Xanadu (setting)

From Shifti
Jump to: navigation, search

Sometime in 2000 or 2001 Bryan Derksen had a talk with Xodiac and it sparked off an idea. A few months and a lot of conversations later and the Xanadu universe was born.

For Shifti-hosted Xanadu stories, see Category:Xanadu.


First came "NMF" (No More Fakes) in which an a dimension traveling wizard turns all the people at the "Raucous Chicken Clubs" annual Halloween Party into their costumes. But the person in control of that setting was very detail oriented, requiring that people writing in the universe mention every event that has happened in another story – if they were in the room where the event happened and even if it had no bearing on the story. Concerns over that that simple fact led Xodiac to talk to Bryan about a story he was working on. That single conversation gave Bryan the idea to try and fix the situation. The result was a new setting – Xanadu – kicked off by the story of the same name.


It's on the November long weekend during some indeterminate year[1] Eric Winters, a rich and somewhat eccentric man, decides to bankroll a costume contest at the Kubla Con convention—known for it's costumes and somewhat wild nature. That year the con is overflowing, and Eric Winters himself brings an ancient Native American artifact – a raven mask. At the start of the awards ceremony he dons the mask and a blast of magic flashes out, effecting the entire convention center and its grounds, turning everyone into their costume. Eric Winters himself turns completely into a raven.

The Transformation

The transformation isn't into the costume exactly, but into what the costume represents. This means that two people wearing identical costumes could turn into two different things, and any powers you gain are controlled by what you believe to be true about the character. For instance, two people go to Xanadu as Superman – one has seen the movies and knows only what they show about Superman's powers and is rarely in character and the other is a “superfan”, knows everything about Superman and portrays the character exactly. The first turns gains the powers and weaknesses of Superman that were shown in the movies while the “superfan” gains all the powers and weaknesses ever created for Superman in all the media and becomes Superman to the extent that he no longer remembers having once been just a fan.[2]

The Setting

Note that an author is free to ignore many of the details established by other stories if they get in the way of their own story, and conversely it is best if authors try to avoid introducing major events in their stories that other authors wouldn't be able to plausibly ignore in turn. These collected setting details are intended as a useful source of inspiration, not as a straitjacket. One should never feel "required" to make mention of events that occurred in someone else's writing.

Kubla Con takes place at “Xanadu” — the name given, lovingly and as a sly pun, to wherever the con is being held — in this case the "Orlando Convention Center". This non-existent (in the real world) location is a rather large convention center and hotel. The convention fills both the hotel and convention center – with various “SIG‘s’ (Special Interest Groups) housed in the smaller convention/meeting rooms in the hotel proper and the various parts of the convention center filled with the sponsored features of the con.

As the Orlando Convention Center is in Orlando, Florida, it is subject to Florida's weather. However, as the convention takes place in early November, the weather is fairly temperate. Days don't get much warmer than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and nights rarely drop below a cool 50 degrees, and for a time the skies are fairly sunny. In other words, the temperature isn't much of an issue.

At current there have been shown to be at least 8 large rooms in the convention center:

  1. The outer ‘Mall’—a large atrium-like structure that sits at the main entrance to the convention center.[3]
  2. The "Ceremony" room—where the Awards Ceremony is being held when the explosion of magic occurs[4]
  3. The Judging Room—where the costumes are judged.[5]
  4. Lobby—the lobby where the convention center connects to the hotel.[6]
  5. The Restaraunt/Food Court—this is where people at the con got their food.[6]
  6. Adult Contest Room(s)—The con has always been split, with "Adult" and/or Pornographic costumes having their own judging and section of the convention.[7]
  7. Dealers Room(s)—where else are you going to get nifty con schwag?[8]
  8. 'Main Ballroom'—The largest room of the Convention Center. This is the main floor of the con.[9]

The hotel itself has been described in nearly every story. It's at least 10 stories tall, has several different classes of rooms—including some meeting rooms large enough to a battalion of Clone Troopers and related Jedi. The hotel is very modern, with a wide mix of rooms—Eric Winters booked a complete suite of rooms for himself—but most people staying at the hotel for the con have "singles" – that is the smallest class of room, consisting of little more than a 15x20 foot room and an attached bathroom. And as a modern hotel, there aren't classic keys, but key-cards—a laminated paper card with a magnetic strip on the back[10].

The Aftermath

When news of the event finally reached the world outside the convention the whole convention center was locked down – first by the Orlando police and later by the US Government. This lock-down lasted more than a week, as the government interviewed everyone that was transformed to determine if they posed a threat to the public. But the lock-down came too late and, as it covered such a large area, was as leaky as a sieve. People got out and left the grounds and people broke in (after dark) and stole things from the convention.[11]

There are numerous Superheroes and super-powered people that escaped—including a number of Jedi and several characters from popular Anime like "DragonBall Z"—and a lot of more "normal" transformations, including some people that don't appear to have transformed at all. But most people stayed at the convention center—the hotel finding room to house them[12].

