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Questions about cosmology and the multiverse

Content of the article: "Questions about cosmology and the multiverse"

Here's how the basic concept works, in-universe, from my understanding.

  • You've got the outer planes vibing in the astral plane
  • You've got the elemental planes sitting within their elemental chaos, all interconnected by the ethereal plane
  • You've got the material plane: a bunch of crystal spheres floating on the phlogiston sea, and each crystal sphere is connected to both the ethereal and astral plane
  • The entire material plane is reflected into the feywild on one side and the shadowfell on the other
    • This means that to travel between crystal spheres, you can sail on the phlogiston or go through the feywild/shadowfell, or maybe the outer planes but I'm not sure
  • As far as the crystal spheres go, each one is its own campaign setting usually ruled by an overgod. Realmspace is ruled by Ao, for example.
  • The various D&D settings/worlds all exist within the material plane as crystal spheres, meaning that every D&D setting theoretically is part of the same multiverse. Apparently this isn't always the case though, like how Eberron exists in the Orrery somehow.

Okay. So allegedly, this is all true (i.e. canon to the D&D story) as of fifth edition. I've been doing lots of research, moreso through the lens of Forgotten Realms more than anything, to try to piece together the overarching history of the D&D multiverse, regardless of the specific goings on of each of the crystal spheres. When looking into the past of Forgotten Realms, though, I came across the World Axis and World Tree cosmology models.

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Okay, so in-universe, is a cosmology model (i.e. the Great Wheel, World Axis, or World Tree) supposed to be just a way for us to understand the world, or is it more or less an accurate representation of the way the outer planes and such are arranged? I would just assume the former, but I keep seeing that the events of the change to 4e specifically "destroyed" the world tree as if it's a physical thing, leaving behind the world axis setup in its wake. And 4e's history about the dawn war and such involves the world axis setup… if this is meant to be taken as reality in-universe, isn't it possible that the world axis model kind of got refined after the dawn war into the great wheel of 1e, only for it to become a tree in 3e, break down in 4e, and then revert back to the wheel in 5e?

I'm probably not supposed to try and make sense of all of this, but it's stuff I've been wondering about a lot recently. That, and I've been trying to piece together a timeline of the multiverse as a whole.

Any thoughts?

Source: reddit.com

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