Chapter 1: Introduction to the Omegaverse
Being an introduction to the concepts of the Omegaverse and alpha/beta/omega dynamics.
Alpha/Beta/Omega Verses, also known as Omegavereses, or Knottingverses are one of the greatest, and most confusing things about fandom. They are a shared idea, interpreted differently by each author.
Here is what is promised by the omegaverse:
semen. lots of semen. epic amounts of semen.
At least three of the five will be in every story. Assisted by a liberal helping of cock. And more cock. The F/F omegaverse story is a rare creature and not often seen in the wild. Should you find one, you have a duty to return back and inform others.
That’s all you really need to know to go forth and read all the fic. But for a more detailed view of omegaverse fic, we should continue.
To get something out of the way: Werewolves. Lots of omegaverse AUs feature werewolves. Think of it as pack dynamics as written by individuals who have never spent time with actual wolves. Not every fic featuring werewolves is an omegaverse fic. Lots of omegaverse fics have nothing to do with werewolves. Werewolf fic is generally assumed to be the place where the knotting concept came from. (eta. Knotting apparently emerged from J2 bestiality fic. However, the author retains the belief that the concept was popularized by werewolf fic)
The omegaverse itself is something that appears to have been spontaneously created when J2 mpreg and J2 werewolves combined, had a soul bond, and created an idea that was perfect to spread out across all fandom. If you don’t know what J2 is, you are going to be horribly traumatized by the rest of this document. You may want to google it first. “J2 Supernatural Fic” should get you where you need to be.
For the purposes of this discussion, the omega character and the alpha character will both be assumed to be male.
The five major signs of an omegaverse fic :
mpreg: Mpreg is short for male pregnancy, colloquially known as "assbabies". This is possibly the most straightforward part of the omegaverse. A male character has anal sex with another male character. The receptive partner gets knocked up via some method that no one wants to think too carefully about- it could involve magic, science, or porn. Likewise, don’t ask too many questions about the exact genital and orifice structure of the pregnant character. After a pregnancy that is exactly like the textbook one in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (edition that the author found for a very small sum at a secondhand store), the baby will be born. Depending on the in-universe explanation for the assbaby, you will either see a c-section or a literal assbaby.
In the standard mpreg story, there is a fifty-fifty chance that the gestating parent was aware that becoming pregnant was a possibility. In an omegaverse fic, it is always the omega character who gestates the child. The omega character universally knows that sexual activity could result in impregnation.
Mating & Heat Cycles: The idea of a mating/heat cycle is key to understanding any omegaverse fic. Indeed it is the defining characteristic. Characters who are omegas go into some sort of mating cycle or heat. This heat can occur as often as monthly, as human menstrual cycles do, or as rarely as every five years. Heat frequency is entirely determined by the author. The universal characteristic of each heat cycle is that the omega really really really really needs to have sex with someone, and the omega must be the receptive partner. Now. The omega has conveniently been provided with a self-lubricating anus, to enable this activity.
Some omegas are able to resolve their heat by locking themselves away with nothing more than a few of the largest dildoes ever created. (The application of lubricant to the giant dildo is optional, as omegas are self-lubricating.) The majority of omegas require a penis, preferably that of an alpha, to be inserted in their self-lubricated, weeping hole. Knotting is optional here -- in universes with knots, the omega absolutely must be knotted for the heat to end.
Heats, like menstrual cycles, can often be predicted. Unlike menstrual cycles, heats can also be triggered by such things as soul bonding an alpha, forgetting to take the needed pill, or being surrounded by too many alpha hormones. Think of any terrible story you have heard about random periods starting, and that can be found in fic.
During the heat, the omega will issue hormones that serve as a siren call to all of the alphas, and some of the betas, in the area. These hormones are considered a public health hazard. This immediate pre-heat period, where the omega is throwing off huge quantities of pheromones that attract everyone in a set geographical vicinity, is the period of the most danger. The omega hopefully is able to get to a home or hotel room where they will lock themselves in for the duration of the heat.
This is also the point at which things tend to get rapey. The omegaverse is a gordian knot of consent issues.
Heat usually lasts from 3-5 days. Most of this time is spent having sex -- even if the omega immediately starts having sex with the alpha at the beginning of the heat, they are still locked into sex for the next several days. Many orgasms are involved, as are utterly insane amounts of semen. The ass of the omega provides a huge amount of fluid and lubrication. The alpha/omega partners appear to be hormone-addled enough that they do not get bored or chafed during this time. The many orgasms appear to help make the whole situation tolerable.
Once mated, there is a high likelihood that the omega will become pregnant. Depending on the universe, hormonal birth control and/or heat suppressants will be available. The hormonal birth control works generally like the pill in the regular universe, take a daily pill, take some sort of shot, etc. On rare occasions you will even encounter the omegaverse version of Plan B, for post-heat use.
In universes with soul bonding, sex during the mating period will cement the bond between the omega and partner. This bond can be for life, or it can be broken by some sort of omegaverse hormonal divorce.
Knotting: Knotting is the development of a knot at the base of the alpha’s penis, which cause the alpha to lock into the omega. The idea is based on that of the penises of dogs,
cats, and other animals, where once the penis inserted, with an inflated knot, it cannot be withdrawn. (Cats apparently have some sort of barb, not knots. The author would prefer not to enquire further.) Knotting comes to omegaverse fic by way of many an AU where the characters are werewolves or something.
When the omega is in heat, the alpha has sex with them, locking the penis inside the anal cavity. At the base of the alpha’s penis, the knot inflates. This frequently locks the alpha & omega together for hours. During this time there are many orgasms, and the alpha sends vast quantities of semen into the alpha. The knot locks the penis in place, and the semen inside, resulting in a much higher chance of conception than in regular humans. Once the alpha & omega are knotted, there is nothing they can do but wait it out. Luckily orgasms are involved. Knotting is usually the trigger for any type of permanent soul bound. Knotting the omega is what makes it count.
