"Cosmology" is a catch-all phrase describing how the world is organized. It divides into two categories, the metaphysics of how everything fits together through the Plot, and the physical arrangement of everything in the world. Regarding geography, since the physical layout of Whymsia itself is detailed elsewhere, this page focuses on the other aspects of creation: the Twelve Moons and the Underplanes.
Flowing through all aspects of creation is the great and intangible Plot. Mere description always falls short, but in general it's best described as the force that makes things happen as they do. (It was originally named by the legendary bard Bilfast Throwingdart, much to the annoyance of subsequent scholars. Several have tried to replace the terminology with more accurate words, like "transcendental reality development regime," but for some reason it's never caught on.)
The Plot flows through everything, moving it, shaping it, bringing things together and tearing them apart. It's thought that the Plot, much lie the physical world, is composed of discrete elements. Only instead of being made physical elements like fire, earth, water, etc, the Plot is composed of the Narrative Elements of humor, drama, surprise, irony, wonder, awesomeness, etc. People who deeply understand these elements can manipulate them to control the Plot, although it tends to resist and can lash out at those who push too far.
The Two RulesEdit
There are two primary rules governing the flow of the Plot:
- The Rule of Funny - Given two equally likely outcomes, events will resolve in favor of the one that is more humorous.
- The Rule of Cool - Given two equally likely outcomes, events will resolve in favor of the one that is more awesome.
These are basically dry and stuffy ways of saying that the physics of Whymsia get beaten up by Dramatic Necessity on a regular basis.
The Plot and PeopleEdit
The Plot does not flow smoothly through all creation. It pools and eddies, snags and twists, flips and reverses. Some of the more common ways it does this have been given names:
- Plot-Centric individuals - Usually just abbreviated "PCs," these are individuals who, for whatever reason, the Plot tends to whirl and eddy around. Some claim that they are at the center of the Plot, though most people don't believe it.
- Non-Plot-Centric individuals - Often called "NPCs," these are the vast majority of people in creation, through whom the Plot flows with nary a ripple. Many of them (especially when they're young) wish it weren't so, but the wiser among them know that the attentions of the Plot aren't always for the best.
- Plot Hooks - This is a generic term for anything that tends to snag a bit of the Plot--a person, an item, a certain piece of ground, whatever. The strength of the snag varies, though usually the stronger the snag, the more interesting the results when it gets resolved.
The Twelve MoonsEdit
The world of Whymsia is circled by twelve moons, each a world unto itself and a conflux of different magics. With the exception of Solaris, the orbits are extremely eccentric and erratic, presumably because not just gravity but also a huge array of magical attractions, repulsions, twinnings, entanglements, etc, feed into this "dance of the spheres." Prediction of their motion more than a week in advance is essentially impossible, which is why despite the recent invention of aetherships travel to the moons is still uncommon: getting there requires hitting a really fast moving target, and en route you can easily blunder into the wrong moon with...unpleasant...results. (You can also get there with some spells, but those aren't exactly cheap.)
Each moon exerts its influence on Whymsia, and some scholars think they are the ultimate source of all magic. When a moon is ascendant (meaning it's the closest), magic and other effects related to them are more powerful (see chart below); the effect is even more powerful on the moon itself.
The moon of nature. Arbora is always verdant and growing, a place of nature gone wild, great hunts, and wild savagery. Some think it's the original home of the elves, though most of them dispute it. When ascendant, creatures gain Fast Healing equal to their level divided by 10. (So 1st-level characters heal 1 HP every 10 rounds)
The moon of magic. Arcanus is a brilliant world of floating crystals, geometric landforms, and multicolored mists. Arcanus has a thriving native civilization (mostly made up of spellcasters, of course), probably the descendants of various archmages teleporting there over the years. The best magical universities are on Arcanus, though it takes a lot to impress the locals if you're from "dirtside." When Arcanus is ascendant, all magic is more powerful (+1 DC)
The moon of artifice. A shining world of metal and stone, Brillet is inhabited chiefly by elementals and golems. When it’s ascendant all worked tools are upgraded to masterwork (or +1 if already there). This also applies to weapons, shields, armor, and anything else where magic lets it do its job better.
The moon of passions. Euphora is a bright, almost technicolor world where emotion runs rampant and everything is more intense than elsewhere. It's a popular honeymoon resort for the nobility. When ascendant, the more intense emotions give +2 to all social rolls (mostly Cha-based ones, some Wis).
The moon of luck. Natural laws are a little screwy on Luxord, with water occasionaly flowing up, the ground tilting sideways, and bits of land floating because no one bothered to inform them about gravity. It’s a wild and savage world, but supposedly filled with riches if you can survive to find them. When ascendant, it alters chance to make everything more extreme: every time you roll a d20, also roll a d6. Odd results are subtracted from the d20, while even results are added.
