paradox42's crazy cosmology


First Post
Others have been generous enough to share details of their campaigns and worlds, most notably (in recent days) Khisanth the Ancient; I in the meantime dribbled out bits and pieces of mine in conjunction with other things I was posting about. It's never been gathered together in one place, partly because some of these details would have been spoilers for my players (and I know that at least two have and possibly still do read this very forum).

Since, as recently noted, my game ended, there's no longer any such reason to keep things under wraps. So, I'm starting this thread to post my stuff in, over time, as I go to the trouble of typing it all in (most of it is either in my head, scribbled on paper, or even buried in stuff I made up on spur-of-the-moment to answer questions my players asked during a game session). Perhaps others will find it useful; if not, I'm confident most who come here will find something that's interesting at least.

A warning, before I begin any postings or musings: I've done a lot of reading over the years, and many of the concepts I employed in constructing my game setting are accordingly abstract and/or difficult for most people to understand. I'll do my best to explain them, but understand in advance that I employ concepts of hard, cutting-edge science and higher mathematics that rarely see light in most fantasy games. The higher-dimensional concepts I employ are frequently confusing to most whom I try explaining them to. That said, even when I made stuff up, I'm extremely detail-oriented in daily life, and was always careful to make sure everything fit with previously-given details or ideas unless I was deliberately "exposing" things I'd told my players in the past as lies/frauds/mistakes/ignorance. So the system as a whole fits together surprisingly well, given how much of a patchwork it actually is.

For this first post, I'll just mention that the name of this Reality- the name of the Demiurge of it, at any rate- was given in game as DABBATIALDABAOTH (always written by me in all-caps). That was understood to not be its full Truename, but rather just a tiny beginning part of it, intended as a sort of unique "nickname" that one could use to refer to it. My players, being as they were, rarely used either all caps or the full name, and often referred to it as "Dabb" or something similar when they didn't just say "the Demiurge."

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First Post
How the campaign ended

Since I know several were curious, I'll post below an explanation of what happened in the last session of the game. Quoting from the thread where I discussed the setup:

The game will feature one big combat with an army of gods arrayed against a foe that the PCs for once have no data on other than its appearance and the fact that it's originally from the Eternal Realm- their own probing of it last session caused the Egg it was growing within to "hatch" early, and it's extremely upset about that. It's possible, though probably not likely, that the Final Combat will take more than one session to resolve.

The reason they were so interested in the Egg was that they discovered that their Demiurge, their Reality, is actually supposed to have seven dimensions instead of just six- which has left a hole that among other things led Thought to go insane with a split personality in an apparent subconscious attempt to fill it. They've seen evidence that a Seventh First One whom they still have no clues about is due to arise soon, if they can make room for it, and that this rise is somehow tied in to the whole waking-Demiurge incident. Which is due to happen about 1 minute into the future, in game time, from the point they're at now (with the Egg having just shattered to release its irate Occupant). This all ties in with the Egg, because they got confirmation very recently that the Egg and its Occupant are somehow preventing the growth of the Demiurge in this seventh dimension, preventing the rise of the Seventh First One, and thereby preventing the Demiurge from growing properly and becoming an acceptable (and accepted) member of Eternal society.

In other words, they learned that the Demiurge's nasty nature is at least partly due to a sort of universe-level "birth defect" that resulted from being infested with this parasite in the Egg, which they have now released into the Reality they know. Their hope is that by killing it, or at least removing it, they can give the Demiurge the room and energy to grow that it's always lacked, and bring on the rise of the Seventh, which will eventually lead to a completion of the Demiurge's proper growth and a more benign Reality.

Juxtaposed with this event is the opening of the Final Gate, the portal to the higher dimensions (which they've long called "the Eternal Realm"), which was the original purpose behind a unique breed of spellcaster arising on my game world over 4000 years before the present game date- and the motivation for the civilization which first used this spellcasting to destroy itself in one spectacular ritual which caused the Plane of Shadow to expand from a demiplane into a full plane (as the effect that was commonly known about it, anyway).

The PCs now know that this type of spellcasting derives its power directly from the Demiurge itself, through "Sources" which are in fact avatars of the Demiurge constantly locked into a barely-balanced equilibrium in one lonely layer of the Far Realm, sort of like the three goddesses in Final Fantasy VI (for those who've played that game). The goal of the beings who discovered and first used these Sources was always to expand the Shadow Plane (which they call the Bridge Plane) in such a manner as to reach a special spot deep within the Far Realm, where they could complete a Ritual of Opening that would open a portal to That Which Is Beyond the Far Realm. They didn't understand precisely what that meant, just that being the explorers they were they wanted to go there; however, over the course of many years of playing and campaign time the PCs have learned that this Final Gate will actually lead to the Eternal Realm. Furthermore, the Ritual of Opening itself was originally devised apparently by Fate/Aditi herself, the First One most closely linked with the Prime Planes, and is nothing less than her attempt to create an escape hatch if the Demiurge should wake up and be impossible to placate or hold.

The Ritual of Opening, due to the timing on various planes and synchronization with the great Ring formed of braided cosmic string that's in the PCs' own universe, is due to complete and open the Final Gate at the same moment the Demiurge awakes; therefore the PCs have that great event set against their present predicament as well- and even with access to time travel effects they're feeling pressed for time. The hope is that once the Final Gate is open, they'll be able to get help from sympathetic Eternals on the other side who might be able to fix the problems- stop the Demiurge from destroying everything- that sort of thing.
Stats for the "parasite" are posted here.

Following the combat with the baby Brane Dragon (and the players did learn that name thanks to a couple party members with Psychometry), the party of 12 immediately teleported to the Ring, where they used the open portal to get to the Ritual a few (subjective) minutes before the Final Gate opened up. And open it did- once the Ritual was completed, the rock wall that had been its focus was replaced by a spherical portal leading to a locale that was brilliant white, dotted with black "stars-" the Eternal Realm.

From the other side of the open Gate stepped a Being unlike anything the PCs had ever seen before; I didn't give much description but said "if I said that it has a generally humanoid shape, and is more purple/dark blue/dark red than otherwise, it would not be completely inaccurate." The Being announced that it had come because its "CHILD" (this Being spoke in all-caps as well) was now free of the parasite. Its first action was to suggest (more to itself than anyone else) a "RESET" of the Reality. An NPC asked for the Being's name, which it gave as "MY NAME IS TOO LONG FOR YOU TO PROCESS. HOWEVER, IF YOU WISH TO USE AN ABBREVIATED VERSION OF IT, YOU MAY CALL ME SEPHIROSOPHIA." It then went on to explain that the "reset" it had just suggested would mean that "THE BASE REALITY IS BROUGHT BACK TO ITS INITIAL UNFORMED STATE, SO THAT IT CAN GROW AGAIN FROM THE BEGINNING."

This prospect, as expected, was rather unpalatable to the PCs- since it would mean that everything, including them, and everyone, except the proper Seven First Ones, would be in effect "deleted" so that the Seven could reshape the DABBATIALDABAOTH Reality over again as if there had never been a parasite. They toyed with the idea of fighting "SEPH" until one of them got Psychometry on the Being showing that it had 150,000 hit dice, each one a d1000, plus some ability giving it x10 hit points (for a grand total of 1.5 billion)- for starters. So instead, they argued with it.

And got SEPH to admit that there was another way. Even if the little events inside DABB were "TINY, AND TRITE," as SEPH said much later in the conversation, and thus essentially like the politics and lives of bacteria would be to us as Earth humans. SEPH realized, looking around, that the missing Seventh First One was in fact among the gathered entities at the Final Gate, only needing an infusion of power (for example, an infusion sheared off of SEPH's own seventh dimension) to grow to a level which would allow it to compete and prosper alongside the original Six. And of course, as SEPH noted this, it was looking squarely at the party of PCs.

So began the argument between interested players to decide which one of them would step into the place of the missing First One and assume the role, destined to become an integral and inseparable part of a properly growing and developing DABBATIALDABAOTH. It took some time to narrow down the candidates, even with the new wrinkle that was introduced next.

Because the Masters of that ancient race who had brought Urgic Magic to the homeworld of the PCs, who had first desired to cast the great Ritual of Opening and pass Beyond their Reality, now took their leave of said Reality by using the Gate they had finally succeeded in creating. One by one, they passed through and Transcended, presumably to one day become Eternals (like SEPH, and DABB) themselves. SEPHIROSOPHIA commented on their passing that "YOU ARE SMALL AND STUNTED, BUT YOU HAVE YOUR OWN STORIES TO TELL. THEY WOULD GROW AND BECOME IF YOU DIVORCE FROM DABBATIALDABAOTH."

This was the option that most PCs eventually took, when it was pointed out that this layer- being deep in the Far Realm- was truly outside any silly linear notion of time or causality. This single fact meant that this Final Gate was the only one that would ever touch this Reality, and that the entities gathered there to witness it were therefore the only ones out of all times and all spaces in all cosmologies (more on that in future posts in this thread) with the chance to Transcend.

In other words, I told the players, "count the number of versions of yourselves who are here. Those versions are the only versions of you who have this chance. As SEPHIROSOPHIA told you, you all have stories growing within you. Step through that Final Gate, the open Portal to the Eternal Realm, and those stories will grow and Become... real. They, and you, will Become Realities in their own right... but nothing other than SEPHIROSOPHIA is coming through the open Portal. If you leave, if you step through now, you will most assuredly never return to the places you once knew and loved. You will instead BECOME places you know and love, new places to be sure, but not the places you started from."

And so, the players made their choices, character by character. Being gods, they did have an option that mortals lack- namely, the option to leave an avatar behind if they Transcended, or to send an avatar through to Transcend in their place if they chose to stay. Several PCs took their real selves, and avatars along with, through the Final Gate to forever leave the DABBATIALDABAOTH Reality behind them. Most eventually chose to pass through the Final Gate themselves, but leave an avatar behind to watch over their religions and the places and people that had once been so important to them. In one character's case, he passed through the Final Gate, but given his personality, the avatar he'd meant to leave behind disobeyed after becoming its own creature and went through the Final Gate itself a few minutes later (this was all done by the player, and had nothing to do with any of the rest of us- we just laughed and agreed that it was exactly what the character could be expected to do). In the end, three PCs chose to stay behind in their real, original selves, while just sending avatars through the Final Gate to leave a mark on Eternity.

One of those three did it because she (the character; her player is actually male) was really a homebody at heart, personality-wise, and her player didn't think she'd be willing to leave her home behind forever even given the chance to make a new one. The other two stayed for an altogether more interesting reason- they were the last two who still wanted the position of Seventh First One even knowing that it would mean staying behind and giving up Transcendence. One of them made an excellent case for becoming a "Memory" First One, while the other argued that his character would make a First One of "Creation" and would be better. Neither one was willing to give it up, so I (through SEPHIROSOPHIA) resolved the conflict by commenting "BUT, YOU ARE THE SEVENTH. DO YOU NOT SEE IT? BOTH OF YOU ARE."

The (formerly) two characters agreed that this was a particularly elegant solution, and merged their characters into one greater being which then received the infusion of power from SEPH's own fully-grown Seventh dimension. This being, representing both Memory and Creation, needed to be its own concept, but in a moment of perfect accord, all players present (within half a minute of the question being posed) agreed that the necessary concept was in fact Evolution. I finished this up by describing it thusly: "Evolution begins the long, difficult task of fixing the connections between the other sorry Dimensions of this tired old Reality and breathing new life into them. Evolution is what COMPLETES them. Evolution is what lets them GROW and BECOME. Evolution is what will someday allow them to reach their full Potential."

And with that last task complete, the last of the entities desiring Transcendence passed through the Final Gate, and I described what happened next: "And DABBATIALDABAOTH, which awoke on all cosmoses simultaneously, hears the voice of its Parent SEPHIROSOPHIA lulling it back to sleep to heal and Become. And it does. The Age of Healing begins. In the Place of the Ritual, the few beings left behind who have not already made their choices disperse, most passing back through the Ring Portal into the central cosmos to begin new lives amid the subtly altered Reality. The Ring, no longer needed, frays and unbraids and falls apart, its power spinning away into the void and collapsing into formlessness. The great Portal it focused open collapses and closes. With it closes the Final Gate, the External Portal that is the one way to the Eternal Realm. The Silver Key, no longer needed here, is taken back into the Reality that created it- SEPHIROSOPHIA- and the body that that great Being sent through the Final Gate into your Reality is the last to pass through the closing Final Gate."

And that was essentially it, aside from giving the characters who Transcended a chance to each get an epilogue in their own new Realities- for example, one character (a War god) who was the last of his race was said to live in a new universe that was much like the old, except that the analogue of the homeworld which existed there had only one race on it (negative infinity points if you don't guess which race it was), and that race was constantly testing its might against the beings of neighboring worlds and planes.

Some of you are probably wondering what that Silver Key I just mentioned above might be- but that's better dealt with in a future post. :)
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First Post
Utterly awesome. Just letting you know I'll be reading every word, even if I don't find much to comment on. Sounds like it was a mind-blowing campaign.

And our settings couldn't be more different. :p Just goes to show how diverse and accomodating these rules are. From your ulta-sci-fi to my pantheistic high fantasy, and everything in between.

Speaking of which, your first post reminded me, I should really post some more of my stuff in my Khorvanis thread. Got sidetracked from that somehow.

Anyway, can't wait to read more, Paradox. Keep it coming! :)


First Post
On Cosmology

First things first: the multiverse I use is a sort of extended 1st-Edition setup, with hints from Planescape thrown in, and lots of embellishments I made myself starting back when 2nd Edition was just being hinted at in Dragon.

