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Quality in Rifts: Remembering Pete Overton

Quality In Rifts: A Brief Guide to the Megaverse

By Pete Overton

Last Updated: 06.18.2004


As avid readers of the page will know, part of my biggest job here is to assign order to what Palladium seems to randomly upchuck. If you look back on this page, a lot of it seems to simply be taking a huge pool of data gleaned from the books, and reorganizing it and patching in some sort of coherence and logic. This especially applies to the Megaverse, as the entire idea of the Palladium Megaverse came about simply as a result of their refusal to change the core system of their games, thus making one of their games with bad mechanics be able to be easily transferred into another of their games with bad mechanics. This was a novelty that wore off quickly, I can assure you, in the face of the fact that ALL of their games need a critical update package, to borrow a Microsoft term.

This document has been brewing around in the back of my head for some time, actually, but I never really sat down to hash it all out. Palladium has never really imposed much of a cosmology, or even bothered to correct their misuse of assorted terms. It will include a set of defined terminology, an examination of how to travel around the Megaverse by both magical and technological means, and an examination of the inhabitants of the Megaverse and a more consistent terminology system for them.

Why should you care? Consistent terminology is always its own reward, but if your players ever seek to find out things about the megaverse and you are standing there looking embarrassed, then at least now you will have something to say. Knowing the relative structure and terms of a cosmological system will also bring forth story ideas and manage to make you look like one heck of a winner to other confused Palladium system players who never read this. Try and get some free food out of them, you have my permission.

A Brief Warning

As might be obvious, while I maintain a passing interest in physics, I am by no stretch of the imagination a scientific type person. I certainly could be if it wasn't for all of the attractive females I know. But at any rate, keep in mind that imposing order on this system takes a lot of nipping and tucking, and that most of Palladium's core cosmology came about in the 80s, where they got their augmentation and combat inspirations from. I can't really be held responsible for their wildly outdated notions. On the other hand, I am going to work with what I have. I am not going to go out of my way to bring String Theory into this, merely redefine what is there. If you have read my Augmentation file on this page, you will know what to expect. But if you see wildly gross errors, feel free to e-mail me, but be aware that it's not high on my list of priorities to make sure this page is scientifically pure.

If anyone has had firsthand experiences in the other Realms, feel free to e-mail them to me, however.

About the Author

Isuthiel "Sierra" Sonora is a respected scholar and popular archmage at Lazlo's "Center For Megaversal Studies", where she has written a number of books on the nature of magic, the megaverse, and guidebooks for dimensional travellers, as well as being a veteran sociologist. She has won the coveted Platonic Award for Excellence for the following text concerning the Megaverse, written for the beginner in the field. She is currently at work on her next book, tenatively titled "Coalition Media: A Study in Duality". She resides in Lazlo with her husband, Cynrain, and their two cats "Raptor" and "Baldy".

What To Call It

1.0 - The Megaverse

Put simply, the Megaverse is the sum collection of all of existence. Those areas which exist outside of Existence are not counted in the Megaverse, but such places are incredibly difficult for most mortals to conceive of, let alone visit. However, everything else counts into it, all of the assorted realms and universes and realities. Most great minds postulate that it is infinite, or so large that it appears infinite to us, and it is unlikely that you will ever be able to find a definitive point that is the edge of the Megaverse. However, for our purposes here, the Megaverse is simply the entirety of known existence. That which nearly all things live, share love and eventually die in. This includes any possible place that can exist. There is more dreamt of under the Megaversal sun, as it were.

To appreciate and understand the Megaverse requires a sense of scale. We simply can't imagine such a titanically vast and spiritually multilayered thing as the Megaverse in its whole. However, if we understand the component pieces to it, we can slowly piece-by-piece come to appreciate its nature. Bear in mind that even all of this is, at best, conjecture and supposition, as we are creatures who infer by nature. This is simply the most modern set of thinking we have on the Megaverse. Even now, we have no "grand unified theory" of physics, much less all of existence.

While I shall strive to avoid as much unnecessary metaphysics as possible, a natural question might be to ask how the Megaverse came to be. The simple answer is that we don't know. In the Jerusalemite Bible, it merely states that the Creator willed it all into existence over seven days. We have pieced together some sort of metaphysical history [Note: See Magic File], but even Aurelanis admits much of that is conjecture. He believes that it is all some sort of experiment on a scale that beggars understanding. Me, I think that if this mythical Creator was indeed the genesis for it all, he must have been terribly lonely. The sheer diversity of the Megaverse strikes me as a design, not a flaw. My husband Cynrain makes a point of seeking out other races and learning their beliefs in the hope that some sort of coherent whole will emerge. But the fact is that we simply don't know, although we think about it a lot, as you might guess.

At the most fundamental level, and where we will begin our examination, the Megaverse breaks down into two unequal wholes. The first is typically called Reality and the second is normally called The Realms. To envision this, imagine all of the Megaverse as a normal Earth night sky. Reality is the blackness, and the stars are the Realms.

1.0.1 - Reality

Reality is the name given to the majority of our Megaverse. It is perhaps a less than adequate name, as many Realms seem entirely real in the strictest sense, but it is suspected that the term came into use millennia ago. In truth, there are an infinite number of realities, but the singular term for them all stuck. It is simply defined as the default nature of the Megaverse. In the end, it comes down to something as universally easy to grasp as "majority rules". You see, realities differ in many respects, but their basic nature remains the same. Thus, gravity works the same, pi remains constant, and so forth. Those basic laws of nature and science exist as we know them, and that most vaunted of universal natures, spacetime, remains essentially the same. We exist and live in reality right as I write these words.

However, even at this scale, comprehending such a thing is very difficult. So allow me to take a few steps back, and start from the manageable and ascend to the impossible. - The Planet

A Planet is really easy for everyone to understand - just take a look around you. For many people, however, it is the only reality they ever know. Those of us who can traverse the Megaverse often forget that by far the vast majority of sentient beings have no such ability and rarely an understanding of such things. Planets generally orbit stars, and as far as we can tell, the majority of them that exist are either entirely lifeless or only supported life a very long time ago. Our own planet Terra has been dated to some 4.5 billion years old, volumes of time that we can barely grasp, so often times with planets it is a matter of the right time as well as the right place. I will forego the discussion of such aspects as geology, climatology and such, as you can find these works to review on your own.

The important thing here is to understand that planets are large things of varying nature that typically orbit stars and are generally where most of the life in the realities exist, in whatever form it takes. Life can be very varied as it adapts to different conditions, so rest assured that what looks like a dead planet may contain life very alien. Generally, it supports an ecosystem of some sort, and maintains an atmosphere. There are assorted types of planets that any basic astronomical guide can detail far more efficiently than I can. - The Star

Stars are burning objects that exist in space. Again, a brief survey of any good astonomy book will cover the types and colours of stars that exist, but essentially stars are huge nuclear furnaces, and when they run out of fuel, they can collapse or explode. Stars typically have a fair amount of gravity, and as such, capture things ranging from planets to comets to other stars. Stars give off plenty of energy, both in light and in radiation, which in turn are often used by life on planets to survive.

An interesting note about stars is that as Aurelanis reported in his last work, stars seem to be a local source for ley lines. So it is entirely possible that stars put out magical energy as well, diluted down through the web of ley lines. As to WHY it is that stars do this, that is a more intriguing mystery. Popular theory is that a tiny dot inside the star accesses a realm somewhere, but there would be other telltale signs of that. At present, it remains a mystery. - The Nature of Space

It is perhaps very ironic that the Megaverse's leading contender for most amount present is vacuum. Space is airless and very cold, and has other environmental dangers from cosmic radiation to large 800 mile long Space Dragons. I'm just kidding about the Space Dragons. But the fact is that space itself is pretty uniform where ever you go, and it is almost always where ever you go simply because there is so very much of it. To give you a little perspective, imagine you fill your bathtub full with water. Drop in a single grain of rice. That grain of rice equates to all of Reality and the Realms; the water represents space. There is *a lot* of space. Space is pretty uniformly referred to by most everyone, although they can get colourful with their descriptiveness ("the void" is popular, although it is not a true void obviously, much less The Void).

