On Jumping and Jumpers
Jumpchain is, to put it simply, the story of a Jumper. Of course, this raises the follow up question… what is a Jumper.
A Jumper is a (typically normal) human from Earth who is selected by (typically) a powerful entity, often referred to as “Jump-Chan” or “The Benefactor” (although I tend to refer to this entity as The Banker), to go on adventures through fictional universes. Each universe is represented by one or more 10* year long sojourns referred to as Jumps, and Jumps are taken in series, creating a chain, hence the sobriquet “Jumpchain”. The Jumper takes on new identities with each new world visited, but remains fundamentally the same individual (results may vary), though with each new Jump they gain additional perks (a blanket term for powers, skills, and abilities), items, and companions, all purchased using a non-transferable non-bankable meta-currency known (typically) as CP. 1000 CP is almost always granted to the Jumper by Jump-Chan at the beginning of each new Jump, and the Jumper is given access to a catalogue of the various items they may purchase with it, often referred to as “The Document” or “The Jump Tree”.
These perks, items, and companions are typically thematic to the fictional universe being entered. For example, in a Wizard of Oz jump, Ruby / Silver Slippers might be an item for sale, while the identities on offer may include “Kansas Farmgirl”, “Metallic Laborer”, “Jungle Dwelling Mammal”, and “Normally Inanimate Pseudo Human”, each with a list of associated perks (and potentially drawbacks). Drawbacks are typically a way to either enforce some setting or identity specific rule, in which case they are referred to as Mandatory (a metallic laborer might have the mandatory drawback ‘Oil Can: You require daily oiling of your joints or you will rust into immobility), or ways to increase the challenge level of a particular jump, in which case they are referred to as Optional (e.g. A Plague of Monkeys: Once a week, give or take a few days, you and your friends will be attacked by Flying Monkeys who will scatter your belongings and friends all over the place.) and may be taken to increase the Jumper’s CP fund, often by as much as 60% (though there are numerous outliers that offer more). Drawbacks always end at the end of their associated Jump’s timeline, even if the Jumper decides to remain in that world permanently.
A Jumper may, further, be joined on their cross-universe wandering by a cadre of beings recruited from the various worlds they have visited. These are typically grouped into the category “Companions” (in homage to Dr. Who, of course.) Companions are often imported into the various worlds the Jumper visits, gaining their own new identities (and the associated locally appropriate body and, possibly, history and memories of a local). In some Jumps, Companions may even gain their own individual CP pools with which to purchase their own Perks and (sometimes) items, though only a few Jumps allow Companions to purchase their own Companions or Drawbacks. The exact number of companions able to be imported (as well as the amount of CP they’re given and the limits on what they can buy) varies widely between different Jump Documents, but 8 companions active at one time is the default, imported or not. Active companions have access to their full powers and abilities, while inactive companions are either reduced to local normals or restricted to the Jumper’s Warehouse.
What’s that? What Warehouse you ask? Good question, oh hypothetical audience. Traditionally, once the Jumper completes their first Jump (which is traditionally Pokemon, but this is by no means a hard and fast rule) they are granted their own private personal mini-dimension that travels with them. It takes the form of a 40,000 square foot (3,716 square meter) Warehouse, which may or may not have various utilities or housing options installed, depending on the choices the Jumper makes. The Warehouse is used as a base of operations, a sanctuary, and a place for the Jumper to stash the loot of dozens or hundreds of worlds, as well as souvenirs and even inactive companions as mentioned above.
The Warehouse Document is what is typically classed as “A Supplement” as it is not a Jump in and of itself, but rather a point buy based decision tree used to describe an aspect of a Jumper’s equipment or powerset. Some Supplements, most notably and universally used being the Warehouse and Body Mod Supplements, are stand alone, but the vast majority of Supplements are imbedded in Jumps, and are designed to guide the Jumper in customizing complex items obtainable in their setting. For example, the Supreme Commander Jump, based upon an RTS (Real Time Strategy) video game in which the player has access to a giant mechanical fighting unit called an ACU, has a Supplement section dedicated to customizing the Jumper’s ACU. This section of the Supreme Commander document uses a second form of point currency, MP, though other imbedded Supplements may use other terms. Supplements almost never include Drawbacks
As mentioned previously, the Body Mod is another popular (and nearly universally taken) Supplement. It allows the Jumper to create a new baseline body for themselves, and overwrites their complete physical template permanently. It has relatively few options but most of them are quite popular. Supplements almost never include drawbacks, which means the points you are given are strictly limited, though Imbedded Supplements often have a way to convert CP into whatever point system the Supplement uses.
