The “Frankenverse”1 is what I’m calling the multiverse in which I set my homebrew settings (and fiction, if I ever finish any of that). While I tried various other concepts (PDF)2 I finally settled on the ones below.
Structure of the Multiverse
The Five Layers
The larger Multiverse has five layers.
The Causal Plane
The Causal Plane – along with any hypothesized “higher” planes – is an incomprehensible place where time and space have no meaning. It’s said that mortal minds touching this plane briefly produces precognition, retrocognition, and more esoteric forms of ESP, and that more than brief contact brings madness. Some religions believe that beings closest to the Creator live here.
The Psychic Plane
When mortal and immortal minds touch via telepathy, some believe they communicate through the Psychic Plane. While some telepaths have reported entities native to this plane, such beings would have to exist as pure thought without physical sensations of any kind.
The Astral Plane
Descriptions of this plane vary wildly. Some describe a dark (or silver) empty space with tiny points of light, others swirls of color with shimering vortexes, still others Dali-esque landscapes with cyclopean stairs connecting distant points. Those who “astral project” and move at right angles to the World We Know end up here. Many strange phenomena and beings have been reported here:
Astral Wardens: Tribes of humanoids calling themselves “Wardens” patrol the Astral Plane. As it’s (almost?) impossible to be permanently hurt here, it’s unknown what they’re patrolling for (or against). But it’s best to be polite.
Dead Ideas: When travelers investigate the “points” or “vortexes”, they find fossilized shapes that resemble creatures, humanoids, or broken machines. Some believe the Astral Plane is a realm of abandoned ideas, from inventions to gods, and when ideas are forgotten they slowly erode into dust.
Demiplanes: Sometimes superficially resembling the World We Know, demiplanes have rules like or wholly unlike the corporeal world. Some are dreamlike or nightmarish, others like some bizarre game, still others baffle corporeal minds. Mystics contend that gods dwell in some demiplanes.
The Corporeal World(s)
This includes the World We Know, and worlds both like and unlike it. It’s said that all the Corporeal Worlds sprang from a single world, and each world is just an alternate timeline. That said, many have very different continents, magic or no magic, varying levels of existing technology, and sometimes physical laws that make some technologies impossible.
The Void Between Worlds
Between Corporeal Worlds lies the Void, a toxic nonexistence. Some have reported “Reality Bubbles” where a kind of life can exist. They describe them as places with little or no air, no light, and only lifeless, shattered remnants of worlds. It’s said that a race of “Void Raiders” somehow exist here, plundering Corporeal Worlds for their resources.
Travel Between Worlds
Mad scientists, magicians, mystics, and psychics have discovered various ways to travel among these worlds:
Astral Projection: By entering a trance, some practitioners can leave their physical bodies and enter the Astral Plane in an “astral body”. Harm to the astral body causes only mental stress and fatigue. A “silver cord” anchors the astral body to their physical body; if it is somehow cut, the traveler becomes a lost soul in the Astral Plane and their body sickens and dies. While in the Astral Plane, the physical body remains comatose. (Denoted above by dotted black lines with solid arrows.)
Portals: With extraordinary effort and knowledge mad scientists and magicians can open physical doorways between corporeal worlds, or (depending how mad they are) into and through the Void. (Denoted above by thin black lines with solid arrows.)
Psychic Trances: While most psychics communicate (and alter) minds of those they see or touch, true masters can sense any mind through the Psychic Plane. Finding a mind in the Psychic Plane can be a problem, especially those in another Corporeal World. With meditation and practice, a psychic can reach through the Psychic Plane to any mind in the Multiverse … and any powerful mind can reach them. (Denoted above by dotted gray lines with v-shaped arrows.)
In addition, certain beings seem to exist in both the Corporeal and Astral realms, or can shift their bodies between them. Thus they can use the Astral Plane to move between the Corporeal Realms and the Demiplanes. (thick gray lines with solid arrows.)
The Uncounted Worlds
At right angles to this hierarchy are the Uncounted Worlds, the profusion of Corporeal Worlds – and quasi-corporeal worlds – spun off from a single universe or set of uninverses.
The Uncounted Worlds Summarized
We reported on this previously, but let me briefly summarize and expand on that article:
Quantum fluctuations (and time travel) cause one universe to fork into two or more. Most of these fluctuations make little difference to macro-reality, so the two universes merge again. This phenomenon constitutes a hysteresis: one universe becomes two, then merges back.
- The sum of all hystereses form the “fuzz”, a protective layer around universes which makes entering that universe from outside harder. Usually one or two travelers can cross over OK, but large-scale invasions or large entities cannot cross the barrier without the equivalent of an entire other universe behind them.
In this theory all the Corporeal and Quasi-Corporeal Worlds sprang from fluctuations in quantum reality. This purports to explain several types of universes:
- Variations in modern reality, including ones that include magic and paranormal powers, are hystereses that have yet to merge into “mainline” history. Often they track events in the “real” world but do not affect it in any meaningful way.
- Universes with alternate histories forked off from the “mainline” at some time in the past and did not re-merge.
- “Fantasy” universes where magic works and continents resemble nothing like Earth split off in prehistoric times.
- “Shadow” or quasi-corporeal worlds have different physical laws which for example forbid electricity but amplify psychic phenomena. Most are post-apocalyptic or nightmarish half-worlds on the verge of non-existence.
False Centers of the Multiverse
While no single “mainline” timeline exists, a collection of almost identical timelines centered on the modern world seems to be close enough to be called “mainline”. Nevertheless other timelines claim to be the original:
On the Earth named Cretacea, a saurian species related to velociraptors gained sapience, built a civilization, and goes into periodic hibernation during their Earth’s Ice Ages, has the most enlightened civilization in the known multiverse. Unlike human civilizations, they carefully preserve knowledge during their scheduled hibernations (and at other times, just in case), to prevent the sort of Dark Ages that permeate human histories.
Elysium’s residents are demigods who think their world is the one true “Real World” of which other universes are only reflections. Nobody else believes their claim, and many experts can easily refute it.
The Three Realms
“The Three Realms”, a.k.a. “Otherworld”, are detailed elsewhere.
The residents of “Three Realms” consider themselves divine beings, with theirs the only “otherworld” in existence. There are numerous realms that call themselves “Supernal” or “Infernal”, and innumerable “otherworlds” across the multiverse, just like there are fourteen Atlantises, six Lemurias, and at last count two hundred and fifty-seven Counts Dracula.
The Overworld Market doesn’t claim to be the center of the Multiverse. Others regard it as such because it’s a pocket universe whose creator made it over five millennia ago to showcase his weapons and other artifacts.
Magic requires the idiosyncratic magical laws of a specific universe to function, and even technology presumes certain physical principles remain constant across universes. Overworld gear taps into “deeper” principles and thus work as advertised no matter the local physics. Others have emulated the feat – the Overworld’s Goblin and Hobgoblin Markets are full of them – but none quite as thoroughly as the Overworld’s creator, the Great Engineer.
The physical laws of the Overworld Market themselves are extremely janky: Aristotelian physics, the emission theory of vision, no fire, no electricity, and a black sun that radiates “dark”, the antiparticle of light. (The absence of both produces eigengrau.) Every resident and visitor is wrapped in a skin-tight environmental field because otherwise they’d die. Some believe the Great Engineer wants to demonstrate his wares’ physics independence; others believe he hates his customers.
In any case it’s a rough place, and only godlings, demon lords, and arch-sorcerers should ever visit.