A Look At Lost Lands Cosmology

As I continue to work my way through the vast pile of awesome that is The Blight (Tome of Blighted Horrors should be releasing the next day or so, btw; I just approved the final proof of the 5e version), much of what I'm dealing with is correlation with the rest of the campaign world. Richard Pett wrote much this masterpiece 7 or 8 years ago, and it was for his home campaign. So he didn't take any sort of Lost Lands issues into account, of course.

Fortunately when Bill tasked me to start building the cohesive Lost Lands setting back in 2010/2011 I was already aware of The Blight. I didn't have the manuscript, but I had seen parts of it and had written the adventure Bloody Jack for it as it was planned to be released through the abortive imprint Sinister Adventures. Well Richard kept writing on it, and as I constructed the Lost Lands I always kept the fundamentals of The Blight (its cultural, historical, and geographical requirements) in mind and essentially kept a blank space on my map where I could plug it in when the time came. So we're not starting from scratch or anything, but there are a lot of details that I've got to check and double check against my Lost Lands Bible that I've been compiling over the last 6 years or so. And in many places, The Blight development is helping me to fill in some blanks I had left in it for just that purpose.

A quick for instance would be the technology level in the Blight being more advanced than much of the expected tech for a typical Pathfinder, S&W, or 5e game. We actually crossed this bridge before when we published Razor Coast in 2013 because it had firearms in it. Bill about had a seizure over that because he didn't want firearms brought into his game world. I totally empathized, because I'm much more of a traditionalist myself and don't prefer firearms in my D&D. However, Paizo had come out with some good firearms rules in Ultimate Combat, and Nick and Lou had come up with nifty supplemental rules as well for Razor Coast that made firearms work pretty well without being gamebreaking. The kicker, though, was that Bill had already published firearms in his game world back in 2005 with F3: Crystal Skull. The city of Penmorgh had a gunsmith (area P34) and the book's artwork even involved firearms in action with one of its iconic characters regularly wielding a musket with axe-blade bayonets. So the genie was out of the bottle, and for me to create the Lost Lands and maintain the integrity of all the prior Necromancer Games books meant there had to be firearms allowed. So in 2013, Razor Coast wasn't that big a deal to me.

However, it did give me a chance to address the issue of how to satisfy both the prior canon and the "Don't get your guns in my game" crowd. You may not have even noticed how I did it; in 2015 we published LL4: Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms that included among other things an update and reprint of Crystal Skull. What I was able to do though, was to write firearms into the world in a controlled fashion and effectively sequester them. So hopefully if you don't like firearms in your game you noticed that you haven't been running into them. That's because for in-world reasons guns have very limited availability and if you stay out of a select few places you probably wouldn't run across them at all. A GM can of course expand and reduce the presence of firearms in his own game as he sees fit, which is exactly how it should be, but I wanted to find that happy medium where they could exist in canon yet wouldn't bug anyone by having to stumble over them all of the time. In fact, I'm pretty sure that other than Razor Coast (an extremely isolated area) and Penmorgh/Oceanus (where the firearms are very unobtrusive) they've only appeared once anywhere else, and I think that was a single reference in Fields of Blood (though I'm just going from memeory here, so don't quote me on that). When you're creating a book that includes the thematic elements of Western plains adventures, you probably need to allow room for the option to have a desperado or too with the gunslinger class. So we threw that into Fields of Blood and called it good on the subject.

But despite my massive digression, this blog post isn't about firearms; it's about integrating books seamlessly into the Lost Lands setting.

The Blight has a more advanced tech than most other areas of the Lost Lands. It could support firearms use, though honestly I haven't run across any yet in my development of it, so it'll probably be more like Penmorgh in that it's there if you want it but the setting doesn't in any way rely on it. The Blight has too many other nasty things to throw at you without anything so blasé as guns. ;-) But the development does require the careful review and integration necessary to make sure it fits with everything else in the world we've published or are intending to publish. As a second aside: The 2006 release of Bard's Gate included a printing press (area TW29). The 2016 release of the updated Bard's Gate still had the printing press (still TW29) but now mentions that it was acquired from the city-state of Castorhage (aka the Blight). Incidentally, Penmorgh has a printer too (area P35), but we won't go there.

