there seem to be multiple methods to species the airplane in D&D. There"s the good Wheel cosmology, the people Axis cosmology and also the people Tree cosmology.

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The D&D 5e PHB (Appendix C, p. 303 specifically) reflects that the an excellent Wheel cosmology seems to it is in the default cosmology because that 5e. Provided that the people Axis includes the Shadowfell and also the Feywild, ns guess the 4e tended to use that one (given that I believe those planes were introduced in 4e), and the human being Tree would have actually been used prior to then?

Assuming it makes sense come do, deserve to these cosmologies it is in "mapped" come editions the D&D choose this?


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Great Wheel—1e kinda, 2e, 3e, 5eYou room correct that the great Wheel cosmology was used in at least 2e, 3e, and 5e. It was codified, and also most completely detailed, in 2e’s Planescape setting.

Prior come Planescape, the cosmology no named, yet nonetheless something sort of like the good Wheel had actually been progressively developing and emerging from the miscellaneous discussions and statements about the planes. Dragon vol. 8, in July 1977, included a write-up and also sketch the the planes by Gary Gygax himself, the looks and also sounds quite a lot prefer what would at some point be the good Wheel.

History of the great Wheel and older editions

The history of Planescape referrals the prior editions the D&D that had only the Law–Neutral–Chaos axis via the “War of Law and also Chaos” that took ar in the far-off past, in the earliest years of the multiverse’s history. The Planescape technique is to say that an excellent and Evil, and their relevant planes, existed back then (which is constant with the initial books, i believe—even without great and evil alignments, heavens and hells to be still discussed), they simply were nascent and reasonably unimportant, as everything was brushed up up ~ above one next or an additional in the war that started in between the Wind Dukes and also the Queen the Chaos. The Chaotic position in this war was opposed to also the most basic laws favor “causality” and also “matter,” which type of describes how it was a problem that trump card even great vs. Evil. It’s worth noting that regulation won this war, and also so even the most Chaotic parts of the good Wheel space at the very least a little bit Lawful, in that also the most liquid forms have a certain minimal amount of consistency and time progresses in a mainly linear manner.

Planar Development: Demi-or-not-Plane the Shadow

The biggest change within the great Wheel cosmology is the plane of Shadow. Originally, in 2e, this was a demiplane, yet in 3e the had come to be a airplane of the own, and also a huge one, comparable in scope to the Astral and Ethereal. This was defined as an actual adjust that occurred historically in ~ Planescape, not as a retcon; something about the confluence the the inside planes triggering the demiplane’s growth, if i remember correctly.

Edition Change: Die, Vecna, Die!

Both 2e and 3e offered the an excellent Wheel cosmology, and also so there wasn’t a need, every se, because that explaining a cosmology transition (as have the right to be uncovered for the 3e→4e and also 4e→5e transitions). However, the ruleset did change a same amount, and to justification that, we have the Die, Vecna, Die! adventure—an AD&D 2e adventure released by Wizards the the Coast.

Vecna was a lich and a cheating cheater who cheats, and one the his cheats was to escape Ravenloft by becoming a god in Sigil. Those 2 statements should both it is in impossible—you can’t leave Ravenloft, and also gods aren’t enabled in Sigil. However in Die, Vecna, Die!, Vecna manages to absord the divinity of a demigod comes to Ravenloft, and also thereby gain Ravenloft to kick him out mid-aptheosis—and got Ravenloft to kick him out into Sigil. The Lady that Pain looks for out adventurers to deal with Vecna, together bringing her power versus Vecna after his rule-breaking has actually so serious damaged truth could lug down the entire an excellent Wheel. Said adventurers manage to absent Vecna out of Sigil, and also thereby conserve the day—but a many the damages is already done and that’s why the rules space different in between 2e and also 3e.

