I described what happened next: "And DABBATIALDABAOTH, which awoke on all cosmoses simultaneously, hears the voice of its Parent SEPHIROSOPHIA lulling it back to sleep to heal and Become. And it does. The Age of Healing begins. In the Place of the Ritual, the few beings left behind who have not already made their choices disperse, most passing back through the Ring Portal into the central cosmos to begin new lives amid the subtly altered Reality. The Ring, no longer needed, frays and unbraids and falls apart, its power spinning away into the void and collapsing into formlessness. The great Portal it focused open collapses and closes. With it closes the Final Gate, the External Portal that is the one way to the Eternal Realm. The Silver Key, no longer needed here, is taken back into the Reality that created it- SEPHIROSOPHIA- and the body that that great Being sent through the Final Gate into your Reality is the last to pass through the closing Final Gate."

    And that was essentially it, aside from giving the characters who Transcended a chance to each get an epilogue in their own new Realities- for example, one character (a War god) who was the last of his race was said to live in a new universe that was much like the old, except that the analogue of the homeworld which existed there had only one race on it (negative infinity points if you don't guess which race it was), and that race was constantly testing its might against the beings of neighboring worlds and planes.

    Some of you are probably wondering what that Silver Key I just mentioned above might be- but that's better dealt with in a future post.
    Last edited by paradox42; Wednesday, 3rd February, 2010 at 09:43 AM.

  3. #3
    Yes, at least one of your players still reads here. I only found the place recently though. Thread bookmarked.

  4. #4
    Utterly awesome. Just letting you know I'll be reading every word, even if I don't find much to comment on. Sounds like it was a mind-blowing campaign.

    And our settings couldn't be more different. Just goes to show how diverse and accomodating these rules are. From your ulta-sci-fi to my pantheistic high fantasy, and everything in between.

    Speaking of which, your first post reminded me, I should really post some more of my stuff in my Khorvanis thread. Got sidetracked from that somehow.

    Anyway, can't wait to read more, Paradox. Keep it coming!

  5. #5
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    On Cosmology

    First things first: the multiverse I use is a sort of extended 1st-Edition setup, with hints from Planescape thrown in, and lots of embellishments I made myself starting back when 2nd Edition was just being hinted at in Dragon.

    I used all the Paraelemental (Smoke, Magma, Ooze, and Ice/Cold) and Quasielemental (Positive: Mineral, Radiance, Lightning, Steam; Negative: Dust, Ash, Vacuum, Salt) planes, as well as the "standard six" that the 3E Manual of the Planes listed. I also threw in the Elemental Plane of Wood as a sort of "connector" that conceptually sits at the center of a sphere formed by the other Elemental Planes plus the Positive and Negative Energies; the sphere was also "completed" by new planes of my own imagining that act sort of like "Para-Quasi-Elemental" planes but which are all demiplanes rather than full planes in their own right (collectively, these 8 are called the "Demielemental Planes."). The Demielemental Planes are Radioactivity (combining Earth, Fire, and Positive), Plasma (Fire, Air, and Positive), Superconductivity (Air, Water, and Positive), Vapors (Water, Earth, and Positive), Explosives (Earth, Fire, and Negative), Embers/Stardust (Fire, Air, and Negative), Refrigerants (Air, Water, and Negative), and Powder/Evaporation (Water, Earth, and Negative). Finally, there is a secret plane that also sits at the heart of the sphere, but dimensionally in the opposite direction from Wood; this plane is secret because it has no connection to the Astral Plane (unlike every other plane of existence in 3.X) and can therefore only be reached from portals which exist in the four prime Elemental Planes and the two Energy Planes. This other central plane is simply titled the Elemental Plane of Matter, and is in most respects like an odd, lifeless (or perhaps nightmarishly, totally alive) copy of the Material Plane. Collectively, these are all named the Inner Planes.

