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Cosmology & Metaphysics

Beyond the temporal limits of history and the physical limits of geography and astronomy, the answer to “What is the setting of Colico?” that provides the most detailed big picture is the study of Metaphysics. This article details matters like the beginning of time, the origin of magic, and the make-up of the universe.

In-Character Disclaimer :: The information in this article is the sum knowledge of in-universe scholars and researchers. Your characters may be privy to some or all of this knowledge, but any or all of this may prove to be inaccurate or completely wrong in truth.

The World Tree, Irminsul

Everything that exists within the universe is said to be a branch, root, or at the very least, an adjacent shrub to an entity known as Irminsul, or the World Tree. Despite its name and the visual renditions of many different artists over the ages, Irminsul is not believed to be a literal, astronomically massive tree that physically connects the different corners of reality, but more likely a useful analogy to understand the universe and how its different magical reflections relate to one another.

The World Tree links together the different Planes of existence. Each Plane is simultaneously its own independent realm with unique inhabitants, events, and magical properties, as well as an imperfect reflection of every other Plane. In this sense, there are numerous versions of the planet Colico and some or all of its neighbors across the different Planes: the Dorado badlands may be a lush forest in one, the skyscrapers of the Dominion's capital may be a similarly imposing fortress in another, or the entire planet of Kasaros may not exist at all in others.

Planes connected to Irminsul are divided into the High Planes (The branches and 'peak' of the tree), the Mortal Planes (The trunk and lower branches), and the Low Planes (The gnarled roots).

Planes not innately connected to Irminsul are noted as Outer Planes, and are differentiated by not being reflections of the other realms.

Though the existence of the Planes can be proven and demonstrated, travel to and from them is poorly understood and mostly impossible. Civilization in the form of nations and kingdoms and clans seems to be a phenomena unique to the Sea of Stars, and Colico's inhabitants aren't aware of, or in regular mass-contact with large populations of beings from the other Planes.

Small exceptions to this exist, of course: Summoners are capable of calling magical beings from different Planes into their own to perform simple tasks. Occultists welcome and provoke dangerous entities from the lower Planes to aid them in their rituals, often through possession. Numerous myths and legends attribute the origin of some of Colico's mortal races to different Planes.

Temporal Cycles & The Old World

Though the Planes of Irminsul are diverse and unique now, their theorized origin paints a very different picture. The beginning of Time and the beginning of the World Tree are not the same thing, and for all intents and purposes, Time can only be thought of as the measurement of change.

In its earliest, most basic stage, the World Tree is to believed to have always existed, predating Time. In this form, Irminsul's numerous Planes were inhabited by Primordial Beings, entities made up of immense magical power and countless different forms. Though they inhabited the Planes, the Primordial Beings also existed wholly separate from them, capable of exerting change and influence over one another but not their surroundings. The different corners of the World Tree, at this time, are imagined to look uniform and monotonous.

This form of Irminsul is referred to as the Pre-Cyclic Era, spanning, theoretically, either an infinite duration of Time (based on the interactions of Primordial Beings) or no time at all (based on the unchanging nature of the Planes.)

Though Irminsul's Planes were bound frozen and still, aspects of the universe beyond were not necessarily so. One of the Outer Planes, the Roots of Time, are said to have coiled around Pre-Cyclic Irminsul and introduced two metaphysical aspects to the Planes: Light and Darkness, Creation and Entropy, Order and Chaos, or the mere concept of opposites at all (the specific terminology varies between scholars and cultures), and following this interaction, Primordial Beings were no longer incapable of exerting their will onto their surroundings. With this in mind, Time is not a fundamental aspect of the universe, but an outside force that infected and spread through the World Tree in its entirety.

As Time begins, so too does Consequence. As Primordial Beings can no longer exist independent of the universe, no change to one part of the World Tree, however small, can occur independent of the rest of the tree. As the different Planes would grow, decay, and deviate, their similarities would shrink, but never disappear completely. The Planes always share some base similarity, and the nature of this similarity defines a Cycle.

Temporal Cycles are a measurement of Time, as applied to the World Tree. In practical terms, it is the beginning and end of Time, and everything in-between. More poetic scholars describe a Cycle as “the amount of time it takes to reduce a mountain to a field by scraping away the top of it with a small cloth.” Cycles are defined by the make-up of the World Tree within them.

The present period of Colico is believed to be the Cycle of the Deep Sea. The observable universe and the nature of magic throughout the Planes behaves like water, flowing from an origin, coursing through the realms, and arriving at an end-point. The Planes of Irminsul are described as rivers, lakes, reefs and drinking cups. Water, either literally or in a purely symbolic sense like the World Tree itself, seems to be a primary force of reality.

Things associated with past Cycles are considered 'of the Old World.' Before the present Cycle of the Deep Sea, some believe there was a Cycle of Consuming Darkness, of Tranquil Levin, of Heavy Souls.

A Cycle begins and ends with a Calamity Event. There is no way to know if such an event is an innate feature of the Time-addled World Tree, or brought about through artificial means by the actions of mortals or higher beings. Scholars can only agree that a fundamental shift in the nature of Irminsul's Planes would surely have devastating consequences for all life, civilization, and magical forces in the present Cycle. In this sense, each Calamity Event is a universal reset, of sorts: As the World Tree changes so fully, nothing in a previous Cycle can be easily proven to have any affect on the current or future Cycles, thus shifting the effective beginning of Time forward, to the last Calamity.

With all these things in mind, however, the literal-ness of Time's passage through Cycles is debatable. Is the World Tree broken and made anew? Have relics and stories associated with the Old World transcended one iteration of reality to another, or is the Time we associate with past Cycles only a few years further back than the beginning of recorded history? If Time is Cyclic, is the course of history, the name of a country, or the appearance of a single person also something to be repeated or skipped after each Calamity Event? This mystery concludes the sum of scholarly knowledge on the broad ideas of Metaphysics.

lore/cosmology.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/22 18:43 by sage