Metaphysics: Laws and Characteristics of the Multiverse
Table of Contents
- Metagame Comments
- Nature of Existence
- Nature of the Planes
- Nature of the Gods
- The Worship Mechanism
- The Planar Connection: The Transitive Plane
- The Maelstrom
- The Barrier Plane and the Penumbra
- The Material Plane (The Universe)
- Nature of Magic
- The Holy Elven Swan
The planes of the multiverse in which Núrion is set are somewhat different than the planes of the standard Dungeons & Dragons© 5E campaign setting, although they do share some similarities. The differences are detailed below. Where a difference is not specified, the reader should assume that the plane is otherwise similar to the standard Dungeons & Dragons© 5E cosmology.
Following each section are highlights that point out at a glance some of the main differences. These metagame comments are given in italics.
Nature of Existence
Before any of the planes came into being, the Alignment Forces, ontological embodiments of ethics and organization, existed. They have always been and always will be, and as such, they are the most real things in the universe, as an eternal thing is more real than a transient thing. By their very nature, these Forces are locked in eternal ethical struggle, with Pure Neutrality struggling for balance. These forces are not sentient, but in some mysterious way they are able to respond and take action.
Among the Forces, ethical allegiances tend to be more important than organizational forces, and thus the Good Forces seem more readily able to tolerate each other, and it is the same for the Evil Forces. In order to prosecute their eternal conflict, the Forces somehow emanated the Greater Planes of existence, one plane for each Force. The totality of the exuded planes is known as the Multiverse, or the Great Sphere.
- The Multiverse, called the Great Sphere, was spawned by the Alignment Forces, strange non-sentient Powers.
- Each Alignment Force is engaged in Eternal Strife with its opposite.
- To Good and Evil ontological aligned Forces and things, their ethical alignment is more important than their organizational alignment, and thus they will tend to ally with each other.
Nature of the Planes
The Greater Planes (also known as the Outer Planes), being direct emanations from the Forces, are themselves absolutely ethically aligned in the same way that the Forces are aligned. The very lands of these planes are made up of spiritual material exuded from the Alignment Forces. Subsequently creatures were born out of each plane to inhabit it. These creatures are made of the same material as the plane from which they were exuded, and they are absolutely of the same alignment as that represented by their plane. They cannot change alignment. For example, an angel born from the lawful good plane of Heaven is absolutely lawful good and could never be evil.
The planes, once in existence, drifted towards each other in a brute force attempt to crush their opposition. The plane of Pure Neutrality, called Concordance, desiring balance, interposed itself between the planes. The planes continued to move towards their opposites, however, compressing the Concordance into a dense plane much smaller than its original expanse. The pressure placed on Concordance was huge, but it was not strong enough to crush it completely, and the plane of Concordance was thus successful in buffering antithetical planes from coming into direct contact with each other. Thus the Multiverse formed into the shape of a great sphere, as none of the planes was infinite, although each plane is the size of many universes. The planes are bounded by the Outer Barrier, an impenetrable one-way barrier through which the Forces can send power into the Multiverse. Nor do any of the planes have vertical layers. The layers of the planes proceed outward-each plane's first layer is nearest to Concordance, and each plane's last layer is nearest to the Outer Barrier.
Each plane also rubbed against the planes on either side of it, even as it tried to move to crush its opponent. The grinding friction of the contact created energy, literally liquefying some of the alignment material of each plane and turning it into pure, unaligned energy. The energy flowed down toward the center of the sphere of the Multiverse, carving huge spiritual grooves, riverbeds for the energy, between all of the planes. Upon contacting the Concordance at the center of the sphere, the energy from the grinding scoured many small channels through it until the energy pooled at the heart, creating the Maelstrom of Friction.
At the center of this heat and energy, caused by the pressure of the crushing planes, a flawless gem formed like a diamond at the center of the earth. The Alignment Forces themselves took notice of this utterly beautiful gem, the Lifestone, and somehow in their mystical way conceived that it was the key to winning the eternal struggle.
- The Greater Planes, or the Outer Planes, are extensions of each Alignment Force. Their main goal is to conquer their opposite and eventually all other opposition.
- The denizens of the Greater Planes are exuded by the planes themselves in order to work toward the goal of each Alignment Force.
- No plane is infinite in size, although each is staggeringly large. Beyond the planes are the Alignment Forces, which each extend away infinitely from the Great Sphere.