    This "Inner Sphere" exists conceptually in a sort of "soup" of the Ethereal Plane, which in my multiverse had the old concept of the Deep Ethereal for travel between planes; the Ethereal functionally connects the Inner Sphere to the Material Planes. And yes, that's plural; I posited that every D&D game world was its own Material Plane (unless two settings explicitly stated that they existed in the same world, like Maztica on the Forgotten Realms), and ignored any differences the official versions of the settings claimed for their cosmologies- where such differences existed, I would attribute them (if they ever came up in game) to mistakes made by explorers or disinformation campaigns by gods, demons, or other planar entities trying to stop mortals (for whatever reason) from learning what's "really out there." In effect, I posited no limit to the number of Material Planes in existence, though in practice no game could ever realistically concern itself with more than one or two unless you played something like a Stargate: D&D! using Wells of Many Worlds or the like. Every last Material Plane was assumed to be a universe in its own right, using more or less the standard laws of physics (given that this is a fantasy reality that is; more on my "standard physics" in a future post), so that each and every Material Plane was assumed to contain stars, planets, galaxies, and so on, unless otherwise specified. I did posit that the Spelljammer universe (filled with Phlogiston and endless Crystal Spheres containing star systems and other more exotic environments) existed somewhere in a Material Plane of its own, but I've never actually run a game in that Material Plane so I've never done much with the concept. Material Planes in my multiverse are all connected by the Plane of Shadow, which (as mentioned in the quote in my last post) was actually once a demiplane that got expanded by a ritual into a "Bridge Plane." The Plane of Shadow also eventually intersects the Far Realm, but more on that later. There is one new plane worth mentioning here, because it was the original opposite number for the Plane of Shadow: a demiplane called the Plane of Illumination.

    The next layer out is the Astral Plane, which (though it is a Transitive Plane and therefore has very little to recommend an extended visit) actually does have a few demiplanes and oddballs that can't be reached from any other place. Examples of the latter include the Temporal Energy Plane, the Observatorium, Union (yes, I used both Union and Sigil in my multiverse- it actually worked rather well), and some more mysterious places that are usually distant from the "standard" planes and thus difficult to get to. Most of these are tiny demiplanes essentially existing only to house "planar edifices," which are mysterious constructs (most with unknown purpose) left behind by "whoever created the multiverse" ([sarcasm]gee, I'll bet all you IH users are wondering who that might be[/sarcasm]). More on planar edifices in a later post- though I will mention here that they played a major role in my campaigns within this multiverse.

    Beyond this, in a fourth conceptual layer of this multiverse, lurk the Outer Planes, in my multiverse an extension of the traditional Great Wheel cosmology. The same structure of the basic Great Wheel exists, but as a young teen the fact that the Wheel was "unbalanced" never sat right with me. So I balanced it. This meant that whereas the basic Great Wheel, for example, calls for only two Twin Paradises (renamed Bytopia in Planescape- a name I always thought was stupid), my Great Wheel featured six of them- to balance out the fact that Tarterus (exactly opposite it- and renamed Carceri during the "politically correct renaming phase" of Planescape) had six layers. So, extending this to the rest of the Great Wheel, it's easy to determine that the new numbers of layers for each full plane look like this:

    • Arcadia: 4 layers.
    • Seven Heavens (Celestia): 666 layers. Yes, that's not a typo.
    • Twin Paradises (Bytopia): 6 layers.
    • Elysium: 4 layers (as standard).
    • Beastlands (Happy Hunting Grounds): 4 layers.
    • Olympus (Arborea): 9 layers.
    • Ysgard/Asgard: 4 layers.
    • Limbo: 1E had 5 layers, 2E reduced it to 1 (or more precisely said "how can you tell?"). For 3.X I kept it as 1 layer.
    • Pandemonium: 4 layers (standard).
    • Abyss: 666 layers (2E and official 3E both claimed it was actually infinite, but I stuck to the finite number given in 1st Edition).
    • Tarterus (Carceri): 6 layers (standard).
    • Hades: 4 layers.
    • Gehenna: 4 layers (standard).
    • Nine Hells: 9 layers (standard).
    • Acheron: 4 layers (standard).
    • Mechanus (Nirvana): 1E had 5 layers- I actually did make up four more layers to this place back then- but when 2E removed the need for them, and 3E kept it, I essentially discarded those other four layers for my 3.X Great Wheel. So, 1 layer.

