The Setting

What is a Crossworld?

A Crossworld is the name for a reality reachable from Crossroads. The distinguishing property of Crossworlds is that it is impossible to travel from one to another without going through Crossroads. Each Crossworld can contain multiple alternate dimensions, parallel worlds, and the like, much like a Marvel multiverse. A separate Crossworld is a reality that is not just an alternate dimension but rather something totally and completely apart. For example, the Marvel universe and the universe of Star Trek would be separate Crossworlds, but the Looniverse and IRC would not be since people have travelled between them.

What is a portal like?

A portal is the connection between Crossroads and a Crossworld. On the Crossroads side, all portals look very similar; a nebulous, somewhat disturbing, intriguing plane of force. Staring at a portal for too long can damage your eyes, and it also tends to do strange things to your perception (like looking into a fourth spatial dimension). Portals in Crossroads are fixed, and (almost) always lead to the same Crossworld.

On the Crossworld side, however, things are far different. The appearance of the portal is determined by the nature of reality in that Crossworld. Portals may be doors, black holes, mystic loci, archways, or anything else that the reality contains, including being eaten by a demon. They move frequently and unpredictably, and when searched for are rarely found. Instead, they are often discovered by accident, and often the person crossing through doesn't know what is happening. The wanderers and explorers, the misfits of society, are the ones who most often encounter the portals; very rarely does a person reach Crossroads who is not drawn by it.

The exact nature of the portals and where they came from isn't known to anyone, not even the inhabitants of Crossroads. In the Crossworlds, they can be totally unpredictable, and even in Crossroads they will occasionally do something that no one can explain. Many believe that they are sentient, but if so, it is a sentience unlike anything else ever encountered.

How does Crossroads relate to other writing universes?

From the perspective of Crossroads, each other writing universe, like any other fictional universe, is a Crossworld. Some writing universes share a Crossworld (for example, the LNH and the Net.Trenchcoat.Brigade stories take place in the same Crossworld), and others, like Omega, stand alone. All writing universes are potentially reachable from Crossroads, but it is the decision of the writers in each universe if they want stories of that sort to be told.

Crossroads stories will be interacting with Crossworlds, both new ones created by Crossroads authors and others that are already established universes, but only with the consent of the creator(s) of the Crossworld. Crossroads itself is a joint project, but any Crossworlds are under the sole control of their creators.

Where is the portal to <insert world here>?

For many of the universes, the answer is wait and see. Stories about the portals to several of the major fictional worlds on rec.arts.comics.creative are already planned. For the rest, it depends on the writers who choose to tell the story. Remember, though, that just because the universes are all on rec.arts.comics.creative doesn't mean they are near in Crossroads; they may be scattered far and wide.

Also, whether or not Crossroads stories will be told about a particular Crossworld is at the discretion of that Crossworld's creators. If they do not want to be linked with Crossroads, that portal still technically exists, but it will never be found in any Crossroads story.

What does Crossroads look like?

Crossroads is a plane which, as far as anyone has been able to determine, extends infinitely in all directions. This means that distant objects just fade into the sky rather than vanish behind a definite horizon. People from spherical worlds find this somewhat disconcerting at first. A roughly circular area around the city Road's End has been explored, and this is known as the inhabited area. Whenever people move out into unexplored areas, they find portals already there waiting for them.

Crossroads appears to have a sun, which sets and rises on a roughly twenty-four hour cycle, and a moon similar to that of most Earths. No one has ever been able to explain how this is possible given the geography. The sun rises earlier the farther one goes to the east, just as if Crossroads were a spherical planet. Attempts to send spacecraft up into the atmosphere reveal that air appears to extent infinitely upwards with no drop in pressure, and the temperature remains roughly the same. The sun and moon never appear to get any closer. At night there are stars in the sky, even though stars like those found in most Crossworlds would be impossible. Investigations into magical causes have so far been inconclusive.

Explorers have encountered seas and oceans, some of fresh water and some of salt. Weather patterns tend to also mimic those of a spherical planet. The terrain, animal life, and planet life is largely similar to that of most Earths, but there are many regions that are significant exceptions. Societies and technological levels vary wildly from area to area, usually depending on the nature of the Crossworlds portals in that area connect to. Magic, psionics, superpowers, high technology, and all other contradictory sets of physical laws all function at the same time.

Russ Allbery /