[ASH] Altiversal Guide update July 10

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Tue Jul 10 20:46:35 PDT 2007

    //||  //^^\\  ||   ||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
   // ||  \\      ||   ||  --X---------------------------------------------
  //======================= '|`          ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES
 //   ||      \\  ||   ||                   ALTIVERSAL GUIDE
//    ||  \\__//  ||   ||          Copyright 2007 by Dave Van Domelen

     Last Updated: July 10, 2007 - WORK IN PROGRESS

     One of the conceits of the ASH setting when I started writing about it
on RACC was that there weren't going to be the sort of willy-nilly crossovers
that had gummed up some of the other serious settings there.  To that end,
one of the elements I brought in was the Barrier, which would keep the ASH
characters in, and others out.  The closest I came to a crossover originally
was LNH202X, which was more of a meta-crossover sort of thing.  Hence, there
wasn't really a big need for a catalog of alternate realities, since you
couldn't go to them.
     Still, because I mined a lot of older material for ASH, and mined the
same material in earlier writings, there's a sort of defacto collection of
alternate continuities.  Plus, of course, the Barrier did get weakened before
ASH even made it to double digits.
     This file is intended to keep track of the (relatively) small number of
other realities attached in some way to ASH.  They're split into three
groups: Parallel ASH, Pocket Realities, and Distinct Universes.
     Parallel ASH worlds are ones that share common elements, but aren't
quite the same.  Either they diverge at some distinct point, or simply raid
the same source material from my real life past.  Some parallels can "reach"
each other, some cannot.  It is not well established what happens to
divergent timelines if they are diverged by the results of time travel.  Some
think the parallels cease to exist, or perhaps they simply become
inaccessible to anyone too closely tied to the divergence event.  Parallels
sufficiently similar are considered a "cluster," and ASH forms one such
     Pocket Realities are essentially budded off from the main ASH universe
somehow.  They tend to be small in extent, and most were still accessible
after the Barrier went up.
     Distinct Universes are just that.  They could be considered parallels
that diverged so long ago that they're no longer in the same cluster, or they
are even more different than that.

     The names of any reality given here will often be just personal
bookkeeping, not what the natives call it...if they call it anything at all.
And there isn't an in-story organization like the Monitors or Merlyn's crew
keeping track of and naming stuff.  Yet, anyway.  The Multiversal Office
likely had designations for them all, but who wants to use names like
FR4E-x99-~!%$#j/B anyway? 


     ASH-Champions - The original from which I mined material for all the
others.  Based on a Champions campaign that ran from early 1989 through early
1992, split across several GMs, and incorporating all sorts of trademarks
owned by other people (including, but not limited to: official Hero products,
Torg the RPG, Bubblegum Crisis, Dreadstar, Pern, Blake's 7, Castle Ravenloft,
Paranoia, The Prisoner, Power Rangers, and Vampire: the Masquerade).
     ASH Mainline - This is where most of the stories are set.  Don't really
need to go into much detail.  All the other universes mentioned in this
section are in the same cluster.
     Alliance of Super-Heroes - Diverged from ASH Mainline in 1976, see the
Second Heroic Age Sourcebook for more.
     Cassandra's World - Possibly just a simulation (and therefore more of a
Pocket Reality), this timeline diverges with the precog Cassandra not being
murdered by the Template Killer prior to Academy #0.  Glimpsed in LNH 2024
     Constellation's Worlds - In his attempts to use his dimensional travel
powers to visit home, Constellation didn't always hit the mark.  The most
obvious "miss" would be the wish-fulfillment reality he landed in during his
final arc, but he also had other near-misses.  In Constellation #28, for
instance, he landed in a slightly divergent world in which Delta Rose and
Powerhouse (references to "Powerhaus" can be considered a typo) had a brief
affair, because he subconsciously needed to hear from someone else who had
been in a weird love situation.  See the "Problems" section, item 1.
     CSV 2052 - An alternate timeline that diverged on December 31, 2025.
The ASH Mainline no longer goes in this direction, and it is the opinion of
five refugees from it (the Impossible Five) that the parallel no longer
exists.  However, it may simply be that they are incapable of reaching it,
due to their close ties to the divergence point.
     Curseworld - Not so much a single alternity as a cluster of them.  A
powerful spell cast in the wake of the bombing of Hiroshima sent this cluster
of realities into a downward spiral of evil until a confluence of events in
ASH Mainline broke the spell across the entire cluster.  The original
Conclave of Super-Villains were refugees from a Curseworld.  It is unknown
how the Curseworlds fared post-1998.  The Constellation native to the
"Mainline" Curseworld eventually ended up in the Superguy Altiverse known as
     Devastated ASH - Given his dedication and ability to cross dimensional
boundaries, it was inevitable that Devastator would succeed at least once in
wiping out humanity.  Constellation #15 references one such world.  The
Barrier may have simply cut these out of the ASH cluster, as there was no
longer any mechanism for the Barrier to be erected...nor reason for it to be
     Spear Carriers - It is unknown if the events related in the Spear
Carriers series are still the future of the ASH Mainline, or if a divergence
has already happened.
     Unzipped ASH - Alternate timeline where George "Channel" Sylvester
accidentally destroyed reality in ASH #15.  This parallel ceased to exist
after only a few hours, as it completely unraveled.  Baal Samin simply
spawned an alternate timeline in which he removed Channel's relevant ability
before it could be used.  In some ways, this could be considered the true ASH
Mainline, but the title transferred to the newly divered parallel.