Also something to keep in mind is that space works in three dimensions. Many planet-born people have trouble thinking in terms of three simultaneous dimensions, and problems can come from any direction. - The Solar System

Solar Systems are exactly what it sounds like, the name for a star and its collected gravitationally-held brethren. More rarely, multiple stars are involved in one solar system, but the best known and most common ones typically have one star. Anywhere from one to many dozens of planets may orbit in the solar system, as well as a host of other astronomical phenomenon that I will not touch upon. Using our own system as a guide, of course, there is the asteroid belt and on the edges of the system, the Oort cloud of debris. Often, small chunks of rock or frozen matter will get snared by a solar system and will form comets. By and large, solar systems are very large. However, typically the distance from the furthest planet out to the star will be a great distance indeed. An old value of Terran measurement, an Astronomical Unit, is the distance from our star to our planet, roughly 90 million miles. Pluto, the furthest planet in our system, is some 40 AU from the sun. You can see how we are already running into that difficulty of scale.

It is typical for non-natives of the solar system (travellers there) to designate the star a name, and then count the planets outward from the star. This is a generally accepted method of cataloguing discoveries, although natives or later visitors may call the planets something entirely different. It is also worth mentioning that as I said above, space is very empty, and solar systems are an excellent example of that. Spacefaring civilizations may have a variety of outposts, colonies, defenses and so forth, but encountering much of anything in space is a rare thing indeed, especially the further you get from civilized areas. - The Galaxy

A Galaxy is generally a vast collection of stars, solar systems, and a host of other astronomical aberrations, typically bound together by gravity. The galactic scale is very large indeed, and minor movements can take millions and billions of years. Galaxies come in a host of types, just like stars, and I shall encourage you again to seek a competent astronomy manual and discover them for yourself. Galaxies come in a range of sizes, but even the smallest ones tend to be very large by solar system standards. Entire civilizations rise, flourish, and fall, without ever seeing more than 1% of their galaxy. There are usually millions of systems and stars in a galaxy. There are literally piles of astronomical oddities in galaxies, including white dwarfs, brown dwarfs, red giants, and the infamous black holes. I cannot even scratch the surface of all of them.

Spacefaring civilizations typically assign a system of navigation to their galaxy, typically quadrants and sectors or some permutation thereof. Occasionally, understanding and circumstance can lead to civilizations which span more than one galaxy at a time, although such things are, as of yet, quite rare. - The Nature of Aliens

As you might guess, before the Time of the Rifts, the centuries just prior to it were full of tales of aliens, both positive and negative. Aliens were a fascination for the cultures of the time, especially as the Golden Age dawned and humanity was particularly impressed with itself. Ultimately, the answer of life in the universe was answered quite definitively when the war broke out and the rifts were the result. I discuss the inhabitants of the Megaverse further below, but the term "alien" stuck around, although it was for the most part displaced by d-bee, or deeb. However, in your travels, you will find civilizations who have no dimensional travelling understanding and will assume that any races not of their own civilization are aliens. Whether they call you an alien or a deeb is irrelevant, but be aware that the terms are essentially identical.

As a purely linguistic footnote, were a race to come to us from space one day, it is likely that we would not call them deebs, but aliens. As that is not even possible at the moment, it isn't an issue, but it would not surprise me to see the term resurface if we ever solve the space dilemma. At the moment, the term alien is saved for those bizarre and terrifying creatures that crawl from the rifts that don't appear to be truly evil as much as amoral, and thus, "not remotely human", alien. This is all merely semantics, however. - The Universe

The Universe is the term given to a host of galaxies and assorted oddities which are held together loosely by a strong force of gravity. Universes consist of millions of galaxies, and are immense beyond recording. For the longest time, Terrans thought there was only a single universe, but we have since come to understand that there are hosts of them out there. Getting to them tends to be the problem. As with the Megaverse, there is no proverbial "edge of the universe" point as the universes usually curves subtly (the so-called "curving spacetime"), so you would literally end up back where you started. Our own universe was dated to roughly 14 billion years old, so as you can imagine, the universal scale is nearly impossible enough to contemplate on its own. However, no matter which universe you are in, the basic laws of reality will remain the same. Universes are definitively part of reality.

Universes are not necessarily all huge epic things, either. Advanced beings tell tales of creating universes in bottles, or in smaller items. For all we know, our entire Megaverse could simply be one tiny atom in a blade of grass somewhere. However, the metaphysics of this serve us little in this book, so I will disregard them for the moment. Accessing other universes is a long and involved discussion on its own merits, but it's certainly possible. If you were, for instance, to access a universe that was in a proverbial bottle elsewhere in reality, you would scale automatically as part of the travel. More on this below. I suggest you do further reading if you are interested in the universes. They are truly epic things and not to be taken lightly. - The "Mirror Universe"

Ever since humanity learned to travel the dimensions, there have been a small sect of both scientists and mages who believe in the existence of a universe that is a dark reflection of our own, that they call the Mirror Universe. The Mirror Universe, they tell us, exists as the opposite of our own, such that if the Coalition was "bad" in our universe, they would be "good" in the Mirror Universe. It's not so much a place that turns you evil, merely the opposite of what you are. From the tales of doppelgangers down through the ages, the "evil twin" has long been a staple of human entertainment. The Mirror Universe is merely an extension of that belief.

Indeed, no evidence has ever been provided of the existence of such a place. There have been many alternate realities where things were very opposite, but devotees of the Mirror Universe claim it is unique and linked to our universal reality. Aside from the outstanding lack of proof, it stands to reason that such a place of opposites would have a radically different past than ours to nearly unidentifiable means. For instance, if the Coalition was "good", then wouldn't the Mirror Universe be a BETTER place than here? What if instead of holding off, some pre-Rifts leader launched a nuclear attack and obliterated everything there?

The theory is very tenuous and there is no proof for such a unique place. If it was ever found, it would surely be rather an alternate reality of tenacious lifespan. Why finding such a place is so important to these devotees of the theory remains a mystery. - Other Realities

I'm not entire sure that this title is accurate, and this is where the confusion comes in. In general, I am certain that the existence of Other Realities was the reason we have come to describe Reality (as part of the Megaverse) as a singular term. Theories have told of an infinite number of other realities, complete with universes, galaxies and everything. The learned folks tell us that these alternate realities form from different probability paths. What that means is that for every action you could take, an infinite number of realities pops up where some action took place. The catch is, of course, that the wilder and least probable of them only exist for moments, and they exist on a greater length of time based on how close to dominant Reality. Thus, you can find a reality where the Egyptians rule over the Earth, but it may be destined to collapse, or may have already. However, with an infinite number and varying lengths of time, you are sure to find what you want out there somewhere.

Without getting too technical, our reality "vibrates" at a certain resonance. Other alternate realities "vibrate" at another resonance. This is a very basic way of understanding it, the mathematics is a lot trickier. Essentially, alternate realities exist "out of phase" with us. Accessing them is as simple as varying your "resonance", although that simple sentence covers long and painstaking work, especially if you are trying to get somewhere specific. It helps a lot to have something from that reality to use. Alternate realities are a part of the fabric of Reality and violate no laws, although nearly every alternate reality has a time limit on it, even if it is exceptionally long.

All of these realities maintain the same basic laws of science and nature, as they are by definition a reality. However, their content is the alternate part. Popular stories of the pre-Rifts times were filled with these reality-hopping heroes. Alternate realities come completely stocked, so there are alternate versions of you and your friends and so forth, unless something happened to them there. An Eternal I was fortunate enough to talk to once told me that it often visited alternate realities close to its own to gain insight on its enemies. A chilling thought indeed. Extremely powerful mages and advanced beings of all kinds can create their own alternate realities, in which case the creator has some sway over what is in it. There are technological means to do this also, although at some point, as the great man once said, technology and magic become indistinguishable. There are many artificial ways of propping up a collapsing reality, but that is another complex topic.

The important point to remember here, however, is that alternate realities still conform to the basic laws of science and nature. This helps distinguish them from our last definition of reality, dimensions. - Infinity and Changes

When we talk infinity, you must at least try to understand what a concept that is. Keeping in mind that even the most improbable things are theoretically possible on a grand enough scale, the fact that an infinite number of realities emerge from a single decision can seem very strange. Think of a single decision you could make. Let's say you decide to stand up from where you are sitting reading this. Obvious alternate realities could form such as you deciding not to stand up, or you take a drink instead. However, odder things could spawn from it as well. You could slip while getting up and hurt yourself. The truly improbable are possible, though. Perhaps the love of your life runs in and kisses you while you are standing up. Or an asteroid comes down and crushes you while you are standing up. Then there are the really outlandish but still theoretically possible ones. You turn into the opposite gender when you stand. You are declared President while you see a flaming train fly through the air behind spaceships.

