The Uncounted Worlds, part 1
by, 09-28-2011 at 05:05 AM (719 Views)
This and following posts describes an alternate worlds / time travel idea I might possibly use in some future campaign. Constructive comments are welcome.
The "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics posits that a new universe springs into existence to account for all possibilities. The massive number of quantum events each second would spawn billions of universes. For all practical purposes, there are four categories of alternate timelines:
- "The fuzz" consists of universes which differ unnoticeably or trivially from each other. A few extremely powerful beings can manipulate the fuzz to their advantage, but for most travelers it simply makes crossing timelines harder. The "fuzz" ends once one gets far enough into interstellar space; with less matter fewer alternate universes spawn. Consequently, universe jumping becomes much easier in interstellar space. Faster-than-light travel between planets or star systems can also dump the unaware into an alternate version of that planet.
- A hysteresis arises when an event creates two timelines resolve to the same end result. The alternate timeline essentially merges back into the branch, creating a single timeline again. Many time travelers try to "set history right" by converting a major divergence into a hysteresis.
- At major decision points, different versions of the same event create distinct alternate universes called "branches" or "timelines". New branches arise naturally at points where a small change can have huge consequences, although travelers from other timelines can, unwittingly or deliberately, interfere with history and spawn another branch. Ethicists debate whether "cloning" a universe in this way is ethical because it creates life, or unethical because these new residents suffer the consequences of an altered time line.
- Beyond the branching alternate worlds lie the Anomalies: worlds of fantasy, worlds where sapient reptiles rule, worlds with different physical constants and natural laws. The further one travels from one's home universe, the more variations accumulate, until universes can no longer sustain carbon-based sapient life.