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WARNING!!! The following is for DMs and above ONLY. Hell awaits those who trespass here.

The state of the game universe is set by 2 governing dynamics:

  • The state of the 9 gates of Hell
  • The 8 dimensional alignment tensor of the ALLTHATIS.

The 9 gates determine the generating dynamic between good and evil from within, while the god forces (the alignment tensor) govern it`s path towards resolution from outside the game universe. Players exercising power, rightly or wrongly, generally open these gates and the gods have to deal with them. When the state of the game universe gets too off-balance, the giants or the dragons come around, for example. If the pesky humans continue their state of confusion, eventually a more "corrective" event must occur.

When these forces hold dominance, the gates from Hell are open in proportion, sending anything from inclement weather to dragons incinerating cities. Any type of darkness in the land is associated with these gates being open. The presence of the Red Wizards of Thay for example, suggest that the gate of X has been opened. 4 gates are enough to stir Tiamat. 5 gates and the great, multi-headed dragon will inevitably be lulled out. It only takes 1 gate, however, open to an extreme, to stir a giant or a dragon to correct things.

If the god/desses are in a favorable disposition towards man (temple attendance, respect for the goddess, ablutions to the dieties, etc.), then if the issue is a matter of humanoid's minds going the wrong direction (industrial trajectories, philosophal directions, etc), the giants will arise. If it is their emotional centers going off, the dragons or elementals will come and burn, flood, things down. If the god/desses are not in favor of humanoids, expect the choatic forces to correct things or add some rationality to the emotional centers, perhaps a sighting of the goddess in golden light here to teach the wayward emotionality some new things about life.

Moreover the forces of the game universes can be characterized by four dimensions, represented by color. These colors are generally held in their purity by the appropriate colored dragon.

  • Personal (the goals of the gods for speaking organisms): red (the self) - green (the world)
  • Knowledge: yellow (esoteric and concrete) - purple (arcane and abstract)
  • Occupation: orange (things and form) - blue (methods and functions)
  • Focus: black (localized and precise) - white (global and broad)

Consider the focus of good and evil between, say, the Norse gods (present definition of good might be: what creates mroe utility?) vs the nature goddesses (what creates more beauty?). These could be in conflict, so how does the DM resolve this in the spectrum of (-1,1)? By adding coloration. PRobably about four quadrants are necessary... However, note that for the totality of the game universe it must preserve itself. This must be one definition of what is good (and whatever ruins this preservation must be evil). However, the things above water are sometimes at odds with the preservation styles of life above the ground, so this is one ssource of tension.

Metagame or Game Master’s Guide (to the Whole Universe)

This material may be appropriate for Adventurer’s League GMs and above only. DMs might want to consult with a GM first, but should note that all the v5 campaigns can be made to weave into one another to form a meta-game (or meta-campaign), making a LVL1000 universe for players to explore the game universe, compete for one-of-a-kind game items, and engage various ideas of philosophy.

Five primary socio-philosophical game dynamics in D&D that players can/will/should explore:

  • Good vs. Evil (what is the best moral? path, who defines it?)
  • Life vs. Death (building cities vs. adventuring and taking risks, like the Underdark, or the Past)
  • Pushing boundaries of the game and DM: Dragons vs. Giants (maintaining balance in the realms and how they do it)
  • Desires for Accumulation (getting XP and loot) vs. Adventuring (exploring and dungeoneering)
  • Being the Best vs. Having Fun (Players vs. Wizards of the Coast, irrespective of order)

One can develop an deific story arc that is beyond epic for the v5 campaigns. They're deific in the sense that it takes the game to a LVL 1000 game (that’s more than 10xLVL100 games or like 1000 LVL 10 games). Making it a meta game, each encounter can be designed to .XXX??? That means that a final, true endgame with Tiamat or the giants should be CR1000 (up to 10^300 XP hanging in the balance).

For example, one large arc could explore the notion of what is good and what is evil? If commoners are amassing technology from the giants that they don’t have the wisdom to yeild, will you give them the freedom to find out, perhaps making a 1000year mistale? or will you destroy them?

