Re: How to get Isekai'd

#1
Cheers guys, asking this for a friend (me)

I am trying my best to find new and original ways how to start a portal fantasy. You know, like the Chronicles of Narnia? These days Iskeais have gotten really popular and while I've read a few works who jokingly refer to Truck-kun as the reason for why their protagonists are where they are. Mostly it's reincarnation, die in a bad way, get compensated by some goddess or the likes with special abilities and there you go.

For Narnia it was a magical wardrobe that acted as a portal where they could go back after they had done their hero business. But there got to be a myriad ways of how a protagonist can wind up in another world. Intriguing, interesting ways to get Isekai'd - and I'm looking for them.

So far I'm drawing mostly blanks. I had ideas like 'world fishers' - beings that throw some bait (like a little girl screaming for help) and dragging whoever takes it to another world. Or that there are hidden rooms that are bigger on the inside where you enter foreign domains ruled by paranormal entities. Something like that. 

Now I'm but one writer and maybe you got your own ideas? Theoretical or already implemented in some story, I'd be ready for any inspiration you want to share with me on how to make a seemingly unimportant detail (who cares how they land in a new world as long as they get there) also interesting and set the right atmosphere. 

One small point though: I'm not looking for any reincarnation nor real portal as in there's a doorway and you just walk through. There should be the possibility of eventually returning to the original world but only at a later date. No revolving door so to say where you can go back whenever.

Thanks guys!

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#2
Stephen King actually had some pretty interesting ways to travel between dimensions in his Dark Tower series that I kind of liked. For example, you could be traveling along on highways and back roads, and some back roads would appear that led to another world, at the end of the road you would end up in a reality that was similar, but not the same as the one you walked from. 

I like this idea of simply opening a door, or going down a side street and ending up somewhere else.

Another sort of similar concept actually comes from the Leven Thumps novel series, where if you step on a cracked corner on a four-way intersection on a warm summer night you would find yourself in a different world. Setting a very specific set of conditions to go off to be whisked away makes it interesting because while unlikely, some people occasionally end up in this other world. It also underlines the process with a degree of mystery that I find cool. What about all of those factors meeting ends up leading to a person being taken somewhere else?

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#3
There are all kinds of ways to do it and justify it, the fact that the genre convention is now pretty much 'game over, start a new game' is rather sad and misses a lot of opportunities.

Poul Anderson's 'Three Hearts and Three Lions has a very interesting justification for why the main character showed up in another world that is hinted at but not revealed until late in the story. 

Spoiler :
Turns out he's actually a hero from the new world and was kicked into ours as well as de-aged by the forces of evil to try and  keep him out of battle.


Kit Sun Cheah's Dungeon Samurai has an extremely creepy justification, it is a bit long of an explanation and it's not fully revealed until the end, if you check out the preview you should get an idea: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RQDZ9BM?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_0&storeType=ebooks

I think that story fits your parameters.

There is a lot of folklore we can use as justification, days when our world and another are supposed to closer, places where the veil between realities is thin etc. I think utilizing a bit of this can be really useful. Travels to fairy-land, the otherworld, etc. are an old, old idea, Childe Rowland say you get there by going around a church enough times 'widdershins'. Lots of potential material and if you don't want to go to fairy land just have someone theorize that like the planets rotating the path used to line up to one world but now goes to another. I also think it would give a better feel to the story than "oh you're dead, lets send you off now". I can suspend disbelief just fine but a little effort can make it a lot easier and more enjoyable.

One idea I have not implemented or seen implemented is a variation on the summoned hero trope. The MC was summoned because his ancestor found his way to the other world by accident (one of those times and places where the veil between realities is thin for example) proceeded to save it and left with the promise that should the defeated evil ever return him and his family could be counted on to fight alongside them.

Unfortunately, that was long ago, the MC is the only fighting age male left, and he is significantly less badass than his ancestor- at least at first. I think that would be a great coming of age story set up.