The moon of death (or rather, undeath). Travel to Morre is verboten, mostly because anyone who goes doesn't come back. (At least, not alive.) Every once in a while a scourge of undead will leave the moon and attack either another moon or part of Whymsia itself, making people justifiably nervous anytime it's ascendant. Invasions aside, when Morre is ascendan, natural healing doesn’t occur and anything that dies has a 20% chance of spontaneously reanimating as an undead. Needless to say, druids hate when this happens because it plays havoc with the local ecosystems.
The moon of madness. Ogvithath is a twisted world whose geometry doesn't seem to follow natural law. Home to mind flayers, beholders, gibbering whatevers, and Things Man Was Not Meant To Behold, few people dare to venture there, and fewer still return with their sanity intact. When ascendant, those looking for answers can find them in realms and ways untold, but often at the price of their minds: any Int-based rolls get a +2 bonus, but result in 1 round of confusion for every 10 above the DC.
The moon of elements. Raw primal forces dominate this world, and though it's not the original home of elementals (that's the Underplanes), it’s been colonized by many of them. Also the original home of dragons. When ascendant, the forces of nature are stronger, resulting in inclement weather at best and natural disasters at worse.
The moon of fey. Shen is only partly in this world, as bits of it regularly fade in and out of the ethereal plane, often moving around in the process. Permanent landmarks are nonexistent, and travelers often find themselves lost in spite of (and sometimes because of) their best efforts. No matter how close it is to Solaris, Shadenn always looks twilit and misty during the day. When ascendant, ethereal things become more real, and other things have a tendency to drift away into the ethereal plane (and maybe reappear—or maybe not—somewhere else later).
The sun. Though technically classified as "the moon of radiance," it acts different enough from the other moons that most barely count it as such. A world of pure light and fire, it's the home of many of the lesser gods, plus a smattering of elementals and other creatures that can actually stand the heat. It has the longest and most reliable orbit, with the seasons controlled by how close it is to Whymsia. It has no particular influence on magic per se, though there are some special rites that can be invoked on the Summer Solstice.
The moon of darkness. Tenebros is the antithesis of Solaris, visible only as a black hole against the stars and cartwheeling madly among the other moons. Many of the Evil gods make this their home, as do a few undead and aberrations. When ascendant, it degrades all light sources by 1 level (bright->normal->dim->dark) and limits the usable light radius of most light sources to 1/4 their normal value.
The moon of clarity. Vitrium is a giant orb of glass and crystal, transparent to the core. There's air here, but no water and nothing alive except the occasional crystalline elemental. People occasionally try to mine the world, and its a good source of transparent gems, but you have to be careful as the moon tends to "flow" wounds back together over time. More than one would-be tunneler have found himself trapped like a bug in amber when the crystal closes back over him. Supposedly its core is solid diamond, but no one’s been able to get there to find out. When ascendant, it increases everyone's clarity, giving +1 to all Wisdom-based rolls (including Will saves).
|1||Arbora||Fast Healing (0.1 x level)|
|2||Arcanus||+1 DC to all spell saving throws|
|3||Brillet||Inorganic tools, weapons upgraded by 1 (norm -> MW -> +1 -> +2, etc)|
|4||Euphora||+2 bonus to all social skill rolls|
|5||Luxord||Roll 1d6 with all d20s to subtract (odd) or add (even) to the roll|
|6||Morre||No mundane healing; 20% chance reanimation as undead in 1d4 hours|
|7||Ogvithath||+2 to Int-based rolls but cause confusion if too high (>10 above DC)|
|8||Primalis||60% chance of inclement weather (storm, flood, volcano)|
|9||Shen||Ethereal things 50% more real; 5% chance of getting partial etherealness.|
|10||Tenebros||All light downgraded 2 levels; most light radius 1/4 normal|
|11||Vitrium||+1 to all Wisdom rolls (inc Will saves)|
|12||(conjunction)||Roll again twice|
The Underplanes is the name for the infinite sublayers of reality that undergird the world. They're all basically elemental planes of one sort or another, though some are easier to get to than others. The major planes of Law, Evil, Fire, Water, and the like are easy to find, while minor planes like smoke, salt, and lightning are harder, and the niggling little demiplanes like peanut butter, earwax, duct tape, awesomeness, and the like are almost impossible to find on purpose. (And yet astonishingly easy to end up on by accident.)
The Alignment PlanesEdit
The five greatest underplanes are the Alignment planes, each the distilled essence of one of the basic alignments. Each is ruled by one of the five Lords of Creation, beings who are as far beyond gods as gods are beyond garden slugs. The five Realms and their Lords are:
- Administrata, the Plane of Law, the realm of the Celestial Bureaucracy and the 10,000 Layers of Administration. Administrata holds the gears that keeps the world running and is filled with Gray Drones who exist solely to make sure that natural law (such as it is) stays running as it should. Administrata is ruled by Bureaucron, the genderless Overseer of All.
