Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

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Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby Havard » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:05 am

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I've seen this book referenced in a few threads here already. It is written by Monte Cook, Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb and Ray Wallese. Is this a kind of unofficial Planescape book for one of Monte Cook's settings?

Is it worth owning for use with Planescape?

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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby agathokles » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:14 pm

It's a reunion book where Monte Cook called several Planescape designers to write a sourcebook about the planes. As far as I know it is a generic d20 book, not specifically connected to any setting, but inspired by Planescape.

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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby ripvanwormer » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:23 pm

It has its own bespoke cosmology, so while many of the planes described there can be used with Planescape and Spelljammer, fitting them into the Planescape cosmology is not always straightforward or simple. On the other hand, it's explicitly the same cosmology that the Malhavoc settings Arcana Unearthed and Ptolus exist within.

Avidarel: This is essentially a crystal sphere in Spelljammer terms with a dead star that might yet be rekindled.
Carrigmoor: This is a city of portals gone to seed.
Curnorost: This is the gloomy plane where angels go when they die. The idea behind it kind of breaks the Great Wheel, since it's a destination for good spirits but not at all a nice place. Still, you could use it in Planescape as a dark secret hidden by the powers of good.
Deluer: An elemental earth plane, but actually mostly a void where jewel worlds are connected by crystal roads. You could make it a demiplane and/or connect it to the standard inner planes, or perhaps make it a crystal sphere.
Dendri: This is a Material Plane type world where formians have invaded from another plane, coming into conflict with the native araneas. This works fine with Planescape, though note that formians are more aggressive in 3e than 2e.
Faraenyl: This is Colin McComb's take on the Plane of Faerie, though it's a place to which magical creatures retreated rather than one where they originated. It's an artificial plane and maintaining it costs a steep price.
Kin-Li'in: Essentially a layer of the Abyss. In the Great Wheel it could be the layer of the demon lord Thralhavoc.
The Lizard Kingdoms: A world where reptile and arthropod races rule over mammals and dinosaurs are common.
The Maze: A small, nameless town surrounded by portals that lead to otherworldly mazes. This is a sort of demiplane.
Mountains of the Five Winds: A world being torn apart by the warring forces of Law and Chaos. Similar to TSR's cancelled Storm Front setting, without the flying ships.
Ouno: Flying ships, levitating islands, and a sentient ocean, inhabited by githzerai.
Palpatur: A living plane ruined by the Blood War, this is one of the most Planescapey planes in the book.
Sleeping God's Soul: A demiplane or planet.
The Ten Courts of Hell: This is a Confucian-inspired afterlife distinctly different from the Great Wheel's lower planes. It could be reinterpreted as a series of realms in Baator.
Tevaeral: A world of fading magic.
Venomheart: A tiny world mostly notable for a plane-traveling ship parked there, crewed by pirates who steal sleep.
The Violet: An alien prison plane where cloakers war with couatls.
Yragon: A world of sapient, warlike apes.
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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby Tim Baker » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:38 pm

That's a great summary, ripvanwormer. Thank you for taking the time to share that.
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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby Big Mac » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:34 am

ripvanwormer wrote:It has its own bespoke cosmology, so while many of the planes described there can be used with Planescape and Spelljammer, fitting them into the Planescape cosmology is not always straightforward or simple. On the other hand, it's explicitly the same cosmology that the Malhavoc settings Arcana Unearthed and Ptolus exist within.


Hmm. So if I wanted to go down the "Wonky Wheel" route and have a bespoke cosmology for Ptoluspace and whatever the crystal sphere for Arcana Unearthed was, this book might work as is. (I suppose I would just need to work out how much of the Beyond Countless Doorways stuff connected to the Astral Plane, Elemental Plane and Shadow Plane.)
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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby ripvanwormer » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:24 pm

Big Mac wrote:So if I wanted to go down the "Wonky Wheel" route and have a bespoke cosmology for Ptoluspace and whatever the crystal sphere for Arcana Unearthed was,


I made a thread on converting some of the Prime Material-style worlds to a Spelljammer sphere: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2289&p=65784

this book might work as is. (I suppose I would just need to work out how much of the Beyond Countless Doorways stuff connected to the Astral Plane, Elemental Plane and Shadow Plane.)


The Beyond Countless Doorways cosmology merges the Astral and Ethereal into a single plane called the Ethereal Sea. Other transitive planes described in that book include the Nexus (which is described in more detail in Book of Eldritch Might III), the Underland (the Underdark, but assumed to connect to multiple worlds), and the Celestial River (given more detail in The Book of Hallowed Might II).

