This article describes a cosmology I’ve created and plan to use for my campaign. It is loosely based in part on the historical events of To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust. I’ve made allowances in it to include elements based on the ever-popular Cthulhu Mythos created by H. P. Lovecraft.
Amorphia, or In the Beginning
The multiverse began as a seething mass of chaos, without shape or form, but with great energy. Waves would form and move through this mass, sometimes colliding and creating maelstroms. Unimaginable things were created, changed, and destroyed. Then, in an environment where anything could happen, Something did… the creation of an entity with the will and ability to assert that will to survive.
Origin of the Gods
These were the first of the gods; more followed. Elder gods are alien in form and desire, but the primary attribute that characterizes them is their ability to survive in and resist the effects of amorphia indefinitely.
Each is unique in form and their actions are inscrutable. They may or may not even be aware of each other. They do not seem to interact with each other, except through the servitor creatures each has created to enact their wills and advance their goals. Alliances and enmity do not seem to exist between them, though their goals sometimes conflict or are compatible. Cooperation and interference between the elder gods is more or less accidental.
The greater gods were born during later waves. Each one is weaker than the elder gods, but it happened that several were formed close enough together in space and time and instinctively worked together to survive. Together, they managed to form a region of relative safety in amorphia. This was the first plane, and introduced the very concepts of ‘place’ and ‘time’. Greater gods are defined by the ability to drive amorphia away from themselves, creating planes.
Paradise acted something like a beacon to less-powerful gods created later. Intermediate gods had the ability to survive in amorphia for a time and to shield others.
Like intermediate gods, lesser gods survived only because they managed to sustain themselves long enough in amorphia to reach Paradise. They lack the ability to shield others from amorphia, however.
Demigods are the weakest of the true gods. Most of them were formed in amorphia and survived only because they were rescued by intermediate or greater gods before their dissolution. Despite being created in amorphia they have no ability to shield themselves from it.
Origin of the Planes
This was the first plane created by the gods. Eventually it accumulated a large population but despite this — or because of it — was losing stability. The gods began a create project to create a more stable place to live before Paradise was destroyed.
Before they could create their new home, the gods needed a supply of matter to work with and a stable framework to work in. They created the elemental planes of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth (in that order). The planes were created in what could best be described as a tetrahedral arrangement, four points equidistantly placeed on a sphere. This was deemed the most stable configuration and allowed for balancing and transfer of energy and mass between the planes.
The elemental plane of fire is the closest in appearance and behavior to that of amorphia. It is a place of high energy and mutability, having absorbed some of the energy taken from the creation of the elemental plane of air.
The elemental plane of air is still mutable in form but with much less active energy. Some of the energy was fed back into the plane of fire, some was used to convert amorphia to matter for the creation of the planes of water and earth.
The elemental plane of water was created next, a lower-energy form of matter.
The elemental plane of earth was the last created. Immense amounts of energy were taken from the other planes to create and stabilize this plane, the farthest in nature from amorphia.
The gods needed a place to work while creating the prime plane, without being inside it before it was stable. As such, it can be reached from anywhere in the prime plane.
The Ethereal Plane was, if you will, the Scaffolding of the Universe. It was built to contain the Prime Material Plane and provide a place for the gods to work on the Prime, without having to be ‘inside’ it all the time. As such, it can be reached from anywhere within the Prime and allow travel in ways not possible in the Prime, particularly when it comes to moving through what would normally be barriers to travel.
Creation of this plane was the purpose of the gods’ great project. It was successful created within the confines of the elemental planes. Energy and matter were drawn from the elemental planes and combined to form the plane where the gods could live in safety.
Events conspired against the gods, though. The project was, for their purposes, a failure. The creation of the prime plane was interrupted. The prime plane is more stable than Paradise (due in part to the stabilizing effects of the elemental planes) but lacks the strength to support the long-term presence of the gods.
