I wanted to start a little series on my tumblr about my various Final Fantasy XIV headcanons within my own Warriors of Light story, nothing that would necessitate a full post here, for the most part. However, my very first entry turned out quite massive, so it gets reposted here as well.
Welcome to Brandon’s big grand unifying multiverse headcanon. This is The Big One, the massive thread that more or less holds together all of my headcanons I’ve developed about/within any fandom I’ve considered myself a part of, ever.
I have a lot of inspiration to draw from here, Marvel and DC’s multiverses are obvious but also a tremendous amount of @magicturtle‘s work with building the world of the Void Saga of the Critical Hit podcast.
The basics of the idea is that for every world, every universe, there exists other versions of this universe, which has the same general structure (worlds, continents, locations, even a vast majority of people), but with at least one Major Difference. A Major Difference could be specifically important people being entirely different, certain historical events happened differently and thus an alternate history emerges, or even something as big as events happening in a different age of civilization. As an example, the Hydaelyn of my own Warriors of Light would be a different universe of Lashen and Blanfyr, the Warriors of Light belonging to my friend Lash that I mentioned in my story Champions from Beyond the Rift. Their universes are identical, with the Major Difference being that Lash, Blanfyr, and their ally Azrael are the Warriors of Light, not my crew. Versions of them may exist in each others universe, but they would have different histories.
It’s important to note that the Shards aren’t different universes either, they’re what are known as Demiplanes, a different plane of existence tied to the primary plane of their own universe. Every version of the universe known colloquially as Hydaelyn, as an example, has its own versions of the shards, which may or may not have their own histories. In Toragana and Veilette’s universe, the shards are either numbered differently or were subjected to the Ascian’s machinations in a different order, for example.
My own WoL/Ds are now aware of the existence of other versions of their universe. Franks, in particular, is exploring the theoretical physics and mathematics with a renewed gusto now that he has some confirmation of this. Well, he has MORE confirmation of it, but we’ll get to that. He knows of at least two other versions of their universe now, and as he’s mentioned, the math the Arcanist’s Guild has managed to work through supports the idea of no more than 15 versions of their universe, but he’s not quite willing to put that in stone yet. He’s got some revisions to do.
Hydaelyn’s not all there is that’s out there, however.
There are also other worlds out there, other universes, which are ENTIRELY different. Different worlds with different kinds of life on them, landmasses that would be unrecognizable to the people who live on the Source and no versions of the people who live on it. They even have their own demiplanes, different in number and purpose
Franks knowns of one of these, because he comes from it. His original world is called Azeroth. On that world, he spent a majority of his life as a creature known as a human, but a large number of recent years as a walking corpse.
These universes which are entirely different from one another all share one trait, they each have their own set of universes which are similar to themselves save for at least one or more Major Differences.
You can probably see where this is going. Every fictional world or setting I’ve ever been interested in potentially could have its own representation in this multiversal structure.
The Structure of the Multiverse
So who knowns about the whole of the multiverse? Who knows about its structure?
There is an organization who has taken it upon themselves to watch the whole of the multiverse with one goal in mind, their own Prime Directive, if you will, and it is simply thus: Do NOT allow knowledge of the multiverse to become widely known to any universe at large and prevent unauthorized travel between them.
The founders of this organization were an extremely advanced race from a universe that had learned of their “universal neighbors”, developed the technology to cross the barriers between them, and had over millennia formed diplomatic relations with each other. Vast citadels existed in each version of their universe with permanently open gateways between them, allowing politicians, diplomats, and scientists to consult with their counterparts in the different universes.
Periodically, their scientists would determine the planar coordinates of another universe, and an expedition to this new neighbor would be formed. “Opening Day”, the day a new portal was brought online, had become a cultural milestone for them, and it had evolved into a major celebration. People would gather near the citadels holding massive parties. Different versions of the same being would gather, sharing knowledge and celebrating accomplishments.
Unfortunately, this race had made a major assumption. Every other universe they’d discovered had Major Differences that were ultimately benign, ultimately leading them to the same current point, an age of enlightenment and reason. They expected something similar in this newly discovered universe.