- The grinding and pressing of the planes created raw unaligned friction energy, which flowed toward the center of the Great Sphere, scouring the Astral Plane and pooling in the center of Concordance.
- This pool of unaligned energy is the Maelstrom of Friction or simply the Maelstrom.
- The levels of each plane proceed from the center, with level one being closest to Concordance and the last level being closest to the Outer Barrier.
- The pressure of the pressing planes created the Lifestone of the Multiverse, which would become Núrion.
- All of the Greater Planes are coterminous with the Astral Plane and with the Outer Barrier.
Nature of the Gods
The Forces then emanated the gods, beings more powerful than any of the other denizens of the Multiverse, although they are not omnipotent or omniscient. Each of the gods claimed the plane into which he or she was born to rule over. Immediately the gods begin the Ontological War over the Lifestone, but because of the intervention of the Pure Neutral god Dekk, no god could gain an edge. Thus the gods of Evil each gave up some of their power to create the Triune god Vornoth. Vornoth then attacked the gods of Good and almost defeated them, until the Good Alignment Forces each exuded another god. The gods then each created a demi-god to do his or her bidding, a being which could have more influence on the universe of Núrion.
Vornoth later used an answering power from the Evil Alignment forces to construct an artifact, which allowed him to kill almost all of the gods of evil and make use of their power.
- The gods were emanated by the Forces to rule over each Plane and to serve as generals in the Eternal Strife, also known as the Ontological War.
- Gods, while greatly powerful, are not omnipotent or omniscient.
- Vornoth is the Triune God, created from a portion of each of the original gods of evil.
- Each god created a demi-god to serve him or her.
The Worship Mechanism
It later became clear why the Lifestone, Núrion, was the key to the alignment wars. The free-willed, non-aligned races that the gods were to create thereon could increase the power of individual gods by worshipping them; in doing so, the natives of the material Plane reflect the unaligned energy of the Maelstrom back to the gods. As the Maelstrom is renewable and potentially limitless, the amount of power any single god could absorb from it is also theoretically without limit. The worshippers on Núrion also reflect the power of Tanarus and Sulis out to the gods through the worship mechanism. This power is aligned to the god Dekk, however, and as such other gods cannot use it.
- Gods get stronger when creatures on the material plane worship them, because such worship channels back some of the energy of the Maelstrom, which each god uses as fuel to increase his or her own personal power.
- This is called the Worship Mechanism, and it is theoretically the key for any single god and thus any single Alignment Force to win the Ontological war.
The Planar Connection: The Transitive Plane
The spiritual grooves carved by the movement of energy flowing between the edges of all the planes are known as the Transitive Plane or the Astral Plane. These passages also traverse Concordance. These spiritual "riverbeds" can be used to traverse the planes, allowing travel to the edges of the Greater Planes. Moreover, they let the reflected energy of the Maelstrom, that sent back by worshippers through the Worship Mechanism, to siphon out to the individual gods.
- The Astral Plane is the channels scoured by the passage of rivers of friction energy caused by the grinding of the planes.
- These riverbeds transverse Concordance and the Ethereal Plane, and allow energy to pass back to the gods in the form of worship.
- These riverbeds allow travel between the inner planes and the Greater Planes.
- The Astral Plane is coterminous with every plane of existence and with the Outer Barrier.
Originally Concordance was the size of any of the other planes, but the crushing pressure of the warring planes squeezed it down to its present size. That pressure caused the core of Concordance to "grow molten" with energy and pressure. This molten center was then fed by the energy created from the grinding of the planes, and the pooling of all that energy is called the Maelstrom of Friction. This is a place of all of the energy types, including positive and negative energy, mixed together. The energy here is not aligned.
As such, there are no elemental planes. Elementals summoned to Núrion are pure energy personified. When they return to the Maelstrom, they de-personify and return to pure energy. Therefore they only exist as individual sentient creatures when on Núrion.
Generally speaking it is impossible for any being to exist in the Maelstrom, because of its raw destructive energy and its crushing pressure.
- The Maelstrom of Friction is the molten core of Concordance fed by the rivers of friction energy caused by the grinding of the planes. It lies at the center of the Multiverse.
- It is made up of raw, unaligned energy.
- The energy of the Maelstrom can become acid, cold, electricity, fire, sonic, force, positive energy, negative energy, and theoretically other forms of energy, under the right conditions, but in and of itself it is none of these. It is unspecified energy.
