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Universe Compendium

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A Universe Bible is something created for the writers and production team of a series or franchise. While many of these have made their way into the public arena, they are really not intended for public consumption. As a result, they often contain material which is apocryphal, confusing, or outright wrong, especially when the series gets passed off to another production team.

A Universe Compendium on the other hand is a book or series of books which encapsulates much of the information in the Universe Bible, reformatted for consistency, with information added or removed for various reasons: It may go into more detail than the bible in some areas, or omit information that would be considered a Spoiler. Depending on the size of the Universe Bible, the compendium may be split into several books, each having considerably narrower scopes. They can include licensed supplements for paper-and-pencil Role-Playing Games, though these just as often qualify as Universe Concordances.

Any details in a compendium which have not been established within the work are subject to revision, and cannot be assumed to be Canon, though it's still considered bad form for fanfic writers to contradict them, as such listings are treated as Word of God until otherwise Jossed. Canon writers get more of a pass because they presumably had plans for the series's future long before the compendium was published, and the compendium authors may or may not have consulted with them to avoid contradicting those plans. Sometimes, once such a book is compiled, writers will begin referring to it rather than the Universe Bible; while the Bible retains primacy, the ad hoc manner in which the Bible is maintained often makes it harder to use.

More common, and more necessary, for Speculative Fiction shows, since a show with a mundane setting just has to keep track of the protagonists and their situations. The official counterpart of the Universe Concordance.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece has five databooks released so far, each named after a color — Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, and Deep Blue. One Piece Green is notable for being published after the series' two-year Time Skip, and features a subdivision of the first 597 chapters that is different from one on the manga site.

    Comic Books 

  • Numerous detailed technical books have also been released concerning the Star Wars universe — from Vehicles of Star Wars to in-depth manuals on the construction and maintenance of lightsabers.

  • Stephen King's mythology for The Dark Tower got so out of hand that, when he sat down to finish the series, he hired someone to write him a "Concordance" summarising all the relevant information. He was so pleased with the end result that he had it published.
  • The Discworld Companion has been around long enough to have had four new and expanded editions, with the last one being posthumous and, as "the Ultimate Edition", reinserting a lot of stuff that had to be lost from earlier editions to fit in the new stuff.
  • Warriors had Secrets of the Clans, which spawned a fanmade volume chronicling the madness of the fandom, Secrets of the Fans.
  • The Doctor Who Spin-Off Faction Paradox has a wildy metafictional version of this sort of book, called The Book of the War.
  • Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe
  • The Wheel of Time had The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, and after the completion of the series, The Wheel of Time Companion: The People, Places, and History of the Bestselling Series.
  • The Railway Series had The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways and later, Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, which covered the eponymous island so thoroughly that the actual stories formed a small fraction of the book. Sodor's history, geography, language, economy, industry and even geology were covered to a degree that would make Tolkien envious.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has The World of Ice & Fire.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "The Blake's 7 Episode Guide", despite its name, contains a complete compendium for Blake's 7.
  • Star Trek spawned a plethora of these. For each series, a "Compendium" documents the official storyline and major characters, while there are several "Technical Manuals" and other more specific guides which document the technology and standard props found in the series. One of the earliest of these was the Star Trek Medical Handbook, an official guide to medical science in the 23rd century. The all-encompassing Star Trek Chronology and Star Trek Encyclopedia contain more or less every known fact about the Trek Verse, the former organized historically; the latter, alphabetically. Of course (cynicism hat on) these were never quite up to date while the shows and movies were running: fans were obliged to pick up new editions periodically. And the partwork version (2 pounds per week for six years...) turned into an impenetrable mess of supplements, addenums, and stick-on corrections.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had three Watcher's Guides that are brilliant and quite comprehenisive, with annotated sections explaining the pop culture references in each episode, notable quotes, and actor interviews. Angel had something similar; they were called "The Case Files."
  • Various incarnations of Doctor Who have had such books, the most recent including the "mostly In-Universe" trilogy of A History of the Universe in 100 Objects (the Doctor Who version of the Radio 4 series A History of the World...), The Doctor: His Lives and Times (supposedly compiled by the Kovarian Chapter from River Song's research) and The Secret Lives of Monsters (supposedly a U.N.I.T. resource document).

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS, from Steve Jackson Games, has produced compendia for several literary universes. Author David Brin provided much of the information in GURPS Uplift, including data that had not yet appeared in any of his novels at the time of publication.
  • Each Army Book/Codex in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 aren't "just" rulebooks, but also provide a broad overview of each faction and its major sub-factions, including histories, current actions, and important characters. 40K takes it further, not only having quite a few dedicated Codices and supplements for individual sub-factions (especially for Space Marines) but also a small library of reference books, like the artbooks for the Horus Heresy series and The Sabbat Worlds Crusade for the Gaunt's Ghosts series.
  • A few of the game-worlds released for Dungeons & Dragons - Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, the Known World - started off as a Universe Compendium-style repackaging of settings in which their original creators had been running home games for years. Others were built up from premise to Universe Bible to Universe Compendium by D&D's design teams, and the Eberron setting had its Bible submitted to a world-building contest, then expanded upon into a full Compendium.

