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D&D General D&D's feel vs. what D&D should keep - final comparison

Stalker0

Legend
With the sample size we shouldn’t get too concerned about the specifics, aka slight tier differences and the like. But the overall trends I think are useful.

when we look at things like initiative, I think why they rank high on keep but not on dnd is because initiative isn’t particularly interesting, but there isn’t really anything better either. Every initiative system has its pros and cons, and initiative works well enough in dnd.

contrast that to saving throws, though they have changed a bit over time, the idea of “rolling the big rock die to not get messed up” is very iconic...and a lot of fun :)
 

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And then you get people like me. I like the World Axis and think it's a vast improvement on the Great Wheel - but would have ticked neither option in this poll. The D&D World Axis is a positive part of D&D for me, but certainly isn't necessary; it is not, for example, even a part of Eberron.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I suspect these things are very much bound by generation. The Great Wheel would probably be more important to people who came to the game in AD&D, Planescape, Torment, 3e.
Personally, while I know very little of the World Axis, what little I've read makes me prefer it to the Wheel--and I started with 2e and fell in love very quickly with Planescape.
 

People in general just don't mess around in the planes much, what with so many groups not going above level 10 where the planes become a) desirable (in the World Axis) or b) remotely survivable (Great Wheel). But then the tipping point are the planescape fans.

Even as a fan of the World Axis though, I'd MUCH rather have each setting have its own cosmology.
 


TheSword

Legend
People in general just don't mess around in the planes much, what with so many groups not going above level 10 where the planes become a) desirable (in the World Axis) or b) remotely survivable (Great Wheel). But then the tipping point are the planescape fans.

Even as a fan of the World Axis though, I'd MUCH rather have each setting have its own cosmology.
Descent into Avernus enters Hell at level 5/6, which is one of the planes most inimicable to life. The resetting of CR’s and general survivability of PCs means they can easily enter the planes earlier.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Can I ask why?
The Great Wheel has far too many planes, each of which is infinite and yet only a miniscule fraction is ever, or can be, described or inhabited. I guess I just like the idea of each plane being the home of a deity or other super-powerful being (or small group thereof). Also, I never liked the Blood War. Or rather, I never liked it as this major thing that's in the forefront.

Before I had read up on the World Axis I had actually created something slightly similar to the World Axis, only on a tremendous mountain, and my Silver Sea was more like the River Styx in that you had to cross it to get to the afterlife.
 

Can I ask why?
In my case because the whole thing feels very artificial and looks like a box-ticking exercise where they've specifically added extra versions of heaven or hell just to say that they are there. What am I supposed to do with the LGG heaven of Bytopia/the Twin Paradises and how is it not redundant when put between the Seven Heavens and Elysium. Or the block between Acheron, the Nine Hells, Gehenna, Hades, and Tartarus. That honestly reads to me as if someone just looked up "Hell" in a thesaurus and took five different words.
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This isn't to say there are no good things on the Great Wheel - I mean for example domains of the afterlife are fine but why so many? And I like Mechanus and it's an excellent realm for RP - but it doesn't really feel like an afterlife realm the way Nirvana and just about all the original Outer Planes are.

Then there's the symmetry of it - which reinforces what are IMO morally toxic notions of "the balance between good and evil" because the cosmology is deliberately and inherently balanced or is being deliberately balanced by some twisted overgod like Ao. Even the Realms broke away from the Great wheel.

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Meanwhile the World Axis, by not presenting things as equals is a lot less box-ticky than the Great Wheel.
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I also start looking at it and seeing that the two closest realms to The Mortal World are The Feywild/Faerie of urban fantasy and The Shadowfell/The Shadow Realm. That immediately gives me far more pointers and inspiration for going extraplanar than the Great Wheel ever did; for all James Wyatt talked about not tripping through faerie rings in 4e the World Axis encourages it by making faerie a thing. And there are direct links indicated to The Mortal World. Then we have The Elemental Chaos. Things like the Elemental Plane of Air, being air as far as the eye can see are ultimately pretty sterile. The roiling Elemental Chaos allows you to do almost everything you can do with an elemental plane by having bubbles of that element - but is also much more able to support cities on the edge of multiple elements (rather than having para-elemental planes as the boundaries of two) or with swirling regions of them. It's harsh and dangerous but somewhere much better able to support life. And then we have the Astral Sea which supports afterlife regions without needing five separate versions of hell of which only one is The Nine Hells.

It's worth noting that the 5e Realms cosmology may call itself the Great Wheel but (like so much of 5e) it's probably more 4e than any other edition; the Feywild, the Shadowfell, and the Elemental Chaos, all invented for 4e are pretty central and the Wheel, replacing the Astral Sea, is in the distance.
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This isn't to say there are no good things on the Great Wheel
Forcing myself real hard to think of one, I just come up with the fact that the positive energy plain turns your into hyper Deadpool and will pop you like a zit if you heal too much.

