This file describes some miscellaneous things about Multiverse culture, physical environment, phenomenon, and such.
The Unified world, also known informally as the Multiverse, is an extremely unusual physical configuration. In truth, it is unlike anything ever encountered before by most civilizations. The overall shape seems to be circular, as if a planet. However, attempts to dig deep, towards the center of the form, have turned up with little result. Further, extremely deep pockets of 'void' exist - up to a quarter of a lightyear in depth - apparently having properties similar with outer space. The entire circumference of the Multiverse is estimated to be approximately one lightyear - however, this is only an estimate, and likely out of date, as by most accounts, the Multiverse is growing as more and more worlds are Unified.
The closest thing to a central location the Multiverse has is the Center of the Multiverse, an apparent "ground zero" for the entire Unification. This area seems to have even more bizarre physical characteristics than the rest of the Multiverse and is generally unpassable. More information on the Center is available in 'news source material'.
Individual physics of different areas vary greatly by location. Most adhere to classical Earth physics, or similarities thereof. However, there are oddities - for example, gravity neutral areas, supergravitational areas, and even stranger areas (including, in all likelihood, some otherwise nonsensical areas, such as those with euclidian geometry ruling reality).
The Multiverse was founded approximately 13 Earth years ago by an unknown group of apparent demigods known as the Custodians. There has been exactly one confirmed, direct contact with the Custodians, known as the Oblivion incident. This consisted of a malevolent entity, apparently the result of damage to a previous attempt at creating a multiverse which self-destructed, as well as other intrusions into Multiverse space. Some locations of this failed Multiverse still exist, such as Dark Kanto; these regions are extremely hazardous and hostile. The motives of the Custodians remain unknown, as well as any other failed Multiverses or any other 'projects' the Custodians may have up their sleeves.
One of the strangest parts of the Multiverse is the Void. Not unlike an ocean of sheer nothingness, it traverses the Multiverse, sometimes going under or THROUGH otherwise solid rock. The exact composition of the Void is unknown; however, it behaves extremely similarly to outer space for all practical purposes. In fact, millions of planets, with their own solar systems, reside in this void. Physics itself seems to have changed on a vast scale here, allowing planets that shouldn't be anywhere near each other to coexist in very close proximity without any real danger of collision, nor untoward solar or gravitational effects. For the most part, only planets with notable resources or populations have been brought over. The Void itself is filled with an amorphous aether-like substance that is extremely difficult to analyze. However, it seems to allow for most, if not all beings, to survive in it for at least a limited time. The aether is breathable, and there is sufficient pressure to avoid severe injury. However, the deeper you go in the void, the harsher the conditions, particularly from temperature and radiation; as such, although short-term survival is possible, most beings that are not capable of space travel otherwise will very soon be injured or killed by the harsh environment if they do not return to an atmospheric zone.
In the vicinity of the MUSH's main game grid there are two primary supernations - the Union and the Confederacy. Both are described further in other news files. However, they are by no means the only supernations in the entire Unified world. There are numerous supernations out there - some smaller than the two main factions, some doubtlessly larger - possibly much larger. Other supernations are generally TP only fodder; for the moment, the Union and Confederacy seem to have a definite stranglehold on the power in this area, along with various neutral territories which control their own lands and possibly other areas. Furthermore, all other supernations are extremely far flung from the region of the MUSH where the grid is - which is, truth be told, a relatively small area. In general, no other supernations can really afford to have a permanent meaningful foothold around these parts.
All languages spoken by at least one living sentient person are understood by any sentient being that understands any language. This language is NOT changed in any way - someone speaks in Klingon, but you don't know Klingon, you HEAR Klingon and you understand it anyway. This does not convey an ability to speak in it - if you only know how to speak English, you can only speak English. Non-sentient computer systems and most magical systems are also able to understand languages universeally; an interesting phenomenon seems to be that they seem to somehow register the speech in their native language. Written languages are a different story - although extremely common languages are usually understandable by others, this is often not the case; the more escoteric the language, the less likely it is you understand it at all. Particularly ancient languages are all but indecipherable, and even still, most unfamiliar written communications will require the work of powerful artificial intelligence as well as skilled linguists and interpreters to decode. In general computer algorithms are used to afford the ability to read other common written languages.
