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Author Topic: Maggott's Quest for Critiques, Part 1: The Overview  (Read 1753 times)
Maggott
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Posts: 10


« on: June 03, 2008, 07:10:47 PM »

What follows is the initial part of the Overview section at the beginning of the book I'm writing.  By pagecount it's only one eighth of the total overview, but if people are lost by the time they've finished reading this, I've already screwed up.  With the full race descriptions that I post later I'll be looking to make sure the reader is on the same page as far as the character and style of each race, but with the intro,"WTF?" moments are among the most important things I'm trying to find and fix.  The intro is going to color how the reader interprets the entire book, and it's what I'm relying on to convey the initial understanding of just what the book is about.  (There is an explicit "What This Book Is" section in the overview right after this excerpt ends, but I want to make sure the things that precede it make sense first.)  Thus, if you get lost while you're reading this or something strikes you as particularly strange, contradictory, or just plain nonsensical, let me know.

I'll start posting the actual descriptions of the Jumper Races next, provided people understand this first bit.

Overview

    A thousand universes swim at the edge of humanity's consciousness.  We all see them, though some are easier to see than others.

    What would you say if someone told you that every fantasy you've ever had is real, somewhere in the universe?

    No, we're not talking about that "mirror universes" thing, though those exist too.  We're talking about every television show you've ever seen and every book you've ever read.  Every hero and every villain--every spacecraft at the fringes of the galaxy, every ancient dragon who has shaken a mountain, and every teenager who has ever saved the world.

    These stories always seem to go the same way; everybody knows how they are supposed to end.

    Sometimes they don't end that way.

    Other times, the ending just gets stale.  So what do you do?

    You panic.

    Thankfully, help is on the way.

An Infinity of Infinities

    There are, indeed, an infinite number of universes.  In fact, there are an infinite number of "omniverses:" universes that have every concievable reality manifest in them somewhere.

    That is not to say that infinity is always connected to itself, or that everything is infinite.  Quite the contrary.  Infinite universes are the exception, and even most universes that are supposedly infinite actually aren't.  In fact, a popular saying among the Maggottonians is "If you look for it, it was always there.  Until then, it isn't."

    Essentially, universes have two levels of organization:

    The first is a single dimension, or plane.  A dimension is a single realm; anywhere from a tiny pocket dimension to a universe of infinite size.  Dimensions typically have their own physical laws, their own geography, and their own version of spacetime.

    The second is called the "cluster."  A cluster is simply a self-contained group of dimensions.  It could be just a few dimensions, or an infinite number of dimensions.  It could even be a single dimension.  The only thing that formally defines a cluster is the connections between the dimensions inside it.  If one dimension has any form of connection to another, even if it is merely that they were created by the same God or draw their physical energy from the same core, they are considered to be part of the same cluster.  If there are two sets of dimensions with no connections or interactions with one another, they are considered separate clusters.

    In practice, a cluster is generally a full set of universes; a physical realm, an afterlife, an astral realm and so on.  Many clusters have their own versions of specific entities or places that exist in other clusters (Earth would be one such example; Earths are scattered around like cockroaches).  In the parlance of Dungeons and Dragons, the entirety of the D&D omniverse--the collective infinities of the Prime Material Plane, the Inner and Outer Planes, the Outlands, and Sigil all combine to form one cluster.

    In other words, clusters are often very big.  And, by definition, they don't interact with anything outside of themselves.

    Usually.

    As it turns out, there is one big exception to this rule, and it is Jumpers.

Jumpers

    There are many creatures capable of travelling from one dimension to another.  From starships penetrating the veil into hyperspace to wizards who can travel from plane to plane with but a word, dimensional travel is hardly an exclusive business.

    That is not to say that all interdimensional races are created equal; in fact, it could be said that there are only a few truly "interdimensional" races, to whom jumping from one reality to another is part of--indeed, a key to--their existance.  These races are called "Jumpers."

