While I’m focusing most of my worldbuilding in customizing the Forgotten Realms at this time, eventually I wish to make my own campaign world and set all the published campaigns on that. Princes of the Apocalypse already has an Appendix that offers options to set the campaign in different worlds. The reason why I didn’t just get to worldbuilding now is the same reason why some people prefer to enter the pool in the shallow end and work their way to the fun parts once you get accumulated to the water. I want to brainstorm and understand the many parts of worldbuilding and generate enough ideas (this part takes a lot more time and brainpower) to create a meaningful world that players want to adventure in.
As categories go, I tend to create Structurally, where I start with a foundation and blueprint for what I want to make, be it a story, a comic page, or even a campaign. Once I have a decent layout of what the main points is (which need’nt be a perfect skeleton of the finished work; I might find the need for placeholder thoughts and moving things around as I go.) I move on to flesh out the details of the work, adding and tweaking until I get to a presentable form, which I then share with others to critique and comment on so I can further improve on the work. Granted, there may be the use of memes needed and an occasional laughable idea that will be replaced in a later time, but that’s part of my creative process.
An article in gamergate.me has this mindset better illustrated with a World of Goo screenshot and this quote:
Structuralism says that cultural events or values are part of a larger, organized structure. This means that human experience is communicable only through a series of abstract, yet constant, laws. In English? Culture has many varying ideas within it, but what’s really important are the connections between them. It’s no wonder Structuralism was built on top of linguistic models, and languages follow rules and patterns while still being inherently cultural and ever-changing. You can change a connection, or add a new one, but the ideas remain, and may also form new connections, and those links may give rise to new ideas that stand on their own. This gives you a cultural “map.”
Side note here: Autistics would find Structuralism pretty much compatible with their literal-based mindset. Being one myself, you can see why some Auties will go this route, instead of just jumping off the deep end of their imaginations and demand they perform.
With this in mind, I would like to share with my D&D crowd a particular building block I’m going to use in both my customized Forgotten Realms and any future campaign world: The Cosmology Model.
What I did here is combine the old school Cosmology model found in 1st Edition with the 4ed “World Axis” model. In my brainstorming sessions about alternative planes, I found that this hybird works best for me.
The only omission is the Ethereal Plane, which is more related to whatever or not you’re corporeal than anywhere in this particular model. It’s the form of existence Ghosts and Sprits often reside in.
To fully understand the Material Plane, you need to see Cosmos. Either version. The pilot episode of the Neil deGrassie Tyson version has the best illustration of what I’m talking about. The circle marked A is the entire outer space ever seen by everyone in Toril, which is that Dot “Enlarged for Visibility” marked B. Please note that nothing is set to scale.
Nor am I able to create Toril’s version of the “Pale Blue Dot” image in this model.
Everything else is described in accordance to the general consensus in the Published modules. The Positive and Negative planes need not fit right behind the Shadowfell and Feywild planes. (if this image were three dimensional, they would be in a different axis, like what you see in one of those magnetic swinging pendulum toys you might find in Spencer’s Gifts:
The Astral Plane connects to the First ‘Floors’ of the 16 Outer planes as expected, with the City of Doors, Sigil, at the center of this metaphysical circle.
The Elemental Chaos doesn’t include The Abyss like in 4ed, but is a melting pot of the Four Elemental Planes that separate at the outer reaches, just like its own Outer Planes.
The main reason why I’m putting this up now is because there’s a development in my Forgotten Realms cosmology that is effected by both the Sundering and the current spat of Elemental Evil. It concerns the parts where the Feywild connect to both the Astral Plane and the Elemental Chaos, and the Archfey who have as part of their essences connected to either plane. Those who are part Celestial beings are called Ghaele, and the ones with the Elements, Genies. Each group has their personality, traits, and abilities in line to the plane they tapped into, but they’re both equally capricious and mercurial in nature, and both groups have a similar goal: To ensure that the ongoing upheaval caused by the rearrangement of both Celestials (including the deities) and the Elementals does not degrade into another open war like in the primordial ‘Dawn War’ in the origin of D&D realm time. (http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Dawn_War )
In future posts, I’ll describe the Ghaele and the Genies in further detail, and how they involve themselves in my version of the Realms.
And eventually my own original campaign world.