    And now comes an even more interesting thing, because I always figured that there should be two versions of True Neutral- the "passive" version that's best represented in the standard, official Outlands (Concordant Opposition to us 1E vets), and an "active" version which would seek to force Balance on anything that got near it. So, I created a "flip side" to the Outlands, which in the 3.X version of this multiverse has the Strongly True Neutral Aligned planar property. The Flip Side is centered not on an infinitely tall Spire, but rather on an infinitely deep Pit, and in a nod to Moorcock I placed a city at the edge of the Pit (a sort of "retirees' Sigil") named Tanelorn. Also, since Sigil (introduced in 2nd Edition's Planescape, of course) was supposed to be a ring floating "at the top of the Spire," I made changes to that idea to reconcile it with my multiverse. Since the Spire is infinitely tall, it has no top; therefore Sigil is not at the top of it but is instead "strung" along the Spire some thousand miles above the ground. This gave me an interesting opening which I gladly took for later expansion: the notion that if one Ring exists "strung" on the Spire, other such Rings might also exist. And so they do: it is assumed that an infinite number of Rings exist, strung out so far from each other that even if you could somehow get to the outside of one to look for the others, you wouldn't be able to spot them. The second Spire Ring (i.e. the next one you find if you go up from Sigil) is called the Crystal Library, and is home to Annam, one of the few known Elder Gods in my multiverse (more on Elder Deities in a future post).

    Beyond even the Outer Planes exists a somewhat unformed region wherein time and space are no longer quite so structured, where sleeping minds come to play out their imaginings. This is the Region of Dreams, and it saw a lot of use in my games. It exists essentially as described in the 3E Manual of the Planes, except that it has several more or less static demiplanes suspended within the chaotic Dreamheart. For example, I include the Dreamlands (from H.P. Lovecraft's stories, most often associated in modern roleplaying circles with Call of Cthulhu) as one such demiplane- and in fact one of my PC parties traveled there during their low-Epic stage.

    And beyond even the Region of Dreams... is a Realm of Nightmares. Of course, I used the Far Realm in my game. But the way I used it is decidedly nonstandard- and requires that I explain what I meant in my previous post by "cosmologies" (plural). That's the next post.


    ...And BTW Belzamus, "ultra-sci-fi" does not correctly describe my campaign setting- as I trust you're now beginning to see.
    Last edited by paradox42; Thursday, 4th February, 2010 at 09:14 AM. Reason: Saving periodically as I go to be sure of not losing lots of work.

  6. #6
    Wow, this is a very cool setting, really really awesome.

    How much did your custom planes get used? The Demielemental Planes and the plane of Matter sound really interesting and I wondered if they were fleshed out at all?

    I'm currently building my campaign setting and this thread is a gold mine for ideas and youve only done two posts, I'd love to see more.

  7. #7
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    Hi paradox42 matey!

    Thanks for sharing. Interesting stuff, I'm still picking through it, but for now I have to ask...

    ...Urgic Magic? (as in Theurgic?)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Upper_Krust View Post
    Hi paradox42 matey!

    Thanks for sharing. Interesting stuff, I'm still picking through it, but for now I have to ask...

    ...Urgic Magic? (as in Theurgic?)
    Not to steal paradox42's thunder, but Urgic Magic refers to the magic derived from the Demiurge, via the "Sources" (originally six, and later, ten, due to in-game evens): Quintessence/Positive Energy, Entropy/Negative Energy, Energy/Natural Forces (gravity, etc), Material Substance, Animals, and Plants, Time, Space, Reason, and Passion. The last four were the new ones.

    Undoubtedly, paradox42 will go into much more detail, but I hope that answers the question for now. (My character became the first and most powerful deity of this kind of magic, so I'm at least a little qualified to answer!)

  9. #9
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    Okay, detour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Axolotl View Post
    How much did your custom planes get used? The Demielemental Planes and the plane of Matter sound really interesting and I wondered if they were fleshed out at all?
    They were, yes, though the Demielemental Planes never actually saw use in my 3.X games. Never had plotlines requiring them I suppose. I will mention that some of the new energy types I came up with for 3.X were linked to Demielemental Planes- pretty obviously, Radioactivity was linked to Radiation, Plasma was linked to Plasma, and Refrigerants was linked to Gelid.

    Embers/Stardust was given the "fantastic name" (by sages from less scientifically advanced worlds) of "Elemental Plane of Darkness," because its main trait is that it swallows light effects and generally impairs vision pretty badly. In scientific terms, think interstellar dust cloud and you've more or less got it.