During the week or two after the event and during the period of the quarantine the Superheroes that have not left the convention center grounds have banded together and begun working as an unofficial security detail. Those transformed into characters from "Star Wars" have split into a few factions. The largest one, composed mostly of stormtroopers and villains from the movies, is the 501ist, but a different one, composed of clone troopers, has begun following "Revan" – a Jedi from the "Knights of the Old Republic" video game. The government hired one "Dr. Sands" – what was at the convention as "Dr. Benton Quest" – to handle the exit interviews with the transformed people.

When the quarantine was lifted and the hotel returned to normal most people returned to their old lives. But there are several groups that have sprung up – the government has setup a program that recruits the transformed people with special abilities, with the mandate of determining how a lot of the technology that came from the transformation works so that it can be replicated. There is also a group based around a company calling itself "The Real Stark Industries", centered around someone that went to Xanadu as Iron Man and who gained Tony Starks remarkable intelligence and inventive spirit.

Setting Rules

  1. People become what their costume represents to them—not necessarily exactly what they were dressed as in every detail. Thus, two people with identical costumes might turn into two different things; for instance, one person in a mouse costume might become a normal mouse, whereas someone else in an identical costume might become a mouse morph. In either case the person could potentially become mouse-sized. A person in a Godzilla costume could become a dozen stories tall—unless the wearer thought of himself as a human-sized Godzilla.
  2. People can gain (or lose) powers and abilities due to what they were wearing. But it has to have been in their mind when they devised the costume, so two identical superheroes might not become equally powered, because one is a major fan and knows everything, but the other doesn't know that the character is immune to acid, or whatever.
  3. Transformations generally occur quickly, but exceptions can be made. Godzilla might start out human sized but grow over the next week or more into the huge beast we all know.
  4. No transformations or scenes should be written that another writer—or every other writer—would be REQUIRED to mention to prove they were there. So Godzilla will not become a dozen stories tall immediately, and your character won't demolish the hotel upon leaving.
  5. The transformation occurred throughout the hotel. You can write your transformation in your hotel room if you so wish.
  6. There are no rules for what happens to someone who is wearing only part of their costume when the change occurs. What happens then is up to you; I can think of four or five possibilities straight off. The details of how magical "super-technology" works is also unspecified, but for the most part it cannot be reverse engineered by current-day science, even by the person whose costume it was a part of. A stormtrooper cannot make a duplicate laser rifle, though he might be able to repair the one he has or perhaps make a replacement rifle if his old one is destroyed.
  7. The change IS reversible, if you so wish. For most people, getting back to normal is their goal, and it can theoretically be accomplished. A permanent cure should not be as easy as finding someone who was a wizard and asking him to cast a spell. This should be a very difficult thing and any cure should not be generally applicable to the Xanadu population at large. If you prefer your character to be absolutely and irrevocably stuck in their form until the end of time, then that's certainly allowed too.
  8. Mental changes depend, once more, on exactly how the person thought of himself. The mouse might become fully mentally a mouse and run for the nearest cracks, or he may retain full reason and even the ability to talk. The mouse morph might gain some instincts, or it might simply be himself in a new body. Godzilla might go on a rampage through Orlando, where the convention is set, or he might be terribly apologetic about stepping on those tourists. (It should be added that the rampage is discouraged, in keeping with rules 4 and 10.)
  9. In some cases the clothing a conventioneer was wearing was viewed as an integral part of what they were supposed to be. For example, a ballerina isn't a ballerina if she isn't wearing a tutu; she's just some ordinary girl. As a result, being "stuck in ballerina form" necessarily restricts what kind of clothing one can wear. If the subject tries to put on something inappropriate, the clothing can temporarily TF into something that is appropriate for as long as it's worn. The clothing TFs back to its original form when removed again. Alternately, inappropriate clothing may simply fall apart. Note that this clothing thing is entirely optional; authors can use it or not at their discretion.
  10. No world-shattering characters or events, please. Others want to write too.
  11. Remember, if in doubt, ask yourself if whatever it is you're thinking of doing will 1) help the plot, and 2) not destroy the setting for other writers. If the answer is yes to them both, it probably is legal. Probably.


  1. Actually there was a specific year set at one point. But Bryan has since removed it.
  2. Xanadu FAQ
  3. Mentioned in "The Care Bears Caper" and "Ami's Song"
  4. Mentioned in "Xanadu" and several others
  5. This has been mentioned in passing, but, to the knowledge of the maintainer of the official archive, has not been directly described
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Liquid Courage" and several others
  7. "Horse and Rider" and others
  8. "Slinx" and others
  9. "Far Indeed from Sherwood Forest" and almost every other story
  10. Yes, like a cheap credit-card
  11. See 'Slinx' for the latter
  12. presumably at the governments expense, though this has not, to my knowledge, been discussed. Although it may be that Eric Winters is paying for it all