Story dynamics “from the bottom”; If you encounter the Arab, ghouls come up to the above-ground world, and Strahd may suck you into his realm. If you fail with Strahd (cut off his head and believe you’ve won), orcs come up and invade your world to rebalance things again. If these get out of control, the giants may come out and knock them back, however if the gods are worshipped, then the dragons do the job.

Xintergrate: Rank possession can be a big dynamic, as whoever is ranked #1 gets 1/2 of all their HP back per round. That’s a huge advantage. So a city with a great leader might possess the #1 slot, and PC who are leaders may try to claim it — with or without bloodshed. The more well-developed the campaign, the more likely, I say, that there are high-ranked leaders somewhere. This is a dynamic between WotC and the players: who will be more epic?

The more players (or other NPCs) go into the Underdark or dungeons and realms that are physically or magically connected to the Underdark, the more the nasties follow them back out and orcs or other ghosts haunt the lands. The more they go against wisdom, the more the giants come out to rectify things. Going against the soul brings out dragons. You might not know when this is, but if the people are made to be anxious, you can be sure the dragons will quell it. They might show themselves because of warlocks or sorcerers misusing psionic powers, too much threat from dark or large powers loomng over them, too much alchemy or adverse potion-making. General unrest disturbs the dragons (and anxiety is what gets them upset, so best to have leaders, sages, or adventurers to keep things copasetic).

Four + Four story sources (for working out the balance of the metastory…?):

  • Tyranny of Dragons and Rumble of Giants (danger and possibilities, weapons get produced here but dispersed by the gods throughout the lands, gods/goddesses putting wisdom to players),
  • Call of Nature and Whispering of the Elementals (not for fighting orcs but more exploration, learning, and the power of magic),
  • Angels of the Light (adventures for incrementing storylines, getting important inventory items, cleansing your Abyssal darkness after FAILING)
  • Pull from the Abyss (primary source of darkness in the realms, like orcs, goblins, nightshades and all sorts of mayhem)
  • Call of the Mists (when you feel the inkling of darkness and need to put form on it) Raveloft
  • Winds of Kara-Tur (Tombs of Darkness, these campaings draw you in through their power of the Unknown)

Here’s one endgame tbat your players can know: the return of the One Ring by transforming all of the darkness to the light. This is a major undertaking and includes, most likely, the transformation of Ravenloft, and the Forgotten Realms. To do this, one will have to learn all of the backstories that made the darkness and transform the evil that was made into a greater light.

One can see the meta game much like a chess board with the DM playing black and the players playing white. All of the different campaigns sit with just a few chess pieces on the board each. STK, for example, might have 4-6 different high-level chess pieces, while Tiamat might just have the Queen, for example. White goes first, and the DM has to react to the player`s moves. The DM is generally just trying to protect the King (and such), but in some circumstances (like overly exuberant players) s/he MIGHT try some aggressive moves (or if, say, an AL GM advises it, go after the player`s queen to seriously depower the group. Going after the king would generally mean killing the party...). The overall dynamic is far from clear, however, and the game masters must try to keep track of it while various DMs play things out.

  1. Gods and Dragons (STK, RoT)
  2. Nature and the Elements (GoS?, )
  3. Angels and Demons (OotA, PotA?)
  4. Ghosts and Payback,OR call fo the mists (Ravenloft, ToA)
  • Whispering of the Elementals is about the subtle lessons one can follow to find enchanted places and beauty.
  • Calls of Nature occurs when natural forces need your help, like animals or the forests, learning herbs and even the elements themselves. Weather challenges
  • Tyranny of Dragons comes about when the realms need corrections from the forces of imbalance. (magic misuse for example or sorcery)
  • Rumble of Giants arises when wisdom is lacking in the lands, people are misusing the resources they have — whether magic or industrial.

The primary story division is the interplay between the Rumble of Giants and the Tyranny of Dragons (of which, SKT and RoT are just single expressions of these, respectively). You could say these two are the stewards for resolution of the other four and everything under. However, note bene: see the notes under STK vis. how the elementals may also form the dynamic instead of giants.) That may mean, ultimately between the gods and the dragons — which are not opponents, really but could be seen as opposite sides of each other. These are completely separate dynamics that should have no interactions with each other, except as players themselves may happen upon them, through accident, linking them together through stories, etc.… It is at this point, that player's come to a crossroads and effectively choose one trajectory or another. They are more or less exclusive to each other, and both have something epic to teach…

Never underestimate the serendipity that may arise when resources and energies are low. Some new idea may spring up and add energy to the game and countract these dynamics.

