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Nexus Clash portrays several iterations of a reincarnating universe, with each iteration called a Breath. At each iteration, all characters in the game begin their lives again at level one without the equipment, skills, spells and character points that they had in prior Breaths. Characters are free to become what they once were, or take up an entirely new path.

The cause of the cycle of Breaths is a much-debated mystery, as is the origin of the term. The oldest known reference to the word "Breath" comes from the writings of Haldos, who described the universe as the eternal inhaling and exhaling of all that exists by an omnipotent but mindless Creator. The Elder Powers are primarily concerned with the fate of Breaths. While the influence of all the Powers can be felt in every Breath, the victor of each Breath has far greater power to shape the next universe, and the nature of the world inevitably reflects the personality of the Power that shaped it. The exact nature of those differences varies from Breath to Breath, and some elements of different creations with different histories - such as language, architecture, and calendars - may be eerily similar to those in other Breaths shaped by a different Power, while other elements such as human nature and world history may be radically different.

In terms of game mechanics, the start of a new Breath is usually accompanied by new gameplay features and balance improvements, as well as new planes of existence to explore. Gameplay changes may be added at any time and are not constrained to happening at Breath changes. All characters lose almost everything when a new Breath begins, with a few exceptions: faction membership and rank, clothing, Lore, lifetime character statistics, and lifetime Badges.

Out of character, when a Breath begins the Development Team will then begin work on the following Breath, though many key aspects of the next Breath can only be determined when the current Breath has a clear winner.

List of Breaths portrayed in Nexus games
Breath Shaped by Victor Playable planes Duration Notes
Breath 0 (Nexus War) Goros Marquai Valhalla (Earth/St. Germaine), Stygia/Warrens, Paradise/Nimbus, Purgatorio, Nifleheim May 2006 - October 2009 This Breath was playable as Nexus War, the previous game in the series.
Breath 1 (WIGBL) Namm Tlacolotl Valhalla (Prime Plane), Elysium, Gehenna November 2009 - December 2010 The game was renamed from Worlds in Global Battle Locked (WIGBL) to Nexus Clash at the end of Breath 1. In-universe, an indeterminate number of Breaths passed between Breath 0 and Breath 1.
Breath 2 Tlacolotl Tholaghru Many small planes: Acid Springs, Birchdale, Caprica, Crystal Grotto, Diamondthrone, Foghaven, The Forgotten Bay, Heroic Yearnings, Kaleidoscopia, Marrakun, The Necropolis, Il Pozzo del Deserto, Silverlight, Wonderland, Elysium, Gehenna December 2010 - December 2011
Breath 3 Tholaghru Baraas Valhalla (Petra) and Pocket Space, Elysium, Gehenna, Purgatorio and the Dead Caves, The Pit December 2011 - July 2015
Breath 4 (Current Breath) Baraas Marquai Valhalla (Laurentia), Elysium, Stygia, Purgatorio July 2015 - Present This Breath is often also referred to as Breath 3.5; it was partially completed at its 2015 launch and fully completed in 2018.
Fifth Breath Marquai Undetermined Valhalla (Cordillera), Elysium, Stygia, Purgatorio Indeterminate This Breath is planned to refine and improve upon many game features.