Item description for Gary Gygax's Cosmos Builder by Peter Bradley Richard T. Balsley...
Why would we strive for new realms to explore? The motifs of the mythic are so strong in those otherworldly locations that we wish to experience them through our characters. These are the worlds that are stranger than strange and uncomfortably real as science continues to push the boundaries of what we believe to be possible. Where rational thinking and science tell us we cannot experience a thing due to its hazards, our heroes laugh and invite us to enter their worlds through their bodies. These otherworldly locales we dream of are not merely the imaginary realms where kings and peasants live in a simulacrum of our existence. No, the places of existence that most fascinate us are those where the physical reality is quite different than ours. They serve as the homes of gods and devils, elementals, and myriad creatures as of yet unknown. Simply put, these places allow our imaginations to go wild. Here, nothing we conceive of is impossible. Cosmos Builder provides fantasy cosmologists the tools to create a unique depiction of the realms above and below (and everything in between) that can be incorporated into any setting. This book presents a great many options for the game master to append to preexisting or newly conceived settings. While this book cannot include all possible options, it hits upon the most common elements of planes of existence and offers insight for deviating from and blending these elements to suit your needs, to craft new dimensions and the strange worlds that exist on them and where diverse dimension meet. This book is a toolbox, filled with ready-to-assemble components that will allow you to quickly flesh out your vision of a cosmology. These tools are designed to let you to share your vision with others so they can adopt your cosmology (or portions thereof) to their campaign, regardless of which game system they use. The only thing they require is knowledge of how the tools in this book work, or an explanation from you about how your f
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.1" Width: 8.6" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Oct 6, 2006
Publisher Troll Lord Games
ISBN 1931275386 ISBN13 9781931275385
Reviews - What do customers think about Gary Gygax's Cosmos Builder?
A fantasy/sci-fi gaming/writing cosmology generation tool. Apr 22, 2007
I'll say right now, that this work more than exceeded the goal that I had for it.
From the Author's Introduction on Page 5, "More than just a guide to a preconceived vision of a cosmology, this book actually gives you the tools to create your own multiverse."
What a statement. Meaning, this book is not "The Inner / Outer / Elemental Planes" as we know them from D&D (though it references those concepts), or a pre-generated setting such as that described in either editions of the Manual of the Planes (TSR, and WOTC); This book allows you to totally replace that setting with your own original creation (for any genre, not just fantasy) from the ground up, for those who don't want or need "The 666 Infernal Layers of the Abyss," who have a different vision of the Planes of Good, or who have their own vision of the Multiverse.
I found this book to be a refreshing eye-opener to "detailing" what I had formerly seen as "the way it was" as regarding the planes of existence for three decades of gaming.
Regarding the Contents: From the beginning, this work is a paradigm-shifter. Urging the reader not to treat the Planes that they create with this work as yet another "dungeon in space," but instead to consider that "...you have the seeds of a mythology...every plane...every deity...in your setting says something about the cosmology."
You can use this book to build not only planes, but also what that means thematically in a creation much larger than that, of much vaster scope, with much greater implications.
The book is divided into three sections: - A "cosmographer's mapping toolkit for the multiverse" - The common types of these places as they are encountered - "How metaphysical concepts are used to develop individual planes."
The language here is somewhat technical, and consists of physics-like jargon sprinkled with phrases like "dimensional matrices and space-time", "multidemensional metapysical tool" "matrices [are] formed where they meet some plane, sphere, or pocket universe," but with careful reading, I was able to comprehend it readily.
Certainly, the approach is from a person with at least some physics / cosmology background, with some (very brief) side trips into dimensional theory for the layman. Star Trek writers / gamers will eat this up. Certainly, anyone who has perused the D&D "Manual of the Planes" in any depth will "get" this.
Charts throughout the book, along with notes on how to implement this within a setting. There is no math, nor calculus involved, merely illustrating the concepts upon which the planes exist, and function. I got many, new ideas regarding my own game cosmology here, certainly.
This simple review cannot do especially Chapter 3 its deserved justice, with phrases in the Plane of Air section describing "a limitless expanse of sky...few places where one could rest...clouds, birds...a flying castle," or the Plane of Water, "islands of elemental spheres floating in the depthless ocean."
A final chapter of this section details the Aethereal Plane, connecting and binding the physical planes and metaphysical concepts. (I thought back the the Inner and Outer planes of D&D, the "force" from Star Wars, and other ideas.) Very well done, full of flavor and ideas.
Suggestions abound about what these Planes are for, how they work, what it means to your selected setting's story characters and mythology, along with traits and suggested names, with samples from real-world mythology "Hades" and "Heavenly", "accepted standard" fantasy gaming mythology, "The Abyss" and Gehenna", and others "Incarceratia - The Eternal Prison Sphere".
Again, many ideas are delivered here. Certainly, I found many sparkling gems which "Broke the Mold" of my prior thinking as regards the Outer Planes of traditional D&D, at least.
Regarding the Rest: Finally, there is a real treasure trove here in some brief appendices in the back of the book, starting with p.111, Appendix A, Sample Planes, detailed enough in a little less than a page each, for a total of a little over 4 pages, with evocative descriptions, sufficient for a capsule description in your own "Manual of the Planes," or to use for a "flavor of the Plane" encounter.
Overall, I thought this work well worth the price of admission, for the vast number of new idea that it has already given me to spur my imagination, to delve into my subconscious, and thus reveal those thoughts, and concepts that make my creations truly mine, if I had the power to create a plane with some careful thought and consideration. With Cosmos Builder, that power can be yours, also.
Most definitely a valuable edition to any writer's / gamer's library for those who ponder and like to tinker with the concrete details of the construction of the planes of their own personal Multiverse, planning it out in detail, or exploring it as they go. I've added it to my growing library of tools/handbooks that I feel absolutely essential to game campaign creation.