The giants and the dragons counter-act each other, such that when you kill a dragon, a giant may become dominant to counter-act it (dracoliches are another solution), or if you kill a giant, the corresponding dragon holds reign over the land, creating an ever-present foreboding presence, or constantly harassing commoners and such until they mend the problem.

Injected in that dynamic is the darkness of Strahd, which can apparently lure adventurers across the realm into his own, of Ravanloft. That adds another interesting component: choice. Not between good and evil, but your personal ascendence or the campaigns and the realm of D&D as a whole. You’ll note that Strahd is really at the boundary between good and evil — his is a love lost.

This primary dynamic is matched by another: good vs. evil. Good players will attract evil players to take their prestige (XP), renown, and equipment and vice versa. This, along with the light of the gods vs. the darkenss of the dragons will create a lot gameplay. As the gods and dragons define or exist outside what is good and evil, they are outside any moral evalutaiton on this axis. Commoners and NPCs just have to “figure” out (divine) what each is trying to tell them.

They can stay in the limelight indefinitely if no gameplay leads them over the "light horizon" of one or the other. The only rule is that is you have a giant-dominant game you always have at least ONE dragon somewhere in the universe and if you have a dragon dominant universe, there is always some abode where a giant can be found — but this should be a huge challenge (like scaling a mountain peak or something), because the temples are where the interactions are mostly (and should be) brokered, to help the cleric classes. It’s much like getting to Tiamat, not easy and should be fraught with peril, because they must be looking for trouble, right?

Otherwise, there are perhaps 56x56(?) different endings, given eight giants and eight heads of the dragon, one of each is dominant and another setting the remainder of the dynamic(?). That means, at least 3000 different dynamics that are big and sophisticated enough to govern the game universe across the world for a whole year, setting political intrigue, NPC generation, realms of dominance (Ravenloft vs. Underdark vs. Sword Coast vs. Icewindale, that AL map...???); in short the whole "planetary climate" of Toril itself.

In the midst of that, Princes of the Apocalypse is associated witih STK trajectory, Hoard of the Dragon Queen with RoT, Ravenloft is connected to Storm King's Thunder in that any turmoil that is raised in Ravenloft brings out the Giants of SKT. That turmoil comes in the form of giants making a stir in the towns. Underdark is connected to Ravenloft, through the Black Geode in the PotA. It is also geographically connected to Tiamat via the archway tunnel from the far side of Dark Lake. So this forms the bottom point of story interaction, where things are held commonly (much as the above realms for the top).

  		      ^  (laHwfulish)
             final resolution
                 TYP—+—SCAG                  Forgotten Realms
         HotDQ       |          
          |          |          PotA
  RoT <-——+---+------+------+----+-——> STK (Goodish)
           MG-+      |     CoS 
             DotMM   |    
                     |                       Dungeons and Underworld

On the left side is yin dynamics (dragons) and the right are the yang dynamics (giants) if players are going towards the Known. But this could be reversed, depending on the polarity of the universe: going towards the Known or towards the Unknown. Note that. While the above has the life side, and the lower axis, death. If you have a bunch of GOTH players, then the lower axis play would be expected. If the players gravitate towards the yang side, focus on developing virtue. If they gravitate towards the right, then: risk & death, but larger rewards. (NOTE: One should integrate all of the v5 adventures at the-great-list-of-dd-5e-adventures.)

This should be the main campaign generator and dynamic: good vs. evil with some protagonist and antagonist on another axiis. Who will end up being good, however? You can't make it so easy. So all campaigns can be interconnected through these four points on two axiis, representing a tensions and the players who are exercising that tensions, presumably -- but not guaranteed -- towards some resolutions, sending more energy upwards towards goodness and transforming energy downwards into new growth or light and understanding. Within this Grand Circle of four, there can be any number of interconnected and woven storylines connecting to each other, creating subplots and sub-tensions (will it be magic or mechanism? for example). XXX In between these games and interspersed as the “ground” behind them are the hags scattered amidst the realms. Consider them potentially wizened crones who can guide you or beguile you, you can never be sure, but their disposition to the realms sets the tone for many things and if they are agitated within the realms, you can be sure that something is afoot.

