Posted by : David Guyll March 07, 2015
That last one was something that I don't want to set in stone in the actual book, as I feel that there are a variety of possible ways you can arrange the world without having to change much if any of the rules and content.
However in our current campaign one of the players became understandably frustrated because he wasn't sure what things looked like, what things like ley lines were, and how it all worked together, which meant that he wasn't able to really make informed decisions.
Sooo this post is to help address part of that.
Right now I've thought of three ways to model A Sundered World, with one that could help address the "issue" of not having a day and night cycle. Lemme know which one you prefer, any tweaks you would add to the mix, and any other models that you'd like to see in the book as options.
Option 1: Spiral WorldOriginally my "default" topography was similar to a spiral galaxy. Here's a sideways shot that isn't at all scaled:
I went with this for two reasons.
The first is that I started designing this setting back when we still regularly played 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, so I blew up the World Axis cosmology (which I think is way better than the Great Wheel, and I'm a Planescape fan). The end result was that all the other planes ended up getting suspended in the Astral Sea.
One of the main features of the Astral Sea is the astral horizon, which "forms something like the surface of the ocean" (Manual of the Planes, page 87). This leads me to the second reason: I was pretty much going with a kind of "pirate" campaign, just set in a very alien world. Using the astral horizon was better for the concept and made things easier to map.
Here you've got the Abyss is in the center of the Maelstrom. The Maelstrom endlessly produces various types of elemental matter and forces, some of which gets gobbled up by the Abyss (kind of like a supermassive blackhole that also vomits forth demonic critters). Around the Maelstrom is everything else, which generally remains stationary unless someone or something else acts upon it.
Option 2: Sphere WorldAnother option that someone else proposed was a spherical topography, where islands are scattered about in all directions around the Abyss and Maelstrom. Here's another sideshot (also not to scale):
I think you could kind of merge the spiral and spherical models, with most of the objects on a flat plane, but plenty of other stuff scattered about above and below. Could be a way to stash hidden locations that no one's discovered.
Option 3: Layer WorldA third model that I thought of yesterday (and that is my current favorite) is to have everything arranged in a series of layers (sideshot, not scaled, etc):
Instead of an ambient light illuminating everything, it shines down from above where the heavens used to be. There's been discussion of how to handle a setting without a day and night cycle (or really any way to accurately and consistently measure time), so this light could fade and brighten at regular intervals.
The next layer down are the islands and clouds. As with Dungeons & Dragons's Astral Sea, things tend to settle around here and remain stationary.
The Maelstrom occupies the entirety of the third layer. Chunks of matter that manage to escape could float up, and islands could send ships down to harvest stone, water, and other materials. Particularly devastating explosions of fire and discharges of lightning could inflict havoc on the island layer.
Finally, the Abyss lurks at the very bottom. If you get too close it can corrupt you, or even draw you in. What happens then? Who knows, but it's probably not anything good.