Archipelago Exodus is a message board primarily dedicated to roleplaying — cooperative storytelling in which members create their own characters and work their way through a story together. You're probably familiar with the concept.
The majority of the stories are set in the Archipelago, a tiny island chain broken off from Japan where the incidence of people born with superpowers is exceptionally high. Other supernatural humans, simply called Powers, from all around the world gravitate toward the Archipelago as the society most accepting of them. Taken as a whole, the RPs encapsulate a wide range of genres including action, science fiction, fantasy, crime/noir, and shonen. Pretty much no matter what kind of storytelling you're interested in, there are probably other RPers who've created characters that can work in that setting. Oh, and not every character has to be a Power. Far, far from it. Badass Normal characters are more than acceptable.
In general, RPs are considered to take place in chronological order by start date unless otherwise specified. There is a sense of continuity — the expectation is that characters will grow over the course of multiple stories and form lasting friendships (and enmities) — but fresh stories that don't continue any previous plot thread are a very frequent and welcome occurrence.
Archipelago Exodus contains examples of:
- Author Appeal:
- According to the 2015 census topic, Pohatu's characters overwhelmingly trend atheist/secular or somewhere in that area. Even his characters who are religious/"spiritual" most often aren't conventionally theistic.
- As summed up in this post, you always know a Lugiasian character name when you see one. They're united by a distinct "beautiful" aesthetic, with few outliers.
- Lee's characters are largely self-deterministic, each one of them typically deciding to sculpt themselves into their own people, free of outside influences. If you look through his twenty most used characters, a whopping EIGHT of them either use self-chosen nicknames or pseudonyms.
- Elliot has his Cast Full of Gay.
- Breakout Character: Hey, did you know Emily started out as a Perky Female Minion to a villainous arms dealer named George Buckland as part of an organization called the Obsidian Hearts? Tenuously, she still is! But you'd be hard-pressed to find any traces of that in her material any more, other than explaining her close adherence to Natalie (who's also a sometime associate of the group).
- Cast Full of Gay: Elliot's cast is by far the stand-out example, as he has gone on the record to say that he only has one heterosexual character (Illiana), and even then she felt a genuine attraction to another author's female character (Channery). Word of God says this is a personal preference of his, due to being gay himself.
- Cast Herd: Many characters tend to travel in packs, and it's the most common way of recruiting characters to new RPs. As such, there's a lot of discussion of "alliances", and how these groups collide and interact.
- Five-Man Band:
- The Whelkshore Alliance has Zebedee as The Leader (levelheaded + charismatic varieties); Natalie as The Lancer; Sly as The Smart Guy; Ender pulling support on both Lancer and Smart Guy duties; Valon as The Big Guy; and Thyra as The Chick. After Light and Darkness Collide, Zebedee and Thyra trade roles.
- The "Rogues & Brogues" break down as follows: Terrian as The Leader (charismatic + very mild mastermind, specifically Guile Hero); Rie as The Lancer; Blaise as The Smart Guy; Jonas as The Big Guy; Helen as The Chick; and Rhys fulfilling an as yet somewhat undefined role, probably somewhere between Lancer and Smart Guy.
- In (Dis)Orientation, we have a forming group of Almudena as The Leader (headstrong + charismatic styles); Flint as The Lancer (The Stoic style); Deandre as The Smart Guy; Ben as The Big Guy; Garth as The Chick; Nessa as The Sixth Ranger; and Dalisay as the Tagalong Kid.
- A secondary Four Man Band in (Dis)Orientation consists of Carlos as The Leader and The Smart Guy, Melanie as The Lancer, Jay as The Big Guy, and Evelyn as The Chick.
- And a third five man band in (Dis)Orientation is forming among the faculty with Thyra as The Leader, Marius as The Lancer, Kilik as the Smart Guy, Belwyn/Emily as The Chick, and Silumas as The Big Guy / Token Evil Teammate.
- Hub City: After Ishkabibble put Winstone City on the map, it became a major focal point for RPs, serving subsequently as the setting for The Case of the Burgled Boullogne, Obscured Truth, Entertain the Masses, Reemergence, Alighieri, and Power Creep, along with putting in appearances in flashbacks during What Lurks Beyond the Dark and Murder Mystery in the Glade, and featuring in the solo fic Muddy Season.
- Masquerade: Zigzagged in ORP. It's hard to find proof of any definite consensus between RPers on whether Powers are a recognized and accepted aspect of humanity or whether their culture is covered up within mainstream society. Altogether, though, it seems like this trope is usually averted in the Archipelago, where Powers are most common, and may be played straight in other nations.
- Official Couple:
- Surprisingly rare, with Thyra-Zebedee the only really prominent couple of recent years. Some pairings that were cemented at one time have sunk due to the demise of one of the characters, like Ender-Natalie and Yoshimitsu-Vincent; other couples like Rick-Mia have simply fallen by the wayside as characters (and authors) have passed Out of Focus; and then there are cases like Huckabee and Williams who are canonically spoken for, but their significant others have little or no onscreen presence.
