Favourite Universes
  • Since most people here are GIGANTIC NERDS, I expect that some of you have some fictional universes that you've become fairly heavily invested into and grown to love over the years. Whether it's Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or My Little Pkdsfajkfh, or maybe a D&D campaign or something like Eve Online, there's probably at least one universe you feel an attachment to. What is it and why? How did you get introduced to it? Do you still 'partake' in it (whether through gaming, reading, etc.)? I'll start the ball rolling:

    Star Wars:

    I love Star Wars. Seriously, I am a huge Star Wars nerd. I've played almost every video game, read about 100 books in the expanded universe, frequently trowel the Star Wars wiki (affectionately known as Wookieepedia), and in a fit of childish glee, I once watched Episode 1 six times in a row in one sitting while I was sick at home during fifth grade. Because Star Wars is so big, the EU has attracted some serious writing talent. The universe is so expansive that it has something for everyone, and the pulp adventure feel still permeates through much of the added work. I love the neon flooded lights of planets like Nar Shaddaa and Coruscant, to the relative obscurity of Tatooine, to the party atmosphere of Zeltron. The EU and the movies feature some of my favourite fictional characters, from Vergere to Boba Fett, and one of my favourite short stories of all time. 

    Forgotten Realms:

    Probably my favourite fantasy universe, partly on the backs of games like Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, and a famous drow by the name of Drizzt Do'Urden. The Forgotten Realms setting of D&D is dark, full of calamity, and features an onslaught of video games and novels, the former mostly good, the latter a bit more hit and miss, but chock-full of some awesome characters and some of the most well realized fantasy locations around, like the famous city of Neverwinter. The fictional works in this universe have spanned some 15,000 odd in-universe years, really bested only by Star Wars and perhaps the Lord of the Rings.

    Magic: The Gathering

    I first fell in love with the card game, way back around the year 2001, and then the lore by the way of what was the best flavour text in any TCG. I remember working with a friend to build "lore significant" decks; decks that were based off of characters that played large roles in the novels. Speaking of the novels, there are some legitimately awesome books in MtG. The Kamigawa Cycle, for instance, is one of my favourite fantasy series' of any universe, and features some of my favourite fantasy characters, too.


    Warcraft 3 is an RTS with an actual good story, with several moral conundrums at its heart that aren't easy decisions to make. And while Blizzard, since then, haven't been the best at video game storytelling, they are arguably one of the best at crafting lore. Blizzard has a sense of humour, oftentimes black humour, the permeates many of its games, but in Warcraft in particular, there is plenty of humour to be had in games like World of Warcraft. And the depth and breadth of lore, from the sprawling underbelly of the Undercity, to the crafty humour of Goblins, to the lush tropics and relative anarchy of Straglethorn Vale, has always been impressive. WoW was one of my favourite MMOs not only because it was fun to play, but because it was so fun to just soak in and explore.

    The Elder Scrolls:

    The Elder Scrolls games have so much lore it's intimidating. Try reading the books that have populated the series since Morrowind, and you will quite literally be reading for weeks and weeks. Somewhat like Warcraft, the Elder Scrolls has an excellent streak of black humour running through it, but with a darker tone. There are some fantastic creations here, too, from the moral apathy of the Daedric Princes, to the tantalizingly unknown populations that live in Akavir. The Elder Scrolls, while like many fantasy universes is built on the foundations of LotR, deviates enough to feel different, particularly in its mysticism and racial diversity. The unofficial TES wiki is one of the best wikis out there, too, a fantastic time burner and one I've spent hours and hours browsing. If you ever want to talk about nooks and crannies of lore in every step and breath, just plug in any of the TES games. I've put hundreds of hours into them and still find new things just about every time I play.

    Command & Conquer:

    I have to mention C&C because it's just goddamn hilarious. While not exactly known for its lore like the previous entries on the list, it is without a doubt one of the most delightfully cheesy and consistently inconsistent creations that exists, whether you're playing the real world alternate timeline of Red Alert, or trying to recover an earth slowly wasting away to the toxic effects of Tiberium in the main series, the B-grade live action cutscenes and awesome self-awareness have always made watching the games almost as fun as playing them.