DMs can plop players at the beginning of the season or a 4-year stretch of play and let the players "choose their own adventure" by the directions they go. But at some point, all of them should be engaged with the primary dynamics and culminate in either Rise of Tiamat or Storm King's Thunder. Meaning: these should become an ultimate "boss" encounter, without suggesting victory or defeat, but the encounter itself as the reward. These are the "chaotic attractors" inviting, but never allowing, any "endgame" for some time to come, because the game universe will take considerable time to add all of the effects of every game's encounter built from the gaming culture. In any event, ending such an epic multiyear game trail should leave players with some sound wisdom, epic equipment, and fun times. What happens at some ultimate grande finale has been partially envisioned and includes, dare I say, the end of D&D itself.

There are many end-games possible, but only a scant few close it up perfectly with a nice little bow, making you or your team, THE CHAMPION (of the world, note). Each giant, just like each dragon head, is affiliated with ONE ability score. So this gives you some idea of how to concoct the storyline when they meet, and ultimately how any losses elsewhere inform ultimate,, end-game encounters.
 In between those, there are several ways to encounter depending on the disposition of the giants and the dragons. Each head of Tiamat has one of 8 names. At any given time, there is at most 7 heads, otherwise it would be YOUR world that would've been destroyed. The white head is a special type of "planeswalker" that can shift between the game world and our world (that's right, the world that made D&D itself). It is able, for example, to retrieve the player name from your character sheet (w/the help of the DM, of course). Making players wonder.... "what does it mean???" Hmmm?

So what circumstances might make the white dragon snatch their name? When their gameplay is out of harmony with the overall trajectory of both the game world and the real-world. How does a DM know the latter? One example of such gameplay, is the "cast and slash" style, or excessive ambition that is affecting too much of the game world or their own personal life. That would do it. Find such ambition and re-channel it.

The primary giant can snatch player character names (rather than their real names like Tiamat) and PC data at any time for the purpose of notifying the WotC and managing the primary story arc. This is one of their supernatural powers: accessing our dimension.

Players might claim other crowns. If these have renown points, they are not transferrable but can be traded into XP, +HP for equipment enhancements, or cash. The one exception is if the renown was gained by conquering the player themselves. They get that back.

For players who spend a lot of time on the lower axis (below ground), they acquire a black tone to their aura (for any darkvisioners). This can be counter-balanced with above-ground encounters to make it more neutral, otherwise excessive above ground encounters makes for a white aura (which may create aggression from dark-side players). This is creates a good balance, and it takes darkvision to see it. It's like an alignment, neither good nor evil, chaotic nor lawful, but light vs. dark. These are represented thus: good (pure rainbow colors), evil (other (anti-pastel) colors: brown, olive, mauve), chaotic (blood red), lawful (deep blue, like USA star field). So (light + good) would create pastel colors, while (dark + good) might create emerald enclave dark green, for example. Good + chaotic = ruby red, good + lawful = sapphire blue.

These loyalties can be useful for setting up the larger game dynamics that can be managed from above, by AL or WotC. The DM can inquire with other DMs, if they swap equal amounts of information (out of fairness).

  • A campaign with high PTY could revolve around calling forth help from the gods and forming giants that establish new gradients of power in the realms that keep people moving towards larger goals.
  • A campaign with low PTY might call forth dragons to keep peopel productive and exploratory until they find some knoweledge which shifts the balance of power towards a new aim.

Games should be seen as operating in cycles, like a biorhythm.

  • Daily sessions culminating in some measurable progress
  • Weekly cycles approaching a small climax
  • Monthly cycles incrementing something in the larger game
  • Yearly cycles achieving some campaign-level completion.
  • Multiyear cycles towards the hidden and secret goals of the Wizards. (what is evil? who should get the Sunsword?, how do the campaign interact? what would be considered the “final (or ultimate) game” state?, etc.)

DM notes:

  • The arrival of the Defector (TotYP) creates some of the entrance of STK’s giants, wanting to know what has changed in their realm. They sniff an idea of it, without knowing what it is and come out to invetigate.
  • Use dreams upon wakeup at next session to imply things going on elsewhere in the game universe, without giving too much away. You can shroud it in symbolism if you’re clever.