- Counterbalancing all this are certain "semi"-Official Couples: relationships that haven't properly taken off but are pretty generally recognized to be a-brewin'. So, for instance, it's not uncommon to hear Helen and Rhys spoken of in Official Couple terms.
- Personality Powers: A heavily discussed trope, to the point of being one of the main themes of the setting. Do powers arise from one's personality, or did they influence their bearers to become a fitting user for said power? The site is all over the place on this one, on a character by character basis.
- Retcon: The community got its start in a Pokémon roleplaying board, and while the setting almost entirely abandoned Pokémon themselves (retaining them only in what eventually became a much tinier offshoot board), city names from the Pokémon regions Kanto and Johto remained in use for many years, especially Cherrygrove City. Finally, in late 2015, a soft reboot erased all Pokemon trappings from the setting and substituted new, unrelated place names.
- Running Gag: Twice, Elliot's characters have been featured to respond to RPs in the shoutbox at the bottom of the page rather than in the actual thread. The first time, Felix went on to have a cameo in Ishkabibble. The second time, Elliot jokingly suggested that the statement was canon and Carlos really did make to leave the gym in (Dis)Orientation.
- Strawman Has a Point: Done In-Universe. In her first speech to Terminer Academy, Thyra name drops Williams' city, and then proceeds to point out that with the number of violent and criminal Powers, normal people are totally justified in being terrified of them, and unless the Powered community straightens their act up, they're actually deserving of all the scorn they receive.
- Super Weight: Characters from all levels have been seen, though there's a strong trend towards 1's and 2's. The Case of the Burgled Boullogne is distinct in that its protagonist is around a -1, though.
- Weapons Kitchen Sink: Unless the RP is a very specific genre piece like Gasoline, don't expect all the characters to use thematically consistent weapons. Heck, even when it is, be prepared for a surprise or two.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: The plot is gearing toward the coronation of Princess Sabriel.
- Finding Judas: Somebody in Drakengrad is offing the nobles behind the scenes, and it's up to our intrepid heroes to find out who.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Tris Bentha's - though he's not the first victim in this string of seemingly related assassinations, his death is the one that impels Valon to use the coronation as a covert investigation.
- Remember the New Guy?: A variant. Esther Damrosch had quite a detailed introduction back in Crystal 2, but she and Valon didn't cross paths onscreen there. It therefore has to be expounded in dialogue that the two of them struck up a friendly acquaintanceship at the festival, to explain her invitation to the ceremony.
- Spiritual Successor: Though the Crystal saga was orphaned by the retirement of its creator Bulbs, King's Men can be viewed as an unofficial "Crystal Part 3", between the emphasis on Valon's duties as a king as opposed to a freelancing badass, the tone of courtly festivity underpinned by political intrigue, and the appearances of non-Drakengrad guests Nadeshi and Esther.
- Entertainingly Wrong: The whole cast hasn't been formally introduced, and so the first page of the plot is filled with them making all sorts of wild assumptions about the other teammates they're working with.
- Freefall Fight: Played around with. The creatures that attack have no real malice, but they enjoy eating parachutes, which makes them dangerous for the skydivers.
- Hailfire Peaks: The plot takes place in a volcanic region above the Arctic circle.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Kendil's "Arrow of Neith" takes this form, splitting to hit dozens of opponents.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Kendil tries to encourage the group to "get out of dodge" and accidentally says "Get out of dog"... To Treasach, whose canine companion and closest friend just died horribly.
- Apocalyptic Log: Somewhat subverted. Though the author, Patrick Mchart keeps track of things as they go sour, when things really go wrong, a second party writes about his death, and leaves the journal as a warning to those who would meddle with the ruins.
- Mook Horror Show: The story chronicles the retrieval of Flint from the Gelhaim Kingdom, and his reawakening. Disconcertingly, it's never clear if it's Flint or his Superpowered Evil Side Zagaroth that butchers the retrieval team.
- A Day in the Limelight: The Power Exhibitions end up making even the most minor characters each the focus of attention for at least one post each, as does Emily singling out people to give them cupcakes. Fittingly, quite a few of the students decide that they don't want to be the center of attention.
- Food Fight: The first page of the roleplay mostly concerns itself with escalating pranks involving the refreshments left out for the students.
- Knight of Cerebus:
- The moment that Silumas enters the room, the entire plot becomes much darker, dealing with conspiracies and the potential agendas the faculty might have in gathering so many Powers for a school.
- Inverted by Emily, who busts into the room and starts giving personalized cupcakes to everybody present. It's actually noted by one of the student's that if she hadn't shown up, there was likely going to be a fight.
