The Three Worlds: A Primer and Introduction
Three of countless Prime Material worlds overlapping through the Deep Ethereal, the Three Worlds of Masor, Alli’ur, and Hondaro are full of cultures, kingdoms, and dangers. Caught in the grasp of an Age of Heroes, throughout all Three Worlds and more, heroes rise to shape the worlds. Good, bad, and every step in between these heroes through their acts define destiny itself and have influence to rival that of the gods themselves.
What are the Three Worlds:
The Three Worlds are the central versions of the Prime Material plane. They are most completely in alignment with the Outer and Inner Planes, and most thoroughly connected and influenced by the gods as a whole. The Three Worlds remain in a stable alignment with each other, allowing ease of movement through the Deep Ethereal. Each of the Three Worlds is similar or identical in general geographical features, if one were to move from the Dwarf Wall mountains through the Ethereal to Alli’ur one would find themselves in the Dragon Ridge mountains. Even the coastline is almost identical, though travel must be careful near the coast as it can sway a few miles just like individual mountains may not match up between the three.
While geography is comparable, other factors are not necessarily. Separated by deific will for thousands of years and only reconnected a few lives of elves past, the Three Worlds have developed distinct inhabitants and culture. This means that not only is there a distinct difference in the nature of societies on these worlds, there are also differences in the subraces of common races found on each and even the races found on each world.
The Countless Worlds: Different from the Three Worlds in that they do not stay in a stable configuration with each other, the Countless Worlds fly through the Deep Ethereal moving closer and further from the center of reality. These worlds, like the Three Worlds, share common general geographical features but travel between them and other worlds, whether Prime, Outer or Inner Plane, is difficult; even when these are easiest and they are closest to alignment with the Three Worlds the relatively simple spells used to travel between the Three Worlds cannot function and more powerful magic must be used. Some Countless Worlds near periodically, their return to the Three Worlds well documented and known by sages; for through much of the time the Three Worlds were sealed from each other access to these worlds was possible. Others move more sporadically and only the gods know when they will again near if even they do.
The Fourth World: Certain texts tell of another world linked immovably to the Three. This Fourth World is the home of inhuman creatures bent on the conquest of all the worlds, sealed away by the actions of heroes long passed. Over time these seals have weakened and occasionally entities from this world have crossed over into the Three Worlds to work their evil will. From this world comes forth illithids, beholders, and other horrors that were not crafted by a sane god.
Crossing Between the Three Worlds:
The Bridges: Massive structures of a substance unique across the Three Worlds, the Bridges are said to predate even the Pnakostic Empire. Though they were inactive for several millennia, and more than a third are inactive even now, these Bridges serve as massive permanent gateways between the Three Worlds large enough for twenty men to easily march abreast, and even the largest great wyrms to pass with ease. A Bridge disrupts teleportation that would pass through the region within miles of their location making it dangerous to teleport to a place where there is a bridge in between and impossible to teleport out of an area within a mile of the Bridge. All such attempts inevitably move you closer to the Bridge than they normally would. They have a similar effect on travel through the Ethereal, such attempts leading to being sucked through the Bridge when performed within a mile of it. It is possible to see through an active Bridge into the world on the other side. Even spells of the Ninth Circle are unable to affect the activities of a Bridge.
Gates: Smaller and less permanent than Bridges; Gates are large, long lasting natural passageways between the Three Worlds and occasionally nearby Countless Worlds. Some gates have been known to last for centuries, others a matter of years or in the case of those leading to and from one of the Countless Worlds days. Those gates which connect to the Countless Worlds may even change which world they connect to as one moves in or out of focus with the Gate. Gates have an effect on nearby ethereal travel, a gentle tug towards it which slows movement away from it; unlike Bridges they typically have at most minute effects on movement through the Astral Plane. Gates are visible to the unaided eye looking like a cloud of grey energy.
Portals: Short-lived and typically small passages between the worlds, portals naturally appear throughout the Three Worlds leading to nearby worlds. These portals are hazardous to travelers as unlike Gates they are not naturally visible, and due to their short lifespans and random appearance they are unmapped. There are spells to detect them, and thankfully the vast majority of portals are two ways. Some portals even require specific carried objects to activate them. Portals are visible in the Ethereal Plane, or even with magic to see in the Ethereal Plane, though to see one with See Invisibility is difficult (Spot DC 15, Spellcraft DC 20 to identify). They do not have a noticeable effect on travel through the Astral Plane, though will suck through adjacent ethereal creatures small enough to pass through.
