A Paradox Between Worlds (a metafictional story) - early-stage WIP, updated 2021-04-12

A Paradox Between Worlds is a game about fandoms, popular media, and the stories we create for ourselves. I posted in the interest check thread: Interest Check Thread - #3232 by autumnchen

Opening Epigraph

Stories can bridge the gap between who we are and who we aren’t yet. Narratives allow us to exist not just here and now and in this flesh but in that possibility space as well; it’s the spell that can change us. You can’t change if you don’t know the magic; how can’t exist if you don’t know how. You can feel the need in your gut so strongly it hurts every minute of your life, but all you know is the absence until the story shows you the way. When the possibility is named, when the story is told, it becomes possible for it to one day be real.

  • Aevee Bee, “The Story is a Spell. The Story is a Curse.”

potterheads, grab your wands

whovians, hop in your TARDISes

supernatural fans, get the shotguns

sherlockians, hire your consulting criminals

tributes, knock an arrow

avengers fans, assemble

lotr fans, unsheath Sting

we’ve got a few people to track down

  • geekerypokery, tumblr

To repeat some of the information from that post: the story will have three layers: Universe, Online, and IRL

“Universe” refers to the fictional story, the Chronicles of the Shadow Nebula franchise created by Scottish woman named G. T. Macmillan. In general it’s kind of inspired by HP, Star Wars, and Homestuck. It is a space opera/coming-of-age story/cosmic horror about an ordinary orphan from Terra, named Galileo “Gali” Nova, who is recruited to join the Pulsar Academy, a university that trains the new elites (”magi”) of the Nebula Empire.

As for how the player relates to that, you’ll be writing a fanfiction within the universe, a side story told through CYOA, where you can make choices that conflict with canon, like changing Gali’s gender or pursuing different romance options.

Then there is the Online portion, the other great part of the game. It takes place in a vaguely tumblr-esque blogging and discussion platform, and will deal with the drama therein.

And finally, the IRL. You are an ordinary 16-year-old living in the sburban jungle of America in the year 201X. You might be gay or trans or something like that, but no one IRL knows, least of all your parents. The Nebulaverse fandom is your safe space. And you might lose it.

In-Universe characters

Galileo “Gali” Nova: the protagonist, an orphan boy who is invited to the Pulsar Academy on his 16th birthday. Keeper of Light.

Bruno Helios: a scion of the elite Helios family, a student at the Pulsar Academy, and a rival-turned-grudging-friend to Gali. Many people believe there is romantic subtext in their relationship, but of course Macmillan disagrees. Reaper of Ice.

Tycho Planetes: an ordinary but talented boy who is a student at the Pulsar Academy. Gali’s roommate and loyal best friend, and often shipped with him (Macmillan does not approve). Speaker of Stone.

Astra Van Allen: a highly studious girl who has the highest grades at the Pulsar Academy, and close friends with Gali and Tycho. Canonically supposed to be Tycho’s love interest, but also has moments with Gali (and fandom-subtexted moments with Capella). Weaver of Metal.

Capella Taikong: a somewhat flighty girl. A student at the Pulsar Academy who has her own agenda, and is morally questionable at times. Canonical love interest of Gali (and fan favorite partner of Astra, Macmillan be damned). Augur of Wind.

The Administrator: real name unknown, he is the principal of Pulsar Academy. He is somewhat of a mysterious figure who has taken an interest in Gali and his friends, and might have been the person who invited him. Persona: ???

Online/IRL characters

@lunan0va: luna | she/her | minor | asian | augur of ice, keeper of the forbidden transgirl!gali lore

@shadow-protectrix: I’m Claire, your favorite nonbinary ace fandom mom. Keeper of Wind, they/them. I’m very much an adult, but I’ll try to keep it kid-friendly here. All ships are welcome.

@brunova-official: follow the light and find the truth (Lux, lvl 17, he/him, weaver of light)

@nebulascribbler: never apologize for being who you are. (-Sofia. -latinx lesbian. -20-something. -she/they. -Nebulaverse fandom writer. -augur of light.)

