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D&D 4E Turning 4e Cosmology into the Great Wheel

Klaus

First Post
Easy as pie:

- Material Plane, Feywild and Shadowfell remain as is.
- Astral Sea remains as is.
- All divine dominions are connected, instead of floating separatedly. Portals link the Great Wheel to the Abyss, so that it is effectively a part of it (even though it is still the drain of the multiverse.
- The Elemental Chaos remains as is. Where it approaches the Material Plane and its mirrors, the elements lose cohesion. This region is the Border Ethereal.
- Inside the Elemental Chaos, four sections are dominated by the classic elements.
- Below everything (or inside everything, the sages argue about these semantics), is the Abyss, draining away to the shard of entropy known as the Negative Plane. Some speculate of a Positive Plane floating beyond the Great Wheel.
 

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Halivar

First Post
I think I would take more of an Amber approach: In the center is the Material Plane, with increasing variations occurring as you "walk" the spokes of the Great Wheel, two of them being the Feywild and Shadowfel. Each spoke ends in one of the divine realms. One could "walk" the outer perimeter of the wheel through the divine realms if you had the ability, but it would take possibly thousands of years, while taking the spokes through the Materium would be much faster.

Because I've fallen in love with the Astral Sea, however, I would like to add that in. When you leave the spokes inside the wheel, you exist in the Astral Sea. The Astral Sea is vaster by far than the domains that circumscribe it, so it's the slowest of all travel, with the spokes of the wheel being like "highways" to go to and fro. Creatures travelling from one region of the Astral Sea to another are constantly looking for "on-ramps" onto the spokes.

Beyond the wheel are the totally alien places, like the Elemental Chaos, or the Far Realms.
 

avin

First Post
- The Elemental Chaos remains as is. Where it approaches the Material Plane and its mirrors, the elements lose cohesion. This region is the Border Ethereal.
- Inside the Elemental Chaos, four sections are dominated by the classic elements.

I would do:

- The Elemental Chaos as a plane is gone.
- Elemental Planes are back.
- There is a vast region where all Elemental Planes collide and bleed over each other. It's called by some "Elemental Chaos".
- Demons aren't Elemental anymore.
- Elementals are primarly pure... some rarer forms are mixed.
 

harlokin

First Post
I would do:

- The Elemental Chaos as a plane is gone.
- Elemental Planes are back.
- There is a vast region where all Elemental Planes collide and bleed over each other. It's called by some "Elemental Chaos".
- Demons aren't Elemental anymore.
- Elementals are primarly pure... some rarer forms are mixed.

I played with the Great Wheel Cosmology for a long time (particularly in Planescape), but I prefer what they came up with in 4e.

- I found the Elemental Chaos far more interesting than the Elemental and Para Elemental planes (a plane of nothing but fire......fun).
- I much prefer Demons as corrupted Elementals, it gives a rationale as to why are different to Devils.
 

avin

First Post
A matter of preference.

Planes should not be "interesting places for adventuring". The sun is not a place like that, but it's there as a background. As should, IMHO, elemental planes be.

As for elemental nature giving rationale to fight devils, I don't see why... humans should fight every Treeant around? As humans we fight for beliefs, religion, territory, resources... I would rather not limit my RPG games to a racial reason.

But I understand some people like it that way and respect their reasons, for sure.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
I think that the Feywild and the Shadowfell need to be renamed. The terrible 4E naming scheme is one element that has to go. Just call them Faerie and The Gloom.

Bring back the Ethereal Plane as the misty space between realms (maybe call it the Ethereal Mists), and have it link the Material Plane, Faerie, and The Gloom to the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea. Bring back the old Astral Plane as the Astral Mists, and have it be a misty realm inbetween the Astral Sea and the Dominions.

Restore the Abyss as a Dominion, and if you want to give it an elemental feel, use the 4E story in reverse, sort of: When the Dark God tried to seed the Elemental Chaos, the gods threw threw him directly from there into the Abyss, an act which drew some of the substance of the Chaos along with him.

