Letters from Somnolescent December 5, 2022

Into the Greater Somnolescent Multiverse

by mariteaux

So quietly, I’ve been working on relaunching cammy.somnolescent.net. Working on that site before, there were lots of really good pages that I just didn’t think fit right where they were. This is one of those pages: a goofy, fun bit of group lore that makes a better blog post than it does a random page on one of my sites.

I’ve edited and rewritten parts of it, of course, but you can call this one from the archives. Quite literally. Go check out the new cammy.somnol, by the way! I’m just getting started with it and it’s starting to take shape as possibly the cutest site I’ve made so far.


Crossovers are fun. They are! Especially when they involve our characters. We in the group have quite a bit of fun sometimes imagining lads from two different worlds interacting, or what characters might look like if they just so happened to be from worlds other than their own. This is how you get stuff like the “Kevin’s Nachos” story I wrote in 2019.

Naturally, our ideas tend to sprawl a bit. I’ve always wanted to come up with a fun little background way to explain how characters could end up in different stories other than their own, and make it something we could plug any newer worlds we came up with into. That way, if you’re bored? You could give the normally innocent bookworm Madeleine a magical staff and watch her be diabolically evil and murderous.

Caleliran Madeleine and Colton (still neat outfits!)

Or something akin to that. Since I don’t think I’ve ever explained it, here’s the story of the Greater Somnolescent Multiverse, how it works, and how best to survive crossing the gap.

Explaining the Multiverse

Structure and “pockets”

At its base level, the Multiverse is an infinite plane with unexplained phenomena inside it. Think of it like the vacuum of space, whose boundaries we can’t yet define, yet stuff floats gently inside of it. Pockets inside this plane are stable; they can support life, even very weak life, and they have defined behavior, norms, and timelines that can vary from pocket to pocket.

Some examples of this: electricity has yet to be finely harnessed in Pinède like it has in the Pennyverse or Wyn’s World, A character talented in lightning magic in Pinède would likely just be gifted with electrical engineering or circuits or something in the latter two worlds. Wyn’s World is home to domesticated animals like indoor cat breeds and ferrets as opposed to wild ones. A pocket with mostly humans in it, like Wisp, can’t support Wyn or Pennyverse-like anthros.

In any event, these pockets are the various worlds characters inhabit.

Definition of self (weak vs. strong characters)

When I say “weak” life, I mean poorly-defined life. Characters who don’t have much depth to them, one-offs and bit parts. You might be able to get a few gags in with them if they managed to make it somewhere else, but there wouldn’t be much in the way of a story to tell with them. They’re simply not defined enough.

Sometimes, this is well enough. A character needs to do their job in a story and that’s it. Outside of that job, they have little reason to be. They would be wise to stay in their world, for the Multiverse has properties that are cruel to weak life. Conversely, very well-defined characters, those with a whole ton of thought put into them, can survive the jump into nearly other world. They might even take on special abilities elsewhere.

There are even characters who are so well-defined, it’s thought the Multiverse itself is their home, and they can manifest stability in chaos. These characters are called Narrators, and they’re often representations of the Somnolians themselves. Narrators have the ability to manifest life and new worlds on a whim, and they often walk among the common folk undetected (or look completely out of place, whichever’s funnier). Narrators, of course, can hop worlds with impunity.

Noise

The primary reason the Multiverse is hostile to life is what’s called noise. Noise is fuzziness. Stray thoughts, distractions, ideas, emotions, general chaos, generated from the heads of the Somnolians. Noise has a visual component to it, a fuzzy static like you get tuned to a nonexistent radio or analog TV station, except that you can see it in the air around you. If you’re in contact with noise, it’ll feel a bit like your skin crawling or your limbs falling asleep.

Noise is harmful because it clouds your perception of an idea, whether that be a world or a character. If your mental image of that character is strong enough, or if a pocket is stable enough, noise doesn’t affect it quite so much. You can always visualize that character or that world. Less-defined ideas are easily eaten away by the numbing, incapacitating noise because there’s nothing strong about them to remember them by.

Nothing’s for sure, but a stronger character is far more likely to survive the sea of noise than a weaker one. (Documentation also helps a weak character survive in a sea of noise—if no one wrote you down and then all was forgotten, were you ever really there?)

It is possible for Multiverse noise to generate its own life spontaneously. It’s rare, but it has occurred. Kevin, in Pennyverse, is a prime example of a being born of Multiverse noise and then making his way into a more stable existence in the Pennyverse. This has also made him much stronger than if he was spontaneously conceived in a specific world, because he’s not reliant on that world to survive.

