The End of the World
On his 13th birthday, John Egbert receives the latest computer game, a beta version of an immersive simulation game called Sburb. Working with his friend Rose Lalonde, they discover that the game allows the players to manipulate their reality.
A startling revelation comes, though - an apocalyptic meteor shower is beginning to destroy the world before their very eyes. However, the game gives them tools to escape their fate. Using the game's alchemy system to create a special item, John and his house enter a new, shadowy realm full of monsters. His dead grandmother is revived as his Kernelsprite, a spirit guide each Sburb player receives to help them understand this new setting and the rules of the game. She explains that he is in the Medium in a new dimension called the Incipisphere. The Incipisphere is a world of "warring royalty in a timeless expanse," where the forces of Prospit and Derse struggle for dominion over the realm of Skaia in the chess-patterned Battlefield at its center. John and his friends must fight against the monsters of the dark kingdom, controlled by the Denizens, and free the Consorts of the four planets circling Skaia. They must master the inventory system called the Sylladex, and understand the alchemy system the game provides.
John cannot help Rose get into the game, as he has lost his game copy. Their friends Dave Strider and Jade Harley, must assist them by forming a player chain. They struggle with their Guardians to get a hold of game copies. One by one, they work together to flee the apocalypse and enter their personal planets, where they have personal quests to fulfill, monsters to fight, and Consorts to interact with. Rose and Dave get their own sprites, as Dave resurrects Rose's dead cat and Jade resurrects a dead crow in Dave's apartment. John, Rose, Dave, and Jade slowly learn of their roles as the Heir of Breath, the Seer of Light, the Knight of Time, and the Witch of Space respectively. They start to awaken their dream selves on Prospit and Derse - Jade is the only one awake at the start of the game, giving her some advance knowledge.
Some of these meteors are to "seed" laboratories like the Skyship Base on Earth, and carry Exiles -former members of the two kingdoms- to the year 2422, long after the apocalypse, for them to repopulate the Earth. Exiles talk to the players as they enter their lands in the Medium, such as the Wayward Vagabond, who acts as a voice in John's head. In the game session, Carapacian agents, some of whom will later be exiled, carry out their kingdom's duties.
Others spawn structures like the Frog Temple, an ancient place containing the code for Sburb and a Lotus Time Capsule enabling item transport between Earth and the Incipisphere. In this temple, the genetic code for Jade's omnipotent dog Becquerel, the First Guardian of Earth, is created. However, another revelation happens as John eventually reaches a laboratory in the Incipisphere's outer meteor belt called the Veil, where he uncovers a mysterious ectobiology machine. John accidentally facilitates the kids'and their guardians' own existences. They are sent back to the past on meteors during the Reckoning as well, to set in motion the entire chain of events. Some of these meteors even become the meteors that hit the kid's houses in the first place - the heroes slowly realize that the whole game is based on a series of stable time loops and paradoxes.
They also learn that they are not the only group of people playing the game. Countless other sessions of players, on other planets in other dimensions, also exist. But even as they get better at the game, a sense of dread emerges in their minds that something is wrong. They are contacted by trolls who tell them their mission will end in failure and attempt to dissuade them from continuing or goad them into making mistakes. The trolls, despite seeming nasty, unwittingly assist the kids in completing paradoxical events; one of them tricks John into dying in a doomed timeline, but Dave travels back in time with his newfound abilities and becomes his own self's sprite.
However, the troll's warnings come true, as a weapon Jade tries to give to John accidentally ends up in the hands of Jack Noir, the nefarious archagent of Derse. He commits double regicide against the monarchs of Derse and grabs the Black Queen's ring, granting him the Kernelsprite prototyping. He becomes the Sovereign Slayer, wreaking destruction wherever he goes - something never intended to happen in the game. He also destroys Prospit's moon, killing Jade's dream self in the process. Learning this, the White Queen tasks a Parcel Mistress with protecting her ring, but she eventually loses it and later goes on to become exiled to the future Earth in 2422.