@apocalypsehoarder: stella | they/she | reaper of metal | 17 | astrapella forever

@trappedinspace: yes this is a chronicles sideblog. yes i’m a loser. karla, she, >18 only. f*ck macmillan.

Elements and roles

Elements

The Nebula is governed by five (or maybe six) elements, which describe the physical world, the human world of society, and the inner world of the mind. Every human in the Nebula has a persona, an element that is most resonant to them. Students in the Pulsar Academy are assigned to houses based on their personae, where they will be taught to use their element to its maximum potential.

Light: stars, heat, nuclear forces; emotion, passion, offense

Stone: planets, asteroids, gravity; stability, order, defense

Metal: human ingenuity, the artificial; knowledge, logic, balance

Wind: gas giants, stellar winds, electromagnetism; discovery, novelty, change

Ice: comets, water, inertia; flexibility, adaptability, survival

And finally, there is Shadow, a secret element. It represents dark energy and matter, as well as the inner self, psychology, and the struggle against the established order.

Roles

Each mage is assigned a role, starting within the Academy and proceeding to the hierarchy of the Empire. Roles are assigned based on the skills and proclivities of the mage, and describe the job that the mage is to perform. Unlike personae, roles are not assigned for life, and might change.

Augur: the scientist; the discoverer of new knowledge related to the element. They are research assistants in the Academy.

Keeper: the guard; the defender of values intrinsic to the element. They act as prefects in the Academy.

Reaper: the fighter and rebel; often opposed to the values of the element. They form the Academy’s militia.

Speaker: the communicator; proselytizes the element. They are teaching assistants in the Academy.

Weaver: the creator; uses the element to aid civilization. In the Academy they are nurses’ assistants, custodians, and engineers.

Influences and related works

Fandoms: Harry Potter (especially the early HP fandom), Homestuck, Star Wars, Superwholock (really just Supernatural and Sherlock)

Media with related themes: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Secret Little Haven, Cibele, Lore Distance Relationships, Creatures Such as We

IRL fandom drama incidents: Msscribe, The Johnlock Conspiracy, hivliving, Dashcon

For a Nebulaverse elements quiz, see https://uquiz.com/GlFTZ6. And for a Nebulaverse roles quiz, see https://uquiz.com/ifqBq5.

I’ve been posting updates sporadically on my blog at https://cyberpunklesbian.tumblr.com/tagged/a-paradox-between-worlds (I don’t have the discipline to maintain a separate IF/development blog).

I would like to have a private demo for now, since I might want to submit it for a competition. If you’re interested in trying it out, DM me and I’ll send a link (eventually; I might be a bit slow in responding). The story is very early-stage, with more worldbuilding and notes than actual content written down. The raw word count right now is ~6700 words.

(note: I’m still working on the sequel to Pageant and am more than halfway done with that; this is kind of a procrastination project)

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I read it as “inspired by HP Lovecraft”, then had a panic attack, then realized it is Harry Potter, then had another panic attack when see the “cosmic horror” part

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It’s really interesting, lol that cosmic horror part brought a smile on my face.

This is weirdly intriguing one. I hope there’ll be a demo soon.

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That’s awesome you decided to make this! I saw the interest check post a while back and it looked pretty cool, I’m excited to read it!

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This is such an interesting concept. I’ll make sure to stick around your project :slight_smile:

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Hi I saw your post and I’d be ecstatic to read your story!

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This Sounds Amazing ill Wait For The Public Realase!

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This is such a unique story. I’m looking forward to it! :clap:

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it will be very interesting to see the amount of chaos we can cause on the fandom.

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Thanks to everyone for the responses! If you dm’ed me, you should have received a link by now. The story is still just starting out, at around 9000 words.

Feel free to post quotes or screenshots here (especially if there are any bugs), but I would appreciate it if the link isn’t spread around too much.

How do you feel about the story and ideas so far? What kinds of things would you like to see?

