The New Cosmology Article

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Ok, I have to admit. I really like the article.

I was planning a very cosmology much like this for my own game world. I will more than likely keep the planes in the article, but also create multiple elemetal planes in the astral as well. I like the idea of many elemental planes. (i.e. more than one fire, water, earth and air planes)

I like the break from the wheel for this new setting.
Of all the Design & Development articles to date, this is the one I can most get behind in terms of flavour. Well done, Mr. Baker.
For a good fantasy world, I've long thought they needed one or more "spirit worlds" alongside the mortal one. The ethereal and shadow planes never quite cut it for me. The Feywild and Shadowfell have better flavor in my opinion.

On the other hand, the scales mentioned for the astral islands and abyss need to be taken up a few orders of magnitude. The realms of beings who have been around longer than humanity, or even the realms of major human gods that must hold many generations of worshipers should be larger than terrestrial worlds. If the Abyss is something trying to swallow the entire multiverse, then it should be able to suck in at least a small solar system.
They had me at "Feywild." This is what adventuring in fantasy realms should be: filled with mystery, with the unknown lurking behind every shadow.

It also gives them a good reason to put lots of Fey and Undead in the first MM. Good times.
This article makes me want to have the Keep on the Shadowfell even more, if possible. Can't wait - it's a major break from the past, but I love it.

:D
I liked the article, it cleaned things up and made some areas more accessbile, while maintaining much of the flavour of the Great Wheel.

One thing I did notice, though, was that there was no mention of the ethereal plane.
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If the Abyss is something trying to swallow the entire multiverse, then it should be able to suck in at least a small solar system.

Perhaps it'll just grow larger each time it swallows a bit of the multiverse.
"The Shadowfell is the land of the dead, where the spirits of the deceased linger for a time in a dark reflection of their previous lives before silently fading beyond all ken"

Did we, perhaps, just get a hidden sneak peak at the whole raise dead / resurrect mechanic? Is it possible that players have a limited time to retrieve dead comrades from the Shadowfell before they fade completely from existence?? I could be reading too much into it, but it makes me wonder...
This is awesome! I'm not gonna forget the Great Wheel, but this is much more user friendly for when I don't want to Planescape.

Thumbs to, WotC! I can't wait to build my fortress in the Elemental Maelstrom!

...I think I love 4E.
"The Shadowfell is the land of the dead, where the spirits of the deceased linger for a time in a dark reflection of their previous lives before silently fading beyond all ken"

Did we, perhaps, just get a hidden sneak peak at the whole raise dead / resurrect mechanic? Is it possible that players have a limited time to retrieve dead comrades from the Shadowfell before they fade completely from existence?? I could be reading too much into it, but it makes me wonder...

My thought as well. It does allow for the notion of death being the pathway to another adventure, rather than being a reason for the dead character to sit out the adventure.

Of course, if there were a limited number of times one could be retrieved from the Shadowfell, that too would be awesome. A simple "plane shift" could take the party to their deceased comrade. Of course, getting him back from the land of the dead alive might be another matter entirely.

That seems kinda cool to me.
I'm not too fond of this cosmology but it's not going to ruin my game. The names aren't very evocative for me: feywild and astral sea?
I'm mostly interested in knowing how the changes in the Upper Planes reflect changes in the alignment system. It's looking pretty damn good though.
Um White Wolf called,

They'd like their Umbras back.
I'm really liking this idea. I myself thought of the Shadowfell as the Underworld from Greek myth. In which case, all you really need to do is find a way to get your buddy out, which will be far easier said than done...hence the adventure.

Perhaps there won't be any spells to bring someone back. Maybe it'll always be a matter of tracking them down and dragging them back. Let's face it, you want to be able to keep your characters coming back, but returning from the dead is a violation of the natural order, magic or not. So I like this idea if that's the case.

I'm definitely all for this set up. It's far simpler than the wheel, but has extreme and diverse possibilities. I'm almost thinking that planar travel will be "points of light"-ish, but yet more cosmopolitan at the actual centers of civilization. Each Dominion or city might be very cosmopolitan, but the nature of the planes makes the wilds inbetween even more dangerous despite this.

I'm seeing vast potential here...keep it goin.
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Ok, I have to admit. I really like the article.

I was planning a very cosmology much like this for my own game world. I will more than likely keep the planes in the article, but also create multiple elemetal planes in the astral as well. I like the idea of many elemental planes. (i.e. more than one fire, water, earth and air planes)

I like the break from the wheel for this new setting.

