Umbrellas All the Way Down
Our world, except the fabric of reality is made of the crappiest fabric imaginable.
Absurdist/eldritch/comedy horror amalgamation
Same as in the real world, but supernatural phenomena is generally recognized as such.
Same as our universe--no one has the faintest clue. The Big Bang is a popular theory, as is some sort of god or gods creating everything, etc.
The fundamental rule of this world is that the fabric of reality is very, very thin. This allows other dimensions to bleed through, which can affect pretty much every aspect of life. One can even fall through the cracks entirely into a new dimension. This is called “clipping” into other dimensions, whether intentional or not.
The thinness of reality is regarded as a scientific law like gravity or any other physics, though even in modern times it has proven very difficult to research. No one’s really sure how magic works in other dimensions; it’s most likely just science humans can’t understand and that bend our own laws of physics. Physics can vary from dimension to dimension, though they are usually more or less the same as Earth’s.
Entities from other dimensions can be a lot of things. A lot of Lovecraftian sort of beings; eldritch angels, cryptids, that sort of thing. Supposed gods are probably just terrible eldritch horrors misinterpreted by humans. That isn’t to say beings from other dimensions are all evil and/or cosmic horrors; in fact, most aren’t. Most are, however, pretty apathetic towards Earth and humans (some like to cause problems on purpose, though. This is where our protagonists often come in).
Because there’s so many different dimensions and things that can exist, it becomes a fantasy kitchen sink sort of deal, though it generally leans towards a surreal or just straight-up horror vibe.
A final system that isn’t well known, but important to the story: beings, generally humans, can be sort of claimed by bigger entities. This usually happens when a particularly smart person is too curious for their own good, just has to know what’s going on, getting way over their heads with cosmic horrors and resulting in their corruption. These once-humans can also claim humans, etc., though the power is lessened the further you go down. These people become puppets to whatever they stumbled into, and generally the more power of their host they tap into, the less control they have.
The overall function of objects is the same as in our modern world; however, it's often achieved in different, weirder ways, because of this world's connection to other dimensions. For example, sure, they have streetlamps like our world does, but they give off teal light and powered by ghostly will o'wisp flames. Most cities and shopping centers are multitiered, with mazes of sidewalks and ladders connecting different levels and shops from the outside. Everything is, in the end, the same objects with the same functions, but they lend a slightly otherworldly vibe to the environment because of the way they were all made.
An important thing to note is that Earth is the only place inhabited by humans, and so far, lifeforms with the same intelligence level as people have not been discovered in any other dimension. Some dimensions have animals in them, a few dimensions are superintelligent eldritch beings, but otherwise humans are just as alone in the universe as they are in our world.
A quick rundown on the exposition and important characters of the series! Keep in mind I can’t explain all their motives and stuff because I don’t want to spoil anything; sorry if I’m sometimes vague.
The story follows Quill, a student who, looking for a little adventure (and something to put on her college applications), starts an internship at Hecate and Co., Private Investigators and Interdimensional Odd Job-Doers(™). Our protagonists are hired by all sorts of people and other entities to do all sorts of things: infiltrate cults, investigate a murder, hastily cover up a murder, or maybe to politely ask the eldritch horror that spawned in someone’s kitchen to leave. Our heroes don’t ask too many questions.
: The main character. Currently saving up for college (America, am I right?) to be a detective or any other job that’d let her travel around the multiverse. Interns at Hecate and Co. in the meantime. Has a bad habit of befriending entities that are trying to kill her.
: Started Hecate and Co. with Anthony. A bubbly, eccentric genius who is generally on the side of good but has no qualms about breaking the law in the process.
: Co-founded Hecate and Co. Has the air of a slightly mad scientist about him, but he is actually, in fact, a slightly mad detective.
: A grim reaper out to steal Anthony's soul. Or his heart. Whichever.
: A man(?) who seeks out Quill insisting that she's going to end the world. He answers the terrifying hypothetical, "what if the French were even worse?"*
: A reoccurring "hallucination" of Quill's.
*Pour des raisons juridiques, c'est une blague (j'espère que cette phrase se traduit bien en français). Je promets que je vous aime, mes amis français.
To clarify, Earth is the only dimension humans are found on and really the only dimension they can live on for long periods of time. There’s weird little creatures and eldritch horrors in abundance on other planes, but humans in this story are just as alone in the universe as we are.
Ever heard of the London Necropolis Railway? It was a railway line that started operating in 1854, for the sole purpose of carrying corpses and mourners from the city to a cemetery over thirty kilometers away. In our world, the railway closed in 1941, but in this universe it never fell out of practice, and in fact became hugely popular across the world. There are hardly any small, accessible graveyards, certainly none erected after the 1800s; only massive necropolises that you can get to only by taking a long trip to the middle of nowhere by train.
There's a whole subculture dedicated to finding places where reality is especially thin and exploring them, similar to urban explorers in our world.
Our protagonists live specifically in Helston County, Colorado, at turns bitterly and lovingly referred to as "the Hellhole" by its residents (I would hope Colorado is real, considering I live there. Helston County is not, at least to my knowledge). They travel to other dimensions, though--and sometimes even other counties!
A bit of a clarification: most humans are aware that these eldritch beings and whatnot exist, but it is exceedingly difficult to research specific dimensions or entities. Because of the nature of eldritch concepts, other dimensions, and that sort of thing, there are a lot more cults and conspiracy theorists (or perhaps the same amount, but they're just more out in the open. Who can say?). Cults and conspiracies are much more widely accepted as beliefs in this earth.
It would be practically impossible to say you don't think other dimensions or entities exist; the conspiracy/cult part comes in, though, because it's also very difficult to prove the existence of specific entities. For example, of course everyone believes in cryptids, but can anyone actually prove that they've met Bigfoot? Obviously there are cosmic horrors out there, but have you ever had a run-in with Death in particular? And many people have encountered with ghosts and the like. It's just that it's difficult to provide solid evidence for anything specifically, and people have a hard time explaining the phenomena they encounter. At least in this reality, if you were to run screaming from the woods raving about monsters, people would take you a little seriously.
Religions that are more widely accepted in the real world, such as Christianity, exist in pretty much the same form; though many think God must be some sort of eldritch being, they still generally regard Her as they do here. No one's actually met Her (and so most are wholly unaware that She's a She, for one thing), so it's still a lot of speculation as it is in real life.
Music, especially Will Wood's, the Choir Vandals' and Jack Stauber's stuff; Neil Gaiman (mostly Good Omens and American Gods); Terry Pratchett; The Magnus Archives, Welcome to Night Vale, The Sheridan Tapes, and possibly every other fiction podcast you have or haven't ever heard of; lots of cartoons, but especially Gravity Falls; Scott Pilgrim
UAWD has a whole playlist! Wow! Here are some of the Greatest Hits™:
- "Elephant Bones" by That Handsome Devil
- "Churches" by Flipturn
- "COUNT THOSE FREAKS" by Whitey
- "Suburbia Overture" (I refuse to type out that song's entire title) by Will Wood
- "Dancing Devil" by Small Leaks Sink Ships
- "Carl Solomon Blues" by Dear and the Headlights
- "Spiderhead" by Cage the Elephant
- "Seventeen (Age)" by Mike Krol
- "First of the Gang to Die" by Morrissey
- "Surf Song" by Sean Henry
- "Pneumonia" by Me Like Bees