Spells: Plane Shift (Lv 6 in setting) allows transport from one of the Three Worlds to another, and if used to travel to the same location even avoids its normal inaccuracy. When travelling to or from one of the Countless Worlds this transportation is made more difficult the further the world has moved from the Three Worlds, and explorers who wait too long to return home with such magic often find themselves trapped there. In addition there are weaker spells, with longer rituals, to travel exclusively from one of the Three Worlds to another.
The Three Worlds uses the Great Wheel Cosmology as its basis.
The Outer Planes: The Outer Planes are relatively untouched, though the role of powerful outsiders is reduced and that of deities is increased. A god is the most powerful thing on the planes, except another god. That said the various Lords of the Nine, Demon Princes, and their celestial equivalents do still have a place. Not only are they the most powerful members of their respective species they have been granted, by the gods, jurisdiction over the planes they call home. While this jurisdiction is sometimes ignored, actively flaunted, or subverted, in this role an outsider lord can in fact stand against a god either by their own divinely bestowed right or when facing more powerful gods through the aid of opposing gods.
The Inner Planes: Theoretically use the 2nd edition arrangement of paraelemental and quasielemental planes, but they have never been the setting’s emphasis.
The Astral Plane: Connects the Three Worlds and other nearby primes to the Outer and Inner Planes.
The Plane of Shadows: Each Prime Material Plane has its own plane of shadows. The other planes are cut off from the Plane of Shadows completely.
The Ethereal Plane: Each Prime has its own ethereal plane and all ethereal planes connect to the Deep Ethereal. The Deep Ethereal is similar to the Astral Plane in nature, a great sea of grey which stretches out in all directions to infinity. Force of will and a clear idea of your destination can be used to navigate it to reach another Prime’s ethereal plane at the equivalent place that you left the other. While it is possible to move through the grey mists which make up the Deep Ethereal there are no reports of using such movement to emerge elsewhere into the Ethereal Plane.
Sardath: The Prison Plane of Sardath was created to hold those deities, now called Elder Evils, who fought on the losing side of the Deific War. Its nature is a secret from even the most sage mortals, though occasionally cults arise which serve its imprisoned inhabitants and seek to free them. The beings sealed within Sardath are largely horrific deities often incomprehensible by mortal minds which sought to erase the current world and replace it with primordial chaos once more.
The gods of the Three Worlds are divided into two major types, and further divided into various sub-pantheons. There are many gods drawing from worshippers on the various Countless Worlds and across the Three Worlds themselves. The gods of the Three Worlds are powerful entities, no mortal magic with the exception of Bale Magic can truly harm a god unless backed by another god of almost equal power. The gods are bound by series of rules, though, and have little ability to directly influence the world, and even they have limits (for example even gods with portfolios of the future and divination have trouble accurately predicting what will happen, especially in the Age of Heroes). Many of the gods draw their names from real world pantheons but beyond the name and sometimes some basic inspiration they have little to nothing in common with their namesakes.
Elder Gods: One of the two major classes of gods the Elder Gods are by far the minority. Many of the Elder Gods predate physical reality and although given titles like the Elder God of Magic, or Elder God of Time, the Elder Gods do not have dominion over a portfolio. Instead an Elder God is a primal force of reality and synonymous with their supposed portfolio. The Elder God of Magic is the wellspring of all arcane magic, the Elder God of Time is time itself, and the Elder Goddess of the World is quite possibly the entire multiverse. Elder Gods do not draw power from worshipers, or if they do such power is so inconsequential compared to that which they already have as to go unnoticed. It is said that an Elder God is as far beyond even the greatest of the gods as the greatest of the gods is above a mortal. No Elder God was born in the traditional sense, and their existences are fundamental to reality.