I personally like that the elemental planes are merged because the old planar concepts got a bit odd to me. If one has lots of floating islands is that earth or air? Lots of desert and volanoes, is that fire or earth?
Did anyone else notice how both the Feywild and Shadowfell echoed the Shadow World from Birthright. They may not be perfect mirrors of that, but they seem very simlar.

Of course the Shadow World always seemed a bit borrowed from the old Norse Shadow Realms that they claimed were home to the Elves.

All in all a neat circular connection to both history, and previous D&D worlds. Almost a "wheel" if you will. Sorry...couldn't help it.
...
I liked the article, it cleaned things up and made some areas more accessbile, while maintaining much of the flavour of the Great Wheel.

One thing I did notice, though, was that there was no mention of the ethereal plane.

To me the old concepts of ethereal and parts of the celestial are now better grouped under Fey Wild.

Also, concepts of the shadow, ethereal, and a mix of upper/lower planes got grouped under Shadowfell. It is interesting to me that the Shadowfell is a temporary stop off point for the departed. Sort of a purgatory for some maybe, trapped between worlds for others.
I like it too. The Feywild is essentially the 'faerie realm' of classic mythology, and the Shadowfell is a convenient land of the dead. It makes sense to have Limbo writ large between the elemental realms, and the Astral's still the good old Astral.

This cosmology would probably snap-lock into the existing Eberron cosmology a lot easier than the old one. The Shadowfell is basically Dolurrh, and the only difference between the default outer planes' behaviour and Eberron's is that the former don't circle the world. In other news, you could probably still have Sigil; it'd just be on an Astral world rather than at the centre of all outerplanar existence.

No mention of the ethereal, but I assume that the Feywild and Shadowfell are doing its job. Now I wonder how travel between the major four realms is handled, and whether we still have astral projection & silver cords.
Perhaps it'll just grow larger each time it swallows a bit of the multiverse.

I just got a shiver ... This may be the single greatest idea/hook I have heard in a loooooooong time
"The Shadowfell is the land of the dead, where the spirits of the deceased linger for a time in a dark reflection of their previous lives before silently fading beyond all ken"

Did we, perhaps, just get a hidden sneak peak at the whole raise dead / resurrect mechanic? Is it possible that players have a limited time to retrieve dead comrades from the Shadowfell before they fade completely from existence?? I could be reading too much into it, but it makes me wonder...

I see it more as the stop off point before one goes on to the abyss or a section of the astral sea. Afterall, if one makes it to Valhalla (astral sea: norse), should you be able to bring them back? Would they want to be brought back?

Also, ones time lingered in the Shadowfell may greatly vary. Those cursed or trapped there might become ghosts because of unresolved mortal realm issues.

It does make me wonder what the "fluff" for skeletons, zombies, ghouls, vampires, and other undead will be. I never really liked the negative/positive energy plane basis for them.

In most of my games I've made mindless skeletons and zombies simple but grotesque animated objects (thus constructs, not undead, very sinbad movie in style). Intelligent versions of each were undead.
Did anyone else notice how both the Feywild and Shadowfell echoed the Shadow World from Birthright. They may not be perfect mirrors of that, but they seem very simlar.

I did. Even commented on it in one of the other 6 million threads discussing the new article.

I like it. A lot. But then, that particular aspect of Birthright (along with a few others) makes Cerilia one of my favorite "old" settings. And it's one I unfortunately never played because:

1) they overemphasized the "playing kings" aspect of the setting, which I wasn't all that interested in.
2) it died too young.

Of course, Rich Baker was a big Birthright supporter and contributor, so maybe he's managed to influence them to use some of its flavor in 4e- making this more than just coincidence.
Nautilus Wrote:
[INDENT]"No mention of the ethereal, but I assume that the Feywild and Shadowfell are doing its job. Now I wonder how travel between the major four realms is handled, and whether we still have astral projection & silver cords."[/INDENT]

Sorry, could not get the quote button to work correctly for some reason.

Anyway...

Based on prior articles, blogs, convention info, etc. I think they have intentially killed the "ethereal" as we know it and as I posted previously, the closest we will be getting is the FeyWild and Shadowfell.

