D&D 5E Multiverse Theory and you

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
My old homebrew existed within a spelljammer context (though most campaigns played there had no spelljammer elements at all as this was not common knowledge) and when running the Slavers line of modules, I had some of the freed slaves be from Toril and Oerth (the slavelords had a couple of spelljamming ships at their disposal), which meant re-patriating them was difficult. I also had their "common tongue" be different - so when the guy from Toril spoke it I used Spanish and for Oerth I used (my terrible) French.
 

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S'mon

Legend
I have had some Wilderlands to Golarion crossover stuff in the past few years. And I use Stonehell Dungeon's 10th level dimensional nexus as a link between settings, Faerun & Wilderlands in particular.
 

The mutiverse is to explain the reason because we may see potential crossovers with other Hasbro's franchises or by other companies, for example Spelljammer creatures in Fortnite.

The AD&D sourcebook about the chronomancers had got some interesting ideas.
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
Sure, my players have travelled from one world to another. I don't get how that is distasteful or whatnot......And, I've been a player where we've done that. It allows you to have "normal" worlds and weird fantasy worlds.
 


Rogerd1

Explorer
Think it started with Moorcock, and made more famous is with the Amber stuff.

I would love to do a multiverse type game whether 5e or Savage Worlds.

It would be fun.
 

I don't think I've ever seen it (hopping to a different material plane) in play, but I have seen it as a backstory for allowing an otherwise out-of-context character into a game that was already kitchen sink-y.
 

Voadam

Legend
I've done it as a player and as a DM.

As a player it was Spelljammer going from a homebrew world to Krynn to Forgotten Realms and into another three DM's homebrew settings with the same character. Great fun being the world travelling Skysailor.

As a DM running a 1e game in the World of Greyhawk the party after being captured and sentenced to death for betraying a city to the Slave Lords went through a gate to what I called Celtic World to go through the adventures in C4 To Find a King to discharge their debt before making it back to Greyhawk. Later they got sucked into Ravenloft for their escalating evil crimes. A separate group I took over DMing for started in their homebrew world but got sucked into Ravenloft. A replacement character I DM'd solo for a little bit on Dark Sun before he joined up with the group in Ravenloft when they were doing the desert Touch of Death module. At one point they made it out onto Krynn during part of a conjunction.
 

jolt

Explorer
Not recently. Back in the 2E days, I did a homebrew/Greyhawk/Brittania (from the Ultima video games) crossover that I thought was interesting.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I explicitly have multiple worlds in my campaign, though I am at the moment mostly running stuff happening on (centered around (tied to)) one. The PCs in one campaign have learned of a world that has been destroyed (ish) which I named for a friend's campaign world out of some combination of whimsy and lack of other ideas. The PCs in another campaign are dealing with a fiendish incursion into the Feywild, via a world that is not my main world. I have even allowed for the idea of, well, "neighborhoods" of worlds that are more similar to each other than to less-local worlds, mainly because that allows me to have my Feywild be kinda distinctly unlike the Feywild in WotC's books--though since I've kinda gone with the Great Wheel Cosmology, there are clearly some things in common.
 

Amrûnril

Explorer
No, I don’t use it and I don’t like it. I think the Multiverse concept is there to add official legitimacy to the idea that we don’t all run in a Shared World. But I don’t need the legitimacy and it doesn’t add anything to think of my campaigns linked cosmically to everyone else’s.

If it is intended to give legitimacy, it does so very badly. I really doubt that "Your unique setting is valid because it's actually a subpart of our larger setting." is the sort of validation most creators are hoping for.