Another idea from Lewis (The Magician's Nephew) that isn't really utilized is the idea of a bad magician in our world seeking a way to other world's through his experiments and the protagonists getting caught up in it. How about this for a twist- a special forces MC is part of a raid on a druggie cult, gives chase to the last guy who desperately tries to flee to another world and they both end up in the same place with very different goals and skills (more magic means the other guy is much more powerful and the MC has to adjust to limited ammo and a world of swords and sorcery). Could work for interesting commentary on the characters differing world-views, actions and they effect and are effected by the new world.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#6
I'm a big fan of spells, portals, rituals gone wrong, doorways that aren't what they seem, and lost places where worlds overlap. But I also tend to write/read mostly fantasy. :-3

Other potential ideas: crossroads, choosing which way to go; bargains with a demon/genii/unknown entity that turn out differently than anticipated; technology unexpectedly tapping into forgotten powers.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#7
Wow, you guys sure are something!

I love some of these recommendations, especially those about very specific ways to trigger the conditions to be transported like going around a church enough times. 

I also really like the concept of a paranormal America where you can go to places that shouldn't exist by driving down the wrong highway, that there are enclaves of the supernatural that those who stray too far from civilization may unwittingly access. Derek Landy did that in his series 'Demon Roads' and I loved that book.

For the classical Narnia scenario as in 'here's a fantasy world where the forces of good and evil battle, try to survive it chump' I'm still looking for a good way to get an entire group across, for example a whole class of students that get sucked into another world. I have a solution already, but I think it's pretty lame (They're on a boat trip and more or less drive off the edge of the world that shouldn't exist) so I'm still looking for ways to improve. 

Personally I have a bit of a vendetta against Prologues. Now that I've written one myself I want it to be captivating in its own right and not just a huge infodump that those genre savvy enough have read a thousand times already. I mean, I'm writing it in the blurb that it's a portal fantasy so people are going to expect the classical Isekai formula.

Anyways, thanks for the suggestions and thanks for also linking so much reading material, that's going to make research easier for me.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#8
I think of getting lost. How and where depends on the setting you want your story to have at the beginning.
But the feeling of getting lost somewhere unfamiliar can be really powerful.
That can be the back alleys of a city you don't know very well, or a forest that suddenly is far more expansive as it should be, a cave system (separated from the tour-guide), at sea (after a storm), etc.
Something that gives the character the opportunity to only slowly realise that ... 'they aren't in Kansas anymore' so to speak.

Alternatively and the complete opposite would be getting yanked from here to there without any big explanations. So that the transition is instant and jarring on purpose. Like suddenly falling through the floor or being pulled through a wall by a strange wall shadow. 
Here the first question wouldn't be 'where the hell am I?' but rather 'what the hell was that?' 

I also was always a fan of Peter Pan's 'Second Star to the Right and Straight on 'til Morning.'
Basically, some abstract directions that are straight nonsense. I guess that would fall under the 'convoluted conditions'-thingy you already talked about?

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#9
Groups are a bit harder to justify for sure. One special guy we can buy, a class not so much, or perhaps one is special and the rest just got caught up in it? Dungeon Samurai is really the only decent justification I know of that effects the rest of the story.

The whole ‘wrong turn to another word’ idea isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. It really is just a justification for the story and doesn’t influence it much beyond the set up. It seems to me that group transportation lends itself to more sinister summoning motives than individual, though it is by no means necessary.

I did a bit of brainstorming and here is what I got for transporting a group. Hope something here is interesting.

-

They find their way to Avalon where King Arthur sleeps because one of the students is descended from one of Arthur’s knights and accidentally triggered the ‘key’ to the place when explaining an old family story they don’t believe to a friend.

Maybe the event is triggered by throwing a model sword or drawing of one into deep enough water with an inscription that translates to something like ‘The hour of need is at hand. Show me where the king rests. Show me where his sword is hidden. For it is time for him to be king again.’ As a sort of reference to Bedivere (depending on the legend) throwing Excalibur into a lake on Arthur’s instruction. That could have been the ‘trigger’ meant for Arthur’s return.

Since Britain isn’t quite so bad yet Arthur doesn’t wake up or can’t leave but now the class is stuck on an island that doesn’t actually exist in our world. Avalon could be a place that is in between worlds and the person in charge (a good Morgan Le Fay or a freed Merlin for instance or even a groggy Arthur himself) could tell them the only way back is through another world currently in peril and helps equips them with arms stockpiled for Arthur’s return.

There are plenty more ‘king in the mountain’ stories but this is by far the best known. Barbarossa is said to have people stumble into his resting place with some regularity so maybe this isn’t too new to the person in charge of the island. Could be a 'big good' as well who helps the class from a distance when possible to counter to the Maou equivalent of the new world.