Depending on the verse, the alpha may be able to produce a knot outside the body of the omega, allowing them to detach. If the alpha can produce knots, it is universally agreed that they will do so during heat sex. Some alphas are able to form knots at any time, regardless of the alpha, beta, or omega status of their partners. Others are only able to do so with an omega in heat.
It is not advised that you google the animal origins of knotting. However there are many entrepreneurial organizations that will be happy to sell you adult entertainment devices with knots. It is still advised that you do not google.
Semen: There’s a lot of it. Alphas, knot or not, have the giant penises for one reason, and one reason only: to better impregnate the omega. Alphas use this giant penis, and the concurrent large quantity of semen as a part of the heat process. The average standard human male produces no more than about 30 ml (or two tablespoons) of ejaculate a day. 10 ml per ejaculation. And that is being really generous, because the author of this guide can’t be bothered to google farther. If omega heat usually lasts between 3-5 days, with between 10-20 ejaculations per day? Look, it’s a metric shit ton of semen, and it’s everywhere. Somebody is getting knocked up, and the author doesn’t want to think about the poor bastard who is stuck doing the laundry.
Soul Bounding: Alphas and omegas are often bound together at the soul level. When the omega goes into heat, the alpha claims and owns the omega, bonding them from two separate people into one spiritual unit. In some universes, the bond can be broken. This is especially common in places where there is a canon divorce. In some situations it happens to get get rid of an inconvenient spouse, and allow the fic OTP to be bound together.
In other canons, the alpha & omega cannot be separated by anything but death. Oddly, the inconvenient canon spouse obstructing the OTP dies at this point. After the first spouse dies, alphas and omegas universally are allowed to rebond/remarry. Sometimes they try for another child. This depends entirely on the author and the OTP.
Some universes have the characters soul bonding to each other regardless of alpha/beta/omega status. Two omega characters might be soul bonded, but they will still be having sex with betas or alphas when the heat comes.
Some universes don’t have any soul bonding, but honestly, what fun is that?
Alpha Traits: Alphas are larger, aggressive, and have giant penises. An alpha in the vicinity of an omega in heat cannot control himself. He must have the omega, bond with them and own them. Alphas frequently are in the military and politics. Think of any situation where someone would normally be described as an alpha male. If there is knotting in this verse, only the alpha is able to have a knot, which they will use when fucking/breeding omegas.
When they scent an omega in heat, alphas are literally unable to help themselves, driven by a biological imperative to mate with the omega. This frequently is the point at which the story gets rapey, and dubcon at best. Soul bonding will occur during this heat driven mating.
Omega Traits: Omegas are smaller, not as aggressive, and can be impregnated. An omega will go into heat, during which time they have little, if any, control of their actions. Omegas have a biological imperative to be bred, and want the giant cock, semen, and knots that an alpha is offering. Any alpha. This again, is the point where things get rapey.
Omegas are the ones who go into heat. Frequency and desperation level depends on the author. The percentage of omegas who are female vs. the percentage of omegas who are male tilts toward the female, with male omegas being somewhat rare in the omegaverses, and universal in fic.
Male omegas may have a penis that is the same as a standard male. They may have one that is a vestigial organ, and more like a clitoris. In all cases, omegas can be impregnated. As of yet, no author has claimed that an omega will have an enormous penis, but it is simply a matter of time before it happens and someone impregnates an alpha. Keep an eye on the J2 mpreg for breaking news.
Many universes have omegas banned from many jobs, such as the military. They also frequently suffer from a second class legal and social status. Insert any terrible legal, social, or workplace thing that women face in 2012, or at any point previous, and you have the standard omega.
Beta Traits: Betas are basically normal everyday humans as you know them. Betas may be aware of omegas in heat, and may want to mate with them. The success of this activity depends on the author. Beta males generally do not have knots. Beta males cannot be mpreg’d. The ability of the beta to soulbond with an alpha or omega depends on the author. Even if soul bounded to the beta, the alpha or omega partner may be driven to sex with a non-beta partner during heat periods.
No one has ever written a story featuring a beta with a self-lubricating ass, or epic quantities of semen. For which we should all be thankful.
This ends part I of “Alpha. Beta. Omega. Explained.”. Part II will contain charts and graphs, Part III will be a vocabulary lesson, and Part IV will discuss worldbuilding.
Chapter 2: An interlude with a matrix
A brief interlude, showing the 36 most likely impregnation options in an Omegaverse.
There are 36 potential pregnancy options between the characters in an Omegaverse. I've put them into a handy chart.
The impregnated person, who will be carrying the child in the chosen uterus equivlent (or just plain uterus) is on the left. The columns represent the potential impregnator/sperm provider.
As an example, Beta Females almost never impregnate anyone. Alpha Males impregnate anyone who has the uterus to be impregnated.
This chart is only an estimate, based on extensive reasearch. By which I mean hitting up the alpha/beta/omega dynamics tag on AO3. It is not universal- 'unpresented' individuals are left off, as are trans* individuals.
The best thing about the omegaverse is that the author makes all decisions. There is an excellent Lord of the Rings: RPS fic where an Alpha Sean Bean is impregnated by Alpha Viggo Mortensen. However, you will see that the Alpha Male/Alpha Male box has been labeled no. There are always exceptions to the rule, and this chart only represents the most likely options.
I am still working on a full update with such exciting topics as scenting, biting, heat suppressents, and more.
Chapter 3: A Vocabulary Lesson, Being a Brief Guide to Some Common Terms of the Omegaverse
Some common vocabulary words of the Omegaverse, defined.
Alphafriend/Alpha Friend, Betafriend/ Beta Friend, Omegafriend/Omega Friend
The boyfriend/girlfriend of the omegaverse. Highly useful term. Implies a sexual relationship. Male/Female status or compound word status irrelevant.
Alpha Rut: Like an omega in heat, but an alpha. Alphas in rut are interested in nothing other than sex with the omega, and will violently defend the omega from any perceived slights or dangers. Rut generally involves scenting and extensive creation of semen.