    Jumpers are unique for one reason: they can interact with clusters other than the one they are in.  The reason they can do this is that they aren't ever really "in" any given cluster in the first place.  They do not belong to any particular reality, or even a particular cluster.  They are clusters.  Their bodies are universes unto themselves; albeit very, very small ones.  These bodies allow them to sense, enter, and alter other clusters; in fact, the ability to do so is what defines the word Jumper.  No other powers are necessary.

    However, other powers are often present.  Being their own reality means the rules don't always apply to them the same way they do with other interdimensional travellers.  Normally a creature is bound by the laws of their own reality.  Jumpers are their own reality.  Because of this, they can go places that no other creatures can go, do things that no other creatures can do, and know all about things that haven't even happened yet--or aren't even going to happen.  They can cast spells in realities with no magic, mind control creatures where there is no telepathy, and speak languages that no one has heard for thousands of years--or that no one has heard yet.

    If they know how, that is.

    As it turns out, Jumpers are far from Gods.  Though they can break the rules of other realities, that doesn't mean they can break their own; most don't even know it's possible.  From their perspective, they're basically people--not human, certainly, but still people.  Only a minority of them even know what Jumpers actually are.  Most of them don't know how they do what they do.  Some of them don't even realize they're not actually part of the dimension they're in.  The body of a Jumper is much like the body of a human; they can use it's abilities without ever knowing how they work.  Though Jumpers are born with seemingly impossible powers, they actually don't decide what those powers are.  Most of them seem to be determined by their race, and this is an enigma even to those who do understand Jumpers: If each Jumper is his own dimension, how do they even have races at all?  With some it's obvious; they reproduce.  With others it's an impenetrable mystery: they will simply appear out of nowhere, yet still have the physical characteristics and powers of one of the major Jumper races.

    All of this only serves to illustrate one thing: though Jumpers are powerful, they are also fallible.  Their powers are not limitless; in fact, with many, the powers they inherit are the only ones they ever use.  Though they follow their own physical laws, they can't necessarily control those laws.  What's more, while they often have supernatural senses and insights, they are not always any more intelligent or wise than you or I; some of them are brilliant and sagely, others are foolish or sadistic.  For all their unique talents, the truth is that there is only one thing that Jumpers can do that no other creature can do, and that's move between clusters on their own.  Mortal sorcerers can level castles with arcane incantations, starship captains can level continents with clouds of nuclear warheads, Gods and pantheons can shape the fates of entire universes.  But no matter how powerful these creatures become, their powers never go beyond their own cluster.  Of all the creatures in all the clusters in all of known creation, only Jumpers have the power to move things--people, items, or even just themselves--from one cluster to another.  This is, in fact, the only thing that defines whether you are a jumper or not.  In fact, not all jumpers are even people--there have been cases of items, locations, planets or even miniature dimensions travelling from one cluster to another, and because of this ability they are considered Jumpers as well.

    Just another oddity in an already chaotic universe, some believe.  Others think they are part of a greater plan.

    Ultimately, both their origins and their purposes are unknown, even to them.  The Jumpers themselves have countless theories about who they are, where they all came from and why they exist.  Unfortunately, these are often considered wishful thinking or pure conjecture--there has yet to be a scientifically proven theory that explains the existance of jumpers.  But one thing is for certain: their existance, and their power, is very real.
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TempvsMortis
Member

Posts: 84


« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2008, 08:25:07 PM »

Hmmm... I was thinking, doesn't that mean that jumpers can enter one another? If they're clusters of universes, then can't they be inside one another?

Also, dimension is a little confusing and non-accurate, popularized usage by scifi. I know what you mean, but universe is a more accurate word.
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Maggott
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2008, 09:24:29 PM »

Hmmm... I was thinking, doesn't that mean that jumpers can enter one another? If they're clusters of universes, then can't they be inside one another?

Not all clusters have multiple dimensions or are big enough to physically enter.  In the case of Jumpers, they're clusters consisting of one universe that is the shape, size, and body composition of a person (albeit one of a very unusual species).

Although they can and do grow beyond this initial form; at Tier 3 they learn to be "bigger" and manifest as things other than people.  In this case, one Jumper can enter another Jumper, provided that Jumper is manifesting as something the other Jumper could physically enter.

