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Pathfinder 1E Creating an OGC "great wheel" setting for Pathfinder?

Something I've been wanting to do for a while was to create an OGC "great polyhedron" cosmology inspired by AD&D and 4e, with some influence from Beyond Countless Doorways and mimir.net, to better foster planar adventures.

I entertained the idea to reorient the elemental and energy planes as poles, between which existed the far more survivable (and adventurous) Elemental Plane singular. It's similar in concept to the Elemental Chaos from 4e, but without having the Abyss and Limbo and other extraneous stuff, and also includes various demi-, para- and quasi-elemental concepts like Acid, Lightning and Obsidian and associated elemental creatures (although there isn't a defined number or formula for these, it's GM fodder). There are new inner planes/poles of Dreams (a counterpart to the Shadow Plane), Gravity, Psionics (possibly the same as the plane of Dreams or a related demiplane of ectoplasm or something), and Time. (OGC from 3pp sourcebooks Classic Play: The Book of the Planes, Slayer's Guide to Elementals, Tome of Horrors Complete, and Tome of Horrors 4.)

A personal favorite of mine are the various new transition and nexus planes (in addition to the Ethereal and Astral) like the River of Worlds, the Vortex, the Wormholes, the Grand Orrery of All Reflected Heavens, the Wandering Inn of the Glorious Toad, and Dunmorgause Castle. (OGC from 3pp Portals & Planes and Classic Play: The Book of the Planes.)

Another personal favorite (as I'm sure many others can empathize with) were the outer planes. As with the inner planes, I think it would be best served by making the nine alignments into poles which the outer planes would exist between. There isn't a define number of outer planes or layers in this scheme, but the overall concepts of planes for each alignment and tendency remains. This is commonly modeled as the "great wheel" of the outer planes, but it isn't really a wheel so much as the connections between the nine basic alignments. A rough, preliminary model is presented below:

outer-and-concordant-planes.png

These poles are meant to be generic, able to contain all mythological, literary and homebrewed afterlives. For example, Arcadia would include the Ghibli Hills, Hyperborea would also contain the planes of Winterheim and Asgard and Valhalla and Gladsheim and Jotunheim and Alfheim, Kunlun would contain the planes of Shangri-La and Shambhala, the Manifold Hells would contain both the nine hells of Dante's Inferno and the courts of the millions upon millions of hells in Chinese mythology, and Paradise would have the twin paradises of Gulistan and Bostan in al-Jannah. Then there are nexus and connecting planes like the rivers/lakes/byways of Aornis/Avernus, Acheron, Styx, Cocytus, Phlegeton, the branches of Yggdrasil/Sephirotic Tree of Life, the coils of the great serpent Jormungand, the River Oceanus, the Outer Rifts of the Abyss, the Chasm above the lower planes through which evil souls fall like rain and the Infernum below it that connects all the lower planes, et cetera.

There also wouldn't simply be only a few groupings of alignment exemplars (demons, angels, proteans, axiomites, etc) there would be many more, like the Chaosiic, Ogdoad, and Solumians for the planes of chaos. A problem I had with the demons in particular was that they were in many ways identical to devils (a criticism raised by 4e), having elaborate hierarchies, obsessed with acquiring souls, and many castes being scheming manipulators completely unsuited for the infinite deathtrap blighting reality that is the Abyssal Plane. Under this system, those more eloquent or long-sighted demons can be moved to Perdition, the border plane/pole of selfish apathetic hedonism rather than "they're destroying everything," without going to the effort of changing their flavor or statistics. I entertained the idea of making Asuras and Devas (the angelic choirs) inherently psionic as part of a thing about Eastern-style spiritual enlightenment giving psionics as part of the package.

Thoughts?
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Personally, I've always liked the idea of the Preternatural Planes, introduced in Zombie Sky Press's The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way Prelude.

This basically says that the Great Wheel exists the way it did in AD&D, but that there's a newly-discovered third major group of planes besides the Inner and Outer Planes: the Preternatural Planes. These include things like Purgatory, the Plane of Faerie, Sheol, etc.

I really like that idea, as it brings a lot of ideas that were otherwise overlooked by the Great Wheel into the mix.
 