I used all the Paraelemental (Smoke, Magma, Ooze, and Ice/Cold) and Quasielemental (Positive: Mineral, Radiance, Lightning, Steam; Negative: Dust, Ash, Vacuum, Salt) planes, as well as the "standard six" that the 3E Manual of the Planes listed. I also threw in the Elemental Plane of Wood as a sort of "connector" that conceptually sits at the center of a sphere formed by the other Elemental Planes plus the Positive and Negative Energies; the sphere was also "completed" by new planes of my own imagining that act sort of like "Para-Quasi-Elemental" planes but which are all demiplanes rather than full planes in their own right (collectively, these 8 are called the "Demielemental Planes."). The Demielemental Planes are Radioactivity (combining Earth, Fire, and Positive), Plasma (Fire, Air, and Positive), Superconductivity (Air, Water, and Positive), Vapors (Water, Earth, and Positive), Explosives (Earth, Fire, and Negative), Embers/Stardust (Fire, Air, and Negative), Refrigerants (Air, Water, and Negative), and Powder/Evaporation (Water, Earth, and Negative). Finally, there is a secret plane that also sits at the heart of the sphere, but dimensionally in the opposite direction from Wood; this plane is secret because it has no connection to the Astral Plane (unlike every other plane of existence in 3.X) and can therefore only be reached from portals which exist in the four prime Elemental Planes and the two Energy Planes. This other central plane is simply titled the Elemental Plane of Matter, and is in most respects like an odd, lifeless (or perhaps nightmarishly, totally alive) copy of the Material Plane. Collectively, these are all named the Inner Planes.

This "Inner Sphere" exists conceptually in a sort of "soup" of the Ethereal Plane, which in my multiverse had the old concept of the Deep Ethereal for travel between planes; the Ethereal functionally connects the Inner Sphere to the Material Planes. And yes, that's plural; I posited that every D&D game world was its own Material Plane (unless two settings explicitly stated that they existed in the same world, like Maztica on the Forgotten Realms), and ignored any differences the official versions of the settings claimed for their cosmologies- where such differences existed, I would attribute them (if they ever came up in game) to mistakes made by explorers or disinformation campaigns by gods, demons, or other planar entities trying to stop mortals (for whatever reason) from learning what's "really out there." In effect, I posited no limit to the number of Material Planes in existence, though in practice no game could ever realistically concern itself with more than one or two unless you played something like a Stargate: D&D! using Wells of Many Worlds or the like. Every last Material Plane was assumed to be a universe in its own right, using more or less the standard laws of physics (given that this is a fantasy reality that is; more on my "standard physics" in a future post), so that each and every Material Plane was assumed to contain stars, planets, galaxies, and so on, unless otherwise specified. I did posit that the Spelljammer universe (filled with Phlogiston and endless Crystal Spheres containing star systems and other more exotic environments) existed somewhere in a Material Plane of its own, but I've never actually run a game in that Material Plane so I've never done much with the concept. Material Planes in my multiverse are all connected by the Plane of Shadow, which (as mentioned in the quote in my last post) was actually once a demiplane that got expanded by a ritual into a "Bridge Plane." The Plane of Shadow also eventually intersects the Far Realm, but more on that later. There is one new plane worth mentioning here, because it was the original opposite number for the Plane of Shadow: a demiplane called the Plane of Illumination.

The next layer out is the Astral Plane, which (though it is a Transitive Plane and therefore has very little to recommend an extended visit) actually does have a few demiplanes and oddballs that can't be reached from any other place. Examples of the latter include the Temporal Energy Plane, the Observatorium, Union (yes, I used both Union and Sigil in my multiverse- it actually worked rather well), and some more mysterious places that are usually distant from the "standard" planes and thus difficult to get to. Most of these are tiny demiplanes essentially existing only to house "planar edifices," which are mysterious constructs (most with unknown purpose) left behind by "whoever created the multiverse" ([sarcasm]gee, I'll bet all you IH users are wondering who that might be[/sarcasm]). More on planar edifices in a later post- though I will mention here that they played a major role in my campaigns within this multiverse.

Beyond this, in a fourth conceptual layer of this multiverse, lurk the Outer Planes, in my multiverse an extension of the traditional Great Wheel cosmology. The same structure of the basic Great Wheel exists, but as a young teen the fact that the Wheel was "unbalanced" never sat right with me. So I balanced it. This meant that whereas the basic Great Wheel, for example, calls for only two Twin Paradises (renamed Bytopia in Planescape- a name I always thought was stupid), my Great Wheel featured six of them- to balance out the fact that Tarterus (exactly opposite it- and renamed Carceri during the "politically correct renaming phase" of Planescape) had six layers. So, extending this to the rest of the Great Wheel, it's easy to determine that the new numbers of layers for each full plane look like this:

  • Arcadia: 4 layers.
  • Seven Heavens (Celestia): 666 layers. Yes, that's not a typo.
  • Twin Paradises (Bytopia): 6 layers.
  • Elysium: 4 layers (as standard).
  • Beastlands (Happy Hunting Grounds): 4 layers.
  • Olympus (Arborea): 9 layers.
  • Ysgard/Asgard: 4 layers.
  • Limbo: 1E had 5 layers, 2E reduced it to 1 (or more precisely said "how can you tell?"). For 3.X I kept it as 1 layer.
  • Pandemonium: 4 layers (standard).
  • Abyss: 666 layers (2E and official 3E both claimed it was actually infinite, but I stuck to the finite number given in 1st Edition).
  • Tarterus (Carceri): 6 layers (standard).
  • Hades: 4 layers.
  • Gehenna: 4 layers (standard).
  • Nine Hells: 9 layers (standard).
  • Acheron: 4 layers (standard).
  • Mechanus (Nirvana): 1E had 5 layers- I actually did make up four more layers to this place back then- but when 2E removed the need for them, and 3E kept it, I essentially discarded those other four layers for my 3.X Great Wheel. So, 1 layer.
And now comes an even more interesting thing, because I always figured that there should be two versions of True Neutral- the "passive" version that's best represented in the standard, official Outlands (Concordant Opposition to us 1E vets), and an "active" version which would seek to force Balance on anything that got near it. So, I created a "flip side" to the Outlands, which in the 3.X version of this multiverse has the Strongly True Neutral Aligned planar property. The Flip Side is centered not on an infinitely tall Spire, but rather on an infinitely deep Pit, and in a nod to Moorcock I placed a city at the edge of the Pit (a sort of "retirees' Sigil") named Tanelorn. Also, since Sigil (introduced in 2nd Edition's Planescape, of course) was supposed to be a ring floating "at the top of the Spire," I made changes to that idea to reconcile it with my multiverse. Since the Spire is infinitely tall, it has no top; therefore Sigil is not at the top of it but is instead "strung" along the Spire some thousand miles above the ground. This gave me an interesting opening which I gladly took for later expansion: the notion that if one Ring exists "strung" on the Spire, other such Rings might also exist. And so they do: it is assumed that an infinite number of Rings exist, strung out so far from each other that even if you could somehow get to the outside of one to look for the others, you wouldn't be able to spot them. The second Spire Ring (i.e. the next one you find if you go up from Sigil) is called the Crystal Library, and is home to Annam, one of the few known Elder Gods in my multiverse (more on Elder Deities in a future post).

Beyond even the Outer Planes exists a somewhat unformed region wherein time and space are no longer quite so structured, where sleeping minds come to play out their imaginings. This is the Region of Dreams, and it saw a lot of use in my games. It exists essentially as described in the 3E Manual of the Planes, except that it has several more or less static demiplanes suspended within the chaotic Dreamheart. For example, I include the Dreamlands (from H.P. Lovecraft's stories, most often associated in modern roleplaying circles with Call of Cthulhu) as one such demiplane- and in fact one of my PC parties traveled there during their low-Epic stage.

And beyond even the Region of Dreams... is a Realm of Nightmares. Of course, I used the Far Realm in my game. But the way I used it is decidedly nonstandard- and requires that I explain what I meant in my previous post by "cosmologies" (plural). That's the next post.

...And BTW Belzamus, "ultra-sci-fi" does not correctly describe my campaign setting- as I trust you're now beginning to see. ;)
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First Post
Wow, this is a very cool setting, really really awesome.

How much did your custom planes get used? The Demielemental Planes and the plane of Matter sound really interesting and I wondered if they were fleshed out at all?

I'm currently building my campaign setting and this thread is a gold mine for ideas and youve only done two posts, I'd love to see more.

Hi paradox42 matey! :)

Thanks for sharing. Interesting stuff, I'm still picking through it, but for now I have to ask...

...Urgic Magic? (as in Theurgic?)

Hi paradox42 matey! :)

Thanks for sharing. Interesting stuff, I'm still picking through it, but for now I have to ask...

...Urgic Magic? (as in Theurgic?)

Not to steal paradox42's thunder, but Urgic Magic refers to the magic derived from the Demiurge, via the "Sources" (originally six, and later, ten, due to in-game evens): Quintessence/Positive Energy, Entropy/Negative Energy, Energy/Natural Forces (gravity, etc), Material Substance, Animals, and Plants, Time, Space, Reason, and Passion. The last four were the new ones.

Undoubtedly, paradox42 will go into much more detail, but I hope that answers the question for now. (My character became the first and most powerful deity of this kind of magic, so I'm at least a little qualified to answer!)


First Post
Okay, detour.

How much did your custom planes get used? The Demielemental Planes and the plane of Matter sound really interesting and I wondered if they were fleshed out at all?
They were, yes, though the Demielemental Planes never actually saw use in my 3.X games. Never had plotlines requiring them I suppose. I will mention that some of the new energy types I came up with for 3.X were linked to Demielemental Planes- pretty obviously, Radioactivity was linked to Radiation, Plasma was linked to Plasma, and Refrigerants was linked to Gelid.

Embers/Stardust was given the "fantastic name" (by sages from less scientifically advanced worlds) of "Elemental Plane of Darkness," because its main trait is that it swallows light effects and generally impairs vision pretty badly. In scientific terms, think interstellar dust cloud and you've more or less got it.

Now, Explosives looks sort of like an analogue of the Material Plane, but any use of Fire effects there is pretty much guaranteed to be a Bad Idea since everything is, well, explosive. Any Fire or Plasma effect used there is both Widened and Maximized; any Electricity, Sonic, Particle, or Radiation effect used there is both Widened and Admixed with Fire (and of course, the Fire part is Maximized). Plus, in certain places, causing explosions has a tendency to spread and create more explosions... really, Very Bad Idea.

Both Vapors and Powder were intended to be places where one could go to get unique poisons, drugs, and other such interesting chemicals. Conceptually, you'd be able to find any sort of potion, drug, or poison you'd like (though in Powder, you'd have to add water first to make it work), and in Vapors particularly you'd get hit with random effects every so often just from moving through the right (or wrong) cloud.

Superconductivity was basically just Cold-Dominant and Lightning-Dominant simultaneously, in 3E Manual of the Planes terms; not much more one can say about it really (though I toyed with the idea of making Levitation and Fly effects used there have extended durations or possibly become Permanent while on-plane).

Matter had the alternate name of "the Macrocosm," and was originally something I put in to explain an offhand reference made in one 2E monster book to a place of origin for a weird monster called the Chososion. It's from the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III, if you want to Google it or something. Basically, Matter was intended to be a sort of "phantom" of the Material Plane that barely touched the multiverse proper, and had weird properties making a visit rather undesirable. When I revised my cosmology for 3rd Edition, I mostly forgot about the place, until the IH came along and postulated the existence of the Matter First One as the ultimate Evil. That gave the plane a new lease on life, and suddenly gave me a perfect hook to hang it off of (plus bring it into plotlines involving my divine characters). So yes, it saw use in my game.

Not to steal paradox42's thunder, but Urgic Magic refers to the magic derived from the Demiurge, via the "Sources" (originally six, and later, ten, due to in-game evens): Quintessence/Positive Energy, Entropy/Negative Energy, Energy/Natural Forces (gravity, etc), Material Substance, Animals, and Plants, Time, Space, Reason, and Passion. The last four were the new ones.

Undoubtedly, paradox42 will go into much more detail, but I hope that answers the question for now. (My character became the first and most powerful deity of this kind of magic, so I'm at least a little qualified to answer!)

There really isn't much need to delve into Urgic Magic, actually, beyond noting that it's a form of Arcane magic, but the spell lists happen by Source rather than school, and spells from any spell list (even psionics) are fair game to show up on Urgic Magic Source lists. For example, the "Positive" Source (Quintessence/Creation) has all the Cure Wounds spells on it, so casters using that Source were able to heal almost as effectively as Clerics. There were also unique feats designed for use by Urgic Magic casters, particularly in allowing them to "infuse" spells with extra Source energy for unique effects (for example, the Animal Source could be used to create Living Spells- the monster from Eberron).

I have little doubt that anybody here can get plenty of ideas from the above on their own if they want to add something like Urgic Magic to their own games. It was a unique feature of my setting, yes, but not one I see as especially noteworthy aside from its origin (i.e. the Demiurge). Alternate caster types exist in many game settings; the 3.5 DMG even has a section devoted to showing you how to make up your own new caster class (with a spell list given for a hypothetical "Witch" class).


First Post
On CosmologIES

So, to explain the importance of the Far Realm- and where I deviate from standard (not that there is much standard with regard to the Far Realm- but... [shrug]), I should delve back into some history here. Specifically, the history of how I came up with the concepts involved here, in the first place.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I had my own rules for dealing with beings above mere deities long before 3rd Edition even existed. In fact, I first started coming up with them after I got the original "gold box" Immortals Rules for original D&D, which was the original "play a PC god" rules set, and came to the note explaining how to become an "Old One" (meaning, the beings who created the multiverse and were greater than gods). The book said, and I quote,

DM's Guide to Immortals said:
This set does not attempt to fully describe the Old Ones. ... And no future volume will provide details on the Old Ones, for their powers transcend the framework of any mere game. To reduce them to game terms would trivialize their power...
My immediate reaction to reading that was "Bull****!" Nuts to that, I thought. I want to know what these guys can do. So if TSR won't tell me, I'll figure it out for myself! And so I did. I worked out rules for how an "Immortal" (i.e. god) could transcend Immortality itself to become an Old One, and what the society of the Old Ones looked like.