Then there are the ones which are so minute that you would never notice. When standing, you shift a little differently, flexing one different muscle, which gets its own reality. Or you end up standing in a slightly different posture. For each decision of yours, every single thing that could happen *does* happen in an alternate reality somewhere. Now think of how many choices, consciously and not, you make in a day. Now think of every single being in the Megaverse. Now you are starting to get a sense of infinity.

Now, understand, the alternate realities tend to be very short-lived as a rule. The most persistent alternate realities that continue to exist remain somewhat closer to reality than the rest. The wildest and strangest rarely exist out of time so small that the numbers lose their meaning. Rest assured that most of the realities you will find are a little more stable. But with infinity, there is usually something somewhere. If you are trying to get somewhere specific that you yourself did not create, you have quite a chore ahead of you. - Other Dimensions

The idea of Dimensions is one of those things that is brutally misused, and sparks a condescending ire in the learned folk. The colloquial use of the word has overtaken the scholarly one, thanks in part to the mislearned mages of the Federation of Magic and the overuse of the word by the Coalition. Colloquially speaking, it is used to refer to what is typically travel either between universes or realities. In another more literal definition, it refers to the dimensions we live in (the first three) or can work in (the fourth). The fifth dimension and higher are both inconceivable and are thought by some to contain hordes of nightmare creatures. That will not be addressed here, but be aware that some scientists especially will use the term in that context. The "fourth dimension" is the so-called "hyperspace" dimension, adjacent to the first three (namely, length, width, height, to be layman about it). The fifth dimension would likely be adjacent to the fourth, which is impossible for us to visualize, although there are many beings in the Megaverse that live freely amongst the higher dimensions. The dark entity behind Atlantis is rumoured to exist in as many as six dimensions, but merely appears as the tip of the iceberg in the first three that we perceive easily.

However, in its correct Megaversal form, dimensions refers to what can best be called "parallel realities." They exist "beside" reality, although I am sure that just confused you more. The major difference between the dimensional realities and the alternate realities is that the dimensional realities draw upon the Realms as their source, whereas the alternate realities draw upon reality. Thus, other dimensions can literally exist outside the normal laws of spacetime. This could mean small things, like the sky is red, or blue roses, or it could mean huge things like rivers that flow backwards, breathable methane, and the like. You are best served to do some real research before you blindly enter into another dimension. This is where you would find strangeness like discworlds, or spindle-planets, and the like. Most anything is possible, although even within the dimension, the laws of the dimension must be followed. Thus, it would be as impossible to change a rain of beer as it would be to change a rain of water here. They can be practically identical to reality except for a few minor things, or be so alien and bizarre as to be near impossible to traverse. Of course, you could simply enter a dimension completely identical to our own reality except for the complete absence of shrimp. As with all of the "minute changes" realities, you might go to one and never realize you left reality. Not every true dimension is radically different and toxic to humans. But be aware that they are the dangerous ones that CAN be.

True dimensions seem to exist in infinite numbers, or at least very close to infinite. Unlike alternate realities, dimensions have a decidedly more stable existence. Because they were at least in part birthed near a Realm, they tend to remain linked to the realm in question. Thus, unless the realm they are linked to shrink to the point where they cannot support the dimensions anymore, they are generally fairly stable. Unlike Realms, true dimensions need no lord, and thus can be created and left to their own ends. Dimensions are sometimes referred to as "sub-Realms", but while semantically correct, not every dimension is so obvious a shard of a Realm, and thus confusion would result. In essence, it brings together the chaos of the Realms and the order of the Reality. - Terminology

It is unlikely that the publication of this book will change the terminology of the dedicated majority, so be aware that when speaking with most people, dimensional travel quite usually means universal/alternate reality travel. People who enter a rift and find an alternate dimension (in the true sense) are as likely to call it another dimension as an alternate reality or other universe. Only among the scholarly and veteran dimensional travellers will you find those who refer to these by their technical names. However, saying "dimensional travel" will usually cover other universes, other realities and other true dimensions. To most people, the difference between a true dimension and an alternate reality is simply a matter of to-MAY-toe and to-MAH-toe.

1.0.2 - The Realms

The Realms is the name given to the minority of the Megaverse that belong "outside" of reality. Words are somewhat inadequate to ascribe metaphysical concepts, but essentially, it is safest to imagine realms as "bubbles" in reality. One cannot simply blunder around the universe and accidentally enter a realm. They exist *in* reality, but *outside* of it, if you get my drift. This is a subject that makes most scholars fall into seizures, so do not feel discouraged if you are having trouble grasping this. Realms are more often described by what they are NOT. While many duplicate reality's basic nature, often the Realms are ruled by infinite (or sometimes very finite) beings who alter the realm's nature. These are expressed by the laws of the realm, which any wise traveller learns quickly, if not ahead of time. By knowing what you can and cannot do there, you avoid angering things best left to contentment.

Much like the creation of Reality, the creation of the first Realms is something of a metaphysical mystery. Realms are, by definition, outside of reality, although within the Megaverse. Creation of realms is a matter of both willpower and energy, in the form of either sacred sites soaked with pathos or intense belief (some call this "faith", but it is something of a misnomer). However, the First Realms were created, we believe, simultaneously with Reality iself. Thus, we have something of a mystery, as magical energy did not exist at that time. How did the Realms survive without any evident energy source inspires excited debate amongst the learned folk, but it defies most of what we know about the laws of the Megaverse.

In order to create a Realm, a massive amount of magical energy is needed, and the proper advanced knowledge needs to be understood. However, once created, realms require only to be sustained. The easiest is to link the realm to a particularly strong nexus. Strong nexus points are mystical or sacred sites which contained a spiritual energy even before the Coming of the Rifts. Ley lines pool at these sites and form nexuses. A mind-boggling amount of magical energy is available at these grand points, and linking them to a realm allows the realm to access that energy. The more sites that are linked to a realm, the more stable it will be. As far as the nexus point goes, there is little evidence that it is being used to support a realm, although there are ways to tell for those so inclined.

The other main way is to harvest magical energy manually. This is, in small doses, far more difficult, but rarely do beings do it in small doses. The easiest way to do this is simply get yourself a cult of followers. Rites and sacrifices by those who place their faith in you for whatever reason are bled off into the ambient realm, supporting it. This may sound like it is very rare, but it is actually quite common. Again, you have to realize the scale of the Megaverse. Chances are there is a bunch of people out there somewhere who would worship you. This method also requires you to be present in your realm more often, but given a sufficiently large body of worshippers, you could support the grandest of Greater Realms with ease.

Of course, these things are only as stable as their sources. Nexus points typically remain relatively stable, but natural or unnatural events can alter the course of the ley lines and drain the nexus point. Beings exist which can naturally drain nexus points as well. Places which are spiritually potent can lose their potency and thus bleed off their energy, when people stop putting their pathos into the site. Also, it is less difficuly than you might think to sever the link from a nexus to a realm, usually to replace it with a link to another realm. Thus, nexuses are often seeded with potent guardians to avoid just that. On the other side of things, your followers are easily swayed from their beliefs, or can be attacked by other powers. If they cease to believe, you cease gaining their spiritual energy. It is in your interest to protect and aid your followers, for if you neglect them, they will forsake you.

Realms are created with a specific set of laws, although these laws can literally be anything. Unlike dimensions, which maintain a passing connection to reality, realms can be shaped to whatever the whim of the creator. Thus, laws can become exceedingly complex, such as, "Everyone must plant one rose at noon each day," or "Everyone who enters is turned into a cat for the duration of their stay." It only needs to make sense to the creator, since if the realm was not endurable, no one would stay there. This comes through to us as distant lore, such as the admonishment to not eat fey food in their realms. These laws have as much application and weight as gravity does here, and you could only overcome it with the greatest of forces. It is wise to learn the laws of the realm you are planning to visit ahead of time, or else you could find yourself in a great deal of difficulty.