    Video Games 
  • The Metal Gear Solid Database
  • The ones for Shin Megami Tensei are particularly notable, as, in addition to the usual content, they have pages and pages of bibliography for the games. You can accuse them of being inaccurate to mythology, but you can't say it's because they didn't know better.
  • A lot of Square Enix games (before and after the merger) can have multiple guides for just one game. Best example would be the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series: the Ultimanias can almost have the weight of a phone book and are about the size of an average graphic novel released in the US (Japanese tankobon are smaller), filled with strategies, data on items/weapons/monsters, concept sketches of characters and locales, and interviews with key staff and/or voice members.
  • The number of "side material" books for the Nasuverse is staggering, containing archives of the game illustrations, concept art, interviews, and entire short stories that tremendously develop several characters (most infamously, the transition of Ordinary High-School Student Tohno Shiki into a vampire assassin) which may or may not involve plotlines from possible sequels. All this, without mentioning the 'Dictionary' sections which expand the Canon into areas rarely mentioned in the original works. (Magecraft organizations, hierarchies, and systems? Alien Invaders?) One particular volume, Character Material, is comprised almost entirely of completely new characters, characters only mentioned as an aside, or characters which previously were never illustrated.
  • Touhou Project has several of these. Interestingly, most of them are presented through different formats and are written as if they are written by the characters themselves. As such, these compendiums also exist In-Universe.
    • Touhou Bunkachou ~ Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red is a collection of newspaper articles and interviews written and conducted by the Intrepid Reporter tengu Aya Shameimaru, featuring characters and events from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil to Imperishable Night.
    • Touhou Gumonshiki ~ Perfect Memento in Strict Sense is known In-Universe as the latest edition of the Gensokyo Chronicles, an encyclopedia of the various youkai, places, and personalities in Gensokyo, written by Hieda no Akyuu. It covers characters from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil to Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
    • The Grimoire of Marisa is a screenshot collection of the various spellcards present in the games up until Subterranean Animism, which Marisa has turned into a scrapbook as references for her magical studies.
    • Touhou Gumonkuju ~ Symposium of Post-mysticism is a sequel of sorts to Perfect Memento. Following the religion arc, Kanako Yasaka, Byakuren Hijiri, and Toyosatomimi no Miko, held a debate regarding faith, religions, and how they affect Gensokyo, moderated by the series deuteragonist Marisa Kirisame and recorded by Hieda no Akyuu. In-between the symposium sessions, encyclopedic profiles of characters between Mountain of Faith and Ten Desires are included.
    • Touhou Bunka Shinpou ~ Alternative Facts in Eastern Utopia is the sequel of Bohemian Archive, a collection of various articles written by Aya Shameimaru about the characters up to Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom. Unlike its predecessor, Alternative Facts articles are written in an exaggerated, rumor-mongering tabloid style, some of which Aya outright made up. In-Universe, this book was cancelled and never got published.
    • The Grimoire of Usami ~ Secret Sealing Club's Otherworld Photography Record, like The Grimoire of Marisa is a spellcard collection book. Following the events of Hifuu Nightmare Diary ~ Violet Detector, Sumireko ended up with a lot of danmaku photos in her smartphone. When Reimu saw them along with fireworks photos, she got an idea to hold a danmaku contest that doubles as a fireworks festival, setting the frame for the spellcard showdown. It contains spellcards of characters up to Hidden Star in the Four Seasons, with commentaries from the various playable characters (who are acting as judges). However, while the contest is going on, some unsatisfied figures seem to be planning some nasty things...
  • The Legend of Zelda has Hyrule Historia, which is part a compilation of development info and part a Universe Compendium, mostly because it discusses the official Zelda timeline.note  There is also the later The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia, an encyclopedia of enemies, items, dungeons, et cetera.
  • The Official Guide to Mega Man straddles the line in that it was pretty much made from the ground up by Capcom U.S.A. instead of actually using the Japanese source material, detailing things such as the government, the military, and how Mega Man himself can't speak under normal circumstances.
  • Dragon Age: The World of Thedas is the official universe bible for the Dragon Age series. Two volumes were released in 2013 and in 2015, with more presumably on the way.
  • The World of Angry Birds is narrated by the Mighty Eagle himself, detailing the characters and the areas of the game. It also reveals information such as the King Pig having never tasted a single egg in his life.
  • The World of Warcraft: Chronicle series, so far, has been well received for tidying up the Continuity Snarl that the Warcraft franchise had accumulated over the years of evolution and retcons, and for turning it into a single coherent picture at the cost of establishing much of the continuity from the earlier games to only have happened in Broad Strokes. Two volumes were released in 2016 and 2017, covering events from the distant past up until Warcraft II, and the third volume to be released in 2018 is supposed to cover the events of Warcraft III and beyond.
  • Hand in killer7 resembles one of these for killer7, but it contains a good deal of original information, some of which is contradictory or omits key details. In practice, it's more like a work of its own that must be decoded by the viewer, an extension of the game rather than just a compilation of info.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has two:
    • 2013 saw the release of The Elements of Harmony: The Official Guidebook, a book styled after the book Twilight reads in the very first episode that covers the whole settings, all the characters, and all the episodes up to the end of Season 3.
    • In 2017, a sequel book, titled The Elements of Harmony: Volume II, was released. It covers all the settings, major characters and events of Season 4 up until Season 6.
  • Adventure Time has The Adventure Time Encyclopedia, written in-character by the universe's Satan-figure Hunson Abadeer.
  • Steven Universe: Guide to the Crystal Gems is a brief overview of most information about gems shown in the first two seasons. It's written in-character, which serves to excuse one major, deliberate error (that Steven and his mother are Quartz-type gems).
  • Transformers: Animated has the two volumes of The Allspark Almanac.

Alternative Title(s): Universe Compendia