But here there was a problem. The Immortals set tied the society of the Immortals in with the structure of the multiverse itself, in many important ways, and neither one could really exist without the other. Therefore, I reasoned, to know what the Old Ones are like, I have to know what they live in. And since the Immortals set stated point-blank that the Old Ones retreated into "higher dimensions" after sealing off the multiverse with the "dimensional Barrier," that meant I needed to figure out what was beyond the multiverse.

The scheme I came up with was pretty childishly simple by my present-day standards, but I was pretty proud of it at the time. I decided that there would be a "Voidsphere" that was essentially vacuum, containing two "Opposers" for the two energies (Positive and Negative- essentially these were extramultiversal Energy Planes) and the multiverse drifting in the vacuum between the Opposers. "But wait," it then occurred to me, "if this multiverse thing is an experiment of the Old Ones to see if they can make more of themselves, why wouldn't they make more of them?" And so, the idea was born that there would be multiple multiverses, all floating in this Voidsphere between the Opposers. Sometime later I decided that it would be cool if they were arranged in a structure, with some of them being closer to one Opposer than the other, with the effect that this would change the properties of those multiverses somehow. The arrangement I settled on was a sort of octahedral grid (that is, the shape of a d8) with 19 total multiverses, with one at each vertex, one for each of the edges, and one last one sitting in the middle- you could also think of them as one closest to the Positive Opposer, a square of four underneath that one, then a 3 x 3 grid of 9 beneath that, then another square of 4 below that, and finally one closest to the Negative. Beyond the Voidsphere would be " the Chaos" that the Old Ones hadn't imposed their will upon.

Finally, and this was important later, I decided that the Old Ones were not totally sealed off behind the Barrier- some of them remained behind, in their multiverse experiments, watching the inhabitants and occasionally tweaking things to their satisfaction. These would usually be the youngest and least powerful ones, being given a "crap task" by their elders and betters. Those elders and betters busied themselves with running things from on high, like managers and executives, except for the few who were "evil" and just wanted to destroy everything for no apparent reason. And the Immortals set gave me another quote to expand off of, in thinking about all this, the last sentence of the section explaining the Old Ones' scheme- implying that the Old Ones themselves are being watched over by a being even greater than them. So I made up still more rules to detail the ones (I called them "Originals") who had set up this whole thing with the Chaos, and the Voidsphere, and the Opposers, before the Old Ones came in and made their little multiverses to play with.

Fast forward about 15 years now, to when I was making a serious effort to translate my old setting into 3rd Edition. I had incorporated Planescape into the old 1E stuff during my college years, and the 2nd Edition campaign I ran in it; I'd also done a lot of reading of D&D novels such as the Avatar Trilogy (where Ao comes into the picture). By this time I was already equating Ao with the Old Ones from my old never-used rules, and furthermore had written in backstory to my "home multiverse" setting to the effect that the machinations of "the only three Overgods left" were integral to the metaplot. So I had the outside-the-multiverse stuff percolating in the back of my mind, as I opened up the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes to see what I'd have to change to bring my old cosmos into line with the new era.

In the back of the book, they had an appendix containing variant planes you could use. One of those is the Far Realm. And when I read that, and saw the illustration of the then-nameless being in the midst of slimy vines, with slugs swimming by through what passes for air, I knew I wanted it in my game! But how? Where did it fit? And then, my old scheme of the extra multiverses came back to the foreground. I had never thought to describe what was in the Chaos, or why it was called that: it was just a sort of throwaway reference I made because it sounded cool. But now, with this Far Realm place, I realized in a flash that here was the description I had never thought to make! Here was what existed beyond all sane or structured realities! It was perfect.

And so, the Far Realm became something other than a plane to me- it became more like a sort of "Astral Plane for multiverses-" a "Transitive Plane" one uses to cross from one multiverse to another. Later still, after I discarded the idea of the Voidsphere as being unnecessary, the Far Realm became something else- more like bits of detritus that were left behind after the Overgods took what they wanted to form the structured multiverses. The Far Realm was insane because, quite literally, "sanity" was what the Old Ones took out of it in making the multiverses. So now, I had the idea that these other multiverses were off somewhere, floating in the Far Realm, along with the Opposers. Also, because the Far Realm was in fact Outside the multiverse, that could only mean that spells designed for travel within the multiverse could have no hope of getting you there- you had to use Epic magic to open a Far Realm portal. This in turn meant that I could safely let the idea lie there, since only Epic characters could be capable of trafficking with the Far Realm.

Fast forward again now... to my games approaching Epic levels. The Far Realm had played a prominent role in my games, from about 8th level on (when I ran one party of PCs through my own conversion of the classic 2E adventure The Gates of Firestorm Peak, which also happens to be where Bruce Cordell introduced the concept of the Far Realm into D&D in the first place), and the ongoing plot threads indicated strongly that it was going to assume an even bigger role during Epic. By this time I was also thinking seriously about PC godhood and what that would imply for the game. And conveniently, almost as if on cue, some guy using the handle Upper_Krust is getting ready to release a 3E-updated conversion of the Immortals rules, combined (it appeared at the time) with concepts from the Primal Order (which I had used during my 2nd Edition college campaign) and the recent 3rd Edition Deities & Demigods! So naturally, I took a keen interest in his doings.

And I can gloss over the history of that project, because most here reading this already know the relevant parts. Eventually, after long teasing us with hints, UK released the first early drafts of Ascension. And within those pages, I found not only a set of rules for godhood, but also a set of rules for Overgods and the beings who existed even above them! My long-sleeping ideas of Old Ones and Originals had a new lease on life, because I could now use the IH rules to give it to them. But as my Epic PCs climbed higher and higher up the ladder of levels, I began to recognize that my old scheme of the "octahedron of multiverses" and especially the two Opposers, made little to no sense when placed side-by-side with the IH Dimensions.

So one day, shortly after my second PC had ascended to divinity, I began to seriously thinhk about how to update that old scheme. I eventually took my inspiration from UK's suggestions that the Negative Energy Plane was somehow related closely to the Entropy Dimension. "Aha," I thought, "if this is the case, then I already have the Entropy Dimension in my greater cosmology- that's what the Negative Opposer is!" But, this left the problem of what it was that the Positive Opposer should be- not to mention, even if I associated the Positive with one of the other five First Ones, what then could I do about the other four? But here, my long education in higher math came to my rescue. In the process of dealing with the problem of the Opposers, I also noticed that for any scheme requiring six dimensions (First One or otherwise), it would be downright silly (if not impossible) for a set of objects like the multiverses to arrange themselves into a merely three-dimensional shape like the octahedron. Clearly that whole structural idea was outmoded and had to go.

It was by bringing the two problems together that I arrived at the solution, and I found it a most elegant and satisfying one: instead of merely two Opposers, I would instead have the six First Ones, and between them they would string whole cosmoses like pearls. Each First One would have one cosmos utterly dominated by that being, and there would be "edge" cosmoses connecting the "pure" ones to each other. Finally, in the middle of it all would be one lonely cosmos where no First one was particularly dominant, where all six would be represented more or less equally- and this central cosmos was of course the home of the PCs. This new scheme gave me what amounted to a six-dimensional pyramid, a 6-D analogue of a d4 in other words, and since it happens that that shape is the simplest geometrical construct you can create in six dimensions, I had a perfect reason ready for why the multiverses had assumed this rather obvious shape. I hit one snag when I realized (to my chagrin) that a pyramid in N dimensions always has one more vertex than the number of dimensions it exists within (for example, a d4 exists in three dimensions, but has 4 points), and this meant that I suddenly needed a seventh "pure" cosmos and First One: but my chagrin quickly evaporated when I realized that Thought is insane. The precise nature of Thought's insanity is, conveniently, not described in the IH, so I was free to interpret that it could be- for example- Multiple Personality Disorder. And so, Thought became the First One who explored the seventh point, and in the process spawned two minds both thinking they were the "real" Supreme Thought: Madness and Dream.

Since this post is already so long, I'll end it here and give concrete details of the (now 29) multiverses floating within the Far Realm, in my next post.
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First Post
The 30 cosmoi

I'm including the Far Realm in this list, because although it is not a cosmos in its own right, it IS best thought of as the parts of Reality that got "rejected" from the cosmoses (or "cosmoi" if you prefer that pluralization) proper.

The basic idea I went with, here, was that the First Ones- as the first real intelligences in this Reality- spent their time traveling the unformed Chaos until each of them found Perfection. That Perfection, of course, was different for each of them, since they were radically different beings with radically different perspectives and powers. Once each First One found Perfection, it tended to gather more concepts and objects to add to it, until each Perfection grew into an entire universe- and then multiverse- a cosmos in its own right. Each of these cosmoi is assumed to be at least as "large" or extensive as the "central cosmos," which was described above in the "On Cosmology" post; the fact that most of them are far more homogeneous than the central cosmos is irrelevant.

Once the "pure" and "perfect" cosmoi were formed, the story goes, the First Ones gradually began to notice movement in the Chaos that existed beyond the Perfection- and then followed that movement to discover The Others. When the First Ones discovered each other, their discoveries precipitated "link cosmoi" along paths between their original "perfect" cosmoi- the idea being that the links were results of attempts by the First Ones to understand each other and each other's perfect homes.

In the middle of all this activity, unnoticed by the First Ones and their servants and creations at first, a new cosmos started to form amid the cast-off debris. Under nobody's control and formed by no conscious mind they were aware of, this central cosmos nevertheless assumed a reality and structure that was clearly just as real as anything in the cosmoi the First Ones had a direct hand in- and thus it presented a mystery to them. Furthermore, it presented a place for them to all interact simultaneously, instead of one-on-one as the "link cosmoi" did. This is how the central cosmos detailed in the above post formed.

After that, the cosmoi beyond the central one formed a sort of "cage" in the Far Realm surrounding it. It was this structure that the Shades- the mortal race who first discovered and used Urgic Magic- noticed, when they breached the Far Realm, and resolved to break out of. This is what led them to hatch the Plan for the Bridge Plane, the Ritual of Opening and the Final Gate, which formed such a large part of my campaign's plot. One has to admit, on reflection, that any structure so large embedded in what should be a domain of ultimate Chaos and Madness would be noticed and reflected upon (if not actively studied).

So, that said, let's do the list. In advance, I will explain that I'm doing this based on the ordering of First Ones from most to least powerful: Entropy, Thought (split into Madness and Dream), Spirit, Matter, Time, and Fate. The Seventh First One that my PCs became at the end of the campaign doesn't count here, because this is a description of the Reality that they had to deal with. It was assumed that Evolution would eventually create its own cosmoi, as well as creating new planes/regions in the central cosmos. The list is as follows:

  • (0) The Far Realm: This is best thought of as the cast-off concepts, ideas, and objects that none of the First Ones found necessary for their own visions of Perfection, nor were incorporated into the creation of the central cosmos. The Far Realm is without Time or Space in any meaningful sense: once you enter it, it is possible to leave in any time, in any place, in any cosmos- if you can only find (or create) a portal leading to exactly where and when you want to go. Out (Un)there, it is just as possible to meet one's own distant descendants as it is to meet creatures that went extinct on one's homeworld tens of millions of years ago. It is also possible (in fact, much much more likely) to meet Things that have no evolutionary (or other) connection to your homeworld or its physical laws at all.
  • (1) The Central Cosmos: This is the "expanded Great Wheel" that I somewhat detailed in my previous post. Little more need be said about it here, except that it is the only cosmos that was not created explicitly by the attention and actions of any First One. In many ways, this cosmos can be thought of as the "real" prison of the Demiurge- my players certainly did, when they learned about the Cage and started to realize What was waking up. :)
  • (2) Entropy: This cosmos is best thought of as the Negative Energy Plane writ large. Every plane in it is Negative-Dominant, and several of them even have a trait that's even more intense than the Strongly Negative Dominant one. Few things with any substance survive here for long; instead, it is populated by spiritual predators constantly looking for any life-force they can grab/consume. Creatures "made" of pure Void or Vacuum, such as the original form of the Elder Evil Pandorym, would fit quite well here (in fact, in my own game the entity Pandorym was explicitly stated as having been called from the Pure-Entropy cosmos). For some reason, my players never wanted to visit this one directly, but if they had, I would have drawn inspiration from the "dark" cosmos that the Valisk habitat ends up in in Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy. As with all cosmoi beyond the Far Realm and Center, this cosmos has permanent portals to its linked cosmoi.
  • (3) Entropy-Madness: This cosmos actually saw use in my games as a disposal location. The concept with this place is that physical laws themselves are constantly under attack and changing: nothing stays constant for longer than a nanosecond. It is actively corrosive to anything from another structured existence which enters it, breaking that thing down into its fundamental particles and then refitting those fundamental particles into new organizational schema or modes of interaction that bear little to no resemblance to their original physical laws. This cosmos was directly inspired by descriptions of the "novo-vacuum" in Greg Egan's novel Schild's Ladder. Even in the midst of these constantly changing laws of physics, though, this cosmos still manages to keep its two permanent portals to Pure-Entropy and Pure-Madness.
  • (4) Entropy-Dream: This cosmos was never actually looked-at by my PCs, even in passing or investigation. Conceptually, it would be a place of endless Nightmares, a reality that's actively hostile to anything sentient that dares to live within. The best literary comparison I could probably make here would be the Labyrinth that the Patryns are imprisoned in, in Weis & Hickman's Death Gate Cycle. Basically, reality itself changes its laws and configuration so as to be against you, at every turn. Anything from this cosmos that actually managed to get outside would be incredibly dangerous to anything it met. This cosmos has permanent portals to Pure-Entropy and Pure-Dream; the Dream side is watched constantly by the inhabitants on the other side, while the Entropy side is simply a common gathering spot for hungry predators looking for the next unfortunate material morsel to come through.
  • (5) Entropy-Spirit: This cosmos is essentially a "ribbon" of planes in no particular order, which are a constant battleground between Angels and "Demons" (which are actually properly termed Qlippoth, in UK's semantics). The line between Good and Evil, Death and Life, is very explicit and unmistakable in this cosmos, and planes near the center of it are constantly being fought over by both sides. This cosmos has permanent portals to "Heaven" (the Spirit cosmos) and "Hell" (the Entropy cosmos) that are well known by planar scholars native to it.
  • (6) Entropy-Matter: This is also a "battleground" cosmos like the Entropy-Spirit one, but in this case the conflict is between Elementals and Qlippoth. The Qlippoth of this cosmos are essentially "negative" versions of the Elementals; for example, there are Earth Qlippoth, Water Qlippoth, and so on. Qlippoth of this cosmos are best thought of as variant Unelementals (from the Epic Bestiary) that happen to have Elemental Creature templates added to them. Sentience is rare in this cosmos, and generally anything from outside it that does have self-awareness slowly begins to lose its ability to think as time goes by. This cosmos is made up entirely of Elemental planes and their negative counterparts, as well as a single Ethereal-esque transitive plane connecting them; the permanent portals to Matter and Entropy are both located within that plane.
  • (7) Entropy-Time: This cosmos is just a sea of chaotic non-physical space populated with "bubbles" which are universes corresponding mostly to standard laws of physics. In other words, it's Spelljammer writ (very) large, with the exceptions that "elements" are the atomic elements familiar to we Earth people rather than concepts or forces like Fire, Air, Water, or Wood. Also, dimensional travel does not exist in this cosmos, and the speed of light is an absolute limit- so getting around is quite slow by divine standards. Both the portal to Entropy and the one to Time are located in the "Phlogiston" between bubble-universes here.
  • (8) Entropy-Fate: Here I need to reveal the "gimmick" that I based Fate's cosmoi on: she experiments with different game systems. In this cosmos's case, the game system that dominates it is the World of Darkness, by White Wolf; here you will find Vampires, Werewolves, Magi, Changelings, Antediluvians, Black Spiral Dancers, Oracles, and all the rest. The only changes made to the White Wolf canon would be the permanent portals to Entropy (which the locals would probably think of as a portal to Hell, perhaps what the Nephandi for example draw power from) and Fate (which would be thought of as just a portal to another part of the Tellurian until one actually arrives and discovers how radically altered the laws of physics suddenly are).
  • (9) Madness: Distinguishing this cosmos from the Far Realm isn't easy, but it is possible by noticing that the Far Realm is mathematically random, whereas this cosmos is only apparently random. That is, those experiments run by statistics teachers wherein they have students write a "random" sequence on the board alongside a sequence created by a random-number generator, with their backs turned, and then they're able to tell which one was made by the students when they turn to look at them both, is writ large here. This cosmos, in other words, is what intelligence thinks is random, whereas the Far Realm is actually random. The difference would really only be noticeable to a statistician in most cases. Of course, this cosmos also has portals to the Madness-linked cosmoi, which the Far Realm proper does not.
  • (10) Madness-Dream: This is another cosmos that never got detailed during my game, but here I'll say that it was intended to be a sort of "benign Far Realm." It's filled with all kinds of weird stuff, at least to the eyes of non-natives, but it isn't actively corrosive to intellect nor is it particularly hostile environmentally to anything that enters it. Most inhabitants here are essentially generating their own planes around themselves, similar to the effects of being on Limbo but much larger in scale. This cosmos also, of course, has permanent portals to Madness (which the locals call "Unformed Potential") and Dream (which the locals call "Realized Potential").
  • (11) Madness-Spirit: The forces of nature in this cosmos are subtly altered from standard. Instead of either Nuclear force, this cosmos features a sort of "Alignment" force or "Judgement" force, and actual atoms are made up of fundamental alignment particles. Chemical reactions, such as Acid, don't work here- but creatures manage to exist anyway on reacting memes, philosophies, and ontological planets. If you think of this cosmos as a set of Outer Planes without anything else, you'll be pretty close to its actuality; this is a place dominated by Abstracts. The permanent portal to Madness is referred to as "The Unaligned" by locals, since nothing native to this cosmos can possibly be unaligned; the portal to Spirit is termed "Transcendence" (even though it really isn't).
  • (12) Madness-Matter: This cosmos is dominated by various Elemental Planes, but not the standard elements: rather, this cosmos contains planes which mix the Elements in every possible configuration, even including some that make little to no sense (such as "Airy Earth mixed with Water"). The fact that Elements which were not included in the formation of the Central Cosmos are included here, along with "atomic" Elements that make no sense in the fantasy paradigm (like Hydrogen and Helium), make this cosmos a very chaotic and dangerous place for outsiders to be. It has the usual permanent portals to its linked cosmoi, Matter and Madness.
  • (13) Madness-Time: The Madness-Time cosmos is a difficult one to explain, largely because it is best defined by what it is not. In particular, it is a place wherein laws of physics are absolute and inviolable, but those laws are not remotely what they appear to be- the best example I could draw from Earth is to point out how quantum mechanics, in its probabilistic-wave-statistical-sums way, "sums" to form what look like Newtonian physics. Magic doesn't work here, but you wouldn't know it from the crazy things advanced natives can do- if you think of this cosmos as a place to put Uber-Science that isn't magic but looks like it should be, then you're not far off. Of course, it has the usual portals to Madness and Time, but in this case the portals are explicitly studied by the locals and they know them well.
  • (14) Madness-Fate: This cosmos features another changed game system. In this case, the cosmos's game system is Toon. Yes, this cosmos is the home of the cartoon roleplaying game! It has permanent, un-erasable portals to Fate and Madness, of course.
  • (15) Dream: The Pure-Dream cosmos is a series of planes held like bubbles within some far vaster remake of the Region of Dreams; sentient inhabitants of these planes are few but are extremely powerful where they do appear. Every last human-analogue, for example, has a Power Ring which gives him or her the ability to Alter Reality as that Cosmic Ability. This cosmos is inspired mostly by Moorcock's "Dancers at the End of Time" stories.
  • (16) Dream-Spirit: Compared with the Central cosmos, this one is quite benign, featuring almost the standard laws of physics in its makeup even though there are no Material or Elemental Planes here. Instead, this cosmos essentially features every alignment combination given an infinite number of layers to express itself: the Spirit side is represented in the importance of alignment, while the Dream side shows itself in the infinite manifestations of each alignment. Many planes and layers here would seem virtually identical to Central Cosmos natives, to some they knew at home, but out in the greater vastness of this cosmos, glorious wonders (in the Good planes) put their own home to shame, and Indescribable Horrors (in the Evil planes) likewise exist to make a non-native glad to leave.
  • (17) Dream-Matter: Imagine an Elemental Plane of Earth. Next to that, imagine an Elemental Plane of Minerals. Now imagine an Elemental Plane of Diamond. Next, picture an Elemental Plane of Gold. Now throw on an Elemental Plane of Soy Sauce. Then Ice Cream. Then Blood. Continue this exercise with every concept you can think of, and then wrap them all up in their own Astral/Ethereal Transitive plane, and you have some idea what Dream-Matter looks like.
  • (18) Dream-Time: This cosmos is best thought of by noting the fact that modern-day scientists working in String Theory (or more specifically M-Theory) believe that the number of possible ways to resolve the formulation of their theory's fundamentals to derive a set of self-consistent laws of physics, might be as large as 10^500. Of course, our universe can only be one of those incredible number of possibilities, but what happens to the rest? Well, in my Reality, the "unrealized" possibilities exist here- alongside copies of the "realized" ones. In other words, this cosmos is a series of universes stacked together like bubbles in a soap solution, each and every one of which has a slightly different set of laws of physics. Every possible set of physical laws is explored in this cosmos, somewhere.
  • (19) Dream-Fate: The game system for this cosmos is Exalted. Little else need be said here.
  • (20) Spirit: The Pure-Spirit cosmos has no Gravity force; space exists in relation to one's closeness to "the White" and what passes for gravity pulls you down towards "the Black." Instead of the gravity force, an Alignment/Judgement force exists instead, with the ultimate Source and Arbiter of that force being the White, which is Metatron's manifestation here. A sort of "island" of eternally-growing earth exists at the conceptual "top" of this cosmos, the closest solid land to Metatron; chips of mud are constantly forming on the bottom of this island and flaking off to fall through tens of billions of (effective) light-years to the Black far below. I took inspiration for this cosmos from the "Kaqxachle Metaplane" in the Primal Order book "Chessboards: Planes of Possibility." Since this is a long-out-of-print product, I'm sure not many reading this post will have it available to examine, but the above text should give you enough of an idea to go on provided you keep in mind the fact that the "chips" that fall through this cosmos are considered its individual "planes," and many of them are continent-sized.
  • (21) Spirit-Matter: This cosmos is utterly dominated by supernatural forces- no explicitly natural forces can actually work here. In other words, magic and psionics are fine and dandy, but technology and any (Ex) abilities just plain fail to work. In planar terms, picture an Astral sea with Elemental planes on one side and Outer/Aligned planes on the other, and you've more or less got it; the politics of this plane are consumed by the eternal war between Spirits (i.e. Outsiders, specifically Angels Fiends, and the like) and Genies (including Elementals and Elementars). In this cosmos, it is not at all unusual to see angels and devils team up to take down an elemental, nor to see opposed elementals such as Earth and Air team up to take down an angel or other Spirit.
  • (22) Spirit-Time: This place is an entire cosmos devoted to Order; every particle within it carries meaning somehow. Galaxies here are not spiral shapes, but instead form perfect spheres, cylinders, octahedra, and other geometric forms. Everything is under control. It essentially acts as an enormous computer, running programs to answer the Big Questions- i.e., What is the Creator, What is the Meaning of Life, What is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and Why is its Answer 42? That sort of thing. Any entry into this cosmos would be noticed almost immediately because of the disruption it introduces into the flow of information and perfect computation. Natives, those that outsiders would consider sentient anyway, are by and large absurdly intelligent- far more so than natives of just about any other cosmos- and also very rare in terms of cosmic space they occupy. The majority of life-forms here are subsentient creatures that help preserve the cosmic order and carry out calculations based on it, and hives are by far the most common social structure.
  • (23) Spirit-Fate: This cosmos is made up of several sub-multiverses, each one dominated by/running its own game system. The feature that all the game systems here have in common is that they fundamentally include some conflict between a Good force and a Bad one. So, you'll find Star Wars here, along with Middle-Earth/MERP, Scion, and many others.
  • (24) Matter: The pure-Matter cosmos is (unsurprisingly) dominated by Elemental Planes. However, all these planes are connected to one central Matter Plane, wherein all Elements are represented in some form, and wherein battles between the various Elements constantly occur as they jockey for dominance over one another. Not only will you find every Element you can name here, such as Earth, Fire, Metal, and Wood; you'll also find many Elements here that you can't name, such as "???" and "Snow of Yesterday." These alternate Elements otherwise exist only in "Pseudoelemental Layers" of the deep Far Realm.
  • (25) Matter-Time: In this cosmos, Elemental Planes exist apart from anything like alignment or judgement- no alignment-based powers will work here. That said, the Elements themselves each come in several versions, which relate to each other in an essentially Time-based manner- for example, one sequence is Sparks->Fire->Ash, while another is Crystal->Earth->Sand. Multiple Material Planes exist here, along with a single Astral space as a Transitive.
  • (26) Matter-Fate: The game system in this cosmos is d20 Modern. Different planes of existence essentially encapsulate different universes, such as one for Urban Arcana, another for Dark*Matter, yet another for a mecha-flavored campaign, and so on.
  • (27) Time: The Pure-Time cosmos is a fairly hostile one to most D&D parties, because its single defining feature is that nothing Supernatural works. At all. No spells. No Psionics. No teleportation (the speed of light is an absolute limit for both travel and communication). And so on. This cosmos really just looks like one giant universe, bearing a suspicious resemblance to the one we of Earth find ourselves within; if you want an excuse to send your D&D party to Earth for a while, this could be it. Just don't expect them to thank you for it.
  • (28) Time-Fate: This cosmos is dominated by game systems featuring few to no supernatural options, where the supernatural options which do exist are generally Dark/Evil and in general, Not Recommended. Call of Cthulhu/BRP is the flagship game to consider here, but several others (many of them horror genre, I'll admit) also fall in here.
  • (29) Fate: The Pure-Fate cosmos is a series of multiverses linked by the local Plane of Shadow to one another, all of them "running" one flavor or another of D&D. Here, you'll find the 1st Edition multiverse preserved in all its glory, with the 2nd Edition Planescape Great Wheel running right next door to it (in dimensional terms). Also present are alternate cosmologies for basic D&D worlds, such as Eberron and Forgotten Realms/Toril, as well as Athas, and yes, even 4th Edition (the Shadowfell forms that Edition's link to the rest). Even BECMI D&D is here, as are games which were largely derived from D&D back in the day, such as Gamma World.
There they are, all 29 cosmoi plus the Far Realm. Next post, I'll explain my system of divine (and higher) tiers, and where the differences are from IH standard.
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First Post

So, back during the era of 2nd Edition, I put together a scheme that used The Primal Order combined with my own notions of how the gods in my (central) cosmos fit together. Giving deities for my main Material world Spheres, for 2nd Edition Priest classes, and coming up with a specialty Priest class for each deity, took some time, but I found the world well-put-together and satisfying. The world's gods ended at the top, the three Greater Gods, all of whom were gods of Magic and thus meant to represent how important the power of Magic was in my world's history. I knew, though, that certain very old deities and greater powers existed in the wider multiverse, which were not yet truly powerful enough to be called "Overgods-" so I came up with a few ideas to describe those. More on those after I explain about Portfolios in the 3.X/IH edition of my setting.