It should be noted that languages have to be based on certain ways of thinking in order to be understood. For instance, if you have three species that speak metaphor-based languages and three species that speak human-based languages, each with fundamentally different brain structure and operation, the human-based species will be able to speak to each other, and the metaphor-based species will be able to speak to each other, but at least so far as the Multiverse's automatic translation system works, they will be highly unlikely to come up with anything meaningful when a human-based and metaphor-based species try to communicate with each other. Furthermore, things like speed come into play (going too fast will either come up as abreviations - which may or may not make any sense - or come out as gibberish). Note that this also does NOT constitute that foreign concepts are communicated; if you've never seen a car, you may identify the word 'car' and be able to use that new word, but you won't know what it is.
TECHNOLOGY AND MAGIC
The overall availability of technology and magic within the Multiverse in supernations is fairly high. Both the Union and Confederacy should have access to extremely powerful weapons and defensive systems, medical magic and tech that allows for very rapid healing, rapid transportation, and other things along those lines. This is due in part to the pooling of the vast resources of the states and nations that compose these supernations. Outside the supernations, the availability of these things varies greatly, from almost none to levels as high as in supernations. Nevertheless, getting around should not usually be a problem, and losing a limb or an organ isn't that big a deal (so long as you're able to get to medical attention before you bleed out, that is).
The Multiverse, being the vast and changing landscape that it is, cannot rely on simple point-to-point transmissions for its communication needs. Instead, it relies on a variety of methods; the most common by far is a technological or magical mesh network. This network works something like the cellular phone network in modern countries today - communicators transmit to reciever towers, which relay and route the data as necessary to its location. The communication systems are patchy in some areas, but are fairly ubiquitous throughout the supernations. Outside of the supernations, the communication systems are mostly run by various private organizations and smaller governments, such as Cirrus and Marine City. They are also responsible for the limited network traffic that passes between the Union and Confederate networks. This is to some extent tolerated by both sides as they allow one to peep into the other's networks, no matter how slightly; nevertheless, it is carefully monitored by both sides, as well as outsiders who may be interested in tapping into this network for possible valuable data to sell to the highest bidder. This is the medium that most radios use, such as the coded radio channels (like IC-Broadband) and unit-to-unit radio transmission.
Communications can also be suplemented by active-scan satalites which work with military communicators, allowing transmissions back to the native network while in enemy territory. Due to the highly patchy nature of the territory in the Multiverse, this is difficult to stop; nevertheless, both sides continually struggle to block enemy traffic from being sent to or recieved from points in their territory, usually with mixed results.
Computer data is transmitted in binary format via a universal Internet format known as IPv9, capable of addressing quadrillions of different computers at once. As converting all Internet systems would be impractical, especially for newly merged worlds, typically automatic translation software is used at the points where a local network meets the larger network. Magic-based data usually converts back and forth from computer data via dedicated magic-to-tech conversion machinery.
Despite the ENORMOUS amount of changes to many worlds, many populations remain relatively heterogenous and in their native environment. This is for a variety of reasons - not wanting to leave home, fear, but most of all, practicality. It is not easy nor always fesable for large numbers of people to move from one area of the Multiverse to a distant alternate world. Compare the problem of space travel in a series such as Star Trek; one will often find that "home planets" have a large number of people who have never been into space, and typically have mostly their native species populating the planet. This is for similar reasons. Nevertheless, large-scale movements can and do happen; it's just not all that common.
Most worlds have their own economic systems; however, as cross-world trade occured, new transitions to new systems had to be made. In approximately 7 AU, both the Union and the Confederacy issued their own currency, consisting of paper and coin-based money with magic anti-tamper and anti-counterfeit measures. This currency also has standardized electronic and magic forms which are used for things such as wireless monetary transfers. Despite claims by both supernations as to the superiority of their own monetary unit, the general viewpoint of the local Multiverse (reflected in exchange rates) is that Union and Confederation credits are roughly in perpetual lockstep with one another (though one may be somewhat more advantageous over another at any given moment), and are both maintained independantly by their own indexes, which use typical market forces and federal monetary regulation to determine their value, along with comparisons to a fixed list of valuable rare materials that are considered too costly to replicate on a large scale or cannot be replicated at all, such as latinum or dilithium. Stock markets are typically based on individual worlds and maintained there, although off-world investment does happen, usually using either Union or Confederate credits. There is very little in the way of a single centralized stock market for either supernation, although the idea has been considered and may one day be implemented.