Assbabies: The children of male omegas, presumably delivered in the way in which they were conceived. Wheresoever mpreg happens, there will be assbabies.
Ass Tampons: Do not seem to exist, but some authors have used anal plugs to much the same purpose. There is no way that usage can end well. (1) Presumably the omegaverse has the same type and selection of specialty heat/menstrual products as are found in the actual world. The omegaverse is also likely to have that one person on the forum who cannot understand why people insist on using disposable products instead of the environmentally friendly omega cup.
Body Wash: Most frequently mentioned of the assorted hormone masking consumer goods in the omegaverse. Actual results, method of working, and frequency of use are entirely up to the author. Shampoos, conditioners, deodorant, and bar soaps are assumed to exist, but not often mentioned. Are special bath sponges required?
Childcare/Daycare: In the omegaverse, the tedious physical labor of ensuring that small children are fed, cleaned, clothed, and prevented from killing themselves in any number of fashions is rarely done by our heroes alone. That is what betas are for. Expect a nanny, or a secondary character who will be converted into a nanny, to appear shortly after the production of the first child. Even in the omegaverse, children are highly inconvenient to deal with at plutonium production facilities and during gun battles. See Worldbuilding 201 for further discussion. (2)
Culture: If the rituals, taboos, and customs surrounding heats work like those for standard human real world sexual and excretory processes, they are going to vary by region. How pair bonding, heats, omegas, and mating are handled in India is going to be different from China. Both of those will be different from the UK, Iran, or the Americas.
Just think of the effect of assbabies on religion. Did the Greeks worship the gigantic alpha phallus? Of course they did. Sparta was notorious as a city composed of nothing but alpha warriors, not a beta or omega in sight. The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon is a poetic biography of the life of a legendary alpha female courtesan in the palace of the omega emperor of Japan. Jane Austen, mousy beta spinster, wrote epic comedies of manners about the lives of Regency era omegas who were to make good bonds and save the family fortunes. See: Worldbuilding 201
Double troping: Simply put, the use of two tropes in one fic. The glory of the omegaverse is that it can be pasted on to any existing fandom. Suddenly there are alphas, omegas, and betas cluttering up the space station, the police station, or the time traveling police box. This flexibility means that the omegaverse is even better when it is combined with other popular fanfic tropes.
Universe where everyone is either a dominant or submissive? Meet the Alpha Submissive, the Omega Dominant, and the Beta Switch. Loved the Sentinel? There are omega sentinels and alpha guides in this fanfic. Thought that the daemons of “His Dark Materials” were awesome? They are even more awesome when the daemon also reveals omega, alpha, or beta status. And the glories of alpha/omega status as a ‘secondary mutation’ are legion. There is no wrong here. This is what fandom was created for.
Enormous Alpha Cock: Male alphas universally have them. As with all things omegaverse, the definition of ‘enormous cock’ is left to the author. Size varies from that found in modern day porn stars to roughly the size of a donkey. In short, from very very large to ‘dear god, how do you put that in’. For those seeking visual aids, tumbler presents: http://fuckyeahhugepenis.tumblr.com. Or google it. It won’t be work safe, but there will be cock. Guaranteed.
Female Alpha Genitals (Cock): Female alphas genitals vary from an enormous cock to more creative solutions. Often the genitals of a female alpha retract, expand, engorge and otherwise transform like an Autobot. Mostly though, they are vague. Vaguely located, vague in appearance, and vaguely talked about.
Foreskins: Exist. Or don’t. Presumably in the same ratio that they exist in non-omegaverse stories in the fandom. Thus far, no omegaverse author has chosen to use an alpha/beta/omega story to discuss the morality and legality of circumcision, and this is probably for the best. See Worldbuilding 201.
Furpile: An event where all the members of the ‘pack’ gather together in a giant physical pile, to make someone feel better, usually with their cocks. Imagine the adorableness of a basket of kittens. Now imagine those kittens are alphas Mycroft Holmes, Nick Fury, Violet Crawley the Dowager Countess of Grantham, and Tywin Lannister. The trope only works in some fandoms. Moving on. Furpiles may or may not involve massive quantities of sex among pack members. (They almost always involve massive amounts of sex amongst pack members). Like pups and packs, this is a werewolf trait rather than an omegaverse one.
Futanari: aka “Chicks with Dicks”. While alpha females are assumed to have any number of genital configurations, most of which involve the presence of a cock, it is not the same trope as futanari. Futanari is strictly the introduction of a magical girl penis to the story. There are no alphas, betas, omegas, or assbabies. Merely cock.
Heat Leave: The time a character takes off from work or school due to heat. The omegaverse affects all aspects of life, even those supervised by human resources departments.
Laundry: Laundry in the omegaverse is done by house elves. That is the only sensible explanation for the world building of the omegaverse. Other options see individuals in the omegaverse joining into a social agreement to willfully ignore semen and lubrication stains. The inventor of the waterproof and rubberized sheet that protects mattresses is a secular saint of the omegaverse.
Lube Pads: Like menstrual pads for the leaky and lubricated omega. Just as sexy and convenient, which is to say not at all. It can only be imagined that lube pads will add to the omegaverse’s laundry difficulties.
Midi-Chlorians: Something George Lucas made up so that The Force would have some sort of physical and biological basis, instead of being magic that we don’t think about too hard. This is only slightly less popular than Greedo shooting first, and makes little to no actual sense. Midi-Chlorians are frequently ignored and written off in a case of “bad science made them do it”. Attempting to create a realistic and scientific explanation for the existence of alphas, betas, and omegas - much less the assbabies - is similar to inventing Midi-Chlorians. No one is happier for the effort.