Meanwhile, a DM who choses to embrace the multiverse framework runs into some serious worldbuilding constraints:
  • It becomes impossible, by definition, to have an omniscient (let alone omnipotent) deity in some settings but not others.
  • It also becomes impossible for the existence of deities to be genuinely uncertain, if works describing them in other parts of the setting are established as canonically true.
  • If different material planes share the same fire elemental plane, the same 9 hells, and so forth, a DM who takes the idea of a shared multiverse seriously loses much of their ability to homebrew when dealing with these planes.
When I run games, I am very happy to opt out of this framework, in favor of keeping the existence of gods a matter of faith and the nature of alternate planes a mystery. It does irk me though that the shared multiverse framework is so often put forward as the default, or even as universal. If a dungeon master says they're running a homebrew setting, a homebrew cosmology should be the default assumption, not a mildly subversive addendum.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So I am curious. I have been DMing for decades and I don't know if I have ever used "multiverse" storytelling. While PCs have done some planar travel, especially when I have run Ravenloft or Planescape stories, I don't think I have ever had PCs traveling from one setting to another, as in, I have never had players transported from Krynn to Toril for example. But with the emphasis placed on the concept with recent releases, I am curious. Am I an anomaly?
No idea.
So have you done world-hopping as a feature in a campaign? Care to talk about it?
Yeah. I love planet-hopping D&D. Spelljammer is...well...my jam. I'm less interested in Planescape, as a specific setting...but the idea of planar travel is really interesting. I prefer the 4E version of the planes (the World Axis) way more than the earlier version (Great Wheel).

I'd be fine with some odd combo of the two, PlaneJammer, as we sort of saw in 4E, but I really like all the wild, odd, and downright bizarre things that is Spelljammer. I wouldn't want that watered down too much. But a mix where both still existed as stand alone settings, oh yeah. Pirates of the Astral Sea...flying a spelljammer. Yes, please.

The few times I tried it in my early days of DMing the players weren't that interested in Spelljammer itself as a setting. They only used it to get from one setting they wanted to mess with to the next setting they wanted to mess with. Things like firing meteors/asteroids at castles, parking a spelljammer over a city and laying waste to it. Kids stuff. Fun for them, but frustrating for me. I'm more interested in Spelljammer as a means to take D&D out there. Using it to simply visit yet another minor variation of the same baseline fantasy world is boring. To me.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I think it makes more sense for WotC's stance to be that the multiverse is connected and individual games can opt out rather than the reverse. It makes all their books and products interoperable.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
So I am curious. I have been DMing for decades and I don't know if I have ever used "multiverse" storytelling. While PCs have done some planar travel, especially when I have run Ravenloft or Planescape stories, I don't think I have ever had PCs traveling from one setting to another, as in, I have never had players transported from Krynn to Toril for example. But with the emphasis placed on the concept with recent releases, I am curious. Am I an anomaly?

So have you done worldhopping as a feature in a campaign? Care to talk about it?
It's funny to hear everyone screaming "never!!" when in my experience most DMs easily send the PCs to other worlds which technically aren't considered different settings only because they have a "inner plane", "outer plane" or "demiplane" label slapped on them... but in many cases end up seeing the same kind of adventures being played.

There might not be much motivation to travel from actual Toril to Oerth to Krynn with the same PCs. One reason could be because the similarities are so vast that adventures would hardly feel different. The other reason is that each setting has a strong appeal when played long and intensely by the PCs: for example playing your way up into Faerun organizations, or navigating the conflicts of Planescape factions. This is lost if you just hop into it for a single quest and then leave. Better to have a whole campaign in one base world, and next campaign in another to appreciate them both. In our current campaign I've used published adventures, some from Forgotten Realms and some from Greyhawk (and some settings-less), but there wasn't much motivation to plane shift between worlds, so we just jumbled stuff together and pretended we're always on Faerun (just because its overarching themes and features had already been established).

A trip to a significantly different world is potentially more interesting, but there has to be a striking selling point: it could be the absence of gravity of the plane of Air, or the automatic resurrection of Ysgard, or the unique take on magic of Athas, or the trappings of Ravenloft. It doesn't matter then whether those four planes are "material", "inner" or whatever, they're all just different worlds.

Still I see no reason why I wouldn't want many "full settings" fantasy worlds to co-exist in my multiverse. In fact recently I have started a thread to gather my own thoughts on which worlds feel cool to have around. And if the PCs find a reason to want to visit the next planar neighbourhood, I'm not going to stop them!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So I am curious. I have been DMing for decades and I don't know if I have ever used "multiverse" storytelling. While PCs have done some planar travel, especially when I have run Ravenloft or Planescape stories, I don't think I have ever had PCs traveling from one setting to another, as in, I have never had players transported from Krynn to Toril for example. But with the emphasis placed on the concept with recent releases, I am curious. Am I an anomaly?

So have you done worldhopping as a feature in a campaign? Care to talk about it?
Yes, worldhopping happens; both inter-planar and world-to-world.