World Tree—3e Forgotten realms only, inconsistently

The human being Tree to be used... Inconsistently, through the Forgotten realms in 3e, which to be weird. It was presented in the Forgotten Realms project Setting, and originally it showed up to be a massive retcon that FR’s cosmology (which had previously been a component of the great Wheel like whatever else). Yet then FR supplements sometimes seemed come forget the existed and referenced things in the great Wheel. Also when things were firm around using the human being Tree, they greatly begged off from actually arising the cosmology—almost whatever in the people Tree just characterized each the the planes as being the exact same as the corresponding aircraft in the an excellent Wheel. So in the finish there were very restricted differences in between the great Wheel and also the civilization Tree anyway, in spite of Forgotten Realms campaign Setting having actually made a large show that retconning everything.

The just really significant difference in between the good Wheel and also the human being Tree is the lack of inter-planar relations in the world Tree cosmology (e.g. Relations from the Abyss come Pandemonium, etc.). The human being Tree also defines a few extra plane that quickly folded right into the an excellent Wheel planes. Later on editions, 4e and 5e, would chalk increase the entire great Wheel/World Tree point as simply being contending mortal theory of the cosmology, no as there having been any real change in the planes.

The primary purpose that the civilization Tree, as far as I have the right to tell, is to different the Forgotten realms from Planescape—that is, to let FR writer be the master of their own destiny and also able to shape their canon together they experienced fit, rather than being minimal by and having to accept the canon the Planescape. Basically, FR authors seemed to thing to FR being “just another world” within Planescape. We’ll see this type of point play out with the subsequent transforms to the cosmology.

World Axis—4e

You are likewise correct that the civilization Axis was distinct to 4e. It was an attempt to leveling D&D’s cosmology (note the huge number the planes that were conflated together), and at least in my experience, was one of the least well-known things around 4e.

In-character, unlike the world Tree model, the human being Axis version is actually well-known as having actually been a thing for a while, that the planes readjusted and then readjusted back. For what that worth, this is greatly blamed ~ above affairs walk on in the forgotten Realms, and also like many things in FR, it’s mostly Shar’s fault. This would additionally be the 4e analogue come Die, Vecna, Die! as someone that cares tiny for FR, and also less for the human being Axis model, I’m no wild around giving FR therefore much influence over the more comprehensive multiverse, and much happier simply eliding the people Axis fiasco the end of mine campaigns’ history. Don’t require to define it if it never ever happened.

But right here again us see how there is this tendency, beginning in 3e and really picking up heavy steam in 4e and also 5e, because that the Forgotten worlds to “drive” the remainder of D&D’s cosmology. From a Planescape perspective, the doesn’t make any kind of sense—Abeir–Toril is simply one, or probably two, worlds, among many, and many that the big important divine beings in the worlds are discovered only there and as such space minor football player in Planescape politics. Merely put, Shar do not do it have even remotely the power important to rearrange the planes prefer that—to even have a risk of the happening required the combination of the Lady that Pain’s unstoppable force and Vecna’s turoulend cheating.

The Feywild and Shadowfell

While many of the human being Axis cosmology seems to be unpopular, the Feywild and also Shadowfell have actually been exceptions to that in mine experience. The Feywild emerged out of the aircraft of Faerie, which existed in limited type in 2e and also 3e, and also the Shadowfell was a conflation the the plane of zero (obviously) and also the an adverse Energy Plane, and likewise somehow had something to do with dead souls’ trip to the Fugue Plane.

Though 5e has revived the an excellent Wheel cosmology, the Feywild and Shadowfell quiet exist.

The Feywild is in reality a small awkward for Planescape enthusiasts, as it violates the “Rule of Three” that is so common in the great Wheel and included the Astral–Ethereal–Shadow triad as among its most vital examples. The addition of the Feywild method it is no longer an example of the rule of Three. But, nonetheless, the Feywild perseveres mostly since (as far as I deserve to tell) the Feywild chin is quite cool and popular.

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The Shadowfell, on the various other hand, has become much more of the aircraft of Shadow the it once was, no much longer a weird stop on dead souls’ journey and the negative Energy plane is once again separate. The aircraft of Shadow nevertheless remains rather negative, in contrast to the Demiplane the Shadow’s original summary as being perfectly well balanced between positive and negative, and also so the hatchet Shadowfell is still provided interchangeably with aircraft of Shadow.