Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Cosmology of Zama

Zama's cosmology is focused on the Mortal Realms, the material plane at the centre of the universe in which the world of Edarnia is located. Yet in Zama, unlike other settings, all the planes are geographically linked: it is possible to cross from one plane to another without magic, simply by undertaking a journey of sufficient length. Portals and spells are a far more efficient means of planar travel to be sure, but given enough time a man can walk (or sail, or swim) from the City of Zama, underground,through the Veil of Shadows and finally, into the Underworld (Hell) itself.

The Five Planes of Being:
Collectively the Summerlands and the Veil of Dreams are known as the Higher Planes. The Veil of Shadow and the Underworld are collectively known as the Lower Planes.

The Summerlands:
The realm of the Gods and the dwelling place of faithful mortal souls awaiting rebirth in new forms. The Summerlands exist above the material plane itself, and the stars in the sky are said to be the flames of souls awaiting rebirth. From the Mortal Realms, the Summerlands appear to be nothing more than the sky itself, but those who dwell in the Summerlands perceive it as another world similar to the mortal realm yet existing in eternal summer.
To living beings visiting in the Summerlands from the Mortal Realms only the dwellings and indeed the forms of the Planes permanent residents (Gods, Divine Servants, the dead and so on) actually appear completely solid. Everything else has a somewhat translucent, ethereal, unearthly feel to it.
The largest and most impressive structures in this Plane include the Sun Palace (dwelling place of Arbhaal and the Pheonixian Gods, literally the actual sun itself), Stormhold (dwelling place of the Gods of Air and Storm) and the Summer Palace 

The Veil of Dreams:
Also known as the Dream Lands, physically located in the upper atmosphere of the world and reachable from the peaks of the tallest mountains, the Dreamlands is where mortal souls come to dream while their bodies sleep. Reality here is mutable. It is the domain of those ethereal creatures that are neither entirely evil nor undead. Like the Summerlands, it appears an unreal, "thin" place to those from the Mortal Realms who visit the Dreamland in their physical, rather than dreaming, states.
The Veil of Dreams is also home to the Fey creatures known as the Shee, though the most priviledged of these serve the EverQueen herself in the leafy domain of the Summer Palace deep within the Summerlands.

The Mortal Realms:
The Mortal Realms encompass the entirety of the World of Edarnia, and potentially other worlds as well. The Mortal Realm is a world as we humans know it -physical, slowly changing, possessing seasons, days, years, months and so on. Yet there are also significant changes: the length and intensity of the seasons, patterns or weather, natural disasters -all these are determined by the will of the Gods. Or specifically, the wills of the Gods who are worshipped there. Thus, the lands in which the Pheonixian Pantheon hold sway are pleasantly hot, sunny places with long growing seasons and mild winters. The lands under the sway of the Storm Gods are cold, windy and rain often, with harsh winters meant to test the will and faith of the people. The lands of the Arcane Imperium, where no Gods are worshipped at all, is merely a barren wasteland of blasted, dead soil.

The Veil of Shadows:
This is the Realm of the Undead and of Nightmares. The Veil of Shadows exists beneath the earth, and many man or dwarf made tunnels touch upon it's outer boundaries. It is the mutable Realm of nightmare and fear. Like the Veil of Dreams, this land is home to Fey, yet of a bent and wicked nature, the servants of the Unshee court. Yet the Veil of Shadows, unlike the Veil of Dreams, can also bleed into the Mortal Realms, in places of great fear and anguish. Such places include battlefields, mortuaries and graveyards -or the locus of a particularly horrible murder or death. The Undead of reZama haunt these places -and the Veil itself- trapped in a strange limbo between life and unlife. Yet it is the power of the Veil itself that sustains them, and no undead being -even those with physical form- can leave the Veil. This "exile" into the lands of nightmare is, in itself, part of the curse of undeath.

The Underworld:
Also known as the Darklands, the Underworld encompasses all the dark depths of the Earth -whether beneath land or in the abyssal depths of the Sea. The Underworld is quite literally Hell. The dwelling place of Demons, Devils and tormented souls (just as the Summerlands are effectively heaven). Hot, blasting heat or crushing pressure permeates the very air. Mortals struggle to breath with every gasp of foul, heat-thick air. Here, the souls of the wicked are punished for their sins until once again unleashed upon the face of the Mortal Realms. Here, the souls of those who have offended the Gods writhe and burn in infernal flames. Here, the faithful servants of evil Gods are re-born as Demons and Devils, even as the most faithful souls of other Gods are reborn again as angels to serve the Gods of the Summerlands.
The Underworld is also home to the Winter Palace, the seat of the Unshee, home of the Winter Queen herself. The coldest place in hell. A realm of ice so soul-quenchingly cold, it makes travellers from the Mortal Realms yearn for the heat and fire of the other domains of Hell.

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