D&D General Assumed Lore/Sacred Cows you've changed +


  1. Gods do not have a single alignment. Mortals do, because mortals are limited. A god has every alignment. If mortals consider a God to be "good," that's just a function of how they interact with that God. They could find the God to be very much the reverse in different circumstances. (I came up with this while adapting Tomb of Annihilation to my world. In my version, the Nine Trickster Gods are all aspects of Ubtau, something they've actually forgotten themselves. Acererak also didn't realize it, which is why he didn't expect them to be truly immortal, and come back from death to help the PCs.)
  2. There is no defined cosmology. Gods may actually understand how the cosmos works, but if they do, they're not telling.
  3. PCs races include only humans, Elves, Gnomes, and Orcs. Elves, Gnomes, and Orcs are all fey-adjacent creatures. Whether they are the decedents of humans who interbred with fey, or the descendants of humans who were cursed by fey, or the descendants of fey who decided to give up their power and become mortal, is unknown.
  4. Gnomes and Orcs have vaguely human-like psychologies, and human-like life spans, with Orcs topping out at around sixty and Gnomes at around a hundred and twenty. Gnomes have the reputation among humans of being unreasonably cheerful, and orcs of being ruled by towering passions that can easily turn violent, but they're fairly understandable to humans. Elves...aren't. They're somewhat humanlike for the first hundred years or so, but by the time an elf reaches two hundred they have become what humans see as a wholly inscrutable, alien being who lives primarily in their own head. Elves can live to be a thousand, and they just keep getting more elvish the whole time. Most PC elves would be in the first hundred years of life, although I'd be interested to work with a player who wants to play out what an elf would be like later on.

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1. Orcs and Goblinoids are the same (diverse) people named Orschans. They are steppe-raiders and seen as "evil" by non-Orschans, but in reality no more so than humans.
2. No "physical" gods. Much like Eberron, gods do not manifest to mortals, they do not speak to mortals and they do not answer prayers. Clerics follow religions and gods, and receive powers and the faithful may be blessed or see omens, but are there actually deities behind any of this? Who knows.
3. No Great Wheel. In fact, not really any planes other than the Material, with the exception of the Far Realm. Yes, the Great Old Ones are definitely real, are your Gods? You might not like the answer. I also have the "Faerie Realm" which combines elements of the Feywild with some of the other planes.
4. No Common. It's an overly gamist approach and seems a garbled reference to the "Lingua Franca" of the Mediterranean. Instead characters speak whatever languages are appropriate for the regions they live in. Most demihumans don't have their own language. If they live with humans, they speak the same language.
5. The Underdark is called the "Underworld", and combines elements of that with what you might get from the Lower Planes. (Similar to Eberron's Khyber, actually).
6. It's always annoyed me that despite having Asmodeus, Orcus, Baalzebul and Mephistopheles, there is no Michael, Raphael, Uriel et al, so they are there in my setting. But most of my archangels and archfiends are the "sealed evil/good in a can". They sleep, yet reach out with their dreams. The dreams can be real for mortals...
7. Drow are albino in their natural states and worship demons (of which the Spider Queen) is one. When they come to live on the surface their skin reacts to the sunlight and becomes dark. So it is only renegade drow (ie, the non-evil ones) who are dark on my world.
8. Gnomes and Dwarves are related, with the gnomes being exiles from the dwarvern nations.


Guinea pig in shining armor
Could have sworn I posted here already, but apparently not.

Alignment. I largely ignore it.

School of Necromancy. Not seen as evil. The School of Enchantment is though.

Gods. They don’t require your prayers and they certainly don’t need people to worship them*. That said, they do appreciate it.

Lower Planes (Acheron-to-Pandemonium). All lumped together in the Abyss. The nine Archdevils and sixty-six Demon Lords each control their own separate layer therein.

Limbo. A huge field of elemental debris floating in the Astral Sea and inhabited by Slaadi.

Mechanus. An enormous clockwork space-station/machine floating in the Astral Sea and inhabited by modrons. Not a distinct plane of existence.

Upper Planes (Arcadia-to-Ysgard). There’s only Mount Celestia. The others did exist at one time, but were absorbed into Mount Celestia after the Dawn War.

Blood War. Limited to the first layer of the Abyss, which the devils know as Avernus and the demons as Pazunia. The Blood War is a divine punishment: demons and devils will never achieve victory but they are compelled to make war against each other for all eternity.

Dragons. They don’t have wings and cannot fly. They make up for this with more powerful breath weapons and a boatload of resistances and immunities.

Duergar. The “old school” dwarves and more commonly known as Trolls. They chose to stay in the underdark while the other clans moved up to the surface. Mind Flayers have nothing to do with their ability to turn invisible or grow larger in size.

Elves. They still sprang from Corellon’s blood, but Corellon isn’t a god. Instead, Corellon was a primordial killed by the god Gruumsh during the Dawn War.

Giants. There is no Ordning. There is no Annam. Heck, there is no giant religion, period. They were created by the primordials to fight the celestials. The giants took it a few steps further and reject all forms of religious faith.

Illithids. Originally created by the god Ilsensine to serve as strategists in the Dawn War.

Modrons. Magma paraelementals that fought alongside the gods during the Dawn War and now reside upon the Astral Sea. They look exactly like borg cubes from Star Trek and are almost as heavily armed.

