Lost mage looking for input on local cosmology…

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  • #32809
    Rasbedian
    Member
    • Markshire PCs:

    Hail all! The mage is back from yet another unannounced leave of absence… It’s really great seeing everyone once again, and I hope to stick around (if only somewhat sporadically at times, as my current schedule allows) up until the launch of Markshire 2.

    Either way, what separates this message of return from something that would be posted in the ‘Random’ forums is that I was wondering if I can sort out the in-game cause for this absence with the DMs regarding what has happened to my character so that I can avoid stepping on the toes of Markshire’s already established cosmology.

    I’m planning to hammer up a series of posts for Kamas’s biography “journal” regarding the notes he took closely before his leave and the events that transpired afterwards. Since I was hoping that his absence was partially, if not wholly extraplanar of nature, I wanted to pass my ideas by the DMs before I stick a concrete story to him, since most information regarding any sort of extra-planar activity in Markshire is scattered at best and my attempts at interpreting it could end in a disaster.

    What I figure: Mortals (at least those knowledgeable in the realms of arcana) in the world of Markshire do have a recognition of alternate dimensions: Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Alfheim, Vanaheim, Midgard, Jotunheim, Svartalfaheim, Nithavellir, the distant branches in the canopies of Yggdrasil, or pockets of entropy that exist in whatever fringes were left of the original Ginnungagap (if any)… and they have ample reasons for these assumptions of worlds past the Material: some unfortunate heroes get to visit Hel on a somewhat casual basis – a realm in which they exist while their corporeal body still lies broken where it fell… a local cooper was able to weave magic in such a manner that he was able to create seemingly bottomless chests that can be summoned to places marked with a certain dimensional anchor… and what of those alhoons and slavers within Arik? What realm do they hail from; what dark powers do they represent?

    Many spells would also not work if mortal meddling with the astral structure was out of the picture. Planar Ally binds a creature from another realm into contract with you… with angels aiding the just, demons rising in service of warlocks, and enigmatic ‘slaads’ and stranger beasts paying a visit to those unaligned. The Gate spell creates a portal to another realm, letting a powerful creature pass through and wreak havoc in the material world. Other spells don’t bother simply pulling creatures from other planes: the Black Blade of Disaster is an astral rift in the shape of a sword, and the Greater Sanctuary spell lets the caster coexist on the Ethereal plane, making him immune to most forms of attack and perception. Of course, it should be noted that ONLY those who excel in the art of magic to begin with could command most of these spells: toying with the planes is definitely NOT something to be taken lightly.

    My personal (possible) visualization of the other realms… essentially a collection of brief musings: If other planes are indeed established, that only leaves the subject of how they could be treated… from my perspective, Markshire seems to rest in the middle of the spectrum between a High Fantasy setting (like the Forgotten Realms) and more traditional Sword & Sorcery (like Conan’s Hyboria), leaning a bit in nature towards the former. It has several established “planes” that grow on the three roots of Yggdrasil (as physical or metaphoric as that structure indeed is). So, it could be thought that astral travel would indeed be possible, but probably with the inclusion of the concepts that “those silly mages don’t know what the hell they’re doing.” One thing is opening a portal to another realm (possibly by finding a weak portion in the figurative curtain that separates the planes, much like those doorways that lead into the realm of Harrow), another is actually trying to travel across the ‘Roots’ to another world.

    This leads to the notion that is quite possible to see the scenario where the framework for permanent portals have yet to be realized by mortals… this is highlighted by the fact that there are no actual “extra-dimensional” storage containers like Magic Bags and Portable Holes… all the containers to be carried on person keep a portion of their self in the Material plane as an anchor (and thus a portion of their weight is still carried by the person). If attempts were made to store something completely on another plane without an anchor (like those established in places where extra dimensional chests can be summoned) the contents would simply be lost in another plane. This concept can also be attributed to planar travel in itself: sure, you can tear a brief hole in the paneling of Midgard and step outside, but the door will probably slam itself on your rear and you will be left to wander the Roots (once again, as physical or metaphoric as their existence actually is) until by pure chance you will happen upon a spot that once traversed would drop him back into the world he initially left.