- There are no elemental planes. Elementals are a tiny spark of energy from the Maelstrom given specificity and personified when on another plane, usually the Material Plane. Once they return to the Maelstrom they rejoin its vast pool of energy, losing their sentience.
- No sentient being is native to the Maelstrom or can live in its crushing energy.
- The Maelstrom is coterminous with Concordance and the Ethereal Barrier, and with the Universe in certain spots (through the star holes).
The Barrier Plane and the Penumbra
Around the shell of the Universe of Núrion, the god Dekk created a thin, membranous buffer to protect it from the energy of the Maelstrom. This plane is called the Barrier Plane or the Ethereal Plane. It actually coats the entirety of the material Plane, acting as an insulator. Because it is so closely connected to it, the Material Plane itself is visible from the Ethereal Plane, but it appears muted, blurred, colorless, and indistinct. The Ethereal Plane too is pierced by the spiritual channels of the Astral Plane.
The Penumbra, also known as the Plane of Shadow, is literally the shadow cast by the shining light of the Maelstrom being partially blocked by the Ethereal Barrier's translucence. The strange powers of the Maelstrom actually turned this shadow into a navigable place, a small sliver of plane that lies between the Ethereal Plane and the Universe Shell. Because of the nature of shadows, distance on this plane is actually quite different than distance on the Material Plane.
- The Barrier Plane, or the Ethereal Plane, was created by the god Dekk to insulate the Material Plane from the energy of the Maelstrom. It surrounds and permeates the Material Plane and is coexistent with it.
- The Penumbra is the shadow cast by the light of the Maelstrom shining through the cloud of the Barrier Plane; this magical shadow is an actual plane of existence.
- The Penumbra is coexistent with the Material Plane and coterminous with the Ethereal Barrier.
The Material Plane (The Universe)
In the middle of the Concordance was all of the non-spiritual matter of the universe. This compressed due to unimaginable heat and pressure and formed into a shining gem, like the diamond of the Multiverse. At first nothing else but the gem, called the Lifestone, existed at the center. Because of the actions of the gods, this gem was damaged. It was renamed Núrion, the Shattered Jewel, and it took on the characteristics it has today. To enclose the gem, Dekk created the Universe Shell as a container for it, and he placed the gem at its center. To let illumination into the dark, empty void of the shell, Dekk pierced it with many small holes through which the light of the Maelstrom could shine. These stationary holes are the stars.
The universe in which Núrion is contained has one sun, an entity called Tanarus, and one moon, an entity called Sulis, or Iluminal by the Elves. Dekk created both of these orbs to radiate the energies of life to Núrion. Núrion's universe also contains several planets, broken off from the gem during the strikes from the gods. All the other planets are lifeless. There are no other suns or solar systems therein besides the one that contains Núrion. Moreover, there is no way to get to other prime material planes from Núrion, for no other universes exist. The universe as described is literally all there is.
Worshippers on Núrion, because of their position in the universe and because they are not direct emanations of the Alignment Forces, are able to channel the energy of the Maelstrom back to the gods themselves, actually increasing their original raw power. This potentially would allow one god and thus one alignment to win the eternal struggle; this fact is what the Alignment Forces perceived about the Lifestone-it is the key to potential victory in the Ontological War. This is also the reason for the Dark Conquest; Vornoth tried to forcibly convert the entire world to his worship in order to increase his personal power. Along with the Maelstrom energy, worshippers on Núrion also reflect small slivers of the energy of the sun and moon out to the gods. This energy, originally stemming from Dekk, however, cannot be absorbed by the gods.
- The god Dekk created a dark case, the Universe Shell, to house the Shattered Jewel, Núrion.
- The planet Núrion is at the center of the Universe Shell.
- The sun and moon are forces created by the god Dekk to give sustenance to Núrion.
- The stars in the sky are stationary holes in the Universe Shell through which the light and energy of the Maelstrom shine.
- The creatures of the Material Plane, because of their position in the Multiverse and because they are not created straight from the spiritual substance of the Greater Planes, can freely choose with which force to align themselves, and as such they can channel the power of the Maelstrom, increasing the power of each god.
Nature of Magic
Magic is the act of channeling and shaping power to produce various results. There are two broad kinds of magic in the universe: Divine Magic and Arcane Magic. The difference between them is based on their source.
