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5E The cosmology of the Wheel and the Aether

dave2008

Legend
OK, I've been having some discussions about the ramifications of adding MtG worlds to the D&D cosmos with @slobster and @Urriak Uruk and it got me thinking. What would a unified cosmos look like that blends elements of both, yet allows them to be separate. Here is what I came up with:
DnD_Exalted_Cosmos.jpg

  1. The Blind Eternities from MtG are analagous to the nebulous "Far Realm" in the D&D cosmos. Though the image makes it look like it is a vast space, it is not. The Blind Eternities area a sublime shadow. It is not space or a place, but the concept between space and reality. Here the be aberrations (including Eldrazi). Passing through the Blind Eternities is nearly impossible. Typical spells do not work, and even planes walking is almost inconceivable through the depths of the Far Realm. Gods can travel through it with great effort, but doing so attracts the attention of the Eldritch Titans (Eldrazi, Azathoth, etc.) and it tends to damage the boundary between a reality and the Blind Eternities, allow aberrations to infect reality.
  2. The Border Realities are areas were the Blind Eternities are weaker. They are created by the close conceptual proximity of separate realities. Most magic (plane shift, gate, etc.) will not penetrate the border realities; however, planes walking and some very power rituals / magic might. A door in Sigil might lead to Athas or Eberron for example, but it couldn't reach the Aether Realties.
  3. The Great Wheel reality is the general reality of D&D. Any world / plane that can be reached by a spell, such as teleport, gate, or plane shift, in D&D is in this reality.
  4. The Athas reality exists in the border reality of the Great Wheel. It is in close enough "orbit" that powerful magic can allow travel between the two, but not standard spells.
  5. The Eberron reality exists in the border reality of the Great Wheel. It is in close enough "orbit" that powerful magic can allow travel between the two, but not standard spells. It might be slightly further out than Athas, requiring even more powerful magic to reach.
  6. The Aether realities are all the planes from MtG. Their close proximity to each creates a border reality that allows planes walking between these worlds. The Aether realities are in the abstract "orbit"of the Great Wheel reality, but they are so far out that the vast metaphysical space that separates them makes it virtually impossible for planeswalkers or deities to travel between the two.
So that is what I came up with, just thought I would share.
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I'm surprised no one has commented on this, I think it is a great way for explaining how the various multiverses and distant planes like Athas and Eberron are arranged in a planar cosmology. It even allows for expansion, you could throw in another set of planes if you wanted, perhaps orbiting the great wheel in a similar fashion to the MtG planes but at a faster rate so that every few thousand years there is a crossover allowing for travel between them before they separate again making travel impossible.
 

dave2008

Legend
I'm surprised no one has commented on this, I think it is a great way for explaining how the various multiverses and distant planes like Athas and Eberron are arranged in a planar cosmology. It even allows for expansion, you could throw in another set of planes if you wanted, perhaps orbiting the great wheel in a similar fashion to the MtG planes but at a faster rate so that every few thousand years there is a crossover allowing for travel between them before they separate again making travel impossible.
Thank you for the reply! I was hoping I would get more comments and discussion, oh well:( Maybe your comment will start a trend;)

That being said, I love the idea of "orbits" changing the proximity of some realities to others. I even thought that could apply Athas and/or Eberron. And it might explain why very rarely you get some crossing over.

I also like the idea there could be any number of realities either outside the wheel, or worlds within. The distinction is whether the can or cannot access the wheel. Of course a separate reality could even have its own version of the wheel.

They only thing I couldn't really reconcile was spelljamming the phlogiston. I just see the worlds within the wheel being separated by the void of interstellar space. I just don't see the need for phlogiston and crystal spheres. My idea would be for spelljammers to have magic "crystal" spheres around them allowing activity on the ship to act as if it was on a world, and at the same time allow it to fly through space. I don't see a need for another layer of sci-fantasy there. Am I missing something?
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Honestly, I didn't even think about spelljammer, it's pretty much the bottom of my list of settings and I always found the whole separate crystal spheres for each setting a weird one. I'd probably either run with your suggestion of a mystic sphere around ships to allow them to traverse space or even have spelljamming vessel shifting the ship into the astral or ethereal planes when travelling between worlds.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
I treat "phlogiston" as if it was Astral. If I have a more sciencey campaign its astral/hyperspace.

