Posts Tagged ‘Cosmology’

4e Cosmology

On Tuesday I posted about adding new planes to the cosmology of Exploration Age. In today’s post I’d like to discuss Exploration Age’s overlap zones.

If you’re familiar with this blog you may remember the concept of overlap zones from my entry entitled The Planes months ago. Well, I’ve tweaked/completely changed a few things and now I want to show off the new overlap zones in Exploration Age. Take a look at the excerpt from the upcoming Exploration Age Campaign Guide below.

Overlap Zones

On Canus certain planes overlap with the Material Plane in different places. These areas are known as overlap zones. Within these overlap zones there are strange physical effects on the Material Plane. Perhaps more importantly permanent portals can be created between worlds within overlap zones.

Think about creatures who might make their home in or seek to control an overlap zone. A red dragon would make great use of its breath weapon and open a permanent portal to bring forth minions in a Plane of Fire overlap zone. A necromancer might build a tower in a portion of a swamp which overlaps with the Shadowfell to create resilient undead. A demon lord might seek to open an portal in an Abyss overlap zone, in order to bring forth a mighty army.

Overlap zones vary in size. An entire forest might be a Feywild or Arborea overlap zone as might a tiny rose garden on a castle estate. The size and frequency of overlap zones is up to the DM.

Each description below gives a plane and its various overlap zone effects. Any overlap zone effects end once outside the overlap zone, unless otherwise noted in the description.

  • Acheron. A creature gains 10 temporary hit points whenever it reduces another creature to 0 hit points.
  • Arborea. Plants in the zone act at the start of the initiative order. Any evil creature within 5 feet of a sizable plant, such as a tree or bush, must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is restrained by the plant. The restrained creature can use its action to break free by making a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check.
  • Arcadia. Creatures are immune to disease and any creature suffering from a disease is instantly cured upon entering the overlap zone.
  • The Abyss. Demons know the exact whereabouts of any non-evil creature within 100 feet of them.
  • The Beastlands. Any beasts gain a +2 bonus to AC and all creatures have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks.
  • The Blood Fields. The protection from evil and good and dispel evil and good have no effect.
  • Bytopia. At the end of a short or long rest, creatures of a lawful good or neutral good alignment gain 20 temporary hit points.
  • Carceri. When entering the overlap zone, all creatures must succeed on a DC 10 Charisma saving throw. Creatures who fail feel a rush of despair which lasts with them as long as they remain in the overlap zone and stays with the creature for a 24-hour period after leaving the overlap zone. This despair imposes disadvantage on all saving throws.
  • Elysium. Creatures in the overlap zone cannot be frightened.
  • Feywild. Spells which deal acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage deal an extra 5 damage per spell level of that damage type.
  • Gehenna. Creatures gain advantage on Charisma (Deception) checks.
  • Hades. It takes twice as long to gain the benefit of a short or long rest.
  • Limbo. Any solid ground in the area is constantly quaking. Once per hour all standing creatures must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone and take 1d6 bludgeoning damage and the ground around them shakes and moves.
  • Mechanus. Any creature who tries to lie must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be compelled to tell the truth.
  • Mount Celestia. The conjure celestial spell has a duration of 8 hours and does not require concentration.
  • Murderfall. When a creature scores a critical hit, it rolls all of the attack’s damage dice three times and adds them together with any modifiers to calculate damage.
  • The Nine Hells. Devils know the exact whereabouts of any non-evil creature within 100 feet of them.
  • Pandemonium. Strong winds in the area prevent creatures from flying higher than 10 feet off the ground.
  • Plane of Air. Creatures without a fly speed gain a fly speed equal to their walking speed. Creatures with a fly speed have their fly speed doubled.
  • Plane of Earth. While in the zone, an effect that would normally kill a creature instead causes it to regain hit points equal to its hit point maximum and become a petrified stone statue.
  • Plane of Fire. Spells and attacks which deal fire damage, deal an extra 10 fire damage.
  • Plane of Water. Creatures can breathe underwater and creatures with a swim speed have their swim speed doubled.
  • Savalization. Civilized (as determined by the DM) humanoids have disadvantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws and ability checks.
  • Shadowfell. Undead creatures resist all damage except bludgeoning and radiant.
  • Stryfe. Creatures who die are targeted by a reincarnate spell.
  • Ysgard. A creature heals 5 hit points whenever it reduces another creature to 0 hit points.