The appearance of realms is literally unlimited in potential. They can be a simple plot of land and a medieval castle, or they can be a tesseract revolving in breathable space with dancing chickens on it. Literally anything is possible. However, suffice it to say that the more annoying realms are rarely visited, and those who create realms usually do so for one of two reasons; for privacy, or for exhibition purposes. Realms generally require a Lord, who is often but not always the creator. Lesser realms can only have one lord, but greater realms can have up to twelve of them. The First Realms seem to have no lord, although many claim the position. Lords are those who provide stability and maintain the realm. They can make changes to the realm by expending energy, and can change the laws of the realm at a whim. This is where the idea of never facing a "demon" on his own home ground came from.

Unlike reality, in realms there are usually definitive edges. Where they are and how they manifest themselves is different from realm to realm, but it might be as simple as hitting an unbreakable wall painted to look like a horizon, or might be as complex as reaching woods so dense that you are unable to continue. The shape of the realm is determined by its creator, but many prefer the classic sphere, or the stately cube. Be aware that when you are at the edge of a realm, nothing short of world-destroying power will get you past the edge of the realm. So even though it may LOOK like a forest, the trees will not burn clear and you can't break them down.

Generally speaking, there are three types of realm. - Lesser Realms

Lesser Realms are typically small realms created by beings for relatively temporary purposes, such as experimentation, relaxation, or other reasons. They generally are linked to fewer energy sources and are thus smaller, rarely stretching for more than 1000 miles. Many times, beings with aspirations of nobility will literally create their own kingdoms in these small realms, or will otherwise use them as a home. Why would anyone live in a Lesser Realm when they could live in a Greater one? Lesser realms are easier to create, take less maintenance and are easier to secure. It is suspected that many Prime Dragons continue to exist in "lair realms," passing the eons away in security.

Lesser realms generally require their Lord to be present, or else it slowly starts to shrink. It is entirely possible that a lord leaves his realm and it fades out of existence when he is gone. The rate that it disappears depends on how many energy sources are linked to it, but the longest I have ever heard a lesser realm surviving its master's withdrawl was a matter of months. - Greater Realms

Greater Realms are the superior version of lesser realms, and are generally created with a more permanent idea in mind. Such realms are created by beings with aspirations towards godhood, organizations seeking a home base, or even just a large preserve for beings to hunt in. The reasons are infinite, but the result is fairly uniform, a realm that can be upwards of 100,000 miles, containing entire civilizations and planets. They are somewhat less secure than lesser realms, with more permanent entry points, but these points are usually defended by nasty guardians.

Greater Realms can exist as long as a single Lord remains. They can have up to twelve Lords at any given time, meaning that they can rotate through and get out of the realm if they desire. These realms usually require a great deal of magical energy, and more often than not use faith to sustain them, rather than nexus points, as the latter are too weak except in vast quantities. However, greater realms exist that do tap hundreds of nexus points, so it is certainly viable. - First Realms

As I noted above, the First Realms are, as far as we can ascertain, as old at Creation itself, and thus seemingly have always been here. They are fairly widely known, although their size and nature often lead people to believe that they are in fact smaller realms joined together. They are very stable, and while many beings claim to be Lords over them, none have managed to definitively prove their status. If there are any Lords of the First Realms, they are either beings of inconceivable nature, or long since passed from Creation. They are relatively hard to enter, unless you follow the right paths, and they are designed that way purposefully, it would seem. In many ways, it seems that the First Realms act as a sort of prototype for all Realms to follow. Some of the commonly known ones are: - Inferno

A host of hells exist throughout the Megaverse, scores in fact, but Inferno has a special place amongst them all. The vast majority of mythological hells that we have known throughout our species' history all exist somewhere in Inferno. The city of Dis, the river Styx, Caina, you name it. Many lesser civilizations believe that these are all separate realms, and there are certainly realms that echo them, but Inferno is the true home to all of them. Inferno is far too big is stereotype in broad strokes, but it is a place a grim damnation, of corruption and utter malaise. Perhaps more terrifying than the areas of excessively cruel violation and violence are the areas that weaken the soul and wound the spirit. Truly, it is a place of primeval Darkness. Getting in to Inferno is far easier than any other First Realm, and those who dwell there eagerly wait for new souls to enter. - Paradise

The hope for salvation and eternal peace has been sought after by every race since the Creation of the Megaverse. Paradise is the sprawling representation of these ideals, and like Inferno, contains nearly every imagined incarnation of the heavens known ever. Elysium, the City of Angels, the Verdant Fields, all of them are here. It is not only a place of physical healing, but mental and spiritual healing. Tales are told of extreme parts of Paradise as well, where any impurities are burned away, so sometimes Paradise can be dangerous. Paradise is by far the hardest First Realm to enter, and assuming you can get to the gates, there is no actual guarantee that you can enter. Yet, some tell of ways into Paradise that are far less travelled... - The Dream

All kinds of beings dream. It seems to be a common thread through many races, and the Dream is where it all takes place. It is a huge realm where dreams are made tangible for the length of the dreamer's dream. Beings in the Dream can enter and affect the mortal dreams, to varying purposes. Of course, assuming you want to enter a dream through the Dream, you still have to find it, which is the hard part. The idea of travelling through an ephemeral and unstable dreamscape comes from this realm. The easiest way to get there is portals through your own dreams, but bodily entering the realm is far more difficult, although entirely possible. It takes a disciplined mind to navigate the realm, however, and if must must go thre, I urge haste in your task. - The Lands of the Dead

Paradise and Inferno are said to be shades of the true Paradise and Inferno, but souls who die first must travel to the Lands of the Dead, where they are judged. The Lands of the Dead are like Paradise and Inferno in that it encompasses a whole slew of cultural afterlife realms. Entering the Lands of the Dead is as easy as ceasing your life, but assuming you wish to enter bodily, it is incredibly hard to get into. The dead keep their own secrets. The nature of the Lands is one of gloom and darkness, but not evil, really. Death is neutral, and takes all. Those found wanting to pass forth are put to task to either spend eternity in the gloomy purgatory, or else find a way to atone for their life's sins. Each soul is judged on its own basis, so each must find its own way to its final peace. - The Hall of Dimensions

The Hall of Dimensions is essentially what it sounds like, corridor upon corridor of doors and portals that lead to places all over the Megaverse. Every culture and race has legends about these "backstage" portals, and this stems from the Hall. However, it is worth a warning that portals can lead *anywhere*, so it could be the bottom of an ocean trench, the surface of a barren moon, or a tranquil field. Blundering around the portals is a swift way to find a horrible death. An interesting property of the Hall is that absolutely no violence is allowed there, making it the Megaverse's prime neutral meeting ground. Getting into the Hall is fairly easy if you know where a portal is, and have the proper key. Keys can be anything, such as a blue rose, a lump of copper, a sword, or all sorts of things. - Arcadia

The realm of the fey, originally populated by the Tuatha and subsequently inhabited by the current batch of fey, this realm is the ancient homeland of the fey, who make living outside of reality a war tactic. The realm is ruled by the seelie half the time and the unseelie the other half of the time. It is a living embodiment of all of the fey's legends and myths, so a traveller there should be extremely cautious. Trickery, illusion and passion will be used to test and torment travellers, and little surcease will be found. However, as the homeland of the fey, it is particularly rich in fey culture, items, and lore. Proceed with caution indeed. While many lesser fey realms are easily entered, Arcadia itself is far more difficult to enter, usually requiring a true fey to bring you.

1.0.3 - The Void

Understand that we are not talking about *a* void, but *The* Void. It isn't truly a part of the Megaverse, but many feel it should be mentioned because of the fact that it still impacts on us to this day. The Void is without space, without time, without any definition. It is utter non-existence. Except for the Shatnerites of Keldon V, almost no race is equipped to truly understand this or visualize it, much less homo sapiens. It's a place beyond the very edges of Creation, but it has no definition and therefore cannot be described well. Imagine for a moment if reality and everything we knew was never created. Imagine what the universe would be like if it never existed. Do you have that headache? Good. That's part of the reason I have trouble explaining The Void to you.