The lowercase gods: The gods themselves are far more active in the world for the most part; there are exceptions but even the most active Elder Gods are far less active than the gods. The gods are also far less fundamental, amongst their ranks are mortal heroes, as well as those born with the divine spark, and spirits which ascended to full godhood. The gods cannot directly intervene on the plane, and even within their own personal realms are limited in their interactions with mortals. The gods gain power from worship, and it is a necessary facet for ascendance of both mortals and spirits, although a god can also channel some of this power to others as a gift or reward or tribute. Many gods have formed themselves into miniature pantheons often based upon a share relationship, or race of their primary worshippers.
The Four Great War Gods: The four most powerful gods, the Four Great War Gods represent four different extremes. Tyr, god of honorable warfare and courage, represent the forces of Order when working towards the common weal. Enyalius, the god of domination and conquest, represents the use of law to segregate communities, to enforce hierarchies, and create tyrannies. Abaddon, the god of destruction, represents the pure destructive properties of chaos. Thor, god of heroic battle and storms, represents the individual choice and will to defend others.
Bloodlines: Many of the gods of the Three Worlds are related to each other; in fact all non-ascended deities are descended ultimately from either ascended gods or the Elder Gods. The child of two Elder Gods will always be born a full-fledged god, the child of an Elder God and a god will usually be so, and even the child of an Elder God and a mortal will usually be born a godling or at least a unique being of immense power. The child of two gods can be born either a god or godling, depending upon the power of the gods involved and no small amount of random chance though even then godlings predominate. The child of a god and a mortal is usually just a very power mortal, or an outsider, although some are born as godlings.
Godlings: Godlings are the children of gods who lack enough deific spark to become gods upon birth are instead born as beings of untold potential power. These godlings are fostered to mortals and kept unaware of their divine nature, allowed to expand to their greatest horizons under the belief that they are merely mortals, or perhaps the children of unions between mortals and powerful outsiders or elementals. Throughout their life a godling will be tested, and should they succeed at these tests they will be granted the right to ascend to godhood circumventing the usual need to amass worshippers and reducing the epic deeds required significantly.
Saints: Saints are the heralds and servants of gods, and are themselves powerful beings capable of granting limited divine magic. A saint is a being on the way to godhood, either a powerful mortal deemed worthy of godhood and on their way to ascension (most ascended gods were saints for millennia before becoming gods), godlings who proved not quite worthy in life and have been given a second chance as petitioners, and outsiders seeking a route to godhood. Saints watch after their patron’s interests and occasionally act as conduits for worship or granting of divine spells.
The Three Worlds has had millennia to grow accustomed to magic. It is a part of life for the inhabitants of the world even if the vast majority will never be able to use even the simplest spells or own a single magic item. Magic has traditionally been a difficult skill to master; even brilliant wizards would dedicate their entire lives to mastering a single spell of the 9th Circle and typically die soon after. In the Age of Heroes this has changed as heroes master in a decade what would take others a lifetime. Even so magic still plays a small part in the everyday life of most regions of the Three Worlds for now. The populace is aware of magic, and the governments make use of it in law enforcement and have laws about its use, but magic has not been technologized or ever successfully mass produced.
Arcane Magic: Arcane magic is drawn ultimately from Thoth the Elder God of Magic. Any creature capable of casting arcane spells, and many which only use spell-like abilities, ultimately draw their power from him. Thoth does not normally have a conscious control of this flow, instead it being manipulated by a combination of inborn talent and knowledge of the proper techniques to do so. Other deities of magic exist, most of which are the children of Thoth Arcane magic has traditionally been arduous to learn and even talented sorcerers could spend their whole lives and fail to master spells of the 9th Circle and amongst wizards the 9th Circle was almost the exclusive domain of the longer lived races such as elves and dwarves and even here many were aged to infirmity before attaining its secrets.
Divine Magic: Divine magic in the Three Worlds cannot come from belief in an ideal but only from the gods or other beings of great power imbued with the right by the gods and even then this power is limited. An outsider lord is only able to grant spells of a limited level, though a select few are capable of granting spells of the 9th Circle, though such outsiders are close to true gods in their power and rival demigods in their divinity. The same is true of spirits, even the most powerful spirits are incapable of granting 9th Circle spells alone. Some demigods even are limited to spells of the 7th Circle, though unlike even the strongest outsiders and spirits their priests are able to perform various religious rites which are the exclusive domain of the gods and their saints. This divine impetus to the power means that it comes more quickly than arcane magic, but also that the highest echelons of power come more rarely.