In this model, the Ethereal Mists exit onto a vast island at the centre of the Astral Sea. Sigil is somehow nested at the centre of this island, unapproachable because anyone attempted to travel through the Mists will always find themselves on one of the Inner Planes, not at the edge of Sigil. How this works is, of course, a huge mystery.

The Far Realm exists somewhere far across the Astral Sea. Unlike in some previous editions, " Far " is not just a name for it. It really is " Far " and thus incursions into the Material Plane are extremely rare, not a perennial plot point.

Retain the Primordials somehow. Maybe those that were corrupted were sent to the Abyss as well, and those that were not remained trapped at the bottom of the Chaos.
 

harlokin

First Post
A matter of preference.

Planes should not be "interesting places for adventuring". The sun is not a place like that, but it's there as a background. As should, IMHO, elemental planes be.

As for elemental nature giving rationale to fight devils, I don't see why... humans should fight every Treeant around? As humans we fight for beliefs, religion, territory, resources... I would rather not limit my RPG games to a racial reason.

But I understand some people like it that way and respect their reasons, for sure.

Well let's agree to disagree.

To clarify, my preference for 4e Demons is that there is an attempt to make them meaningfully different to Devils with a mechanism other than them being a slightly different flavour of evil.
 

Klaus

First Post
I would do:

- The Elemental Chaos as a plane is gone.
- Elemental Planes are back.
- There is a vast region where all Elemental Planes collide and bleed over each other. It's called by some "Elemental Chaos".
- Demons aren't Elemental anymore.
- Elementals are primarly pure... some rarer forms are mixed.
Your #1 point contradicts the #3 point... And your #2 and #3 points are what I described.

Remember than even in 1e and 2e, the Elemental Planes had an enormous ammount of "elemental pockets" of other elements, so they weren't exactly "pure".

And in the Great Wheel cosmology, the Abyss has spiraling "infinite" layers (some say 666), and no one truly knows where it leads. It could easily lead to the "shard of entropy" at the bottom of creation.
 

TwinBahamut

First Post
Do we have to bring back the Great Wheel? It was kind of fun having it gone, even if its absence did sucker me into buying a planar book that I didn't particularly enjoy or get much use out of...

Honestly, I'm much rather see an effort by WotC to disassociate the game from any particular planar flavor rather than make another planar system hard-coded into the rules and core flavor text. It would be more interesting to see wildly different alternate cosmologies or pieces of cosmologies that can be fit together, rather than having just one.

Still, at the very least, the Elemental Chaos is way better than the old Elemental Planes. The former is exciting and has literary precedent, the latter is fairly dull and nonsensical. Also, the less obsessing there is done over demons, devils, and positive and negative energy, the better.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Easy as pie:

- Material Plane, Feywild and Shadowfell remain as is.
- Astral Sea remains as is.
- All divine dominions are connected, instead of floating separatedly. Portals link the Great Wheel to the Abyss, so that it is effectively a part of it (even though it is still the drain of the multiverse.
- The Elemental Chaos remains as is. Where it approaches the Material Plane and its mirrors, the elements lose cohesion. This region is the Border Ethereal.
- Inside the Elemental Chaos, four sections are dominated by the classic elements.
- Below everything (or inside everything, the sages argue about these semantics), is the Abyss, draining away to the shard of entropy known as the Negative Plane. Some speculate of a Positive Plane floating beyond the Great Wheel.

I'm honestly not sure what you're going for, here. Are you trying to re-integrate the 4E cosmology with the Great Wheel cosmology? If so, it's an appreciable goal - particularly in light of 5E's desire to unify the fan-base - but I don't think it can be done (at least not in a way that's worthwhile).

As a fan of the Great Wheel cosmology, it looks to me like what you're proposing is essentially keeping the 4E cosmology and trying to apply a coat of paint (that is, some minor changes that are mostly cosmetic) to make it resemble the way in which the planes were arranged in the Great Wheel.

If that's the case, why don't we go with the following:

- The Material Plane remains as is, and the "Shadowfell" is a rarely-used term for the Plane of Shadow, and the "Astral Sea" is a rarely-used term for the Astral Plane.
- The "Feywild" is an alternate Material Plane where the fey are the dominant creatures.
- Godly realms are subsets of the planes that they're located on, but have "borders" that make them difficult to access.
- The Elemental Planes are distinct from each other, but where they border is known as the "Elemental Chaos."
- The Abyss remains part of the Great Wheel, but is speculated to have infinite layers because of it being a "drain" on the multiverse; this has no actual effect on planar structures, but is a popular theory.