    Lord of the Rings:

    Yeah, yeah, it's Lord of the Rings; it's expansive, it's got some of the best characters in any fictional work, it's heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching, and for one man to have created it is rather astounding. Nothing I can say about it hasn't already been said, but it's fantastic.

    What about the rest of you?

    Noobied by 18drawt
  • Marvel and Nexus in comics.  Can't believe no one is making a Nexus film, with a Judah the Hammer sequel.  Charles Stross and his Laundry series are an amazing combination of terror and humor, just Cthullu meets Marx Brothers Kafka.  David Brin's Uplift universe has one of the simplest and best core concepts of all time.  Yeah, the second trilogy kinda sucked, but every human should read Startide Rising.  The galaxy that Vernor Vinge has been describing since Fire Upon the Deep is also a world to get lost lost in.  Nobody does truly alien aliens like Vinge.  Star Trek, of course, but I am a big Babylon 5 guy, JMS is a god.  I cannot think of a gaming universe that really stacks up, but I do likes me some Fallout.  That world just seems so shallow compared to some real books.
    Noobied by 1GoodEnoughForMe
  • Whether it's comics or the animated universe; I've always been a fan of DC, prior to the New 52. They were willing to give creators control so that their ideas and imaginations could flourish and really create an expansive history with wonderful contrasts in tone due to the variety of characters they had to offer. This opened the doorway to variety in regards to the kinds of stories that could be told, and that way you'd never get bored in their universe. 
    Noobied by 1GoodEnoughForMe
  • Star Wars and Tolkein's Middle Earth are the two mainstays, definitely.  There was a point where I knew the family trees of all the main Elven families and I used to obsessively read and re-read The Silmarillion when I was a spotty teen.  Did you know that the line that ends in Aragorn and his marriage to Arwen contains representatives from all the major houses of both the Men and Elves in Middle Earth?

    More recently...

    Iain M Banks' Culture - a really interesting universe as it's set in a super-advanced, post-scarcity galaxy but where things are still messed-up although messed-up in different ways.  The range of invention that Banks brings to each of his books is mind-boggling - in the various species that he creates and the complex situations that arise and it's all helped along by a witty, naturalistic writing style that (personally) I find really engaging.  Best of all, you can enjoy the story, the universe and the adventures that the likable, readable characters go on, or you can dig into the underlying themes that Banks is trying to explore by holding a futuristic mirror up to our own society.

    China Mieville's Bas Lag - Discovered these when I was in my phase of picking up random Sci-Fi and Fantasy books from the local library.  Kind of similar to the Culture, but in a steam-punk-ish (although apparently he doesn't like the term steam-punk) world of freakish magic and grimy technology.  The stories are dark and haunting and the things that he comes up with to populate the world will blow your mind - look up Handlingers and the Weaver for examples of crazy creations that come from nowhere.

    Mass Effect - say what you like about the games (and it seems that you can even be vaguely interested in games and not hold an opinion on ME these days), the Universe of Mass Effect is pretty incredible.  In a short time it has leapt up to stand close estimation to Star Wars in my affections.

    Some great recommendations in this thread - a good setting is almost as important to me as the story itself in works of fiction.  I really should play an Elder Scrolls game one day.  To think I nearly picked up Skyrim instead of Dark Souls back in 2011...
  • Gundam, just for the mechs.

    Hunter X Hunter, because it's a great universe with so much to be done still.

    Star Wars, because it's fucking STAR WARS!

    FLCL, just for the lulz.

    Mass Effect, for the bitches.
    Noobied by 1GoodEnoughForMe
  • I'll stick to universes that have appeared in games (video and tabletop) or the list will never end.

    Middle Earth - hard to think of another universe so fleshed out and having as much depth.

