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Talk:Book of Elements (3.5e Sourcebook)/What are Elements?

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Infinity: Troublesome?Edit

Let us assume for a moment that the universe (in real life) is infinite, containing an infinite number of civilizations, a proposition that cannot currently be disproved. Does that mean that everything you can do is pointless? Probably not. Of course, greater teleport does make it more relevant that the universe is infinite, but since there is an infinite selection of places to go, the density of intergalactic travelers will remain the same. --Foxwarrior 06:20, August 26, 2010 (UTC)

You can cross those infinities, and do, frequently; therein lies the problem. Plane Shift moves you orthogonally to the infinite size of the planes, letting you jump from one plane to another. And the number of places to go is decidedly not infinite. The D&D world has a finite number of, for instance, deities, major planar empires, and so on. The Nine Hells have capitals for entire layers, there is only one City of Brass on the Plane of Fire, one Sultan of the Efreet, one Padishah of the Marids, and so on. If the PCs are supposed to be able to go somewhere and have a reputation that precedes them when they go to these places, then there cannot be an infinite number of other adventurers.
If one deity is overthrown for every million adventurer-years or even billion adventurer-years, and there's a finite number of deities, an infinite number of adventurers, the entire pantheon would be replaced daily. Faster, actually. If they were replaced every combat round, the line to be god for a round would still be infinitely long.
Yes, in the real world, even if there's one technological civilization per galaxy that means that there is an essentially infinite number of civilizations, but nobody on earth is trying to do anything that they're trying to undo or trying to undo anything they're doing, or to compete with them for fame and fortune. They're too far away. --IGTN 06:46, August 26, 2010 (UTC)
If you've got a finite number of deities and important places, you can still have an infinite amount of space as long as there aren't an infinite number of adventurers. You're limiting deities, so why not limit the number of characters who can challenge their power level as well? I admit this is a rather bigoted idea.
Of course, I was actually trying to point out the flaws in your argument for why you shouldn't have an infinite number of deities and important places. --Foxwarrior 07:03, August 26, 2010 (UTC)
You could have an infinite number of deities, yes. But then "We killed Hextor!" stops being an accomplishment, if there's an infinite number of alternatives. If you want things to have a point, you have to narrow things down from the infinity, either by space limitations (which don't work at all when interplanar travel is involved), or by not having infinites.
If there are an infinite number of special places, then the only reason to care about a giving place is sentimental value, not magical value. You can find another place with a close enough magical value as to be no different. This makes king of the hill scenarios pointless.
If you decide that you want a finite number of high-level characters to keep the PCs special, then there will still be an infinite number of people competing for those spots. If you need a finite, transferable resource to gain 11th level, there will be an infinite number of 10th-level aspirants waiting to gank every level 11+ character the moment they let their guard down. Not just people waiting in general, but people with specific targets. This is true no matter where you set the level as long as travel is feasible (if it's not, then you'll just get ambushed everywhere you go). Having any finite resource desired by an infinite number of people earns you an infinite number of enemies. --IGTN 07:29, August 26, 2010 (UTC)
Also, if there are an infinite number of people and a finite number of high-level characters, then two characters running into each other would be infinitely improbable (because they're separated by infinite distance and by infinite people). Infinite planes and finite characters mean the end of adventuring, because you can't form parties any more. Vebyast 07:35, August 26, 2010 (UTC)
Just because it's infinitely improbable doesn't mean it didn't just happen. Even though it pains me to say it, if you go the 4e route (where Dragonborn PC's and Human PC's are far more similar than Human PC's and Human NPC's), then it seems obvious that becoming a PC is not a transferable quality.
Also, just because there are many mountains of similar height on other planets doesn't mean that controlling Mount Everest is pointless. --Foxwarrior 18:05, August 26, 2010 (UTC)
Well, yes, if you decide that arbitrarily only plot-important characters are high-level, then you will end up with a finite number of high-level characters. But I'd rather have rules for a world in which plots happen than rules that model what happens around a plot in a background world. Also, if there's a finite number of PC-powerful characters, and they're arbitrarily generated out of an infinite population, then there's an infinite number of people who want them to do things for them.
As for the Mount Everest point, that's only true because you can't go to the other mountains. If there was some magic benefit you got for owning tall mountains, and you could greater teleport, then you wouldn't try to get it from Everest, you'd try to get it from Olympos Mons or go exploring other star systems for tall mountains, and you'd only go for Everest if you couldn't get Olympos Mons.
Put more simply, if there is one site with magical property X, and you need magical property X, you want that site. If there are an infinite number of sites with magical property X, you can shop around and pick the easiest one, and if one gets harder, you can attack somewhere else. You're not fighting for the one spot where you can conduct your magic ritual or whatever, you're fighting for the easiest spot to take out of all of those, unless you care about specific places (if you need a tall mountain for a limited range ritual, you might need Everest and not Olympos Mons), but the only thing that can tie you to some place instead of the infinite others like it is sentimentality. You're fighting for the place you can bomb the villain from because you hate him or because she threatens something you like. You care about your home because it's home, not because anything there is particularly better than anywhere else. With an infinite wilderness, you don't even need to fight for your land; when the going gets tough, you can just up and leave to someplace less-contested and equally-good in the infinity.
Comparisons of the earth in an infinite universe to an infinite plane are bad because 1) we're physically attached to the earth. On the planes, you can greater teleport; if you had that, you wouldn't have to settle for earth if somewhere else was better, but here we can't leave, and 2) we're sentimentally attached to the earth. Even if we could greater teleport and built a Mars colony, Everest would still be the tallest mountain at home. But an arbitrary alien wouldn't care at all for it except inasmuch as it can help the alien achieve its goals on earth. The whole point of controlling Mount Everest, in your example, is that it is the tallest mountain on earth. But only an infinitesimal amount of anything cares about earth (assuming aliens), and, in a universe with greater teleport, those that do would be more sentimentally attached than anything else; Everest is cool, but if I can't get whatever from it I can just move to a taller mountain on some planet orbiting some star in some galaxy in the Hubble Deep Field.
Likewise if you want to have struggles between planar empires. The Sultan of half a plane, or a cosmic deity, doesn't have any reason to care about anything that happens an infinite distance away from the capital except as it affects the empire as a whole. If anything you do is going to be important to iconic NPCs like the Sultan of the Efreet or Pelor, you need to have actual places of significance. --IGTN 05:22, August 28, 2010 (UTC)

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