So why bring it up at all, other than to confuse you? The Void, while never proven in any way because it can't be, continues to live in the imaginations and rumours of species everywhere. Tales of hidden things from Before exist, of the most vile and terrifying creatures ever being locked outside of Creation for all time, of horrors that would destroy us to even catch a glimpse of its shadow. The Void is popular in stories and lore, although none have ever come out with any evidence of any of this, except for further writings. It is something of a moot point, because if ever presented with The Void, our sanity would disintegrate before we even realized what we were looking at. None can look upon the face of utter Nothing and survive except the strangest and most eldar beings. If things did exist in The Void, then they would know only utter torment. Time does not exist there, so a mere moment would seem like eternity, in the most literal sense.

It is something to be aware of while you gather lore around the Megaverse. The Void is a consistent cross-racial myth. However, it deserves no attention, as the Megaverse is more than full enough without worrying about things from outside crawling in.

Who Lives There?

2.0 - Inhabitants of the Megaverse

The Megaverse, as you should now realize, is very large. It thus contains multitudes of beings, from the weakest single-celled creature through the most horrific Outer Thing. Even the most advanced beings can still barely start to comprehend the vast numbers of living (and dead) beings that walk the Megaverse. At our current point of evolution, we have a fair understanding of the basic creatures that exist, and lots of inference for the more advanced end of things. However, much like anything these days, all of this could be tipped upside-down by one brilliant discovery. But this is the best model we have for the Megaverse's life. We face a tough battle in the face of the misinformed public, however, but we are trying to change things one day at a time.

Much like the term alien, the term d-bee (or deeb) is the slang used for "dimensional being". This term is, of course, relatively useless for travellers through the Megaverse, as when we travel elsewhere, we are in fact the aliens or deebs. So while the term deeb is fine for the layman who never travels anywhere, for those who want to go out into the Megaverse, a better classification system is needed. The following terminology is generally considered to be fairly widespread, and will allow travellers of different cultures or worlds to compare notes more favourably. Often, these are somewhat arbitrary because sometimes simple observation is insufficient to determine its true nature.

Here, then, is a brief survey of the Megaverse's inhabitants.

2.0.1 - Natural Animals

Across the entire Megaverse, their appearance may vary but the basic animal remains pretty much the same, driven by instinct and cunning. Animals tend to rise as a result of evolving from lower beings, and tend to be adaptive to their environment. So the form of the animals might be incredibly odd, but it is usually designed for maximum effect. They can be incredibly varied, but generally act in a similar manner, seeking food, shelter and reproduction.

2.0.2 - Supernatural Animals

The primary difference between natural and supernatural animals tends to be that supernatural animals are often designed by more advanced beings. They are altered by powerful magic or technology for specific purposes. Long-dead beings would likely be surprised how well their creations adapted into the Megaverse. Supernatural animals most frequently emerge from the Realms, where the laws of Nature are less stringent, but many species find homes in reality. Surprisingly, they also show a shocking ability to adapt to different environments, meaning that some of them actually evolve on their own. Compared to normal animals, supernatural animals are positively rare, but they tend to be, by and large, dangerous predators.

2.0.3 - Natural Races

By far the vast majority of races in the Megaverse are natural races. Like natural animals, natural races are distinguished by a history of evolving from lesser creatures, and more often than not, in reality as opposed to the realms. Natural races can present a host of abilities, and either thrive or perish as fate and their nature dictates.

2.0.4 - Supernatural Races

The supernatural races consist of a broad amount of races that have either altered themselves or been altered by others, or else have been created in the Realms. Some scholars refer to them as more evolved, but rather it should better be called more altered. Many times, these alterations took place in the distant past, beyond memory, but it decidedly happened. By studying the histories and myths of the races, we can see definite evidence of alteration by greater beings. As with supernatural animals, often the supernatural races evolve on their own when they are freed from their masters, but many times they were created with inherent limitations, so sometimes such races are nothing but dead ends. - Advanced Races

I shall enter into the record here that some of my scientifically-based colleagues quite dislike the title "supernatural races". The title is widely used because the vast majority of dimension travel occurs by magic in these ages. However, the term can also cover those races which would typically be called "aliens" by us. Advanced alien races have also been a staple of past fiction, but they do exist, and while their technology and abilities might seem magical to us, they may very well not be. Races which evolve beyond their initial state in significant ways would qualify as "supernatural" or "advanced" depending on your lean. Homo sapiens has yet to do this, but other races have. So be aware that in many technological-based civilizations, advanced and powerful races would fall in the magical classification as "supernatural", in the literal "beyond natural" sense of the word.

2.0.5 - The Undead

There are few beings who do not know of the Undead. The Undead exist in their own classification because each and every one of them, from the animated skull right up to the most ancient demilich archmages, are a gross affront against Nature. The Megaverse has a fairly distinct and recognizable Order to it, namely you are born, you live, and you die. The Undead are brought back to a mockery of life by application of negative energy, and they defy death and Order as they continue to exist. Each and every Undead ever in existence once lived, and in the case of the lesser undead, their remains were hijacked and animated, and in the case of the greater undead, they made a conscious choice to become one. It is little surprise that nearly all races and beings of any note consider them vile.

I have had the sad misfortune of interacting with a Necromancer before, and his self-delusion was impressive indeed. He felt that once the body died and the soul fled, the remains were merely a shell, and much as we pick up seashells that were once home to a crustacean, so too do Necromancers use the remains of the dead for their purposes. The elaborate levels of justification that they go to only makes them appear more insane. The Undead are a blight on Creation, and those who create them are barely better.

However, I do try to stay my hand more for ghosts. Not poltergeists or other entities, but rather the true spirits, which are souls trapped between the material world and the Lands of the Dead. They often have compelling reasons that keep them around, and they evoke more pity than horror in me these days. I try to find out what it is that is keeping them bound to this plane, and act to liberate them. Some ghosts are truly insane and violent, and that is truly a sad thing, but in the end they must be put down like rabid animals. But try and have some compassion for ghosts, they can be quite reasonable.

2.0.6 - Celestials/Infernals

Removed from mere supernatural animals or races are the celestials and infernals, who are two sides to the same coin. While many of the lower ends of these beings can be mistaken for supernatural creatures, it is their point of origin that makes them unique. The book "The Hierarchy of Heaven and Hell" by Santos the Archmage details the subject, but essentially, these beings originate in Paradise of Inferno, or its shadows. There is something of a distinct resonance when dealing with these beings, compared to the lack of such when handling "mere" supernatural species. However, the highest ranks of these species are easily powerful enough to qualify as gods, especially if they have believers.

The majority of these beings are simply servants, regardless of any delusions of grandeur. Some of the high-ranking ones forget what they are, which is more common in Inferno than in Paradise. However, both types of beings have extremists that are pretty much dangerous to everyone. An extremist Infernal seeks to obliterate your soul rather than capture it for Hell, and an extremist Celestial seeks to purify your soul which, so sorry, obliterates it as well. The moral of the story is, extremists are bad. However, the majority of the beings in question are generally of a better disposition.

What's that? You don't believe in souls? That's fine, you can call it whatever you want to keep yourself happy. Scientific types talk about consciousness leaving the body, or the universal consciousness, or whatever. Frankly, we use the term "soul" for your essential core self and its energy because it is dramatic and impresses upon even the skeptical that it is not something to be bartered around lightly. - Soul Survivor

It is worth remembering that both Celestials and Infernals are after your soul. Infernals are, of course, far more famous for this, and their methods have been documented through the ages by all species. Infernals use flattery, manipulation, outright trickery, blackmail, intimidation, and more commonly than you might thing, the truth. The net result of this is to sign a Pact with the Infernal, which gives in exchange for the soul, typically power, secrets, or whatever is desired. Once the Pact is signed in blood, the Infernal is as bound to it as the mortal is, meaning that the Infernal *must* provide what the contract calls for. Even the Lords of Hell themselves are bound to a signed Pact. However, most mortals are very short-sighted or manipulated by the Infernals such that the things they demand are well within the Infernal's abilities.

What is known less is that Celestials are able to use the exact same Pacts, and in fact, do so often. Celestials tend to use far different tactics in their quest for Pacts, which they typically call Concords rather than Pacts. Celestials use sincere admiration and a compassionate truth, although they tend to not volunteer information, which isn't lying strictly speaking. Celestials often use the idea of damnation, using the notion to cause the mortal to draw the conclusion that it is he who is about to be damned, and thus a Celestial Concord prevents Hell from claiming the soul.