Because the prime plane was still under construction, not everything ‘works right’ or is necessarily consistent. There are places where time runs at different rates — or even backwards — and where the ‘laws of physics’ vary.
The outer planes were created more or less accidentally. Near the culmination of the creation of the prime plane a maelstrom struck. The gods aborted their project in order to save themselves, but Paradise shattered under the strain.
The smaller planes were (mostly) easier to stabilize and protect. The gods were divided by this shattering, separating into their various pantheons. Some of the planes (and the planar occupants) were destroyed by amorphia, others were warped and changed.
The various outer planes have (tenuous, at least) links to worlds in the prime plane. These tend to correspond to the religions practiced in parts of these worlds.
Locations of Interest
There are several locations of interest that may or may not be planes in their own right.
Hall of Doors
Teleporting around the firmament was very unsafe during construction of the prime plane. Not only were things still subject to amorphia, but the plane itself was continually shifting as work continued. A mishap would have been disasterous, but moving around using other methods was tedious, even for a god, given how far they’d have to travel.
The gods constructed a place resembling a large building with a truly huge number of doors in it. Each door leads to a different place on a different world. To mortal perception there is no difference between doors; gods can easily see where each door leads. The relationships between the doors are static, however; once a route is learned it will not change.
Powerful beings in various worlds have successfully created doors from their worlds to the Hall of Doors; these doors are indistinguishable from those created by the gods. No mortal has ever successfully created a door out of the Hall to a world on the prime plane.
Current Status of the Multiverse
For the most part, things at the planar level have not changed much. The relationships between the various planes are surprisingly stable considering their genesis.
Waves and maelstroms still form in and travel through amorphia. The outer planes are now more stable than Paradise was, but are still somewhat subject to these events. The prime plane is largely sheltered from these by the elemental planes’ filtering effects, but major waves and maelstroms can still cause ripples in reality.
Major amorphia events often coincide with historically significant events in the prime plane. These events can include the birth of a great person, ascension of a new god, destruction of an existing god, great wars, civil wars, major magical and technological advances, and so on.
Gods on Earth
Newsgroup posts about my campaign (not in these articles, just in various messages) indicated that the gods ‘left this world’ relatively recently, in recent centuries. This is more or less true, just not literally so. The Prime was being built to provide a safe and stable place for the gods to live, but was not yet complete. During construction, the gods would project themselves into the Prime to work on, inspect, or otherwise take action in the Prime; these were avatars of the gods, very limited (for them) manifestations of themselves. While the gods were creating the Prime, these projections could be done because their effect on the environment could be countered by other gods to keep things stable. Since the project was aborted, the Prime still isn’t strong enough to hold even the avatars safely for very long, and the other gods aren’t strong enough, or available, to keep things stable any more. Avatars only rarely visit the Prime now.
 Think of a construction team trying to frame a house, all at once. Putting up the walls, roof trusses, and roofing material all at the same time rather than in turn. It’s *hard*, especially when there are people walking on the roof before everything has been nailed down, but I suppose that with a large enough and skilled enough team you could do it. You’d have people holding the walls up and the trusses in place while roofing material was put on, but it’s theoretically possible.
 FWIW, avatars are about equivalent to the stats found in Deities and Demigods. Not as those using the Avatar Salient Ability, the full stats are the avatars. In their ‘real form’ gods are considerably more powerful. Even for Epic campaigns, fighting a true god in his full glory can be summarized in one word: *SPLUTCH*. Or, I suppose, if it’s an evil god: *Aaarrggghhnonomybrainmysoulnononoarrrrgh…” (this goes on for a while) “…noarggh*SPLUTCH*”.
Origin of Magic
Magic is, of course, the manipulation of the amorphia that still permeates the multiverse. In the Prime it’s mostly stable and controllable (for those who can access it at all), but it’s still the source of power. On other planes, magic can be much more powerful (or weaker) in certain ways as determined by the plane, but in the Prime it’s relatively predictable and controllable.