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Tie it into stories of mass disappearances, say Roanoke, in place of or in addition to folklore. Take a wicked magician/professor who suspiciously generously organized a field trip for the class to test his theories and/or uphold a deal with evil forces bringing them all to the other world. You can have him march them all around a church on samhain or whatever, maybe chanting something as they do.

-

Things like the Bermuda triangle legend or the Flying Dutchman might work as a folklore version of the event in question even if they lack any sort of trigger. Vanishing ships are all too common so maybe there is something in the ocean that travels between worlds and attacking unfortunate vessels that are far enough out. Forces of evil stealing tech/abducting slave labor for instance? Could lead to some interesting worldbuilding and a sense of danger for not just one but many realities.

Or maybe a student has a possession/heirloom that attracts said abductors but they can't tell which so they just grab the whole ship.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#10

Jon Wrote: Groups are a bit harder to justify for sure. One special guy we can buy, a class not so much, or perhaps one is special and the rest just got caught up in it? Dungeon Samurai is really the only decent justification I know of that effects the rest of the story.

The whole ‘wrong turn to another word’ idea isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. It really is just a justification for the story and doesn’t influence it much beyond the set up. It seems to me that group transportation lends itself to more sinister summoning motives than individual, though it is by no means necessary.

I did a bit of brainstorming and here is what I got for transporting a group. Hope something here is interesting.

-

They find their way to Avalon where King Arthur sleeps because one of the students is descended from one of Arthur’s knights and accidentally triggered the ‘key’ to the place when explaining an old family story they don’t believe to a friend.

Maybe the event is triggered by throwing a model sword or drawing of one into deep enough water with an inscription that translates to something like ‘The hour of need is at hand. Show me where the king rests. Show me where his sword is hidden. For it is time for him to be king again.’ As a sort of reference to Bedivere (depending on the legend) throwing Excalibur into a lake on Arthur’s instruction. That could have been the ‘trigger’ meant for Arthur’s return.

Since Britain isn’t quite so bad yet Arthur doesn’t wake up or can’t leave but now the class is stuck on an island that doesn’t actually exist in our world. Avalon could be a place that is in between worlds and the person in charge (a good Morgan Le Fay or a freed Merlin for instance or even a groggy Arthur himself) could tell them the only way back is through another world currently in peril and helps equips them with arms stockpiled for Arthur’s return.

There are plenty more ‘king in the mountain’ stories but this is by far the best known. Barbarossa is said to have people stumble into his resting place with some regularity so maybe this isn’t too new to the person in charge of the island. Could be a 'big good' as well who helps the class from a distance when possible to counter to the Maou equivalent of the new world.

-

Tie it into stories of mass disappearances, say Roanoke, in place of or in addition to folklore. Take a wicked magician/professor who suspiciously generously organized a field trip for the class to test his theories and/or uphold a deal with evil forces bringing them all to the other world. You can have him march them all around a church on samhain or whatever, maybe chanting something as they do.

-

Things like the Bermuda triangle legend or the Flying Dutchman might work as a folklore version of the event in question even if they lack any sort of trigger. Vanishing ships are all too common so maybe there is something in the ocean that travels between worlds and attacking unfortunate vessels that are far enough out. Forces of evil stealing tech/abducting slave labor for instance? Could lead to some interesting worldbuilding and a sense of danger for not just one but many realities.

Or maybe a student has a possession/heirloom that attracts said abductors but they can't tell which so they just grab the whole ship.
A football team, soccer for you Americans, so good that gets transported to another world to have matches against the demons, or whoever the bad guys are, to keep the humans, or whoever the good guys are, alive.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#11
Thanks @Jon Wander for the great input, you're truly a well of great ideas!

Now the story I have in mind requires a blank slate, so references to a King Arthur or Barbarossa won't work for me, but you've given me another great idea instead - what if it's a class disappearing and it happens because the teacher is actively trying to make it happen. Maybe he somehow had contact with an entity from the other side and received instructions on how to make a transportation possible. 

Doesn't matter for what reasons he needs to take a class of students with him on his trip to another world, but that would explain how they stumbled into the whole mess, not just a crazy coincidence but also not a great prophecy that required heroes and saviors to be reincarnated. I don't know, that's just me, but I like my protagonists being normal people that rise to the challenge instead of being destined to do so.