As a Planescape fan, I like this one much better. ;)
 

gyor

Legend
Most of what was the great wheel was the astral plane and what 4e calls dominions.

So its simple, restore the discarded dominions, have them surround Sigil. Make the astral sea, shadowfell, elemental chaos, and the feywild transitive planes, with dominion planes with in each. So the astral would have the great wheel, the Elemental Chaos would have the elemental planes and realms, and of course the abyss, the shadowfell have dread domians and the negative energy plane, and the feywild has demenses and the positive energy plane, and the material plane has its crystal spheres. The phrenic planes, especially the far realms are beyond true understanding.
 

Sammael

Adventurer
Well let's agree to disagree.

To clarify, my preference for 4e Demons is that there is an attempt to make them meaningfully different to Devils with a mechanism other than them being a slightly different flavour of evil.
*chortle*

Slightly different flavor of evil? Ha! :mad:
 

Klaus

First Post
I'm honestly not sure what you're going for, here. Are you trying to re-integrate the 4E cosmology with the Great Wheel cosmology? If so, it's an appreciable goal - particularly in light of 5E's desire to unify the fan-base - but I don't think it can be done (at least not in a way that's worthwhile).

As a fan of the Great Wheel cosmology, it looks to me like what you're proposing is essentially keeping the 4E cosmology and trying to apply a coat of paint (that is, some minor changes that are mostly cosmetic) to make it resemble the way in which the planes were arranged in the Great Wheel.

If that's the case, why don't we go with the following:

- The Material Plane remains as is, and the "Shadowfell" is a rarely-used term for the Plane of Shadow, and the "Astral Sea" is a rarely-used term for the Astral Plane.
- The "Feywild" is an alternate Material Plane where the fey are the dominant creatures.
- Godly realms are subsets of the planes that they're located on, but have "borders" that make them difficult to access.
- The Elemental Planes are distinct from each other, but where they border is known as the "Elemental Chaos."
- The Abyss remains part of the Great Wheel, but is speculated to have infinite layers because of it being a "drain" on the multiverse; this has no actual effect on planar structures, but is a popular theory.

As a Planescape fan, I like this one much better. ;)
Aside from moving the Abyss to the Astral Sea and noting the Feywild as an alternate Prime Material Plane, everything you listed is the same as I listed.
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
I'd like to see the Ethereal become the backdrop of everything. Perhaps the portion of the Ethereal between the World and the Astral can be the Phrenic plane.

Also, put Limbo at the heart of the Elemental Chaos, with the Inner Planes as the "poles" of the place. Positive and Negative Energy can flow through these poles to create the Feywild and the Shadowfell.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
I've played in and enjoyed the Great Wheel, both in it's Planescape form and in it's 3E revision. It's fun and interesting. That said, I think the 4E cosmology is a work of genius.

Now, cosmology really is a setting specific thing, but that doesn't mean an effort to apply the great wheel to the 4E structure isn't a bad idea.

Outer Planes: there seems to be agreement that the Astral Sea is a great reinterpretation of the Astral Plane, and I appreciate it's merger with Spelljammer. Putting the Outer Planes in the astral sea and linking them in a wheel still works, though the Abyss becomes somewhat of a problem.

Inner Planes: The elemental chaos is clearly more contentious. I like it as an elemental themed place that you can adventure in, but I don't need it to be the source of all elemental energy. So, let's treat it as "astral sea" of the inner planes. The six inner planes all exist, and they connect in many locations to the elemental chaos. This includes the positive and negative energy planes. I certainly see this as more interesting than the ethereal plane as a transport device.

I would, though, remove the abyss from the Elemental Chaos, though perhaps there could be a large, abyss like portal to it.

Transitive Planes: So, as mentioned above, the two transitive planes are then the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos. Both are interesting to travel through and can be the source of adventure, and they both lead somewhere. So, what about the Ethereal Plane? It's still useful for explaining ghosts and letting players walk through walls.