Explains fast travel, works for many types of campaigns.

That being said, my "Astral" doesnt have a lot of places in it, its more transitive. i.e. the nine hells is a solar system.
 

dave2008

Legend
I treat "phlogiston" as if it was Astral. If I have a more sciencey campaign its astral/hyperspace.

Explains fast travel, works for many types of campaigns.

That being said, my "Astral" doesnt have a lot of places in it, its more transitive. i.e. the nine hells is a solar system.
Is there a particular reason you chose the astral and ethereal. I didn't think you could spelljam to the outer planes, but to be honest I am not that familiar with spelljamer
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
Is there a particular reason you chose the astral and ethereal. I didn't think you could spelljam to the outer planes, but to be honest I am not that familiar with spelljamer
I really dont have outer planes. They are actual star systems (granted heavily modified by deities/powers)
So the Astral works great for the majority of world to world travel.

The ethereal is used to get to "shadows of reality" next to worlds, such as the shadow realm, fey wild etc. Deep ethereal leads to Limbo, from whence all things came.

I might have a pic that lays it out....
 



Twiggly the Gnome

Adventurer
They only thing I couldn't really reconcile was spelljamming the phlogiston. I just see the worlds within the wheel being separated by the void of interstellar space. I just don't see the need for phlogiston and crystal spheres. My idea would be for spelljammers to have magic "crystal" spheres around them allowing activity on the ship to act as if it was on a world, and at the same time allow it to fly through space. I don't see a need for another layer of sci-fantasy there. Am I missing something?
In practical terms, the main purpose of the crystal spheres is to delineate the areas of influence of the various pantheons of deities. One could abstract that into metaphysical spheres, rather than physical barriers.

Another thought I had was was that one might measure "distance" between the planes by shared points of contact. The worlds of the Radiant Triangle share the same planar connections, so are effectively coterminous. Athas has no connection to the Outer Planes (making it one step removed), Eberron has no connection to the Inner or Outer planes (making it two steps removed), and-so-forth.
 

dave2008

Legend
I really dont have outer planes. They are actual star systems (granted heavily modified by deities/powers)
So the Astral works great for the majority of world to world travel.

The ethereal is used to get to "shadows of reality" next to worlds, such as the shadow realm, fey wild etc. Deep ethereal leads to Limbo, from whence all things came.

I might have a pic that lays it out....
Cool idea. I've thought of doing something like this before. Why do you need the astral plane if they are just star systems in space. Why can't you just travel through space?

However, what I am trying to do is reconcile the existing cosmological cannons of D&D and MtG, so your approach wouldn't work. Cool idea though.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
Cool idea. I've thought of doing something like this before. Why do you need the astral plane if they are just star systems in space. Why can't you just travel through space?
Well, because Einstein. /grin

So "hyperspace". Which becomes astral. And so I can have astral storms etc etc.

There is some in solar travel before you can "astral out". Also asstral allows me to have conduits (wormholes?) that help connect some areas more prominently/easily.

Good talk

/tangent
 

dave2008

Legend
In practical terms, the main purpose of the crystal spheres is to delineate the areas of influence of the various pantheons of deities. One could abstract that into metaphysical spheres, rather than physical barriers.
OK, I see that as a metaphysical barrier. Thanks for the information.

Another thought I had was was that one might measure "distance" between the planes by shared points of contact. The worlds of the Radiant Triangle share the same planar connections, so are effectively coterminous. Athas has no connection to the Outer Planes (making it one step removed), Eberron has no connection to the Inner or Outer planes (making it two steps removed), and-so-forth.
Yes, that is basically what I am trying to say. Eberron is further out in the border reality / blind eternity and therefore has less contact / shared points. However, because it share many of the same races and some gods and such I still see as relatively close to GW reality, when compared to the AEther realities at least.
 

dave2008

Legend
Well, because Einstein. /grin

So "hyperspace". Which becomes astral. And so I can have astral storms etc etc.

There is some in solar travel before you can "astral out". Also asstral allows me to have conduits (wormholes?) that help connect some areas more prominently/easily.

