D&D 5E My Cosmos and Spelljamming Final "?" Revision

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
I started D&D a long time ago when the genre smoothly mixed sci-fi and fantasy. So in my mind's eye, and my long running homebrew campaign, many of the planes from the D&D cosmos that were not "transitive" planes, were merely other worlds orbiting other suns in remote systems.

Magic was prevalent in some areas, and technology ruled in others. Some places were a mixture of both.

Heavens and Hells were merely worlds that were controlled, modified, and ruled by powerful entities (gods?). Minor powers likely had demiplanes adjacent to the world inhabited by their followers.

The cosmic lines of power would shift and change as stars and galaxies orbited in a great pattern. Causing the influence of various stars and planets (such as a fire world, or a divine world) to wax and wane on the campaign. Comets, etc.

So basically now that 5e Spelljammer is out, I am putting into words my "final" revision.

To wit;

The majority of campaign worlds are like our solar system, with vast amounts of airless space between the worlds and planets. Each system is considered a "plane of existence" for purposes of magic and spells.

Area with high magic may resemble the description of Wildspace from the new Spelljamming book, while lower magic areas would more resemble our own solar system. Many systems/planes would likely have a mix of areas.

Once you reach the "edge" of such an area/system you may see the faint shimmering glimmer of the astral boundary. It is a this point you may transition from space/wildspace to the Astral, allowing for travel at higher speeds to other areas or systems. You may also ignore the faint glimmer and continue onward into the darkness of the Void Between the Stars on a long and slow journey to other worlds/systems. (good luck on replenishing your air or avoiding death from old age) (and try to avoid the Great Old Ones)

In a sci-fi setting, astral conduits could be wormholes, and the transition to a higher state of being could be a form of hyperspace that allows faster travel, but less interaction with the actual Astral itself. (Unless you want the hyperspace from Warhammer40K.)

Some of the worlds out there could be as fantastical as you like, say an enormous water/vapor planet that works as a floating ocean, or a ringworld built of enormous trees by ancient elves.

Other "PLANES": The center of my "galaxy" is like the Elemental Chaos, worlds and asteroids and chunks of elemental energy and matter that are close enough together to have a mostly contiguous atmosphere. I put the City of Brass on a fire/lava/rock chunk near the center. Since these "elemental" worlds share an affinity, you can kinda world walk from one to the other, making them seem like an infinite elemental plane.

I use the Border Ethereal as a "Spirit World" and you can leave the border and get to either a shadowy reflection of the adjoining world, or a bright reflection (Faerie). I dump demi plane here also.

I have not figured out what to do with the "Dreamscape" plane, functionally it fits in the astral (thoughts etc) but spirits and dreams work together well, so it (or multiple dreamscapes) could exist in the border ethereal.

Considering dumping the Deep Ethereal. Maybe let the Astral (since thought and will are so important) be the conduit for high magic worlds or low magic worlds as it ebbs and flows. Astral Projection is almost like walking in the Border Ethereal, so maybe the "Ethereal" border is really the first stage/layer of the Astral.

BL:
Space is space, unless highly influenced by magic, then maybe similar to Wildspace.
Magic ebbs and flows across the cosmos, carried by the Ethereal (currently) or maybe Astral.
Worlds and Solar systems are treated as planes of existence.
Deep Space is the Void, and you "could" travel through it but probably don’t want to.
 

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SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
After a few days, more thoughts and a simpler way of expressing it occurred to me.

Space is like our space, except high magic areas called Wildspace.
Reach the edge of a system (plane) on board a ship with a helm, you can "see" the astral boundary and transition to it.
No helm, no visible boundary, keep on sailing into the darkness.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
I've written something similar, but in my system there's no set astral boundary. Instead, if your ship reaches a certain speed, you drop into the Astral Sea, which functions like a magical Hyperspace or something. You have to spend a long time accelerating to get going that fast though, so it doesn't make a mechanical difference in game.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
I've written something similar, but in my system there's no set astral boundary. Instead, if your ship reaches a certain speed, you drop into the Astral Sea, which functions like a magical Hyperspace or something. You have to spend a long time accelerating to get going that fast though, so it doesn't make a mechanical difference in game.
That's kinda neat. Seems to allow for a faster type of ship (villians of course) to pop into hyperspace sooner/closer to planets.

A plot hook indeed.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Your approach seems to work.

In my setting, I only take the core elements of Spelljamming and leave the rest of it out.

In my setting, the Prime Material Plane was created as the byproduct of 85,000 years of Immortal Tiamat and Bahamut battling each other constantly. The majority of the 'land space' in the Prime exists on one Dyson Sphere like planet at the core of the universe that is roughly 12 times the size of earth. There are more planets out there in space, but they are generally small and ignored by most as they are not ripe with resources, generally. Spelljamming vessels can be used to travel through space, but it is time consuming (taking years to travel to a planet). Those that are visited are usually visited via teleportation, or utilizing planar travel tricks.