(If you want to beta-test, feel free to dm me; it’s never too late.)

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(slam dunks this in before midnight) I am a fast reviewer :).

General: This was really fun! I liked how… online? it was, and how the writing styles for different bits varied. (“the raven-haired girl ejaculated” made me laugh like… god writers really loved the word ‘ejaculated’ huh. Wow.) Loved the post montage especially because of how Tumblr the whole thing was, but also the difference between blogs (like how Luna tags her personal posts #moondust! I thought that was a cool detail).

Typos/suggestions (warning: some grammar nitpicking! probably not super-relevant nitpicking either!)

Metallic tables are arranged in neat rows, packed with 16 year old students sitting in uncomfortable chairs. Most are at least pretending to listen to the Administrator’s speech.
It is Galileo Nova’s first night at the Pulsar Academy, and he is nowhere near ready for what comes.
Meanwhile, Astra visibly rolls her eyes.

(^ a few tense inconsistencies)


"Be quiet!", the girl with glasses whispered.

Should be without a comma — “Be quiet!” the girl with glasses whispered. Same error with these two sentences:

"Astra, did you really listen to all that?", the blonde boy asked.
"And why were you sent here?", Capella asked.
"Um, because I passed the entrance exam?", he replied.


Online Name: sol @

You could have a check to see if we’ve put in our username yet; as it is there’s a floating @ in the stat screen before choosing the URL.


*label nebulaverse_nebula
Nebulagas giants, stellar winds, electromagnetism; discovery, novelty, change

Repetition of the “wind” section (in the stats screen).


Enter your name:
*input_text handle

Probably needs a lowercase prompt [Enter your name (in all lowercase):] so Luna doesn’t accidentally capitalize your name.


For the post montage, it’d be nice if we had choices for which tags to reblog a post with? (e.g. really dickish PCs could reblog the fanart w/ “don’t tag as #kin or #id” with, well, “#kin” or “#id”). Obviously not options for every post, but I think it would be neat.


You’re gonna be a jerk by reblogging her post? Really?

As a person instead of a reader I appreciate this (some people on social media really don’t care for boundaries, huh) but! I think some players might not like the game telling them directly that this is a Bad Moral Choice — like in VTM—Night Road, the narration pretty strongly implies that the right thing to do in Camp Scheffler (am I spelling that right) is to free the imprisoned immigrants, but if you want to play a racist evil vampire it won’t directly ask you to confirm like this. So something like:

You’re gonna reblog the post she explicitly tagged as don’t reblog? Really?

…might get your point across without the same level of outward disapproval? YMMV though.

Misc. thoughts
  • Is reblogging a post ever going to reflect our posting style, or does that only apply to what you say yourself?
  • It’s kind of funny that Stella has absolutely zero opinions on what you reblog. (Even “do you love the color of the sky?”) Impressive, honestly.
  • Holy hell how much branching must go into writing a whole in-universe fic I am in awe
  • How does the whole ‘multiverse’ thing work in the Nebulaverse, or is that just a popular fic idea? (Since our PC’s fic seems to be about a multiverse, plus that “you mean the worlds to me” fanart.)
  • Is the Shipficator an actual Thing in the Nebulaverse… did Macmillan name it that to get closer to her fans… do characters use it to confess… many thoughts head empty………
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I have never been more intrigued by a concept in a while! I can already see the references in these Fandoms as I’ve been in most of these and have lived through a lot of these incidents. I would love to beta for you if possible :slight_smile:

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Thank you so so much for the detailed comments and suggestions!

The “ejaculated” thing was a direct reference to Harry Potter (e.g., “Ron ejaculated loudly”). Actually the whole writing style in the Universe portions is going to be an attempt at aping the YA fantasy style.

