The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 33: Successful Machinations

Hionosi 22-28

Coming back to your dorm room after classes, you see a newspaper on your bed. Picking it up, a note falls out:

Well done, Winged Sparrow! “Vincent’s” essay made page one of the newspaper. Best of all, he accepted 20 pims as a prize. Even if he says he didn’t write it now, we’ve still got him! You need to expose this case of plagiarism to the highest levels. Make sure everyone knows! Then, at the next student council, make sure to show up. You already know the rest.

Now what’s the best way to spread this rumor around?

Dunno about “best” way, but Iliana seems to know a “most expedient” way. Let’s see if working on appearances will change anything.

What you’re about to do requires a lot of luck and a good stage presence. You practice in front of your dorm room mirror. In particular, you work on projecting your voice and looking authoritative. You feel positive now that you can pull this off and attract a lot of attention. Time to shine.

No change, so probably an invisible Chance of Success boost. Now to the library.

At this time of day, the library is packed full of students. What you’re about to do is risky, but, well, you’ve been planning for something like this for weeks now.

You climb on top of a table in the center of the library, holding the newspaper in one hand and Professor Knoht’s dissertation in the other. Students are already watching you carefully for climbing on the furniture. You take a deep breath.

Attention everyone! Vincent Warrender has plagiarized his essay from a professor's dissertation! That’s right! This dissertation in my hand right here, and a good piece of it was copied exactly! If any of you doubt—
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! ARE YOU INSANE!? You will pay for this extreme desecration of silence!

You run for your life, taking several hidden shortcuts and casting a number of deception spells to get the librarian off your back. When you finally feel you’ve lost her, you double back to your dorm room. Whew. That was a bit closer than you were hoping for, but you certainly got the story out—and with plenty of style.

Later, while you’re enjoying a solitary meal in a nice restaurant, three strangers you’ve never seen before come up and start babbling at you in a foreign language. You politely shake your head and signal that you can’t understand them, but they keep pestering you.

It’s not like they’re harming you or anything, but can’t you just be left in peace?

The two non-escape options seem basically the same, so let’s pick the sure thing.

Languages are all about communication, and even when you can’t talk, you can still communicate.

With this in mind, you patiently sit in place while you try to understand what the strangers want. They press in on you, gesturing like they want to shake your hand. You extend your right arm, and when you do, one of the strangers makes a questioning gesture toward your hand.

You show him your hand and wait to see what he does next. His mouth opens in surprise as he looks at your hand; he places his own hand on his chest in an apologetic gesture. You respond by politely waving off the issue. The strangers walk away chattering to each other, and though you don’t understand what happened, you know you handled it well enough.

All this concern with hands reminds you of Rui’s story about the presentation. Were they looking for the student with the golden runes? Ah well. None of your business.

Student council meetings are usually only attended by the members themselves, but this time the room is packed. There aren’t even enough seats for everyone. The crowd murmurs with various rumors regarding what will happen to Vincent. You hear snippets of the discussions:

I swear he wouldn’t do a thing like that. There must be a mistake. They should let him stay on.

He’s so guilty. About time they caught him doing something wrong.

Everybody stop talking NOW!

Oh, dear. How did Cinzia Ammacapani get in charge?

Ahem. Vincent resigned earlier today. He opted not to make a speech but wished me to thank his supporters. Now, to business. We will consider the motion on a resolution declaring our opposition to the current quality of meat at—
Hey! What about the seat?
What about it?
We wanna know who fills it!

Cinzia gives an exasperated sigh. You can only imagine what she must think of humanity in general right now.

Very well. Any suggestions?

You feel Emilia grasp your shoulder from behind.

We should go with this upstanding student. Who better than the person who exposed the wrongdoing?

Cinzia’s withering gaze turns to you, followed by most of the rest of the room.

Well? What do you say about your nomination?

So in the normal course of events, this is the point where Emilia’s leadership is revealed, hence the red option. All it says on a success is “Well, huh. Who’d have thought?” and you get a Chance of Success boost for no discernible reason.

Right, on with the speeches.

You feel very appreciative for Emilia in this moment. You understand her shy nature prevents her from going for the council position herself; even making the nomination must have cost her quite a bit, but she insisted on doing it since it was her plan that got you this far.

Oh, right. Better not spoil the moment by staring blankly. Time for the speech you prepared.