Mucus Plug: A protective plug of mucus, at the cervix of the omega male. It can either be blocking off access to the uterus between heats or can be blocking the cervix once the omega is pregnant. This probably originated as a way to keep things clean, given the vague location of the omega male uterus. Of great certainty is the fact that someday that plug will have to be expelled and the process will be disgusting. As with all things in omega biology, this is up to the creativity of the author.
Non-Breeding Betas: Approximately a third of all omegaverses have Betas as sterile members of the population. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but removing a significant chunk of the population from reproduction has serious worldbuilding complications. If the entire beta population cannot reproduce, the number of children per omega must skyrocket in order to maintain population stability. See worldbuilding 201.
Omega Male (Smallish) Cock: It is a truth universally acknowledged that an omega will have a cock smaller than an alpha. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that in an omegaverse story, the omega male will have a cock ‘larger than standard for an omega’. This cock can range from standard human average to the size of human porn stars. Either way, as in all things omegaverse: cock.
Omegapause: Human women are generally fertile from puberty to menopause. In the 30 year fertile zone conception can occur, with fertility declining with age. Presumably omegas go through some sort of omegapause. Given the challenges of age and biology, there must be a point of diminishing and ended fertility. Pregnancy cannot possibly be healthy for an individual in their 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s. Unless of course the author is going full dystopia, in which you have a 84 year old man giving birth to a set of twins on his deathbed. As always, it is up to the author to make the worldbuilding decisions.
Omega Sanctuaries: Generally, places where omegas in heat can retreat to be safe from the predatory gaze (aka rapeyness) of alphas. Sanctuaries do not allow alphas past the doors. Sanctuaries are sometimes places in which unbonded omegas can retreat to give birth to children in peace, with similar effects to those of the Magdalene Laundries.
Original Male Dog (OMD): Fic will sometimes feature an OMD (almost never an original female dog). OMD will fuck or be fucked by the primary characters. OMD fics are a separate genre from the omegaverse, despite any alpha dog knotting that may occur.
Pair Bonding: At the simplest level it is the equivalent of marriage for an omegaverse pair. Usually seen only with alpha/omega pairings, but it also shows up with alpha/alpha pairings on occasion. Nobody seems to care if betas pair bond or not. Pair bonding has several flavors. It can be done with a ceremony similar to marriage. It can be the result of sex alone. The sex might have to be during heat. Or the sex might require one partner (usually the alpha) to bite the other, breaking the skin. Pair bonding is mostly consensual. Depending on the universe, the pair bond can occur in a less consensual than usual even for the omegaverse way. An omega (but oddly not an alpha) can be forced into a bond.
Depending on the universe, bonds can be broken in multiple ways. Death is always a bond-breaker, making faked death all the more interesting. A bond can be broken and the individuals never able to re-bond. Or they are suffering some sort of physical mental or spiritual anguish about the broken bond. Dissolving the bond might require medical assistance or the actions of a specially powered individual. Someone might even smell like the old partner forever, even if the divorce is final. As always, the existence or details of pair bonding are up to the author.
Pheromones: In real science they are “a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species”, or so the Wikipedia will have us believe. In the omegaverse, pheromones act much more like Midi-Chlorians. Also known as ‘vaguely magical pseudo scientific bullshit that makes what I want to happen happen’. As this is in fact the entire purpose for fan fiction, the use of pheromones keeps authors from having to continually invent new words for the same types of phenomenons.
Population Maintenance and Growth: See Worldbuilding 201. In short, however reproduction works in the omegaverse, there is a need to keep the human population from dying out. This should be considered when deciding that some group (alpha, beta, omega) cannot reproduce.
Presenting: A term with two primary definitions:
A: More or less meaning “showing your ass”. An omega who is presenting is quite literally presenting his self-lubing weeping hole for penetration. The actual gestures, activities, and social implications of presenting are all the prerogative of the author. B: Presenting as alpha, beta, or omega gender for the first time- essentially, when one presents, they have entered puberty and a/b/o status is now obvious.
Pup: For reasons that are probably related to the origins of the omegaverse in werewolf fic featuring dubious pack dynamics, sometimes the children are referred to as pups. As always this is up to the author, but the ‘pup’ nomenclature would make more sense if the omega was birthing litters. This is not a key omegaverse terminology, and like furpiles and packs belongs more to the werewolf trope.
Scent Glands: Glands located somewhere on the body frequently the neck or genitals. The glands are the source of pheromones and various forms of bonding magic. May or may not act like any gland actually found on the human body. Think about a cat rubbing itself against a leg, or a dog rubbing its ass on the ground. The chance that Alphas/Omega’s have scent glands near their asses? Very high.
Scents: Everyone in the omegaverse (who isn’t a beta, but they aren’t real people anyway) has an excellent sense of smell. One that is able to pick up really specific scents. Frequently characters are able to tell alpha/beta/omega status, if an omega is pregnant, if heat is occurring, pair bonding status, and who the person is pair bonded to. Scents can linger and spread. During a heat, the omega pheromones can go from across the room to across the house to across the city. As always descriptions and importance will vary based on the author.
Scenting: Behavior in which partners rub each other to transfer their scent. Most frequently happens in the context of nuzzling the neck, ocassionally in rubbing semen into the skin of a character. May or may not be sexual. Think of what cats do to leave their scents on humans, add some cock and you are good to go.
Specialty Retail: In an Omegaverse containing such gendered products as suppressants, lube pads, and a/b/o scent body wash, you will have specialty stores. Provided the story is set in a modern day society? You are going to have retail and catalog establishments. Alphas need to be able to purchase pants with room for their enormous genitals, and specialty supportive undergarments to prevent them from looking like Jon Hamm on a dog walking expedition. Omega males will have stores specializing in heat relief products (aka giant knotting sex toys) and paternity/maternity wear. Given the theoretical high fertility of the omega, investing in a high quality pregnancy wardrobe makes sense. See Worldbuilding 201.
