The well-world can be accessed through "well gates" on various other planets -- those once inhabited by the Markovians. The well-world was originally built by the Markovians, as a way to make life fun again after they had truly managed to acquire everything, and thus only a person who is thoroughly depressed and ready to start a new life can activate a well gate.

In Jack L. Chalker's Well of Souls sagas, the planet-sized computer which controls the existence of the universe. The Well World is divided into 5 regions:
The Well of Souls
The equatorial band divides the two hemispheres, and is the access point to the main computer.
Southern Hemisphere
780 hexes for carbon-based life to live in.
Northern Hemisphere
780 hexes for non-carbon-based life to live in.
Southern Zone
The south pole is the diplomatic region for the races that live in the Southern hemisphere.
Northern Zone
As with Southern Zone, except in the North.
The Well World contains 1560 hexes, each of which is a self-sufficient biosphere for a different sentient species, and which contains limitations or advantages to simulate the effects of the species' destined homeworld. Each hex, and the race therein, was designed by a different team of Markovians during the project to create a new universe. Hexes were reused, so only the last 1560 races to be designed still exist on the Well World.

Each hex has a limit on technology:

  • None: Only technology powered directly by muscle will work here.
  • Semi: Everything up through steam power works.
  • High: All technology is available
This limitation on technology makes wars of conquest nigh impossible, as a laser rifle becomes a fancy club in the next hex. However, wars are not unknown, although they typically center around maneuvering a Markovian to an Avenue at the equator (Many people are unhappy at the thought of allowing someone root access to the universe).

In addition the the normal hex shaped hexes, equatorial hexes are often wing-shaped, created by combining two half hexes (one split vertex-to-vertex east-west, and one split face-to-face north-south):

     _______    _______ __
     \      |  |      //  \
      \__Hex|  |Hex__//Hex \
         \  |  |  /   \    /
          \_|  |_/     \__/
This allows the hexes to have a straight border with the equator. The north-south border between two wing hexes is known as an Avenue. Avenues are the access points for the Well of Souls; each day at local midnight, the Well opens the border for a few seconds to anyone with the knowledge or need.

There are three basic modes of long distance transportation on the Well. The first is, of course, shank's mare. The second mode is by ship - sail power works in all hexes, and many ships also have steam engines for use in semi- and high- tech hexes. The third is teleportation via Well Gates.

There are four different types of Well Gate:

InterZone Gate
Two of these gates exist: one in Northern Zone, and one in Southern Zone. Walking into one teleports you to the other.
Zone Gate
The Zone Gates, located in the Zones, teleport a resident of the Well World to the Well Gate in their home hex. Non-residents who enter a Zone Gate are turned into residents of the Well World, and a new home hex (and race) is selected for them, based on their personality and the needs of the Well. They will appear in their new home hex at a semi-random location, able to speak their new native language, and adapted to their new body.
Hex Gate
Located at the central point of each hex (and hence, the location of the capital) is a Well Gate which will take anyone to the Zone in the same hemisphere.
Markovian Gate
Well Gates found on dead Markovian worlds throughout the universe. These Gates are activated by the presence of a Markovian, or by anyone with urgent need or suicidal tendencies. Entering one of these gates will take one to the Zone relevant for that lifeform.

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