Shardminds. Ice paraelementals that fought alongside the gods during the Dawn War and now reside upon the Astral Sea. They build their towns and cities on asteroids floating in the void.

*Every single other person in my current D&D group is a Baptist Christian. They find the idea of “the gods needing prayer to survive” thoroughly distasteful and asked me not to include it in my games.
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Two come to mind:

First, I eliminated Alignment as a mechanic in the 1980s. I made all alignment determinations relative to the power offering the magic that made alignment relevant. A cleric of a God of Freedom and a cleric of a God of Justice might get very different results when cadting detect evil.

Second, around 1985 I made hamburger out of the Great Wheel Cosmology sacred cow. It has evolved since then, but I basically reduced the universe to : Prime, Elemental (1 plane), Heaven, Hell, Astral, Positive, Negative, Ethereal. There were regions in Heaven and Hell, but just one plane. I wanted a cosmology I could explain in 3 minutes.


There is an infinitely large Prime Material Plane. Since 4E, it has three mirror plans - the Shadowfell, the Feywild, and the Ethereal Plane. Those planes constantly evolve to reflect the PMP in their own special ways. As the plane is infinitely huge, it allows for all sorts of campaign worlds to be set in it - and any type of PC to be played in any game. I toyed around with making ti a flat PMP, but reverted back to having planets. The main planet at the center of the universe is about 12 times the size of Earth, and is hollow (creating a Dyson Sphere surface inside for the underdark). My Ravenloft planes have existed as regions in the Shadowfell since I played Keep ion the Shadowfell in the early parts of 4E.

There is an Astral Plane (usually called the Astral Sea now) that is infinite in size and is the easiest way to connect the planes. My 'Spelljammers' sail this Astral Plane, allowing those with little magic to conduct business across the planes - which is lucrative. Traveling across the Astral Sea to other gates that lead elsewhere in the Prime is also potentially a huge shortcut - something that make a lot of sense when you want to move a large amount of goods. Dwarves and Giff are the most common sailors - Dwarves have extensive mining operations in the Elemental Plane. Gith and Nezumi (Rat people - Pi Rats) are also common. My equivalent of Sigil is in the Astral Plane - a 'City' of multiple levels with a huge number of Gates, markets, and mysterious denizens. It is ruled by a Demi-God of Trickery/Death (who is a lot like a Cenobite).

There is an Elemental Plane that is filled with pockets of each element (and each paraelement). Dwarves are well known for traveling to this plane to work mines in deposits of Earth.

There is a Hell Plane. The 666 'layers' of the Abyss, the 9 Hells, etc... are all regions within this greater Hell. Asmodeus claims to rule the whole thing, but really he only controls the 9 Hells which cover a scant few billion square miles - only a small fraction of the mapped areas of the plane.

There is a Heaven Plane. It also is subdivided into various territories that align with my version of semi-traditional cosmologies. It is not unlimited in size. This is a reason why the Gods are selective about who is allowed to come here in the afterlife, and why many are reincarnated back to the PMP rather than enjoying an eternal blissful afterlife. Even those that are granted eternity may find ti revoked when other more worthy folks arrive...

There are Negative Energy and Positive Energy Planes. They're uninhabitable and a huge mystery.

Then there is the Far Realm - which is an alien cosmology that is slowly colliding into 'our' cosmology. The collision was first detected a few thousand years ago and has only slowly progressed in the time since discovery, but it is the source of Aberrations, Elder Gods and other alien concepts. The Far Realm is much older - and seems to be slowly collapsing.

Finally, there are pocket dimensions that connect to the Astral Sea. These may be as small as a box or seemingly infinitely large, but most of them are empty - until someone fills them. Their physics are not always like that of the PMP...

This simplified cosmology has served me very well.


Drow are albino in their natural states ... When they come to live on the surface their skin reacts to the sunlight and becomes dark. So it is only renegade drow (ie, the non-evil ones) who are dark on my world.
This is absolutely brilliant.


Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I've run a fair amount in Greyhawk, so my lore changes tend to jump off from Greyhawk topics. For example, the Scarlet Brotherhood in my Greyhawk are not generally represented by monks like Brother Milerjoi in the Slavelords saga - they're psionicists and guard the psionic sciences jealously. I got to make pretty good use of the 3e psionics system when I ran my Classic Modules campaign in 3e.

I also took the Elf kinslaying/civil war farther and worked in more Tolkien influence such as the relationship of Ungoliant/Mirkwood spiders to elves. Lolth corrupts the Drow by offering advanced arcane knowledge elves were not meant to know, the civil war drives them underground. Their primary opponent retreats to the Valley of the Mage (valley elves) leaving the other elf varieties to populate most elven lands. And in those lands, since Lolth is the Queen of Spiders and any spider could be one of her spies, elves detest spiders and clear their houses of them, relying on other insectivores like bats and carnivorous plants to control insects in their lands.
I also went with Drow not being black skinned - they're pale and slight, but still matriarchal and with a very cruel society that I also raid descriptions of Melniboné for.

I still generally use alignment but de-emphasize the power of the Law/Chaos axis. Primary morality is generally covered by Good/Evil while Law/Chaos tends to describe methodology and the difference in emphasis between collective/individual.

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