     The Dark Gate - A bolthole for a group of Svartalfen seen in ASH #3.
Also referred to as "the Nazis' root cellar".
     Dimension Z - A shrinking pocket reality colonized by Jotuns, see Second
Age Sourcebook for more.
     Dreamtime - Only mentioned in passing, parts of Australia were merged
with it in the late 1990s and it did not go away even after the Barrier was
     The Four Monacos - The region around Monaco was briefly split into four
divergent timelines by the Impossible Five before being reunited.  Since the
four strands were tied back together, they do not constitute "Parallel ASH"
     Hyperspace - A smaller, hotter reality underlying the regular one.
Entering it allows travel at higher effective speeds.
     The Net - Netwalker actually generates short-lived pocket realities with
his power, that are sympathetically attuned to the computer network of ASH
     The Nine Worlds - Asgard, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim,
Niflheim, Muspelheim.  Asgardian pocket realities carved out by the
Purebloods known as Aesir for themselves and their fallen enemies
(i.e. Jotuns started as a group of Purebloods who fared poorly in the
godwars).  Sealed off from ASH Mainline by the Barrier, as were all the other
godly pocket realities not named here.
     Warp Bubbles - The original Solar Max was able to create person-sized
oubliettes in spacetime as prisons or to isolate dangerous items.  These
eventually "decay" and merge with ASH Mainline.  Peregryn has the ability to
create similar holes in reality via magic, and uses them to store important
things.  Triton has generated one using the entire power output of his
AstroSpear, but it's not something he can do regularly.


     Astral Realm - This is a sort of underlying realm of potential from
which other universes spring.  There's only one, and it connects everything,
but everyone who can access it experiences it in different ways, since it is
really just potential, not fulfilled reality.  A select few, like
Constellation (and his parallels) can use it to travel between realities, but
this is rare.  And due to its impressionistic nature, two Astral Travelers
may not even realize they're both using the same means.  The Barrier sealed
the ASH cluster off from this realm, which may have been the cause of the
stagnation that Devastator cited in ASH #7.  The Astral Realm is probably the
"in between" Baal Samin used in ASH #15.
     Ghostworld - See the Second Heroic Age sourcebook for more information.
While distinct in character, this reality did overlap the ASH universes
slightly, resulting in ghostly incursions.  Blocked by the Barrier.
     Legion of Net.Heroes Looniverse - A silly, parodic reality that bleeds
over onto everything around it in a chaotic manner.  Blocked by the Barrier,
contact was not restored when the Barrier fell due to the divergent events
between "Real Life" and the ASH cluster.
     Multiversal Office - A vast bureaucracy that, in theory, connects every
reality you can think of, plus the ones you can't.  However, not all offices
are staffed at all times.  There's evidence that the ASH cluster's offices
were staffed prior to the Barrier going up, but there has been no sign of
activity from it in the 21st Century and beyond.
     Superguy - A slightly less silly parodic universe, never directly
contacted by ASH Mainline, but indirectly linked via the Looniverse and the
     WarStar's World - A radically different divergent Earth in which
Partbloods rule an interstellar empire in the present day.  There have been
only two representatives of this world in ASH Mainline: WarStar and his
daughter TerraStar.  Blocked by the Barrier, but contact was re-established
after the Barrier was weakened.


     Okay, one of the problems of not being totally obsessive about plotlines
is that the occasional glitches creep in.  This section will discuss any
inter-universal hassles that have come up, and potential resolutions.
Hopefully it won't have too many entries.
     This section is unabashedly written in my perspective as writer and
editor.  :)

     1) Is Constellation really from ASH Mainline?  

     This actually comes up from a three-sided problem, and inspired the
creation of this file.
     In Constellation #28, posted a few months before the ASH Mainline was
conceived, Constellation had a talk with Delta Rose, who mentioned that she'd
had an affair with "Powerhaus", a villain who eventually reformed and had a
daughter who grew up to be Lucky Ball and Chain of They Might Be Villains,
after a brief (and undetailed) stint as a hero.
     In ASH #18, Lightfoot tells Netwalker that the LNH Looniverse is real,
and that most of the events of Constellation involving the Raiders et al
really happened.  This can't just be Lightfoot pulling Netwalker's leg, since
Netwalker independently hacked some databases to confirm parts of it.
     In Coherent Super-Stories #1-4, the villain is Powerhouse, not
Powerhaus, and there's no indication that he and Delta Rose were ever
involved, certainly not to the extent of being a "scandal" as described in
Constellation #28.  
     So, here's the problem.  When I wrote the Constellation scene, I hadn't
yet given up on Patrol, and wasn't thinking of ASH as anything but an
occasional guest universe.  And, about ten years earlier when I wrote ASH
#18, I wasn't particularly worried about any LNH stuff coming back to bite
me.  But long before hitting CSS #1, I'd decided I really didn't want to have
ever had direct contact between the Looniverse and ASH Mainline, and had
forgotten about the scene in ASH #18.  So, emotionally, if I have to
"believe" one side of this triangle over any other two, it's the newer stuff.
But I'm loath to completely retcon things away, especially actual ASH
stories.  If I only needed to deal with the Raiders reference, that'd be
comparatively easy, but the fact I said that Constellation was a native of
ASH Mainline pretty much sinks that.
     I suppose the least inelegant solution is to simply say that when
Constellation tried to go home, he sometimes missed by a little and ended up
in near parallels.  So the parallel he visited in #28 differed by Delta Rose
and Powerhouse ("Powerhaus" can be written off as a typo) being lovers.
"Constellation's Worlds" have been added as a Parallel ASH.  Thus, any scenes
in Constellation issues that contradict later ASH writings can be explained
as parallels.  Most of it happened in the ASH Mainline, or at least enough to
leave a record, but a few inconvenient scenes...didn't.