Good talk

/tangent
I thought it would be something like that, I just thought with "magic" it can be side stepped anyway. In theory one can teleport anywhere in the prime (at least it used to be that way, can't recall 5e teleport at the moment).
 

ccs

40th lv DM
I've never ascribed any single model to how the planes/multi-verse is set up. So, depending upon wich Sage/wizard/priest etc you consult, you might find wildly differing drawings of how they each conceive it.
As to what's correct? (shrugs)
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Cool idea. I've thought of doing something like this before. Why do you need the astral plane if they are just star systems in space. Why can't you just travel through space?

However, what I am trying to do is reconcile the existing cosmological cannons of D&D and MtG, so your approach wouldn't work. Cool idea though.
Funny enough, this is how Marvel treats its gods (Asgard is a giant asteroid in space). Their realms are literally just planets one can travel to through space, although there are magical ways of moving from planet to planet.

I'm not really a fan of this as it kind of makes gods as just really powerful mortals to me, but I understand that people like thinking of the gods that way so I get the appeal.
 

dave2008

Legend
I've never ascribed any single model to how the planes/multi-verse is set up. So, depending upon wich Sage/wizard/priest etc you consult, you might find wildly differing drawings of how they each conceive it.
As to what's correct? (shrugs)
Yes, that is basically how I handle things as well. That is why, IMG, you can have the world-tree, world-axis, and great wheel all existing it the same reality. They are just different views / perspectives on how things are organized. However, I was trying to create an overall structure to understand how different realities relate.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I've come up with a somewhat interesting idea...

Eberron's hidden status in the Great Wheel is able to work largely because it is one world; one world out of many within the Material Plane should not be too difficult to hide, and escape the notice of several preoccupied deities.

But the Planes of Magic, or what @dave2008 calls the Aether Realities, are many. There are something like 80 known planes. And lore says that although the number of planes is probably finite, there are so many it is impossible to count them all.

With such a high number of worlds, hiding all of these in one area would simply be impossible, and the "null space" of impenetrable area would be common knowledge, even if not understood, by the gods of the wheel.

So how does one hide countless worlds? By placing them everywhere.

Right now, Spelljammer lore has each D&D world in the Material Plane within its own Crsytal Sphere, that can be reached via Spelljammer. My suggestion is that each plane is also within its own Crystal Sphere; the difference, is that the Blind Eternities cloaks them all, spread out across the Material Plane like a web.

So there are the "known" worlds, easily accessed by Spelljammers and connected by Phlogiston routes. Then there the the "cloaked" worlds, or Aether realities, that are also spread out, but cloaked in the Blind Eternities. The cloaked worlds connect to each other through tendrils of the Blind Eternities, a web that connects the planes like nodes, a web that Planeswalkers access to travel between worlds. Planeswalkers also can't access worlds beyond the web.

This way, there is no big "null space" that the gods will easily see. Instead, there are much smaller cloaked worlds all across the Material Plane, each one going unnoticed.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
I've given this a bit of thought when converting the beginning of Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus to take place in Ravnica. In Magic since only planeswalkers can travel between the planes most angels, devils and demons are native inhabitants of the planes they are from. They even have different styles, angels on Dominaria are a bit different from angels on Ravnica and Amonkhet's angels seem to be doing their own thing altogether. This clashes with D&D's angels which are outsiders to the material worlds.

You could say that the outsiders in D&D come from the philosophically charged outer planes, while in Magic they are manifestations of mana but I wanted to keep a common origin for them. So I had the angels and demons that currently live on Ravnica be various runaways or colonists or curious travellers that arrived and were smitten by the charm of the little backwater world that is relatively isolated from the rest of the cosmos.

This fit in perfectly since Zariel now has an interim stage where before she falls she runs off to Ravnica out of protest of the lack of action from the rest of the heavenly host. On Ravnica the angels take direct action in battle which suits her. It's when the Blood War that she hated so much spills into her new home that she realizes that nowhere is truly safe from that struggle and something must be done about it.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I think you could make it so that the Magic worlds were cut off from the Wheel at some point, thus any D&D race, angel, demon (including a very lucky or very unlucky demon lord in Ravinca), and what not are there because they or their ancestors were on the Magic world when it got cut off. Like with animals on isolated islands that get bigger or smaller than the ones of the mainland, they are a little different than the ones from the Wheel.

As long as the Outer Planes are eventually getting the souls and all the Outer Planes are working under the same limitations, they don't care if they can't directly impact things. The most conspiracy-minded types in Sigil whisper it was a cross-alignment association of Powers that sealed off those worlds for some kind of experiment....
 

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