    Now, Explosives looks sort of like an analogue of the Material Plane, but any use of Fire effects there is pretty much guaranteed to be a Bad Idea since everything is, well, explosive. Any Fire or Plasma effect used there is both Widened and Maximized; any Electricity, Sonic, Particle, or Radiation effect used there is both Widened and Admixed with Fire (and of course, the Fire part is Maximized). Plus, in certain places, causing explosions has a tendency to spread and create more explosions... really, Very Bad Idea.

    Both Vapors and Powder were intended to be places where one could go to get unique poisons, drugs, and other such interesting chemicals. Conceptually, you'd be able to find any sort of potion, drug, or poison you'd like (though in Powder, you'd have to add water first to make it work), and in Vapors particularly you'd get hit with random effects every so often just from moving through the right (or wrong) cloud.

    Superconductivity was basically just Cold-Dominant and Lightning-Dominant simultaneously, in 3E Manual of the Planes terms; not much more one can say about it really (though I toyed with the idea of making Levitation and Fly effects used there have extended durations or possibly become Permanent while on-plane).

    Matter had the alternate name of "the Macrocosm," and was originally something I put in to explain an offhand reference made in one 2E monster book to a place of origin for a weird monster called the Chososion. It's from the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III, if you want to Google it or something. Basically, Matter was intended to be a sort of "phantom" of the Material Plane that barely touched the multiverse proper, and had weird properties making a visit rather undesirable. When I revised my cosmology for 3rd Edition, I mostly forgot about the place, until the IH came along and postulated the existence of the Matter First One as the ultimate Evil. That gave the plane a new lease on life, and suddenly gave me a perfect hook to hang it off of (plus bring it into plotlines involving my divine characters). So yes, it saw use in my game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raithe the Dreamer View Post
    Not to steal paradox42's thunder, but Urgic Magic refers to the magic derived from the Demiurge, via the "Sources" (originally six, and later, ten, due to in-game evens): Quintessence/Positive Energy, Entropy/Negative Energy, Energy/Natural Forces (gravity, etc), Material Substance, Animals, and Plants, Time, Space, Reason, and Passion. The last four were the new ones.

    Undoubtedly, paradox42 will go into much more detail, but I hope that answers the question for now. (My character became the first and most powerful deity of this kind of magic, so I'm at least a little qualified to answer!)
    Confirmed.

    There really isn't much need to delve into Urgic Magic, actually, beyond noting that it's a form of Arcane magic, but the spell lists happen by Source rather than school, and spells from any spell list (even psionics) are fair game to show up on Urgic Magic Source lists. For example, the "Positive" Source (Quintessence/Creation) has all the Cure Wounds spells on it, so casters using that Source were able to heal almost as effectively as Clerics. There were also unique feats designed for use by Urgic Magic casters, particularly in allowing them to "infuse" spells with extra Source energy for unique effects (for example, the Animal Source could be used to create Living Spells- the monster from Eberron).

    I have little doubt that anybody here can get plenty of ideas from the above on their own if they want to add something like Urgic Magic to their own games. It was a unique feature of my setting, yes, but not one I see as especially noteworthy aside from its origin (i.e. the Demiurge). Alternate caster types exist in many game settings; the 3.5 DMG even has a section devoted to showing you how to make up your own new caster class (with a spell list given for a hypothetical "Witch" class).

  10. #10
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    On CosmologIES

    So, to explain the importance of the Far Realm- and where I deviate from standard (not that there is much standard with regard to the Far Realm- but... [shrug]), I should delve back into some history here. Specifically, the history of how I came up with the concepts involved here, in the first place.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere, I had my own rules for dealing with beings above mere deities long before 3rd Edition even existed. In fact, I first started coming up with them after I got the original "gold box" Immortals Rules for original D&D, which was the original "play a PC god" rules set, and came to the note explaining how to become an "Old One" (meaning, the beings who created the multiverse and were greater than gods). The book said, and I quote,

    Quote Originally Posted by DM's Guide to Immortals, page 5
    This set does not attempt to fully describe the Old Ones. ... And no future volume will provide details on the Old Ones, for their powers transcend the framework of any mere game. To reduce them to game terms would trivialize their power...
    My immediate reaction to reading that was "Bull****!" Nuts to that, I thought. I want to know what these guys can do. So if TSR won't tell me, I'll figure it out for myself! And so I did. I worked out rules for how an "Immortal" (i.e. god) could transcend Immortality itself to become an Old One, and what the society of the Old Ones looked like.