    Personally (and I hope the DMs may even partially agree with me here), I don’t particularly appreciate the type of Astral travel that is the equivalence of taking a safari through the jungle, as is seen in worlds like Planescape where conduits between the planes have been artfully bound. I prefer to see any kind of extra-planar travel as a journey outside the safe confines of the tour jeep. Instead of riding down well established roads and taking tourist photos of the surroundings, I’d rather perceive an experience more alike wandering lost through the forest of the Planes… it’s a world unlike that the traveler is used to on his material plane.

    Markshire’s birthplace, the Ginnungagap, makes this image much more easily realized (and fun to play with). If a single lost thought in that medium could create a cascading effect that gave birth to the Universe, a traveler outside the solid confines of the nine worlds could possibly be met with the leftovers of the Void that escaped the collision of Niflheim and Muspelheim (after all, a Void is the something within the “nothing”… maybe?). Such a mutable matter could very well pose an obstacle all of its own… outside the normal physical constraints of a material realm, common logic regarding space and time could very well be useless and the concept of reality would be questionable (after all, what is “reality” outside of what our limited senses tell us?)… and that is all not to mention the possible states of temperature, air pressure, and the very composition of air itself that the person encounters. One possibility that would make this realm somewhat hospitable is the very nature of the Ginnungagap in the first place: it was shaped by the presence of thought. It would be quite possible that the traveler’s “expectations” of normality would create a temporary, unstable bubble in the Void shaped from his past experiences (and thus in turn, his subconscious thought). So, a creature from Midgard like a human would find breathable air (because that’s what she would expect), 14.7 lbs/sq. inch of air pressure on her body, and temperature ranges close to what she experienced in her life. Of course, things outside her normal ability for perception, like the actual passage of time, would fluctuate, and “gravity = down” would not always (if often, or even ever) be the case.

    If there is so much danger and unknown past the boundaries of the Material, then what kind of a fool would dare venture past the safe confines of their home plane? Well, as usual, I’d imagine the blame would fall to wizards. Unlike divine casters, whose powers are drawn from the gods, and unlike sorcerers, whose power is already in their blood, wizards are the scavengers picking at the corpse of reality, trying to expand their own knowledge… as for them, knowledge is power. The Planes are a beast yet to be conquered in Markshire, and the only knowledge that exists of what lies far, far beyond the boundaries of Midgard are mostly ancient tales that priests have caught from the lips of gods so long ago. Wizards, so prone to hubris as they are, are more likely to try and escape the prison walls of their world and search out the secrets that were locked away by the divines. After all, if the great Ymir was brought down by the creations of his creation, perhaps the “mortals” can at one point rise up and overthrow their overlords?

    I’d imagine most who wander past the planes would get lost in the folds between reality. Most of those who do return arrive spouting streams of madness… Only those destined for greatness, or perhaps loved by the fates, return with both their bodies and minds intact.

    Too long; didn’t read: I am hoping to write a short fanfiction detailing Kamas’s travels on the fringes of the plane of Midgard, being sent there by a failed arcane experiment that he wanted to run and discover a way to create a “stable” portal. As not to interfere with the current cosmology, I was hoping that the DMs could take a look over my musings on the possible nature of an extraplanar existence and travels in the Markshire universe. Before I post my actual journal entries regarding the travels, I’ll post the “rough draft” versions of them here and see if any ideas that I present in them regarding the trans-dimension would be fine… coexisting easily with and perhaps even supporting the local “fluff”. Even earlier then that, though, I was hoping to see if I could get any input or clarifications regarding my concepts of the local cosmology. Also, I’d really appreciate any critique or further ideas from anyone who would also have interest in this kind of thing…

    Thanks for reading!