Once a Concord or Pact is signed in blood and the being delivers on its specifications, the mortal's soul belongs to whichever being signed the contract. The value of the contract is that the opposite side cannot lay claim to the soul, has the mortal has willingly surrendered it to one side or the other. Why all of the scrambling for souls? Simply because souls are power. While a gain of a soul counts towards Paradise and Inferno in the grand scheme of things, the individual being who signs the contract owns that mortal's soul. Acquiring souls leads to being able to become more individually powerful. As the being becomes more powerful, it can offer more mortals contracts. When it offers contracts, it gets more souls. More souls make it more powerful. You get the idea. This sounds like a lot of work until you realize they have eternity to work with. Note that souls in the Lands of the Dead are entirely off limits to the Celestials and Infernals.

Why would anyone surrender their soul to an Infernal? Trading it for power is the most common reason, although even the most pious man who lay dying alone in the dark can be tempted with life. These are truly the tragedies, and why so many Celestials and Infernals battle over the dying, because they are quite flexible in their mind as their life is ending. One might live the best life you could, only to fall to temptation once just before you die, and damn yourself to eternal torment. This is the true power of Hell.

2.0.7 - Gods, Godlings, Demigods

Gods are beings of immense power, near immortality, and massive ego. While it is possible for some mortals to ascend to godhood, the truth is that the majority of the gods were created with the Megaverse, and evolved along the way to their current incarnations. Gods are defined heavily by the fact that they gather followers that worship them as divine. This worship gives the gods plenty of power, although they must also tend to their flock or else risk having them lose faith, and thus the god loses power. Gods are often seen as immense and immortal beings, but the interesting truth is that the followers of a god will often impact on that god subtly with their worship. It's never overt, but the followers help define the god, and in that sense, the god is simply a vastly powerful being of sorts. But they stand well above the rest of the crowd. Gods all have spheres of influence, which they tend to, such as Love, War, Spring, or whatever. These spheres tend to be defined by the culture that worships them.

Gods and their ilk generally belong to larger groupings called pantheons. It is simply a grouping of gods by culture or social reasons. Sometimes gods of one pantheon cross over and join another pantheon, and the reasons for such a thing are usually compelling indeed, but generally speaking, even the most harassed gods stay in their original pantheons because they have a set of followers there already. The pantheons of the gods are divided into one of three primary classifications - Light, Grey, or Dark. Rarely is it so incredibly obvious like that, but mortals are creatures who like order. While mortals enjoy making tales of Pantheons of Light and Dark warring with each other righteously, gods tend to be a little more practical than that, although never to their followers, of course.

Demigods straddle both mortal and god realms, and as such, can serve as vital avatars for a god, or can act as the god's most potent threat. Demigods are the result of a god and a mortal coupling, which happens far more often than you might believe. Demigods are usually taken into the godly realm and raised there, although sometimes they are left on the mortal plane for reasons only known to the god in question. Demigods often become great heroes or villains on the mortal plane. - Come Together, Right Now

You might wonder why in the Megaverse, gods of similar spheres never get together more often. Why, for instance, do all of the gods and goddesses of love not all get together and try to flood the Megaverse with pure love? The answer is twofold - one social, one practical. In the first place, gods are notoriously fragile creatures when it comes to ego. When you are a being that is worshipped by millions of lesser beings, being treated as an equal is galling enough, but few gods treat other gods as true equals. Rarely would a god attack another god, but gods are by far masters of the biting wit and social razor. Being unable to simply beat up a more upstart god, they instead cut him apart with words. Gods can barely socialize as things stand now; it is not a fraternity, it is more like a collection of world leaders, each with their own large country, history, and large ego. Crossing pantheons is also seen as socially lame, with the same sort of feeling to it that "I have a girlfriend that lives in another city" does for mortals.

The second reason is more practical in nature. Gods and their spheres are closely related, but gods rarely see the same aspects of their spheres that other gods see. For example, Aphrodite would see different shadings and meanings of her sphere of Love than Ishtar might. There are points that they would agree on, but the overall meanings of their spheres are defined by their followers. Babylonians had a different take on love than Greeks did. Part of this filters up, and this is another example of how followers help define the god as much as the other way around. A Japanese god of War would have a different view on waging it than a Roman god of War would. Gods with the same spheres are more likely to come to the aid of each other if the overall sphere is threatened, but that is a rare thing indeed. - Apotheosis

Divine Ascension is certainly possible. After all, it's a large Megaverse indeed. However, in practise, it's extremely difficult. Firstly, you must amass a large group of followers, who believe in your divinity. Not simply your old adventuring party, or Stan who thinks you're a great guy. You need to convince them utterly of your divinity, and they must truly believe and offer you their faith openly and honestly. Once you get a church going, you must then attend to some godly tasks. These are a host of quests which only those on the path to godhood should be able to learn about, much less succeed at. In many cases, you have to beat a god at some sort of contest, and in others, it is simple endurance and intelligence. In many tasks, you are forbidden from using any tools, such as technology or magic, to help. Bear in mind that while I write "godly tasks" like it is a little thing, in practise they can last anywhere from years to centuries per task, and are tasks which seem impossible from all angles. They are meant to look scary and demoralizing, because those without the will to be a god don't deserve it.

If you quest after godhood, you must believe that you have evolved beyond your old life and shell. So the godly tasks help you to put aside those crutches, and start to see and understand in entirely new ways. Most fail at this point, unable to expand themselves beyond their old limitations. Those who succeed will spend the next year slowly changing, and in the end, you literally shed your old form, and are incarnated as a god. It's likely you are a low-powered god, of course, but if you maange to make the leap from mortality to immortality, you are well equipped to start changing that, also. Typically, you will join the pantheon of your old culture, although you are not bound to any pantheon for a century or so, that you might find one that suits you.

Therein is the problem in this entire ordeal, however. As noted, gods are fickle and fragile beings, and having a mortal upstart try to force his way into the godly realms is galling for them beyond belief. Gods who participate in the godly tasks will be vicious and quite unforgiving, and candidates who beat gods will have to deal with a god's sore ego for eternity, whether or not the candidate ends up ascending. Even when you have ascended, the gods will often strike and try to remove you while you are still fairly weak, tormenting you and your followers. Gods are not gracious. Even when candidates make it through the tasks, many die in their first few decades and their followers slaughtered. Holy wars are never pretty. The Goddess Artemis turned a guy into a stag and sicced a pile of wolves on him - what was his crime? He saw her taking a bath by accident. That's the sort of being you are dealing with.

It is said that there are ways to shortcut this process, but I have trouble beliving it. No magic exists powerful enough to turn anyone into a god. Even the most powerful archmages who *seem* like gods are not truly gods, they have simply achieved the same sort of understanding as a god, but choose to keep their mortal forms.

2.0.8 - The Eternals

It is infinitely trite to say that the Eternals are gods to the gods, but that is the best way for you to understand them. Eternals are named because they are truly immortal, and slaying them merely temporarily removes them from reality until they incarnate again over a variable time. Much as mortals evolve their understanding beyond their form to become lesser gods, so too do some gods manage to evolve their own understanding. They come to realize that godhood is merely another task on a grander scale. This is very rare, for gods are very typical beings, given to intense selfishness and ego, but sometimes one of them truly evolves, and the end result of that is that he becomes an Eternal. Occasionally, some brand new Eternal emerges out of a corner of the Megaverse that no one realized existed, claiming to be newly created, so it is possible that the Megaverse has its own order to the Eternals, although what it might be, I cannot even begin to guess.

Eternals exist on a power scale beyond imagining for us mortals, and while they are not entirely omnipotent, they are certainly close enough. What it is that they do isn't known, but one can assume that they must bring the gods to heel from time to time, or attend to matters of Megaversal importance. I came into some information by way of a god that owed me a small debt that Eternals don't exist as a single being, but rather have shards of themselves everywhere, to better deal with things. If this is true, it has some startling implications. This would help explain the reason why we don't see titanic lords of the cosmos striding across the face of Creation.