Multiverse entrances

Pockets are not airtight. While they are perfectly stable, they’re never perfectly sealed, and a crafty character can escape into the Multiverse and other worlds through it. Call these what you want, really—Multiverse entrances, rifts, portals, they all fit. Point being, and any character can make their way through a leak if they know about it, and where they show up wherever the world’s creator desires (hint hint, lads).

In Pennyverse, one such leak was found in the Apricot Bay Public Library, with the library being intentionally built around it so the librarian, the Pinède-born Theophrastus, could covertly make his way back home if needed. In the case of Elinar, bottomless satchels acted as portable Multiverse entrances. Much bigger than they looked on the outside, if you managed to climb inside one, the negative space would lead you out into the Multiverse instead.

A Multiverse entrance looks a little bit like a rip in fabric, but in the air or against a solid surface, with the Multiverse showing through. It’ll probably freak your characters out a bit, yes.

Bleed zones

There’s two very strange, obscure types of areas in the Multiverse that we haven’t quite discovered, nor can I quite explain. They’re both not exactly stable, but they can lead into places of stability: bleed zones and undefined spaces.

Bleed zones are a side effect of pockets not having a concrete size and shape. Occasionally, worlds mix with one another, their colors bleeding like mixing paints together, and given that neither world tends to donate its own stability, Multiverse noise often ravages the mixture. Bleed zones are the result, becoming a chaotic, hallucinatory soup of characteristics from both worlds.

If you imagine a bleed zone of Pinède and Pennyverse, you might get to see a medieval Apricot Bay, or you might see lads with dot eyes wandering around a field as if there were buildings there. If one looks at you, expect to not quite see true life back. If you stick around long enough, you might even get to see the bleed zone dissipate, leaving behind only the plane of chaos of the Multiverse itself. An illusion, practically.

Given the rarity of spontaneous life in the Multiverse, and given the rarity of bleed zones themselves, the likelihood of a character manifesting from a bleed zone is exceedingly rare. It’s thoroughly possible, though—you figure a Narrator just needs to will it into happening.

Undefined spaces

If bleed zones are a mix of what’s extant, undefined spaces are pockets that are yet to exist. If you’re to find yourself in an undefined space, all light will seemingly vanish into empty air, leaving you and what’s around you in perfect shadow despite nothing there to cast a shadow. You can thankfully move out of the space without ill effects, but I imagine it’s still quite the scary experience.

It’s said that undefined spaces are a precursor to later worlds coming in and forming.

Location

Where’s it located? Right on the edge of our world. Really! The Multiverse is the bridge between those that plug into it here in the real world (the Somnolians) and their thoughts and ideas. Depending on how you look at it, the Multiverse is either a location into itself or a thoughtform that glues together locations.

What’s the Multiverse look like, though?

If you’re still having trouble visualizing it, I sorta see the Multiverse like Xen from Half-Life. It’s a weird, alien landscape of floating islands, rocky and craggy, devoid of vegetation. You ever look away from light into a dark space and see your vision all grainy, or the grain you see in low light on cameras? That’s Multiverse noise.

Thanks to its instability, nothing quite has a sure place in the Multiverse, and you’re fairly likely to (almost) step through an island or something if you get too close to the edges. If you were to drop an item, where it lands might jitter around a bit suddenly. Think of it like dimensional rounding errors.

Each world in the Multiverse appears as a giant, foggy bubble you can grab onto thanks to the low gravity (seriously, hop up to reach it, you’ll go a bunch of feet in the air). Their exact shape and size depends; they’re all a bit amorphous, really. If you keep climbing, eventually you’ll find a tear in the bubble–that’s the Multiverse entrance that’ll lead you into the world.

Inspirations

Like a lot of my other ideas that’d later get refined, the idea of portals leading into improbable spaces started with Calelira (the world that’d get reborn and rewritten as Pinède). As said above, Calelira had these “bottomless satchels”, which was a convenient way to not have to keep track of a ton of inventory limits on a quest. Being bottomless, of course, the idea eventually became that they took you to various pocket dimensions where space was far more plentiful.

Narrators actually started in another world, one I used to call the PMDverse (which was a little Pokémon Mystery Dungeon world I came up with when I was like 14 or 15), but they later got merged into Calelira. The idea was they were these world controlling beings that walked among common folk (anthro or Pokémon, take your pick), perfectly disguised, but with power that mere mortals couldn’t comprehend.

As said in the intro, the Greater Somnolescent Multiverse Theory was something I came up with in late 2018 as a way to let us mix our worlds in a semi-canonical way. Narrators and portals and pocket dimensions all got folded into it when I thought it up, and it’s been taking up space in my head ever since.

Caleliran Madeleine going ham

None of it really has any bearing on the stories themselves—unless you want it to.

About mariteaux

Somnolescent's webmaster with way too much to write about and a stack of CDs he'll never finish.


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