Suppressants (Heat, Scent, Etc): Drugs or chemicals that prevent heat activity, mask the a/b/o status of an individual and generally speaking, shut that down. An omega on suppressants will not go into heat. An alpha on suppressants will be able to resist the lure of a heat crazed omega. If the suppressants do not entirely prevent the heat process, they dull urgency and desire to mate. Most commonly an omega is the one on suppressants. The suppressants may have a birth control aspect, either by preventing heats, or by acting in a manner similar to birth control pills. For omegas in the military, serving as secret agents, or in space as astronauts, or working in another tightly controlled environment, suppressants are often mandatory.
Testicles: Much like foreskins, they exist. Presumably they are proportionate to the alpha cock they are attached to. Aside from being mouthed, and contracting to ejaculate, they tend not to be mentioned. Alpha testicles are clearly super powered biological factories able to generate the amount of semen needed for a heat. An enterprising author could set trends for an entire fandom, just focusing on testicles. Make a big splash, so to speak.
(1) In the name of science and full disclosure, the author did once spend a quality afternoon with a digital camera, some colored water, a box of normal human tampons, a box of multi colored condoms and some objects to approximate the size of an alpha cock. Ultimately good taste and poor photography skills prevailed, leaving this primer to be unillustrated.
(2) Worldbuilding 201 will be the next section of this primer.
*Personal Note: The author of this guide is a swimmer, and giggles every time she uses her Triswim body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. The explicit purpose of such products is to remove all traces of the chlorine scent from the skin. The author purchases Triswim products at a store named Omega Sports. That they do not sell heat suppressants, male maternity swim wear, or athletic protectors sized for the alpha.
Notes from the long suffering and anon beta, who does science for a living:
(1) The ABO nomenclature continues to confuse blood bankers everywhere.
(2) FYI, humans don’t do pheromones. Trufax, read it in a Mary Roach book. Given the liberties the ABO trope takes with mammalian physiology, I am not sure why I am compelled to note this.
Chapter 4: Advanced Population Mathematics
Being the final part of this Primer, and a discussion of worldbuilding in Alpha/Beta/Omega universes.
Presented here is a guide to world building for people who are planning on writing their own story featuring Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics, aka the Omegaverse aka A/B/O. This is also suitable for people who just want to judge the work of others. It gets long. And it suffers from the fact that there are only so many ways to make dead babies funny.
The short guide to A/B/O world building
Ask yourself these questions:
- Would this setup result in a one hundred percent death rate in the absence of modern medicine?
- If popping out an assbaby results in the death of 99% of the male omegas who do so, how long until you entirely cease to have male omegas?
- If killing one half of a soul bond results in instant death for the other half? Than either all of human history needs to be rewritten, or those soul bonds would be really rare. Think of the Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde with a two for one death count, and go from there.
- Humans should reproduce at replacement rate or better. And the number of babies per uterus required varies dramatically by the infant mortality rate. Consider that the infant mortality rate was easily 20- 30% or so for most of human history. Unless you are writing some sort of post-apocalyptic story in which everyone dies, people should have enough not-dead babies to avoid becoming sad pandas, unable to successfully reproduce their numbers.
How much effort you need to put into world building depends on how much of a story you are writing. For 2500 words of plot free porn? Any kink is a good kink. Make something up, put tabs A and B repeatedly into slots B, C, and self-lubing D. For 200k of epic pining, angst, drama and porn? You may want to think about the world building a little bit before you get too far into the story.
The only official* rule for an A/B/O story is that the story world should have some people who are alphas, and some people who are omegas. You literally cannot do it wrong because there are no actual rules to break. But sometimes you might want to do it better.
*There is no official governing body for A/B/O fiction, but by the power vested in this Primer, the author declares that most people do expect to find some sort of alphas, betas, or omegas in A/B/O fic.
To drill down one level of detail
A whole lot of A/B/O world building comes down to ‘how much of the history of the world (fandom)’ do you want to rewrite, and how many collateral dead babies can you tolerate?
- The human population dying out is generally considered a bad thing.
- Anything that affects more than 1% of the population- such as assbabies- is not going to be all that secret. It’s going to be even less secret than the least secret thing of all time. Far less secret than the location of the Nazi gold, or the existence of the secret society descended from the Knights Templar.
- The relative sizes and stretch capacity of tab A and slot B should coincide. Anything is possible with time enough and lube, but you can’t penetrate a house elf with a train and expect anything good to come of it.
- There is a limit to how much time people can be incapacitated on a regular basis by heats or ruts before the rest of the village hauls them out on an ice floe and leaves them to die.
- None of this matters when PORN! Is on the line. The kinkier the porn, the more cracked out the story, the less complex the world building required. If you write the only mantisfuck consentworld A/B/O story featuring two female omegas? No one will question your world building choices.
Two Levels of Detail Down
Into the rabbit hole of bad maths, dubious science, and questionable evolutionary biology and psychology*:
- Infant and Maternal Mortality:aka babies die and so do the people who pop them out.
- Feeding that Child
- Call Mary Poppins
- Keep the Population Going
- Heat Frequency
- Sometimes We Soulbond
- Humans are Sexual Creatures
- Advanced Maths
- The 1% are different: Secret Ass Babies and Sparkly Vampires
- The Decimation: A/O populations at about the 10% point.
- Like they are women or something: A/O at 50%
- What’s a Beta? A/O at 100%
*Notes on Science, Maths, Biology: The science and statistics here are straight out of reliable sources like Wikipedia, What to Expect When You’re Expecting (1994 edition), and a number of half remembered nature documentaries. It’s accurate enough for assbabies.
Infant and Maternal Mortality
Prior to the 20th century, babies died. All the time. For reasons or none. Women giving birth died. Also all the time. Modern medicine and sanitation has dropped this to the point where losing a child is a rare tragedy in western countries. Assbabies are presumably even more dangerous to birth than a vagina baby, given the comparative rarity of such births and the comparatively questionable anatomy.
In a medieval world featuring omegas, you’d have at least one if not two dead babies per litter. If an omega gave birth to 10 children, the chance of all of them making it to the age of 15 or so was basically zero. Giving birth later, in the early 20th century was less dangerous, but not at all a guarantee of success.