Druidic Magic: Druidic magic, although a type of divine magic, shares many similarities with arcane magic in that it is siphoned from an Elder God through natural talent and learned secrets. Ultimately, though, the flow of this power is more similar to other divine magic than to arcane magic but still it must be taken note of separately. Just like with other divine magic a practitioner must be in-tune with the will and nature of the deific source, in this case Gaia the Elder Goddess of the World; although due to their low level connection rangers can sometimes circumvent this requirement. The time taken to master druidic magic is similar to that of wizardry and an arch-druid is liable to be greyed amongst humans. Even elven arch-druids often seem to be middle-aged or older before their aging stopped.
Psionics: Psionics is treated as a type of magic on the Three Worlds. It is possible that, like arcane magic comes from Thoth, psionics comes from an Elder God of the Mind or Consciousness. It is far rarer than divine and arcane magic, though, and those who wield it are often distrusted. Psionic maturation is on a similar scale to arcane. On the Fourth World psionics is common, and the distrust it is held in can likely be traced to this fact.
Bale Magic: The forbidden magic of the ancient Pnakostic Empire, Bale Magic is said to be the one power available to mortals which allows them to rival the gods. Bale Magic is intensely addictive and corruptive, twisting the user into a being who craves power more than anything else. The power source behind Bale Magic is not directly one of the Elder Gods, or even the gods, but the energy released by tearing apart the fabric of existence. The power released in such feats can be astronomical and even the ages sealed Bale Liches whose power has waned in their prisons are potent foes to be feared. The greatest of the Bale Mages was Pnakost, legendary discoverer of Bale Magic and founder of the Pnakostic Empire which spread across all Three Worlds thousands of years before any other would obtain the power to cross freely between these worlds.
Martial Initiators: Martial initiators are common amongst heroes. Like magic such skill does not come easy to the common man, taking years of practice and training. Even so it is still somewhat quicker, though most common warriors lack the required talent and devotion with the blade simply becoming fighters. It is said that these martial skills were first learned by a hero during the height of the Pnakostic Empire to fight against the fell Bale Magic of its rulers.
Pact Magic: Very rare on the Three Worlds. Most vestiges are in fact the broken souls of godlings, outsider lords, and saints who fought in the Deific War and were shattered completely in the process. Unable to be cleansed of this destruction they were instead sealed into the planes themselves. Binders are persecuted by many priesthoods because they are not only pulling at the souls of the gods' dead children, many of these vestiges fought upon the losing side of the Deific War and their souls form part of the plane of Sardior and their use risks freeing the Elder Evils from their eternal prison. Another reason is that vestiges bring knowledge about the potential mortality of gods, and of the existence of Sardior with them; information which within the wrong hands could lead to the destruction of reality itself. To do: Go through and mark which side vestiges fought on, and which vestiges are something other than a dead warrior in the Deific War.
Incarnum: No one capable of using these powers is born on the Three Worlds. Somewhere amongst the Countless Worlds, though, is a cluster of worlds where such powers are common.
Truenaming: Bale Magic works on the use of truenames, but truename magic in its official form does not exist; even when playing No Optimization I knew it looked woefully underpowered.
Shadowcasting: Exists but has never come up. It is a very rare form of magic which most people would not recognize and would likely assume to be some form of evil arcane magic.
Invokers: Warlocks draw their powers from pacts or from Hecate the Goddess of Black Magic who bestows it as a fickle gift or curse. Dragonfire Adepts draw their powers from draconic blood. Both typically advance more quickly than most arcanists, though dragonfire adepts are slower than warlocks.
While resurrection is possible each death makes it harder to return. The majority of people cannot be resurrected, or at most can be raised once. Even heroes are typically unable to be resurrected more than 3 times. Revivify does not count against this limit as the soul has yet to depart fully.
These maps cover the south-western portion of the continent. Scale on all three is 1 grid line is ~100 miles (I might be a mile off here and there) and the detail is really rather low.
Bestiary: Players stay out. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...1#post13593551