What Do You Think?

Overlap zones can be used in many campaign settings. Let me know if you plan to use them or a similar idea in your world!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Months ago I wrote about the cosmology of Exploration Age in posts cleverly titled The Planes and More Planes. Since reading the Dungeon Master’s Guide, it’s clear that fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons has fully embraced the multiverse once again. Instead of creating a new cosmology for Exploration Age, I’ve decided it’s part of the D&D multiverse. That being said, Exploration Age is my setting. While I’m adding a new material plane to The Great Wheel, I also have a few other planes of my own to add. Take a look at the excerpt from the upcoming Exploration Age Campaign Guide below. Some of you may recognize these planes as updated versions of those seen in the previous posts.

New Planes

Canus is part of the multiverse. From there one can journey to many other fantastic worlds. While many of these planes of existence are worlds discussed in other books, there are some introduced for the first time in this text. Below are new planes which can be used as part of an Exploration Age campaign.

Blood Fields

There is a plane which connects The Nine Hells to The Abyss. Here, many battles of the Blood War between devils and demons play out. Whatever this plane’s natural form, the Blood War’s battles long ago changed the environment. Boiling rivers of blood, acid rain, mountains which spew thunder and lightning, swirling winds of necrotic energy, and more ravage the land.

Because of all the battles fought on the Blood Fields, it is possible to find discarded Abyssal and Infernal weapons of great power… provided a person could survive the harsh environments and the battles between bloodthirsty fiends.

Optional Rule: Power in Slaughter

When one creature kills another with an attack, the attacking creatures gains a +5 bonus to damage rolls until the end of its next turn.


An infinite region of mountains, forests, tunnels, and swamps makeup Murderfall, the land where everything wants to kill everything else. All life native to this plane takes pleasure in murder and the death of others. The creatures who live here are mostly human, but elves, dwarves, halflings, and others can also be found hunting each other in the wilds. These humanoids will occasionally band together for survival and to hunt. Despite sometimes lasting for several years, these small groups always end in violence and death. The individuals know it when the groups form. No one dies of old age in Murderfall.

The animals and many plants here are just as violent as the humanoids. Carnivores kill more than they can eat and prey on each other. Herbivores might eat plants, but they charge, bite, and attack any life they have a chance of killing. Huge Venus flytraps, assassin vines, poison-spore-spewing fungi, razorvine, and more make up the dangerous plant life.

More nefarious individuals will often send their enemies to Murderfall. Doing this almost guarantees a person will disappear never to return.

Optional Rule: Seducing Violence

When outsiders enter Murderfall, they must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. A failed save allows the murderous magic of the plane to take hold of victims’ mind and creatures who fail attack any other living creature they can sense until it dies. Creatures who fail this saving throw can repeat it again at the end of their next turn, ending the effect on a success. Creatures must make a new saving every 24 hours spent on Murderfall. If they leave Murderfall the effect ends. Creatures native to Murderfall are immune to this effect.


There is a strange plane which overlaps with the Material Plane, like the Shadowfell or the Feywild. In Savalization those who are considered savage humanoids on other planes rule the land, while those who would be considered civilized humanoids live in mountain caves, underground caverns, dank swamps, and dark ruins. This strange world is ruled by cultured, well-dressed ogres, gnolls, and more, who try to keep the humans, elves, and other raiding species at bay. Humanoids from other planes who travel to this world are as misunderstood as they are confused. This confusion usually means that few travel to Savalization and most of its natives do not leave the plane for the same reason. On most other planes an ogre is almost always to met with swords and arrows, even if that ogre is a well-spoken fop.

Those outsiders who dare to venture into Savalization can find very rare art and objects created by these unique civilizations. Some brave merchants are making plans to open trade routes to Savalization since the profits could be enormous. Of course one wrong could ignite a planar war that wouldn’t be good for anyone. Savalization’s armies have some of the greatest warriors in the multiverse.