Divine Magic comes from the gods and is thus dependent on their will; therefore it is also called Contingent Magic. This clerical magic is directly channeled by the gods themselves through the Astral Plane to their worshippers on Núrion, and the gods choose at the time a cleric asks for his or her spells whether or not to grant them.
There is a strange subset of Divine Magic called Natural Magic. This magic is provided by Tanarus and Sulis, the sun and the moon, entities that radiate the power of life. The god Dekk, the champion of neutrality, originally created these entities and released them to nurture Núrion. Natural Magic is thus Free-Contingent magic. It is actually the power of Dekk, but the god long ago imbued the sun and the moon with his energy and hence does not determine any longer when to grant such magic. The sun and the moon constantly radiate it, allowing those in tune with nature to cast spells, whether or not the spells they cast serve Dekk's will.
Arcane Magic is dependent only on the skill of the wielder to shape it; because the gods have no control over the use of Arcane Magic, such magic is also called Free Magic. The source of Arcane Magic is the raw energy of the Maelstrom. The stars in Núrion's sky are actually little "holes" in the shell of the universe through which the energy from the Maelstrom shines. These holes are ports through which the energy is drawn by Arcane magic users, who shape it into various results. The fact that the energy of the Maelstrom is completely unspecified but contains the seeds of all energy types allows for a myriad of varying effects.
Outsiders on their own planes who cast Arcane magic actually receive the energy as a byproduct of the Worship Mechanism. When the gods receive from worshippers on Núrion power made up of Maelstrom forces, they are unable to absorb it all, and some accidentally reflects off into their surroundings. Outsiders capture some of this reflected raw energy to fuel their Arcane Magic. Similarly, because Natural Magic is the aligned power of Dekk, no other god is able to absorb it, although some is sent into the Outer Planes through worship. All of this Natural energy reflects off the gods into their surroundings. Outsiders use this energy to power their ranger and druid abilities. These energies are likewise available in the Outer Planes for the use of Arcane and Natural casters who are visiting there from the Material Plane. Divine Magic is granted directly by the gods.
- Magic is classifiable according to its source.
- Divine Magic, or Contingent Magic, is granted directly by the gods. Clerics cast Divine Magic.
- Natural Magic, or Free-Contingent Magic, is granted by Tanarus and Sulis, the sun and the moon, although the power originally comes from the god Dekk. Still, Dekk does not determine who receives natural magic. Druids and rangers cast Natural Magic.
- Arcane Magic, or Free Magic, is the energy of the Maelstrom shaped to provide myriad effects. Sorcerers, bards, and wizards cast Arcane Magic. The differences between these classes is how they shape the energy-- sorcerers use their bodies to shape it, bards use their music, and wizards use rituals.
- Arcane energy and Natural energy is sent to the gods by worshippers on Núrion. Because of the voluminous amount of Maelstrom energy, the gods are unable to capture it all, and some reflects off of them before they can use it. Because Natural energy is aligned to the god Dekk, other gods cannot use it; therefore all of this energy type reflects off them. These raw energies suffuse the environments of the Greater Planes, fueling the spells of Arcane and Natural casters on those planes.
The Holy Elven Swan
As the stars are ports through which the power of the Maelstrom flows, providing the fuel for the Arcane magic on Núrion, the Swan Alfain, and later the Swan Luminar, are actually "stars on earth." The god Tal-Allustiel, to give his people the Elves an advantage against the dark hordes, made for them a special rift in the Universe Shell. He clothed the rift in the body of a celestial swan so that the raw energy would not scorch the world. The swan is also similar to the spells that shape the energy of the Maelstrom; it is a living, embodied spell, perhaps more powerful than any spell able to be cast by any single creature on Núrion. The swan provides to the entire Elven race many of the magical abilities for which they are famous, and their proximity to it originally pushed them to extend their study of magic. Through this study they learned to cast the powerful spells so common today, and in friendship they taught this ability to the other races. This was a decision they would later come to regret.
- The Holy Swan of the Elves is in fact a special port through which the energy of the Maelstrom can be directed straight to Núrion.
- The swan shape of the port is actually a permanent spell that provides to the Elven race their magical racial abilities and their acumen with magic.
- The existence of the Swan on Núrion and their proximity to it caused the Elves to invent Arcane spells of levels higher than second. Knowledge of these spells spread to the other races, and now such magic is common.