"An Age of the World draws to a close. Cataclysm and anarchy ravage its peoples. Bandits and monstrosities prowl the wilderness. The great empires of yore are decaying husks of their former glory, offering little protection at the price of ceaseless exploitation. Oppressed, benighted, savaged by tempest and claw, the masses of the world cry out for a savior.
Their cry is answered. The self-styled Divinities, secret masters of the world, send forth one of their own to be born amongst the people, to live as incarnate flesh and lead them into a new Age. Every genius shall be afforded her. Destiny shall be her perennial ally, circumstance laid prostrate at her feet. She shall tear down the moldering edifices of the past and lay them as kindling for the phoenix-flame to come. From that conflagration shall the Spirit of the World be born anew, the close of an Age and the dawn of its successor.
At all costs, she must be stopped."
Even Further Beyond is a quest written by Rihaku on the Sufficient Velocity forums.
A common Xianxia story: the plucky hero lives unremarkably until circumstances and fate align to force them out of their humble home and into adventuring across the greater world. Improbable luck follows them like a lost puppy, wiping the floor with smug young masters is par for the course, and any defeats are mere narrative tools to set up even greater rewards. They upend the established order by their very existence and claw their way to the top of the food chain until none are left to challenge them.
You are not that hero.
No, you are the smug young master, improbably snatched from Earth and reincarnated to serve as the Heroine's foil in the great game of Divinities. Theoretically, you have been granted power equal to her own in the name of 'Balance', but when one of you is the reincarnation of a former Divinity who is destined to win and the other... isn't, things get dicey.
There can be no peace, no compromise, no concessions. In this game there can only be one winner, and should you fail, you will get to experience the tender mercies of the Divinities, just like all your predecessors did.
Choose carefully. Choose well. For all of us that have come before.
Even Further Beyond contains examples of
- Achilles' Heel: What do you mean making an Artifact of Doom is a bad idea? A phylactery need to be suitably cool, you know? It holds Nameless' magnificent soul, after all.
- Always Lawful Good: The elves, one of the few factions not composed of jerkasses, though it is often remarked that they're Too Dumb to Live.
- Badass Family: When your dad is a Magnificent Bastard, your mom was the best assassin of the White Orchid Sisterhood that he turned into his waifu after she was sent to kill him, and your grandfather isn't just a Cool Old Guy, but one of the four strongest people in the world...
- Beyond the Impossible: One of the quest's themes, the real path to power isn't training hard, it's learning how to cheat harder.
- Blood Magic: One of the Signs involves sacrificing large quantities of blood, be it one's own or someone else's. Of course Nameless doesn't forget to cheat with his undying biology.
- Cataclysm Backstory: Thousands of Ages precede the current one, and the Fates seem to enjoy making their end suitably dramatic. We later learn that the bulk of their power is available to them at the opening and closing of Ages, so perhaps there is more to this than pure sadism...
- The Chosen One: The Heroine is supposed to be this.
- The Chosen Many: Except we've agreed to the existence of 4-5 more Hero(in)es in exchange for additional options!
- Chick Magnet: Nameless can't help it that he's so handsome and charming. And any rumors of love triangles are greatly exaggerated, I'm telling you!
- Does Not Like Magic: The Heroine's divine brother calls it out as weeb shit. Shows what he knows!
- Domain Holder: Naturalism, a less explored part of elven magic, it theoretically allows one to set up rules in an area that belongs to the caster and is mainly used for defensive purposes.
- The Dragon: Our Lieutenant, a one-in-a-million genius that we've stumbled upon on the road. An Avenger and believer in Truth, Justice and the Imperial Way... before she met Nameless. Turns out to be one of the Heroines afterwards, with her target being the strongest Titan, Zang Kong himself.
- Functional Magic and Formulaic Magic: The Diagram, a fairly structured and versatile type of magic that is somewhat reminiscent of D&D wizards, only turned up to 11. It still can't keep up with Cultivation when it comes to power, sadly, and the remaining liches are reduced to being little more than terrorists surviving at the edges of civilization.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: Literally one of Kong Zang's titles.
- Green Thumb: Both Diagram and Naturalism are good at this, though we've only really practiced the former.
- God's Hands Are Tied: The gods appear to be restricted in their actions to a great extent, though nothing prevents them from making things as annoying as possible within the rules if we don't play nice.