Responses to the comments:
  • The comma-after-quote is something I’ve done in everything I’ve written :weary:. I wish I knew it was incorrect earlier! Also thanks for the tense corrections!
  • Yes, tag options are a good idea; I’ll have more of them. But tagging something as #kin is… maybe you’ll have the choice to actually pick a kin. Hmm.
  • About the “moral” thing, I don’t really like making the protagonist too blank of a slate. Since they’re already friends with Luna, I feel like there’s at least the implication that the protagonist respects her? Also there will be more opportunities for more… subtle evil and manipulation. You can do bad things but reblogging a post tagged #dont reblog is just being petty and will get you thrown out of any online social circle. Idk. (the consequences should also include dislike from other users…)

I’m not sure whether I’m going to keep the “posting style” variables, tbh. I don’t really see a good way of working them into the story (basically they were kind of an online/IRL mirror for the five nebulaverse elements, but that doesn’t really work). If I do keep them, then they’ll probably only change with original posts or comments, or with really egregious reblogs.

There is a reason for that and it’s a spoiler. Although just by me mentioning that it’s a spoiler, you can probably guess what it’s going to be.

Unfortunately, it probably won’t be as heavily branching as you might hope. At least not much more than a typical choicescript story.

Hmm… I think it’s something obliquely mentioned in canon a few times (not in any detail), which the fandom has taken a hold of and made into a whole deal. The “you mean the worlds to me” was actually a reference to “all the worlds of the empire” or something like that, “worlds” meaning “planets”.

It is an actual device in the Nebulaverse; it’s a set of goggles that lets you see hues around people which correspond to your relationships with them (it’s not always accurate, however). Yes it’s called the Shipficator in canon. Yes Macmillan is aware of the fandom; she has a blog on fake-tumblr which you might see in the next chapter. (also possibly obvious but the whole idea is a reference to quadrants in homestuck; three of the four quadrants are basically covered here)

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Note that I am not too good at spotting gramtical errors, but so far, nothing really caught my eye, it’s alright :smiley:

First things first, I love how YA this felt lol. Admittedly, the only YA book I really liked and read was the Hunger Games series. But still, while you got the feel of the writing style, admittedly I didn’t got to grasp the characters too well until I read the stats. While for its length it’s alright, I thought to mention it cause I had a it of trouble with remembering the characters besides Gali maybe.

The clearly Tumblr inspired mechanics are great, and legitimately nostalgic for me as somebody who once frequented the site back when it is still pretty young. I do have a suggestion, maybe use the Blog Theme to flavor our tags or comments? Or have the option to flavor our replies or tags to make our blog more personal. That might add a larger chunk on the word count though so I’m not sure. But that’s my idea on how to use the Blog Theme for personalization of our playthroughs.

Oh and don’t get me started on the Fandom flashbacks I am getting. That con, the author being very prominent in social media, even the personalities of the blogs gave me flashbacks dang. I’m excited with how this goes.

Sorry for how long it took. I don’t have that big feedbacks just yet but I hope this helps :slight_smile:

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Thank you for the comments! I’m considering adding more tagging/reblogging/commenting options (like, are you a meticulous categorizer or a chaotic tagger or someone who doesn’t use tags at all), either as one option for the whole blog or options for specific posts. As for remembering in-universe characters, well, for now, that’s what the guide in the stats is for. Would it be better to have longer in-universe sections?

Also, I’ve just uploaded a new revision as of 2021-04-13 (same link if you have it):

  • here’s a quiz for Nebulaverse roles: https://uquiz.com/ifqBq5
  • Included more detailed descriptions of roles, including a couple sentences for every persona-role combination (all 25!).
  • Added some more potential names and URLs. Changed a bit of wording around IRL name choice.
  • Added a Universe - Canon section about elements and roles (I’m not sure if it’s a good place to put it though?)
  • Finished the content for all 6 blogs in chapter 1. Added more details to some fanart descriptions.
  • Better blog browsing - going back and forth between posts.

Still TODO for chapter 1: finish up the fanfiction part, doing something with the reblogging/commenting/tagging options?

Current word count: ~13000 including code

If anyone wants the link, feel free to message me!