That's quite impressive, but I'm afraid it might be too close to the original.
The Slayer's Guide to Elementals provided OGC statistics for the 2e para- and quasi-elemental planes and Wizards of the Coast didn't sue Mongoose. It's not the ideas, but the specific implementation that distinguishes it from world mythology.

For example, 2e Acheron is a plane of floating cube battlefields. My idea is the Plane of Slime, an infinite swamp and the mouth and delta of the rivers of the Underworld as in Greek mythology.

Personally, I've always liked the idea of the Preternatural Planes, introduced in Zombie Sky Press's The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way Prelude.

This basically says that the Great Wheel exists the way it did in AD&D, but that there's a newly-discovered third major group of planes besides the Inner and Outer Planes: the Preternatural Planes. These include things like Purgatory, the Plane of Faerie, Sheol, etc.

I really like that idea, as it brings a lot of ideas that were otherwise overlooked by the Great Wheel into the mix.
I always went with the idea that there wasn't a fixed number of outer planes, just poles that many planes revolved around. Planes without specific alignments are just... other planes. So the preternatural planes can just be slotted in as inner planes.
 

I bought a hard copy of Gary Gygax's Cosmos Builder, which had some suggestions for planes.

Suggested Paraelemental and Quasi-Elemental Plane

Paraelemental Planes
Ash (Fire-Earth)
Brimstone (Fire-Earth)
Cold (Air-Earth)
Dust (Air-Earth)
Electricity (Air-Fire)
Fog/Mist (Air-Water)
Glacis/Ice (Air-Water)
Heat (Air-Fire)
Magma (Fire-Earth)
Mud (Earth-Water)—more viscous than ooze
Ooze/Sludge/Mire (Earth-Water)
Sleet (Air-Water)
Smoke/Fumes (Air-Fire)
Steam (Fire-Water)

Quasi-elemental Planes or Spheres
Acid
Alkalai
Bone
Clay
Crystal
Dark
Ember
Lava
Light
Marsh/Swamp/Taiga
Metal
Prairie/Steppe/Tundra
Sand
Snow
Stone
Wood

Suggested Names for Celestial Planes and Spheres

Beatific: The plane of pure good.
Concord/Harmonia: The plane of balanced good, in balance with itself in all things beneficent.
Cosmic: The plane for all weal.
Divine: The plane of the beneficent.
Heavenly: The plane of the highest good.
Empyreal: The plane of pure fire and thus of purity of thought.
Sublime: The plane of the merciful.
Elysian Fields: Temperate, pastoral fields where the innocent and pacifists rest and the ground yields its bounty without work.
Faunus: Eternal home where souls live as wild animals of their choosing, free from unnatural states.
Happy Hunting Grounds: Endless plain filled with plenteous game to be hunted as needed.
Heavenshire/Havenshire: Resting place of the craftsman. A pastoral realm where one can make an honest living for eternity.
Hyperborea: The cold mountains. Rugged paradise of the barbarian/mountaineer.
Oceanus: The sailor’s paradise. The eternal ocean dotted by archipelagos.
The Far Shores: The land of eternal bliss. All hedonistic pleasures denied in life are the reward of these souls, without the side effects.
Winterheim/Bifrost: Winter’s paradise, the frozen forests and plains where the festivities of the hearth occur every day.
Ysgard/Valhalla: Fest hall of the valorous warriors.

Suggested Names for Nether Planes and Spheres

Abyssal: The plane with no end to the malign. The depths to which its depravities go is unknown and any unspeakable horror (imaginable or not) can be found.
Infernal: The plane of evil fire where devils dwell.
Hades: The plane of boredom. Everything is bleak and rather featureless.
Pandemonium: The plane of all demonkind.
Tarterus: The plane of longing, where what one desires is just out of reach.
Thousand-fold Hells: The plane of torture. There is no sense of imprisonment, only never ending pain.
Brackmire: The frigid and sluggish swamp. It is a harbinger of disease and infections.
Caina: The hell of betrayers. The damned are paranoid of their fellow condemned who are out to get them as they play power games for eternity, but never seem to achieve anything.
Court of the Damned: For those who bent the law to their will despite its meaning, they are forced to work behind the bureaucratic system in tedious tasks before judging and being judged by their peers and being sentenced thusly.
Gehenna: The stinking, steep-walled chasm where refuse is burned. The noxious fumes and searing heat cause the damned to “die” from suffocation or be roasted alive before the cycle repeats itself.
Incarceratia: The eternal prison sphere. All forms of capital punishment can be found here, but the body is repaired after each horror is suffered to its fullest.
The Searing Wastes: The place where those who could have given to the needy did not. There is no rest for those who hoarded what they could easily afford to give away. Their punishment is a desert devoid of any luxuries.