- God in Human Form: One of the Divinities incarnated as The Heroine, thankfully without her divine powers, for what it's worth.
- Item Crafting: The Artifice part of Elven magic, it requires one to Cast from Experience Points, Cast from Lifespan, and Cast From Sanity. Small price, really.
- Impossible Task: Or so we're told. Given that this game has played out thousands of times before, our chances don't look good. But who knows? Maybe this time will be different...
- Lowered Monster Difficulty: We start with a weaker version of the Heroine's luck, which progresses towards Contractual Boss Immunity when we encounter the True Final Boss
- Magical Eye: The Eyes of Kong are a bloodline engineered by Kong and possessed by our Lieutenant, Suizhen. She later becomes so loyal that she changes her Eyes to fit our needs and gives us an eye transplant. Which was what led to our first meeting with Zang Kong...
- Magically Binding Contract: The gods swore to grant us whatever we want, should we win. They really don't want us to win.
- Magic Is Mental: The Diagram is less resource-intensive than other kinds of magic, but spells need to be researched and it requires a high degree of intelligence to be successful at.
- Meditation Powerup: Cultivation is hard and often requires hundreds of years to get to the higher stages, to speak nothing of the peak. That's for scrubs though, Nameless dislikes wasting his time so pointlessly! Which is why he accrues a boatload of multipliers and makes an Artifact to do the cultivating for him, reaching the power of a Titan, the highest known stage, by sixteen.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Just when we find a helpful lich mentor that wants to teach us all about Diagram magic, it turns out that he is Doomed to die soonish. Naturally, he manages to Screw Destiny and die in a manner that empowers us massively.
- Mutually Exclusive Magic: Cultivation, Diagram, and the Binary magic of the elves are all exclusive Arts and someone can only practice a single one of them. Except for very special snowflakes.
- The Nameless: And we sold our name too, because there is never enough power. What's the use of a name, anyway? Even if the Divinities attach great importance to having one and lacking it makes it easier for the Heroine to dehumanize us, that's hardly going to be a problem when we're trying to kill each other.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Cultivators of higher stages have to be really careful about the collateral damage, or they risk having to redraw the maps afterwards. The Titans? Their fights can quite literally shatter continents.
- Princely Young Man: We're a smug young master, spoiled and proud of it. Except when it interferes with our training, but what can you do?
- Plot Armor: Possessed of Story-Driven Invulnerability, if the Heroine is "completely obliterated, soul trapped and devoured by ancient lich, wiped from time stream, destiny defiled, killed from and through higher dimensions", she might not even come back from one of those!
- Reality Warper: At lower levels Cultivators are little more than filthy muscle wizards, but as they grow and delve into their Supernatural Martial Arts, they acquire Personality Powers and Enlightenment Superpowers, learning how to force their personal beliefs onto reality.
- Reincarnation: Both the Heroine and the MC.
- Superpower Lottery: If the three schools of magic could ever be mastered by a single entity, their powers would not combine linearly. Interactions would be discovered that compound one upon the other. We won that one. Or rather, we paid very handsomely for the chance to use all magic systems simultaneously, a supposedly unprecedented ability.
- Take Over the World: One of the MC's humble ambitions.
- Villain Protagonist: The Arch-Enemy role we've been assigned and taken to with gusto. Well, we're more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, as one of our Lieutenants notes later, but she's not exactly the most objective source.
- What Is Evil?: Kong Zang definitely is. Or is he? One of the Empire's founders and inventor of Scientific Cultivation, he doesn't mind billions of people dying if it helps him progress towards higher cultivation stages, so one would think he qualifies as capital Evil. Except we later find out that he contains infinite universes inside himself, with a population that greatly exceeds that of the outside world, so according to him To incur my slightest displeasure is to reduce the happiness within Existence by an incalculable amount. [...] An elegant way to resolve the otherwise-natural tension between morality and selfishness, no? He admits that he doesn't pretend to morals immediately afterwards, of course. Grew Beyond Their Programming can be said to apply to him, as he exploited Cultivation to break the system far beyond what the Fates had anticipated and is their main target. Fun guy. One of the few reasons the players would consider temporarily allying with the Heroine, though siding with him is equally possible.