In a more recent historical example, take, Anne’s House of Dreams, the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series. It was published in 1917, set in the 1890’s. Anne Shirley Blythe gives birth to her first child; a daughter who died a short time after birth. It’s tragic and sad, but not treated as a freak horrible thing that doesn’t happen to good people. In 1917 babies still died at levels unimaginable in 2013. Even when those babies who were born to rich parents, one of whom was a doctor.
Almost no one is reading A/B/O fic for a dead baby downer experience. Skipping on the historically high mortality rates is a solid and approved part of fanfic. But when building the world in general you have to consider that all of the heats and pregnancies are going to result in a whole lot of deaths. The modern caesarean section only came about in 1881.
By the mid-20th century, things in western countries are a lot less scary. But for the purpose of world building, people are still dealing with social mores and expectations from the years when it was extremely dangerous to be pregnant or give birth.
What this has to do with A/B/O world building: If omega males require a C-section to more or less survive birth? You aren’t going to see many omega males who survive the birth of a first child, and none who survive the second. Getting pregnant will carry all the risks it carries for women and then some. On the plus side for plot purposes, this is a handy excuse to avoid much rewriting of history. Omega males got knocked up. And then they died.
No one says fanfic has to be happy.
Feeding that Child
Up until about 100 or so years ago, the only reliable way to feed an infant was human breast milk. Either the mother of the child produced milk, or another woman was found who could serve as a wet-nurse. Homemade infant formulas from various animal milks were tried, with predictable results- mostly scurvy, rickets, and high infant mortality.
What does this have to do with the survival of assbabies? If male omega’s are universally unable to breastfeed? Either they had an even higher than the normally high infant death rate, or they got really good at procuring wet-nurses. Whatever the makeup of the population, alpha/beta/omega – there needs to be a way to feed the resulting infants. If a significant portion of the children born in the universe are born to male omegas, than those male omegas are going to need to be able to lactate.
It doesn’t mean that anyone in the universe actually has to lactate on an individual level. Just that the ratio of ‘people giving birth’ and ‘people who can feed an infant from their bodies’ should align, otherwise you get a lot of dead babies and a quick slide to population extinction.
Call Mary Poppins
The more reproducing that A/O couples- or any other couple in an A/B/O fic does, the bigger the problem of childcare. Presuming you don’t choose the 100% dead baby option, someone has to care for these children. Childcare especially in the first five years of life requires a great deal of time consuming and tedious manual labor. No matter the joy that results from the smile of the child, someone still has to wipe the child’s ass and keep it from crawling out the window.
This does put a huge damper in the time that the main characters have to do whatever it is that made them a fannish favorite. Space exploration, crime solving, magical high school attending. Whatever. If the characters have one child, hauling it with them might be an option – especially in places that lack health standards, safety standards, and Child Protective Services departments. If the characters are the sorts of A/O couples who have litters? It’s not physically possible to bring five children under the age of three to a crime scene and expect anything to come of it other than an extremely high child and infant mortality rate.
When world building, you might want to find a character willing to serve as a nanny for the main characters. And you should figure that in a world where people give birth to litters, the problem of not enough hands, not enough lactating breasts, and not enough diapers will be one that will have a society wide answer. It’s not a high tech problem; it’s a division of labor problem. Make something up. Unless of course you want to put the baby out the airlock. In which case you put the baby out the airlock. It does solve the problem.
Keep the Population Going
For humanity (or any other species) to survive, you need to have people reproducing at the replacement rate or better. The survival of the species is generally considered a good thing. Even if you have moved from A/B/O land over to mantisfuck consentworld, the human mantis omega people need to produce enough offspring for there to be more little mantisfuckers.
In current US society, it takes about 2.1 children per woman to maintain the population size. This replacement value acknowledges that there are women who will have more than 2 children, women who will have no children, and that there is a relatively low rate of maternal and infant mortality by historical standards.
What does this have to do with the production of assbabies? In the A/B/O world, whatever combination of genders – female, male, alpha, omega, beta that can give birth, should on a societal level, average out to replacement. If ½ the population are betas, and those betas are sterile? That means every fertile uterus available will have to pump out like 10 or 15 children to keep humanity from dying out. If the A/B/O world has pretty much everyone but male betas and alphas gestating? Easily 75% of the population? The replacement number gets much closer to one or two children per uterus.
Lucky for world building, alphas and omegas are not actually sad pandas unable to figure out sex. If the residents of A/B/O world can do nothing else, they can fuck. They can even do so without the artificial insemination efforts of zookeepers- meaning that they might well outlive the panda as a species.
Generally speaking, omegas and/or alphas go into heat/ruts on a semi-regular basis, and spend a whole lot of time doing things that involve semen. Aside from causing great trauma to the person who does laundry, this also annoys the fuck out of the neighbors. No matter how tolerant, no matter how accepting of others, the neighbors are going to get really annoyed by loud sex after a while. Three or four days of constant shouts, headboard banging, and power tool usage, and the A/O couple has a problem. Consider this in the world building.
If heats last for a long time say 4-7 days, they should take place much less frequently. Once a year or so. If heats last a short period like 24 hours, you might have them monthly. The ratio really depends on how many A/O couples you have.
An advanced maths word problem
Half the couples in the village are A/O. Each Omega goes into heat once a month for a week. Each A/O couple spend one week out of four fucking and causing laundry problems. Everyone else in the village has to deal with the crops and livestock. Half the village gets to take a week off each month for a sex vacation. Betas are stuck with the laundry.
How long until the betas of the village team up and start burning down the huts of the A/O couples while they are trapped inside during heats? If the betas are going to do all the work anyway, they can make their lives much easier by eliminating demanding assholes that leave semen stains on everything and then force them to provide daycare.
