[Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

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[Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by Big Mac » Fri May 24, 2019 2:06 pm

One of the things I personally like about Spelljammer is the way that it connected up Greyhawk (via Greyspace), Dragonlance (via Krynnspace) and Forgotten Realms (via Realmspace).

I think that elements of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms, as well as their various subsettings, can also give us additional information to infer about how other crystal spheres work (like the idea of crystal spheres being able to have "Overgods"). But sometimes Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms do some things that are problematic for Spelljammer.

People can choose to ignore those problematic things (just like Greyhawk, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms fans can easily ignore Spelljammer), but I'm in the camp of people who would rather find a "Ben Kenobi solution" (where something is "true...from a certain point of view").

I've been wrestling with Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms all having alternative worlds, over the years. I thought it might be useful to have one topic, where we look at all three campaign settings, how their alternative worlds cause potential problems for Spelljammer and - more importantly - look at the overall situation, to see if there might be a single unified theory option (or options) that might help get all three of these crystal spheres to work with those alternative worlds. (A theory that would also work in other crystal spheres, would be especially useful.)

Lets go through the campaign settings in order, to see what the issue/s are:

Greyhawk/Greyspace: Alternate Oerths

Gary Gygax said that there were several "Alternate Oerths". These are Oerth, Aerth, Uerth, Yarth and Earth. I believe that the "laws of nature" are different on the various worlds and that magic works better or worse on some of them.

Dragonlance/Krynnspace "Takhisis steals Krynn"

There is a Dragonlance plotline (after the Spelljammer product line ended) where the deity Takhisis manages to move Krynn to another location, while the other deities of Dragonlance are distracted. From the point of view of people living on Krynn, the deities and even their moons, seem to vanish overnight.

Forgotten Realms/Realmspace The Sundering/Returned Abeir/The Second Sundering

The Sundering is something retconned into Forgotten Realms canon (after the Spelljammer product line ended) where the Overgod (Ao) has dealt with fights between deities and primordials by splitting the world (Abeir/Toril) into two and giving one world (Abeir) to the primordials and the other world (Toril) to the deities. The world was called Abeir-Toril during the 2nd Edition Era, but The Sundering is supposed to have happened in the distant past, with Abeir returning during the 4th Edition Era (or more like swapping some regions with Toril) and a Second Sundering happening in the 5th Edition Era.

The big picture

Looking at all of these things, the following elements jump out at me:
  • Celestial bodies can be tied to alternate celestial bodies (Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms),
  • Celestial bodies can be tied to more than one alternate celestial body (Greyhawk),
  • Celestial bodies can be split into two celestial bodies by Overgods (Forgotten Realms),
  • Celestial bodies can be moved to alternative places by gods (Dragonlance),
  • Lands on celestial bodies can swap with lands on alternative worlds (Forgotten Realms) and
  • Deities are not able to see what is happening on alternative versions of their worlds (Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms).
(If I see anything else later, or if someone mentions something I missed, I might add to the above list.)

Possible theories

Note that almost all spacefarers would not care about this sort of stuff. These theories are mostly useful as plot devices to deal with Spelljammmer campaigns that deal with alternative worlds.

Here are a few theories that sages might have to explain the above:
  1. Alternative worlds are located in Alternate Material Planes within the same crystal sphere,
  2. Alternative worlds are located in Alternative Crystal Spheres in different parts of the Material Plane
  3. Alternative worlds are located in Alternative Crystal Spheres that are somehow connected to the primary crystal sphere
(Again, if I think of any other theories to deal with this, or if someone else comes up with a theory, I might add to the above list.)

Theory 1: Alternative worlds are located in Alternate Material Planes within the same crystal sphere

With this theory, there might be more than one world, but there is not more than one crystal sphere.

Alternative worlds will be located on Alternate Material Planes, and portals, gates or some other type of planewalking travel would be required to get from one world to the Alternate World.