- Apathos, the Plane of Neutrality, the Unchanging Expanse, the Uncaring Realm. Apathos is the source of stability and stasis in the world, and its great unchanging infinities are ruled by Lord Ennui. Though most people acknowledge the necessity of Apathos, few like to visit, since it is very, very boring. No monsters, no treasure, nothing but Endless and Infinite Stuff that changes on a scale so slow even the gods don’t bother tracking it.</span>
- Locura, the Plane of Chaos, the ream of...stuff. Lots of stuff, though usually not the same from second to second. Stay here too long and you start to change, too. (More than one adventurer has overstayed their welcome and left a touch purple or with a teapot for a nose.) Of course there’s treasure here, but not for long at a time, and trying to get it out is generally more trouble than it’s worth. The one benefit of this plane is that supposedly everything is here somewhere, so if you need that one-of-a-kind Macguffin that’s been lost for countless ages, it’s probably here. As is just about everything else that’s been lost over the years. (The change from under couch cushions alone could fill a several castles.)
- Sacchrina, the Plane of Good, the realm of Happiness, Joy, and Love. Visitors describe Sacchrina as "a technicolor dreamscape acid trip," with dancing animals, singing plants, and smiling loving goodness on all sides. Sacchrina is ruled by Benedicta, and is the source of all all growth and health in the world.
- The Pit, the Plane of Evil, more fully known as The Pit of Despair and Ruin, the Receptacle of Doom, the Void of Soulless Abominations, the Blight of Hope, the End of All. It is the deep, dark void at the bottom of the Underplanes, the essence of destruction and waste, ruled over by the demon Destructomaximus ("D.M." or "Max" to his--very few--friends). Although the plane is infinite in extent and so has infinite variations on Evil, the most famous part is the Endless Night, Destructomaximus's personal nightclub. Sin, vice, and evil are traded on every hand, and your own soul is usually the beginning wager in each game. (And yes, eventually, the house always wins.)
The Lesser PlanesEdit
In addition to the Alignment Planes, there are an infinite number of lesser planes holding up reality. Anything which can be considered--substances, emotions, skills, even Classes--has a corresponding underplane. Some of them are extremely small and hard to find, but they're there.
- The Major Elementals: The planes of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are much as you'd expect them. They're among the easiest to contact and so are the source of most elementals in Whymsia. Supposedly there's a plane of Heart floating around somewhere, but few people bother to locate it.
- The Minor Elementals: Harder to find but still relatively accessible are the minor elemental planes, such as Lightning, Smoke, Glass, Crystal, Lava, etc.
- The Niggling Elementals: These are the little one-off planes that represent pure substances (or ideas, or attributes, or whatever), but that are relatively small and hard to find. Examples include the elemental planes of Glue, Worked Leather, Carpentry, Love, Awesomeness, Diplomacy, Bards, Cockatoos, and Stamps. Scholars assume there are elemental planes of Dungeons, Monsters, Loot, and XP floating around somewhere to supply the world with their respective elements, but no one's managed to find them directly.
Unlike things on Whymsia itself, you can't just walk, swim, or fly to the Moons or the Underplanes. Travel arrangements depend on where you want to go.
- The Twelve Moons are reachable by by greater teleport, teleportation circle, or aethership (see below). Something in the nature of the aether disrupts the normal functioning of teleport spells, though, so that even the greater ones suffer from slight inaccuracies unless teleporting to a permanent circle. (In game terms, without a permanent circle at the destination you can be off by a few hundred yards. Not crucial, usually, though it's remarkable how many people end up teleporting into someone's shower.) Not surprisingly, Arcanus has the lion's share of these, while the other moons have either just a few or none at all. The same aether-scrambling also affect scry spells; you can use greater scrying to peer between the worlds, but it comes across staticky and partly scrambled. Most people think this is because the gods don't want people spying on them, though there might be other reasons.
- Aetherships are fairly new inventions, having only been around for a few decades. Though slower than teleport spells, they're a lot cheaper, and so open up inter-world travel to more than just archmages and the nobility that can hire them. Travel to the moons is uncommon but not completely rare, though finding an outbound ship can be hard unless you’re in the right place (Nexus, Dragonmouth, and Cliffhaven are probably your best bets.)
- Cultural note: Most of the moons, it turns out, have been inhabited (albeit sparsely) for a long time, probably due to high-level mages going there in aeons past to retire, sightsee, or raise their god-cult. Most have only pockets of (relative) civilization scattered across the surface, though Arcanus has a thriving civilization of several Mageocracies. It also has the best magical universities, but few people planetside can get into them. (The Arcani are pretty haughty, and it takes a good amount of cash or equivalent goods to impress them.)
- The Underplanes are accessible via the normal interplanar-travel spells: plane shift, gate, etc. The city of Nexus has Whymsia's only semi-permanent portals to the Underplanes in its Portal District, though there's a few others on Arcanus, of course.