Table of Contents
Phantagraphia literally means "imaginary maps". The term is used to refer to things having to do with the Multiverse, and most commonly applies to the science of studying the Multiverse, the nature of alternate universes and the theoretical spaces between alternate universes. This field of study is of particular interest in the City, where phantagraphic phenomenon such as portals and extra-dimensional visitors are far more common than on most worlds.
The Multiverse is an infinite set of alternate universes, parallel dimensions, divergent timelines and pocket worlds that make up the whole of existence. Each universe in the Multiverse is unique, though sometimes the differences are subtle. Anything that can be imagined might exist somewhere in the Multiverse. Many worlds share the same or very similar sets of physics to our own familiar universe. In others, things such as magic, psychic powers, and ghosts exist. Other worlds have extremely high technology, with advanced cybernetics and faster-than-light starships. Still other worlds function on more mysterious combinations of physical laws, such as worlds where steam technology takes the place of electronic computers and internal combustion engines. Every possible place and time exists somewhere in the Multiverse, and all can potentially be reached from the City.
The Phantagraphic Model
The Phantagraphic Model is an attempt to explain the general structure of the Multiverse. It puts the idea of the Multiverse in terms that ordinary people can try to visualize. It is commonly used in the City, but it is by no means the only possible way to understand the Multiverse. It is "correct" only insofar as it is useful.
In the Phantagraphic Model, the Multiverse is imagined to consist of an infinite number of self-contained universes suspended in a high-energy phantagraphic medium, like pieces of fruit in a jelly mold, or stars and planets in space. Portals create pathways through the medium, connecting universes together and allowing travel between them. A given universe in the phantagraphic medium may exist completely alone, or may be bundled together with several other universes (such as an afterlife or a realm of the gods) and universes sometimes exist inside other universes.
The Phantagraphic Model is very useful for explaining portals, wormholes, and people or vessels that travel though some form of "pseudo-space" to transit between universes. It is convenient for mapping, as causal relationships between worlds can be imagined as spatial relationships in the phantagraphic medium.
Another popular model to explain the Multiverse is Quantum Vibration. In this model, all universes occupy the same space, but each vibrates at a different frequency on a sub-atomic, quantum level. Everything within a given universe vibrates at a single signature quantum frequency, like a fingerprint for a universe. Travel between worlds is achieved by altering one's quantum frequency. This model is incredibly useful for understanding "jumpers", people who randomly (or at will) shift from one universe to another without any apparent external force acting on them.
The Branching Model of the Multiverse says that all universes, however alien, represent alternate timelines. From the moment of First Creation, every time it is possible for things to happen one way or another, the universe breaks into two (or more) universes, each with one of the possible results. Something as simple as deciding what to eat for breakfast creates a new set of alternate branching timelines, and new universes. This model is extremely useful for understanding alternate timelines, but cannot adequately explain pocket universes.
In most worlds, traveling from one universe to the next is very difficult. The Multiverse seems to be resistant to contact between universes, and it usually requires very powerful magic or extremely advanced technology. From the City, however, travel is astonishingly easy. The City seems to be uniquely positioned in the Multiverse, with more portals and less resistance to phantagraphic transit than any other known universe.
There are almost as many ways to travel between universes as there are universes themselves, but a few are particularly common, and familiar to anyone who lives in the City for any length of time.
Doorways to other universes, portals are the most common and easily-accessed form of phantagraphic travel in the City. Portals are spread all throughout the City, and can be found in every canton. Portals in the City are usually enclosed in a solid frame of some kind (though free-floating portals are known to happen) and more often than not are visible, at least when active.
A Phantagraphic Artifact is any device or construction that allows travel between universes. These often take the form of some kind of vehicle or enclosed box capable of traveling through the phantagraphic medium the same way normal objects travel through space. Some artifacts are smaller, only requiring a user to be in contact with the object to be carried through to an alternate world. A few work like projectors, firing a beam of energy at the person or object to be transported, while the artifact itself remains in the universe of origin. An artifact might be a powerful magical idol, a complex handheld computer, or a vast starship.
Jumpers, Leapers, Shifters, and Wayfarers are individuals who can travel between universes under their own power, using methods not well understood by science or magic. These unique individuals seem to simply will themselves into traveling to another world.
It's by no means required to know the circumstances that brought your character to the City, but it can be a fun bit of background colour, and help flesh out a new character, if you do give it some thought.
Whether you call them worlds, planes, universes, dimensions, or timelines, the Multiverse contains an infinite variety of settings to visit and explore. Worlds run the full gamut of imagination. Prehistoric dinosaur worlds, starship galaxies, sword and sorcery kingdoms, cyberpunk cityscapes, furry cowboy ranches, steampunk Aztecs and robot Victorians... Anything you can imagine is possible, and can be found somewhere out there. The City has portals to a million different worlds and there are many more yet to discover.
There are as many varieties of worlds as there are worlds themselves, and they tend to defy easy categorization. There is no formal system of sorting and categorizing worlds, but a glossary of commonly used terms is available, as is an incomplete lists of worlds known to the residents of the City.