View Full Version : Clarification on the Main Overarching Backplot Please!

2009-10-01, 11:57 AM
I... have a question. And it's sort of a large one. This is my second post on the forums here, having usually been content to pour over my books and write up characters for campaigns, but I've recently started to DM 4th Ed. I've had experience with 3.5, playing and DMing, and I've got a large number of 3.5 and 4th ed books (not to mention quite a few 3.0 books, a good number of 2.0s, and a few rare 1.0s that I'm proud of!) So I've got a generally good idea of the lore from 1st through 4th, obviously increasing in knowledge the later we go on.

And I've noticed a few things. Myths that correlate, ideas that mesh across different cultures' myths and different themes brought cross-campaign setting.

So I did a little digging, looked through sourcebooks, articles, worked with friends, asked old DMs I know, read oldschool main campaign lines for old plot threads, and found some strong correlations in certain places.

And so I'm wondering. I'm not gonna totally bore people with my own theories unless specifically asked; this thread is here to help my search for information and fill in some holes in a theoretical timeline, not to try and show how awesome I am or some bull. That said, I'm curious... is there a Unified Dungeons and Dragons Backstory, from creation of the multiverse to the current time? 3.5 or 4th ed meaning "the current time", depending on whether or not you think that 3.5 continues into 4.0 or if there's a halt? And if there is, are the different campaign settings - Faerun and Ebberon most specifically, Planeswalker and Spelljammer are far too easy to fit into any cross-continuity - involved with eachother in any way?

I'd just like some opinions other than my own. I tend to get caught up in my own ideas, and it'd be nice to see if there was something I'd been missing, or if I'd simply been on a wild goose chase.

2009-10-01, 12:43 PM
D&D is generic fantasy hot pot... a culmination of anything and everything you wanted in your fantasy game, from magical elven princesses to tentacle poop monsters. to the wizard Tippy to the wizard Tim.

there cannot be a single unifying plot since D&D has no default setting. 3rd ed assumed Grayhawk but never said it... it just presented a lot of grayhawk elements. some of those elements are brought over when an edition changes, but it's just that... porting over an element.

4th ed doesn't have a setting. at best a pseudo-setting in "points of light" which is just a theme that the world is dangerous and civilized outposts are few and far in-between. which means there are lots of ancient tombs and goblin villages to pillage when going from Townsville to Citiesburgh.

as for the different settings they are all separate and independent from each other except for 2 instances:

Spelljammer, which is D&D... IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE which essentially lets you cross dimensions/reality hop in your interstellar spaceship. the other is Ravenloft, which can just pop in and out of most any setting & kidnap any poor schmoe, but your chances of leaving aren't quite so good.

Spelljammer is a byproduct of "what would happen if [character from setting A] happened to get into [setting B]? how would that happen though? um... Tinker gnome built space shuttles powered by giant space hamsters (http://www.headinjurytheater.com/images/d&d%20beasts%20giant%20space%20hamster.jpg)? works for me!"

2009-10-01, 12:55 PM
even in the published settings there isn't so much as A single set creation story, there are more of "it said it had something to with ...." with little hints of stories. This is done on purpose so that dms can use them as plot hooks without some player saying "wait thats not what the sourcebook says!"

for instance, the 3.0 forgotten realms cs has a paragraph (at the beginning of the chapter that introduces the world) that says something about AO creating the world and the first gods, and the gods doing something else. And it suggests an order that some of the races appeared. But in a 2nd ed fluff book (volo's guide to all things magical, by a harper named volo with annotations by elmister) there is legend about how the dragons were the first beings (as in before the lesser gods)

in anycase each pantheon should have their own creation story and the dm should use them or change them as he/she sees fit.

2009-10-01, 01:04 PM
Har har, Giant Space Hamsters. That game shall forever be in my library.

Alright... I can see that I may have been going about this the wrong way. I may have jumped the gun; it seemed to me that many of the origin stories sort of carried over in a way, and the fact that the planes layout is generally the same across the major campaign settings (edition shifts notwithstanding, of course; no sense in comparing 3.5 Ebberon to 4.0 Faerun, etc.) and that there appeared to be this duality/World Serpent mythos to the ordering of the planes thereafter. And then we have things like Spelljammer, which can travel to the different Prime Materium worlds, and Sigil, which appears in many of the major books, but it makes sense to allow the possibility for something like that within the campaign settings without there being something completely solid to base it upon.

There is one question then, that I suppose I have as a final loose end. I've read that Ravenloft is definitely tied into Greyhawk, Vecna having travelled from one to the other and back again before his ascention to godhood. Were they crossing canons? Or simply creating an alternate Ravenloft to coincide with the plot?

2009-10-01, 01:22 PM
That would be the Die, Vecna, Die! (http://www.amazon.com/Die-Vecna-Dungeons-Dragons/dp/0786916621) series, which crossed over Planescape and Greyhawk and Ravenloft with backstabbing and treachery galore. It's canon that they're all part of the same Multiverse, with the Great Wheel and all that jazz.

Speaking of which, both Eberron and 4th's nameless default setting have planar cosmologies that are completely different than Planescape's. Which isn't to say that they can't be in some shared meta-multiverse, but you're going to have to bend over backwards to get the fiddly details of the metaphysics to work out.

(And it is a setting, just extremely bare bones. Parts of it are really evocative.)

2009-10-01, 02:01 PM
What you say is true, for sure. Planescape's Great Wheel and the cross-based 4th Ed planar system don't match up at all. At the same time, though, at least as far as 4th ed goes, I can't say I agree quite yet. Firstly, Planescape hasn't been fully adapted to 4th Ed yet. I'm not going to make any one-to-one judgments about any sort of concordant cosmology until I at least see anything official about 4th Ed Planescape content.

Alongside that, however, I'm also going to mention that Sigil does exist in this 4th ed Greyhawk knockoff and Ebberon, and is also a part of Faerun, though not specifically part of its cosmology. I'm still going to wait for Planescape; I've seen nothing about Sigil in the 4th ed Campaign Guide for Faerun. But for the place that is everywhere and nowhere at once, it would seem very odd for it not to appear there. The Great Wheel cosmology might not be around anymore (though mentioned in the newest Manual to the Planes), but Sigil itself really was the setting of Planescape anyways as opposed to the cosmology it inhabited. If we ditch the Great Wheel concept and simply replace it with the 4th Ed version, everything seems as dandy as before.

The discrepancies, then, lay in the differences between the other campaign settings (I.E. Ebberon, Realms) and this new psudo-Greyhawk. Some of the canon carries over; end of the Spellplauge, end of the Last War, and Tharizdun's continued existence. Planescape and the new DMG is supposed to shed some light on this, I think, seeing as Sigil seems to be the main connecting point (if we disregard the statted out Spelljammer craft detailed in the Manual).