This got more and more complex as I contemplated it.
Halfterlife was one of those urban legends found among various post-mortal, extra-dimensional, and intangible supernatural entities until about twenty years ago, when somebody finally found it, then came back to tell everybody else how to get there. ‘Everybody else’ not including the mortal races, of course. Particularly humanity, or at least the mortal part of it. That species has a real knack at acquiring all the best real and unreal estate.
Halfterlife is a self-contained pocket universe that appears to be a half-finished afterlife (hence the name). There’s a lot of landscape, and even a bunch of architecture — but there’s almost no furnishings, and pretty much no lore whatsoever. It seems to be set up on the classic Good Place / Bad Place / Stuck In-Between Place model, and maybe there were one or more polytheistic pantheons involved (hard to tell from the floor layouts). The environmental tolerances are all within the standard human norm, but the climate isn’t noticeably different in any particular place, and no one area seems to be any more ominous or transcendent than any other. There seems to be a standard day-night format, but there is no sun or moon. ‘Stars’ at night, though, with about two-fifths of the night sky simply blank (just as if the work was interrupted in mid-stride).
There’s plenty of water in Halfterlife – lakes, streams, rivers, at least one ocean — but there was no life of any kind when the place was discovered. The new inhabitants have introduced their own flora and fauna into the place, with a militant disregard for any kind of balanced ecosystem; surprisingly, the introduced species have generally thrived, including things that are normally incompatible with each other (like ghost trees and feral zombie sloths). Outside of the major settlements, the countryside can get very, very strange.
Right now, the following factions (and others) have colonized Halfterlife:
- The New Fae. Various refugees from the Seelie and Unseelie Courts who were banished for allowing themselves to be too thoroughly defined by modern fantasy and horror fiction. Generally speaking, they’re… well, unlike regular Fae you don’t have to shoot them on sight.
- The Lost Infernal Legion. Originally refugees from the wrong side in a particular universe’s Armageddon, this mercenary group now merely hires itself out to whoever can pay them to fight. They’ve long since stopped caring if ‘whoever’ is an angel; indeed, by now the Legion has outcast angels in their ranks, too. Hey, when the guy with the flaming sword is Smiting the bastard trying to eviscerate you then it’s maybe not the time for racial prejudice, right?
- The Zombie Collective. Humans only see the stupid zombies; the ones who can’t control their hunger at the smell of a fresh brain. The smart ones are always looking for a safe place to hide from people; the smart and lucky ones have gotten themselves to Halfterlife, where they can practice their own disgusting, but not actually unethical, form of agriculture.
- Monster Liberation Front. These guys, girls, and associated others are involuntary refugees. They didn’t want to run away from Earth, and they want to go back. They’re also even more vulnerable to human belief than the Fae are, which makes them both wary of humanity, and extremely cranky towards them.
- The Figments. Refugees from lost timelines, victims of reality quakes and dimensional shifts, the human detritus cast up from the collision of two universes at once, ghosts that could not or would not move on — these poor intangible unfortunates had nothing on Earth but painful memories. Halfterlife was a miracle to them; they can touch things here again.
Note, by the way, that nobody knows who made Halfterlife. And nobody knows where the creators of the place went. And nobody knows if Halfterlife’s creators are coming back, either. But one thing is for sure: if the creators do come back, they’re going to have to fight for the place.