The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmology

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The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmology

Post by Big Mac » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:18 am

The True Afterlife, which can only be reached via The Veil of Souls (which is a one-way gate) below the city of Manifest, is one of the things that made me think that it would be harder to connect Ghostwalk to another campaign world and easier to use the countries in Chapter 4 of the book, as the basis of a standalone campaign set in Ghostwalk.

Even when I've considered using Ghostwalk with Spelljammer, I've thought that it would be easier to expand the influence of the True Afterlife to an entire crystal sphere, rather than try to have some sort of bubble around Manifest, with the True Afterlife applying to people who die near Manifest and something else, like the Planescape outer planes, applying to people who die a long way from Manifest.

However, there is not too much to the True Afterlife. And the one-way gate makes it difficult to imagine any of the cool planewalking stuff that happens in the Great Wheel Cosmology happening in the True Afterlife. (Unless there was some sort of "Second Veil of Souls" on the other side of the True Afterlife that led to the Outer Planes.)

Most of what is said about the True Afterlife is in the "Beyond the Veil" section of Chapter 3 (on pages 121-134). The section suggests that a visit to the True Afterlife and back would change Ghostwalk forever (and should be the epic end of a Ghostwalk campaign). (And I've read elsewhere, that this was cut material, that was reinserted to make up the size of the book.)

There is a mention of the Ethereal Plane only connecting to the True Afterlife via the Veil of Souls, but I don't see any mentions of other planes. From that, I kind of infer that the people of Ghostwalk have no ability to ever connect to the Outer Planes, except when they pass through the Veil of Souls, and then they always go to the True Afterlife and can never return (unless brought back from the dead).

Over in the Classic Play: Book of the Planes cosmology vs Planescape topic, Ripvanwormer said that Purgatorium, from Classic Play: Book of the Planes might be a good fit for the True Afterlife:
ripvanwormer wrote:The main reason I'd use a realm like Purgatorium is to give the Pathfinder RPG's psychopomps somewhere to call home. That game has an extensive set of creatures whose role is to guide and catalogue souls, and it'd be good if they had neutral ground where they could set up their courts and libraries. It's also a more detailed afterlife that might be interesting in conjunction with Ghostwalk.
Has anyone else thought about how to use the True Afterlife?
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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by willpell » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:16 pm

I don't have a great deal of interest in using it, but if I were going to, I would treat it as simply being one Outer Plane (likely Elysium or the Outlands - or perhaps a plane that's between those two, as some contested versions of the Great Wheel expand it from 17 to 25 planes by adding "interstitial" planes between the Outlands and the familiar ring of Upper and Lower planes plus Mechanus and Limbo). The fact that everyone goes to the same place regardless of alignment suggests a confined region of the Outlands, but without the various defining characteristics thereof. You could treat the place as having a "trapping" aspect akin to Carceri and Elysium, where it's woven into the mythology as a One True answer, and anybody who has ever believed (or even heard) this myth is automatically forced into this setting.

To speculate far off the beaten path, perhaps it's all Taiia's doing (from Deities and Demigods, an example of a monotheistic culture's One God); maybe the Ghostwalk gods are servitors of Taiia who are denied true godhood, but act as pretenders in the Material Plane since Taiia is mostly concerned with the True Afterlife (and making sure all souls go there, without caring too much whether they worshipped her intermediaries instead of herself).

It is very clear that Monte wasn't trying too hard to make Ghostwalk compatible outside itself; it's a self-contained and very small campaign setting, which befits any effort at making a universe so small and infinite that it needs only one afterlife. It's certainly not what a Planescape fan like me would tend to want to do, and the likeliest solution would be to suggest that it's an isolated phenomenon trying to project a veil of exclusivity.

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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by lesh » Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:33 pm

you could probably adapt it by making the True Afterlife the same as the Dustmen's True Death

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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by Big Mac » Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:51 am

willpell wrote:I would treat it as simply being one Outer Plane (likely Elysium or the Outlands - or perhaps a plane that's between those two, as some contested versions of the Great Wheel expand it from 17 to 25 planes by adding "interstitial" planes between the Outlands and the familiar ring of Upper and Lower planes plus Mechanus and Limbo). The fact that everyone goes to the same place regardless of alignment suggests a confined region of the Outlands, but without the various defining characteristics thereof. You could treat the place as having a "trapping" aspect akin to Carceri and Elysium, where it's woven into the mythology as a One True answer, and anybody who has ever believed (or even heard) this myth is automatically forced into this setting.
Outlands logic works.

