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Integrating Mystara into Planescape Cosmologyby Leroy Van Camp III
My version of Mystara sits within a crystal sphere on the prime material plane of the Planescape multiverse, like any other TSR AD&D setting. The original OD&D planar cosmology is gone, replaced fully by Planescape, as is now canonical (not than canon matters).
In addition, I have created the concept of dimensions. A dimension is like a macro plane that contains other planes; a planar container. In the macroverse (or whatever), there are many dimensions, of which the PS multiverse is only one.
The laws of reality can vary wildly from one dimension to another. For example, there could be several dimensions that work like the PS multiverse, with only slight differences, while others could be similar to our own. Our Earth and its universe could be a dimension, as could be many others that "mirror" our earth.
Whether there is a finite or infinite number of dimensions is unknown (like layers of the Abyss), but there are certainly a lot of them, making for a multitude of possibilities. Although I would never do such a thing, a person so inclined could stick most of their favourite fictional settings in a dimension, from Star Trek to Clive Barker's Imajica.
The sphere that Mystara is in is an oddity in the planes in that the walls between dimensions are much thinner, making transit a bit easier. In the past there has been several significant dimensional transitions:
Than Air Mages of Alphatian journeyed to Mystaraspace. The d'Ambrevilles and McGregors came to Mystara through a dimensional gate.
The HMS Beagle, an FTL starship, punched a hole between dimensions and crashed on Mystara.
The Old Ones found Mystaraspace.
Despite this, dimensional travel is extremely difficult except under certain circumstances, and few know of the other dimensions, much less understands them.
In another dimension, one much different than our own, there exists a race of beings known to some as the Old Ones. Far different than a flesh and blood race, the Old Ones were composed of energy and thought. They were the only sentience in their dimension, and their vast powers made them its ruler.
At some point the Old Ones became aware of other dimensions and explored them. Due to dimensional differences, they could not actually enter these dimensions, but they could look and manipulate.
The PS multiverse was the first dimension they found with other intelligent life, and with the walls being thinner in Mystaraspace, it is the point at which they entered. Fascinated by what they found, they spent a lot of time looking around.
At some point an anomaly entered Mystaraspace; the avatar of a god. Having only explored the Prime, the Old Ones had never encountered the gods before. Ever curious, they snatched it up and experimented with it. Not long after, several more entered, apparently following the first. The grabbed these, too.
Working with these avatars and some of the indigenous life, they discovered the principal of belief altering reality, especially as it pertains to the worship of gods, though there were currently none worshipped in Mystaraspace. They also found they could alter a sentient being to have powers similar to gods, and that such altered beings seemed to have the potential to evolve beyond this, possibly even into something similar to the Old Ones themselves.
So, they empowered a few such sentients, as well as wiping much of the minds of the avatars they found, and set them upon Mystaraspace. As time went on they would find a new candidate for empowerment, and alter them.
Eventually the small number of empowered beings, Immortals, set up their own society and, not knowing of the Old Ones, began to choose the occasional candidate for Immortality. The Old Ones, seeing this as one huge experiment, would then empower them.
The Immortals had taken the same role as gods would in other spheres, and soon it became apparent that the principles of belief worked for them as well: the more worshippers an Immortal had, the more his power increased beyond what the Old Ones had granted them.
In game terms, Immortals are sentient creatures empowered by the Old Ones. Their powers work similar to the powers of the gods. The six ranks of Immortality apply, with a change: the last two ranks can only be reached through the empowerment of belief from prime material beings.
Thus an Immortal does not need followers to exist, but does need them to reach Eternal or Hierarch. If they loose followers, they will begin to drop down until they reach Empyreal.
For the most part the gods of the multiverse do not give much thought to the Immortals. They simply see them as other gods whose pantheon has another name for themselves. Some of the Immortals and gods share the same name and "concept", and how they view each other varies, from hostility (Hel) to curiosity (Odin).
Unless an Immortal has worshippers, they do not have a home on the Outer Planes. Even a large number of worshipped Immortals don't. These Immortals keep domains in the Ethereal on demi-planes.
As for the Immortals kicking ass on the gods, I don't really see it. Going by the guidelines for Immortals in the Wrath of the Immortals, and the current rules for gods in AD&D, I think, for the most part, gods are more powerful. If a god of demi- or above says your dead, your dead. Immortals can effectively do this, but rule- wise have to make some rolls or cast some spells.
My suggestion is don't get wrapped up in such things. I think anyone looking to integrate Mystara and Planescape should focus more on the ideas and flavour over the rules.
I use the following comparative ranking...
Initiate Demi- Temporal Lesser Celestial Lesser Empyreal Intermediate Eternal Greater Hierarch Nothing Comparative
A Hierarch is an immortal that has mastered both the power granted him by the Old Ones and the power gained through mass worship. They are the most powerful beings in the Multiverse, after Old Ones and overpowers (in that order), although far from being as powerful.
Why don't they open an Immortal can of whoopass? For several reasons. First, they don't necessarily know they can; the Immortals and gods don't butt heads often, considering Mystara is a bit of a backwater sphere, so their comparative power never comes up.
Second, most of them aren't looking to do such things, preferring to focus on Mystara.
Finally, there are far more gods out there willing to work together to remove such a threat, should it arise, than there are Immortals.