    But here there was a problem. The Immortals set tied the society of the Immortals in with the structure of the multiverse itself, in many important ways, and neither one could really exist without the other. Therefore, I reasoned, to know what the Old Ones are like, I have to know what they live in. And since the Immortals set stated point-blank that the Old Ones retreated into "higher dimensions" after sealing off the multiverse with the "dimensional Barrier," that meant I needed to figure out what was beyond the multiverse.

    The scheme I came up with was pretty childishly simple by my present-day standards, but I was pretty proud of it at the time. I decided that there would be a "Voidsphere" that was essentially vacuum, containing two "Opposers" for the two energies (Positive and Negative- essentially these were extramultiversal Energy Planes) and the multiverse drifting in the vacuum between the Opposers. "But wait," it then occurred to me, "if this multiverse thing is an experiment of the Old Ones to see if they can make more of themselves, why wouldn't they make more of them?" And so, the idea was born that there would be multiple multiverses, all floating in this Voidsphere between the Opposers. Sometime later I decided that it would be cool if they were arranged in a structure, with some of them being closer to one Opposer than the other, with the effect that this would change the properties of those multiverses somehow. The arrangement I settled on was a sort of octahedral grid (that is, the shape of a d8) with 19 total multiverses, with one at each vertex, one for each of the edges, and one last one sitting in the middle- you could also think of them as one closest to the Positive Opposer, a square of four underneath that one, then a 3 x 3 grid of 9 beneath that, then another square of 4 below that, and finally one closest to the Negative. Beyond the Voidsphere would be " the Chaos" that the Old Ones hadn't imposed their will upon.

    Finally, and this was important later, I decided that the Old Ones were not totally sealed off behind the Barrier- some of them remained behind, in their multiverse experiments, watching the inhabitants and occasionally tweaking things to their satisfaction. These would usually be the youngest and least powerful ones, being given a "crap task" by their elders and betters. Those elders and betters busied themselves with running things from on high, like managers and executives, except for the few who were "evil" and just wanted to destroy everything for no apparent reason. And the Immortals set gave me another quote to expand off of, in thinking about all this, the last sentence of the section explaining the Old Ones' scheme- implying that the Old Ones themselves are being watched over by a being even greater than them. So I made up still more rules to detail the ones (I called them "Originals") who had set up this whole thing with the Chaos, and the Voidsphere, and the Opposers, before the Old Ones came in and made their little multiverses to play with.

    Fast forward about 15 years now, to when I was making a serious effort to translate my old setting into 3rd Edition. I had incorporated Planescape into the old 1E stuff during my college years, and the 2nd Edition campaign I ran in it; I'd also done a lot of reading of D&D novels such as the Avatar Trilogy (where Ao comes into the picture). By this time I was already equating Ao with the Old Ones from my old never-used rules, and furthermore had written in backstory to my "home multiverse" setting to the effect that the machinations of "the only three Overgods left" were integral to the metaplot. So I had the outside-the-multiverse stuff percolating in the back of my mind, as I opened up the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes to see what I'd have to change to bring my old cosmos into line with the new era.

    In the back of the book, they had an appendix containing variant planes you could use. One of those is the Far Realm. And when I read that, and saw the illustration of the then-nameless being in the midst of slimy vines, with slugs swimming by through what passes for air, I knew I wanted it in my game! But how? Where did it fit? And then, my old scheme of the extra multiverses came back to the foreground. I had never thought to describe what was in the Chaos, or why it was called that: it was just a sort of throwaway reference I made because it sounded cool. But now, with this Far Realm place, I realized in a flash that here was the description I had never thought to make! Here was what existed beyond all sane or structured realities! It was perfect.

