Monday, March 2, 2015

Ways & Sigils

When humanity discovered there was a way to cheat relativity, we would, to our surprise, that it was a lot like magic. The paths that shortcut distance and connected many universes were built by ancients no species remembered--though everyone had stories. A popular one was that the precursor culture came from outside the ordered universes, from a manifold or bulk whose physical laws would have been more familiar to Jung or Frazer than Einstein or Hawking. We called it "hyperspace." It sounded more scientific than "the astral plane."

Computers, even the most advanced AI, were mostly confused by the ways. They could tell you a lot about the apertures, but they couldn't decipher the symbols that needed to be inscribed on the surface of hulls of craft in order to make the apertures open or to arrive safely at a desired destination. And so the casters arose; they were people with the mental aptitude to understand the ways and create the symbols needed to traverse them successfully. With a good caster, a vessel can get almost anywhere.

Sometimes, though, ships wind up someplace other than their intended destination or just disappear entirely. At times the casting is probably to blame; encoding multidimensional state vectors into a compressed symbolic representation has always been more intuition than science, and the internal state of the caster has always been a variable. Sometimes there's just a glitch--an act of god, you might say. Who knows what might distract the hypersophont entites or idiot gods in the machine of the multiverse that "read" the sigils and guide ships to their destinations?

So the lucky and lost just wind up making an extra stop or two before their final destination. The unlucky truly lost disappear entirely. But there are a few, the stories say, that turn after a long absence with strange stories. There's a city at the center of the multiverse, these haunted-eyed travelers say. A city where castaway alien vessels from infinite universes wind up. A city so vast, so old, so integral, that it doesn't have a name, just a single location sigil-- the Sigil. That's what they call it.


6 comments:

Jay Dugger said...

s/would/found/

Dale Houston said...

Beautiful! I've been adding more scifi into my fantasy over the years and this ties things up nicely with the planescape business as well. Thanks :D

seaofstarsrpg said...

Excellent as always.

Reminds me of faster than light travel from the Andromeda TV series: "Slipstream: It's not the best way to travel faster than light, it's just the only way."

Porky said...

There might be a word missing in that first sentence, but as written it sounds suitably rigoro-fantastic: "humanity discovered there was a way cheat relativity" - a relativity based on cheat codes maybe, opening up new ways.

Trey said...

Thanks guys!

@Porky - Thanks for making a cool turn out of my typo. :)

Porky said...

It makes me think cheat codes could be inserted into a similar setting, and maybe actually as words or the equivalent, a little like lexical Easter eggs, and even do double duty as words of significance or power in that location. Maybe that wasn't a typo...