Ten percent of the couples of the village are A/O. Each Omega goes into heat twice a year for three days. For six days a year the couples fuck and cause laundry issues. Everyone else in the village gets over it, because the sex vacation time is less than most people spent incapacitated by the flu last winter.
How many generations do the A/O couples continue to exist before the advent of modern technology and heat suppressants made sex vacation weekend an optional experience?
The equation: (%A/O couples of Total Population x Heat Frequency x Heat Duration)/manual labor required for survival= %chance that the betas will revolt at the amount of semen and kill the A/O couples in their sleep.
Show your work.
Humans are Sexual Creatures
Sex: People are still going to have it in any combination and any way that the author feels like. Consent and rape are probably going to have entirely different meanings and connotations depending on how the world building handles heats, ruts, and population dynamics. Are there new sexual taboos? A world where 25% of men have uteruses or 25% of women are capable of impregnating other women is going to probably develop some new codes of behavior. The dubious consent tag was invented for a reason.
How does gender intersect with all of this? Does the M/F preference overrule the A/B/O preference? Or does the A/B/O preference overrule the M/F preference? Is there a societal preference for relationships that are at least theoretically fertile? Or for ones that aren’t?
What is considered genitals and what do they look like? Does an ass that can produce assbabies look different from one that can’t? Does the alpha female have something visibly different from the omega? Do people have special underwear? Is there a taboo against omega men going about topless? Consider it carefully. Porn is on the line.
Sometimes We Soul Bond
Soul bonds are a lovely concept, in moderation. They simply have a few practical difficulties. Mild soul bonds, the ones where two people feel tied to each other, share each other’s thoughts, have a cosmic emotional resonance? That’s fine. Provided of course they only happen to a limited percent of the population or they have a limited physical effect when it fails. Depression, angst, misery? Fine. Death, comas, or toenail fungus? Probably not going to help continue the human species.
Soul bonds where someone literally dies if the other dies? That is for the few, the proud, the OTP. Unless the entire history of human events is rewritten to change everything including war, accidents, medical care, and the popularity of adventure sports such as skydiving. It gets complicated.
When building an A/B/O world the biggest decision that you have to make- only slightly more important than the decision of who is the alpha and who is the omega- is how many people in the world are A/O, and who knows about it. There are three basics population break down points: 1% or less, 10%, or 50%. Roughly equivalent to the percentage of something that could be semi-secret, the gay population, and the female population. All other world building flows from this.
The 1% are different: Secret Ass Babies and Sparkly Vampires
At 1% or less of the population, A/O can be a deep secret. Maybe it’s something only seen in or two family lines. Perhaps it’s a genetic quirk only found in a specific ethnic group- for a definition of ethnic group which includes “The two people the author wants to be A/O”. A/O is a secret thing, not known to general public. Think of any secret society or mythical species- the vampires, werewolves, residents of Atlantis, or other mythical creatures. It’s like that.
If the A/O is secret, there is no need to make changes in the world building of general society. After all, people are not aware of the assbabies in their midst. (Or in the mist). Obviously once inaugurated into the world of A/O there are rules and regulations in the secret society. But the author doesn’t need to spend much time worrying about how a person would be marked Alpha on a passport, or how this affects the gendering of restrooms in airports.
Seekrit A/O would create problems for the A/O: How do you get time off work for heats? How do you get fake documentation for the clearly impossible and not existing m/m or f/f baby? How do A/O individuals identify each other? Who sells properly waterproofed bedding?
If it isn’t a total secret, how are A/O individuals who are part of an astonishingly small minority treated? Positively? Negatively? Will they be tabloid fodder? What happens when someone goes to the urologist with a strange bump on the penis? Will they be over represented in Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency?
Outside of the A/O population, life for the Betas (or ‘normal humans’) will probably be structured more or less the same as it is now. Sure they have to cover on heat days once every few years, and they have to get used to the rare random sight of a pregnant dude. They may have new prejudices or cultural references. But there is no automatic need to change the entire structure of the society to accommodate this possibly secret minority population.
The Decimation: A/O populations at about the 10% point.
At 10% or so of the population, A/O is special. People can try to hide it, it can be discouraged, and it can be shamed. But it is too many people to be fully hidden from the general public. Obviously this depends on if A/O is a genetic lineage, related to an ethnic group, or evenly distributed. But the end result is that 5-15% of the total population, A/O people is that it would probably resemble the demographics of the modern day western LGBT population.
You have a large enough group that the seekrit assbabies will not be so astonishingly secret, there will probably be specialty retail establishments meeting all of the heat, knotting, and clean up related needs of A/O families. Services will (in theory) be available. Order a cooler full of heat friendly food stuffs each day. Check into a hotel designed for heat. Spend a small fortune on suppressants. Spend a large fortune on birth control.
Everyone will have that A/O cousin, the A/O sister, or the urban legend type story of that guy they went to High School with who didn’t know he was an omega until he gave birth in the bathroom on prom night. The adult film industry will probably have an outsized impact on people’s knowledge of heat sex and or knotting- if knotting is a thing.
Religion, language and cultural references start to be a thing. What A/B/O status were major religious figures? Did Christianity trade the father, the son, and the holy ghost for the alpha, the omega, and the beta? How do the Dutch feel about assbabies? How do Argentinians? Do A/O’s run stronger in some ethnic groups than others, so maybe 30% of the Chinese population and diaspora are A/O but only 3% of the Nigerian?
Like they are women or something: A/O at 50%
If half of the population is A/O, it’s an obvious phenomenon. An easy parallel is to the role of women in the real world. When half the population is women there are a ton of easily available things specifically for them. Clothing. Items related to menstruation. Birth control. Blogs. Books. Advice. Social restrictions and controls. Dating etiquette.