But that brings us right back to 'immediately lethal' as the con for a big chunk of it.

The weird thing is that WotC had a perfectly good positive energy plane model in Serra's Realm and has NEVER used it for anything.

Also, the dependence on alignment is an instant non-starter for me.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Forcing myself real hard to think of one, I just come up with the fact that the positive energy plain turns your into hyper Deadpool and will pop you like a zit if you heal too much.

But that brings us right back to 'immediately lethal' as the con for a big chunk of it.

The weird thing is that WotC had a perfectly good positive energy plane model in Serra's Realm and has NEVER used it for anything.

Also, the dependence on alignment is an instant non-starter for me.
Reread the Planescape books. There's tons of interesting things in the Great Wheel. However, most of those things can simply be imported into a different cosmology.
 

Reread the Planescape books. There's tons of interesting things in the Great Wheel. However, most of those things can simply be imported into a different cosmology.
The one I read ended up in a fortress made out of a giant worm that rolled around one of the thirty hells D&D has knocling around like so many Marvel Satans for some reason. No more.
 

Reread the Planescape books. There's tons of interesting things in the Great Wheel. However, most of those things can simply be imported into a different cosmology.
There are tons of interesting things in the Great Wheel because it's a setting put together by creative people doing creative things - but the issue is that not many of them are there because of the Great Wheel.
 


AcererakTriple6

Autistic Dungeon Master
In my case because the whole thing feels very artificial and looks like a box-ticking exercise where they've specifically added extra versions of heaven or hell just to say that they are there. What am I supposed to do with the LGG heaven of Bytopia/the Twin Paradises and how is it not redundant when put between the Seven Heavens and Elysium. Or the block between Acheron, the Nine Hells, Gehenna, Hades, and Tartarus. That honestly reads to me as if someone just looked up "Hell" in a thesaurus and took five different words.
Exactly this. When I first looked at the Great Wheel Cosmology in 5e, I thought "Oh, cool! Look at all of these planes of existence! I'm sure that in the near-50 years of D&D's history that these have all been well-thought-out and detailed to have them included in campaigns, especially as places for the PCs to journey to!"

Then I spent about an hour or two reading about the planes in the DMG. I quickly fell in love with a few of the planes (Mechanus, Limbo, the Feywild and Shadowfell, the Astral Plane, the Elemental Planes, the eternal war aspects of Ysgard and Acheron, and a few others), but also began to realize that a lot of the planes were lacking in description and/or largely redundant with other planes. I really liked the idea of Carceri as "the Escape Room to End All Escape Rooms", but it barely had any description in the DMG and other official sources, so I never really ended up using it (I used it one time, and it was because of an extremely unlucky roll from a PC against a casting of Prismatic Spray).

I also got a few questions, like "Why the heck are there 7 different flavors of Heaven and 7 others for Hell, but no Plane of Mirrors, Dream/Nightmare Realm, Death World, Twilight Forest, or . . . [etc]?", "What's the difference between the Beastlands and the Feywild?", "Why are the embodiments of pure chaos [Slaad] evil, multicolored frog-men and not Fey?!?!", "Why do we have two different planes of War? [Ysgard and Acheron]", "Why isn't there a plane of Dragons and another of Giants?", "Why isn't there a Mount Olympus Plane if there's a Hades, and why isn't Hades the Underworld!?!?", "Why do we need a plane for Neutral Evil fiends [the extremely boring and uninspiring Yugoloths], and why is the plane for Neutral Evil fiends not the Neutral Evil Plane of Existence [Hades]!?!?" and "Why the heck are all of these redundant planes of existence different from each other, and not just separate parts of different, bigger, and more interesting plane of existence?"

I like Planescape (not from experience, I like the idea of it, though). I like planes-hopping, extraworldly weirdness. However, there's just too much overlap in the Great Wheel, and it just felt like grid-filling, "Okay, we have one plane of existence for every one of the 9 alignments, now let's do another for every in-between of those different alignments!". There are times when a "grid-filling" game design mindset has been beneficial, but the Great Wheel isn't one of them.

/end rant
 

Faolyn

Hero
I like Planescape (not from experience, I like the idea of it, though). I like planes-hopping, extraworldly weirdness. However, there's just too much overlap in the Great Wheel, and it just felt like grid-filling, "Okay, we have one plane of existence for every one of the 9 alignments, now let's do another for every in-between of those different alignments!". There are times when a "grid-filling" game design mindset has been beneficial, but the Great Wheel isn't one of them.