Some eldar beings from the beginning of time likely qualify as Eternals, despite never walking the path to get there. The thirteen Prime Dragons, the Turtle, and other immense and ageless figures likely are Eternals as well, although I doubt if they would ever answer to the name. Tales of Eternals don't seem to put them in any moral shading, which is to say, they don't seem "good" or "evil". This is likely because they have since transcended our mere morality. Perhaps at the Eternal level, morality is self-evident enough to simply know it. - Eternity's Forms

Eternals have left behind evidence of their existence, on countless worlds across the face of the Megaverse. Not every member of a race ascended to become an Eternal, but it seems that many of them had the chance to, at least. What criteria was in place is a mystery, but the archaeological remains do exist. Indeed, in some cases, technology so advanced that it remains active and keeping structures sealed after geological epochs have passed. My more scientific colleagues are far happier with Eternals than gods for that reason, as the title gods sours them. However, if the races evolved past godhood into beyond, then it is truly a feat we can all appreciate on whatever level we can.

None have ever seen an Eternal in his native form, for such a sight would likely drive the lesser races mad and the greater races terrified. Gods who discuss Eternals (and it's a very rare god who will admit to something more powerful than himself) describe interaction with one much like the way a mortal would describe interacting with a god; omens, strange forms, talking bushes, all of that.

An interesting notion rises as a result of the idea of the Eternals fragmenting themselves. Assuming many members of a race became Eternals, isn't it possible that they splintered themselves into shards of all the same type? Perhaps a new race they created out of their minds? We have encountered some shockingly powerful aliens/deebs out there. What if some of the most powerful and reclusive races we have encountered were simply a few Eternals, slumming down at our level of existence? To what end? The implications of that are .. astonishing.

2.0.9 - Outer Horrors

Outer Horrors is sort of a blanket category for all of those things that exist out there that don't appear to fit in the natural order. The so-called "alien intelligences" that are so overpopulated these days fall into this category, right up to the Old Ones themselves. In this case, your stereotyping of the name might be correct, as most are cosmically powerful and, to us, totally amorally insane. Such things can't be quantified in any true way, because their nature is to defy understanding. Most can exist in several places simultaneously, although none can usually fully manifest down here without a lot of magical energy, which is more of a pity for those of my readers who reside with me on Terra these days. Not only are their natures entirely alien and terrifying, but their manifestations tend to be as well. They surround themselves with chaos, death and power, and mortals tend to go quite insane around them unless suitably prepared.

By and large, most of the Outer Things that are encounted in reality are mere shadows of the true Thing. Their nature allows them to straddle multiple dimensions and realities at a time, but only as the result of fragmenting themselves. Many lesser parts rather than one whole total. The lesser parts are, of course, terrible enough on their own, but if anyone ever saw the true form of an Outer Thing, it would result in instant insanity at least, and likely death, out of sheer self-defense. Thus, even when their lesser parts are manifested in reality, we still refer to them as Outer Things because they never truly come Inside. Thank goodness. Outer Things tend to have vast scores of servants, minions and allies at their disposal, even in their lesser forms. This makes driving them from reality harder, as you have to fight through an army of fanatics. - A Problem of Dimensions

Outer Things always seem to be trying to turn into Inside Things, it seems. Why is it that such horrors can't simply bash down the gate to reality and make us all suffer eternally? Ironically, it is a problem of size, namely that they are very large and our reality is very small. Remember way back up above when I was discussing the literal definition of dimensions, that of the first three (length, width, height), and fourth ("hyperspace" for lack of a better term)? If a being is natively fourth dimensional, meaning it exists in the first four dimensions as easily and free as we do in the first three, then if it wanted to come down to our first three dimensions, it would have to "compact" itself. Let's say that you were tired of three dimensions, and wanted to deal with only two. All you would need to do is "compact" down by removing your third dimension, height, so you would exist only as length and width. So our fourth dimensional friend would lose the fourth dimension, and have to walk everywhere like the rest of us (but luckily he likes out pizza). Bear in mind that this process is both distressing and very difficult, not nearly as easy as sitting here writing "compacting".

The phrase "Outer" Thing should truly, for visualization purposes, be called "Upper" Thing, but that confuses people more. This is because just as we live in the first three dimensions and can conceive of a fourth, the Outer Things live in at least the fifth dimension and likely higher. So try and imagine a cube as the first three dimensions, then a line parallel to the entire cube as the fourth dimension, and then a line parallel to all of the first four dimensions for the fifth dimension. You see the problem, quickly enough. Each successive dimension adds another parallel line to the image. So if the Outer Thing happens to live in fourteen dimensions, you can imagine what a nightmare it is, and why we tend to go insane when they are around. Especially me, because I hate math.

So the Outer Thing is so immense and alien to our dimensions that it has a very hard time "squishing" itself down to fit here. This is for its true and actual form, manifesting in reality, not merely one of its shadows. Such beings straddle many dimensions and can enter reality by lesser summoning spells if they fragment themselves. This discussion is for their true cthonic bulk to appear and drive us all mad with terror. Interestingly, reality seems designed specifically to be very difficult for such things to be able to enter. Hmm. Which is where summoning rites come in. - How to Win Friends and Truly Summon Horrors

I'm sure we've all encountered the crazy cult that tries to summon an Outer Thing into our world. They seem to breed like cockroaches these days. Fortunately for us, they get most of their theory wrong, but get dangerously close to succeeding anyway. Most of them are so incompetent that they merely cast the Lesser Summon, and get only a shard of the true Thing. But what if you want to truly summon the Horror?

Let's start with the cult. The cult doesn't have to be a cult necessarily, but they seem to go hand in hand with the Outer Things. Normally, any group of beings who feel that their favourite Outer Thing would be better served by being in reality can work. As with most things, more is better, so the more beings you gather, the easier it will ultimately be. However, even the least of the Other Horrors, the individual little ones, require a very large supply of magical energy. If you have a cult of mages, you can get by with less of them than with a cult of mundanes. Still, think a few hundred at least, and work upwards based on the size of the thing you want to invite in. I'd suggest something in the range of a thousand cultists per dimension you want to bring the thing down from, above four. This means that you should shoot for around a thousand for a fifth dimensional horror, and ten thousand or so for a 14th dimensional horror. So already, you are learning that most of those smaller cults can't even summon the nightmares they think they can, although don't underestimate a "mere" fifth dimensional horror.

Once you have some friends, the actual rite is pathetically easy. The cult leader follows the incantations well enough, though few understand what it is that they are doing. They simply assume they are opening a rift and going to have their new cthonic buddy crawl out and give them a nice tentacley kiss. If it was that simple, any fool in the Federation of Magic could flood reality with Things-Which-Shouldn't-Exist. They never stopped to wonder why they need so much magical energy for a simple rift. As I noted above, losing dimensions on yourself is both distressing and difficult. What the summoning spell does with all of that magical energy is effectively raise the dimensions of the locality, so that your Outer friend can more easily access our reality. It's slightly more involved than that, but that is the essential part of it.

What actually literally happens is that part of the creature's True Name is spoken in the incanting. This serves to get its attention handily. With the area's dimensions raised to the appropriate amount, your special Outer friend does not have to worry about trying to fit into reality; rather, it creates a region of overlapping reality. Once the thing's attention has been caught, it begins to move through nullspace to get to your rite's location. Generally, the more dimensions on the Thing, the bigger it is, and the longer it will take to get there. Assume ten minutes for the least fifth dimensional beings, and days for the greater upper-dimensional beings. Once it arrives, then a rift is created and it comes slithering out for untold death and suffering. Insanity ensues. Once the Thing is completely arrived, the area must be maintained with magical energy to support the additional dimensions. The idea that an Outer Thing of titanic power needs magical energy to simply exist in our reality is absurd; what it needs is space by way of dimensions.

As you may have noticed, there are some weak points to this entire ordeal. Obviously, stopping the cultists while summoning them is the most popular method. Without a leader, the magical energy will simply dissipate like an undirected spell. Maintaining the additional dimensions requires magical energy, and if that is ceased, the dimensions come crashing down, and the Outer Thing is extremely painfully and grotesquely ejected from reality. Obviously, the Thing is limited to hanging around in the ritual area, so at least it can't slither off yet and doom us all for eternity. Killing the Outer Thing is always possible, although it is hard to kill something that drives you insane when you look at it. Most Things will erect some form of screen to prevent their followers from going entirely insane, but if you attack it, it will drop the screen and your mind will shatter when you see a full-manifested 14th dimensional creature. Be sure to ask for the blue drool cup with the flowers, it's pretty.