So all that it to say that development of a book like The Blight has involved a lot of reading and researching through other FGG and NG books, which brings me (finally) to the subject of this blog post. In correlating the calendars, religions, holidays, etc. of the Blight I've been working with the cosmology information that I've been working up on the Lost Lands for some time. Earlier this week in a prior blog I asked for the help of you super fans to help me recall where I had published some of that information and subsequently lost the information to a harddrive crash a couple years ago. Duke Omote (of way back on the old Necromancer Games messageboards fame) came through like a champ and immediately pointed me to what I was looking for published in LL1: Stoneheart Valley 4 years ago (the first "official" Lost Lands title).

This allowed me to use it and the info from The Blight to finish out much of the cosmology of the Lost Lands' solar system that I had begun so long ago. So now, since you've patiently waited through all of my keyboard vomit (I honestly think I must have no self awareness whatsoever when I'm typing [facepalm]), I'm going to post that information to you about the greater state of physcial affairs on the planet Lloegyr and its surrounding celestial bodies. You'll quickly notice that I haven't gotten it entirely complete. I'm still working out some details on the planets and making some decisions if when old NG authors called a race "interstellar" (e.g. the Kuah-Lij, Weedge, Umali, Skree, etc.) do they just mean from another planet or that it has to be from an entirely different star system (the literal meaning of "interstellar" as opposed to just "extraterrestrial" for instance)? So the jury's still out on a little bit of that. But the rest is complete as far as the sun, moons, major stars, constellations, zodiac, etc. Obviously it is still in rough note form at this point, but all of the information is there. So if you're still awake and care at this point, I give you The Cosmology of the Lost Lands!!!!

(Final Note: These lists provide the names/identities of different extraterrestrial bodies as well as the culture that originated its identification as well as, in most cases, the book and page reference that it was drawn from. If it lacks a reference citation then it's either from an unpublished book like The Blight or just exists as original information in my personal notes. It should be noted that this is a humanocentric listing, so it does not include some the stuff from other races stargazing like the elven comet-watching of followers of Railea, for instance. It also doesn't include information on Lance Hawvermale's invention of Moonless Night. Items like those will be included in the campaign setting where the cosmology topic will receive a full discussion; this is just more of a bare-bones list.)

Names the Planet has gone by:

Boros (Hyperborean/Borean; most of known history until Lloegyr) [SV:4]

Eorthe (Heldring) [SV:4]

Erce the Mother (Phoromyceaen) [SV:4]

Geb (Khemit) [SV:4]

Kala (Jaati) [SV:4]

Kophyri (Offworlders mainly) [DMC:80]

Lloegyr/Lost Lands (current since time of Daan) [SV:4]

Midgard (Northlanders) [SV:4]

The Sun:

Rana [SV:4]

The Moons:

Narrah, Luna [DMC:126], Pale Sister [SV:4]

Sybil, Dark Sister [SV:4]

Planets:

Cyril – the Blue Chariot (see Stars below) [SV:4]

Mulvais – the Red Star (see Stars below) [SV:4]

Xharos – the Black Star (see Stars below) [SV:4]

Lacosta (different solar system, orbiting Oliarus?) [DMC]

Umal, destroyed (same or different solar system?) [H1]

Skreekek (same of different solar system?) [K9]

Others?? [SV:4]

Best-Known Stars:

Aether the Upper Air (Daanite)

Blót Star the Star of Sacrifice (Northlander)

Cyril the Blue Chariot (see Planets above) [SV:4]

Eärendel the Star of the Morning (Northlander/Heldring)

Irminsul the Pillar of the Gods (Northlander/Heldring)