- School of Hard Knocks: Many of students who had never encountered other Powers before are flabbergasted by the nonchalance with which the Archipelago natives treat violent confrontation.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Carlos tried to pull this following Vieve's entrance to the room. Jay pulled him out of it (literally).
- Continuity Nod: Narcissa's unabridged tirade makes mention of "the lustre without death", a reference to an entry in the arcane book in Emet.
- Interquel: This isn't contemporary; it takes place during a much earlier RP, Luxury Train Ride (which, given its scope and sandbox atmosphere, is well-positioned to accommodate a mini extra story).
- Second-Person Narration: The opener is written in this style, which is highly unusual for RP, being familiar only from the Homestuck-themed setting... and it turns out that that's exactly where the main character is from. She's Reba Winset. (And she snaps out of the second-person narration.)
- Breather Episode: Much less intense than the other active RPs at the time of its debut.
- Fish out of Water: Halley's alright when it comes to dealing with children—until Hector's gone, upon which she suddenly finds herself at a loss as to what to do with them.
- Slice of Life: It had to be explained to the other RPers that this wasn't a quest or journey of any sort, just a story about various eccentric personalities meeting up and swapping stories on the high seas.
- Aborted Arc: Averted. Antonio was originally supposed to be competing with Lysis for the diamond. While Sem became inactive part way through, Elliot continued with the sub-plot anyway instead of abandoning it.
- Another Side, Another Story: The plot is primarily concerned with the alien and Yoshimitsu's attempts to help it. While this is going on, Antonio is using the chaos as a cover to steal a diamond.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Subverted and lampshaded; Stel actually goes on at length in the introduction about how dark and stormy nights make for terrible settings.
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The Gelhaim were absolute masters of controlling Caloric, the substance that provides heat in all things. This shows in massive feats of engineering and technology, especially for their era. However, pretty much every advance was almost exclusively used for butchering anybody that opposed them, and it eventually provoked the rest of the world into wiping them out.
- Grim Up North: Naturally, the Gelhaim made their civilization at the coldest fringes of Greenland.
- Ice Palace: The Gelhaim weren't shy about flaunting their ice powers, using it to create an austere and deadly frozen citadel.
- Split-Personality Takeover: The catalyst for the plot; ever since he's been reawakened, Flint's Superpowered Evil Side has been getting closer and closer to completely taking control. His only hope is returning to his homeland, to see if his people left any way to cure his condition.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: On the one hand, you have Lucas and Scar, who are in it for blood; the Giarrettiera family, the Archipelagos preeminent criminal organization; and the King of Clubs, whos prepared to shoot the hostages if the police try to enter the hotel. On the other hand, you have well the likes of Terrian, Rie, Nopcsa and Blaise. Theyll do for the good guys, but theyre not exactly shining paragons of virtue. Only a very few, like Jonas, can legitimately be described as unambiguous heroes.
- The Cameo: Felix appears in Scene 21 for a single post, despite having no relevance to the plot, nor Elliot having any characters in the rest of Ishkabibble.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Lucas & Scar get two:
- Round one, vs. Vinnie, Phil & Dom. The winners and only survivors: Lucas & Scar.
- Round two, vs. Davidson and the other police officers. The winners and only survivors: Lucas & Scar.
- How We Got Here: Applied variously to certain characters. Terrian follows a mostly linear progression from the storys start to its finish, but in the case of others like Mandelbrot, Lucas, Scar, Joseph, Tsubota and Charles Tanner, the first time we hear from them is at the end of their respective arcs. And the first time we see Inspector Davidson, he dies.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: How many previously established characters figure into Ishkabibble? Oh, about twenty. Add in newcomers like Yoon Mangjeol, Commissioner Williams, Inspector Davidson, lesser Giarrettiera members, and the Cardsharks, and you're past thirty.
- Senseless Violins: Played around with. The villains are ominous men bearing violin cases... containing violins. Which are actually weapons in their own right, and key to a style of offensive magic. Which is then used to turn one violin into a BFS, and another into a shotgun.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: Araini enters what he thinks is Vincent's mind in order to break whatever's blocking him from healing. He ends up in Yisimentsu's mind instead, where Yisimentsu is blocking a part of Vincent's soul from rejoining the rest.
- Adventure Rebuff: Yoon is not interested in letting Renard help her out of her current predicament.She interrupted him for the final time that evening although still without making eye contact. "Renard." Her grip tightened. Her fingernails made their sharpness understood. He lost hold of the sentence he'd been trying to finish. "I've assured you it is nothing for you to worry about." She could apparently tell how this affected him even without looking, for her tone softened from the hiss which which she had spoken this last. Her grip relaxed. "I'm sorry, dear, but I don't want you involved. You'll only be endangering yourself... They'll kill you if they decide they've found a reason to."
- Alliterative Name: Most commonly referred to as just "Burgled Boullogne".
