Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Infinite Latticework of Planar Realities

I have never been a fan of EGG's arrangement of planes. They have always seemed overwrought to me. I find M.A.R. Barker's "infinite latticework" much more to my liking. I recently reread Flamesong and loved the seemingly random arrangement of planes. One misstep in the latticework and you can find yourself with some serious problems!

When designing the World of Yezmyr I decided to chuck EGG's 'classical' planes right out the window. Well, I did keep the Astral Plane, and the Prime Material Plane is pretty much the same as it ever was. Beyond that, however, I made liberal changes. For instance, I don't use the Ethereal Plane. Instead, one accesses other planes by following the appropriate path. Stepping in different places and crossing various 'lines' leads to different realities. In addition to not using the Ethereal Plane, I likewise don't support the concepts of the Positive and Negative energy planes, nor do I have much use for the Concordant Opposition.

Following the Astral Plane and the Prime Material Plane are the Plane of Shadow and the Nullity. The Plane of Shadow is my general purpose home for all manner of preternatural spookiness. It is associated with both the undead and negative energy in general. The Nullity, on the other hand, is where demons come from. (As an aside, none of the demons found in D&D exist in the cosmology of Yezmyr. My demons are all custom, but I'll save those details for a future series of posts.) In any case, if you were to ask me offhand what the Nullity is like, I'd tell you that it's like dereferencing a NULL pointer: therein lies only madness and death.

These planes are followed by an infinite procession of smaller planes and demi-planes. The idea is that I should be able to create these quickly and naturally, with each ideally suited for a specific adventure—or mini-adventure. In fact, I've done just that and created a score of planes for use in future 'unusual' adventures. In addition to custom creations, I have felt free to reference some of my favorite literary realms, including, among others, Jorge Luis Borges' Library of Babel and Brian Aldiss' Hothouse, Non-Stop, and Pile/Elip. That's the beauty of the infinite latticework: there's room for everything—even stuff I decide to like in the future. I'll never run out of room.

It is important to note that there is no 'engineered' organization to these planes. There is no overarching cosmological diagram. These planes simply exist and are multiply interconnected, and that is that. Looking deeply into the details is the province of starry-eyed sorcerers. Suffice it to say that those who are armed with the appropriate knowledge (and psi-drugs) will be able to go far in the dimensional web surrounding the World of Yezmyr. But as with M.A.R. Barker's infinite latticework, one must exercise great caution, for a single misstep can lead to imprisonment, among even worse fates.


Ragnorakk said...

Yes! Fantastic! I tend to think along the same lines, but keep the the Ethereal as more of a 'dimension' than a location. And do not deref the NULL! Cool post!

NetherWerks said...

The more I read about your project, the more I like what you are doing--especially as we do seem to think alike in some respects.

I have never, ever used the Gygax planar-cosmology, and from some of the things he left behind like the story "The Way," I do not think that he really used it the way it has become concretized by corporate hacks. But that is a theory and something for another venue.

One other thing that Barker did that I truly feel is quite inspired is to simply classify all other-planar beings as demons, unless they qualified as something akin to greater servitor, lesser deity, etc. The word was a catch-all for any creature of any type/style/affiliation that came from 'someplace else.' A very minor, yet wonderful approach that really amps-up the weirdness in dealing with planes and so forth.