Enter 3rd Edition. Now, instead of specialty priests, we had one Cleric class that gained special powers from the two Domains chosen at 1st level (and set forever thereafter). More distressingly, for translating my list of deities to 3E, was that each god was only supposed to have about 4 Domains! I found both of these situations intolerable, as so much character and uniqueness of the religions I'd made for the old edition would be lost. So I changed it. Noting that Clerics were among the more powerful classes, if not the single most powerful class, I tweaked it for my game setting to bring it more in line with the old Specialty Priests of 2nd Edition. In particular, it was clear that the only granted powers a Cleric got- beyond the basic class powers of Turn Undead, Channel Energy and spellcasting- came from the Domains. Well, in 2nd Edition, Specialty Priest classes were typically structured to give a series of increasingly powerful granted powers as the character gained levels. So, my 3E Clerics started the game with only one Domain instead of 2. But they gained another Domain at 5th level, bringing with it a new granted power and selection of spells. Then another at 10th level, and then 15th, and so on. This scheme dovetailed neatly with what I saw as the biggest shortcoming of the gods themselves under 3E- that their number of Domains was too few to be properly expressive of the god and its religion. So, I gave my gods a whole slew of Domains, each one having (typically) between 8 and 11 to offer their Clerics- though I kept the old Portfolios I'd given them during 2E and kept the concept of Portfolios separated from Domains. I'll also mention, before moving on, that the gods of my world were structured such that the "god type" (that is, Demi-, Lesser, Intermediate, or Greater) was easy to tell by the number of Portfolios each deity had; Demigods only had one, Lessers had two, Intermediates had three, and the three Greater Gods all had four (though since every one of them was a god of Magic, the real difference between them came from the other three each had).

Along came the IH, which was based in large part on the 3rd Edition Deities & Demigods and had no particular ties to 2nd Edition. Obviously, this structure of every single god having two Portfolios, and furthermore that Portfolios determined what Domains a deity could offer its Clerics, was at cross purposes to my carefully-worked-out scheme. The problem went on the back burner while my games ran through the upper levels into Epic, but when the PCs started going for godhood themselves, I obviously needed to think of a solution, and fast!

Thus came the concept of Primary and Secondary Portfolios. In this new scheme, a deity has two or more Primary Portfolios, which represent what the god "is" to mortals: that is, Bast (in my world, at least) is goddess of Pleasure, Cats, and Stealth. So, she has all three of those as Primary Portfolios. However, Bast also has many more Domains than those to grant her Clerics- these are her Secondary Portfolios. She's associated with the concepts those Portfolios represent, but she isn't (for example) "Goddess of Luck" or "Goddess of Trickery" the way she is "Goddess of Cats." For IH purposes, what this means is that a deity's full list of Portfolios (both Secondary and Primary) gives you the list of Domains that that deity's Clerics can access, but only the Primary Portfolios grant the deity the powers and weaknesses listed in the IH Portfolio chapter (or format, if your Portfolio doesn't happen to appear in Ascension proper).

When PCs started ascending, it was further decreed (since Demigods of my world were only supposed to have one Primary to fit the pantheon) that characters would get two Portfolios to start with, both of which would be Primary, but only one of the two would be associated with the god in mortals' eyes for religious purposes. Typically, the "religion Portfolio" would be the one the deity picked upon ascension, while the "universe-granted" one would be the one mortals ignored. One PC, for example, became the goddess of Catastrophe and Magic, but mortals ignored the (universe-granted) Magic side in favor of the Catastrophe side- since that was what the player had quested to become goddess of in the first place (also, the existing trio of Greater Gods of Magic would likely become miffed if some upstart Quasi-Deity started muscling in on their turf).

This left the question of how the existing gods got all the Portfolios (Primary and Secondary) that they offered their Clerics. Well, given that I already had all deities automatically offering their associated Alignment Domains, for example a CG god would have both Chaos and Good, it was obvious that the PC gods would automatically get those upon ascension as well- as Secondary Portfolios. But how to get the rest? This was when I took a new look at the idea of Portfolio quests: what happens in core Ascension, I thought to myself, if an existing deity goes on a Portfolio quest, even though he already has his two Portfolios? For my setting, I decided, this would be how deities acquire Secondary Portfolios- just fulfill the Portfolio quest condition, and you can take the Portfolio as Secondary if you want it. This left the question of how a deity acquired new Primary Portfolios when achieving higher tiers, since all of my Intermediates had three Primaries in my scheme, and Greater had four. Ascension gave me the solution, in the form of the Extra Portfolio Cosmic power. For my game its function was altered slightly such that a deity could use it in two ways: first, to convert an existing Secondary Portfolio of the deity's into a Primary, or second, to convert an existing Primary from a Single version to a Double version (it was decided that a Double Portfolio would count as taking up two "Portfolio slots" for balance reasons). Later on, after all players had ascended, a couple of my more power-gamer players noted that the number of Secondary Portfolios could quickly become a point of breaking the system if not managed somehow, so we added the last plank to this new Portfolio platform: a deity is only allowed to have X total Portfolios (both Primary and Secondary), where X = Divine Rank + 2. This had a convenient out for me as a DM, too, because I could now at-a-glance judge the relative power of two gods from my original pantheon who happened to be of the same tier- for example, Bast and Geb (god of Earth, Crops, and Mountains)- just by counting up the number of Domains each one offered.

This last point was particularly important, because, as I've discussed elsewhere, I went away from the simplified Ascension system of setting every deity of a given tier at the same number of Divine Ranks. It is, in other words, not the case that every Demigod of my setting has 6 DR; many have just 5. Likewise, a Lesser God might have 7 or 8. In fact, I decided that it might make a more satisfying divine game to have the number of DR a character had be something like a parallel system of levels: the number of QP you have would determine how many DR you had within a given tier, assuming you could meet the other requirements to gain that tier in the first place.

And so we come to my table of divinity: the list I made to show how many HD are required to gain a given divine tier and its associated Ascension template, as well as how many QP are required to attain a given DR. Where the table below differs from Ascension, in the number of DR a deity of a given tier actually has (for example, if a Demigod has only 5 DR instead of 6), one simply adjusts the appropriate numbers given in the template accordingly; thus, a 5-DR Demigod has exactly the powers given in Ascension for a 6-DR Demigod, except that he only gets 5 Divine Abilities, a +5 Divine bonus instead of +6, only +10 to each ability score instead of +12, and 5 Wishes per day instead of 6. Also, said 5-DR Demigod has a Level Adjustment of only +25, rather than +30 (each DR counts for a +5 LA). I don't have an HTML version of this table, unfortunately, but the text version is quite readable anyway, so I'll just copy and paste:

Disciple (DR 1): 5 HD, 10 QP.
Prophet (DR 2): 15 HD, 100 QP.
Hero-Deity (DR 3): 40 HD, 1000 QP.
Quasi-Deity (DR 4): 70 HD, 10,000 QP.
Demi-deity (DR 5): 100 HD, 60,000 QP.
Demi-deity (DR 6): 100 HD, 100,000 QP.
Lesser Deity (DR 7): 200 HD, 600,000 QP.
Lesser Deity (DR 8): 200 HD, 1,000,000 QP.
Lesser Deity (DR 9): 200 HD, 2,000,000 QP.
Lesser Deity (DR 10): 200 HD, 4,000,000 QP.
Lesser Deity (DR 11): 200 HD, 6,000,000 QP.
Lesser Deity (DR 12): 200 HD, 8,000,000 QP.
Intermediate Deity (DR 13): 300 HD, 10,000,000 QP.
Intermediate Deity (DR 14): 300 HD, 16,000,000 QP.
Intermediate Deity (DR 15): 300 HD, 28,000,000 QP.
Intermediate Deity (DR 16): 300 HD, 46,000,000 QP.
Intermediate Deity (DR 17): 300 HD, 64,000,000 QP.
Intermediate Deity (DR 18): 300 HD, 82,000,000 QP.
Greater Deity (19 DR): 400 HD, 100,000,000 QP.
Greater Deity (20 DR): 400 HD, 160,000,000 QP.
Greater Deity (21 DR): 400 HD, 280,000,000 QP.
Greater Deity (22 DR): 400 HD, 460,000,000 QP.
Greater Deity (23 DR): 400 HD, 640,000,000 QP.
Greater Deity (24 DR): 400 HD, 820,000,000 QP.

Left out of this, many readers will note, is the fact that my scheme features tiers of godhood above Greater God- though as you can see already, my Greater Gods can actually reach the DR level that core Ascension sets for Elder Ones. This post is long enough that I'm going to just explain about Elder Gods and Incarnations in the next post. It's just worth noting here, getting back to the issue of Primary Portfolios, that I had each divine tier mandating your maximum number of Primaries- Lesser and below are capped at 2 (with the further proviso noted above regarding the religions of Demigods), Intermediates can have 3, Greater can have 4. If you have a Double Portfolio (which means automatically that it's one of your Primaries), then it counts as two, so a Greater God with a Double Portfolio can only have two other Primaries, not three.

It is also worth noting, before I go on, that if a divine character gains a number of QP high enough to put him or her at a new tier (for example, a Lesser Goddess getting to 10 million or higher QP), but the character does not yet meet the Hit Die requirement of the next higher template, then that character is capped at the current tier until gaining the necessary number of HD. This actually happened a few times to divine PCs during my divine games. We gave PCs an out for this, though: because there's a convenient conversion factor between XP and GP for item crafting purposes (namely, that each XP is worth 5 GP), and also because in my RP behind-the-scenes explanation for what QP actually represent (more on that in the post on "standard physics"), there should be a way to convert QP to XP and vice versa- if you have an excess of either one. To convert QP to XP, you spend 1 QP and get 1 XP; to convert the other way, you spend 25 XP to get 1 QP. This was meant to partly bring in the fact that when you spend QP, you lose 90% of it- obviously when converting between QP and XP the factor is only 80%. But we went with it, and liked it.
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First Post
Elder Deities and Incarnations

So, now to discuss the two tiers of godhood that are greater than Greater, and yet less than Sidereals.

As discussed before, I had the notion during 2nd Edition that something above Greater Gods (but less than Overgods) must exist. This was because I had figured out even before 2nd Edition that, since gods were made of pure energy (as decreed, in fantasy terminology, in the BECMI Immortals Rules set), the beings beyond gods must be made of something else- something even more "fundamental." I'll save that for the physics post, but for this post it's worth noting in passing because it explains why I thought there had to be something in between. 2nd Edition had several racial deities for the races older than humanity, who were supposed to be even more powerful than the young gods of humankind (and elfkind, and dwarfkind... I could go on but won't). The prime example is Annam, the god who leads the Giant pantheon- one could also point a finger at Io, the ultimate god of Dragons, but I had already decided that Io and Ao were two names that looked too suspiciously similar to be coincidental (in other words, Io was an aspect of Ao, or vice versa, or both were actually avatars of a greater being "behind" them both- which would be an Overgod). The backstory of my multiverse at the time required that only three Overgods were left in any active capacity; one of those three was even (properly speaking) dead but still around secretly in avatar form. So, Annam could not be an Overgod. But he was clearly above mere Greater Deities too: so what the Hells was he, exactly?

This was the reasoning that led me to formulate the existence of Elder Deities. Annam was by no means the only one; I eventually slotted the Lady of Pain, the "original" Asmodeus, Cthulhu (who I desperately wanted at least peripherally involved in my cosmos because it could lead to such cool plots) and a few other similar beings into this category. The one thing they all seemed to have in common, besides their extreme power, was that all of them were extremely old, and all had few if any active worshippers left.

On top of this, I was reading (at the time) Piers Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality" series, and found its idea of beings who represented the Absolute Pinnacle of a given concept in the universe to be very engaging. A modern reading of the series makes it pretty clear that the Incarnations of those books are Greater Deities at best, but I wondered what a being who was (and gained special power from being) the true, Ultimate Pinnacle and Master of a particular concept within the entire multiverse might look like. So I added that idea in to the mix with Elder Deities.

Fast-forward to 3.X, with my PCs about to jump off the mortal coil onto the great ladder of divinity. Elder Gods had not played much of a role in my game, and Incarnations (in my 2E conception) would rarely if ever so much as reveal their existence to anybody below deity level, so I hadn't needed to revisit the concepts before now. I had Ascension, and I had my new scheme for tiers of godhood: so where did these two sub-Sidereal tiers fit, exactly?

The table:

Elder God (25 DR): 600 HD, 1,000,000,000 QP.
Elder God (26 DR): 600 HD, 1,300,000,000 QP.
Elder God (27 DR): 600 HD, 1,600,000,000 QP.
Elder God (28 DR): 600 HD, 2,200,000,000 QP.
Elder God (29 DR): 600 HD, 2,800,000,000 QP.
Elder God (30 DR): 600 HD, 3,700,000,000 QP.
Elder God (31 DR): 600 HD, 4,600,000,000 QP.
Elder God (32 DR): 600 HD, 5,500,000,000 QP.
Elder God (33 DR): 600 HD, 6,400,000,000 QP.
Elder God (34 DR): 600 HD, 7,300,000,000 QP.
Elder God (35 DR): 600 HD, 8,200,000,000 QP.
Elder God (36 DR): 600 HD, 9,100,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (37 DR): 800 HD, 10,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (38 DR): 800 HD, 13,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (39 DR): 800 HD, 16,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (40 DR): 800 HD, 22,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (41 DR): 800 HD, 28,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (42 DR): 800 HD, 37,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (43 DR): 800 HD, 46,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (44 DR): 800 HD, 55,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (45 DR): 800 HD, 64,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (46 DR): 800 HD, 73,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (47 DR): 800 HD, 82,000,000,000 QP.
Incarnation (48 DR): 800 HD, 91,000,000,000 QP.

That dividing line at the bottom is, of course, the line between god and Sidereal. Rather than go through long-winded explanations of how I arrived at what the IH-compatible version of these beings would be, I'll just explain the scheme as it was when my PCs started to have a serious chance at becoming Elders and Incarnations themselves.