    #55345
    Thrym
    Keymaster
    • Markshire PCs: Grottle, Gruzk, Ashimar

    First, I will address the root question at a later date (probably this week) when I have time to put it down properly.

    The root question:

    How does planar travel work?

    This will lead to the secondary question:

    What exactly is the layout of the Markshire Universe?

    In case you are unsure of what that question entails here are some smaller questions that partially comprise the whole:

    How do I get to Asgard? Where is Jotunheim in relation to Midgard? Do we even call the Prime Material Plane Midgard? Where’s Surtur at? How do we incorporate Demons and Devils? How does Hel keep her whites white?

    All good questions, and yes, Hel endorses the use of Tide detergent mixed with the soapash of the destroyed undead to get a true bone bleached white.

    I will address these shortly as I have some already addressed and more that aren’t typed up.

    As to Kamas’ absence… aside from wanting to write something… why worry about your absence in terms of a storyline? Tis relatively easy to say you were off training or studying.

    As to your plot device, there are NO MEANS as a PC Wizard or other spellcaster type that allow you true extra-planar travel. Spells that do ethereal or astral travel are limited to the spell and short hops.

    Does this mean traveling back and forth between planes doesn’t exist? Obviously not or your sojourns to visit with Garm wouldn’t be possible.

    So I beg your patience for an answer to the overall Lore of the Planes.

    Oh and believe me, Ras, I appreciate the time and research you put into your post.

    #55346
    Rasbedian
    Member
    • Markshire PCs:

    First off, thank you for the swift reply. I realized while writing about the question/musings that polishing the details of a universe’s cosmology isn’t exactly a process that can or should happen overnight, so no need to worry about my patience regarding the matter – ample amounts were already pre-allotted to the issue. Also, I really appreciate you looking into the issue for me in either case… even if things end up with that I couldn’t really involve Kamas in some kind of fiction involving his rear end getting tossed around on the planar fringes of Midgard, the cosmology of Markshire would still be a concept of much interest to me (and who knows… even if this current plot idea wouldn’t make any sense, more insight could reveal other possible concepts to be explored).

    Thanks once more, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about the issue.

    #55347
    mule
    Moderator
    • Markshire PCs:

    Read the post, even if it was too long 😛 There are some interesting concepts here. However, I am by no means qualified to answer these questions, but Thrym is. Good to see you back.

    Oh, and T the man just wants to write an interesting reason for being gone, not the usual, “I was studying”….

    – mule

    #55348
    Thrym
    Keymaster
    • Markshire PCs: Grottle, Gruzk, Ashimar

    @mule wrote:

    Oh, and T the man just wants to write an interesting reason for being gone, not the usual, “I was studying”….

    I noted that. My point was people get caught up in trying to explain things that really don’t need an explanation.

    @Thrym wrote:

    aside from wanting to write something…

    I realize he wants to write a story and I wasn’t trying to prohibit him from doing such.

    Oh, in case some of you expect a long winded dissertation on the Lore of the Planes here, please, don’t get your hopes up. Much of the Lore of the Planes is obscure and not available to the general public and will be presented as such.

    So some will be posted (like the Creation Myth) and more will be exclusive access. Finally, the remainder will have to be discovered in game.

    #55349
    bigred
    Member
    • Markshire PCs:

    good to see you back man

    #55350
    Valgrimm
    Member
    • Markshire PCs:

    Extraplanar travel is definitely a cool concept. I will be interested in hearing of the possibility of of going to other dimensions, even if only for a short time. I have always wondered about the harrow dimension and what exactly was going on there. However all of that seems far beyond what any of my characters could conceive or achieve.

    It’s always nice when one of Markshire’s lost souls returns, so it’s good to have you back Kamas.

