Thursday, December 20, 2018

Infinite Infinities


Thoughts on the infinite. Or, how I approach the multiverse with my games.

I received Planes of Chaos for my 14th birthday from my older cousin, meaning I got into Planescape at precisely the right (or wrong) time in my life. Just enough philosophical babble + infinity + D&D to permanently embed itself into my psyche.

I've said a few times that Hot Springs Island is my sort of "response" to Planescape. An attempt at something hyper dense, but porous, that can tap into the rest of the multiverse. A place that can be a beginning or an end. Whatever.

I really want to blog more, and this seemed like it might be useful to get "officially" written down, so here we go.

I like and accept the general Planescape cosmology. It's nice and tidy. But the purpose of the Prime Material never seemed clear, (or who knows, maybe I actually absorbed all this and am ultimately regurgitating it after thinking it's my own.)



First is Nothing.

Then is Chaos.

Then the Elemental Planes serve as the first step away from chaos, and lightly organize the fundamental physical building blocks of reality.

The Ethereal Plane connects the Elemental Planes to the Prime Material.

The Prime Material is where all the interesting things happen because it is neutral. It is tied into chaos through the ethereal and elemental planes, but it is organized enough that life has a random chance to form. And that's the key. The Prime Material is where truly random things can occur (more on this in a bit).

The Astral Plane connects the Prime Material plane to the Planes of the Gods or "higher realities" or Outer Planes, or whatever it is you want to call them. It is also quite nice as a trash heap for dead gods.

The Outer Planes are infinite realities that have come into existence with, or been created by divine/demonic/godlike intelligences. They are infinite, as everything is, but they are all ultimately constrained by the (and this may be a poor choice of words) maximum creativity of the intelligence with which they are associated. It seems sensible that say, Zeus can have infinite imaginings of trees and lakes and rivers and whatnot, but they ultimately are all a reflection of him on some level, and say, Dagon can have infinite imaginings of trees and lakes and rivers that will all be a reflection of him on some level. So you get infinite Dagon trees, and infinite Zeus trees, and they can be infinitely different. Or basically, the Outer Planes are like playing in a procedurally generated video game. After a while you can start to see the algorithm.

Regardless.

What this means is that true randomness is limited to the Prime. So the denizens of the Outer Planes have a vested and ongoing interest in finding the cool shit that pops up on the Prime as planets form and stars die. They also want the worship of the souls found there. So it's like constant conquest/colonialism/trade wars/intrigue from "on high", made all the more interesting by various non-compete agreements and "territories" and the like.

Because this has always been my thing: Once characters know that higher planes of existence exist, and can be reached, and are infinite, then everything on the tiny little dirt orb they called home is irrelevant.

"An evil king wants to take over your world? Who gives a shit bro. A whole galaxy is about to mass convert to Norse worship which will fuse it to Yggdrasil, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are over 100,000,000,000 souls being wagered over the timeline of when that galaxy will convert *enough* to pop (and many shady dealings attempting to push it both directions), and on top of it, there are three moons in that galaxy with the most insanely beautiful marble (like literally, it will drive mortals insane) in the cosmos, and if we could extract even a handful we'd be rich beyond our wildest dreams and I've already got a buyer lined up...."

I guess to sum it up: Spelljammer should just be 100% extra-planar "cool hunters" looking to make a buck as the Planescape divinities ceaselessly work to consume the Prime Material as its infinitely spat out by Chaos.


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