Perhaps the True Afterlife could also be an ever expanding demiplane, created around Manifest to block access to the Outer Planes and fueled by the belief of all the people of the Ghostwalk world who feed bodies and souls into the Veil of Souls.
willpell wrote:To speculate far off the beaten path, perhaps it's all Taiia's doing (from Deities and Demigods, an example of a monotheistic culture's One God); maybe the Ghostwalk gods are servitors of Taiia who are denied true godhood, but act as pretenders in the Material Plane since Taiia is mostly concerned with the True Afterlife (and making sure all souls go there, without caring too much whether they worshipped her intermediaries instead of herself).
I'll have to look up Talia. But I am not sure that the gods of Ghostwalk would all be working for Talia. Orcus seems to be out of control, for example. However, it might be interesting to have an "overgod" that created the Veil of Souls and the True Afterlife.

One thing that is interesting is that the gods can be contacted on both the Material Plane and the True Afterlife, but they don't reveal any information about the True Afterlife to anyone on the Material Plane. And they don't reveal any information about the Material Plane to anyone in the True Afterlife. I'm wondering if that impies that the gods are "somewhere else". :?
willpell wrote:It is very clear that Monte wasn't trying too hard to make Ghostwalk compatible outside itself; it's a self-contained and very small campaign setting, which befits any effort at making a universe so small and infinite that it needs only one afterlife. It's certainly not what a Planescape fan like me would tend to want to do, and the likeliest solution would be to suggest that it's an isolated phenomenon trying to project a veil of exclusivity.
I've come to the conclusion that Sean K Reynolds and Monte Cook were trying to make a standalone campaign setting. I think it is possible to use Ghostwalk with other campaign settings, but I think that usually* requires some rebooting.

* = So far, my thoughts of using Ghostwalk in Spelljammer have not made me think that I need to reboot any of the campaign setting - just expand it and surround it with a crystal sphere that blocks the Ghostwalk rules from spreading to the rest of the SJ universe.

I guess that, if you wanted to use Ghostwalk with Planescape (and maybe that deserves it's own topic) you could restrict the size of the Veil of Sould effect on dead people to a sphere around Manifest (a sphere a bit larger than the Ghostwalk campaign setting) and make the True Afterlife into a localised thing that sucks in all the souls within that area.

Do that and planewalkers could travel to the Material Plane on the far side of Manifest's continent, so that they could find out what is inside the zone they can not travel to directly.
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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by Big Mac » Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:51 am

lesh wrote:you could probably adapt it by making the True Afterlife the same as the Dustmen's True Death
Would that be a reboot?

Or would you be looking to put the Dustmen's True Death outside of the Manifest Zone within the True Afterlife?
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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:17 pm

Big Mac wrote:Even when I've considered using Ghostwalk with Spelljammer, I've thought that it would be easier to expand the influence of the True Afterlife to an entire crystal sphere, rather than try to have some sort of bubble around Manifest, with the True Afterlife applying to people who die near Manifest and something else, like the Planescape outer planes, applying to people who die a long way from Manifest.
Honestly, I don't see any problem with just placing the True Afterlife somewhere in Planescape's outer planes. If so, the same rules should probably apply to everyone in the crystal sphere, since the rules set by the local gods generally apply sphere-wide. I get "it would be inconvenient for people on another planet to travel to Manifest" but:

1. There could be a Manifest on each planet, all leading to the same realm.
2. Manifest isn't something anyone needs to travel to while they're still alive. In the Ghostwalk setting thousands of years passed before people other than the local elves and dwarves realized that Manifest existed. It's a loophole in the universe, not something anyone needs to be able to access. Ghosts can get there automatically using the ethereal current, regardless of what planet they're on.

Planescape's precedent suggests that the True Afterlife should be in the Gray Waste, since that's where Hades (the Greek underworld), Niflheim (the Norse underworld), Annwn (the Celtic underworld), and the Fugue Plain (the Forgotten Realms underworld) are.

Alignment isn't really that important, since gods can and often do ignore a plane's alignment in deciding where to put their realms. Hades and Kelemvor are both lawful neutral and they still dwell in the Gray Waste. The Gray Waste is just a standard place to put the realm of the dead regardless of what the local yugoloths think.