Elder Deities are beings who have reached the pinnacle of Greater Godhood, and still found the cosmos wanting somehow. They want to go beyond it, explore past what their already-lofty powers allow them, and perhaps even Become something more. Elder Deities typically know that the Incarnations are out there, and may have even met one or two, and now have their sights set on becoming Incarnations (or something still greater) themselves. An Elder Deity begins to leave its mortal religion behind, no longer taking an active interest in the day-to-day affairs of its Clerics or flock on any given world; as a result, the mortals begin to gradually lose interest in the faith themselves- and the religions shrink to the point of dying out altogether. An Elder Deity has often learned of the existence of Overgods/Sidereals, and also has often learned of the possibility of Sidereal Ascension, and may be pursuing that in addition to (or instead of) Incarnationhood. Elder Deities can have up to six Primary Portfolios, but more often than not, at least one of the being's Portfolios is a Double, because that's the one the Elder is hoping to become the Incarnation of.

The Elder Deity template has never been fully statted out, but it's easy enough to just add on to Ascension: take Greater Deity, give it DR 50/Epic instead of 40, give them Maven + Omnicompetent (instead of just Maven), and finally, the most important part from a PC's perspective: give the Elder a bonus Cosmic Ability based on one Primary Portfolio. The Portfolio that the Elder chooses for this bonus Cosmic (and the being gets only one- never more than one) must be the Portfolio that the being intends to become Incarnation of, if he or she pursues that personal-growth goal; that is, once you pick your Cosmic at Elder Deity, you're locked in to going for Incarnation of that Portfolio later and can't change your mind. If the Portfolio you choose is only a Single, then you get the "Elder One" Cosmic Ability associated with the Single version of your chosen Portfolio; if you have the Double Portfolio, then you get either the Single Elder One or the Double Elder One ability- but not both.

Part of the reason this is so restrictive, I'll remark in passing, is that my game featured a "one esoteric" rule that says you're only allowed to get one esoteric ability for your present level of existence, ever, except for certain abilities of that next higher tier that don't count against the one-esoteric rule (example Cosmic Abilities from that list would be Cosmic Toughness, Cosmic Consciousness, and of course Extra Portfolio since deities in my setting are actually expected to take that one several times eventually). The bonus Cosmic granted to Elder Deities also doesn't count as your one esoteric, regardless of which ability it actually is, so it's enough to make any mere Greater Deity contemplating advancement salivate at the prospect.

Incarnations are something more different still. They're really almost an in-between state, twixt deity and Sidereal; the idea of an Incarnation is that in its chosen Portfolio, it is absolutely supreme within the multiverse. No other deity can match its power in the chosen field. And this is part of the requirement for reaching Incarnation in the first place: in addition to requiring the necessary QP and HD, before you can cross from DR 36 to 37, you need to meet a special Incarnation requirement. Put simply, Incarnations must have at least one Double Primary Portfolio, and the Double chosen is what they become Incarnations of. That chosen Portfolio must be one that the new Incarnation is the highest-DR deity in the cosmos of, or else the deity can't advance to Incarnation. The tongue-in-cheek example I gave my players is that (for example), if you want to become Incarnation of Cheese, then you have to have the Double Cheese Portfolio when you get the 800 HD and 37 DR for Incarnation, and there must not be any other deity in the cosmos who has 37 or more DR and the Cheese Portfolio. However, only Primary Portfolios count for that exclusivity clause- for instance, if a DR 40 Incarnation of Holes has the Cheese Portfolio as a Secondary, meaning that he can grant the Cheese Domain to Clerics but nothing else, then it doesn't count against you the new DR-37 Incarnation of Cheese. (Presumably that Incarnation of Holes prefers Swiss Cheese specifically.)

I also allowed an "out" for Incarnations of concepts that virtually require more than one individual, the prime example being Fate (which has, of course, three Incarnations of it).

An Incarnation of (X) is again based largely on the Greater Deity template, but gets DR 60/Epic, Maven + Omnicompetent, and has all four bonus Cosmic Abilities associated with the (X) Portfolio- both Single and Double. That is, the Incarnation gets both of the Elder One abilities, and both of the Old One abilities. Incarnations are allowed to have up to eight Primary Portfolios, among all their Secondaries, and that is the limit before Siderealhood.

Elder Deities and Incarnations are the only gods allowed to break the "Cosmic Ability" barrier in the Portfolios; all other Cosmics belong to Sidereals.

Next post, I'll explain my concept of physics within the realm of this game world; then I'll talk about Sidereals.
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First Post
Out of curiosity -- why did you raise the HD requirements so far (100 HD for Demigods, etc?)
My prime world- the one all of this cosmic stuff was meant to support- was always designed with Epic levels in mind. Even back in 2nd Edition, when 20th level was really the limit and there was virtually no support for anything higher (except in Dark Sun, which I gladly borrowed from), I had NPCs in the world's backstory and metaplot who were over 40th level. Part of this was holdovers from 1st Edition, but another part of it was just wanting the world to be- in some ways- over the top.

But gods, I reasoned, should always be extremely high-level compared with mortals, and ideally the real gods (i.e., not the merely "half" deities that Demigods were in every edition before 3E introduced the concept of "Quasi-Deities") should be so powerful that they're simply beyond mortal reach. That did not mean, as the 2nd Edition developers and authors stated, that gods should be statless and beyond the game rules; the fact that I agreed with their reason but arrived at an entirely different conclusion was really a manifestation of my extreme attention to detail (which is a quirk of my everyday personality). I wanted to be able to figure out what would happen when one god directly fought another, among other things- so I needed stats.

The specific numbers, I arrived at because I got the idea somewhere (and I no longer, honestly, remember where this came from) that an avatar should always have 1/4 the hit points/hit dice of the main being. Avatars for my deities, I reasoned, should be high enough that they impress normal mortals, but not so high that real heroes would find them unbeatable. 100 was therefore just a nice, round figure that I could apply to the lower-echelon deities (i.e. demigods) to get 25th-level avatars. It was then a fairly obvious extension to continue the process tier by tier, up to Greater.

The Elders and Incarnations never got hard stats or rules applied to them during 2E, aside from one sheet of paper I still have stashed in my copy of The Primal Order (the core book); that paper only mentions their characteristics related to Greater & below deities, and shows how big their power pool is by comparison with such beings. It doesn't deal with hit dice at all. When the IH came around, I arrived at the present stat requirements by again just extending the table in a seemingly-appropriate manner- but I'm sort of getting ahead of myself here, because (as I did mention in a post on the Nehaschimic Dragons thread) Sidereals have HD requirements too, and the Elders and Incarnations were given stats to fill that gap.

Glad you like it, though. Part of the reason I've been going into deep historical detail in these posts is to show where all of this stuff came from- it's been building for over 20 years in my head, in some form or another. And the whole plotline that I ended the campaign with, the appearance of the Eternal being who created the Reality the PCs know, coming in and finding it wanting, getting ready to reset, and then the PCs making a plea for their existence, was something I thought up way back when I first came up with the idea of and rules for "Originals." As I told my players afterward, it was lurking in my brain that long waiting to come out, and they finally gave it the chance to "live" in a real game.


First Post
The Grand(?) Unified Theory of Game-World Physics

So, over a week since my last post- apologies for that, my life's been rather busy lately. But tonight, having packed for my vacation starting tomorrow, I type this on my laptop before packing that away as well. Hopefully I'll be able to get a decent Net connection in Florida.

I did have other reasons for delaying this: one reason was that my last post got me thinking about that old Piers Anthony series again (Incarnations of Immortality, consisting of seven books in all), and went ahead and reread it through from the beginning. The other reason is that the physics I espoused within my game setting and universe is such a deeply ingrained part of my DM personality that it was difficult to pull it out for a semi-objective look that would be useful to other people. In other words, I couldn't really figure out where to begin or what to say.

It's best to remark upon the connections between my game world's physics and real-world modern physics, first, I think. So, I assumed within this game universe that String Theory/M-Theory is a close approximation. I won't detail that here, not just because the details are often confusing to people who don't do a lot of science reading, but also because whole books have been written on the topic that can explain it far better than I can. For connecting to what I'm about to detail here, my best recommendation is to read The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch- it's an excellent book that also happens to dovetail neatly with many of the concepts I used in my game.

Putting aside a detailed discussion of quantum mechanics and the deeper concepts involved with it, there are two prime areas wherein I extrapolated from modern Earth physics to create the "science" I always referred to in my games. Broadly speaking, the first is the concept of time and dimensionality I used, while the second is the existence and nature of a fifth fundamental force in the universe.

Time and dimensionality were extremely important in my game, both for the structure of the broad game plot, and for the existence and functioning of time travel magic and technology effects. Now, since my First Ones were not (strictly speaking) dimensions in the mathematical sense, I'll mention here at the outset that when I use the word "dimension" in this post, I'm using it strictly in the mathematical/scientific sense. Which is to say, one of a set of mutually orthogonal coordinates for positioning objects and events into a larger framework, and for measuring their extent.

With this idea in mind, the first concept to "get" is that time really is a dimension- there is nothing special about the past or future vs. the present. The best way to picture this is to consider a movie's real, physical existence. It isn't literally a picture whose components move and change- what it really is, is a set of still pictures arranged carefully in a sequence such that adjacent pictures differ only slightly from each other; when flashed rapidly enough onto a screen, the illusion of motion and time is created. The "present" visible on the screen while one is watching the movie is not by any means all of the movie that really exists- even when you reach the end credits, the opening titles still exist. They just exist on a different portion of the film reel, or on an entirely different reel that was projected earlier and then set aside. In this context, time is a dimension equivalent to space in exactly the same way. When one reaches a particular point in history, the past points which came before it do not disappear- they still exist elsewhere in the universe. So too, the fact that the PCs haven't experienced the future yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist- it does already exist elsewhere, they just don't (usually) have the ability to look across time to see it before they reach it. The fact that the "still frames" are entire three-dimensional universe-sized "slices" of the larger framework is irrelevant: the frames of the past, present, and future are all equally real and exist regardless of anything that happens in any of them. To borrow a helpful geek-culture reference, this idea is what Dr. Manhattan refers to near the end of Watchmen when he says "Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends."

But, and here is where it starts to get tricky for most people to picture, time is not the only dimension that exists beyond the three familiar spatial ones. The way I usually refer to this, to ease understanding, is by saying that "time has more than one dimension." Strictly speaking, that statement is meaningless, because "time" is merely the name given to the fourth dimension that exists beyond length, width, and depth. The fifth dimension is usually named (by me) "possibility," though one could also call it "luck" or "fate." In effect, this fifth dimension is where the concept commonly known as "parallel universes" lives. That term, parallel universe, is also meaningless the way my statement about time being multidimensional is- and for much the same reason- because it implies a separation between universes where none truly exists. But to relate it best to the familiar framework of space and time, this dimension is best thought of as the reason multiple outcomes exist for any given unresolved event- if you roll a d6, the "result of 1" exists in one location along the fifth dimension, while the "result of 2" and "result of 4" exist elsewhere along it. Before you actually "run through" the event, there's no way to tell which one of the results will end up being "real" for you- but when you do get your result, it doesn't negate the existence of the others any more than the present time negates the past, or future. They, too, are "still frames" of four-dimensional reality which exist side-by-side stacked together in the fifth dimension. The existence of this dimension may be proven by the fact that the game is not a movie- its result is not determined in advance of the play. A holographic movie (if you presume such things exist) would be a purely four-dimensional construct; you could watch it a hundred times and never see the sequence of events change. But the "real" universe doesn't work that way. If you roll a die six times, the chances that it will come up the same way every time are minuscule unless you're using a loaded die. Thus, the "extra futures" exist in another dimension that's similar to time in that we can't see it directly, but its effects are obvious once you understand what you're looking at.

I suggested in game that a sixth dimension also exists, and explains the difference between "planes of existence," each of which contains an entire five-dimensional slice of reality that remains separate from the rest except under special circumstances. This dimension is even less easy to figure out/explain than the fourth and fifth, and in all honesty I never really fully explored the idea myself- so I'll just leave the above statement on its own.

Getting at last to the second point of departure from modern physics, it's important to consider first what the four fundamental forces are. They're called the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. All of these forces work on matter in broadly similar ways; they work on the principle of apparent/effective force weakening with distance from the source, and are carried by quantum particles in a generally wavelike manner between the objects they act upon. The two that people are most familiar with in the everyday world, of course, are electromagnetism (carried by the photon) and gravity (carried by the graviton, a particle which has yet to be spotted in modern particle accelerators), but the nuclear forces hold atoms together and control the transitions between elements among other things. And of course, an understanding of them allows construction of such things as nuclear reactors and atomic bombs. It's also worth considering the relative strength of these four forces; the strong nuclear force is by far the strongest, while the weak nuclear force mainly shows its effects in radioactive decay of certain elements (and both of those fall off in strength so rapidly above the atomic scale that they have almost negligible effects at the macroscopic level). Electromagnetism does not fall off nearly as much with distance the way the two nuclear forces do, and in fact has notable effects on the universe as a whole (the light reaching our telescopes from galaxies 13 billion light-years from Earth is a most obvious example), but it only works directly on charged particles, so doesn't affect matter nearly as obviously on the largest scales the way that gravity does. This is true, despite the fact that gravity's strength in energy terms is more than 10^20 times weaker than the electromagnetic force. It has the greatest apparent effect on the wider universe, simply because it hits everything and has no charge dependence.

My game reality features a fifth force that's just as important and fundamental as the others- one which is even weaker than gravity by several orders of magnitude. Its effects on reality, though, are arguably greater still than gravity's, because its defining characteristic is that it does not spread out in every possible direction- it does not act in a random/deterministic fashion. Instead, this fifth force has intention and self-direction as an essential feature, and therefore can and does focus itself in a way no other force can match or overcome. This fifth force, called "life force" or "the living force," is carried by "vitons," and those little particles lead to the existence of most of the fantastic concepts that are a part of the game universe.