While the Jumper is Jumping, Time is stopped in the world they come from, and once they leave a given Setting, time is likewise frozen there as well. This allows the Jumper to, if the Warehouse Module known as “The Return” was purchased, spend a second decade in that setting. This also means that the Jumper’s friends and family back home are not worrying about their missing friend… then dying of old age while the Jumper spends decades, centuries, or millennia galavanting across the Omniverse.
The Chain can be ended in one of four ways; Staying, Going Home, Dying, & Sparking. Staying is when the Jumper chooses, of their own free will, to remain in the setting of a Jump once their time there has ended. Some Jumps present special circumstances that count as choosing to stay, such as becoming a local deity, traveling in time, or making a wish, but in general, the Jumper must choose to Stay for it to count as a chain ender. A Staying Jumper keeps all their perks, equipment, and companions, but can no longer Jump to new settings and time is no longer frozen in the worlds they previously visited. In all of them, it will be as if the Jumper has died.
Going Home is the exact opposite of Staying in theme, but functionally the same. In doing so, the Jumper returns to their point of origin (typically Modern Day Earth) with all their accumulated stuff and time resumes in all other worlds visited, leaving them as if the Jumper had passed on. The Jumper loses the ability to Jump of course.
Dying is typically treated as an involuntary choice to Go Home, and in most but not all cases means exactly that. The Chain ends, the Jumper returns to their world of origin with all Perks, Items, and Companions, and time resumes in all visited worlds. A Few Drawbacks change this up to make such deaths truly the end of the line, but they are all optional (as far as I know). Medical Death is not, typically, enough to trigger this case, as revival is often enough, but such a ruling would be up to a given Jumper’s patron (i.e. the writer). There are a whole variety of (often expensive) 1-up or ‘Extra Life’ style perks and items scattered across the 700+ jumps which can minimize this risk, as well as a few immortality perks.
To discuss the final Chain-Ender, an aside is needed. In General, Jumps are divided into three categories: Standard, Gauntlets, and End Jumps. A Standard Jump, which the vast majority are, follows the basic guidelines outlined above. Gauntlets are special challenge Jumps wherein the Jumper is reduced to their Body Mod baseline and stripped of all perks and equipment and then thrust into a Survive or Die challenge of some kind, traditionally with Zero CP to start with. To gain CP with which to purchase the Perks and Equipment needed to survive the challenge, Drawbacks must be taken. The trade off of Gauntlets is that, unlike Standard Jumps, a death here will merely count as failure of the challenge and the Jumper will be returned to their regularly scheduled Chain without penalty. Success often pays off in some kind a reward but the exact nature of that reward varies from Gauntlet to Gauntlet. Some Gauntlets have the option to transform them into Standard Jumps, though not all do. Some Jumps contain Scenarios which mimic Gauntlets in that they present a specific challenge and a linked reward, but few Scenarios have the Gauntlet’s safety net and transforming a Gauntlet into a Standard Jump removes the net as well.
Sparking and End Jumps are inextricably linked. End Jumps are incredibly hard challenges, often nearly impossible, without the protection granted by a Gauntlet. Failure often results in permadeath or worse, so they should not be taken lightly, but the payoff is considerable. The Payoff is the Spark. The Spark (taken from Magic The Gathering Lore) is more formally called an Oldwalker Spark, and it transforms the Jumper into a Planeswalker, a nigh-omnipotent being capable of travelling at will across the Omniverse without a patron and without being given an allowance of CP. Planeswalkers are responsible for their own growth and their own destinations. Many Jumps contain perks or powers or items which have their full power sealed away until “Post Spark”. Gaining one’s Spark, of course, unlocks the full potential of these things. Time resumes in all worlds once the Spark is gained.
*Some jumps last less than 10 years due to the nature of the setting, while others last longer for the same reason. Some have alternate win conditions where the jump may be ended successfully upon accomplishment of some goal… while others will not end until the goal is reached. Some of these goals are linked to Scenarios, while others are linked to Drawbacks. Some Drawbacks simply make the jump’s duration longer (or rarely, shorter).
Jump Documents can be found in numerous places, but the communities that generate them are largely divided between 4chan’s /tg/ board and Space Battles, though there are some on Questionable Questing and Reddit’s MakeYourChoice and Jumpchain subreddits. /tg/’s archive is here. SB’s archive (as well as QQ’s) is here. Reddit’s threads are here and here. At least one Jump Maker (Dirge) has his own archive for his own jumps. He is quite prolyfic. His archive is here. I’ve also created a fair number of jumps (some with other people). My archive is here.