You wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once … Welcome to me thinking things through.
The Structure of the Cosmos: Q
I would have called this a FAQ – but no one has asked any questions yet 😛 But these are questions that I would want to ask.
Where do the gods live, if there aren’t any Outer Planes?
They live on great demi-planes floating somewhere in the Astral Plane. A true god is so powerful, their power so awesome and the abilities so great, that their very presence adds a new bit to their realm each day, in much the same way as a Create Demiplane Spell. The longer a god has existed and the more powerful they are – the larger/greater/ more sophisticated their demiplane is.
Rather than being arranged by alignment, these massive demi-planes are arranged by Pantheon – so the whole pantheon are lodged together – rather than with others of the same alignment. The residents of the gods are often clustered together in the oldest and most developed parts of the joint demiplane – as you move outwards, the joint demiplane become less well-developed and less well sophisticated. All very similar to an Outer Plane 🙂
There might even be a portal from the prima material directly into the realm of the gods. Much as the Greek gods had Mount Olympus and the Norse Gods had Bifrost.
Yeah. I know. How big does a demiplane have to be a plane in its own right? A: As big or as small as you like. Personally, I see the greatest of gods having almost infinite demi-planes.
‘Normal life’ –Humans, Humanoids, Plants, Animals, Insects and even most Monsters are a collection of all the elements (Earth, Wind, Fire and Air bound together by ethereal glue) supported by a ‘life force’. More intelligent things have a larger Spark of Life, while things with any sort of innate ability (bards, gnomes, magical beasts, dragons etc) have Motes of Magic, and some heroes and deities have Shards of Immortality. Anything with Int 2+ has a soul that can pass on to the afterlife.
The bodies of creatures such as Elementals, are made up of one or two elements, although still bound together by ethereal glue. Ethereal beings might just be made of Ethereal glue and a life force.
When a living being dies, the life force is separated from the physical body, although a small amount of Ethereal glue continues to bind the life force together, for a while. This means the life force can’t yet leave The Miasmas that surrounds the Prime Material (Which allows speak to dead, raise dead etc) to work. However, eventually the Ethereal glue weakens and the Spark of Life, as well as any Motes of Magic dissolve back into the astral plane.
This generally happens to non-sentient beings, those who do not believe in an afterlife and those who do not consciously follow a life philosophy.
There are a number of things that bind the Life Force into a soul, and stop, or at least delay,the life force from fading away and everything being returned to their component parts.
Philosophy – some people consciously choose to follow or support a philosophy throughout their life, and their soul may well finish up in a demi-plane created by earlier followers of those views. For example, Nature Priests (Druids, Rangers, Adepts etc) who have followed the Green Faith, but not dedicated themselves to a particular deity. Oracles and some Witches fall into this category. Note that this not an alignment thing – there must be a decision to follow a specific philosophical path.
Belief – a character who follows a religion and has a clear idea of their afterlife, does not fade away. Instead, they make their way to the planes of their gods, and face judgement there. This doesn’t happen immediately, as they need to wait until they can leave the Miasmas before they can complete their journey. However, the soul might be hijacked on that journey (normally by something evil) and taken to a different afterlife instead. It is much better to have a better funeral service where a priest calls on the services of a Psycopomp to act as a guide and protector. This includes most ‘normal’ beings as well as any with a character class that gains divine spells.
Shards of Immortality – heroes who have managed to incorporate at least one Shard of Immortality, but not enough to be truly immortal, do not fade away. They are not strong enough to follow their own destiny – but follow lesser souls, to the afterlife as promised by their religion or philosophy – They often finish up as members of their chosen celestial (or diabolic) hierarchy. If they don’t have a philosophy or religion, they need to find a protector quickly, or else their souls will be snapped up to feed the furnaces of hell (or its equivalent)
Immortal –There are a number of ways to achieve some form of immortality, and each have their own rules that should be followed.
Undead creatures have found a way to replace their Spark of Life with a Mote of Magic – and they live the unlife that they have chosen – or been given.
In some cases, the ‘gift’ of undeath is passed from undead to undead naturally (Vampires) or through spells (Create Undead) or though sophisticated ceremonies enacted before death (Lich). In some cases it comes with the ‘price’ of being controlled by the creator while other undead are free willed.
Many undead (Skeletons, Zombies) retain a physical body – but for others such as Ghosts or Wraiths, the elemental part degrades normally and only the Ethereal glue remains to bind the unlife force together.
High level free-willed undead may have incorporated Shard of Immortality – although they are few and far between.