That said, I don't subscribe to the "multiverse" theory as it's commpnly presented. The word universe contains the prefix "UNI", which means one. One. No more.

What this means to me is that all the planes and worlds and so forth are contained in that overarching universe, and though from inside each plane might look like its own universe it's merely a sub-set of the true universe which holds everything. Put another way, the multi-verses are each smaller than the overall universe.

It's like infinity. Each plane might represent its own infinity but added together they create a bigger infinity.

As for world-hopping, I go by the theory that someone standing on any game world and looking at the stars could, with a crazy-powerful telescope and knowledge of where to look, see the stars around which orbit every other game world, homebrew or not. What this means in practice is that the Planeshift spell in my game allows world-to-world travel within the Prime Material as well as plane-to-plane travel.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Meanwhile, a DM who choses to embrace the multiverse framework runs into some serious worldbuilding constraints:
  • It becomes impossible, by definition, to have an omniscient (let alone omnipotent) deity in some settings but not others.
  • It also becomes impossible for the existence of deities to be genuinely uncertain, if works describing them in other parts of the setting are established as canonically true.
  • If different material planes share the same fire elemental plane, the same 9 hells, and so forth, a DM who takes the idea of a shared multiverse seriously loses much of their ability to homebrew when dealing with these planes.
In sequence:

1. I've found this quite easy to work around by having a universal set of deities (21 of them, in fact) who show up as local and sometimes very-highly-disguised aspects on different worlds. With this, I can build any pantheon I want for whatever world or culture needs it and still have it sit on the same underlying (and often deeply-hidden) chassis.

2. Not a problem, in that in my settings the deities are known to exist. Hell, some of them even drop in for a visit once in a while. :)

3. Only to a point, in that (like the Prime Material) most of those planes are big enough and diverse enough to allow for different homebrew ideas to co-exist within the same plane.
When I run games, I am very happy to opt out of this framework, in favor of keeping the existence of gods a matter of faith and the nature of alternate planes a mystery. It does irk me though that the shared multiverse framework is so often put forward as the default, or even as universal. If a dungeon master says they're running a homebrew setting, a homebrew cosmology should be the default assumption, not a mildly subversive addendum.
Agreed with the bolded, though this is one case where you can very much have your cake and eat it too: from the players' perspective the homebrew cosmology is all they ever see, while from the DM's perspective it all sits on the underlying universal framework.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
At the time the PCs are able to do planar travel by themselves they can fully start to explore potentially hostile planes. Since it's only starting at level 13, the power to do so is extremely uncommon, and very few things are known of the other planes except general cosmogonic stuff... And If find that the campaign is over before I feel the need to introduce other material planes. The prime material plane of the PC is enough for many adventure, add a handful of plane to visit and you're at 20 quickly... (if the campaign doesn't peter out before like, apparently, most do). So basically, no, I have never used the multiverse, I have never felt the use for the multiverse and I feel few playing groups reach high level in order to make that a feasible activity.

On the other hand, the last campaigns our group had, all set in Eberron, had nods to each other. A PC bard from campaign one is a large pop star in campaign three, the main exhibit hall of Morgrave university is named in campaign five after a group that made a large donation in campaign two and so on. Informally, the players accepted that a million of alternates Eberrons popped in 998. My next campaign will probably let them investigate the Great World Fracture of 998 as the tier 4 act of the campaign, but I haven't really no idea how it will play out (since I don't want effective reality hoping, but probably involve something to do with Xoriat...
 

carmachu

Explorer
Plane hoping yes. Multiverse no.

Various planes have things to do. Places to go. People to see.

Other worlds? They have different contexts that don’t mesh well with home worlds.

going from FR or Mystara to Dragonlance world doesn’t mesh well
 

Rabbitbait

Adventurer
A friend and me designed two overlapping campaigns. His was in Mystera and mine in Greyhawk. The conceit was that the two worlds would collide - this started out through people and monsters getting swapped into the different worlds and climaxed with two major cities suddenly inhabiting the same space. This slowly built over a couple of years in the background of other campaign arcs.

The trick was that neither of us told our players that the two campaigns were related. The game ended with me DMing both groups, which terrified my friend's players as he allows plot armour and I don't.
 

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