     2) What about (insert "connects all realities" plot device here)?

     The Multiversal Office (already mentioned), the Astral Realm, Marvel's
Omniverse, the overstructure to the Superguy Altiverses...there's a lot of
stuff out there, both referenced specifically in connection to ASH and not,
that should touch upon the ASH Mainline.
     The short answer is, yeah.  They're connected.  But all transit was
blocked in 1998, and until and unless it's explicitly re-established in an
ASH story, assume these various overstructures are unable to connect to the
ASH Mainline or any other ASH parallel or pocket.  The Astral Realm at least
leaks into the ASH cluster now, but there's not currently any Astral
travellers (the Family might have the ability, but they haven't shown up

     3) Gods...do they split or not?

     So, there's various parallel ASH settings, where history diverges either
a little or a lot.  Baal Samin, in his talks with George Sylvester, has
implied awareness of the split universes.  It's also been implied that the
Godmarket happened in some way in all the parallels.  So, that would mean
that the gods don't actually bifurcate.
     On the other hand, there's also been hints here and there that the
actions of the gods can be altered in one or another parallel, or even that
they behave in significantly different ways.
     Finally, there's the case of fallen (like Q'Nos) or erased (like
Santarus) gods.  If altering the timeline can reduce the power of a god, what
about parallels in which the timeline wasn't altered?  Shouldn't the old
reality still exist as a parallel?
     The simplest handwave is that part of the nature of gods is to not
follow the sort of linear logic that mortals can comprehend.  They are, to an
extent, outside of time, both for good and for ill.  And since gods are
generally a shadowy background force rather than front and center in stories,
I'd rather not nail it down too firmly, since that requires the story focus
on them more closely.
     But, if you want more explanation than "because," it's probably best to
draw an analogy to the "significant point" mentioned in the Raiders/
Constellation crossover.  At certain confluences of importance, the events
that take place in one reality among a cluster of parallels will echo across
all "nearby" universes as well, coming to pass in one way or another through
the entire cluster.  This was how the Curseworlds all got cured despite the
main action taking place in only one of them.
     So, what does that have to do with the gods?  The gods are, in a way,
living Significant Points.  Yes, they diverge when the timelines they are
linked to diverge, but everything tends to go along roughly the same lines in
all parallels for them.  They also happen to exist along more dimensional
axes than mortals, and are aware of their parallel selves to a greater or
lesser extent.  This gives them a LOT of transtemporal inertia, which defends
them against their enemies.  But it also means that if you can crack one
version, they all fall.  So Santarus was banished from all parallels
(although it's possible there's widely-diverging-enough parallels out there
that he still exists, he just can't "travel" far enough to get to ASH
Mainline from there), Q'Nos fell to demigod status across the whole cluster,
etc.  So there wasn't an untouched Santarus or Q'Nos left somewhere to rescue
the fallen version.

4) How can the Barrier do much against gods who exist across multiple

     The creation of the Barrier was itself a Significant Point, rising
across the entire parallel cluster, but also requiring the sacrifice of all
paranormals on or near Earth in all parallels.  The details of how it came to
pass and why it was necessary vary from alternate timeline to alternate
timeline, but they all have it in common.  In some, it goes up too late and
all life is gone.  In others, it goes up sooner and very few normals die.
And maybe, in one or two, most of the paranormals evacuated Earth's vicinity
as part of the plan and were able to return, much like the original Solar Max
did unintentionally in ASH Mainline.
     In a way, ASH Mainline rests at a dramatic medium along the possible
continuum.  The Barrier saved the world, but not without tremendous loss.  It
may well be the cost that let it work at all...and it's certainly why it's
the timeline that gets watched most by ASH writers.  :)
     Anyway, the Barrier could be considered like that border-draw function
in spreadsheet programs where every cell in the selected area gets its own
border.  The affected cluster was cut off from not only everything outside
the cluster, but also from every other member of the cluster.


Author's Notes:

     Thanks to Saxon Brenton for help in sorting things out!

     Making this up as I go along, but I figured I'd post it now and see if
any of my more, ah, renal-attentive readers spotted anything I left out.

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