June 22nd, 2007

  • clayse

Cosmology and Science

I'm working on a "Floating Island" type of campaign, inspired by Final Fantasy and some 'Yes' Albums, for a DnD game I'm running.  Originally, I drew up a map with the ubiquitous "edge of the world" scenario with impassable mountains and oceans that empty into oblivion in stock circular fashion.

Well, I wanted a bigger world.  So I decided that the realm I'd drawn up was one of several floating islands that hover over an world-spanning sea below.  The islands are kept aloft by powerful magnetic fields emitted by a highly volatile core, and move in a complex pattern over the surface of the world.  I'd read somewhere that magnetic force was several times stronger than gravity, so while the whole thing is probably impossible, there is at least enough pseudo-science to have something to say to the players when the geomancer starts getting curious.  Most of the islands are boulder-sized while some are the size of subcontinents...

Anyway, it was all a vehicle to develop an alternate cosmology for the 'realms'. All of the floating islands are different and have their own distinct flavor.  In many games, there are different planes of existence, like the planes in DnD or the penumbra (+ etc.) in White Wolf, or different worlds (a la Star Wars or virtually any Hi-Sci-Fi).  In Rifts, it's a more comprehensive role.  Whether 'the planes' are different planets, geographically isolated cultures, alternate realities, afterlife destinations, or, well, planes, they serve to set up a sense of 'other', allowing you to change the language of your campaign and immerse characters in a whole new world.

So I'm curious to see what other methods you've used to set up your planes of existence and what role that's played in your games.  Any quirks to interplanar travel?  Homebrewed planar setups?  Funny stories?  Theories on the role of planes in gaming?