Optional Rule: Savage Species

Whenever an outsider of a normally civilized race (usually those available as PC races, but the ultimate choice lies with the DM) enters Savalization, that creature must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, that creature’s Intelligence and Wisdom scores are lowered by 2 to a minimum of 3 and its Strength and Constitution scores are raised by 2 to a maximum of 24. If the creature leaves Savalization, this effect ends.


Stryfe is an outer plane locked in perpetual war. The rakshasa and the deva fight in a never-ending battle of opposed dichotomies on an infinite sea of dark sky and islands of stormy clouds which create the plane. In this exhaustive war the participants are constantly reborn – sometimes as the beings which they claim to hate the most.

For when deva are slain on Stryfe they are reborn, but if they have lived a wicked life they come back as rakshasa. If rakshasa are slain, they too are reborn, but if their hearts have been changed from evil to good they are reborn as deva. Each side believes that if they are able to fully convert the other, their almighty God, Zaxa, will live again.

Deva have bards who sing at the top of their voices in battles. These bards focus on songs of selfless heroic deeds and the value of good. It is the hope of the deva forces these songs will change the hearts of the rakshasa before their deaths in battle and bring the evil beings back as one of the deva’s own. This tactic rarely works, but it is only one method the deva use to convert their foes. Many defeated rakshasa are taken as prisoners of the deva, confined to small, anti-magic cells, where they are shackled. The deva then engage the rakshasa in a sort of conditioning to try to make them see the light. This tactic has some success, but the rakshasa actually seem to be slowly winning the war.

The rakshasa tactic is very straight forward. They commit acts of atrocious evil against the deva and try to make the deva retaliate in kind. The eternal war has broken the spirit of many deva and some are pushed over the edge by the horrific acts of the rakshasa.

Optional Rule: Reincarnation

When a creature who is not a rakshasa or a deva dies on Stryfe, that creature is immediately affected by a reincarnate spell.

Do You Like ‘Em?

So what do you think of these new planes? Would you use them in your game? Let me know and sound off in the comments below!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Hey, everyone, I’m on vacation with my lovely girlfriend in Chicago this week, so I’m going to keep this intro brief. About a month ago, I did a post about the cosmology of Exploration Age. This post was by far my most viewed ever (thank you!), so I’m going to share a few more of the world’s planes from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. So without further adieu, I’ll go back to eating meats and deep dish pizza, and you can get onto the good stuff!


The thrill and excitement of war is alive and well in Battleguard. For reasons unknown, the greatest warriors of Canus first arrive in Battleguard when they die. These warriors here are in one final contest for the thrill of battle. Those who kill 100 others in Battleguard are sent back to Canus, reincarnated. Those who die on this plane are forever dead and cannot be brought back to life through any means. Warriors here are often gleeful, delighting in one last clash before passing into the unknown. The plane itself is an infinite field of tall grass and hills with cool temperatures at night and warm spring temperatures during the day.

Overlap Zone

Anytime a creature is killed by another creature’s attack, the attacker regains 20 hit points.

Blood Plains

The ever-raging Blood War between demons and devils has most of its battles on the Blood Plains – an infinite place of volcanic jungle islands surrounded by seas of lava. These mighty fiends clash on air, land, and sea on a plane which overlaps with both the Abyss and the Hells in many places with permanent portals abound. The Blood Plains are the unfortunate bridge between these two awful worlds.

Overlap Zone

All creatures in the area resist acid, cold, fire, and lightning damage.


The hands never fail to freak me out.

Biatopia is a plane covered in two sides perpetually at war. The rakshasa fight the deva in a never-ending battle of opposed dichotomies on the infinite sea of sky and islands of solid cloud which create Biatopia. No side seems to ever gain the upper hand in this exhaustive war as the participants are constantly reborn – sometimes as the thing which they claim to hate the most.

Overlap Zone

Creatures who die here are reincarnated per the spell.