Pros
  • Ties in with the idea of Alternate Material Planes from Manual of the Planes,
  • Existing phlogiston map can be used,
  • Easy to ignore/retcon in/retcon out.
Cons
  • More of a Planescape idea than a Spelljammer idea.
Theory 2: Alternative worlds are located in Alternative Crystal Spheres in different parts of the Material Plane

With this theory, any alternative worlds mentioned in Greyhawk, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms canon are worlds that have their own crystal spheres somewhere else on the Material Plane.

As none of these worlds were mentioned in the original AD&D Adventures in Space boxed set, these crystal spheres would probably need to be undiscovered crystal spheres outside of the Known Spheres.

Pros
  • Gives us an excuse to build up to seven clones of Greyspace, Krynnspace and Realmspace, based on the canon differences between these alternative worlds and Oerth, Krynn and Toril.
Cons
  • Extra canon-inspired-fanon crystal spheres need to be placed somewhere on the map,
  • Placement of the new fanon crystal spheres would be tricky, as discovery of phlogiston rivers to the alternative Oerths, "Takhisispace" and "Abeirspace" would give easy access to things that the designers wanted to handwave away
Theory 3: Alternative worlds are located in Alternative Crystal Spheres that are somehow connected to the primary crystal sphere

With this theory, Greyspace, Krynnspace and Realmspace are "cloned" and put in a place that is connected to the original sphere, but where spacefarers don't ever look.

I've thought before about phlogiston maps being two dimensional, and introducing a third dimension (a layer) above or below the layer of the Known Spheres, that nobody in the Known Spheres knows exists. There could then be "horizontal phlogiston rivers" on the ecliptic plane that spacefarers in the Known Spheres know about and "vertical phlogiston rivers" at the Zenith and Nadir of spheres that are lead to crystal spheres "above" or "below" those crystal spheres.

That could work for Dragonlance ("Takhisispace") and Forgotten Realms ("Abeirspace"), but would it work for Greyhawk and it's four alternate worlds ("Aerthspace", "Uerthspace", "Yarthspace" and "Earthspace")?

I used to think no, but now I'm thinking that a crystal sphere could have two, three or four different "vertical phlogiston rivers" that go to crystal spheres hidden above or below it. So if four rivers come out from Greyspace, and one river each comes out from Krynnspace and Realmspace, we could have a "Radiant Hexagon" above or below the "Radiant Triangle".

Pros
  • Gives us an excuse to build up to seven clones of Greyspace, Krynnspace and Realmspace, based on the canon differences between these alternative worlds and Oerth, Krynn and Toril,
  • Existing phlogiston map can be used,
  • Easy to ignore/retcon in/retcon out,
  • Placement of the new crystal spheres on an alternate layer has little impact on anyone using the original map or ignoring the alternate Radiant Triangle worlds.
Cons
  • Obscure Greyhawk, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms canon might cause problems for the other crystal spheres in the "Radiant Hexagon".
Conclusion

I had not totally decided, before writing this (I was thinking of a long string of crystal spheres above and/or below Greyspace at one point), but I'm now thinking that a "Radiant Hexigon" could be the foundation of an undiscovered layer of crystal spheres that does not include a single canon Spelljammer crystal sphere.

But it could also be a mixture of the different options, depending on what canon can be ferreted out for each crystal sphere.
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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri May 24, 2019 7:42 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 2:06 pm
Gary Gygax said that there were several "Alternate Oerths". These are Oerth, Aerth, Uerth, Yarth and Earth. I believe that the "laws of nature" are different on the various worlds and that magic works better or worse on some of them.
This is true between crystal spheres as well (for example, magic works differently on Athas and Aebrynis, and the basic "theory of magic" is different even between Oerth and Toril).
Celestial bodies can be moved to alternative places by gods (Dragonlance),
This seems to be a function of the Gate of Souls rather than something necessarily true of all spheres.
Extra canon-inspired-fanon crystal spheres need to be placed somewhere on the map,
Not necessarily. They could be many years or centuries away, inaccessible by normal Phlogiston travel.
I've thought before about phlogiston maps being two dimensional, and introducing a third dimension (a layer) above or below the layer of the Known Spheres, that nobody in the Known Spheres knows exists.
The idea that nobody thought to look up or down seems unlikely to me. Spelljamming ships travel up and down all the time; it would be second nature for navigators to consider the third dimension. If, when a spelljammer reaches the "top" of a Phlogiston river, other layers are so far away that they're invisible, then they're effectively separate "galaxies" rather than meaningfully related layers of the same galaxy. If they're close enough to see, why wouldn't someone have tried going there?