Another very interesting point though is how much impact the means of transportation has on the rest of the story. Is it just a plot device to get people into a different world to begin with? To be honest, that was what I was going for. For me it was all about getting stranded in a strange new place and being forced to make your way back into your own world, but with no good starting point and no easy solution it becomes the journey of a lifetime to return and the closer the protagonists come to their goal the more they realize that they are bound to their new home and cannot leave it despite all their wishes to go back home.

Anyways, I'm still struggling to make a fun little story and not go into depressing, tragic territory right away as I'm wont to so your help really helps, thanks!

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#12
Well, you could try something akin to Corpse Party (visual novel/anime).
The protagonists try out some spell and it works out...in a really horrible way.
They end up in a distorted version of their own school...

I don't remember much more than that but it sure is a way to go.

Like some spell or incantation gone wrong...

Or and this is just something that I came up with just now...hmm...like there's a battle going on between superpowers in another dimension or something which rips open a gap in space-time leading to a new dimension.

And this happens in many places leading to various people getting sucked in to a new world or some just disappear and die and stuff.

So, god-like powers affecting our world...yeah, that's another way, I think.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#13
I am glad I could be of help Father Grim (how about some rep for the wanderer?).

It sounds like you have the ideas flowing well at this point, I would say that is the teacher is contact with evil forces their knowledge of world travel is a good reason for conflict with the class and a possible temptation arc (we'll get you home, we just need you to swipe something really important from the good guys).

The teacher would also be interesting in his motivations for this- is he just greedy and was promised to be made a duke or something? Does he consider himself a scientist and is justified because experiments? Will he have a revelation at being confronted with evil in a pure and obvious form or will he continue in his own wickedness?

The kids could be brought along as 'payment' if you want to make the bad guys really bad. Human sacrifice is hardly unheard of. Or maybe they could be 'batteries' needed at this particular time to open the way.

If I was thinking I would have recommended this video earlier, hope you like it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfWUtHMlZf8

Happy thanksgiving.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#15

Ramingo Wrote: A football team, soccer for you Americans, so good that gets transported to another world to have matches against the demons, or whoever the bad guys are, to keep the humans, or whoever the good guys are, alive.


Your idea just reminded me of a really fun cartoon I used to watch!

Inazuma Eleven!

One of their seasons...Inazuma Eleven Go Galaxy had a similar theme!

Youths played soccer against aliens to keep Earth safe.

It was pretty cool!

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#16
Okey let me try!

so... there are three main ways you can get from point A to point B. namely, by foot (normal travel), by teleportation, or by Portal (a combination of the first two). 

all three have the variation of consent, (meaning you did it on purpose), by accident, or by non consent (someone kidnapped you) 


these are the building blocks of ever story about travel, and are tied heavily to the plot.


what I think you are asking for is a more precise subjective version of one or more of these happening. 



i.e  boy takes drugs, drugs enlighten his mind and allow him to travel freely through space and time, drugs wear off in midst of boy's travels. now boy is stuck in far off place.


i.e girl makes friend with ghost in haunted house, girl is in danger, ghost takes girl far away for her safety by supernatural means.


i.e man mistreats other person, other person turns out to be Powerful being, and or wealthy, and or into witch craft. other person teleports man in spite.


i.e women searches for way to raise the dead to raise up her grandfather, women discovers her grandfather's dead soul is not in heaven but was snatched by a wizard in far off land on another world who steals as many souls as he can to power his spells. Woman prepares herself and then tempts the wizard with her own soul, wizard attempts to take her soul but she manages to bring her body along as well and winds up in another world.





feel free to use any of these as I wrote them on the spot, I hope your story goes well.

Re: How to get Isekai'd

#17
My story 'The Chronicles of Mashal' has lots of variations on this. It's basically Narnia + Final Fantasy (but no stat tables). There's only one chapter up at the moment, but I'll start posting the rest within the next few months.

To get into Mashal, one character falls into a river and apparently drowns, two are in a tunnel when it caves in and get trapped, and one gets hit by a bus...

I wanted all of the entry methods to be traumatic so I could make it ambiguous as to whether the characters had died or not and so whether the portal world was real or not. But they all eventually meet each other in the portal world, and some of them even make it back...