This isn't the only option, of course. Some other options:

1. Make it a demiplane in the Ethereal Plane.
2. Make it a demiplane in the Astral Plane. My 2e bias says that the Astral Plane doesn't have demiplanes in it, but 3e added some anyway.
3. Make it a set of islands in the Astral Plane, like Mongoose's Purgatorium.
4. Make it the Shadowfell.
5. Make it a different outer plane, like the Outlands. Maybe somewhere in the vicinity of the realm of Dumathoin, dwarven god of the dead.
6, Let Ghostwalkspace have its own cosmology. I prefer setting everything in the Great Wheel, but this is an option too.
7. Maybe the True Afterlife is a physical planet somewhere in the same crystal sphere as Ghostwalk's world?
Big Mac wrote: However, there is not too much to the True Afterlife. And the one-way gate makes it difficult to imagine any of the cool planewalking stuff that happens in the Great Wheel Cosmology happening in the True Afterlife. (Unless there was some sort of "Second Veil of Souls" on the other side of the True Afterlife that led to the Outer Planes.)
I don't think a second veil would be necessary. The local laws of reality in this crystal sphere, probably set by the local gods, decree that the Outer Planes are difficult to reach. That's all you need. What happens in the True Afterlife itself is none of their concern. Why shouldn't people from Sigil or Mechanus or wherever be able to travel from the True Afterlife and back? That doesn't change anything about the Ghostwalk campaign.

But if the Ethereal Plane is reachable, are they still bound by the laws of that crystal sphere while in the Ethereal?


I would say yes, as long as they're in the Border Ethereal region. Travel to the Deep Ethereal from Ghostwalkspace might be impossible.

You could say something similar in regard to the Plane of Shadow and Deep Shadow.
Big Mac wrote: The section suggests that a visit to the True Afterlife and back would change Ghostwalk forever (and should be the epic end of a Ghostwalk campaign). (And I've read elsewhere, that this was cut material, that was reinserted to make up the size of the book.)
I think that bit is easy enough to ignore, but again if spells allowing access to other planes don't work, it would be difficult to travel back from the True Afterlife regardless of where in the multiverse you've decided to put it.

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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by Big Mac » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:33 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Even when I've considered using Ghostwalk with Spelljammer, I've thought that it would be easier to expand the influence of the True Afterlife to an entire crystal sphere, rather than try to have some sort of bubble around Manifest, with the True Afterlife applying to people who die near Manifest and something else, like the Planescape outer planes, applying to people who die a long way from Manifest.
Honestly, I don't see any problem with just placing the True Afterlife somewhere in Planescape's outer planes. If so, the same rules should probably apply to everyone in the crystal sphere, since the rules set by the local gods generally apply sphere-wide.
I guess that Clusterspace (from the Astromundi Cluster) set a president of a crystal sphere having restricted access from the planes. So a similar logic could block everyone on every Outer Plane from travelling to the Material Plane (if necessary). (I still need to work out the exact logic needed to make things comply with Ghostwalk canon.)
ripvanwormer wrote:I get "it would be inconvenient for people on another planet to travel to Manifest" but:

1. There could be a Manifest on each planet, all leading to the same realm.
2. Manifest isn't something anyone needs to travel to while they're still alive. In the Ghostwalk setting thousands of years passed before people other than the local elves and dwarves realized that Manifest existed. It's a loophole in the universe, not something anyone needs to be able to access. Ghosts can get there automatically using the ethereal current, regardless of what planet they're on.
I've already thought about having other locations similar to Manifest in Ghostwalkspace. I've even been wondering if individual asteroids should each gain a Veil of Souls (as part of some sort of local "law of nature" that gives each celestial body a ghost portal). And I was already thinking that people who die in wildspace would be drawn to the nearest celestial body by the ethereal current. (That would mean that spacefarers who die in wildspace could ride the ethereal current and try to hop off before being dragged into one of the Veils of Souls...and could then hire a group of adventurers to recover their body, so that they could be resurrected.)
ripvanwormer wrote:Planescape's precedent suggests that the True Afterlife should be in the Gray Waste, since that's where Hades (the Greek underworld), Niflheim (the Norse underworld), Annwn (the Celtic underworld), and the Fugue Plain (the Forgotten Realms underworld) are.
Are all D&D underworlds based somewhere in the Gray Waste? Wasn't there something about Forgotten Realms having some strange wall that turns unclaimed souls into bricks or somesuch?