The Sburb logotype
Alpha and Beta Kids
The Troll Session: Universe A
While the kids continue playing their game, the author switches focus to the trolls who have been contacting the kids. The trolls are players from the planet of Alternia in another universe, who played a session of Sburb (or, as they called it, Sgrub) long ago in the past. Trolls are an interplanetary alien race with a vastly different and yet similar culture to humans. Trolls' guardians are creatures called lusii. They reproduce by contributing their genetic material to a Mother Grub and do not know their own parents, although some believe they are descended from certain ancestors. They have a complicated system of romance. They have a blood-based caste system of many different colors; depending on blood color, some trolls have longer lifespans than others and can have a range of psychic abilities, with the purple and fuchsia seadwellers at the top and 'lower' bloods treated as expendable, second-class citizens. Trolls are expected to be vicious and ruthless to survive.
These twelve players are led by the cantankerous and insecure Karkat Vantas. The other players include fatalistic ghost Aradia Megido, disabled and timid Tavros Nitram, cynical hacker Sollux Captor, romance-minded Nepeta Leijon, dutiful and motherly Kanaya Maryam, mischievous blind justice-seeker Terezi Pyrope, manipulative and glory-seeking Vriska Serket, traditionally-minded roboticist Equius Zahhak, intoxicated clown Gamzee Makara, aristocratic seadweller Eridan Ampora, and cheerful heir to the throne Feferi Peixes.
These twelve started out in two competitive teams, but soon realized they were part of one single session. Despite their differences - including grudges held over a revenge-fueled series of incidents that left some of them disabled - they managed to cooperate long enough to win their game. Their session was similar to the kid's; they had their own planets and their own hero roles. Their version of Jack and his fellow agents helped them dethrone the Black Queen and exile her; these agents would later be exiled themselves to the post-apocalyptic Alternia, where they would become the Midnight Crew, a gang of mobsters in rivalry with a gang called the Felt. Much of the information that allowed them to win came from a mysterious source: Doc Scratch, the omnipotent and omniscient First Guardian of Alternia. In the end, the twelve players beat the Black King and discovered the ultimate purpose of Sburb - to create new universes. The universe the Trolls created was none other than the home universe of the human kids - the universe home to Earth.
However, something went wrong, and an indestructible, omnipotent demon was unleashed into their game. Before the trolls could gain access to the new universe, they were stopped by his appearance in the space-time continuum. They fled into a laboratory on a meteor in the Veil and hid there while he went on to destroy the rest of their session; it is here where, with Karkat's leadership, they began to troll the kids through Trollian - where they can access them from any point in their life before the mysterious Scratch - believing the kids responsible for their plight.
As Jade enters the session and Becquerel prototypes her sprite with himself, it is revealed that this demon was actually a fully-prototyped Jack Noir ('Bec Noir'); due to Bec's omnipotence, Jack is now capable of teleporting around the session, murdering at random and without warning. He would later, mysteriously, get into the session of the trolls and prevented them from winning the game.
Realizing that Jack is as much the kid's problem as it is the troll's, the trolls begin to shift their approach from antagonism to a begrudging cooperation. Kanaya and Rose talk to each other to learn more about each other's species. Terezi takes an interest in Dave and starts to help him through his quest, which includes an extensive amount of time travel. Vriska begins manipulating the humans, including being responsible for putting Jade to sleep throughout her life and allowing Bec to prototype himself. However, she helps John realize his abilities as a Heir of Breath, and she leads him to his Quest Bed, where he is killed in his sleep and ascends to God Tier, a higher level where players have a certain degree of immortality.
Jade, meanwhile, is struggling to catch up after her dream self was killed. She has a nightmare, making her cranky and unwilling to cooperate with the insufferable Karkat, who had been nasty to her in the past. This only becomes worse when she prototypes Becsprite with her own dead dream self. However, she learns that she will now be dreaming in dream bubbles, places made out of the memories of players. The bubbles serve as the afterlife for dead players and where living players go while they sleep when their dream selves are dead. Aradia, who became god tier when Jack destroyed her Derse, is now alive and serving as a steward of the afterlife. Jade becomes more willing to cooperate with Karkat, and proceeds to captchalogue a mysterious window known as the Fourth Wall stored in her grandfather's laboratory. She also learns from Kanaya that, as the space player, she must stoke the Forge on her planet and begin breeding frogs for the purpose of creating the Genesis Frog, the frog that will become the new universe the kids create.