I think the answer is in it's very name. The Ether, which is the traditional fifth element that fills voids. So, yes, it remains a transitive plane, but it doesn't connect to the other elemental planes, but leaks into the elemental chaos just like they do.

The Ethereal Plane has to touch all three of the Material Plane, the Feywild, and The Shadowfell, though I don't see it as being the method of traveling among the three, but I think elements from all three should leak into it. This would cause ghosts to see elements of light and shadow that people in the material plane do not.

Feywild and Shadowfell: These two planes, especially the Feywild, really captured my imagination with 4E launched. I think they're brilliant, even if I felt that the Shadowfell was a little monothematic and underdeveloped. Also, while I like the name Feywild, Shadowfell feels like Evilbaddark. The Shadow Realm seams a better colloquial name for what is known by planar scholars as the Plane of Shadow.

Re-imagining Ravenloft as existing in the Shadowfell really worked for me, though I can bet it offends serious Ravenloft fans.

The movement of souls: So, this is the final piece of the planar cosmology. In the Great Wheel, if I remember correctly (please correct me if I'm wrong), souls came from the positive energy plane, were born on the Material Plane, and when they died, ended up going to the outer planes to find their final resting place according to their alignment.

I believe this outward movement of souls is critical to the Great Wheel. Souls should never travel inward, but might perhaps get trapped, perhaps by being sucked into the Shadow Realm or the Feywild, or by refusing to leave and wandering the Ethereal Plane.
 

avin

First Post
Your #1 point contradicts the #3 point... And your #2 and #3 points are what I described.

Remember than even in 1e and 2e, the Elemental Planes had an enormous ammount of "elemental pockets" of other elements, so they weren't exactly "pure".

There's a HUGE difference between separate Elemental Planes having a convergence extraplanar point and a full plane of Elemental Chaos. No contradiction between 1 and 3.

It's pretty simple, I like my Elemental Planes pure, with the old pockets in them, but with a zone of chaos that is not a plane... but layers intercepting other layers of planes.
 

Mokona

First Post
Official cosmology matters very little. What matters is source material for a variety of options and game mechanics to match a variety of flavors.

Feywild really needs material to flesh it out such as prestige classes or paragon paths or themes or races (elves & eladrin) or monsters. Shadowfell can likewise benefit from support.

Wizards of the Coast needs to publish campaign settings with a variety of cosmologies. Forgotten Realms with one version, Ravenloft with strong Shadowfell content, Greyhawk with another version, Eberron with yet a different version (the planes as planets idea). This way all groups can find a cosmology that is easiest to fiddle with and perfect for their game.
 


I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
What I did for my PS4e:

  • The Feywild = Olympus/Arvandor
  • The Shadowfell = The Gray Waste
  • The Elemental Chaos = Limbo

You drop the "symmetry" of the Feywild and the Shadowfell entirely -- prime berks see their favorite lands here for the same reason the Abyss looks like a prime berk's nightmare: there's echoes in folk's minds deeper than reality.

You also drop the "diagram." As any planar will tell you, any model of the planes is just that -- a model, an approximation, a representation of how it sort of "feels," and the prime sandwich model is how it feels if you're a prime. If you're planar, though, you know the rule about the Center of All -- no place is necessarily more important than any other, and everything's subjective. So for you, a wheel might make more sense (certainly it'd be more relevant -- primes don't generally interact with places like Celestia in the same way that planars do).

Primes having the wrong names and places of things is as old as the prime plane itself, so it shouldn't be surprising that they'd get this as wrong as they get most of everything else.
 

Tallifer

Hero
Wow. This is like trying to discern and then reconcile between Reformed Presbyterians, Free Church Presbyterians, Free Church Continuing Presbyterians, Covenanter Presbyterians and Westminster Presbyterians. Is the gospel freely offered, or only offered to the elect, or a common grace to the world but a special salvation for the few, or universally given, or subject to free will, or subject to eternal decree?

Just point me to the nearest damsel in distress and give me a castle at the end of the epic.
 

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