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5E The cosmology of the Wheel and the Aether

dave2008

Legend
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.
However, Eberron is not necessarily only one world. It could be one world or a whole universe. My concept gives you that freedom. That is what I like about it.

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.
My suggestion is that they are to far out that they are not known. The BE is so hostile, even to gods, that most, if not all, gods don't know anything about the Aether Realities. Spending that much time in the BE, to get to the Aether realities (and it would basically be a shot in the dark) is extremely dangerous for a being as luminous as a god. It attracts Eldritch titans look moths to a flame.
So how does one hide countless worlds? By placing them everywhere.
I agree with that, I just place the everywhere in the BE. I tried to insinuate that in my sketch with some shaded "realities" hidden the darkness of the Blind Eternities. Those are undiscovered realities.

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.
I generally like the concept, but to me it is more complex than it needs to be. I also don't like placing all of these in the prime as the prime has certain rules. By making them different realities, each reality can have its own rules.

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.
My point is the BE is all null space, even to the gods. Anything beyond the border realities is essentially unknown, and event the border reality is heavily shrouded by the blind eternities.

I like your ideas, they just don't accomplish for me, what I want from a unifying cosmological frame work. Not that there has to be one, I just enjoy thinking about it.
 

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dave2008

Legend
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.
I generally like that idea. The thing I think I see different than you is that they would be truly stranded. There is no getting back to the Wheel (or almost no way to get back).
 

dave2008

Legend
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.
I could see that, it makes a lot of sense. Also, similar to your island theory, one the reality is separated, creatures could continue to get stranded there with no way back.

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....
That is not how I see it, but that could work in your view.

In my concept: If a reality is lost in the Blind Eternities, the souls cannot escape that reality. Thus, new gods or planes or whatever need to be spawned to deal with them. The souls cannot travel from a separated reality to a different reality.
 
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Hoffmand

Explorer
For me the astral and outer planes are mental planes. You can not physically enter it. There is no matter or energy there. You have to astrally project. Now the ethereal planes is the area between all physical planes. Shadow plane is just a great unknown. Nobody knows exactly how it works. Actually nobody knows exactly how any of it works, but the shadow plane they are really really clueless about. No one enters it lightly except for sideways for fast travel i.e. shadow walk, and even that has its risks.
 

I love the concept, and am just putting what I do here in order to compare them.
In my cosmology, the Magic: the Gathering worlds are in the Far Realm. Eberron is hidden in the Great Wheel cosmology, but shielded by the ring of Siberys. The Xoriat is a plane that was warped by the Far Realm, and has a portal to it there, in which you can access the Magic: the Gathering worlds. You can get through the Ring of Siberys by using some high-level abjuration spells to permeate the barrier.

So, basically, if you want to get from Ravnica or Theros to Wildemount, you have to first travel through the portal to Xoriat, make your way to Eberron, find a way to get off of the planet, teleport yourself to the Forgotten Realms, and then take a spelljamming ship out of Realmspace and to Exspace (Exandria's crystal sphere in my homebrew) and then land on Exandria in Wildemount. It's a complicated process that simplifies some questions in D&D.
 

Coroc

Hero
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:
View attachment 119102
  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.
Very good concept.
Some funny thing, when opening the thread I only saw the top 20 % of your graphic and thought to myself:
"What is this, is he trying to explain D&D cosmology with the painting "Black bears attack a camp in the forest at night" ",
after that I scrolled down a little bit, thinking "Omg, this is one of the guys drawing circles and spirals while on the telephone".

Only when I got the full picture I came to the conclusion, that if you need a way in your campaign to explain the multiverse connections, then this is a good approach to it.