    #55351
    Rasbedian
    Member
    • Markshire PCs:

    Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

    Sorry for the somewhat delayed reply, since the irony of my situation is that I tend to be much more busy on the weekends than on the weekdays… In either case, I guess if the “planar travel” dirigible won’t float off the ground I’d like to broaden my concept: end in all, I would be interesting in writing a series of entries in Kamas’s journal outlining a sort of fan fiction. The problem that I’m faced while doing so is the nature of his career path: wizardry. Perhaps my obstacle is my intention to stick to stereotypes, but I feel like a lot of the options where I could take a fanfiction fall outside of my pre-determined role for the character.

    A story involving trial by combat, such as felling a crimson wyrm, seems to lie more within the realm of the fighter or the barbarian. I’d rather leave tales of self-discovery within the bounds of the wilderness for the likes of druids and rangers. A tale of high adventure? Seems much more fitting for a rogue than a scholar, and weaving epics is best left for those of the bardic profession. Other paths of devotion, such as those of clerics, monks, and paladins… if a great tale is to be told about their career paths, it would be one of great service to their patrons, whether that is a specific deity or simply the conquest of good over evil (or law over chaos, if thought drifts back to our fast-fisted friends). Sorcerers, even with their overtly similar nature to the wizard, are rather different… their power comes from their heritage, and they are not ones to flourish in the introverted world of an arcane library.

    A wizard, on the other hand, is a scholar. In the fantasy genre, he seems to be the equivalent of a scientist, and to match his goals to run parallel with a soldier, scoundrel, or politician seems a disservice to his vows in the study of magic. His studies are often presented as their life goals: Tenser, Bigby, Leomund, Melf, and Otiluke… their nature as great wizards is most remembered by the discoveries that they left in their wake. Mordenkainen is just as synonymous with the Disjunction as Einstein is with E=mc^2. Whereas a great warrior’s heart would fill with glory at the moment he lifts a scarlet blade over his head, blood and sweat streaming down his arm as the broken body of an epic adversary lays at his feet, a wizard feels the same as he hoists up a scroll… one of the million crumpled papers around him… and shouts “Eureka!” (after which he inadvertently vanishes in a sickening squelch of arcane mass as his finely tuned theorem falters).

    However, I hope the point I’m trying to make persists: I’d like my story about a great wizard to actually involve… well… wizardry, and not just as a tool to accomplish his goals, but as something that could offer honor to being his lifelong study. I don’t want to rewrite the way magic works. I don’t want to lay down the blueprints for the atomic bomb. Even if it happens to be the equivalent of a carrot dangled on a string in front of his face with no true discovery being made, I’m just hoping to find a hole where a hand can be thrust into the unknown and pulled back with a greater sense of self as a man on the path of science.

    I feel that there is an innate difficulty in simulating an “in-game” discovery of a magical nature. While the Neverwinter engine has been proven tried and true in the concepts combat and dungeoncrawls, it offers little to imitate sitting in the midst of a vast library of texts and performing dozens if not hundreds of arcane experiments with subtle variations in ritual and components of each one… not to mention the countless hours spent in practice, research, meditation, and preparation. I have to admit defeat in not knowing how to actually cast spells myself, or in knowing how the Markshire-ian theory of magic works in general (although Kamas himself would obviously feel at home in its discussion).

    The reason I brought up planar travel is because it (A.) can involve a ritual to perform with such length and complexity that it would only have impact in the fanfiction without interfering with the in-game world, (B.) can be an accidental discovery that may not have a readily available recipe for a repetition (see “carrot on a string”, above) but nevertheless provides a step big enough for a re-evaluation of previously accepted ‘norms’ as is typical of the scientific process, and (C.) a concept relatively new to the fluff of Markshire so that even the smallest new discovery can be considered worthwhile to the “arch”-iest of archmages (unlike, for example, discovering a new material spell component for a Fireball). End in all, though, I was hoping to have Kamas live up to his name has a great wizard and look a little farther than the giants onto whose shoulders he had to climb.

    Too long; didn’t read: How may I reverse-engineer Hel’s laundry detergent?

    Thanks for reading, once again!

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