So, the PCs in your campaign have reached high-level status, surviving everything from kobolds and goblins at first level to your most dastardly dungeon that contained 10 cloned dragons. The characters all have strongholds, followers and lands. They have enough gold to last forever – those 10 dragons had quite a combined hoard! Short of battling the gods themselves; there isn’t much the PCs cannot do. How does a DM keep things interesting?
Pull a Scotty on them and change the laws of physics!
The concept of the Multiverse – multiple, parallel but different Universes – is something that can be introduced into any type of RPG from Sci-Fi to Cthulhian to Fantasy.
Fantasy and the Multiverse
Michael Moorcock introduced the concept well into many series of his fantasy novels, all of which shared the concept of the Multiverse, but which had completely different cultures and “worlds”.
The Wiki defines Moorcock’s take on the Multiverse concept as:
“The Multiverse is a series of parallel universes in many of the science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories written by Michael Moorcock. (Many other fictional settings also have the concept of a Multiverse.) Central to these works is the concept of an Eternal Champion who has potentially multiple identities across multiple dimensions. The Multiverse contains a legion of different versions of Earth in various times, histories, and occasionally, sizes. One example is the world in which his Elric Saga takes place. The multiplicity of places in this collection of universes include Melniboné, Tanelorn, the Young Kingdoms, and the Realm of Dreams.”
The early D&D supplements/game system, the Arduin Grimiore Trilogy by David Hargrave relied heavily upon the Multiverse as a way to introduce whatever you wanted into your game. It was also a useful too to allow the co-Gamemastering between him and his friends of slightly or wildly dissimilar worlds in one over all campaign
Science Fiction and the Multiverse
Modern physics does theorize the possible existence of other parallel Universes. Some physicists believe new Universe could be created when two or more Universes interact or create a “bubble” that breaks away from the original somehow, causing an entirely separate and new Universe to exist. The laws of physics might be completely different in this new Universe:
“the idea of parallel universe, and the sheet of curtain as we think is not just sheet that is strife but in fact its vibrating all the time and scientists say our universe evolved due to the interaction between the two sheets of universe and also they claim there are infinite number of universe and our universe is not alone.” http://www.crankup.net/parallel-universes-%E2%80%93-the-complete-theory-of-universe
The Original Star Trek series was always playing around with the concept of parallel Universes.
As the Enterprise maps a planet with iron-silicon surface and oxygen-hydrogen atmosphere and begins heading towards Starbase 200, the ship is twice subjected to massive disturbances. Spock reports that the magnetic field of the surrounding space “blinked” and the gravity of the planet momentarily reached zero. Spock then finds a human life form on the planet’s surface and Spock, Kirk, and a security detail of 3 beam down to investigate.
They find a spaceship and a bearded man who yells something about having time to still stop “him,” then jumps or falls off a cliff. Kirk discovers that the blinking phenomenon drained the Enterprise’s dilithium crystals, leaving only 10 hours before the orbit decays. Starfleet command reports that every quadrant of the galaxy has been subjected to magnetic, gravimetric, and electric disruption, and Kirk and Starfleet fear it may be a prelude to an invasion.
Kirk interviews the fallen man, who claims he is chasing a murderer who destroyed his entire civilization. He himself was saved because he was inspecting magnetic communication satellites. He attempts to enlist Kirk in his fanatic pursuit. It turns out that the strange phenomena are caused as the man, whose name is Lazarus, battles his anti-self in a corridor between parallel universes and that the ship on the planet surface is a time-travel machine. The universe is returned to normal when Kirk destroys Lazarus’s ship, sealing the corridor off at both ends, and trapping Lazarus and his anti-self inside to fight each other for all eternity.
Cthulhian/H.P. Lovecraft and the Multiverse
A very simple way to get characters into another world is through dreams. The Dream Cycle stories of H.P. Lovecraft involve people from various times and dimensions interacting in the alternate realities that can be accessed through dreams. Days, months, years or even an entire lifetime can be lived in the Dreamlands while the “real” person sleeps but one night. The Dream Lands are sometimes very similar to the one the dreamer comes from and sometimes they are completely different. Fantastic paradisiacal kingdoms or hellish worlds of dread can all be accessed through the Dream Time.
From H.P. Lovecraft’s CELEPHAIS
“In a dream Kuranes saw the city in the valley, and the seacoast beyond, and the snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the harbour toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky. In a dream it was also that he came by his name of Kuranes, for when awake he was called by another name.”
There is much to be investigated about the concept of the Multiverse and all of its permutations, but this gives a Gamemaster a clue as to how to introduce such things into their campaign. It can work well if the GM is skillful.
In my next post, I will discuss this concept a bit further and also the concept of The Nexus – or how other portions of the Multiverse are accessed.
Here is a great free PDF /pay-for-printed version resource that just came out to add to your Multiverse!
I own Robert Conley’s Majestic Wilderlands and have enjoyed it greatly. I look forward to this setting tribute to Blackmoor and will be grabbing a printed copy, also. Click on the pic for more info.