AL notes (players and DMs, be gone!):

  • The dynamic between giants and dragons (both at rank #1, effectively) should be such that they challenge players completely. The challenge of the giants is not whether you can kill them, but whether you *should*. The DMs (and GMs) job is to make them so virtuous and/or wise that player CHOOSE not to tarry with them. And for the dragons, to be so cunning and strong, that no player COULD take them, except the true legendary players.
  • The metagame should exercise real questions and issues along the way: what is good and what is evil?
  • DMs should built-up leaders of different cities and territories, stat them out, assign a rank for player-leaders to try to claim and perfect their in-game dynamics with such. When a player defeats such an NPC leader, they may inherit some other stats, like their PER-rank, equipment, etc.
  • Players, if they choose to attempt to annihilate one side of the dynamic or the other (giants/dragons), will get them to near death at best where they make a legendary. action to survive, but someplace else. If this happens, the other goes on a rampage and. lay waste everything in the realm, making a ghostown which will take a long time to recover or a lot of magic.
  • If players interact with. Tiamat in any confrontational way or interact non-confrontational in a way. which resolves. the. story, then the heads will change. Same with the giants: the dark sides will turn. light or. vice versa.
  • If any players are in the Underdark, by the. time they encounter demons, the giants of STK will have emerged, looking for what’s going on. They won’t probably suspect anyone doing anything in the Underdark, but yet move in accordance to balance the above ground world with the drain the under world can put on the realm, as it were.
  • ALs shoudl try to make 1, 4, and 16 year game cycles (or perhaps 1, 5, 25, but this may be too difficult to integrate into standard school schedules, like college level play).
  • The “choice” mentioned in CoT that injects another dynamic is the Sword of Excalibur, held but forgotten in Strahd’s presence (in the castle closet somewhere) or dropping the whole realm of Ravenloft and fetching the sunsword to build a whole different future. Note that it’s only a shard of the sunsword that can be found in any one gaming party. It takes about 20 to fully assemble the sunsword’s power.
  • Besides Strahd, the game can change radically with any encounters with The Arab (formerly and rudely “mad arab”) or The Defector. The Arab brings in pestilence into the above ground world. The Defector is still an Unknown. If you’ve had any encounter with The Arab, Neverwinter DOES NOT(?) burn in a volcanic eruption of Mr. Hotenow, and Neverwinter remains a stellar city (at least above ground) OR it burns out if one of Tiamat’s heads (the blue one, likely) is cut or destroyed.
  • Different events ratchet up tensions between different chromatic dragons. Understanding how the different colors represent and balance things in the realms is very important. Beheading Strahd, for example, will increase tensions with the purple and perhaps red dragons. If you did it with severe malice, you might get a visit from the white dragon or one of the giants to either balance you out or investigate the psycho-personal dynamic involved. Killing a dragon of any kind will generally ratchet up tensions with the more ancient version of the same color, raising subtle tensions in the realms at large. An imblance of women or feminine targets will engage the black dragon. Challenging the gods, the white dragon. Imagine this, for example, announced semi-randomly from the DM, after learning that another team in another city has vanquished an ancient red dragon, told to players as they’re blithely walking down a road to Triboar: “You feel a rumble under your feet emanating from (the place where the dragon dies)”. The players have no context for this little bit of data, but the GMs know. Typically such pronouncement would come after a roll of the godroll.
  • The gods keep the realms more-or-less balanced so that dragons don’t generally have much of a presence, unless you seek them out. Two vectors change the dynamics between the gods/giants and the dragons: Ravenloft, a bridge-realm and too much killing of commoners and destruction of the good that the gods have established. For the latter, such (de facto) evil beings must master avoiding the notice of the gods to roam freely. Staying in regular inns, for example, will typically attract forces to “equalize” the evil-aligned character.
  • The goddesses keep the natural realm more-or-less at balance, such that you rarely encounter distressed zones of tangles wood, lethal herbs, sinkholes, and such. The elementals start re-acting (like thunderstorms, whirlwinds, water spouts, and other destruction) when players (or DM-led NPCs) start causing too much destruction of the natural environment or pain in the animals, etc.. Dragons are considered a neuter-gender or unisex monster, they can come to the aid of such equally, but generally don’t unless there is a large power concentrated into the goddess realms. If players start blurring the boundaries betwixt the game world and their normal world, they may also make an appearance, in a more personal form, like a water elemental that can speak. Such destroyers must learn a lot and remain in constant vigilance of the weather and elements to avoid the notice from the goddesses and explore this type of evil-aligned gameplay.
  • Generally, the god/desses hold a polarization to the question of good vs. evil. True neutral players, by this definition, have no gods — because there are none.
  • There are 8 chromatic colors: 6 of the rainbow and two extrema of black: chaotic ignorance and white: chaotic wisdom. T?hen there 8 giants. Each makes a gem of the rainbow with their use of will. That makes 16 out of 20 variables to the whole of ALLTHATIS. So two more are made, an irridescent dragon that has the unity of at least 4 colors. It’s like tiamat, except that it has united it’s heads, so it can instruct with widsom as deep as the universe. How isn’t yet known. For giants there is a singular giant form which is at least 1mi high. It’s so massive, clouds and moisture temporarily gather aroudn where it walks (due to the goddess wondering). Two more represent the goddess: a giant Tree? that teaches through it’s very form. A then a human form of complete beauty and light that may appear to people.

