Sep 19, 2021 4:43 AM
underlying potterverse physics have been modified to fit your screen
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The space is bright purple and stretches on for what seems like forever. The only apparent discrete obects in it are three human figures and a rounded woman with a bright face and glowing feathery wings. 

"Congratulations and condolences. You three have been selected by the ineffable Will of the Multiverse to reincarnate as the villainesses of an otome game. Kind of weird, but it's become a huge thing over ten or so of your years in at least a dozen universal branes adjacent to yours. I think one of the Will's avatars read a light novel in your world, honestly. Now, you won't be reincarnating into an actual otome game that already exists," the angel says. 

 "I don't get it, but according to department guidelines it's actually more in genre for us to create a custom otome-style world for you. In any case, you'll be reincarnating into the soon-to-be-created Kingdom of Villarosa, setting of the non-existent smash hit otome game, manga, anime, and Broadway musical Roses of Villarosa." 

"You'll be becoming the much-hated villainesses of the story, fated to be sentenced to a horrible bad ending for the crime of being the gorgeous and charismatic heroine's rival in love and for generally being an awful person. I'm sure you can picture how the story goes already," she adds sympathetically. "You're definitely going to be a woman in your next life, and you'll also be attracted to men, though you may choose whether you want to be attracted to women also in your new life or be strictly into the cute boys."

"If you object, all I can say is that management apologizes for the inconvenience, but the Will's... well, will is final. On the upside, though, the reincarnation process will ensure you don't suffer any severe body or gender dysphoria, as well as preventing too much homesickness for your old life. Those safeties are there to prevent any depressing suicides. I'm sure you'll be relieved to know that you won't have to relive being a baby or toddler, you'll recover your old identity and memories when you're a teenager, a few days or weeks before the start of 'canon.' Another benefit is that because we haven't actually sent the specification for Villarosa to the universe molders, we have a chance to tweak things to make sure that your otome villainess reincarnation is to your taste. Just pick what you like best, and when we're done the molders get to work, I download a batch of fresh fake meta-knowledge about Roses of Villarosa to your soul, and you get reincarnated."

"So let's get started, okay?"
 

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"I must say, this is not what I was expecting from an afterlife. What exactly is this 'Will of the Multiverse'?"

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"Iiiii'm pretty sure this is some kind of hypoxia hallucination but at least it doesn't hurt anymore so I'll go with it. What does it mean for me to become a woman, is it just a body swap or am I going to get, like, personality changes? Also why are we going to be villainesses in particular? Are we pre-existingly villainous in some way?"

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"I don't feel particularly villainous."

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"And I am certainly not."

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"No, no, it doesn't indicate anything like that at all. The 'Will of the Multiverse' is a powerful and perverse being who thinks real people are a valid medium to write stories with. The Villarosa paradigm has been surprisingly popular lately, and the people who have been run through it have varied wildly in inclination to villainousness. I have a lot of notes on how to be maximally ethical gleaned from previous subjects."

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"In a way that implies objective morality, or just interesting philosophical discussions?"

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The Will of the Multiverse ought to reconsider their life choices and if they don't she is going to give them detention a piece of her mind. But there's information to gather first. "That seems rather beside the point, mister . . . ?"

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"Banner. Bruce Banner." Is her asking for his name evidence that she isn't a hallucination? It doesn't seem like the sort of thing he'd hallucinate, but it's not like he has a lot of previous hallucinations to go off.

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"And my name's Margaret Peregrine."

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"Minerva McGonagall. Now," she says to the winged woman, "explain this 'fated to be a villainess' business in more detail."

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"So the way it works is--hm your world definitely has video games but it looks like you're from a demographic startlingly unlikely to be familiar with them--Muggles have this thing called 'video games,' and there is a kind of video game called otome that's basically an interactive romance story where you play as the heroine. There are, in the counterfactual otome I am called to inflict upon you, three potential love interests with an arranged fiancee each, who, within the counterfactual canonical story, are each extremely disinclined to let go of them without a fight."

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"I am entirely disinclined to fight someone over a potential husband I've never met."

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"Yeah, what happens if we just--don't fight anyone?"

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Bruce is also disinclined to fight anyone over a love interest, partially out of a general dislike of conflict but mostly because he can't imagine winning such a contest. He just nods.

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"Well, first of all, if you decline to do anything about it, there will be social consequences. That part's mandatory, sorry, but there are various ways to try to bow out gracefully, albeit fewer when there are three of you...anyway, by the time it comes up you will have met them, you're not just being dumped into a story-in-progress, you're going to be reincarnated and have actual childhoods and everything before you start getting your memories back."

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"Will we keep our, like, adult levels of intelligence and self-awareness the whole time? Because if not then yikes and if so then I'll be a fully aware baby and double yikes."

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"You mentioned being able to set certain details of the world; what are those? And what is the base world on which those details will be added?"

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"Also, just to be clear, do we start out in arranged marriages and someone else tries to disrupt them, or does someone else start out in an arranged marriage and we get some incentive to fuck with it?"

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"There isn't so much a base world as a structure to build a world around," she says. "Anything you don't decide will be determined by our worldbuilding team. There are a number of mechanical choices, each of which affects the world in general and/or each of you personally, and within the limits defined by those mechanical choices, you can more or less customize whatever you want. You start out in the arranged marriages."

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"Wait, we get to design the world? Can we have awesome future technology? Can I be an AI? I know you said we have to be girls but there are totally girl AIs in video games."

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"Oooh, can make everyone immortal? Actually, wait, do we get to specify the end results in terms of biology and society or do we start with the raw particle physics and it gets extrapolated from there?"

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What are these kids talking about. 

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"Yes you get to design the world, tech level is one of the mechanical choices albeit in very broad terms the details of which can be customized, you get to specify the end results."

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"Let's hear the full set of constraints and mechanical choices so we know what our options are and then start designing. And, given that we are dead and about to leave the universe, I think we can dispense with the Statute of Secrecy." She pulls a wooden wand out of a concealed sleeve pocket, waves it a few times, and suddenly her other hand has a stack of paper and three quill pens and inkwells. She divvies them out.

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"Woah, how did that work?"

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