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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by Cromstar » Sat May 25, 2019 3:39 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 7:42 pm
The idea that nobody thought to look up or down seems unlikely to me. Spelljamming ships travel up and down all the time; it would be second nature for navigators to consider the third dimension. If, when a spelljammer reaches the "top" of a Phlogiston river, other layers are so far away that they're invisible, then they're effectively separate "galaxies" rather than meaningfully related layers of the same galaxy. If they're close enough to see, why wouldn't someone have tried going there?
I don't think Big Mac is suggesting they'd be right there, but IIRC, view distance in the phlogiston isn't all that great, is it? So if its, say, more than a month or two away when everyone 'knows' that all the Crystal Spheres are on (roughly) the same horizontal plane, who's ever going to take the risk of dying on a massive trip that probably goes nowhere? This is basically why the 'known spheres' are a relatively small subset of crystal spheres, because there's not a lot of long-distance exploration going outward from them. Its the basic tenant behind the invasion of those wolf-people in that one adventure (Under the Dark Fist IIRC). Nobody really goes out in that direction because its something like a 3-month trip? The mindset is very much the same as the European view of the Atlantic prior to Columbus' first successful expedition.
Big Mac wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 2:06 pm
One of the things I personally like about Spelljammer is the way that it connected up Greyhawk (via Greyspace), Dragonlance (via Krynnspace) and Forgotten Realms (via Realmspace).

I think that elements of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms, as well as their various subsettings, can also give us additional information to infer about how other crystal spheres work (like the idea of crystal spheres being able to have "Overgods"). But sometimes Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms do some things that are problematic for Spelljammer.

People can choose to ignore those problematic things (just like Greyhawk, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms fans can easily ignore Spelljammer), but I'm in the camp of people who would rather find a "Ben Kenobi solution" (where something is "true...from a certain point of view").
Honestly, my entire D&D cosmology consists of a single unified 'truth' and then finding rational explanations for in-universe characters to believe the 'wrong' things that they do. So you aren't alone in this.
Greyhawk/Greyspace: Alternate Oerths

Gary Gygax said that there were several "Alternate Oerths". These are Oerth, Aerth, Uerth, Yarth and Earth. I believe that the "laws of nature" are different on the various worlds and that magic works better or worse on some of them.
I personally use what is bascially #1 from below in this situation for pretty much one reason: I'm pretty sure Gygax intended for these not to coexist as 'closely' as the others would provide. Especially since I'm almost positive when he says 'Earth' he literally means the real, actual Earth you and I live on. Since any other arrangement would violate the reality of our own world, I don't think an actual Spelljamming solution is available here. I am referring to the fact that we definitively do not exist inside of a crystal sphere, but an infinite, expanding, open universe with no phlogiston. Plus, it falls neatly in-line with The City Beyond the Gate adventure from Dragon #100, which I believe was written with Gygax's idea in mind.
Dragonlance/Krynnspace "Takhisis steals Krynn"

There is a Dragonlance plotline (after the Spelljammer product line ended) where the deity Takhisis manages to move Krynn to another location, while the other deities of Dragonlance are distracted. From the point of view of people living on Krynn, the deities and even their moons, seem to vanish overnight.
Have I mentioned before how I hate the way some products treat D&D powers like every single one of them is omnipotent (but only when they want them to be) despite the fact that canon pretty clearly establishes how that's not the way things work? Because it really bugs me.