Quote
Also, dimension is a little confusing and non-accurate, popularized usage by scifi. I know what you mean, but universe is a more accurate word.

Universe has the same problem as plane...it carries certain connotations with it, though I suppose dimension has the same problem...they both imply that things are huge regardless of whether they actually are.  To say that a Jumper is a universe that's six feet tall or a dimension that's six feet tall isn't terribly different...

Universe also implies a world with stars and galaxies and such, and a lot of dimensions don't have them.
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TempvsMortis
Member

Posts: 84


« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2008, 11:05:21 PM »

You've totally deflated my hopes. Here I was, thinking it was about beings walking around, that were really whole universes, that they were reflections of higher realities and all that cool, abstract stuff. Now here you are, telling me they're just planeswalkers with a fancy explanation, and very un-abstract. You make me weep, man.
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TempvsMortis
Member

Posts: 84


« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2008, 11:13:33 PM »

Also, realistically what you're describing them as isn't really a dimension/universe at all, when you consider the fact that spacial relation inside and outside a universe can be totally divergent. That's part of the reason I imagined them as having realities inside them when you said they were universes. Considering the abstract and mutable nature of size and time concerning things like universes, it struck me as strange that because a jumper is 3 dimensions and a certain size, the universe within him must also be that size. I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this is you have a potentially much more epic and I think creative and awesome setting on your hands, but you keep purposefully trying to limit it down to certain things. Why not expand it? Why not have them have realities inside of them? Or have them be the lower forms of greater sentient beings? You can still maintain your whole universe/cluster/only-jumpers-and-cross-clusters paradigm in the whole thing, so you're not losing that. I just don't see a good reason not to do it.
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Maggott
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2008, 01:19:23 PM »

Also, realistically what you're describing them as isn't really a dimension/universe at all, when you consider the fact that spacial relation inside and outside a universe can be totally divergent. That's part of the reason I imagined them as having realities inside them when you said they were universes. Considering the abstract and mutable nature of size and time concerning things like universes, it struck me as strange that because a jumper is 3 dimensions and a certain size, the universe within him must also be that size. I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this is you have a potentially much more epic and I think creative and awesome setting on your hands, but you keep purposefully trying to limit it down to certain things. Why not expand it? Why not have them have realities inside of them? Or have them be the lower forms of greater sentient beings? You can still maintain your whole universe/cluster/only-jumpers-and-cross-clusters paradigm in the whole thing, so you're not losing that. I just don't see a good reason not to do it.

I know where you're coming from.  What you're describing in practical terms is similar in practice to a Tier 3 (Epic) Jumper or an ascended one; they can eventually reach the point where they are full-blown universes rather than people, but at that point they typically cease to be Jumpers, as becoming so "large" generally renders them unable to "enter" other clusters anymore.  (It would be comparable to trying to dial numbers into a cell phone after you've grown to three million feet in height.)  The ones who can continue to interact with other clusters do so at the cost of remaining comparatively small.  Though there are extremely large Jumper entities, they usually start out big and then become Jumpers rather than starting as Jumpers and getting big.

There is actually one Jumper who is a full blown multiverse, and his "lower forms" (the people who live in that multiverse) do travel into other clusters, but he won't be in the book.  (He would take too much space; he'll probably be getting his own book.)

Most of the reason Jumpers are not big universes (at least to begin with) is primarily to make them playable.  Characters that can manifest as universes are simply too off the wall (not to mention powerful) to run a game with, especially with multiple such characters, unless the players are experienced with that kind of thing and are capable of operating that way.  Some players would do very well with those kinds of resources; others would have no idea what to do with them, or would just use them as a form of brute force (manifesting as a mob of people to attack somebody all at once).