Meanwhile, Rose is working on her own plan. She has been talking to Doc Scratch, and has learned from him about the existence of the Green Sun, a large and very cosmically important sun within the depths of paradox space which powers the First Guardians. In her sleep she also communicates with the Horrorterrors in the Furthest Ring, the space between universes where time and space are highly non-linear. She believes she can de-power Jack by recovering a massive bomb called The Tumor from the middle of the Battlefield on Skaia, and delivering it to the Green Sun to blow it up. Kanaya and Dave are concerned about this, with Kanaya in particular worried about Rose's impending 'black out' in which she can no longer see her on her timeline. While John is tasked with recovering the Tumor, Rose discovers that Jack Noir has killed her mother, and with Doc Scratch's manipulation and the urgings of the Horrorterrors she goes 'grimdark'.
On the meteor where the Trolls are hiding, things begin to turn sour. Several of the Trolls begin killing each other. With Gamzee having sobered up, he believes he has a religious mission to kill lower-blooded trolls, and murders Nepeta and Equius while speaking of his mirthful messiahs and a Vast Honk yet to come. Kanaya, meanwhile, is protecting the Matriorb, an egg vital to the future of the troll race, but it is destroyed by Eridan, who believes there is no more hope, and kills her and Feferi after they try to stop him from joining Jack Noir. Kanaya is resurrected as a vampire thanks to her blood, and takes revenge on Eridan. Vriska, who is revealed to have been a God Tier all along, kills Tavros and then seeks to stop Jack, but she is killed by Terezi, a Seer of Mind who foresees a doomed timeline from Vriska's actions.
By this point, Doc Scratch assumes control of the narrative due to Disc One of Homestuck being damaged, where he proceeds to explain many of the following events as he waits for the arrival of his master, Lord English.
The plan nears fruition; John recovers the Tumor and delivers it to Derse, but finds the grimdark Rose on the Battlefield, where he discovers that his own father is dead. After a confrontation with Jack, Rose is killed and her dream self wakes up; she and Dave proceed to pilot Derse's moon into the Furthest Ring to deliver the Tumor to the Green Sun. John, meanwhile, is supposed to cause the Scratch, an important event that will reset their entire session in order to produce more favorable winning conditions. However, players do not ordinarily survive the Scratch, but Jade has learned by speaking to her land's Denizen, Echidna, that she can continue to exist if she brings the session's planets through the Fourth Wall to the scratched session. She has also completed breeding the Genesis Frog, but does not know how to carry out Echidna's request.
Jade is killed by an agent of Derse, and Jack Noir, having inherited Becquerel's loyalty, takes her corpse to her Quest Bed. With Jadesprite being considered her dream self, she is revived as a god tier Witch of Space, enabling her to take the kids' four planets and the Skaian battlefield and shrink them down. John completes the Scratch, and he and Jade depart on a Prospitian battleship through the Fourth Wall before the session resets.
To escape the Scratch, Jack Noir enters the Lotus Time Capsule on the Frog Temple, and goes to the future Earth, where the Exiles have gathered around the Frog Temple ruins in the desert. The exiles are preparing to destroy the laboratories such as the Skyship Base and then start a new civilization. Jack slays most of the exiles, including the former White Queen and King and the Armaments Regent. He mortally wounds Wayward Vagabond and proceeds to teleport to the Troll's session using the Skyship Base's transporter, where he then attacks the Trolls' Genesis Frog. This destroys the human's universe, but not before the Peregrine Mendicant on Earth discovers the White Queen's ring, which was in the possession of fellow exile Wayward Vagabond. After putting on the ring and gaining omnipotence similar to Jack, she follows him to the trolls' session.
Meanwhile, at Scratch's direction, Spades Slick - the trolls' exiled Jack - kills Snowman, the trolls' exiled Black Queen whose life is bonded to the trolls' universe. It is then that the true purpose of the Tumor is revealed - fueled by the death of two universes, it is not meant to destroy the Green Sun, but to create it. Doc Scratch, once again manipulating the players, never mentioned just what the bomb actually did. The sun is created, and from its flames rise the God Tier Rose and Dave. After Karkat pacifies Gamzee's murderous rage, Sollux uses his psychic powers to pilot the trolls' meteor to the site of the Green Sun for a rendezvous. Meanwhile, upon the death of Doc Scratch and the destruction of the two universes, a code activates and the evil Lord English, a time-travelling crime lord, leader of the Felt and Doc Scratch's master, makes his arrival at the end of the trolls' universe and begins his own work.