Otoh, I would simply tailor the lore to my campaign world, this is great wheel for FR, GHK, Planescape for Krynn also , but not really needed, the Eberron cosmology whe doing Eberron, and nothing can reach me when doing Athas. Spelljamming is a campaign which I am not to much interested in, although I like the freaky ideas wit the setting.
 

dave2008

Legend
I love the concept, and am just putting what I do here in order to compare them.
In my cosmology, the Magic: the Gathering worlds are in the Far Realm. Eberron is hidden in the Great Wheel cosmology, but shielded by the ring of Siberys. The Xoriat is a plane that was warped by the Far Realm, and has a portal to it there, in which you can access the Magic: the Gathering worlds. You can get through the Ring of Siberys by using some high-level abjuration spells to permeate the barrier.

So, basically, if you want to get from Ravnica or Theros to Wildemount, you have to first travel through the portal to Xoriat, make your way to Eberron, find a way to get off of the planet, teleport yourself to the Forgotten Realms, and then take a spelljamming ship out of Realmspace and to Exspace (Exandria's crystal sphere in my homebrew) and then land on Exandria in Wildemount. It's a complicated process that simplifies some questions in D&D.
Thanks for sharing. Personally I don't like crystal spheres, but glad they work for you. Not sure I would make Eberron the only way to through (seems counter to the ethos of Eberron to me), but it is an interesting sequence of events.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
It's a cool explanation from a conceptual standpoint.

My only issue with it is that it has no bearing on a campaign. With the D&D and MTG realms separated by an ocean of Far Realm, the two have no meaningful way of interacting. You could just as easily have them be decoupled multiverses for what this gets you. Personally, I'd much rather see an explanation (or expansion upon this explanation) that expresses how cross-overs could be feasible (even if they are unpredictable and rare).

There's nothing wrong with your setup as is. I just don't see much of a point of placing them within the same conceptual space but then making interaction completely impossible.
 

dave2008

Legend
It's a cool explanation from a conceptual standpoint.

My only issue with it is that it has no bearing on a campaign. With the D&D and MTG realms separated by an ocean of Far Realm, the two have no meaningful way of interacting. You could just as easily have them be decoupled multiverses for what this gets you. Personally, I'd much rather see an explanation (or expansion upon this explanation) that expresses how cross-overs could be feasible (even if they are unpredictable and rare).

There's nothing wrong with your setup as is. I just don't see much of a point of placing them within the same conceptual space but then making interaction completely impossible.
That is a good point. However, I don't want it to be impossible, but I do like that it seems impossible. If they are mostly separate, then it at least needs to be extremely difficult to get from a MtG reality to Wheel Reality. We need a reason to explain why planeswalkers aren't just popping up into other traditional D&D settings. Why hasn't the all conquering Nicol Bolas set his sites on Eberron or Greyhawk? We can always make a special method to get from one to the other (give a campaign bearing as you say), but I first want an explanation of why it is so darn difficult or rare.
 
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Ash Mantle

Adventurer
I just wanted to thank everyone in this thread for all of the amazing ideas and inspiration! And especially for the star map above. I really like the idea of the planes of existence as worlds that could be traversed upon the sea of stars, with the Black Void between them all, and other worlds could be travelled to in this way as well. So, the most apt comparison here would be something like the Marvel movies in space but less overtly sci-fi and more Spelljammer. However, these ships built to traverse the stars look more like enclosed galleons and could be encased in metal. The Black Void is where unknowable horrors reside, the emptiness between existence, a vast tapestry of utter darkness where things cavort and croon.
Ships, then, need to be enveloped in protective shielding, but there are some who forego abjurative magic and instead stare into the Void, all the while leaking a black substance from their eyes and ears.
 