Souls, I explained to my players, are really just constructs of vitons existing on some greater framework and operating on it to cause changes within the universe. Creatures and plants- and in fact, anything at all that can be correctly called "alive-" are all that way because they carry embedded vitons within their physical matrix somewhere (typically within a brain, for animals). Multicellular lifeforms carry vitons in every cell of their bodies that's alive, and when the viton goes, that's when the cell dies. So, too, any creature that's a robot or Construct but is actually alive, is alive because it carries vitons embedded within its structure, and not because of some special piece or component within that structure (thus, it is possible for there to be robots which are not truly alive, but which act and think as if they were, while other robots that do carry vitons are truly living despite not having any cellular processes like organic lifeforms).

Vitons, like photons, come in several flavors- in a spectrum. The scale works like this: souls are the lowest level, essentially like radio waves on the Em spectrum; the next stage up is the "ki" or "qi" that classes like Monks and Ninjas tap into to power many of their fantastic abilities (this would be about the level of microwaves or infrared). Above that are magic and psionics, which are very close to each other in energy terms but react differently with different particles; this is essentially equivalent to the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (psionics would be around "orange," while magic would be about "green"). Above even this are the levels of viton referred to by mortals as Quintessence, or Primal Energy. Gods, in this framework, are just patterns of "primal-spectrum" vitons that have gathered "bodies" formed out of other vitons around their real, primary souls.

All of this talk of vitons, when you consider its consequences, explains at a stroke the reason why mortals can gain levels (they attract more vitons), use magic and psionics (they convert their existing vitons to a higher spectrum), need higher levels to do more powerful things (they need the greater number of vitons that come with higher levels in order to apply enough force via said vitons to accomplish the greater effects), and how mortals can draw power from and give power to (via worship) the gods. It's all just vitons converting between different portions of the spectrum. It also explains why magic items need XP during crafting; XP in this framework are simply a method of tracking the number of vitons a mortal or god has to work with, while the item clearly will be incapable of generating an effect based on magic (which is a manifestation of the life force) without having an embedded pattern of vitons within itself to generate the effect. Artifacts are more powerful because they contain QP rather than XP, and QP (being higher-spectrum vitons) can impart much greater energy upon interacting with matter.

But if mortals are patterns of vitons embedded in particles of regular matter, and gods are patterns of vitons embedded in larger structures of energy, what then are the beings that exist beyond gods? What are the Sidereals? This, too, I have an explanation for, but it's best saved for a future post.
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First Post
The Living Foundation of Reality

So, back when I was pondering how to explain the existence of the Old Ones/Overgods, during the transition from 1E to 2E, I thought in these terms: mortals are creatures of matter which maintain self-aware patterns, and gods are self-aware patterns of energy which merely form bodies of matter in order to more conveniently interact with the world. Gods are, therefore, in a sense more fundamental than mortals are- energy is the foundation upon which and out of which matter is built. (This is inaccurate in the scientific sense, but it's how I reasoned at the time.) Therefore, I reasoned, if the Old Ones are as far "above" gods as gods are "above" mortals, this must mean that they are more fundamental than the gods. They must be made of something that's more fundamental to the universe than energy is. What could this be?

It took me considerable time to find a satisfying answer, and in the process I read through every book and article on modern (at the time) physics that I could get access to. What I eventually came up with was this: energy exists as waves, and patterns of energy are therefore patterns in those waves; gods are patterns complex enough to move and think and act in accordance with their own internal processes rather than some external force. But both particles of matter and waves of energy arise from the mysterious "quantum foam" that quantum mechanics describes, and the "probability waves" of the Schrödinger equation. So, those probability waves were the "more fundamental" thing I was looking for- the Old Ones must be self-aware patterns of those.

I didn't do much with the concept in subsequent years, all through 2nd Edition and early 3rd, other than notice that if gods formed avatars which were bodies of physical matter in order to more conveniently interact with reality, then so too might Overgods form avatars which would be self-aware energy patterns exactly like gods in every way except for being puppets controlled by the greater quantum-probability consciousness; one of the deities of my pantheon was in fact given a secret identity as just such an avatar.

But with the high Epic levels fast approaching, and the transition of my game into the IH realm, I needed to fit this concept anew into the evolving explanation for the world as it was. One idea about "Sidereals" as UK was calling them, that never really gelled with me during the early IH development, was that they were supposed to be two things: (1) the "souls" of entire planes of existence, and (2) asleep or dormant. My setting featured Old Ones who were not only awake and active, but also not associated with any plane of existence directly. For a while I left it there, being happy to just reject the portions of the "Kosmos" that didn't fit- but as my PCs got higher and higher, and interacted more and more with the gods and other beings at that level, I began to see possibilities that had previously not been apparent to me.

In particular, one game session when I was describing the concept of an Overgod to the PCs (and more importantly the players), I made a critical connection between the fact that my Overgods were quantum and the idea of what a "plane of existence" really is. If quantum behavior (and therefore, the behavior of all particles and energy in the universe) is governed by the probability waves, then by stipulating that an Entity exists which is literally a self-aware pattern of such waves, I am stipulating that this being can manipulate matter and energy on a scale that beings made of mere matter or energy can scarcely begin to imagine. More importantly, since the quantum behavior which is governed by those waves gives rise to the standard "laws of physics" that we interact with at the familiar macroscopic level, it is not inaccurate to say that the Entity is actually a "living law of physics" in its own right. It can change the laws of physics at will, because those laws simply arise from the waves of probability which its "real body" is made from; in effect, such a being would literally be a foundation for its own universe!

So, I did not end up discarding UK's idea of Sidereals being the "souls" of planes; instead, I expanded upon it and fully explained it in game-science terminology. Each individual Sidereal being is a pattern in the waves of quantum probability that give rise to the matter and energy which exist on every plane; each Sidereal is a different pattern, and this means that the laws of physics rising from it are different than the physics arising out of other Sidereals. Each Sidereal is, therefore, quite literally a living set of laws of physics for the plane it calls home, and those planes have the properties they do because the Sidereal living there has the specific patterns in its makeup that it does. And to tie this all back to the previous post, the Sidereals each have a set of critical "core patterns" which one would call their souls, which happen to give rise to the existence of vitons on every plane. A viton, in a given plane of existence, is just a specific pattern in the quantum probability waves of that plane, and the reason it behaves as it does (that is, alive) is because the pattern it is based on is the "living" part of the Sidereal of its plane. Different planes "code" the vitons differently, but all planes have them, because all planes have (or more precisely, are) Sidereals, and all Sidereals are alive. It all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle that I didn't know I was assembling until I was finished.

Cosmic Abilities, too, are easy to explain in this framework. Cosmic String is just the most obvious example: if a being is literally made of the underpinning of the laws of physics, a pattern of probability waves, then clearly nothing that merely arises from those waves (i.e. everything of matter or energy- and in particular all mortal or Divine abilities) can harm it at the fundamental level. The only way to destroy a wave of quantum probability is to hit it with another wave of quantum probability, constructed so as to precisely cancel out the first wave (this is the same principle upon which noise-reduction headphones work, to give one example), or to overwhelm it with a surge of quantum probability so vast and powerful that it just "overloads" the wave and destroys its integrity (this is in effect how an EMP can short out and destroy electronics). The first case illustrates why a Cosmic Ability is necessary to cancel out the Cosmic String; if it's a pattern or probability waves, then it's the same thing the Sidereal you're targeting is made of and is therefore a Cosmic Ability. The second case illustrates why a being with more power (measured as Divine Ranks in game terms) can overcome a lesser entity's Cosmic String: the more powerful being can simply overload the target with the quantum-probability version of an EMP.

Cosmic Consciousness, in this paradigm, is simply a reflection of the fact that every single shred of matter or energy on the plane is actually "riding" on top of the Sidereal's "body;" naturally the Sidereal can concentrate its awareness when it wants to and take notice of what those bits of matter and energy are up to. Distance is irrelevant since the being's true body is literally everywhere that matters. Alter Reality is simply a neat package wrapped around the Sidereal's ability to exert itself in minor ways (like a human extending a finger or sticking out the tongue) and thereby create new matter/energy patterns that match whatever it was the Sidereal wanted to do. It also incorporates the ability of the Sidereal to change its own patterns subtly and alter the laws of physics in temporary or permanent ways, and thus cause desired changes in its universe. Other Cosmic Abilities can be similarly explained (if you readers like, post Cosmics you'd like explanations of in this manner and I'll reply with such explanations).

The last point to be made on this topic is that the Sidereals are dormant; this can be shown simply by the fact that the laws of physics in most planes remain unchanged over the course of millions of years. If they were awake and active, their influence would be felt constantly as the laws of physics within their planes changed according to their whims. How are they dormant? The IH refers to an Epic ritual performed by Metatron and the angels to end the Dimensional War; for my pseudoscientific setting a mere Epic ritual could clearly never be enough. Instead, it seems more likely that the Sidereals who represent amalgams of planes- for example, the Seraph of Heaven who is the amalgam of all the planar layers who are merely Cherubim- and above even those amalgams, the great First Ones themselves who are whole swaths of Reality- became so consumed in the small details of their conflicts with each other that they cancel out their opposites almost exactly. The greater beings lock each other down, and this is turn drags the lesser beings associated with them into similar lockdowns with their opposite numbers, until only the very small number of Sidereals who have no opposites remain fully active and independent. In other words, they are not "asleep" in the sense of being unconscious, nor are they "dormant" in the sense of being completely inactive or incapable of acting. Instead, they are spending so much of their minds and actions on canceling out the activities of their opponents that what ends up happening on the stage of the universes they bring to life, looks like nothing. It's like two political parties who have exactly the same number of seats in the legislative body, constantly spending their time defeating any initiatives the other side brings up instead of honestly trying to get something done for once. Gridlock leads to stagnation and effective dormancy.

Next post will explain how the Sidereals fit into my QP scheme and the game rules specifically.
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First Post
BECMI... S! Sidereal Rules

Since I'm sitting here at an auto-repair shop getting my brakes fixed, and will be for another couple of hours or so, now seems like a perfect time to post the next update in this thread. I should note here at the outset that these rules were never tested in actual play- the game I ran that ended in the Transcendence of most of the PCs never saw said PCs get beyond the level of Incarnations (half were DR 48, the other half DR 37 or 38, but the difference in terms of raw power was largely meaningless for the events they got involved in).

Back during the days of 1st Edition AD&D, when I was expanding on the "gold box" Immortals Rules of "basic" D&D, I didn't have much concept of things like "game balance" or "realism-" having never actually played an Immortal directly, I just figured that if my new "Old Ones" and "Originals" rules looked pretty similar to the existing Immortals rules, then they'd probably work. Among other things, this meant that I'd need to set up a rigid and well-defined hierarchy in each of those tiers of existence, since the Immortals had a well-defined one (there are five tiers of Immortal, each with five "grades" within it, and a hard limit on the number of beings in the multiverse that can hold each grade and tier).

There's no need in the modern age to go into the details of the hierarchy I came up with for the Old Ones or Originals, except to note the fact relevant to the system I came up with for incorporating the IH Sidereals into my grand setting described in this thread: the fact that there were nine "grades" of Old One altogether. Essentially, I divided them into three tiers, the newbies/peons, the middle managers, and the rulers (those aren't the actual names I used, just the concept I followed), and within each tier, three grades: Low, Middle, and High. Nine total. Immortals in the BECMI system have "Power Points" which are effectively agglomerations of XP, and determine what the tier and grade of each individual is; I gave the Old Ones "Life Points" which served the same function within their society and could be used for actions just as Immortal PP could be (though the Old Ones would obviously be capable of far better and more powerful stuff with their LP).

For the Originals, I created a similar hierarchy which is even less relevant today, since back when I was coming up with all this I really had no clue what the Originals actually were or did in their own wide vista of existence external to the "Incomplete Creation" that was the setting including the Voidsphere and Chaos and multiverses. The Originals, too, had their own set of "Creation Points," which placed them within their hierarchy and could be used to power their own unique abilities- though I had no idea what such beings might do and never actually defined any uses for these CP.

In light of the fact that I'd divided the Old Ones into three main tiers, I found it highly significant that UK in his IH rules divided the Sidereals in just the same way. The fact that I had three further subdivisions within each tier just meant that in order to slot the IH concepts into my old rules and setting, or vice versa depending on how you look at it, all I had to do was take the basic IH templates and apply each one in triplicate (more or less).

Where my original scheme really differed from the IH was the idea of Life Points; the IH doesn't differentiate Sidereals from Deities at all except for the raw number of Divine Ranks each has. But I kept the idea of Life Points alive just the same: I decided that since gods were measured by Divine Ranks, and each DR granted the critical measure of divine power that is a Divine Ability, I could bring the LP idea into the new era by giving my Sidereals "Cosmic Ranks" which would each grant a Cosmic Ability. Of course, the acronym "CR" carries a rather different and important meaning within the modern game system, so I clearly had to use a different one for my Sidereals; therefore, I adopted UK's convention of calling the greater setting the "Kosmos" just far enough to refer to this new "Sidereal rank" concept as the Kosmic Rank, or KR.

One convenient thing this concept of separate KR afforded me was the notion that DR could now be entirely separated from it; I could set a cap on DR if I liked, and it wouldn't have to affect the advancement of Sidereals at all- I was already treating the DR in my system as a parallel set of "levels" which operated in tandem with the base system of HD and XP, so logically I could now do the same with KR and Cosmic Abilities operating in tandem with DR and Divines. I played with several schema and limits of each quality, before arriving at the Table. I'll copy the section intended to represent the first of the three tiers below:

Overgod (49 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 100,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (50 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 130,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (51 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 160,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (52 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 220,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (53 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 280,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (54 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 370,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (55 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 460,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (56 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 550,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (57 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 640,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (58 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 730,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (59 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 820,000,000,000 QP.
Overgod (60 DR, 1 KR): 1000 HD, 910,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (61 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 1,000,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (62 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 1,300,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (63 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 1,600,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (64 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 2,200,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (65 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 2,800,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (66 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 3,700,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (67 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 4,600,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (68 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 5,500,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (69 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 6,400,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (70 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 7,300,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (71 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 8,200,000,000,000 QP.
Cosmic Steward (72 DR, 2 KR): 2000 HD, 9,100,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (73 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 10,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (74 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 13,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (75 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 16,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (76 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 22,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (77 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 28,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (78 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 37,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (79 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 46,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (80 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 55,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (81 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 64,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (82 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 73,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (83 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 82,000,000,000,000 QP.
Planemaster (84 DR, 3 KR): 3000 HD, 91,000,000,000,000 QP.

