Strataverse is a multiverse framework in which most of apparent reality consists of networks of simulated subtly irregular multiverses, see my post:
I owe a lot of the inspiration for Strataverse to Sergei Lukyanenko’s Nochnoy Dozor fantasy book series, which is definitely of of the greatest fantasy series ever written! In particular, the different layers of reality and the “veil of uninterestingness / normality” are elements that I build on in Strataverse.
So, what’s the premise of Strataverse? It assumes that some mature civilizations will go on to create simulations of other worlds. And eventually they reach a stage where they get bored by them, and create more nuanced and subtly different variation of them to enhance their understanding of reality. While they started out with regular simulations, they create increasingly more irregular simulations with an ever increasing number of “abnormal” elements and more layers of reality.
A Strataverse world/simulation has multiple layers of reality: The ordinary layer, which is pretty much almost everything we know, and the other / higher / deeper layers. The generic Strataverse has five layers:
Layer 1: The ordinary layer. Pretty much the world according to rationalist ideas. It’s the centre of attention, since it goes through a guided natural evolution, until the inhabitants of the ordinary layer start becoming simulators themselves, and potentially even become Strataverse creators on their own. But until then, it’s a long hard way, on which they get nearly incomprehensible, often chaotic, support from the inhabitants of other layers.
Ordinary beings have minimal magical / psi powers. The more rational the being in question, the less likely are they to make use of those powers or detect them in others. That’s a rule of the stataverse. Otherwise the illusion of (almost-)normality would be broken.
Layer 2: The mystic layer. This is the layer of any mystical creatures we know about: Faeries, dragons, unicorns, wizards, vampires, werewolves, cryptids, gods, demigods, aliens, time travellers, pseudo-interdimensional beings, ghosts, spirits, angels, demons, and so on. They are all real, because they are attuned to the psyche of the inhabitants of the ordinary layer, which likes to imagine such beings. So, in a sense, the imagination of the ordinaries creates the mystic layer in a more or less indirect way, as defined by the rules of the world/simulation, which are of course set by the simulators.
Mystic beings have significant magical / psi powers and usually don’t age. They can switch between the ordinary and the mystic layer, which is basically a rough copy of the ordinary layer, but more magical. Something like Narnia maybe. Switching to the mystic layers makes them invisible to ordinaries.
The mystic layer is ruled by the mystic gods, which themselves follow the guidance of the next layer…
Layer 3: The sublime layer. Now things start getting seriously surreal. The sublime layer is basically to the mystic layer what the mystic layer is to the ordinary layer. Sublime beings can have any shape imaginable, and can appear in any form. They are usually shape shifters, even though they often have a favourite form. Sublimes have access to the stratanet, which is like a telepathic internet for sublime beings, and they can use the stratanet to manipulate ordinaries completely. They magical and psi powers are enormously strong. A single sublime would have no problem manipulating the whole ordinary layer of a planet to follow his will. This usually doesn’t happen, because of various reasons:
- The sublime are aware of their mission to optimize the evolution of the ordinary layer, and usually see it as their purpose to do so, even though they may not have the knowledge how to do that the best way, which is a source of disagreement between sublimes
- This disagreement is typically resolved with a policy of minimal interference into the affairs of the ordinary layer. The sublimes also police the mystical creatures, especially the gods. The generic sublime being is typically more powerful than a mystic god, even though there are exceptions.
- Unwise interference often has unintended consequences, which make the course of history worse
- The other sublimes usually don’t allow non-subtle interference in the ordinary layer
- And most importantly, the sublimes are policed by the next layer … as seen below …
Sublime beings have extraordinarily strong magical and psi powers. For example, they can materialize stuff out of thin air. And they are immortal: They can be killed, but then they reincarnate again – though not necessarily immediately or in the same world.
There is a special class of sublimes which are called jumpers: They can create instant-transmission portals between different locations in space, and even create portals between different worlds/simulations.
Under special conditions mystical and sublime creatures can use an incredibly powerful form of magic called dramana. While regular magic follows certain rules, dramana is a power that follows the barely comprehensible will of the simulators. It could be compared to the power that priests have in pen and paper role playing games: Basically the power of the simulators, channelled through themselves. Dramana is the ultimate magical trump card. And it’s almost impossible to obtain.
Layer 4: The transcendent layer. Now we are totally deep in the rabbit hole. The transcendent layer is to the sublime layer what the mystic layer to the ordinary layer is. Transcendent beings basically have absurdly godlike powers, comparable to fictional beings like the Q from the Star Trek universe. They are all jumpers and they usually access to some degree of dramana.
It’s the transcendent which watch over the world and guide its development on the deepest levels. They also possess enormous wisdom, even if it’s not absolute, and almost nothing compared to the wisdom of the simulators. The transcendents are the managers of the managers managing managers managing ordinaries. The purpose of the trascendent layer is to keep the sublimes in check, because they might do too silly stuff with their powers. But who watches over the watchers watching over the watchers watching over the watchers watching us?
Layer 5: The extral layer. Welcome to the layer of the simulators, the extral beings (“extral” being a portmanteau of “extra real”), which are typically so powerful that any comparison would be meaningless. Or let’s try something: Their simple autonomous processes (breathing, ahem) create multiverses. They don’t sweat the small stuff. For that, they have their little transcendent watchdogs. The extral simply define the basic rules of the worlds/simulations they create, and intervene by distributing dramana. Sometimes, when they want to have fun (or something), they appear as extral avatars, which can be absolutely anything from single elementary particles to omnipotent gods (as opposed to the puny mystic, sublime, or even transcendent gods).
Now that we know all the layers, or strata (hence the name Strataverse), what are the relations between the strata? A being of stratum n usually only knows about stratum n, and thinks about beings of stratum n+1 as mystical creatures, which may or may not be myths. Beings of stratum n+2 are usually totally undetectable for them. Unless they are enlightened, which enables them to detect higher strata beings. Enlightenment can happen spontaneously, but usually happens through intervention of higher stratum beings.
Beings of the other strata usually are created by ascension from lower strata, or by creation by beings from higher strata. Other strata beings can sometimes procreate naturally, or via magical or technological means, but that is rare and may attract the envy and wrath of beings of the same or higher strata. This is to keep populations in the other strata stable.
Why all of this madness? Well, it’s a spiritual journey towards more knowledge and wisdom for all strata. The complexity increases with the level of the stratum. Also of course the degree of responsibility. Conflicts usually arise out of a lack of information, knowledge and wisdom. Entities don’t know the perfect way to act, so they try something and it might turn out badly. Which is why other beings may try to stop them from doing that in the first place. But doing nothing might be even worse. So, it’s a game of direct and indirect interventions of increasing subtleness.
The histories of the ordinary strata is shaped by the interventions of higher strata. Magic is real. Conspiracies usually run deeper than even the craziest conspiracy nuts would want to believe. There are black organizations which know about the mystic stratum and try to deal with that. And then there are the ultra black organizations which even know about the sublime stratum, and possibly even higher strata. Political conflicts are often merely the shadows of the conflicts between black organizations. Ultra black organizations usually do not get involved in politics, unless in the case of extreme emergencies.
The Strataverse hypothesis states that most life exists in a strataverse, because those are simulated most often. Now have fun trying to sleep after having looked into the deepest depths of the rabbit hole!