Crossovers are fun. They are! Maybe I don't quite care about
crossing over two shows I don't watch or something, but when we have
characters (and Somnolians have lots
of characters), we like to put two weirdos together and watch them
interact. Other times, we like to take a lad and put them in another
story where they don't seem to belong and see what they turn into.
(Helps to have good, strong characters who don't need to be "hero in a
dystopia" or "Important Important who lives in Ponytown" if you're
gonna partake in such.) This is how you get stuff like the "Kevin's
Nachos" story I wrote coming up on two years ago now.
Naturally, all this theorizing tends to spiral.
Back in 2018 or so, knowing me, Caby, and borb were all working on stories that were totally opposite each other tonally and in subject matter, I wanted to come up with a way to be able to stitch them all together without much fuss, something rather quiet and transparent that everyone who had a story idea could plug into. That way, bored? Could give the normally innocent bookworm Madeleine a magical staff and watch her be diabolically evil and murderous.
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.
At its basest 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. As an example, electricity has yet to be finely harnessed in Pinède like it has in the Pennyverse or Wyn's World, though it also features magical characters who would be powerless in the latter two worlds. Wyn's World is home to mostly domesticated animals, as opposed to wild ones. A pocket with mostly humans in it (like Savannah's Wisp world, which she's not made public yet) obviously wouldn't support Wyn or Pennyverse-like anthros.
In any event, these pockets are the various worlds characters
When I say "weak" life, I mean ill-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, for a
background character in a well-fitting setting, 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
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.
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.
The primary reason the Multiverse is hostile to life is what's
called Multiverse noise. These are, well, aggressive, random impulses.
Stray thoughts, random ideas, emotions, and general unfocused chaos
from those working within it (again, largely, the Somnolians). Noise
has a visual component to it, similar to the fuzzy static you get tuned
to a nonexistent radio station or analog TV station, except that you
can see it quite literally in the air around you, and if you're in
contact with it, it tends to feel a bit like your skin crawling or your
limbs falling asleep. How much you notice it depends on how much you're
used to it and how well-defined your character is.
probably the greatest effect our real world has on the Multiverse. When
a pocket is stable enough to support life, often (but not always), it's
stable enough that Multiverse noise doesn't affect it. A character, on
the other hand, can very easily be eaten away by
Multiverse noise. Bad experiences, stupid jokes, awkwardness, a lack of
purpose—they can all easily tear apart a character without the
fortitude to survive such an onslaught. Nothing's for sure, but a
stronger character is far more likely to be able to survive in a sea of
noise than a weaker one.
Luckily for weak lads, they tend to be tied enough to the stability
of their worlds that such messy business wouldn't affect them. When a
character becomes much more without the development to back it up,
outgrowing their world or simply escaping into the great unknown, they
run the risk of becoming lost, forgotten, or otherwise destroyed in an
abyss of numbing, gently incapacitating noise.
It is possible for Multiverse noise to generate its own life
spontaneously. It's really rather 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
Pockets are not airtight. While they are perfectly stable, there's
nearly always a spot or two that never quite gets sealed, and these can
lead a character out of their home world and into the Multiverse (and
naturally, into another world). Call these what you want,
entrances, rifts, portals, they all fit. In "Kevin's Nachos", one such
portal was found behind some of the dustier shelves in the back of the
Apricot Bay Public Library. In the case of Calelira (which is no longer
accessible through the Multiverse), special bottomless satchels acted
as portable Multiverse entrances; looking like simple man-purses on the
outside, if you managed to fit inside one, the negative space would
instead squeeze you out into the Multiverse at large.
How do these portals form then? They're usually not intentional, I can say that much.
In the case of the library in Apricot Bay, the (still unnamed—working
on 'em for Pennyverse Month this year, promise) librarian is actually a
Caerpinwyd native who became the maintainer of one of the portals on
both ends, hence why he looks just a touch out of place with the rest
of the Pennyverse. While he didn't make the portal, he did help build
the library around the portal and intentionally formed the shelves so
there was just enough room to get through and get back home. Where
other Multiverse entrances are located are up to whoever creates the
world (hint hint, lads).
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.
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.
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.
So who's safe from all this bizarreness, then? If you need to be strong to survive jumping from world to world, who's the strongest of the lot? We call them Narrators.
If the Multiverse is a bridge, Narrators are the bridge builders. They're not only so well-defined they can hop between worlds with impunity, but they also have the ability to generate new life on a whim. Narrators take the appearance of common folk, usually, not one to attract attention to themselves, but they're capable of, if not breaking the rules of the world they're in, then at the very least bending them.
It's thought that Narrators are by and large the avatars of the
Somnolians and anyone else actively developing the Multiverse, but
that's largely up to them. I know there's a caramel-colored badger lad
wandering around anywhere that'll take him, though...
If you're still having trouble visualizing it, I sorta see the Multiverse as being a space of infinite floating islands, rocky and craggy, devoid of vegetation, about the color of this page's background. The void wraps all around you, and the Multiverse noise looks a bit like the kind you see in a dark room, or what you see on a camera. 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 of the worlds in the Multiverse appear as giant wispy, foggy bubbles 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. Still, if you keep climbing, you'll eventually find a tear or a hole in the bubbles. Climb in and you'll have made it across the void, assuming the noise hasn't fuzzed your outline out of existence (which isn't painful, I imagine it feels a bit like expiring on narcotics—you kinda don't notice it until it's too late and you're too weak to care).
Bit scary, but thankfully, lads don't try to climb out on their own
without good reason to suspect they're able to survive the gap.
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. None of it really has any bearing on the stories themselves—unless you want it to, lads.
This page last updated June 25, 2021.
That was a little spookier than intended. Good thing is, once they're across, it's just Kevin offering nachos to animal mage people—and that's what matters.