My reasoning is based on the fact that they have said that certain types of magic in 3.0/3.5 and earlier editions started to make certain types of play extremely difficult. And ethereal travel is one of those. Because it so closely mirrored the mortal world, upper level play meant that one had to guard/shield on both the mortal realm and ethereal plane to "hide" things. The last long campaign I played in that ran 1st through 25th or so, show-cased that concept. Blocking scrying, physical movement, and other aspects had an Nth dimensional consideration.

If one does not have the near planes (FeyWild and Shadowfell) mirror so closely the mortal realm, then one does not need to go through such extreme measures and complexity, for better or worse.
This article presents an uncluttered and workable summary of how the cosmology works. I have always been a bit intimidated by the history that one must know in order to manage: "what happens in the planes?"

It seems like there the Feywild and the Shadowfell are easy to get to. In the sense that adventurers of low levels will be able to experience the planes. But, it seems there is still much design space in the planes. The Elemental Chaos, while being composed of many elementals could be easily subdivided into the repective Realm of Flames when needed.

The Astral Sea fits in with my personal concept that the astral plan connects the many different Demi-planes (to borrow an earlier term). With the concepts as presented, I am free to consider the Astral Sea as "Space" and be able to travel to distinct worlds / planes.

Thanks for clearing that up Rich Baker.
I like how they pretty much had a Feywild from at least as far back as Manual of the Planes (could be longer, but I started at 3.0, so what do I know). But yeah, it sounds pretty solid, I'm looking forward to this new cosmology.
"The Shadowfell is the land of the dead, where the spirits of the deceased linger for a time in a dark reflection of their previous lives before silently fading beyond all ken"

Did we, perhaps, just get a hidden sneak peak at the whole raise dead / resurrect mechanic? Is it possible that players have a limited time to retrieve dead comrades from the Shadowfell before they fade completely from existence?? I could be reading too much into it, but it makes me wonder...

I thought that too. I also like that (in the article, anyways) there's room for the DM to decide what happens when souls fade from the Shadowfell. I also really like the ideas floated around for 'questing to the Shadowfell to retrieve a fallen comrade.' Very greek mythology. Very cool.
I thought that too. I also like that (in the article, anyways) there's room for the DM to decide what happens when souls fade from the Shadowfell. I also really like the ideas floated around for 'questing to the Shadowfell to retrieve a fallen comrade.' Very greek mythology. Very cool.

I've already started thinking about how to integrate this into my campaign. I like soem of these aspects enough to rewrite my fluff a bit, including how I handle Limbo/early afterlife/before being claimed by their deity.
Um White Wolf called,

They'd like their Umbras back.

lol

That's so true.

I always wanted to run a game of lycanthropes using the rules for "companion spirits" from the DMG II. But this is a much better cosmology to do it in. :P
Of course whenever you have a reflection, the question come up "What happens when a drastic change happens to one terrain in a short period of time?" I don't know what the official explanation will be, but I figure that major differences makes the area "soft." Which, incidentally, is how you cross over. And that's why mines and such are so dangerous; the unreflected holes in the ground make the area really "soft," allowing all sorts of things though.
Um White Wolf called,

They'd like their Umbras back.

I noticed that, and a pathetic attempt too.
This article and the material in the launch speeches that talked about the structure of the D&D world being built around small pockets if civilization with great expanses of wilderness between concern me in that they represent a particular style of play. As reflected in the comments about the names of the realms I am getting a munchin sense from this material. I have a concern that this may shape the mechanics of classes in ways the start to loose something of the essence of the game as it has been played for a long while. I see a reflection of some later third edition material which seems to be looser and places a greater emphasis on power gaming. I can see links between these cosmology ideas and earlier articles on encounter design which give me the sense that the material is aiming for a more playable modular cosmology. I have a feeling that this is all positive and will make for a better game i just hope it all still feels like the game i've been playing for twenty odd years when it all comes together.
I thought that too. I also like that (in the article, anyways) there's room for the DM to decide what happens when souls fade from the Shadowfell. I also really like the ideas floated around for 'questing to the Shadowfell to retrieve a fallen comrade.' Very greek mythology. Very cool.

If raising the dead/resurrecting is going to be done as a quest, that would be phenomenal. Could make an interesting segue way in an adventure - traveling to the Shadowfell to rescue a comrade, knowing that if you die in this realm, you can't leave.

