The Magic Tree


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By James Treu


The Great Wheel is dead.  And no more alignment-based planes.  Enough said. [1]

The “DnD world” where the adventurers begin their careers is the middle ground for whatever conflicts immortals have.  The other dimensions of existence:

1.    Shadowfell: a dark, somewhat evil in a sense, echo of the world.  It not only fuels some spells and powers, but all mortal creatures’ spirits travel there first (and in some cases forever) before moving on to some other fate (most souls DON’T go to a god’s dominion [however, see Astral Sea below], but somewhere beyond even the knowledge of the gods-and can’t then be called back to the mortal world, although reincarnation is hinted at as possible).  The Shadowfell has elements of Eberron’s cosomology in it, the old Shadow plane, a few pieces of the old Negative Material plane, and some other things.  Since shadow is a power source in 4E, and since Shadowfell energy is the power source for undead, this place will get a fair amount of emphasis.  And since it’s not out-rightly evil, good and unaligned undead are possible.  There is a race called the Shadar-Kai who are former humans that serve the immortal ruler of the Shadowfell.  They look to have the potential to be pretty cool.

2.    The Feywild: An enchanted reflection of the world, where much arcane energy resides. Lots of things live there, not just the eladrins (who are a good deal unlike the 3E eladrins).  Hags, centaurs, treants, fomorians (fey giants), unicorns, the Wild Hunt, just to name a few.  Many have a darker edge to them and none should be considered automatically friendly or “good.”

3.    The Elemental Chaos: A place of endless cycling of creation and destruction, the stuff from which the world was made.  Think of the elemental planes, but with no stark divisions.  Here were born the primordials, the shaper-creators of much of the world, and these primordials not only made places, they made beings too, like the titans (who in turn made other beings when creation energy was fresh).  Some primordials could not be slain, and are imprisoned in divinely crafted prisons, awaiting release by mad followers.  The Elemental Chaos is sometimes wild and dangerous in places, but in others, powerful beings have made bits of forest, patches of meadow, small islands, and so forth, and it is indeed survivable by mortal adventurers.  Elementals (of many new and seemingly cool types; far beyond the old bland types), efreet, djinn, salads, githzerai, and titans are example of creatures here.

4.    The Abyss.  The deepest part of the elemental chaos.  A place where evil incarnate (apparently planted by a mad and ultra-powerful god) took root in the elemental chaos and corrupted and reshaped even mighty primordials like Demogorgon, Baphomet and Orcus.  Home of creatures of pure living destruction (demons) that “the Abyss uses to destroy living things beyond its reach.” (p. 64) Lolth, the drow goddess, dwells here, but may be corrupted and driven mad by the same powerful forces that reshaped the primordials.

5.    The Astral Sea.  The gods were born here, and moved to intercede and shape creation of the world, and the beings in it, too. This enraged the primordials and a war was on, with the gods taking spheres (portfolios) of creation to champion and protect.  Slaying or defeating the primordials, they then retreated to the Astral Sea to both recover from the hardships of the war and with a realization that the differences between them could turn equally destructive if unchecked.  So they created great dominions in the Astral Sea for themselves and any of those who were like themselves.  “They left their mortal followers to pursue their own destinies with only the subtlest guidance and interference from on high.  The gods still enjoy the worship of mortals, of course, and reward it with shards of their divine power, but the days when the gods walked the earth are now far in the past-at least until another force emerges to threaten the whole of creation.” (p. 56).  Portals, not travel on the Astral Sea, are the usual ways to reach the dominions of the gods.  Lots of abandoned and dead god dominions here too, with strange magical effects, horrible guardians, and great treasures and secrets. [and now, the caveat mentioned in Shadowfell above]: An example of grand designer or lead designers not being able to keep tabs on everything.  While the Shadowfell entry says most mortal souls don’t go to the gods’ domains after death, in the Astral Sea entry it says “most mortals ascend to a god’s domain when they die.”  (p. 77) Well, which is it WotC? And do gods, like Asmodeus, “harvest and extract power from mortal souls?” (p. 77)

6.    The Far Realm. A “plane-or perhaps a space beyond the planes-that is terrifyingly remote and incomprehensible.” (p.16)  The creatures in it are beyond strange and alien.  Aberrations, in DnD terms. These aberrations sometimes leak into the DnD world, or portions of the Far Realm leak in, corrupting parts of the world. Some, like beholders, don’t even remember or care about their original place. Some, like illithids, want to control the universe.  Others, like aboleths, want to destroy it or make it like the Far Realm.  Illithids and aboleths are arch enemies.


The pantheon has been mixed and matched from all over DnD land and some new creative aspects added, and reshaped with the idea of filling the meaningful divine roles-and no more.  Non-adventuring elements get folded into the portfolios of gods who do have adventuring elements (e.g. Pelor got agriculture and Corellon got music). Every god “will either appeal to adventurers or inspire evil cultists to evil deeds, sometimes both.” (p. 70) Many gods of previous editions have been demoted to exarch status-“godlings in the service of more important deities.” (p. 70)

The pantheon has 20 deities (plus one). Some examples:

Correllon is the god of  the eladrins, presiding over arcane power and the Feywild.

Lolth and her twin sister Sehanine were lunar goddesses.  Sehanine is the patron of the eladrins’ worldly kinfolk, the elves, while Lolth is for the drow, who are exiled to the underark.

Asmodeus is the god of the devils.

Bahamut, king-god of the good dragons and certain paladins and others, and Tiamat, queen-goddess of the evil dragons, both of whom arose from the corpse of the original dragon god, Io.

The Chained God.  Creator of the Abyss, and chained by the other gods in a secret place known only to the gods themselves.

[1] There are five alignment categories: general Good, Lawful Good, general Evil, Chaotic Evil, and Unaligned.  Alignment doesn’t come into play anywhere remotely near what it did in 3E. There are about 20 deities total, although players can realistically choose only from 11.


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