WotC (and Tolkein Foundation, if you/they wish):

  • The appearance of Gandalf (the “Defector”) in the realms as a PTSD survivor of the Abyss (more or less) will require some real pscyhe work. Whether to emerge as Gandalf the White is uncertain and not necessarily the only interesting tack. To become the White will require negotiations with the Balrog (not fighting). The realms will be affected in subtle ways, that will amplifiy certain (but hertofore UNKNOWN) acts of the dragons. But one thing we know, is that at some point he some out riding a dragon ….TO WHERE??? It is not Sauron, for Sauron has been vanquished and the One Ring should be in the possession of the WotC, possibly Tolkein Foundation, but let me advise you: it would be good to get it in possossion of me, Mark Janssen, aka Cedric, aka Xavier, aka the Knower of the Way for the prophesy of none other than YHVH of the Hebrew Testament.
  • D&D needs it’s own “kobayashi maru”: the impossible situation that no one can win because by the time they engage such a situation, they have already gone against all of the forces of the universe. The multi-headed dragons and the giants are the best corner cases of defenders of the universe.
  • The state of the game universe is set by 2 governing dynamics:
    • The state of the 9 gates of Hell (1 left is the game world)
    • The 10 dimensional alignment tensor of the ALLTHATIS. (20 if you want to include our real world and how it relates tot he fantasy multiverses. For example the white dragon comes when there is new content to be generated for the game world.)
  • The 9 gates determine the generating dynamic between good and evil (which to the god-level is simply true and false, or order and disorder), while the god forces govern it's path towards resolution. Players exercising power, rightly or wrongly, generally open these gates and the gods have to deal with them. When the state of the game universe gets too off-balance, the giants or the dragons come around, for example (or the elements, like thunderstorms or the goddess). If the pesky humans continue their state of confusion, eventually a more "corrective" event must occur.

  • There are 8 chromatic colors: 6 of the rainbow and two extrema of black: chaotic ignorance and white: chaotic wisdom. T?hen there 8 giants. Each makes a gem of the rainbow with their use of will. That makes 16 out of 20 variables to the whole of ALLTHATIS. So two more are made, an irridescent dragon that has the unity of at least 4 colors. It’s like tiamat, except that it has united it’s heads, so it can instruct with widsom as deep as the universe. How isn’t yet known. For giants there is a singular giant form which is at least 1mi high. It’s so massive, clouds and moisture temporarily gather aroudn where it walks (due to the goddess wondering). Two more represent the goddess: a giant Tree? that teaches through it’s very form. A then a human form of complete beauty and light that may appear to people.

The Nine Circles of Hell

  • Limbo
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Anger
  • Heresy
  • Violence
  • Fraud
  • Treachery

AL notes:

  • The sea of fallen stars is connected to the domains of Ravenloft, so that if any players ever sail out there, they'll find some view of the domains therein (except Barovia proper, where it might exist as ancient ruins).
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