That said, I feel this one (if you buy into the idea that Takhisis can actually do this) is pretty simple to understand: Takhisis found a crystal sphere that she had access to but none of the other Krynnish deities do (which doesn't seem hard since almost all of them seem to be Krynn-specific), and moved the world there. This means it would literally be in a different crystal sphere without its normal sun, moons, or gods (except her). Where this crystal sphere is and what is normally found there is pretty much an open book to be written based off of details in that DL plotline, but I do assume it would be rather FAR from the Known Spheres for obvious reasons.
Forgotten Realms/Realmspace The Sundering/Returned Abeir/The Second Sundering

The Sundering is something retconned into Forgotten Realms canon (after the Spelljammer product line ended) where the Overgod (Ao) has dealt with fights between deities and primordials by splitting the world (Abeir/Toril) into two and giving one world (Abeir) to the primordials and the other world (Toril) to the deities. The world was called Abeir-Toril during the 2nd Edition Era, but The Sundering is supposed to have happened in the distant past, with Abeir returning during the 4th Edition Era (or more like swapping some regions with Toril) and a Second Sundering happening in the 5th Edition Era.
Oh Abeir, why oh why. I posted in the Abeir thread you started on the FR board about my thoughts on this, in that I don't think its a Spelljammer or Planescape issue, but a serious case of meta-physics in a magical universe with ill-defined meta-physical rules.

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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat May 25, 2019 4:14 am

Cromstar wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:39 am
I don't think Big Mac is suggesting they'd be right there, but IIRC, view distance in the phlogiston isn't all that great, is it? So if its, say, more than a month or two away when everyone 'knows' that all the Crystal Spheres are on (roughly) the same horizontal plane, who's ever going to take the risk of dying on a massive trip that probably goes nowhere?
If you're at the "edge" of the Flow, your view distance would be the same as in a vacuum, right? You would be able to see distant clusters of spheres and far-away phlogiston rivers the same way we can see distant stars in real life. If you're not at the edge of the Flow—if the Phlogiston rivers continue vertically just as they do horizontally—then vertical exploration isn't going to be meaningfully different from horizontal exploration. Because, again, spelljamming ships travel in three dimensions all the time. So traveling vertically for a few months in search of new worlds isn't going to be any more difficult or hazardous than traveling horizontally for a few months in search of new worlds.

I guess if you're saying the entire universe outside the spheres is composed of phlogiston, but the currents only move horizontally for some reason, it might be difficult to explore where the currents don't direct you. But that seems arbitrary and not particularly useful; the campaign setting doesn't really need a secret layer of spheres when you can just place new spheres beyond the edge of the map.

I think Big Mac wants related spheres—Oerth and Yarth, or Krynnspace and Takhisisspace—to be close together but somehow unknown to one another. But I don't think placing them close together is necessary or even desirable. The relative distance of spheres is usually not supposed to be stable anyway.
This is basically why the 'known spheres' are a relatively small subset of crystal spheres, because there's not a lot of long-distance exploration going outward from them. Its the basic tenant behind the invasion of those wolf-people in that one adventure (Under the Dark Fist IIRC). Nobody really goes out in that direction because its something like a 3-month trip? The mindset is very much the same as the European view of the Atlantic prior to Columbus' first successful expedition.
Okay, if your position is that all spheres beyond the immediate group of Known Spheres are equally unknown, then there's no particular significance to the concept of "layers"—Known Space is simply a spherical area. I have no problem with that idea; it's the idea that vertical exploration is significantly more difficult than horizontal exploration that seems unlikely.