Thoughts?
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Although our executions are very different your premise is very similar to a project I've been working on for a while myself. I support your mission!

I do have to say that I had neglected to include a place in my cosmology where bad manifolds go when they die. It's good to have that question answered once and for all.

One criticism:

The place where those who could have given to the needy did not. There is no rest for those who hoarded what they could easily afford to give away. Their punishment is a desert devoid of any luxuries.


This is not how the Great Wheel works. It doesn't make moral judgments. I'm not saying you can't design a cosmology that works this way if you really want to, but you mentioned the Great Wheel specifically. I also think there are challenges in the presentation of a fantasy world where evil is always ultimately punished and good is always ultimately rewarded. It begs the question.

When a chaotic evil soul goes to the Abyss in D&D, all the other souls of other alignments think, "Wow, that's awful, look at all that brutal punishment, I'm sure glad I'm not chaotic evil," but while the afterlife in the Abyss is certainly hard for the recently deceased, the truth is that they wouldn't want it any other way. The Abyss is ruled by the strong, climbing over the backs of the weak. A chaotic evil soul who ends up there isn't thinking, "Oh, man, I'm so weak, this sucks, I'm gonna get climbed on, woe is me," he's thinking, "How dare these impudent scum; I'm the strongest guy here, and I'm gonna climb to the top over all these other jerks."

Mount Celestia is exactly the same in reverse. A chaotic evil soul doesn't /want/ to go there, it sounds awful. All that singing.

So you might have an evil plane where usurers and misers go, but they don't go there to be stripped of all wealth and suffer. They probably start out that way, but not because the plane is devoid of riches -- the plane is going to be full of things to steal, and to have stolen from them. It's a game of hoard the most loot, and the rest of the multiverse looks on and thinks, "Wow, what moral turpitude," but the souls trapped there are having the time of their lives, even as they are being robbed blind, because of the /promise/ that they might someday be doing the robbing.

I mean, keep in mind that there are gods for all of these reprehensible behaviors. They're certainly not going to submit to suffering because someone thinks they're morally and ethically corrupt, and they're not going to stand for their followers being punished for doing what they were told (unless, of course, that punishment benefits the god in some way).

But again, YMMV. There's no reason why you can't design a multiverse with a moral compass that points somewhere other than True Neutral, but it won't be the Great Wheel. The Great Wheel is without judgment and I think that's one of its greatest strengths.
 


This is not how the Great Wheel works. It doesn't make moral judgments. I'm not saying you can't design a cosmology that works this way if you really want to, but you mentioned the Great Wheel specifically. I also think there are challenges in the presentation of a fantasy world where evil is always ultimately punished and good is always ultimately rewarded. It begs the question.
In my cosmology, a soul's destined afterlife is not always a simple "soul of X alignment goes to plane of X alignment to be rewarded." It's influenced by karma (the person's collective actions in life, for good and ill), faith (the religious beliefs of the person, what gods they follow, what afterlife they believe in), regret (do they regret their sins when confronted and genuinely believe they deserve eternal damnation as punishment?), belief (a person who pickets funerals believes they'll go to heaven while a more modest individual is guilt-ridden and believes they'll go to hell for petty and shallow reasons, AKA Discworld reference), the judgments of the judge-gods (Minos, Osiris, etc), and whether the angels/demons presiding are... just read this. In other words, souls go where the GM wants them to go.

Additionally, I've adopted the idea from 4e that evil gods can create angels of their own, who are more loyal than fiends.

I'd like to add the Darkbad, Shadow Shadow Bo Badow, Double Hell, and Scary Town.

Of course, I'm in search of a robust cosmology (slightly warning for language).
I could actually use those for the humor value. Wait... the cave of what now? Seriously, I have to write that in as a cave inhabited by small New Zealand birds, with a complementary cave inhabited by strutting roosters.
 
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