The warp gate network proliferates throughout the Multiverse, which is responsible for the utterly bizarre setup for the borders for supernations (and sometimes even within Unified worlds that got splayed in different areas). Billions of these devices of varying size and shape are available. Most are roughly the size of a few cars. Each warp gate is capable of reaching a certain number of destinations, usually most warp gates that are relatively nearby, and major distant warp gates. Larger warp gates are usually found near large cities. Destination is usually selected through an apparently telepathic means, although it's possible to follow someone's warp gate wake to attempt pursuit. Warp gates seem to develop whenever the map shifts for Unification; it is speculated that the Custodians are somehow responsible for the network's operation. Several entities, including the Union and Confederacy, have been able to create their own warp gates that tap into the regular network. These are relatively easily controlled by their owners; however, general purpose, public warp gates are very difficult to control and cannot typically be controlled directly; as such, many larger warp gates are often patrolled by soldiers constantly to avoid potential invasion or security breaches. It is, however, hardly unknown for determined troops, particularly the elites of either major faction, to manage to bypass these security measures to some extent.
It is important to note that the applicability of warp gates to different types of travel is limited. Though most sentient beings can pass through without much of a problem, larger mass that is not directly connected to these beings has a hard time getting through, as it seems to "deplete" the warp gate. Scientists conjecture that this has something to do with the warp gate utilizing quantum probability mixed with sentience in order to subtly shift reality, allowing for rapid movement incurring very little power loss; as such, nonsentient mass has a much harder time getting through. Thus, large scale movement of material, as well as large-scale non-routine population movement, is typically done by vehicles, most often aquatic, airborn, or spaceborn.
Several attempts have been made to clone a warp gate system; some species, in fact, came to the Multiverse with something very similar in place. However, none of them has managed to reach the sheer proliferation of the warp gate system, and thus their applicability remains somewhat limited, and is usually localized to a handful of related locations.
Aging is a strange thing in the Multiverse. For the vast majority of cases, aging seems to have slowed greatly, if not stopped entirely. It seems that biological longevity is no longer a serious problem, or at least is a greatly diminished problem, for organic beings (although long-term ramifications of this on things such as neural stability and sanity are of course completely unknown at this time). Aging continues as normal in all biological species until maturity or near maturity. Usually, but not always, the aging either applies or does not apply to an entire particular world, with some exceptions. However, aging is something of a moot point; given the medical technology available, de-aging treatments are rather easy to get ahold of, often with minimal ill effects, effectively granting the subject, with continued treatments, the same longevity as their unaging counterparts.
Time seems to have been changed radically in the Multiverse; different pieces of the same world from different times tend to merge with no apparent temporal distortion, and time travelers can no longer travel through time. It is not entirely certain just how time works in the Multiverse, but it is certain to be somewhat alien compared to what most time travelers are used to. Time travelers can sometimes manage to use their powers to give them rather flexible transportation or teleportation powers, as something of a consolation prize; however, time travel is generally not fesable. Certain events, particularly some during the Oblivion crisis of AU 12, showed that at the very least time travel IS possible (albiet likely undesirable), and multiple futures exist for the Multiverse as a whole.
Racism varies greatly from world to world; some have almost none, some have a great deal. Both the Union and Confederacy strongly discourage racism, and have passed laws to attempt to do away with it, which have been largely successful, resulting in it no longer generally being practiced in either supernation (although old habits die hard, and a relatively few regions are vastly less accomodating than others). Nevertheless, the simple fact of the matter is, for most things people are more than willing to take your money, and whether you're black or white or Vulcan or Klingon or a thirty foot tall transforming robot doesn't really matter so long as you have enough green, at least insofar as commerce.