What they found instead was a world dominated by a predatory insectoid species that had been destroyed in every other universe early in the history of the race. In this universe, however, these insectoids had destroyed them instead. And now they had evolved into a massive hivemind swarm that had consumed almost all other forms of life in their world. And they were hungry.
What followed was a cataclysm. The insects poured through the portal in uncountable numbers, devouring and consuming everyone in their path. They quickly discovered the other portals, centralized as they were in the citadels of every version of their universe, and expanded into them all. Their prey was a race of civilized thinkers, they had all long discarded any forms of a military, and they could not stand up against the insectoids single unifying mind and the viciousness of their forms.
It took only a few months before they were all but wiped from existence. A few members of each universe had been working on a form of transport capable of independent travel between universes and also the “in-between” space that divided them. Before the insectoids could eat them as well, they boarded their experimental craft and activated it, blindly jumping away from their universe.
It worked. The survivors, less than two dozen in number, ended up in the In-Between, out of reach of the insectoids. Their “ship” boasted a large variety of experimental sensor devices for exploration, and so they were able to monitor, in near-realtime, the destruction of all versions of their civilization and culture, consumed by their own failure to account for all potential possibilities. Their were no other versions of their universe remaining, the version where the insectoids had won was the last one in existence.
For the next century (age being another thing they’d managed to defeat) they simply explored, mapping as much of the multiverse and it’s various forms of life as they could. Ultimately they decided it was their duty to prevent what had happened to any other universes, and so they set out establishing their organization to accomplish this.
I don’t have a name for this organization, nor the race that established it. Everything i call them in my head is directly pilfered from one or more of my inspirations, and I don’t want to canonize any of them by writing it down here.
The organization is responsible for cataloging and organizing the multiverse as well as monitoring its inhabitants for the development of any methodology which could enable discovery of the multiverse or cross-universal travel. To this extent, they recruit agents, beings from across the multiverse who must forsake any ties to their home universe or any versions of it to monitor others. These agents are given a ship capable of monitoring all universes under their purview, as well as opening a doorway to any point in their assigned sector.
The organization groups universes thus: all universes which are identical save for Major Differences are grouped together in what is known as a universal cluster. These clusters are named (generally for the primary world of importance that all universes share) and numbered in order of creation (if they can determine it) or discovery. The first universe created is named Prime or One, all others receive a sequential number. These grouped universes are known as parallel universes when discussed in comparison to each other. Likewise, Universes in different clusters are known as alternate universes.
The organization has a very strict non-interference policy in the affairs of any universe not related to their mandate of cross-universal travel. This includes in the combatting of threats. While agents do carry a variety of weaponry suited to the different universes under their purview, the policy of the organization is to minimize knowledge of their existence. To this end, Agents are to recruit assets from the variety of worlds under their watch, and provide them whatever resources they need to deal with cross-planar incursions (or potential ones). These assets are, as a rule, not made aware of the greater structure of the organization or the scope of the multiverse, only that it exists and the extent of whatever knowledge they need to defeat the threat. Assets are carefully cultivated for capability and trustworthiness before they are recruited.
Agents of this organization also carry are provided with the means to acquire whatever clothing they need to “blend in” but the structure of the multiverse provides their best disguise in itself. Should a being cross from one universal cluster into the next, the multiverse itself will change your form into something that most closely matches something within the universe you’re going to.
This is why Franks, when he found a strange portal within Azeroth and ended up on Hydaelyn, which does not have widespread sentient undead, his form became similar to what he used to be.
Thus far the agent responsible for monitoring both the Azeroth and Hydaelyn universal clusters has not seen fit to interfere in this planar jump, as Franks has taken great pains to conceal the connection between them on both ends and has thus far dedicated himself to opposing the machinations of the Ascians, who are known to the organization as an potentially extremely dangerous threat to the multiverse should any universe’s version of them manage to free their primal and rejoin all of the shards. He’s monitoring the situation there extremely closely.