These beings would all be classed as Elder Ones in UK's system. The basic concept here is that Overgods are Sidereals of demiplanes, Cosmic Stewards are Sidereals of very large demiplanes, or even whole planes that have specific limits (for example, planar layers in the Outer Planes), and Planemasters represent very large to truly infinite planes (but still just represent single planes rather than multiple ones). I decided not to keep the name "Elder One" for any of these three, since I was already using the term "Elder" specifically to refer to the gods who were greater than Greater but less than Incarnations.

Where this gets somewhat troublesome, comparing to the IH, is that the basic Elder One template is actually even less powerful (in some ways) than the Incarnation template I used for my deities of 37-48 DR! It is therefore not entirely appropriate to use the IH Elder One template for my Sidereals, but it can be used as a base at least. In particular, they'd have the d100 HD, max hit points, Maven+Omnicompetent, and all the base Cosmic powers that just come with Sidereal territory (Cosmic Consciousness, Cosmic String, etc.). Regardless of status as Overgod, Steward, or Planemaster, these beings all get every single bonus Cosmic Ability their primary Portfolios grant at the Elder One level- since they are in fact Sidereals, Cosmics are not esoteric the way they are to deities, and the one-Esoteric rule now applies to Transcendental Abilities instead. Sidereals are not limited in the number of Portfolios they can hold, but in practice each one wouldn't want very many since the Portfolios carry weaknesses in addition to powers (and the weaknesses tend to add up- particularly the number of artifacts that can defeat the entity's Cosmic String).

The significant difference is in the divine bonus each one gets: my Sidereals have a lot more DR than UK's. Not only that, but they also have KR to deal with. So here's how that changes in each template: you just apply the basics of what each DR grants (+1 divine bonus to everything, +2 to all six ability scores, 1 Divine Ability or 6 feats or 1/6 of a Cosmic, and +5 Level Adjustment), and do it for all DR the entity you're building has. You then apply similar bonuses for each KR the entity has: each KR grants a +6 divine bonus to everything, +12 to all six ability scores, 1 Cosmic Ability (or 6 Divines or 36 feats), and a +30 Level Adjustment. Once you have all that figured out, you can get the being's CR by just multiplying the HD+Level Adjustment by 2/3 (exactly as UK does, if you check the math on his templates).

Armed with the knowledge of just what each DR and KR gets you, you can then apply it to the next two IH templates, the Old One and First One. My table for the second-tier Sidereals:

Old One (85 DR, 4 KR): 4000 HD, 100,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (86 DR, 4 KR): 4000 HD, 130,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (87 DR, 4 KR): 4000 HD, 160,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (88 DR, 4 KR): 4000 HD, 220,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (89 DR, 4 KR): 4000 HD, 280,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (90 DR, 4 KR): 4000 HD, 370,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (91 DR, 5 KR): 4000 HD, 460,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (92 DR, 5 KR): 4000 HD, 550,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (93 DR, 5 KR): 4000 HD, 640,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (94 DR, 5 KR): 4000 HD, 730,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (95 DR, 5 KR): 4000 HD, 820,000,000,000,000 QP.
Old One (96 DR, 5 KR): 4000 HD, 910,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (97 DR, 6 KR): 6000 HD, 1,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (98 DR, 6 KR): 6000 HD, 1,300,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (99 DR, 6 KR): 6000 HD, 1,600,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (100 DR, 6 KR): 6000 HD, 2,200,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (101 DR, 6 KR): 6000 HD, 2,800,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (102 DR, 6 KR): 6000 HD, 3,700,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (103 DR, 7 KR): 6000 HD, 4,600,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (104 DR, 7 KR): 6000 HD, 5,500,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (105 DR, 7 KR): 6000 HD, 6,400,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (106 DR, 7 KR): 6000 HD, 7,300,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (107 DR, 7 KR): 6000 HD, 8,200,000,000,000,000 QP.
Outer God (108 DR, 7 KR): 6000 HD, 9,100,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (109 DR, 8 KR): 8000 HD, 10,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (110 DR, 8 KR): 8000 HD, 13,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (111 DR, 8 KR): 8000 HD, 16,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (112 DR, 8 KR): 8000 HD, 22,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (113 DR, 9 KR): 8000 HD, 28,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (114 DR, 9 KR): 8000 HD, 37,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (115 DR, 9 KR): 8000 HD, 46,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (116 DR, 9 KR): 8000 HD, 55,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (117 DR, 10 KR): 8000 HD, 64,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (118 DR, 10 KR): 8000 HD, 73,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (119 DR, 10 KR): 8000 HD, 82,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Conceptual/Unbegotten (120 DR, 10 KR): 8000 HD, 91,000,000,000,000,000 QP.

My concept of beings at this stage of existence is that they're sort of "meta-waves" that form basic, underpinning laws of physics that clusters of planes base themselves upon, sort of like a field of ground (the second-tier Sidereal) allows trees (individual planes/demiplanes, or first-tier Sidereals) to grow. Old Ones would be planes containing lots of demiplanes, sort of like the official 3.5E conception of the Abyss, or just planes containing small clusters of sub-planes like the primary Elements are linked to the Paraelemental, Quasielemental, and Demielemental planes. Outer Gods (yes, the link to Lovecraft is intentional) would be much larger planes, like my setting's Heaven or Abyss, or Transitives which are linked to lots of other planes (such as the Ethereal or Astral Plane). Conceptuals are a slightly more difficult concept, because here we start to go beyond the idea of planes entirely: Conceptuals are supposed to be basic principles that apply to all planes, or at least potentially apply to them. Conceptuals are a sort of intermediate stage between Sidereals-as-planes and Sidereals-as-derivative-underpinnings-of-Reality which the third tier represent. Conceptuals could be Sidereals for entire Cosmoses at once, or perhaps (in Fate's "pure" cosmos, for example) divisions of a cosmos which could be considered whole multiverses in their own right. Conceptuals can also be base ideas such as "Magic" or "Love" that exist just about everywhere, but are not directly associated with any specific plane or set of planes- but which are not quite large or important enough to get the being up into third-tier territory.

Regardless of grade, the second-tier Sidereals all use the Old One IH template, with the usual adjustments for DR and KR, and they get all the appropriate Cosmic Abilities from their primary Portfolios. The only Portfolio abilities they do not get are the bonus Transcendentals given to First Ones.

And speaking of those, time to copy the Table for the third-tier Sidereals:

Relational (120 DR, 11 KR): 10000 HD, 100,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Relational (120 DR, 12 KR): 10000 HD, 200,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Relational (120 DR, 13 KR): 10000 HD, 400,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Relational (120 DR, 14 KR): 10000 HD, 600,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Relational (120 DR, 15 KR): 10000 HD, 800,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
First One (120 DR, 16 KR): 20000 HD, 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
First One (120 DR, 17 KR): 20000 HD, 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
First One (120 DR, 18 KR): 20000 HD, 4,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
First One (120 DR, 19 KR): 20000 HD, 6,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
First One (120 DR, 20 KR): 20000 HD, 8,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Fundamental (120 DR, 21 KR): 30000 HD, 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Fundamental (120 DR, 22 KR): 30000 HD, 20,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Fundamental (120 DR, 23 KR): 30000 HD, 40,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Fundamental (120 DR, 24 KR): 30000 HD, 60,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.
Fundamental (120 DR, 25 KR): 30000 HD, 80,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.

Again, the dividing line exists between these pinnacle-of-their-tier beings and the next stage of existence, the Eternals/Originals. My concept of First Ones is that they can be thought of both as avatars/emanations of the Demiurge that have forgotten what they are, or are intrusions from another Reality (these would be Anomalies in the IH canon), or even that they are beings which have grown to become so important in Reality as a whole that they can rewrite rules across almost every part of it. That's what a First One is: a basic principle of physics that is so deeply ingrained, so intrinsic to the functioning of Reality, that every single set of laws of physics that exists in any cosmos (or even no cosmos, if a layer in the Far Realm) needs to use it or refer to it. The differences between the three types are largely academic to any lesser being: these are the true movers and shakers of any Reality before the Demiurge wakes up. They use the First One template, and get the First One-level bonus Transcendentals from their double-primary Portfolios. The template has the usual adjustments for DR and KR, but note the important point about DR particularly: I applied a hard cap on DR here. No entity, no matter how powerful, can have more than 120 DR in my scheme- to advance further you have to do it with KR or something else.

What might that "something else" be, you ask? That seems like a good topic for the next post.
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I should note here at the outset that these rules were never tested in actual play- the game I ran that ended in the Transcendence of most of the PCs never saw said PCs get beyond the level of Incarnations

That's still pretty amazingly high!

(Did your PCs fight Sidereals at any point?)

My concept of beings at this stage of existence is that they're sort of "meta-waves" that form basic, underpinning laws of physics that clusters of planes base themselves upon, sort of like a field of ground (the second-tier Sidereal) allows trees (individual planes/demiplanes, or first-tier Sidereals) to grow.


Conceptuals are a slightly more difficult concept, because here we start to go beyond the idea of planes entirely: Conceptuals are supposed to be basic principles that apply to all planes, or at least potentially apply to them.

Interesting. Before I got the Epic Bestiary/Ascension, but when I had 3e D&Dg, I was playing around with Overdeity concepts and came up with something similar - I called them "Cosmic Essences" (or "Transcosmic Totalities" if they influenced multiple multiverses), deities that had identified with their portfolios to the point that they no longer really existed separately from their portfolios, and had become concepts. Ma'at, the principle of divine order from Egyptian mythology, is the mythological example I came up with. (Soon afterwards I discovered the Immortals Handbook and so these ideas never went anywhere.)

30000 HD, 80,000,000,000,000,000,000 QP.


or even that they are beings which have grown to become so important in Reality as a whole that they can rewrite rules across almost every part of it. That's what a First One is: a basic principle of physics that is so deeply ingrained, so intrinsic to the functioning of Reality, that every single set of laws of physics that exists in any cosmos (or even no cosmos, if a layer in the Far Realm)

So, in your terminology, a "Reality" is bigger than a "cosmos" is bigger than a plane? It always gets confusing at this point with dimension vs. universe vs. multiverse vs. plane vs. cosmology (normally in D&D we see the term "multiverse" for a multi-plane setup, or "cosmology" as in 'the FR cosmology' or 'the Great Wheel cosmology', but U_K uses "universe" for what a Demiurge/Time Lord embodies, which does include multiple planes).

What might that "something else" be, you ask? That seems like a good topic for the next post.[/QUOTE]
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First Post
(Did your PCs fight Sidereals at any point?)
No, but one party had several on a "hit list" that they intended to try fighting. I should explain: for the vast majority of time the game was running, it was actually two games that happened to be set in the same Reality called DABBATIALDABAOTH. I revealed different clues to the two parties, but with several players playing characters in both games, it became clear to them relatively quickly that in fact the clues were all pointing to the same thing- the waking Demiurge. Eventually, one of the parties used the Silver Key (which I promise, I will detail in a future post- honest) to transport itself to the location of the other group, and effectively put both on to the same mission/ultimate goal; this meant that inevitably we'd merge them again someday later (which proved in real-world time to mean "several months") to go after the Big Showdown together.

It was that party- with the Key- that was the more powerful, at DR 48, and they were capped on both HD and DR. And the players knew it. They needed to either pursue Sidereal Ascension- which I made it clear (and several of them agreed with me anyway) would not be pursued until after the whole Demiurge plot was resolved- or somehow contrive to burn lots of XP and/or QP on something else, in order to be able to "gain" anything from more XP/QP. The rule was, they could gain more XP/QP over the limits, but the extra wouldn't allow them to gain any more DR or HD until/unless they broke the Deity/Sidereal barrier somehow. So, in the end, with the Final Showdown looming quickly, they decided that pursuing a Sidereal opponent really wouldn't gain them anything except a potentially challanging (or lethal) combat, and they were better off just "fast-forwarding" to the End. And so we did just that.

...deities that had identified with their portfolios to the point that they no longer really existed separately from their portfolios, and had become concepts.
That is exactly the idea I had in mind for those, yes.

Ma'at, the principle of divine order from Egyptian mythology, is the mythological example I came up with.
Superb choice! XAOS from Greek mythology could be another potential example of such.

(Soon afterwards I discovered the Immortals Handbook and so these ideas never went anywhere.)
I think we're all familiar with that. :)

So, in your terminology, a "Reality" is bigger than a "cosmos" is bigger than a plane?
Pretty much, yes. The idea is, what the PCs consider "real" is what exists in the cosmos and plane and world they were born and grew up in; other cosmoi contain things which are not "real" in that sense but have some sort of "reality" nonetheless. The Far Realm contains not only "other-real" things like that, but also things which belong to no cosmos and are therefore not "real" in any meaningful sense; therefore, DABBATIALDABAOTH (or whatever Demiurge your PCs exist within) contains (as I told my players in explaining all this) "everything that is real, and everything that is not real." For lack of a better word to use to label all of that, the superset of the cosmoi and Far Realm, I dubbed it a "Reality." This idea makes it clear why the opening and final transition to the Eternal Realm was such a big deal, and why the game could legitimately revolve around it for so many years of real time (even long before the players had any inkling of the existence of the Eternal Realm or for that matter the Demiurge).

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