D&D General A D&D Cosmology Derived from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium (fanfic)


Dungeon Master of Middle-earth (He/him)
This is something I've had bumping around for a while but haven't committed to paper until now. It's basically a mash-up of the 5E Multiverse with JRR Tolkien's Matter of Middle-earth, mostly from the Ainulindalë which I've drawn on mostly from memory and some internet searches. I've changed Tolkien's names in order to file off the serial numbers but mostly went with generic alternatives. I've also let some "strange thoughts" of my own creep in around the edges, especially to reconcile D&D's treatment of the classical elements with Tolkien's. My goal in writing this out was to have a reference that could be used to place many of D&D's creatures, planes, and other game elements within a Tolkien-derived framework. Hopefully, it's useful or at least interesting to anyone who wants to run D&D in a Tolkien-ish world. It's written as backstory and to bring things up to the present of the game-world or set the stage, as it were. One of my kids jokingly called it "fanfic", and I thought that was an apt enough description. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

A D&D Cosmology Derived from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium

The Singular, who in the dwelling places of the humanoids is called the Supreme Being, was the keeper of the Mysterious Flame, the source of spiritual fire, which is radiance or spirit itself. With the spiritual fire, The Singular first conceived of spiritual air, which is thought, and which gave rise to the Saints who are great singers and who dwelt, before time began, in the Eternal Atria of the Supreme Being which is the Positive Plane. Beyond the Eternal Atria was a gaping space of nothingness, the Emptiness, which is the Negative Plane.

One of the Saints, who was called the Powerful Emergence, wanted to possess the Mysterious Flame to bring new things into being and ventured out alone into the Emptiness where mayhaps it was hidden, but it was not found because it was with The Singular. There, in the darkness, the Powerful Emergence first began to conceive of necromancy.

The Singular composed a grand theme for all the Saints to sing together, but there was conflict in the music from the beginning because the Powerful Emergence wove thoughts of necromancy into the singing and vied for control with the other Saints, and not a few of them were convinced that they should harmonize their singing with that of the Powerful Emergence rather than with the theme of The Singular.

The Song of the Saints carried out into the Emptiness, filling it with its echoes, which is the weave of magic. The Singular brought the Saints out to the edge of the Emptiness and showed them an image of an unfolding history, revealing to them that this history had been the subject of their Song. And they witnessed with wonder, as within a dream, the humanoids, who are the Offspring of the Supreme Being, emerging on the Material Plane, within their dwelling places.

The Singular then sent the Mysterious Flame out into the Emptiness to give reality to the Song, and its fire was sustained amidst the Emptiness. And a new thing was brought into existence, the Multiverse, at the beginning of time. The four elements – fire, air, water, and earth – were as yet undifferentiated and in a formless state of chaos, and primordials, both of the four elements and of the Emptiness which persisted in the void spaces that remained, awoke in the darkness, brought to life by the Mysterious Flame. And the primordials of the Emptiness hungered for radiance with an appetite that could not be sated.

Then many of the Saints, the Powerful Emergence being the first among these, seeing the Mysterious Flame afar off, burning at the heart of the Multiverse, went into it to accomplish the image they had seen. These became known as the Potencies because they exerted their will to influence the shaping of the world. They were also called the outsiders because they came into the Multiverse from without, and they were called gods and many other names besides. Others of the Saints remained behind in the Eternal Atria, either because they feared the great strength and violence of the primordials or they did not wish to leave their home to endure trials for some other reason.

Having entered into the Multiverse at the beginning of time, the Potencies set about subduing and separating the elements to achieve the shape they had beheld in the image. In this work, they had the cooperation of some of the primordials while others rebelled, stirred up by the exhortations of those who had harmonized their singing with that of the Powerful Emergence because a division still persisted between them and those who had sung the theme of The Singular aright, and there was strife in the shaping of the Multiverse.

After much time, however, the Potencies succeeded in imposing on the Multiverse the structure they had beheld in the image of the Song. They concentrated the physical elements into one place, so they could be used to form the dwelling places of the humanoids, and the spiritual elements which formed a halo around them were divided into three layers. The lightest layer, composed mainly of spiritual air, the stuff of thought, became the Surrounding Ocean and, above it, the Outermost Air, which together comprise the Astral Plane. In this vastness, the Potencies carved out great halls and spaces for themselves: the Outer Planes. Many of those who had sung the theme of The Singular aright inhabited those places closest to the Eternal Atria. These are the celestials who make the Upper Planes their dwelling. Whereas, many of those who harmonized their singing with that of the Powerful Emergence sought out regions far from the Eternal Atria and which looked out upon the Emptiness. These are the fiends who dwell in the Lower Planes.

The next lightest layer, which mostly consisted of spiritual water, which is the realm of feeling, emotion, and sensation, became the Starry Aether or Ethereal Plane, and the heaviest layer, made up mainly of spiritual earth, which is physical reality, became the Material Plane where all the physical elements were gathered together for the formation of the dwelling places of the humanoids. When those places had been located amid the expanses of the Material Plane, there were those of the Potencies who chose to abide there, some taking on physical forms with which they embodied themselves. They are the fey, and the Powerful Emergence was among their ranks and early on claimed ownership of the dwelling places of the humanoids, desiring to possess the radiance of those places, because it was of the Mysterious Flame, and to have dominion over the Offspring of the Supreme Being. And the Powerful Emergence once again stirred up the primordials and the elementals who are their children, and they made a last stand in the dwelling places of the humanoids, vying with the fey for control of the physical elements, and for a time had the upper hand.

Now, aid came from the Upper Planes, and many of the fey rallied and overcame the Powerful Emergence who fled from those places, departing even from the Multiverse itself to escape pursuit, and hid out in the Emptiness. And the fey drove the rebellious elementals from the Material Plane, who fell down into the Starry Aether where they were banished to planes of their own: the Elemental Planes. Then, the fey finished preparing the dwelling places of the humanoids, each according to the part they had in the singing of the theme of The Singular, and had bliss and peace for a time amidst the radiance of those places.

But, after a long time, the Powerful Emergence returned in secret to the dwelling places of the humanoids, having gathered fiends of the Lower Planes and primordials of the Emptiness into service and having promised to feed the latter with the radiance of those places, and attacked the fey in their moment of bliss. And some of the fey were agents of the Powerful Emergence and joined in the assault, and the original home of the fey was destroyed.

The fey then abandoned the Material Plane to the dominion of the Powerful Emergence and, going into exile in the Starry Aether, founded a new home in the Feywild. There they gathered much of the radiance that was left in the dwelling places of the humanoids to protect it from being consumed by primordials of the Emptiness and to preserve a memory, as it were, of the blissful days of those places in their youth.

Under the rulership of the Powerful Emergence, which lasted for some time, the dwelling places of the humanoids became tinged with danger and sorrow, and much of the radiance that was left in them was consumed by primordials of the Emptiness who tranformed and spewed it forth as necrotic energy which sustains the undead. And the Starry Aether that bordered on the Material Plane in those places, which is the Border Ethereal, became a region of ghosts filled with the spirits of those who, slain by violence or having lost their physical form due to the passage of time, lingered, lacking the power to manifest new physical bodies but clinging to the dwelling places of the humanoids because they were unable or unwilling to depart. Some of these spirits, losing all contact with the Material Plane, drifted deeper into the Starry Aether and came to dwell in the Shadowfell, witnessing only phantoms of craving and desire.

Although the Powerful Emergence is now no longer within the Multiverse and has been cast out into the Emptiness, this present state of the world remains and cannot be undone until it is remade.
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