There's no Plane of Shadow as such, although any number of planes might be shadowy in nature. Page 25 says "No plane is singular. There is no plane of shadow, but many planes of shadow. There is no plane of fire, but many planes centered around fire, each unique. There is no "prime material plane"—every material world is just one of many."
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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby ripvanwormer » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:53 pm

The way the cosmology works in Beyond Countless Doorways, only a few planes touch each plane and which planes those are change over time. A particular world might have access to a hell, a heaven, a few different elemental planes and a shadow plane and these planes come in and out of conjunction. It's somewhat like the way the outer planes work in Eberron, except instead of a set of 13 planes that are always associated with the same world, the set of planes may change over time. Actually, Eberron could fit very well in the Beyond Countless Doorways cosmos, with 14 planes always associated with one another, but you can also have a world where a completely different set of planes touches a given world every decade or so.

There are many planes in Beyond Countless Doorways, not mentioned above, that are little more than names and brief descriptions. Like Wordor is "An air elemental plane ruled by a conclave of djinn who also run an academy for wizards in a city of glass." That's all we know about Wordor. There are dozens of other planes with a similar level of detail and only one or two canonically touch Serran (the Arcana Unearthed world; Deleur is commonly in conjunction with it) and none of them canonically touch Praemal (the world Ptolus is on, because Praemal is a prison world isolated from the other planes).

If you were trying to make the Beyond Countless Doorways the standard for your D&D/Spelljammer campaign the result would be, for example, Toril's Plane of Shadow might have moved into Krynnspace around the time of the Spellplague while Toril came into conjunction with Abeir, the Feywild, and the Shadowfell instead (and this could explain why Toril's cosmology seemed to change between editions). Mystara's Plane of Fire might move into conjunction with Greyspace while Greyspace's plane of fire might temporarily become isolated from everything other than the Nine Hells. The Nine Hells themselves might only be periodically accessible from Greyspace; much of the time you might have to travel to Gehenna, the Outlands, or Acheron first in order to reach the closest of the Hells, or travel from Gehenna to a plane of fire to Toril before finally making the jump to Baator. It's possible in this system to say that a single world is always associated with the same cluster of planes, but it's designed with the idea that everything is potentially switching and changing. Thus, it's kind of the opposite of the idea of "bespoke cosmologies." Not everything is tied to the same 17 outer planes, as in Planescape, but each world is unlikely to get its own custom cosmology, at least not permanently.

The vocabulary looks like this:

Conjunction. The two planes are close enough that standard D&D spells (commune, contact other plane, summon monster, ethereal jaunt, gate, plane shift, rope trick etc.) can be used to cross them. In the Eberron setting, these planes are said to be waxing or waning.

True conjunction. The two planes are really, really close and easier to cross than usual. Planar traits may change. This is similar to what the Eberron setting calls coterminous.

Out of conjunction. The two planes are more difficult to cross between than usual. This is what the Eberron setting calls remote.

Severance. No magic can allow you to directly contact the second plane from the first while the two planes are in severance. You have to cross between intermediary planes first. For example, if the Abyss is in severance from Oerth due to the effects of the Crook of Rao then Iuz can't summon demons without traveling to Carceri first and summoning them from there, assuming the Abyss and Carceri are in conjunction.

As you can see, it would be possible to use this system with the Planescape planes, though it'd be different from standard.
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Re: Monte Cook's Beyond Countless Doorways (Sword & Sorcery)

Postby Tim Baker » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:30 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:you were trying to make the Beyond Countless Doorways the standard for your D&D/Spelljammer campaign the result would be, for example, Toril's Plane of Shadow might have moved into Krynnspace around the time of the Spellplague while Toril came into conjunction with Abeir, the Feywild, and the Shadowfell instead (and this could explain why Toril's cosmology seemed to change between editions). Mystara's Plane of Fire might move into conjunction with Greyspace while Greyspace's plane of fire might temporarily become isolated from everything other than the Nine Hells. The Nine Hells themselves might only be periodically accessible from Greyspace; much of the time you might have to travel to Gehenna, the Outlands, or Acheron first in order to reach the closest of the Hells, or travel from Gehenna to a plane of fire to Toril before finally making the jump to Baator. It's possible in this system to say that a single world is always associated with the same cluster of planes, but it's designed with the idea that everything is potentially switching and changing. Thus, it's kind of the opposite of the idea of "bespoke cosmologies." Not everything is tied to the same 17 outer planes, as in Planescape, but each world is unlikely to get its own custom cosmology, at least not permanently.

This approach really resonates with me. I especially appreciate how this could explain the cosmology shifts between editions. Great ideas!
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