The new cosmology, hell 4e in general, the more I hear, the more excited I get for it.
I don't like it. Not because it sucks, but because it's doing away with the Great Wheel- something that's been around since 1st edition AD&D. I liked the planar lore that built up over the years. Now it's being radically altered or erased in favor of a simplified cosmology? No thanks.

Now, beyond all that. I'll say it sounds well thought out. I don't care for change for change's sake, which is what this feels like. Baker is a great game designer, and I'm sure it will be a cool cosmology. I just won't be using it
Of course whenever you have a reflection, the question come up "What happens when a drastic change happens to one terrain in a short period of time?" I don't know what the official explanation will be, but I figure that major differences makes the area "soft." Which, incidentally, is how you cross over. And that's why mines and such are so dangerous; the unreflected holes in the ground make the area really "soft," allowing all sorts of things though.

This may be even more delicious than questing into the Shadowfell...

because it's doing away with the Great Wheel- something that's been around since 1st edition AD&D. I liked the planar lore that built up over the years. Now it's being radically altered or erased in favor of a simplified cosmology?

This is most of the reason I'm in favor of it. The rest of the reason, coincidentally, is because it sparks my imagination.
Now, beyond all that. I'll say it sounds well thought out. I don't care for change for change's sake, which is what this feels like. Baker is a great game designer, and I'm sure it will be a cool cosmology. I just won't be using it

Its not Change for change's sake. Its change for the sake of creating a D&D that is not over glorified fanfiction, which is all D&D 3.x was.
One thing I did notice, though, was that there was no mention of the ethereal plane.

No one seems to have touched on it yet, but there's no mention of the positive or negative energy planes either.

Which makes me think that WotC is either aligning those energies with the Feywild (life) and Shadowfell (death/entropy) respectively or doing away with the concept of positive and negative energy entirely.

Either way, we may be about to see a pretty radical shift in flavour for undead, and I'm pretty excited about that.
This is probably what I've liked the least from what I've heard of 4E. I loved 2nd Ed Planescape. This is just too far from that for my tastes. I never adopted the "Great Tree" into my FR game, and I probably am even less likely to adopt this change.

Fortunately, cosmology is one of the easiest things for a DM to tailor.
No one seems to have touched on it yet, but there's no mention of the positive or negative energy planes either.

Which makes me think that WotC is either aligning those energies with the Feywild (life) and Shadowfell (death/entropy) respectively or doing away with the concept of positive and negative energy entirely.

Either way, we may be about to see a pretty radical shift in flavour for undead, and I'm pretty excited about that.

This is what I've been thinking since I read the article.

Bel
Originally Posted by WotC_RichBaker In related news, I'm afraid I'm going to have to confiscate your 3.5 rulebooks, and force you to convert to the new edition. Where do you live?
I don't like it. Not because it sucks, but because it's doing away with the Great Wheel- something that's been around since 1st edition AD&D. I liked the planar lore that built up over the years. Now it's being radically altered or erased in favor of a simplified cosmology? No thanks.

Give it time. The Great Wheel cosmology started out as very simple. What we were given was a bare sketch. There's plenty of room for elaboration. That's a good thing, because I can elaborate as necessary for my own campaigns.
No one seems to have touched on it yet, but there's no mention of the positive or negative energy planes either.

Which makes me think that WotC is either aligning those energies with the Feywild (life) and Shadowfell (death/entropy) respectively or doing away with the concept of positive and negative energy entirely.

Either way, we may be about to see a pretty radical shift in flavour for undead, and I'm pretty excited about that.

Yeah, I noticed that too, and I think it's pretty cool. I was never wild about positive energy being linked entirely to goodness, nor death to evil. Unbridled life-energy is not necessarily a good thing (growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell) and death doesn't have to be bad, either. I think this allows for some more maturity in dealing with that sort of stuff.
This might be a bit off topic, but could someone please explain the similarities between 4th Ed. cosmology and WhiteWolf cosmology? I'm kinda, sorta familiar with the werewolf stuff (the Wyld, the Wyrm, and the robot spider thing), but I'm not seeing the connection. Or would I be better off searching Wikipedia?

Any help would be appreciated.
As reflected in the comments about the names of the realms I am getting a munchin sense from this material.

...

I am speechless.

But strangely... happy.

Because now, it's official. Absolutely anything Wizards releases can now be considered evidence that the game is moving to powergaming.

And now I know I won't have to be surprised (in a disgusted sort of way) the next time I see such a comment. I will be expecting it, no matter what the topic of discussion is.