So, why would anyone ever drag a Horror into our reality? You might throw out that insanity thing, and surely that is a part of it, but less than you might think. It's more to do with powerful self-delusion. Mortals, by and large, have fooled ourselves into thinking that such immense and unknowable beings apparently need us. On a long enough time scale, the Outer Thing may crawl into our reality anyway, gnawing its way in inch by inch, for such creatures tend to have nothing but time. However, mortals come to believe that if they help such immense Things, they will be rewarded for getting them where they want to be far quicker. Many think they will for a new elite when it manifests, and will share the cosmos together. I doubt I have to tell you how wrong this is. I tend to believe that rituals such as "Summon Outer Thing" are cosmic IQ tests that an alarming number of people fail.

2.0.10 - The Hidden

Finally, you may ask what could be worse than the Outer Things? Well, things exist in the Megaverse that we have no information on at all. In some cases, we can only surmise on their existence as conjecture or logical extension. At least in the Outer Things, we know what we are generally dealing with, but with the Hidden, we have no idea what their nature is, or even what to call them. There are a host of mysteries around the Megaverse that cause us to believe there are some Hidden elements to the entire ordeal. Here is a mere sampling. - The Infinites

This is one of those ideas that seems logical, but we have no way of proving it. We start as goop, work our way up to an animal form, work up to a human form, then strive hard and long to reach advanced/supernatural status, find a way to ascend to godhood, and then spend ages to become an Eternal. If the Megaverse is at all consistent, we surmise that there must be an advanced form of Eternal, which we have simply called Infinite. We can't even begin to guess at their nature or even method of existence, and have never found any evidence that Eternals eventually ascend. Such beings would have to be few, and would lord over all of Creation as easily as we lord over Terra (less easier these days, but we are working on it). Perhaps it is they who war against the Outer Things, or perhaps they depart, cross the Void and form a new Creation of their own elsewhere. If they exist, it would be in a form we could never understand, so I suppose I will have to wait to become a god to at least be able to visualize such a thing. - Scullian Stargate

The Scullian Stargate was named after one Captain Scullian, who on exploring a new quadrant found a most curious artifact. It looked like an extremely large jumpgate, about half an AU diameter. The materials were purple-black and unknown, and the technology was unknown. Since he discovered it a few centuries back, everyone in the Megaverse seems to have gone out there to try and make it work. Many think it is dead, more think it is waiting for a signal of some sort or is on a timer. The interesting thing is that a second one has never been found yet, so even if it were to work, no one has any idea where it might have gone. Many think it is a leftover relic from the earliest days of Creation and the Progenitor race (see Aurelanis's excellent History of Magic book where you find this one). Some think that it is not so much a gate to travel to somewhere, but that would allow some horrific race or being into our reality (possibly *back* into it). However, the eldest races that were talked to didn't recognize it, even the Eldar Dragons, who date back virtually to Creation. It remains a mystery to this day.

How to Travel

3.0 - To Traverse Infinity

Getting around the Megaverse isn't exactly like taking a walk down the street. The biggest danger isn't getting there, it's where you are going. If you traverse Creation blindly, you will inevitably hit something hostile, be it a race, a monster, an environment, a vacuum, or whatever. So it is most certainly worth your time to research your destination, or else prepare for the worst before you go. How you get there depends entirely on where you want to go. Realms will have their own methods of entry, and anyone can get to an alternate reality, but finding the right one is the hardest part. I will just briefly cover both primary methods of getting around.

3.0.1 - Magical

I am admittedly somewhat biased towards magic, being a mage myself. The most obvious way to travel magically is by a "Create Rift" spell. It is fairly easy to cast, and is quite quick, although targeting it cane be incredibly tricky. Even Shifters, masters of dimensional travel, sometimes have problems with them. With an infinite set of targets out there, it stands to reason that it is a little more difficult. However, anyone can walk into a rift, so it is a very popular way to move around. Also, rifts can cover distances from across the room to the far side of Creation in the same basic format. So no matter where you go, there you are.

As noted in the Hall of Dimensions, natural Portals exist all around the Megaverse. They are like pre-created rifts that never really close or move. However, finding portals can be somewhat time consuming, especially if you have to travel a distance to get to the portal. Also, portals only have one fixed destination, so you are stuck going where they go. Shifters and other regulars to the Hall may start to understand the web of portals, but most won't. Fortunately, spells exist which help to find portals and identify their target location, so you need not step blindly into them. However, portals also require keys, which can be most anything. Typically, they are uncommon items so that the portals don't open randomly all the time when someone with a trout walks by. However, nor are they greviously hard to find, and normally, the key to a portal will be available in the area where the portal is, as a courtesy.

Magic allows for some excellent protection against the environments of where you might have to traverse. Most experienced dimensional travellers have a large library of protection spells, and cast them frequently, and many augury (information-gathering) spells as well. They have to be ready to react with speed, so many carry assorted magical items as well. Mages can generally take along passengers, or at least create a simple rift and everyone can high-tail through it.

3.0.2 - Technological

The technology to create dimensional travel varies by the civilization creating it, but the basic principles are the same, regardless of the specific names and theories used. Scientists generally refer to rifts as "gates" or "wormholes", as a rule. Most civilizations achieve and master space flight before they touch on interdimensional travel, and they quickly learn that the speed of light is a huge limitation. Most go on to discover the so-called "hyperspace" or "foldspace", which is in actuality, the fourth dimension, the spatial shortcut dimension. They generally equip their large capital ships with their own jump engines, and create a network of fixed jumpgates around their territory for smaller ships, and thus their civilization grows like that. The gates created by this technology mimic rifts, except that they must travel physically through the foldspace of the fourth dimension, meaning that there is higher travel time, although they are far, far better at targeting the gate due to exceptional technology. Interestingly, I understand that many aliens to the civilization can use the jumpgates, as they work on the same basic property. That may be wild rumour however.

So, any civilization that discovers foldspace soon figures out that there are likely more dimensions than just foldspace. Quantum theory leads them on in their quest, and it doesn't take long to figure out that a jump engine can be used as a base to create a quantum engine, and quantum gates. These quantum gates allow travel to different realities, and because the targeting is so much better, they tend to record all the resonance frequencies of the realities they visit, meaning that technological quantum gateships are able to return to most any existing reality they visit. Of course, they still have to physically travel there, and that takes some extra time. Think of a realm akin to foldspace more in line with the idea of a "quantum space", the distance between realities. It doesn't literally exist, but it is a side effect of the technology.

On a more personal level, technology exists to create gates in a far more portable form, such as a handheld controller, which I assume would replicate a rift creation fairly accurately. This depends on the technological sophistication of the civilization in question. However, such a thing would be far more fragile than a huge quantum engine. A quantum gate could be constructed on the surface of a planet (or under it, or where ever) as well, obviously. I would imagine sheer expensive and energy requirements would limit this, however, or else not everyone knows it yet, until they read my book.

The other advantage of technology is that it protects travellers much better than the lone mage. Of course, many things can defeat such technology. In the end, a force field of technological source and of magical source both are likely to drop under the relatively same criteria, both being energy. Gateships can move far more people and other ships even, although mages can, of course, use technology whereas vica versa is generally not likely.


Hopefully you have come to a better appreciation for the Megaverse, and learned some things. Despite all of the scary things in here, the Megaverse is a place of utter wonder and beauty as much as total horror and chaos. In the end, people who elect to traverse the Megaverse need to be very strong-willed, quick-thinking, and incredibly adventurous. It offers some of the strangest mysteries and enchanting creatures, and a seemingly unending supply of other races and beings. Sometimes, it's good to just stop and think on the huge scale that the Megaverse exists on, because that makes all of our little things seem all the more important. We can't comprehend the numbers involved in a galaxy, or try to imagine life as an Eternal, but we can hold the hand of a loved one, and smile nicely, and ask him to make us some dinner. Hopefully some lasagna. That's right, you heard me, stop pretending you didn't.

In the meantime, safe and happy travels!

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