META: Shared Multiverse

Phantasm phantom_belcher at
Wed Mar 9 10:59:14 PST 2011

On Mar 9, 8:38 am, Andrew Perron <pwer... at> wrote:
> As I grapple against the terrible strength of Remember-To-Vote-In-The-
> RACCies-Or-I'll-Rip-Your-Arms-Off Man, I'm reminded of one of the
> defining characteristics of RACC: shared universes.  Some succeed,
> some fail; some live long beyond the point where any reasonable person
> would have considered the concept over and done with, while others,
> launched with much fanfare, fall flat as a pancake.
> Personally, I'd say that the most important factor in the success of a
> shared universe - or any open-ended setting, for that matter - is that
> it feels like it goes beyond what you see "on-screen"; that there are
> other people out there, doing other things; that it feels like a
> world, with unanswered questions and mysteries yet to be plumbed, with
> old friends we haven't met yet and old villains just waiting to jump
> back into the spotlight.
> A good example of this, I think, is Star Wars - showing both success
> and failure.  The original movies tossed out references to a larger
> world left and right, making it feel like these were events taking
> place in the midst of a vibrant, living galaxy; the prequels, however,
> confined themselves mostly to fulfilling references already made.
> While they introduced new elements, said elements never felt like they
> were leading to anything outside the story itself. (The Expanded
> Universe had this problem as well, though a few authors managed to
> either match the original or sidestep it altogether.)
> What about you guys?  What do *you* think is the key to a universe's
> success?  Which works have done this well, and which poorly?
> Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, and what about Scarecrow's brain?

To me, what makes a good shared universe successful is not a rigidly
strict adherence to continuity - the one thing that, to me, seems to
define the failing moments of the Star Wars franchise (to use your
analogy) - but a generally loose acknowledgment of continuity.

When starting a new continuity, there are inevitable noodle incidents
(sorry, no link this time) that pop up, as nothing exists
in a vacuum.  In many ways, older continuities are like that as well;
I know it occurred, but to me the LNH's infamous "Woody Incident" was
something that happened "off-screen", as in "before I discovered
racc".  This actually made it easier to write for the LNH once I
finally started doing so.  The current StarFall universe has back-
story that's just now being referenced (hell, Robin and I are still
*inventing* it! :) ), as there's a good ten years between the
"divergence point" and the "present".  I'm sure sooner or later one of
us - or maybe someone else - is going to say, "What about the original
Sentinel's adventures?" and we'll write it.

A few years ago, there was a movie out - _Push_ - which hinted at a
larger world of hidden (and not-so-hidden) psychics. As I understand
it, there are no sequels or derivative works in progress; however, the
movie was written in such a way as to both stand on its own and
provide a framework for such works.  One of the games on my RPG
prospectus last year was a derivative of it; set in the same world,
but detached from the movie enough that someone probably wouldn't even
need to see the movie in order to be in the game.

I had a whole section planned for a huge 75-year DC and Marvel shared
universe diatribe... but I just can't seem to not ramble incoherently
about it. Maybe later in the thread.

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