Hoffmand

Explorer
What bothers me the most about these threads is that many think there can’t be competing cosmological models in the same setting. All people really know is this gate goes there or this spell takes me there. Everything else is debate for the sages. Look how many different competing models there are in our own world.
 

dave2008

Legend
What bothers me the most about these threads is that many think there can’t be competing cosmological models in the same setting. All people really know is this gate goes there or this spell takes me there. Everything else is debate for the sages. Look how many different competing models there are in our own world.
I agree, but I do also like to think of them from the prospective of those who know from time to time.
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
What bothers me the most about these threads is that many think there can’t be competing cosmological models in the same setting. All people really know is this gate goes there or this spell takes me there. Everything else is debate for the sages. Look how many different competing models there are in our own world.
I like to offer competing lore as well, but also prefer to have an idea as to what is fact and what is merely conjecture. Sometimes it's relevant (such as when one theory ensures victory while the other ensures certain doom). Obviously, you could wait to decide when it becomes relevant, but I prefer to decide ahead of time so that I can seed hints at the truth throughout the world.
 

jgsugden

Hero
I keep all settings available - but each in their own separate Cosmology. I obviously do not use all of them, but if someone has a PC from Faerun that they want to move to my homebrew world, I can accommodate it. The entire cosmology of my world is very different than Faerun, so there are some things that they'd need to 'relearn', but this has been my approach since the 80s when a player that had been in a Dragonlance game wanted to bring their ranger into my Faerun game.

There is no reason to bring them together more than that... they're separate Cosmologies, they have their own rules, and only powerful magic allows them to cross - but it is possible.
 

Hoffmand

Explorer
I like to offer competing lore as well, but also prefer to have an idea as to what is fact and what is merely conjecture. Sometimes it's relevant (such as when one theory ensures victory while the other ensures certain doom). Obviously, you could wait to decide when it becomes relevant, but I prefer to decide ahead of time so that I can seed hints at the truth throughout the world.
I Can’t even see where it would matter. This gate goes here this spell takes you there.
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
I Can’t even see where it would matter. This gate goes here this spell takes you there.
A reasonable argument can be made for "why even have it if it never matters"?

Let's say that based on theory 1, every thousand years on Halloween all gates redirect to the Shadowfell, and that this event is supposed to take place 100 days into the start of the campaign. 100 days in, the PCs are in a bad spot, stuck between a portal into the heart of the Plane of Elemental Fire and an enemy they can't hope to defeat. One of the players suddenly remembers this throwaway tidbit, and tells everyone to jump into the portal. I think it's fairly pertinent to know whether they're instantly incinerated or transported to the Shadowfell, don't you?

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with deciding on the spot, but if you decided it works this way ahead of time you can include little clues to that fact throughout the campaign.
 

Hoffmand

Explorer
A reasonable argument can be made for "why even have it if it never matters"?

Let's say that based on theory 1, every thousand years on Halloween all gates redirect to the Shadowfell, and that this event is supposed to take place 100 days into the start of the campaign. 100 days in, the PCs are in a bad spot, stuck between a portal into the heart of the Plane of Elemental Fire and an enemy they can't hope to defeat. One of the players suddenly remembers this throwaway tidbit, and tells everyone to jump into the portal. I think it's fairly pertinent to know whether they're instantly incinerated or transported to the Shadowfell, don't you?

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with deciding on the spot, but if you decided it works this way ahead of time you can include little clues to that fact throughout the campaign.
I still don’t see how this has anything to do with what I said. World tree. Great wheel. That doesn’t matter. The gates do it, omg the great wheel is right or wrong. Okay every 100 years all gates go to the plane of shadow. Cool as hell idea!!!
 

dave2008

Legend
I still don’t see how this has anything to do with what I said. World tree. Great wheel. That doesn’t matter. The gates do it, omg the great wheel is right or wrong. Okay every 100 years all gates go to the plane of shadow. Cool as hell idea!!!
What I believe @Fanaelialae is saying is something like (don't get hung up on the details, it is the idea that matters): if in the Great Wheel you take the astral plane to get to Olympus and in The World Axis you have to go through the ethereal plane, then someone is wrong in one of those cosmological view points. If the correct answer is the Astral plane, then a person who believes the world axis view point is never going to get to Olympus traveling through the ethereal.

The choices can have real consequences if you want them too.
 

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