/end rant
Yeah. I mean, just about every one of your questions has an actual answer in Planescape (or from the Manual of the Planes), but it's such a big convoluted mess of a cosmology that really needs to be trimmed. I sincerely hope that when WotC actually puts forth a Manual of the Planes or a Planescape book, it goes into more details on making your own cosmology. I'm sure most of us can do it just fine, but it would be preferable to just using the Great Wheel.
 

TheSword

Legend
Expecting the infinite planes to be detailed is a fairly futile thing to expect. The planes are infinite because they are constructs of belief not purely physical places. How many locations do you need to have written for you in order to make the worthwhile? There are plenty of examples of locations you might visit in the Planescape box sets.

I don’t believe Planescape was any kind of box ticking exercise. It was an attempt to integrate several different notions of what afterlife would be like, differentiated by alignment. I’m really not sure what is difficult to grasp between the themes of the lower planes. They all seem pretty separate and concrete to me. I also don’t see the problem with balance as a principal for a cosmology.

The campaign setting focused on the city of Sigil which was a complete melting pot and the gate towns. So there was plenty of nuance in the setting. The planes behind the gate towns were conceptual and provided the scale of the infinite multiverse with its multitudinous inhabitants and weird and wonderful inhabitants with their weirder ideas.

I’ll let you into a secret… if you want alignment removed from D&D and you want everything detailed in black and white ink, you ain’t gonna like Planescape. That said I get that it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Then again I don’t like Ravnica or Taldorei so something for everyone yeah.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic Dungeon Master
Yeah. I mean, just about every one of your questions has an actual answer in Planescape (or from the Manual of the Planes),
That's kind of the definition of a Thermian argument, you know. Most of the questions were more from a design standpoint and not a lore standpoint (like why the Underworld/Hades isn't the plane of death, and what the real purpose of two different planes of War are).
but it's such a big convoluted mess of a cosmology that really needs to be trimmed.
This is agree with completely.
I sincerely hope that when WotC actually puts forth a Manual of the Planes or a Planescape book, it goes into more details on making your own cosmology. I'm sure most of us can do it just fine, but it would be preferable to just using the Great Wheel.
I also agree with this, and would be on board with Wizards of the Coast taking a more personal, interactive stance on the Multiverse.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I have a number of difficulties with the Wheel.



One of the problems is, alignment is nonuseful for storytelling.

It is a given that D&D can be bizarrely inaccurate about Norse traditions. Even so, consider.

Odin is the blood brother of Loki, and the father of Thor. These three nature beings often hang out together. They are members of the same aesir family.

These nature beings are separate alignments. Thor is actually Lawful. Loki is clearly Chaotic. Odin is inscrutable, probably Neutral.

According to the D&D alignment Wheel, these beings dont coexist together. Suddenly, the Norse stories cant really happen, or else D&D drastically distorts and misrepresents the Norse stories.




The D&D cosmology deserves serious rethinking.

The cosmological setting deserves as much scrutiny as the gaming mechanics does.
 

Expecting the infinite planes to be detailed is a fairly futile thing to expect. The planes are infinite because they are constructs of belief not purely physical places.
But why are they even there except as vague background if you can't interact with them? And space may be infinite - but that doesn't mean that there's very much there. Space may be vast but it's somewhere that in most SF you travel through to get to interesting places.
The campaign setting focused on the city of Sigil which was a complete melting pot and the gate towns. So there was plenty of nuance in the setting. The planes behind the gate towns were conceptual and provided the scale of the infinite multiverse with its multitudinous inhabitants and weird and wonderful inhabitants with their weirder ideas.

I’ll let you into a secret… if you want alignment removed from D&D and you want everything detailed in black and white ink, you ain’t gonna like Planescape. That said I get that it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Then again I don’t like Ravnica or Taldorei so something for everyone yeah.
I'll let you into a secret. Alignment undermines what makes Planescape an interesting setting - and indeed by the premises should be removable if something else takes over as dominant. Although some of the Factions can be matched up to the nine alignments many can't and, indeed, are uneasy alliances. (There's a reason why post Faction War the Mercykillers split, for example). Removing alignment from Planescape wouldn't change much - but the Faction War gutted the setting.

And no one wants e.g. everything in the Feywild to be detailed in black and white ink. Why would they? I mean it's Faerie - and is explicitly a mirror for the Mortal World. Bits are detailed of course. But "Fey mirror of where the PCs have spent their past few adventures and that's easiest to cross into where the correspondence is closest" is inspiring for specifics to interact with is inspiring in a way "infinite conceptual plane" isn't.

Or, to sum up, Planescape is a great idea for a setting that has always been weighed down by having to carry the Great Wheel round its neck. And the best bits of Planescape (Sigil and the Factions) are precisely those furthest from the Great Wheel's infinite planes.
 

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