    Cyberpunk (R Talsorian Games version) - The definitive Cyberpunk game is Cyberpunk 2020 hands down.

    Battletech/Mechwarrior (FASA) - Again, just so well fleshed out. Plus mechs, clans, bromance and romance, it has it all.

    Deadlands - Steampunk zombie cowboys. Fuck yes.

    Boletaria/Lordran - Broken kingdoms from Demon and Dark Souls respectively. Made great by the vagueness of it all, providing just enough hints for a perceptive player to put the pieces together without stepping on the toes of that gamer's imagination to fill in the blanks. These worlds are at the same time a shared experience, and yet remain unique for everyone based on their own personal experiences within them.

    Monkey Island - I want to be a pirate. This series is packed with memorable characters and The Ghost Pirate LeChuck is one of my most memorable game villains of all time, plus the islands of this fictional Caribbean are still fun to visit.

    There's so many others that I love; Pandora, Rapture, USG Ishimura, Third Street Saints, etc.

    Good setting + good lore + memorable characters = Happy chappy.

    I can forgive an average plot if the above conditions are met. Star Wars went from one of my most loved, to most despised series with all the revisions, gaping plot holes, assaults on logic and common sense, horrendous writing and 1 dimensional characters, and all the other stupid shit that's been jammed up the asshole of that series.

  • Dr Flibble:

    Boletaria/Lordran - Broken kingdoms from Demon and Dark Souls respectively. Made great by the vagueness of it all, providing just enough hints for a perceptive player to put the pieces together without stepping on the toes of that gamer's imagination to fill in the blanks. These worlds are at the same time a shared experience, and yet remain unique for everyone based on their own personal experiences within them. 

    Yes!  This!  That delicate balance of providing enough back story to make your world come to life but leaving enough detail to the readers/viewers/players imagination is I think the one thing that separates so many works of fiction from greatness.  I couldn't have worded it better myself, Flib.  Perfect!

    You mention Star Wars and how it used to be great but now isn't?  Think about the difference between the first films set 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away' where oblique mentions are made of 'the Clone Wars' or the 'Jedi Order' without ever explaining anything fully.  Then think about the Phantom Menace where Qui-Gon Bloody Jin sits the audience down and says 'Look, motherfuckers.  It's not magic, there's these little things that live in our blood called midichlorians, and that's where the Force comes from. OK?'.

    On a smaller scale, the second Highlander film reveals that the mystical immortals who have been battling throughout eternity to decide the fate of the planet are, in fact, aliens.  From the planet Zeiss.  Give me strength...
  • Littleg I have so many issues with what's been done to Star Wars I dare not open that Pandora's Box again. It'd be like a war vet recalling the horrors.

    I remember going to the premiere of the Phantom Menace with a couple of friends and the crowd was electric. The opening credits started to roll and people were going nuts. And then the movie started. I remember at the end the 3 of us just looked at each other, we all knew we'd just sat through a Lucas brain fart but nobody could bring themselves to actually say the words "That was crap". On the trip home we barely spoke about the movie we'd just seen, and instead talked about what the 2nd episode might be like.

    If you haven't seen the Plinkett reviews of the new trilogy I highly recommend you do. He nails everything that went wrong with those movies. His review of the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is just as good too. You can find them all on YouTube.

    Highlander was hilariously bad. Sean Connery, an actual Scotsman, cast a Spaniard, while Christopher Lambert, a Frenchman, plays the Scotsman. Brilliant! Christopher Lambert must have some hidden talent somewhere; he managed to marry Sophie Marceau after all. The 2nd movie was so awful they just pretended it had never happened in Highlander 3. And Highlander 3 was also stupid in its own right. There can be only 1.....and 1 more buried under a mountain. But it was still better than 2. Did you ever watch the TV series? It also made little sense.
  • Doctor Who, LOTR, and Star Wars!
  • I keep meaning to watch those Plinkett reviews - they're the ones that are the same length as the original film, right?  Must get round to them at some point...

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