A series of play-by-post 'Quests' on Sufficient Velocity, the Gayaverse is a Never Was This Universe style Fictional Earth setting with the premise of a fairly historically grounded world whose history, geography, and geopolitics are similar to our own, but where the gender and sexual dynamics of different parts of the world are vastly divergent, both from each other and from reality, leading to frequent Your Normal Is Our Taboo Culture Clash.
The Gayaverse started with Aircraft Design Company Quest. The original pitch was to test a Character Customization system for the roleplaying game Flying Circus, using a loose historical setting with the names changed so players couldn't rely on history going the same way. Essentially, it was supposed to just be a playtest based on The Wind Rises, and the author insisted there would be no worldbuilding and the story would be short.
But the players voted to be Alt!Japanese and nonbinary in the year 1910, and the worldbuilding to figure out what that might mean started almost immediately.
ADCQ follows the story of genius aircraft designer Matsura Asuka: they're meek, mild-mannered, and almost perfectly androgynous, and they also hold four engineering degrees, making them one of the most educated people in their rapidly modernizing country, Akitsukuni. Hired by start up Ohara Airworks with the hope they can save the company's failing project, Asuka ends up creating a dizzying array of increasingly bizarre aircraft, pushing the limits of early flight. When war breaks out with neighboring Grand Caspia, Asuka's aircraft, and their Love Interest Captain Arita Yachi, are sent into battle. This goes poorly.
The Gayaverse has a number of spinoffs, some Alternate History in-setting and others just stories in the same world. Most notably is Castles of Steel, which follows Princess Arisukawa Haruna, the first woman to join Akisukuni's navy. This story is a sort of Deconstruction of Feminist Fantasy, as Haruna breaks the glass ceiling... directly into an increasingly horrifying imperialist military, shaking her faith in her country, its ideals, and its future.
There are a variety of other side stories written by other authors: The only rule of Gayaverse stories is that they must have queer protagonists, though most of the stories also have a pretty deep anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist perspective.
This roleplay provides examples of:
- Ace Custom: Ohara sells the army six 'Super Dragonflies', with structural improvements and the use of tense silk as armour against flak. They are used by Ace Pilot characters like Yachi, Nashio, and Coralie.
- Ambiguous Gender: Akitsukuni's nonbinary gender role idealizes a puzzling androgyny. Asuka takes it very seriously.
- An Arm and a Leg: Many characters that serve in the war lose limbs: Yachi's four person poker group post-war are missing an arm and a leg between them.
- Artistic License Physics: Zig-Zagged - while the flight and aircraft design rules in the game system upon which the Gayaverse is built are intended to allow for relatively close recreations of World War I, World War II, and later aircraft, the ingenuity of the player base for the Aircraft Design Company Quest, combined with the beta test state of those rules at the time, has lead to the ADCQ protagonist designing a number of aircraft that likely wouldn't actually be able to do the things they're stated to be able to do in-universe.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Haruna's giant extended family across the cadet branches is a mess of political intrigue, backstabbing, and intermarriage.
- Cast Full of Gay
- Everyone Is Bi: Not actually true, but Akitsukuni culture operates as if it was: bisexuality is seen as normal, while being gay or straight is considered close-minded.
- Exotic Extended Marriage: In Akitsukuni, having both a husband and a wife is totally normal, though many characters still struggle with jealousy.
- Final Battle: The war ends with a massive amphibious assault as a flanking maneuver.
- Gender Flip: Many, many historical figures with counterparts in real life. Often named after those figure's wives.
- God-Emperor: The Empress of Akitsukuni is supposedly this. Haruna's inner monologue reveals the royal family knows its nonsense, but when somebody asks you if you're a god, you say yes!
- Kansai Regional Accent: The history of dubbing this accent as a Southern accent in American adaptations is taken full circle: the nebulous 'south' of Akitsukuni is treated by the translation convention as if it were the American Deep South, rural and backward, producing Good Ol' Boys, Southern Fried Privates, and a variety of folksies sayings.
- King on His Deathbed: The situation that Cathay has been stuck in for *years*. Everyone knows once the Emperor is dead, there will be nothing left holding the country together.
- Lady of War: In theory, the women of the Imperial Cadet Branches are this. In practice, Haruna is the first real example in a long time.
- Last of His Kind: Yachi being the only one of the pre-war pilots not dead, disabled, or sectioned by the end of the war is a massive element in his psychological breakdown and removal from the front.
- Literal Disarming: The Caspian crown prince experiencing this leads to the Caspian-Akitsukuni War.
- Long Hair Is Feminine: Being an extremely trans-inclusive culture, how you wear your hair is the overwhelmingly most important gender marker in Akitsukuni, though less so now that it used to be.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Haruna is constantly being shuffled to out of the way postings by the whims of the Admirality. Standout examples are a destroyer tender, a land-based anti-aircraft battery, and a remote northern island. Inevitably leads to...
- Reassignment Backfire
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Various characters suffer PTSD (referred to as 'war neurosis') due to fighting in the war. Haruna spends a Breather Episode in a ward trying to treat them, though she herself was misdiagnosed.
- Silly Reason for War
- The Big Race: With airplanes!
- Tank Goodness: The rolling Caspian AT-TAs are production versions of the real life Tsar Tank.
- Theme Naming: All of Ohara's prewar and wartime airplanes have names that start with D. Because of the Translation Convention, the characters in-universe are blissfully unaware of it.
- Those Magnificent Flying Machines: A direct consequence of the zigg-zagging of Artistic License Physics. One of the obligatory tropes of the modern ACDQ thread is that all of the aircraft designs have to at least somewhat fit into this category, with the most common being the use of pusher engines, canards, tandem wing arrangements, or a mix of the 3.
- Zeppelins from Another World: Count von Zeppelin owns and operates a succesfull airship airline, operating dozens of airships connecting capitals throughout Europa and to the colonies.