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It was Galileo Nova’s first night at the Pulsar Academy, and he was nowhere near ready for what comes. → present tense (should be what would come.)

Most of what I thought needed improvement was in the fanfic section. The very first choice is whether to change Gali’s gender or not, but I think it would be a good idea for the first choice should actually be whether they’re even a main character in the fic. Mostly because I really want the option to write an astrapella fic. That said, I totally understand if that would get to be too much variation.

Also, I thought it might be nice to select the gender of Gali’s ship partner, mostly because a lot of the time when some character is written as say, trans, their partner is also written as trans? I don’t know. Again, could be a lot of variations, but I’d honestly so adore the option to write a brunnova but they’re both trans men fic.

Regardless, I think the important thing to implemented is the ability to change your selection of ship and Gali’s gender, as it’s easy to click something wrong or change your mind and starting over is never fun.

Also, nitpicking, because I’m sure that first line probably wasn’t meant to be representative of the MC’s fanfiction, but it would be good to have a choice of whether to write the fanfiction in first, second, or third person. I shivered whenever I read that bit about second person, because I’m picky about my fics and I won’t touch it if it’s in second person, so the idea of my MC writing an entire fic in it was just wrong to me.

Another minor thing: after writing the first line of the fanfic the second “canon excerpt” repeats. It might just be placeholder, but yeah.

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Thank you so much for the comment! Right now the fanfic section is really underdeveloped, but you’ve given me some great ideas.

Originally I was kind of resistant to the idea of multiple potential protagonists because they’re all really different personalities, but… there can be choices for the protagonist to establish their personality, and even a “synchronicity” meter for how much they align with their canon personality. But I think Gali will be the only protagonist with gender options because they’re the only character with a strong history of trans headcanons/genderbending in the fandom. There should be trans options for the other characters though.

I’m not sure about gender changes in the middle of the story because… Will it be a retcon or will there have to be a messy coming-out storyline? As for relationship changes, will there have to be the potential for a messy break up storyline? Or awill it be a slow-burn with the potential for multiple potential romances from the start? Maybe all the initial ship option does is indicate what your fic will be tagged as, which is free to change (with consequences!).

I guess I’m used to 2nd person writing because I’m a homestuck lol so I don’t see it as odd in fanfic. I feel like perspective options are too much work (and not really done on any other stories) so I might just do 3rd person if that’s what people want.

Yes the canon fragment is a placeholder (I was originally going to have it there but moved it to before the persona choice).

What did you think of the online/universe segments?

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Oh, I’m sorry, I meant from a mechanical perspective. Like with the Nebulaverse roles, a little confirmation (are you sure you Gali to be a trans girl?) before it becomes set in stone that that’s what your fanfic is. I care a little less about midstory changes, personally, though it’s still a cool idea.

Universe segments:

I thought they were great. The first one is a character introduction, which I felt was a great choice for the very first glimpse of the Nebulaverse canon, and the second one is a little more Gali and worldbuilding focused and introduces a lot of questions (the robot kills people?), so I was quite happy with that overall. Also, it gave me some nostalgia from back when I was young and reading the Harry Potter books and had no clue about JK Rowling’s transphobia/general just not-great-ness.

Online:

I went through all the posts of all the blogs and I found them really interesting and very smooth. I didn’t get any bugs liking/reblogging etc, and each post was pretty interesting. One thing that I remembered was that while going through Luna’s blog, I was kind wishing that we knew some of the points of Luna’s essay? Not the whole thing, just enough to sort get the gist of what was being said, since it seemed that particular essay was pretty popular/important to the online space.

And yeah, I think third person would be better. It’s by and large the most common tense, at least in most fandoms/fanfics, so I think it would have the least chance of seeming strange/out of place to people.

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Yes, I can add confirmations to the fanfic decisions.

I’m definitely going to put more into Luna’s essay (the whole “being trapped in a literal closet and forced to figure out your identity at gunpoint” is a big part of it, as is preferring to be called Gali rather than Leo).

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