(And when I say "dimension" I basically mean "plane..." the reason I don't use "plane" is because it implies that it is part of a greater group of planes.  Though that seems to be causing a lot of confusion, at least among people who haven't read the official intro that specifies what "dimension" means in the context of the game...)
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TempvsMortis
Member

Posts: 84


« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2008, 05:53:39 PM »

But my whole point was that "giant man dialing a phone" thing doesn't apply, because size is relative on that kind of scale. How can you say a universe is too big to enter another universe when neither of them actually has a size, and each has its own rules of physics?

I get what you're saying, i'm just disappointed it isn't so epic. Oh, and there has been plenty of things like that for D&D; there are whole books (big ones) written on how to play a god in D&D, so it wouldn't be so strange.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2008, 07:33:25 PM »

Note: Throughout this post I'm using the world "Dimension' in it's scientific form as a linear scale. Two dimensions combine to form a "Plane". For want of a better term 3 dimensions combine to form a "Universe".

I'm agreeing with TempvsMortis, there is so much untapped potential here.

Even if your game system is mucking around with multi-dimensional beings, rather than dimensional universes of themselves there is a lot of scope that just hasn't been given thought here.

Consider this old analogy.

A three dimensional being (let's call him "Bob") interacts with a two dimensional surface, the surface tension on a pool of water. Let's say that this 2 dimensional surface is a world of it's own, with flat creatures that interact across it. Bob's 3 dimensional body makes no sense the the 2-D creatures of the surface tension world because they just don't understand the concept of depth.

Bob can put the tip of his finger into the pool, giving a tiny cross section of his entire being that interacts with the 2 dimensional world. Otherwise he can lie down and float in the pool, giving a huge cross section for the 2 dimensional world to face. If he puts his fingertip in, he doesn't risk much of his being, if he is lying across the surface with his whole body then a lot more is at risk.

Bob can do tricky things with the surface of the pool, he could put two fingers in at the same time and appear in two completely different places from the perspective of the 2-Dimensional world. He could separately put in each finger and toe, to appear in twenty places at once according to the 2-D critters.

The analogy extrapolates...

A four dimensional being (let's call him "Bob-squared") interacts with a three dimensional realm, let's call it a universe. Bob-squared has a body shape that makes as much sense to us as the 3-D body of Bob makes to the 2-D critters. We understand Bob-squared's height, width and depth but can't percieve the concept of his "Luth" (where this is just a word made up to describe his fourth dimensionality). If we could perceive his four dimensions he might look like an octopus.   

Bob-squared can put the tip of a tentacle into the our universe, giving a tiny cross section of his entire being that interacts with the universe as we understand it. The three dimensions we see might resemble anything, depending on how he bends and twists the tentacle within 4 dimensional space. Like Bob interacting with the 2-D world, Bob-squared can put more of himself into the 3-D plane, or he can intersect different tentacles in different parts of the universe to appear in multiple places at once. The size of Bob-squared doesn't matter, it's just how much he decides to intersect with our reality that becomes an issue.

That's nothing compared to "Bob-cubed" who exists in five dimensions, who is known for manifesting in different four dimensional realities at once. He can literally seem infinite to a three dimensional world...

...then there's "Bob-hypercubed" who exists in six dimensions, but he's a bit too mind boggling to explain in simple terms here.



Depending on the dimensions chosen for your race, they can exist on various planes using a different array of dimensions to describe their existence. A commonly used array of dimensions in D&D is to use our three dimensions, and a fourth that stretches up toward the astral and down toward it's opposite. Or our three dimensions then a fourth that stretches between elemental realms.

You can increase you height by getting taller (in which case you remain in contact with the ground), or by leaping into the sky (in which you are no longer in contact with the ground).

You can increase your affinity to fire by getting hot (in which case you remain in contact with our world), or by leaping into a hotter elemental realm (in which case you lose contact with our reality).

What we perceive as fire, might just be the influence of four dimensional beings using that array of dimensions to intersect a part of the bodies into our world.


There are so many possibilities here.

Perhaps luck is a fluctuating dimension we hadn't considered.

In life we can walk along a mountain path that rises and falls, we can see the fluctuations of the path because they all occur within the 3 dimensions of our perception. We may also be walking along a path of luck that rises to fortune and falls to calamity, we continue walking along it even though we don't perceive it. Lucky charms might guide us better along the path, while curses cause us to take deviations that lead to worse options.