Most Spelljamming is done within the skies of the planet (or across the open space of the inside of the planet's Dyson Sphere like Underdark), or in the Astral Plane. Often, the fastest way to move a large amount of cargo across a world 12 times the size of Earth is to take it through a gate to the Astral, load it on a Spelljammer, take it to another gate on that plane, and then move it back into the Prime elsewhere. In fact, a fairly common but expensive magic item is a 'Ship in a Bottle' that stores Spelljamming Vessels in a bottle sized container that can be summoned or hidden away about once a week. This allows a Captain to take his vessel through medium creature sized gates and reconstruct it on the other side to continue their traveks (after a week delay).

This may take a 700 day sea journey down to a few weeks. This is often the most cost effective route to transport massive amounts of cargo (or people). Teleportation of massive amounts of cargo is possible, although weight limitations make it time consuming and risky. However, runners that move things through Transport Via Plant, etc... do exist.

I also have a combined Elemental Plane where there are patches of fire, earth, air and water (and para-elemental and quasi-elemental borders). Spelljammers are often used by Dwarven Miners to navigate the air pockets on this plane.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The material plane models reallife, with vacuum of space, starts lightyears away, and so on.

• Astral plane = thought
• Ethereal plane = force

Gravitational force is an aspect of the ethereal plane. In my campaigns, the mistiness of the ethereal plane is the faintly visible of gravity.

Wildspace is part of the astral plane and is made out of thought. Wildspace is like a virtual reality overlay, where computer models reconstruct the information of the material world and populate it with digital creatures.

The difference between astral and ethereal is, astral is pure nonphysical thought. By contrast, ethereal is physical, but immaterial. Compare how gravity is an actual physical force, even tho it has no mass, no matter.

Ethereal creatures are like constructs made out of force fields. The force of these creatures is normally faint, but can become strong enough to interact with material objects, like a poltergeist can. Ethereal creatures perceive and interact with each other normally, analogous to how material creatures do. To "see into the ethereal plane" means to be able to visually perceive force.

The border ethereal borders the material plane. However the deep ethereal borders the astral plane. Ether bridges between the astral and the material.

In this way, it is possible for astral thought to physicalize into ethereal force, thus engage the material plane as a virtual body of force. Sometimes the force construct can materialize into substance.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
I also have a combined Elemental Plane where there are patches of fire, earth, air and water (and para-elemental and quasi-elemental borders). Spelljammers are often used by Dwarven Miners to navigate the air pockets on this plane.
This is a good mix. Might have to look at this closer and keep the ethereal.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
For simplicity's sake, and so as not to overwhelm my players with an infodump, I like to consolidate the planes. In my current world, the Astral and Ethereal planes are the same thing, and everything else is just planets. The various heavens, hells, feywild, shadowfell, elemental planes, demiplanes, etc. can all be reached by portal or by spelljammer, as long as you know where to go.

The extra metaphysical theorizing is fun for me to write, but it's hard for me to effectively use at the table.
 

jgsugden

Legend
This is a good mix. Might have to look at this closer and keep the ethereal.
For me, the Ethereal is a Transitive plane between the Prime and the Far Realm, like the Shadowfell is a Transitive Plane between the Prime and the Negative Energy Plane.

When you enter the Ethereal you enter the Border Ethereal. Just as there are places of concentrated Shadow Magic in the Shadowfell (Ravenlost Domains), I have concentrated areas of Madness in the Ethereal Plane. These Domains are nightmare realms where some force, whether from the Far Realm or the Mortal Realms, has been contained. Some replay traumatic events, some embody psychosis, some are just weird.

There are places in the Border Ethereal that connect to the Deep Ethereal, but this is a dangerous place. When you're there you might fall into the Material Plane, the Shadowfell, the Feywild, the Border Ethereal ... or the Far Realm... and there is absolutely no way to ever come back from the Far Realm.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
For me, the Ethereal is a Transitive plane between the Prime and the Far Realm, like the Shadowfell is a Transitive Plane between the Prime and the Negative Energy Plane.

When you enter the Ethereal you enter the Border Ethereal. Just as there are places of concentrated Shadow Magic in the Shadowfell (Ravenlost Domains), I have concentrated areas of Madness in the Ethereal Plane. These Domains are nightmare realms where some force, whether from the Far Realm or the Mortal Realms, has been contained. Some replay traumatic events, some embody psychosis, some are just weird.

There are places in the Border Ethereal that connect to the Deep Ethereal, but this is a dangerous place. When you're there you might fall into the Material Plane, the Shadowfell, the Feywild, the Border Ethereal ... or the Far Realm... and there is absolutely no way to ever come back from the Far Realm.
Very interesting.
 


SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
Concerning theorizing about the cosmos.

Like much of my campaign world, its partly sandbox and partly story driven.

There's usually a framework of locations, groups, and individuals that "go about their business".

So having a working schematic of how the universe works in my head helps a whole lot when the adventures go big, or go planar.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
I don't want anybody to take my preference for simplicity at the table as threadcrapping. Before your game can get cosmic, you have to understand how your cosmos works. Even if the work that goes into explaining the cosmos doesn't see play at the table, a forum like this is the perfect place to post it.
 

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