Hacking the Isekai: Make Your Parallel World Work for You

Feeling lost in a parallel universe? Maybe you should have designed your own

 

Having trouble surviving in another world? Whether you're stuck there with your student council, your sister, or your smartphone, adjusting to a world of magic and monsters when you're used to computers and public transport can be difficult.

 

The solution? Program your own dang isekai.

 

Satou, the unwitting hero of Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody, doesn't realize that his RPG projects will become his new reality. If he did, perhaps he would have made things work a little differently. But there's definitely an advantage to his situation, even if it wasn't his choice. Maybe a few other interdimensional travelers could have benefited from his programming advantages...

 

Choose Your Player


In the before-times of shows like El-Hazard and Fushigi Yugi, average people whisked off to another world could be pretty certain they'd arrive just as they were before they left. But in recent years, journeys to alternate dimensions -- especially if you get there via death -- mean you could be pretty much anyone or anything when you get there.

 

Granted, if you're clever, you can still get an advantage. The salaryman of The Saga of Tanya the Evil managed to make quite a new life for himself, even though he was reincarnated as a small orphan girl. Ernesti of Knight's & Magic turned out pretty alright, going from a robot nerd to a robot pilot despite having to start life over.

 

Satou may have only de-aged a bit, but someone in his position could theoretically really game the system for themselves. He showed up with his usual username, sure. If you arrive at the beginning, think of how much of your "character generation" you could potentially control. And think of how powerful you could be!

 

Great Power = Great Responsibility


There are always culture shock problems when one goes abroad. If you're going to a fantasy dimension, you're almost certain to encounter that little snag of magic outranking science as society's functional problem-solver. Which, if you're coming from our dimension, is likely to be a problem.

 

Unless you're, say, Touya of In Another World with My Smartphone, who gets to keep his smartphone, be buddies with God, and can apparently use every kind of magic in this world whose magic system he knows absolutely nothing about. So you can luck out. But considering his circumstances involved accidental death, that's not necessarily the best way to go about getting your magic on.

 

Fortunately for Satou, he's got spells at his fingertips -- literally. An advantage of being in another world based on games you design? You know the interface, you know (at least to some degree) how powerful you are, and you can get a good idea of what situations you can take on and which you can run away from. Which, for a stranger in a strange land, is a big deal.

 

It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature


Recent isekai series seem to indicate that there's a very specific demographic that gets transported to (or killed and reincarnated in) alternate worlds. Largely, you find yourself with NEETs, hikikomori, and gamers. Which is bad when it comes to having to talk face-to-face with people in a world free of computers, but absolutely perfect for anyone who knows their way around a fantasy kingdom.

 

As with the world of KonoSuba, there's some degree of comfort in being genre-savvy. But that goes double for Satou, who is literally gifted with a game interface in front of him. There's just one problem... he didn't work out the bugs before he was transported.

 

There's a bright side, though: if it's your game and your bugs, you know how to make the best of them. Imagine having infinite food and water because you forgot to fix the item coding before you left. A bad exploit for your players then means an awesome exploit for you now.


No Need for a GPS

 

Feeling directionally challenged now? Try going to an entirely new world with entirely different climate zones and plants and animals. Nothing's familiar, the logic is likely slightly different to our world's, and you can't even navigate by the stars.

 

Unless you're fortunate enough to have created the world you find yourself in, in which case you're not only going to know much of the terrain like the back of your hand, you've also got a good sense of what areas have what sorts of foliage and wildlife. So even if you weren't particularly paying attention on a certain map, you can fake your way around. (If your game is procedurally generated, that's all on you.)


Basically You're God


Let's just get down to brass tacks here. You know the magic system. You know the world. You know how powerful everyone is. You know the fastest way to make yourself more powerful. You know where the exploitable bugs are to keep yourself comfortable without having to overwork yourself.

 

Honestly? The only downside is getting too confident.

 

Played right and carefully, an isekai adventure into a world of your own making, errors and all, could be a picnic. Not an easy picnic. You still don't have mod-cons (unless you're Touya up there, dang it), and you still have to readjust your expectations. But the advantages of knowing what you're in for, where it is, and the easiest way to deal with it means you can enjoy your fantasy adventure until it's time to go home. Or not.

 

With all these advantages at his disposal, let's see how Satoo fares this winter.

 

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody airs Thursdays at 8:30 am PST.


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Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, blogs and runs interviews for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos. Her latest stories can be found in Whoblique Strategies.

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