A being that used luck as one of it's four dimensions might be able to use that to cause interesting effects in the world.



By this rationale though, no Jumper would ever be able to manifest within another Jumper. In much the same way that no human can manifest within another human. Sure an unborn baby exists within it's mother, but the two do not co-exist at the same point. Their physical beings would simply intersect and this just wouldn't work.

It would actually be easier for Bob to put his finger through a two dimensional creature on the surface of the pool than for the creature to manifest within Bob's three dimensions.

A Jumper would simply be a 4 dimensional being capable of manifesting the benefits of scaling up-down their fourth dimension with respect to our own three. Just like Bob, it would be easier for Bob-squared to put one of his tentacles into out universe than for one of us to manifest within him, we just wouldn't be able to percieve that we had done so. Bob-squared exists beyond us.

A Meta-jumper (like "Bob-cubed") would have five dimensions, three that intersect with ours and two that contribute other effects. Bob-squared would be equivalent to a god for us, he could have dimensions that stretch across elemental planes, luck, time, or even things we consider to be fundamental constants for our universe like the ways we understand the laws of thermodynamics.



To get back to point though...

If I were going to creat a race book along these lines, I'd start with a number of races that each incorporated a different fourth dimension into their array. Higher level characters might find a way to transcend and develop ways to perceive new dimensions then eventually interact with these other dimensions and finally incorporate them into their dimensionality.

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Maggott
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2008, 08:04:57 PM »

While that is certainly an interesting idea, I think the game is complicated enough as it is.  It's not meant to be an exploration in dimensional math so much as an excuse for letting the same party adventure in every fictional setting you can think of.

Though, ironically, there is a race that is almost exactly as you describe as far as luck...complete with basically seeing probability as a fourth dimension and manipulating it as if it were such.  They have some of the trippiest powers...they can't just change where you're going by pointing you in a different direction, they can change where you already are by going back and changing which path you took.  They're great.  An enemy pulls out a gun and they get to make it vanish, often along with the memory of having had it.  Basically, they get to say "You never pulled your gun because it backfired in your last gunfight and it's still on the table at your house waiting for you to put a new slide and spring on it.  But that didn't occur to you as you were leaving, so you never grabbed your backup.  Congratulations, you're unarmed, and you just barely realized it.  Neener neener neener."

They're cool.  They have shennanigans for altering the past, the present, and the future.

In practice, they're just another way to make your enemy miss, give bonuses to your allies or occasionally disarm someone, but still, I think the underlying concept is neat and it does give some unique spins to their combat mechanics.  Most characters can't disarm someone from across the room without any sort of contested roll, for example.  It doesn't matter how good of a grip the enemy has if they never had the gun to begin with.  In fact, their biggest restriction with changing the past is actually the same as changing the future...they can only move towards *possible* futures, and they can only switch to *possible* pasts; the more contradictions it has with the immediate present, the harder it is to switch to.  If the person has already shot somebody, for example, the past in which he didn't have a gun is a *lot* harder to switch to, to the point that you effectively can't...unless you're really high level.  (One of the last abilities they can get actually "resets" the entire encounter.)

I suddenly wonder if I'm cheeky enough to give them a power called "Save Point."

(It would be way too powerful, but oh so funny.)
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TempvsMortis
Member

Posts: 84


« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2008, 11:58:18 PM »

Well, I wasn't really suggesting you go as far as vulpinoid suggested. What I'm basically trying to say is that instead of just making a fancy planeswalker thing with different rules, you could expand it into an expansion-booklet about playing as these great dimensional beings and their avatars, who also have all the properties of jumpers as you've described. The whole concept of playing as gods has been done, but not like that, and I think you could make it interesting. I agree  though that getting into whole dimensional math is too much to throw at someone. I think most people could understand "i'm only a small, visible part of a greater being, who I also somehow play as", and I think it allows for more variance, and is just plain cooler.
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