- Book-Ends: Two narrative passages from the first scene of the story are echoed at separate points in the third act (warning, plot spoilers ahead):
- Call-Back: Channery's line about moving in the direction of being friends with Renard, although not "hurtling", refers back to an earlier line spoken by Massimo in Ishkabibble Scene Seven when Terrian surmises that they might be becoming friends after all: "Oh we are hurtling in that direction."
- Officially Shortened Title: Burgled Boullogne, Boullogne, or even (for now at least) Renard are all common.
- Running Gag:But never let it be said that Renard was a man easily weighed down by the regrets of the past. Let it not even be considered that he was now chastising himself for filling the pipe with the wrong material.
But let it never go into the history books that Renard Rouletabille was a man easily ruffled by such a trifling setback. He didn't need the newspaper anymore.
- leads to...
Let the archaeologists of future civilizations, sifting through the scattered ruins of this crumbled city thousands of years from now, never conclude based upon their assemblage of the fragments of the relics of his life that Renard Rouletabille was a man who could be induced to abandon his goals and withdraw into oblivion after such an absurdly infinetismal setback as the dismantling of his automobile.
- ...and finally...
- Clear My Name: The main driver of the plot is Illiana's effort to prove Antonio's innocence of the murder. Played with in that there are multiple levels of accusation going on here: Antonio didn't commit the murder but he is the Butterfly (who has seemingly been framed), and would rather Illiana clear his name of the former but in a way that doesn't prove he is the latter.
- Kangaroo Court: A major theme is the debate over whether Justice Staudt's idea of an all-Power court (the hook that inspired the RP in the first place) can be characterized as this. To the anti side, it's a travesty, and the only reason Staudt was able to pull the concept off was by accepting Justice Hooper's presence as his advising judge.
- Society-on-Edge Episode: The tension between Powers and ordinary humans is approaching a dangerous pitch in this story.
- Man Hug: Between Valon and Rick, here.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Terrian's conversation with Esther brushes this trope very distinctly with regard to his feelings about Blaise:The girl's next rapid-fire question, without the merest smirk or arched eyebrow, was: "Is she here with you?"
Terrian blinked. Then he laughed. "What? Oh — No! No no. She's in America. The States, I mean. She's not — here. No. I don't think so, anyway. Maybe she is! I'm not sure. Haha."
- Falling into the Cockpit: Hex was already a pilot, but stumbles into a borderline unstoppable abandoned alien mecha.
- Aggressive Negotiations: Oddly enough, the only hero to die is the one pushing for a violent resolution to the negotiations. He got better, though.
- Characterization Marches On: Watch Garth zig-zag as a character for the first two pages, until his author finally settles on a consistant personality. Oh, and the entire Fascere Order.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Played with. For some of the heroes, Defeat Means Employment. By the thrashed party (the Fascere Order).
- Loads and Loads of Characters: It pales now in comparison to Ish, obviously, but in its day Triannual was pretty much the standard-bearer. The heroes number a highly impressive ten (Natalie, Garth, Terrian, Valon, Ender, Dracon, Emily, Sly, Prime, and the duplicate Brogue should count as well), and adding the various Fascere Order operatives and associates more or less doubles the total cast size.
- Mood Whiplash: The first post is a gentle, sad farewell scene between Ender and Rie. The second post is a completely nonsensical unrelated scene written by Kazkame in a semicomic tone featuring a character, Demitri, who had never met Ender. It ends up tying together, but only just.
- Tonight, Someone Dies: And his name is Ender.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Achenes pretty much gets punted around the whole time, despite having much more training than the rookie Zabuza.
- Breather Episode: With this story having been modified into a two-parter, Whisper, the first part, now comes across as this. It's just a peaceful "get to know each other on the way from point A to point B" plot, with the closest thing to action being Aya preventing Terrian from escaping. The Cliffhanger ending strongly suggests that the follow-up won't be quite so relaxed, though.
- Five-Man Band
- The Hero: Aquara (straightforward good guy and central to the plot's commencement)
- The Lancer: Terrian (off-white hero who initially resists the call)
- The Big Guy: Aya (feral when angry, probably the most powerful fighter in the group)
- The Smart Guy: Blaise (...)
- The Chick: Ryuu (tries to act the diplomat and keep the group under control)
- Blood Magic: Not necessarily portrayed as evil, but definitely something that makes people think twice due to many many side effects
- Cool Train: Trains in Tal-Hydor are pulled by large, magite-controlled trilobite-like creatures.
- Functional Magic: Magic is used in everyday Hydorian life, from making the trains run on time to keeping people warm in the winter.
- Green Rocks: Magite must be present to power any kind of magical reaction
- Magic A Is Magic A: ch00bs made a semi-detailed system of magic based on light numerology
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Honetai can transform into various kinds of sea creatures