Mulvais the Red Star – (see Planets above) [SV:4]

Oliarus – current Pole Star after polar shift (Hyperborean), brightest star, a winking star; aka Sidhe the Star of the Otherworld (Daanite) [SV:4]

Solaris – aka the Lightstar; old Pole Star (before polar shift) (Khemitite) [L2:25,29]

Xharos the Black Star (see Planets above) – aka Erebos; the Darkstar; the Lower Air (Khemitite, Daanite) [SV:4]

Constellations: (* equals Zodiac House, 13 in all)

*Calade – Hawk of Fate (Foerdewaith), called the Golden Hawk and associated with Arden in Hyperborean and pre-Hyperborean times, now associated with the Tropic of Arden and one of the Houses of the Zodiac.

*Draconis – the Dragon, Xharos/Erebos is its sometimes eye, cradles the old pole star of Solaris

Freya – from Tropic of Freya

*Irminsul – Pillar of the Gods; Irminsul (the star) is at its peak (Northlander/Heldring)

Mithras – from Tropic of Mithras

*Nodens

*Skiðblaðnir – Ship of the Gods (Northlander/Heldring)

*The Host – a vast army, a cross-section view of the galaxy like the Milky Way (universal)

*The Ninefold Lamp – burns for the old gods (Daanite/Ancient Ones)

*The Sickle – (Ashurian) called The Wheel by the followers of Jamboor (for a wheel of insight, aka wheel of inquiry) [BP Player's Guide:8,9,12]]

*The Sphinx – The King of Boros (Hyperborean, Khemitite)

*The Springald – The Crossbow (Foerdewaith) [aka The Hammer (Mjolnr) – Donar’s/Thor’s Hammer (Northlander/Heldring)]; threatens Yales/Jörmungandr

*The Tesseract – cross-shaped, the 3D image of a Tesseract rendered visualized in 2D  (universal)

*The White Wolf (Erskaelosi?) [DM1:12]

*Yales – lion-clawed, goat-horned, dragon-scaled devil (Foerdewaith) [aka Jörmungandr the World Serpent (Northlander)]

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Thanks for another awesome blog post Greg!  This is the kind of stuff that pushes the Lost Lands to the #1 spot of my FRPG settings (and it’s a substantial list) and any time you can knock off Greyhawk, Midgard, or Golarion from the #1 spot you’re doing something very, very right.  Timely too, as zodiac-inspired plot points will be worked into one of my Lost Lands campaigns in the near future.

Also, HUUUUGE props & thanks for the technology levels in the Lost Lands products.  I just generally like that stuff, but it’s given me a great framework for defining the setting and making various areas feel different.  It also provides in-game justification for limiting or expanding equipment availability without arguments of “GM taking options away”.

And even though I don’t like guns in my Pathfinder, I discovered the inclusion of firearms in Penmorgh when I picked up CotSK which made convincing a group of my players to shift the campaign from Midgard to the Lost Lands a no-brainer.  While Oceanus uses firearms (with limited availability), their impact has been negligible in a world of magic.  So Penmorgh became a base of operations and the group’s dwarf gunslinger had easy inclusion into the setting.  The only customization that I had to apply was the inclusion of a small cult of Rava that had introduced gearforged to Penmorgh.  So that player was satisfied as well.  I’ve since eliminated gearforged as a PC-race option for new or replacement characters so in my Lost Lands, Penmorgh can enjoy its renaissance-level idiosyncracies while preserving the rest of the dark fantasy goodness.

Thanks again for another great article/blog.  To say I anxiously await the eventual release/Kickstarter of the campaign setting is an understatement for the ages!

Omote's picture

Great to have much more inforamtion on the heavens.  Celestial objects have always been a part of my campaigns, and to have some names that scholars would use certainly expands my thinking on the subject.  Additionally, using these in a forthcoming StarFinder setting supplment would be very cool to see, though I am not traditionally a sci-fi GM very often.  Thanks GAV!

~O

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