So, I’ve known it existed for a long time, but have only recently begun to examine the phenomenon known as “Jumpchain”, a kind of internet choose-your-own-adventure story. This post on a jumpchain blog explains it far better than I could.
Being so focused on using and taking advantage of various setting powers, it’s no surprise that jumpchains are popular on Spacebattles. I’ll admit I was reminded of the Infinite Loops, in that both combined fantasy with rules.
On one hand, viewed as an actual story vehicle, it has everything from power creep (the original “victory condition” of the endjump and planeswalker spark went from being an epic struggle with an epic reward to a readily munchkin-able condition that gives something the jumper will likely already have, for one) to (for not all, but too many jumpchain writers) making the actual adventures themselves play second fiddle to describing and arguing about the builds.
But as a munchkin fantasy? I can feel the guilty pleasure, and the weaknesses described above are totally understandable. So I just can’t bring myself to dislike jumpchain.
So, there’s a dirty little secret about Worm fanfiction, the kind that has taken SB/V by storm so much the mods had to make separate boards. I didn’t realize this secret because I (wisely) stayed even farther away from the fanfic scene than I did from the original story, but then I found out once I discovered more.
It’s not based on Wildbow’s original story.
It isn’t. A lot of Worm fanfic writers admit to having never read the original. Now, under normal circumstances, I would denounce that. And I still do. But even if it’s hard to defend, I can at least understand why people wouldn’t want to slog through a story that’s about as long as War and Peace and In Search of Lost Time put together. And has terrible pacing and other fundamentals.
And going for more fanfics makes it more flexible, since there’s nothing in the way. This explained everything when I came to that conclusion in one of the many Worm discussions. It explains why Wildbow’s later stories, including Worms own sequel, have generated basically nothing in terms of Spacebattles fanfics. It explains why everything is so divergent and why certain elements are latched on to beyond the usual “fanon” misunderstandings.
Wildbow writes, long dark, fantasy stories. The Worm fanfic writers write in a superhero sandbox, and the original work might as well have been an RPG sourcebook that was never meant to be treated as anything more than a vague guideline for the GM to fill in the blanks.
Now I’d be honestly interested to see what the main stories were that sparked this “fanon Worm”, the critical mass of early fanfics. Because it’s them and not the main story that are the real source material.
I changed my avatar on some sites to a strange villainess. That would be Limstella, the second-to-last boss of Fire Emblem  for the GBA.
To be honest, although I played the game as a child and loved loved loved it, at the time I only saw her as one boss among many. Now, I’ve grown to like her more. I think it’s the character design applied in greater detail by both official and fan artists giving her the semi-androgynous, creepy look with more justice than a 16 bit portrait.
As a deliberately almost emotionless drone, she doesn’t match her “sister” Sonia in terms of pure evil. What separates her from being just another speedbump is her death quote:
“I am not human. This body and this heart are constructs. Yes, as is this sorrow.”
Whether that’s a “why was I programmed to feel pain” quote, or an instance that there was something there that wasn’t in a mindless morph like Denning is up to the audience, and gives her (possibly unwarranted) attention. Still, she works as a minor villainess. (I even had a “Rosetta Stone” for a weird conlang by translating her name as “Starlight” in whatever language she was named in)
On AH, I saw a story called Night Witches and dismissed it as something to throw in the pile of mediocre 198X World War III. Then, seeing the story on Fanfiction.net again much later, I saw the context. It was a crossover/AU/Fusion with the cartoon Daria. And I was like “wah”?
I love weird crossovers, but that was something even for me. Really, really something.
Although the mere fact of the story’s existence is far more bizarre and interesting than anything inside it (The entire plot is that the cliche checklist of 198X WW3 is checked off and Daria flies an F-111), it can be seen on Fanfiction.net here.
Ok, so I’ve done a few bad fanfiction things in days gone by. Thankfully, little of this remains saved.
Until now. Oops!
-In terms of pure weirdness, I made a fic where Helga, the final boss of the ridiculous tie-in game Revolution X, killed the Kool-Aid Man. (All I can remember of the plot is her being brought by a MacGuffin Man, the Kool Aid Man appearing, and her turning his pitcher-body into a colander).
-In terms of technical inaccuracy, I had modern warships powered by burning coal.
-And of course, I’ve done “shipping”. Both rammed-together character ships that have no evidence and are likely contradictory, to bad canon character/OC ships. Although a lot of the crazier pairings aren’t really that serious. One was even designed to be the craziest pairing I could think of.
The fandom term “relationshipping” was turned into just plain “shipping”, leading to gigantic internet arguments about who was the best romantic pairing for characters. These “Shipping Wars” are rather-furious.
Some naive authors attempt to answer the shipping by making a canon couple. This does not work, to put it mildly.
The urge to make so-called “Fixfics” is strong among many fanfiction authors. They range from well thought-out trimming of the excesses to destroying the themes of the canon work in favor of cheap wish fulfillment. Take a guess which is more common.
That being said, I’ve both seen and hoped to write multiple fixfics. It’s tough, and depends a lot on the setting. One of the reasons why people gravitated to the Familiar of Zero setting is that it had a unique concept and strong foundation (fantasy set in a Renaissance setting, detailed enough background) and squandered it on silly antics. That was a good setting for a fixfic. There are bad ones too.
Some settings aren’t just adverse to fanfics overall, but especially to fixfics. Exactly what clicked when I was struggling to come up with a plausible fixfic of the infamous The Big One, remembered I was having similar struggles with the equally infamous Gate anime, and saw how oddly similar the settings were for a technothrilller with only one awkward supernatural element and a fantasy.
Both are horrifically nationalist works. Both go a step farther than the common patriotic thriller and work extra-hard to keep their nations from facing the slightest actual threat. And, most crucially, both have horrible worldbuilding that’s either uninspired, in the service of said “prevent conflict ASAP”, or both.
This makes fixfics tough. An author has to change a lot to make it more plausible/interesting, but that begs the question of why they wouldn’t just go the full length and write an original story unencumbered by all the baggage the existing setting has?
Watching a considerable variety of matches on the infamous Saltybet, the natural fanfic concept is to imagine a resort where the hundreds and hundreds of men, women, monsters, memes, cars, contraptions, and whatever else the MUGEN designers have made rest between their matches. Saltybet is too varied to provide any coherent concept, but the thought is still amusing.
The Smash Bros. fandom has set a precedent with the so-called “Smash Mansion”, where instead of turning back into trophies, the characters stay there between matches and interact in fics that tend to be bad even by the standards of Sturgeon’s Law.
Of course, since the long, official name is “Salty’s Dream Cast Casino”, my headcanon imagines another resort, where the interdimensional elite view and bet on such matches for their entertainment.
So maybe I’m just too bored when I see a Saltybet match and think “Hmm, what about ____ relaxing after the battle”.
Or maybe it’s just my sense of craziness that leads me to make fanfic ideas merging a cutesy RPG and a technothriller.