The Cage

An infinite plane of barren mountains is referred to as the Cage. Initially, when this plane was discovered it was empty. The strange pink mists within the plane serve as sustenance for any living creatures who stay in the barren land. However, the rocky terrain is mind-numbingly boring and there is no natural beauty to the arid wasteland. It has become a place for people to throw prisoners they never wish to see again. Any permanent portals on the Material Plane to the Cage are heavily guarded or have been sealed, since the Cage is full of dangerous criminals and others who the various governments of Canus do not wish to see walking free.

Overlap Zone

Creatures in the area to not need to eat or drink.


The rolling, clean mountains of Angelia are the homes of the angels. In Exploration Age the angels do not claim to serve specific gods, but rather serve as a force for good within the multiverse. They make their homes amongst enormous palaces and castles high atop the cloud-covered peaks of Angelia. Rarely do they insert themselves into the affairs of mortals and the Material Plane. It is but one world amongst many in the multiverse which the forces of evil might consume. The angels look at the multiverse as a whole, and they focus their energies mostly on disrupting activity within the Hells and the Abyss.

Overlap Zone

Spells and rituals which summon angels have their durations doubled.

Swirling Chaos of Mispuria

An infinite maze which constantly rearranges itself via floating walls, floors, ceilings, staircases, doorways, and more. This place is home to the slaadi and other creatures of chaos. It is difficult to find a way from one area to the next with the world constantly rebuilding itself. One must be careful, since the Swirling Chaos of Mispuria’s maze is suspended in an infinite sea of swirling colors and elemental madness. Falling into this strange sea is not advised, since none have ever returned. Since the world is constantly rearranging at anytime a pathway into this sea could open beneath a creature with little warning.

Overlap Zone

The landforms in the area are constantly changing. There is a 30% chance every round of a random landform being created or destroyed. The GM may roll on the table below for a random landform, which can appear or disappear from the area.

1 tree
2 lake
3 hill
4 valley
5 river
6 volcano
7 swamp
8 mountain
9 glacier
10 desert
11 thorn bush
12 cave
13 marsh
14 hot spring
15 cold spring
16 canyon
17 sinkhole
18 lava lake
19 lava river
20 roll twice on this table

Stringent Lands of Mechanique

In Mechanique, rules and order are king. The lava filled plane is home to fire-resistant metal cities built inside inactive volcanoes. Everything within these cities is clockwork, mechanical, and orderly. The world is full of living constructs who abhor chaos and go about their predictable daily routines. Any who break the strict laws are punished harshly. Even outsiders must know the laws for Mechanique, for no exceptions can be made if order is to stay.

Overlap Zone

Any creature who tries to lie must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be compelled to tell the truth.

Poll Time

So those are some more planes for you! Let me know what you think. Also, if you have a moment, please let me know what your favorite plane is and if you think I should include it in Exploration Age.

Speaking of letting me know stuff, if you’ve been following the blog, but haven’t filled out the poll below yet, please do. I want to know if your interested in Exploration Age and if you’d buy the PDF of the campaign guide I’m putting together. Thanks!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Is there anything tougher to crack than cosmology? For me the answer is no. Throughout its history, Dungeons and Dragons has handled various planes of existence in all sorts of ways. There is The Great Wheel, Spelljammer, the oft-malign and easily understood Fourth Edition cosmology, World Axis (I got your back, James Wyatt), and so on. What’s a designer to do when in creating one world he realizes now he needs to create a whole multiverse to go with that world?

How I felt when I discovered I had to create worlds beyond Canus to make Exploration Age feel complete.

Personal Likes and Dislikes

My biggest problem with multiverses is that they always seemed overly complicated. I know I’m going to get some flack for saying that, but that’s my personal opinion. Don’t get me wrong, as a DM I love delving into the more complicated minutia between various planes. There are connections and pathways and Demiplanes, Outer Planes, Inner Planes, coterminous planes, coexistent planes, and on and on. Yet for players these complications are dull and slow down gameplay. For the most part they don’t care which plane borders which and how the map of multiverse is drawn.

The thing I love most about the planes are the little details which affect gameplay for the players – the silvery chord tethering a creature back to its body on the Material Plane when traveling through the Astral Plane, or the ability to travel more quickly in the Plane of Shadow are good examples. These concepts are more easily understood by players because they have tangible and immediate effects. They remember the Elemental Plane of Air because they have personal directional gravity in a huge, open, infinite expanse of sky, not because it’s one of the inner planes. These are the details which make planar travel in an RPG interesting.