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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sat May 25, 2019 7:16 am

Another idea is to pull a Jules Vernes' The Myterious island, and when entering the crystal sphere of the setting roll a die to determine which of the realities is being entered.
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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sat May 25, 2019 7:18 am

One thing that is also interesting is that the alternate Greyhawk of Earth, indicates a clone of our Earth. This is because The Forgotten Realms are "forgotten" by denizens of our present time Earth.
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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by GMWestermeyer » Mon May 27, 2019 2:15 pm

In my multiverse what Spelljammer calls 'Crystal Spheres' are actually, per the 1e multiverse, Alternate Prime Material Planes. Some Crystal spheres are so vast they hold entire galaxies, in fact. Not merely the standard 'systems' of the Known Spheres.

The Flow is really the primordial soup, or chaos of creation, that is why extraplanar travel and contact with dieties is impossible thee, its technically outside reality.

The Known Spheres are clustered together because reality is relatively similar there (remember, Scientific Laws can vary from sphere to sphere). Some place like the Star Trek alternate Prime/crystal sphere, holding a massive galaxy and so huge the inhabitents are unaware of the crystal shell despite their vastly advanced tech is a nigh unimaginable distance from the Known Spheres. Even if a spelljamming vessel somehow made the trip, once inside it would be destroyed as its magic failed... in a nigh lightless void an infinity of light years from the galaxy within...

This similarity of realities explains how humans, elves, and other races evolved in so many different spheres on so many differnet worlds, why languages are often (not always) so similar, and why there is a Space:1889 crystal sphere AND a Mythic Earth crystal sphere - there in fact a multitue of different spheres with an Earth, and others without one, and some with an Oerth, or a Yarth, or...

I think you get the idea. :) The Known Spheres are just one small corner of the flow, where travel in the Flow evolved for certain sentiet species. It will never expand beyond that small circle, where less the .001% of the crystal spheres/alternate primes exist. Even though new spheres are literally discovered every single year. :)

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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by GMWestermeyer » Mon May 27, 2019 2:22 pm

Cromstar wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 3:39 am
Have I mentioned before how I hate the way some products treat D&D powers like every single one of them is omnipotent (but only when they want them to be) despite the fact that canon pretty clearly establishes how that's not the way things work? Because it really bugs me.

That said, I feel this one (if you buy into the idea that Takhisis can actually do this) is pretty simple to understand: Takhisis found a crystal sphere that she had access to but none of the other Krynnish deities do (which doesn't seem hard since almost all of them seem to be Krynn-specific), and moved the world there. This means it would literally be in a different crystal sphere without its normal sun, moons, or gods (except her). Where this crystal sphere is and what is normally found there is pretty much an open book to be written based off of details in that DL plotline, but I do assume it would be rather FAR from the Known Spheres for obvious reasons.
Especially since, as far as I know, Takhisis and Paladine are the only Dragonlance dieties that have real world inspirations (Bahumet and Tiamat).

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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by GMWestermeyer » Mon May 27, 2019 2:23 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 7:16 am
Another idea is to pull a Jules Vernes' The Myterious island, and when entering the crystal sphere of the setting roll a die to determine which of the realities is being entered.
This most be something from the show that used his name, because nothing like that is in the actual novel.

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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue May 28, 2019 6:03 am

GMWestermeyer wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 2:23 pm
This most be something from the show that used his name, because nothing like that is in the actual novel.
I didn't know there was a tv show. But I meant conceptually anyhow; all realities exist at one point in space-time, but the waxing and waning of the energy makes it difficult to determine which version of the crystal sphere is being entered.
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Re: [Greyspace][Krynnspace][Realmspace] How do alternate worlds fit into Spelljammer?

Post by GMWestermeyer » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:29 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:03 am
GMWestermeyer wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 2:23 pm
This most be something from the show that used his name, because nothing like that is in the actual novel.
I didn't know there was a tv show. But I meant conceptually anyhow; all realities exist at one point in space-time, but the waxing and waning of the energy makes it difficult to determine which version of the crystal sphere is being entered.
I get the idea, I just don't see how that is related to Verne's novel.

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