The universe frog has Cancer
The Kids Greatest Mistake
The scratch resets the Kids' universe so that the kids and their ectobiological parents are sent to Earth at different times. Jane Crocker, Jake English, Dirk Strider and Roxy Lalonde, the B2 kids, are the new players in this instance of the universe. However, while they prepare to play the game, it is apparent that the odds are stacked against them. Earth is a corporate planet owned by Betty Crocker, who is really the Condesce, the former Empress of Alternia now in the service of Lord English and the usurper of the Black Queen in the new Incipisphere. Roxy and Dirk live years in the future in a flooded planet, constantly under threat of the Imperial Drones, and the God Cat makes mischief for these new heroes. The B2 kids are contacted by two members of another alien species - the cherubs, consisting of the friendly and helpful Calliope and the violent and antagonistic Caliborn, who share the same body and are going to play their own session. Caliborn plans to kill Calliope as part of the 'game'.
Meanwhile, together with the surviving trolls, the original four kids embark on two separate three-year journeys to the B2 session. PM sends the wounded WV to the kids and trolls at the Green Sun, who then begin to travel through the Furthest Ring on a meteor, getting him medical attention soon after. PM proceeds to pursue Jack Noir as he pursues the meteor through the Ring. Meanwhile, John, Jade and the remaining population of their Incipisphere - shrunken by Jade's god tier powers - have broken through the Fourth Wall and have begun to cross the Yellow Yard.
As the three years progress, the meteor's crew passes through dream bubbles. Through these dream bubble visits, they encounter the pre-scratch trolls, a group of troll players who are the ancestors of the more familiar trolls. They played Sburb and were forced to reset their null session with a scratch, resulting in the post-scratch troll session that the kids had interacted with. One of the trolls, Meenah Peixes, killed all of them so that they could survive the scratch and continue to exist through dream bubbles.
However, they soon discover that English has been destroying dream bubbles and killing players who are already dead, shattering reality in the process. Swiftly realizing the vast threat he poses to reality itself, they begin to come up with plans to combat him. Meenah seeks out her fellow dead players to amass a ghost army, while the dead Vriska plans to use a map of the Furthest Ring and follow English's path of destruction to find a treasure that could defeat him. Aranea Serket wants to find Calliope, who is now dead, having had her body permanently been taken over by Caliborn, who is revealed to actually be Lord English as a child.
The B2 kids manage to enter their Medium without pre-entry prototypings. The planets are barren wastelands and all of the Underlings are skeletal. The new session is a void session where Skaia can never advance to its final state; the B1 kids must bring their Battlefield and their Genesis Frog so it can release the Vast Croak there. After months of waiting, it comes to the day before their arrival. Meanwhile, the Alpha kids are beset by relationship problems which threaten the unity of their group.
When the kids receive Calliope and Caliborn's jujus - cherubs' prized magical objects - the ensuing chaos leads to the four winding up on their Quest Crypts in the center of Prospit and Derse's moons. The Alpha Jack Noir receives Lil Cal, a cursed juju that had previously appeared all throughout the story. He becomes possessed and soon channels the powers of Lord English ('Lord Jack'), using them to destroy Prospit's moon while the Condesce destroys Derse's moon. The Alpha kids ascend to god tier, and are rescued from an ambush by Jade, who has just arrived in the session. The Condesce uses her powers to mind control Jade, who in turn mind controls Jane; the two kidnap Roxy and Jake. Dirk and 'Lord Jack' are teleported to the edge of the session.
The group on the meteor, which has almost reached the alpha session, is beset by their own emotional problems, and seems unprepared for the struggle ahead. John, on the other hand, is asleep on arrival. As Lord English's destruction of reality forms a ring around the Green Sun, a sleeping John meets the ghosts in the afterlife, who have formed a pirate crew led by Vriska. As they approach the treasure, Aranea explains cherub biology and the origin of Calliope and Caliborn, who were raised in their infancy by Gamzee on a planet that was in fact a B2 Earth displaced in space and time. She explains how Caliborn predominated over his sister and entered his own session, where he could communicate with the author, Andrew Hussie. He learned that his session was a dead session, an extraordinarily difficult type of void session that would never be able to produce a new universe, even with outside intervention, and thus possessed its own unique victory conditions. Playing this session, he amassed leprechaun followers which would later become the Felt, and continued to gain power in his journey.
The pirate crew finds the treasure, which turns out to be a transparent Sburb logo. John, sticking his arm through, discovers that it is a gateway to any point in time and paradox space, and becomes 'unstuck' from the Homestuck canon. He winds up appearing in many events in the story before appearing in the Alpha session.