The place where this metaphor falls apart is in childbearing. A very large portion of the woman specific things in society are at their base level, due to women being the ones who give birth to children and who do the bulk of the hands on child care. In a 50% A/O universe, you are looking at something like 70% of the population who are capable of bearing children and a smaller percentage (non-omega men, possibly alpha women) who cannot. A lot of things like maternity wear are going to have a male line in a women's store, or a special section in a men’s clothing store- think of the rack of maternity pants in the men’s section. Or maybe just a gender neutral store of pregnancy clothing
At this level of the population you are looking at ½ Betas (regular people) ¼ omegas and ¼ alphas. There is going to be a serious set of conflicts between the groups and between identities. Is A/B/O more important than gender M/F? Does culture group status over rule A/B/O + M/F, or is A/B/O the most important divider.
With this level of A/B/O major events and historical people are going to have to be adjusted to reflect it. The classic questions: “Was Jesus an Alpha?”, “Was Genghis Khan an Omega*?”, “Was George Washington the first Beta President?” “Who was the first Beta on the moon?” will all need to be answered.
*Everyone knows Genghis Khan was the most badass omega of all time.
What’s a Beta? A/O at 100%
See the 50% section, only without the chance of the beta majority rising up and overthrowing the Alphas and Omegas. All of human history is going to need to be rewritten either to accommodate the changes that universal A/O status makes or to explain that everyone decided to just ignore that A/O thing, k thx bye.
It goes without saying that the concept of Alphas and Omegas is no longer secret.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me with bits of this Primer over the last two years. Conversations about population, about assbabies, about history and plausibility. Plus a lot of fixing of my highly dubious punctuation.
In particular I’d like to thank Seperis, who started this off, AzureLunatic who built a lot of it, and my science expert who genuinely wants nothing to do with A/B/O universes, but loves world building and real!biology anyway.
I would also like to give a shout out to the Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics bookmark at AO3, which has let me follow the adventures of the A/B/O people of many worlds, not just my primary fandoms. Every one of the authors there is awesome and has given me something to think about.
And finally, I want to than the anons over at Fail_FandomAnon who kept me up to date on the spread of A/B/O across fandoms. They also invented both Dogfuck Rapeworld and Mantisfuck Consentworld and as such have me forever in their debt.
And finally, finally: Two links for further reading and world building
Netweight has created a very complicated timeline tracing the exact history of the A/B/O concept from it's Supernatural origins.http://archiveofourown.org/works/1022303/chapters/2033841
Diana Williams did the genetics of her version of A/B/O, complete with squares and charts. It's a great deal more scientific, or at least fake scientific than my impregnation chart. http://archiveofourown.org/works/766040/chapters/1435445
A few primer updates for 2015.
First, a serious and genuine update- ‘abo’ when used as a short version of aboriginal is a massive racial slur in Australia. A 100% do not want do not use slur. Please don’t use abo as shorthand for the omegaverse. A/B/O with the slashes is fine. So is A-B-O or A/O or omegaverse or 99% of the ways to talk about alpha/beta/omega dynamics. Just avoid an unadorned ‘abo’.
End all seriousness, onto the assbabies.
Scientific Research via AO3
An alpha/beta/omega Dynamics retrospective: Using AO3 tags as a proxy for popularity, science, and fame, a look at A/B/O related works and activity.
The ‘first’ stories with the alpha/beta/omega dynamics tag were posted in February 2010. As of September 20, 2015, five and ½ years later, there are 10,050 works. Certainly enough to be getting on with.
Pulling the most frequently connected tags, all Omegaverse proxies:
• Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics
• Mating Cycles/In Heat
The below chart appears.
Aside from the discovery that big fandoms are big fandoms, what do the tags show? Well, mostly that there are assbabies that have nothing to do with A/B/O, which just seems wrong to this author.
The biggest outliers are in mpreg- prominently Harry Potter, showing that mpreg was a thing in magical universes well before the omegaverse was a twinkle in the SPN kinkmeme’s eyes. Thor shows up here, separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe for the same reason. Once you have canonically given birth to a horse, you are going be giving birth to some assbabies. Loki alone pretty much accounts for that.
Mating Cycles/In Heat shows up separately with Homestuck. Homestuck needs a primer of it’s own to explain what is going on there, but aliens. Not A/B/O Definitely some aliens doing some sort of mating there. Probably with special symbols and an animation.
Who’s an alpha, who’s an omega, and who gets to be a beta, at least enough for there to be a searchable tag for them.
This chart has several short comings, chief among them the inability to identify which John, Harry, Dean, or Sam is which, requiring they be left off. There are only 14 characters on all of A03 who have tags for all three secondary genders and who can be identified as a single character. So ‘Alpha Sherlock’, ‘Beta Sherlock’, and ‘Omega Sherlock’ are all referring to a variant on Sherlock Holmes.
Some characters are strongly identified with a single dynamic- Molly Hooper is Omega Molly 74% of the time. Greg Lestrade is Alpha Lestrade 84% of the time. Other characters are split more evenly by dynamic- Castiel spends pretty much equal time as an Omega or an Alpha. Yet of the 1300 plus Sherlock (TV) A/B/O stories only 700 of them have Sherlock tagged with a dynamic, other fandoms have an even lower ratio. The percentages of beta characters are very low, and very predictable. After all Betas are just people and why on earth would anyone tag them specially. Omega Molly and Alpha Lestrade are more an example of the urge that leaves works scattered about labeled “Top Dean” and “Bottom Castiel” or vice versa.
The author is now greatly regretting dropping out of graduate school (1), where she might have been willing to run this data through statistically analysis software to find the true correlation of knotting and stories featuring hurt/comfort. Or of the use of omegaverse at fan fiction .net (2) vs. AO3.
For the reader ready to move onto advanced Omegaverse, tens of thousands of words of Meta have been written covering everything from the internal organ structure of the male omega to the societal inheritance laws in a place where there are secondary genders. Look around find a point of interest and join the discussion.
Finally, if an assbaby comes into a fic but no one tags it, does that assbaby really exist?
(1) Not really. This is my Master’s Thesis.
(2) Author cannot for the life of her figure out how to find anything at Fanfiction.net