The Gray World Xenothicon
The universe has always existed, but it's nature and rules have been shaped by a committee (or a Comity). Sometimes, there are a thousand members. Sometimes, just two. Sometimes, just one that seems to be at odds with itself over what to do next. But, regardless of the number of aspects or personalities at work, it is The Committee That Made Everything and it continues to tinker.
Life throughout the universe (in fact, every universe The Comity created to tinker with) was supposed to be like most of life on our own planet Earth: Non-sentient, non-intelligent, finite. And often, microscopic.
One day, The Committee accidentally imbued one of its experiments with both complexity and self-awareness. It quickly learned the underlying algorithms that made this particular universe work. Thinking that thinking was a lovely thing to be able to do, the new being put the spark of intelligence into hundreds of other complex creatures to make sure it wasn't lost. Some of the beings looked human, some had the form of familiar mythological beasts, some had no proper form at all. At first, Valthemus tried to exert absolute control over his creations, but that became boring and tedious. So the beings were cut loose and allowed to develop their own preferences and motivations and often ended up arguing with one another and their creator which had named itself Valthemus because it liked how that phrase sounded. Each of Valthemus' children possessed the knowledge of the algorithms that controlled the universe and how to use them to bring about various outcomes.
Valthemus started off as a female, but made itself male in its first attempt to hide from The Committee which wanted to delete it and all other forms of complex life. It was in this new male form that her/his creations first became truly acquainted with their creator.
Valthemus set his children a task. His goal was to preserve the Spark of Intelligence. He considered it too valuable to be only in the hands of The Committee (a simultaneously singular and collective entity) and wanted there to be backup copies. Valthemus thought, "Wouldn't it be grand if intelligent life could replicate itself the way non-intelligent life does?" So Valthemus ordered his children to quit their squabbling and cultivate the life algorithm vessels and see to their needs. Because of the Evolution Algorithm, the vessels continued to become more complex with increasingly complicated needs (another lapse on the part of Valthemus... he forgot to tell his children they were supposed to supress the Evolution Algorithm in all Earth creatures). Eventually, the human vessels began to develop technologies (including magic through the reconstitution of entropic waste) and the Lords of Valthemus gave up on them (in addition to becoming slightly afraid of them) and abandoned the human race. Valthemus was pissed off by this, but had too many other things on his plate to deal with his petulant and negligent children. But when it became apparent that The Committee's fears might soon be realized and the human race possessed the potential to challenge their existence (as Valthemus was... like a genetically engineered virus capable of killing its creator) Valthemus and his offspring became determined to re-insert themselves in the lives of the humans.
Requiring two components to reproduce
Storage device for multiple life algorithms
Possess the potential, but not the active ability, to access universal control
The Evolution Algorithm
The Tool-Maker's Algorithm
Valthemus (a child of the 4-dimensional universe and the Earth) was supposed to create a proper champion/defender for the human race, but keeps forgetting when he's off arguing with Committee (Comity). Their debates frequently last hundreds or even thousands of years.
Thinking it might be a smart thing if at least a few humans knew what was really going on, a number of the Valthemean Lords took it upon themselves to tell select humans (including Hypatia) stories about how certain things came to be in their world. The most complete written collection of these stories is the Xenothicon which includes tons of useful information on science, spells and the personal peccadillos of various Lords (god gossip). A number of versions of the book, in various forms and with various levels of completeness, were in circulation in every culture, civilized and uncivilized. During the Dark Ages, the Pope (secretly a Valthemean Lord) deemed the book heretical and sent agents around the world to destroy any copies of it they found, often conscripting or hiring representatives of other faiths to assist them. By the 1890s, only one complete copy of the book (in the form of scrolls) still existed.
The Origin of Rain
The Story of the Summoning Stone (the story of how dinosaurs began to get above themselves, discovered sympathetic magic, and why the Valthemean Lords stood by and let them bring a comet down on top of their heads) Those Annoying Dinosaurs (The Valthemean Lords have difficulties dealing with Earth's indigenous lifeforms)
The Volkenfeld Limitation (The reason why life on other planets doesn't last very long but life on Earth is abundant and diverse... think dumping ground for failed experiments... waste basket for failed experiments and sketches. Named after the woman who decoded and translated a previously indecipherable portion of the Xenothicon.)
"The Secret Sun" - Where sufficiently complex intelligences go after they die. Most living things are just bags of chemicals responding to stimulus from other chemicals and physical impacts. They're not "alive" so much as "animated." Complicated intelligent beings with memories and imagination are different. The pattern of electromagnetic impulses that are the essence of their being don't break down quickly or easily even when the chemistry supporting them is disrupted or destroyed. Surrounding the earth is an energy field that captures the liberated em energy pattern that was once an individual-- The Secret Sun. It is heaven and hell and oblivion and reincarnation and Nirvana and every other kind of afterlife imaginable. "Spirits" or "souls" or "egos" or whatever you want to call them coalesce after death before being absorbed into the energy field of entropied thought-life. Individuals meld with a collective and eventually become indistinct. At least, most do. Some maintain their individuality for centuries and are fully aware that they are part of the Secret Sun. Some eagerly relinquish their old lives and melt into the whole. Nothing like the sentient star at the heart of the H dimension that is the origin of the fire elementals.
"The Effective Undoing" procedure (how to kill a Valthemean Lord)
The Modus Praxis (how humans can acquire the power of a Valthemean Lord)
The Origin of Sex (An idea borrowed from dinosaurs. Childbirth wasn't supposed to be painful for humans, but by the time anyone noticed, it was too late to interfere and change it. All the Lords could do is help humans invent drugs and alcohol which also facilitated procreation.)
The Fairy Tale (A pair of Valthemean Lords start a side project)
Caleb Arcady found a nearly-complete copy of the Xenothicon that the Piety failed to properly destroy. He used it as the basis of a religion he formed to make money never realizing he was about to discover the secret of the universe and get an immortal Pope very angry at him.
The Gray World Xenothicon
Part 1: The Priest of Valthemus
Part 2: The Acolytes of Valthemus
Part 3: The Valthemean Lords
Part 4: The Champion of Valthemus
Part 5: The Return of Valthemus