To be honest I enjoy the variety of planes within The Great Wheel. I want that level of variety in the multiverse of Exploration Age. However I want the simplicity of a Fourth Edition World Axis layout for my players who don’t care that the Elemental Planes are Inner Planes and Celestia is an Outer Plane and all the details which go along with those distinctions.

If your planar map looks like this something has gone wrong.

Sweet, sweet, easy to understand World Axis cosmology.

Cosmology in Exploration Age

So first things, first. Let me be clear here – if you choose to run an Exploration Age campaign you can use any cosmology you want. If you don’t like what I’ve laid out here, that’s totally, 100% fine. Bring The Great Wheel, Fourth Edition’s World Axis cosmology, or any system you want into Exploration Age and play with that. That’s what tabletop RPGs are all about and 95% of Exploration Age’s content deals with the Material Plane anyway.

That being said, here’s what I’d like to present as the default cosmology for Exploration Age is this – certain planes, such as the Ethereal Plane and Plane of Shadow are Coterminous. They overlap completely and in all areas with the Material Plane, like they always have been. This allows for use of spells like shadow walk and blink to be used and to get some of D&D’s most classic planes into the Exploration Age multiverse. Many other planes, not just The Material Plane, have an Ethereal Plane and Plane of Shadow which are coterminous.

Then there are the Reflections – worlds of the same size and with similar natural landforms as the Material Plane. This includes Fourth Edition’s Shadowfell and Feywild and allows for the freaky fun looks-like-our-world-but-totally-isn’t-our-world effect that one gets while adventuring in a plane which reflects our own world.

Other planes are not Conterminous nor Reflections, but they do overlap with The Material Plane in certain places. These areas of overlap are where one might find a standing portal on Canus to a particular plane. One must be careful when using these gateways for sometimes they only work one way. So an adventurer might be able to leave Canus through a portal, but not return, or a monster could wander through a portal in an Overlap Zone and be stuck on the Material Plane.

This overlap also creates Overlap Zones – small areas where the barrier between worlds is thin creating strange environmental effects. It is even possible, in rare places, to have overlap between Overlap Zones. These planes do not just overlap with Canus’ Material Plane. They can overlap with one another (so it is possible to be travel through the Elemental Plane of Fire and encounter an Overlap Zone with The Abyss).

Of course it is possible to travel from one plane to another without being in an Overlap Zone. Spells, rituals, magic objects, and more can take a person from one plane to the next. Overlap zones just make extra-planar travel much easier.

The Astral Plane, which is technically the space between the other planes and the Far Realm are exceptional planes and do not fall into any of the above categories.

In Exploration Age when people die, their souls eventually pass onto the unknown, beyond the multiverse and if there are any gods, they too are beyond the multiverse. This changes things a bit for a few of the classic D&D planes, since the gods and the dead will be spending their time elsewhere.

Let me know what you think about the proposed layout above. For the most part Exploration Age’s planes will be familiar. I’ve already made an entire world with tons of adventure hooks and I didn’t feel the need to remake the wheel when it came to the multiverse (pun intended).


I couldn’t resist adding a few planes of my own design. Take a look at the two below and let me know what you think!


There is a strange Reflection plane where what are considered monsters in Canus rule the land, while what would be considered civilized humanoids live in caves, swamps, and dank, dark ruins. This strange world is ruled by well-dressed ogres, gnolls, and more, who try to keep the humans, elves, and other savage species at bay. Humanoids from the Material Plane who travel to this world are as misunderstood as they are confused.


An infinite region of mountains, forests, tunnels, and swamp makeup Murderfall, the land where everyone wants to kill everyone else. When outsiders enter the plane, they must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or attack any living creature they can sense until it dies. They make a new saving throw after 24 hours to try and end the effect. If they leave Murderfall the effect ends. Creatures native to Murderfall are immune to this effect, but they are all vicious, territorial loners, so it may seem they are under this effect anyway. Essentially everything in this plane is stalking or being stalked.

Overlap Zone All critical hits deal twice the maximum amount of damage.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!