I think that the Manifest Zone (within the True Afterlife) is pretty distinctive. So you might be right about it fitting into the Gray Waste, but it would need to go into a customised area. I'll have to look into this, as it sounds like you might have figured out the most logical solution.
ripvanwormer wrote:Alignment isn't really that important, since gods can and often do ignore a plane's alignment in deciding where to put their realms. Hades and Kelemvor are both lawful neutral and they still dwell in the Gray Waste. The Gray Waste is just a standard place to put the realm of the dead regardless of what the local yugoloths think.
My only concern here is that some planes have alignment traits that penalise people of the "wrong alignment". So, if the Gray Waste has any of that, there would need to be a zone within it that has that property "turned off".
ripvanwormer wrote:This isn't the only option, of course. Some other options:

1. Make it a demiplane in the Ethereal Plane.
2. Make it a demiplane in the Astral Plane. My 2e bias says that the Astral Plane doesn't have demiplanes in it, but 3e added some anyway.
3. Make it a set of islands in the Astral Plane, like Mongoose's Purgatorium.
4. Make it the Shadowfell.
5. Make it a different outer plane, like the Outlands. Maybe somewhere in the vicinity of the realm of Dumathoin, dwarven god of the dead.
6, Let Ghostwalkspace have its own cosmology. I prefer setting everything in the Great Wheel, but this is an option too.
7. Maybe the True Afterlife is a physical planet somewhere in the same crystal sphere as Ghostwalk's world?
That's a great list of alternative options.

I guess that working out what the Veil of Souls is might help work out where it could link to.

A demiplane in the Ethereal Plane might fit in with Ghostwalk's Ethereal current.

I"m undecided on the possible merits or pitfalls of a demiplane in the Astral Plane.

Islands in the Astral Plane might work, but there would need to be something to keep other people out.

I suppose it could be like the Shadowfell. It does also have a Manifest Zone. But there is water instead of a city. That's not a deal-breaker, as there are supposed to be differences in the Shadowfell, but everything is different. I would be inclined to dismiss that option (especially if things like the Shadow Walk spell work in Ghostwalk).

A different Outer Plane was the direction I was leaning in, but I'd like to look more at the ramifications of using the Gray Waste.

Ghostwalk/Ghostwalkspace having it's own cosmology works for standalone Ghostwalk games. And it works for Ghostwalk/Spelljammer crossovers. But it would seem to work less for Planescape games.

I'm really not sure about putting the True Afterlife on the Material Plane. If that was done, people could teleport from one side to the other.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:However, there is not too much to the True Afterlife. And the one-way gate makes it difficult to imagine any of the cool planewalking stuff that happens in the Great Wheel Cosmology happening in the True Afterlife. (Unless there was some sort of "Second Veil of Souls" on the other side of the True Afterlife that led to the Outer Planes.)
I don't think a second veil would be necessary. The local laws of reality in this crystal sphere, probably set by the local gods, decree that the Outer Planes are difficult to reach. That's all you need. What happens in the True Afterlife itself is none of their concern. Why shouldn't people from Sigil or Mechanus or wherever be able to travel from the True Afterlife and back? That doesn't change anything about the Ghostwalk campaign.
But if the Ethereal Plane is reachable, are they still bound by the laws of that crystal sphere while in the Ethereal?

I would say yes, as long as they're in the Border Ethereal region. Travel to the Deep Ethereal from Ghostwalkspace might be impossible.

You could say something similar in regard to the Plane of Shadow and Deep Shadow.
I don't want to block Astral or Shadow travel, without something in the Ghostwalk books that implies it is blocked. (If it doesn't say that the Shadow Walk spell is blocked, I would take it that it works.)
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote: The section suggests that a visit to the True Afterlife and back would change Ghostwalk forever (and should be the epic end of a Ghostwalk campaign). (And I've read elsewhere, that this was cut material, that was reinserted to make up the size of the book.)
I think that bit is easy enough to ignore, but again if spells allowing access to other planes don't work, it would be difficult to travel back from the True Afterlife regardless of where in the multiverse you've decided to put it.
I don't want to ignore anything in the Ghostwalk book, if possible. I'm looking for a Ben Kenobi solution that keeps everything in the book being true.
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Re: The True Afterlife (from Ghostwalk) vs Planescape cosmol

Post by willpell » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:03 pm

Big Mac wrote:Wasn't there something about Forgotten Realms having some strange wall that turns unclaimed souls into bricks or somesuch?
The Wall of the Faithless. In older editions, anyone who didn't worship a Faerunian deity would have their dead soul-body stitched into this wall, there to writhe and suffer for all eternity. I guess Ed Greenwood really hated atheists. Post Time of Troubles, they've backpedaled to now say that only those who actively oppose worship of the deities (Athars and the like) are sewed into the Wall; those who simply don't choose a deity wander the Fugue Plain waiting to be collected by either a god that they never previously swore fealty to (likely an evil one) or a devil or demon. Not much of an upgrade, really....

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