    And so, the Far Realm became something other than a plane to me- it became more like a sort of "Astral Plane for multiverses-" a "Transitive Plane" one uses to cross from one multiverse to another. Later still, after I discarded the idea of the Voidsphere as being unnecessary, the Far Realm became something else- more like bits of detritus that were left behind after the Overgods took what they wanted to form the structured multiverses. The Far Realm was insane because, quite literally, "sanity" was what the Old Ones took out of it in making the multiverses. So now, I had the idea that these other multiverses were off somewhere, floating in the Far Realm, along with the Opposers. Also, because the Far Realm was in fact Outside the multiverse, that could only mean that spells designed for travel within the multiverse could have no hope of getting you there- you had to use Epic magic to open a Far Realm portal. This in turn meant that I could safely let the idea lie there, since only Epic characters could be capable of trafficking with the Far Realm.

    Fast forward again now... to my games approaching Epic levels. The Far Realm had played a prominent role in my games, from about 8th level on (when I ran one party of PCs through my own conversion of the classic 2E adventure The Gates of Firestorm Peak, which also happens to be where Bruce Cordell introduced the concept of the Far Realm into D&D in the first place), and the ongoing plot threads indicated strongly that it was going to assume an even bigger role during Epic. By this time I was also thinking seriously about PC godhood and what that would imply for the game. And conveniently, almost as if on cue, some guy using the handle Upper_Krust is getting ready to release a 3E-updated conversion of the Immortals rules, combined (it appeared at the time) with concepts from the Primal Order (which I had used during my 2nd Edition college campaign) and the recent 3rd Edition Deities & Demigods! So naturally, I took a keen interest in his doings.

    And I can gloss over the history of that project, because most here reading this already know the relevant parts. Eventually, after long teasing us with hints, UK released the first early drafts of Ascension. And within those pages, I found not only a set of rules for godhood, but also a set of rules for Overgods and the beings who existed even above them! My long-sleeping ideas of Old Ones and Originals had a new lease on life, because I could now use the IH rules to give it to them. But as my Epic PCs climbed higher and higher up the ladder of levels, I began to recognize that my old scheme of the "octahedron of multiverses" and especially the two Opposers, made little to no sense when placed side-by-side with the IH Dimensions.

    So one day, shortly after my second PC had ascended to divinity, I began to seriously thinhk about how to update that old scheme. I eventually took my inspiration from UK's suggestions that the Negative Energy Plane was somehow related closely to the Entropy Dimension. "Aha," I thought, "if this is the case, then I already have the Entropy Dimension in my greater cosmology- that's what the Negative Opposer is!" But, this left the problem of what it was that the Positive Opposer should be- not to mention, even if I associated the Positive with one of the other five First Ones, what then could I do about the other four? But here, my long education in higher math came to my rescue. In the process of dealing with the problem of the Opposers, I also noticed that for any scheme requiring six dimensions (First One or otherwise), it would be downright silly (if not impossible) for a set of objects like the multiverses to arrange themselves into a merely three-dimensional shape like the octahedron. Clearly that whole structural idea was outmoded and had to go.

    It was by bringing the two problems together that I arrived at the solution, and I found it a most elegant and satisfying one: instead of merely two Opposers, I would instead have the six First Ones, and between them they would string whole cosmoses like pearls. Each First One would have one cosmos utterly dominated by that being, and there would be "edge" cosmoses connecting the "pure" ones to each other. Finally, in the middle of it all would be one lonely cosmos where no First one was particularly dominant, where all six would be represented more or less equally- and this central cosmos was of course the home of the PCs. This new scheme gave me what amounted to a six-dimensional pyramid, a 6-D analogue of a d4 in other words, and since it happens that that shape is the simplest geometrical construct you can create in six dimensions, I had a perfect reason ready for why the multiverses had assumed this rather obvious shape. I hit one snag when I realized (to my chagrin) that a pyramid in N dimensions always has one more vertex than the number of dimensions it exists within (for example, a d4 exists in three dimensions, but has 4 points), and this meant that I suddenly needed a seventh "pure" cosmos and First One: but my chagrin quickly evaporated when I realized that Thought is insane. The precise nature of Thought's insanity is, conveniently, not described in the IH, so I was free to interpret that it could be- for example- Multiple Personality Disorder. And so, Thought became the First One who explored the seventh point, and in the process spawned two minds both thinking they were the "real" Supreme Thought: Madness and Dream.

    Since this post is already so long, I'll end it here and give concrete details of the (now 29) multiverses floating within the Far Realm, in my next post.
    Last edited by paradox42; Friday, 5th February, 2010 at 09:27 AM. Reason: Again saving occasionally to avoid data loss.

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