Fellow students, I would be honored to serve in the council. I may have made the announcement, but even I still believe that Vincent is still a decent student, just one who made a mistake. Plagiarism is a serious offense, of course, but I can understand Vincent’s need to impress the impressive student body here at the Academagia. It is something I myself must struggle to do every day. I just hope that we can all learn from Vincent’s misstep. For myself, if I am elected, I intend to expand the rights of all students of this great school. I will end these petty rivalries that drive our colleges apart, yes, rivalries I have experienced firsthand! If we can redirect the energy we waste on pranks into work together, there’s nothing in this world we can’t accomplish!

You end your speech to the roar of applause.

Are there any objections? Anymore nominations? None? Well, congrats, the seat is yours.

At last, you’ve become a member of the student council.

As the two of you leave the council room, Emilia whispers to you:

Great speech. They really ate up that “petty rivalries” stuff. We’ll meet up with the others later.

Separating from Emilia to hopefully avoid too much suspicion, you run rather unexpectedly into Cyrus Dawes. You haven’t seen him since he introduced you to Numerology in the Library of the Mantle of Stars, and all the reasons why you’ve been avoiding him rush up from your memory almost as fast as the blush spreads across your face.

That was a great speech back there. I think our colleges ought to work together more often, too.
Did I ever tell you how pretty you look? I can tell you put a lot of effort into your face and hair, but you still make it seem like you don’t pay attention at all. You must be pretty self-confident.

You’d normally berate yourself for falling so flat in the face of a compliment, but your brains seem to have turned to mush and dripped out your ears while you weren’t paying attention. At least they did so discretely; you’ll have to thank them later once you can form whole sentences again.

Cyrus has a few more nice things to say, but you can barely understand them. Finally, he finishes and walks away, allowing you to gradually regain control of your senses. Is it a bad sign that you still kind of want Cyrus to stick around?

On your way to classes today, a breeze made you shiver as you passed the door to the Cold Room, causing you to spontaneously remember the promise you made to the two dueling ghosts all those months ago. Finding out which one is more famous really wasn’t too much to ask, but as one thing followed another, you just wound up forgetting all about their request until just now.

Thus, after classes end, you head down to the Venalicium Library, taking care to act quiet and unobtrusive just in case the angry librarian still remembers your heinous act from earlier.

Beyond their names, Paolo and Vincenzo, you know next to nothing about the two mages: not the school of magic they focused on, not their place of birth or family name, and not even a notion of what era they might be from. The Venalicium is second to none in chronicling the history of magic, though. If there is anything to find, it will certainly be here.

Green across the board, just what I like to see. Persuasion may be the likeliest option for Iliana, but after all the time she spent here, I just can’t imagine her needing any help.

You know the library like the back of your hand, and it has taught you many of its secrets over the past months. It doesn’t matter that you don’t quite know what you’re looking for, because the library wants you to find it, whatever it may be. The organization has been known to shift in ways no one is quite sure of, but its configurations always seem to help a questing student. Thus you waste no time on catalogues and instead you set the questions you need answered in your mind and begin browsing.

Your hunt takes you through enough stacks to make you start to second-guess your faith in the library, but then you notice the twin pedestals. Set side by side, they appear directly in front of you, a dusty volume atop each one. And of course, they turn out to be just what you’re looking for.

Well, almost. Each seems to have been authored by the wizards themselves—at least until you notice the numeral after both names. The two books were actually written by the sons of the wizards, and a glance at the titles and opening pages tell you all the rest you need to know. Both sons wrote the biographies as a tribute to their fathers, each proclaiming their parent the greatest duelist of the age.

It’s not quite as definitive as you were hoping, but it is what they wanted. It’ll have to do for now. Heading for the check-out counter, you start to consider your next move. This may require some finessing.

Leaving your dorm room, you almost trip over Captain Rufus Felix Northbridge III once again, and this time you’ve finally had enough! Isn’t he supposed to be your familiar or something? You know, sharing a strong connection, sharing emotions, skills, even thoughts? Well, it’s high time you do something about that! That Numerology equation seems like it should speed matters; you’ll just have to cast an Intense Focus after school. This weekend, you promise yourself, you and Felix are going to have a heart-to-heart.

Now hold still for once. So if I’ve got this counted up right, if I write this pheme on a parchment and point it to the east…then…yes!
Oh, hush! This hurts me way more than it hurts you!
Meow! MROW!
Ugh. Well, it sure felt like it worked. So if I did this right, the Bond should have formed. Alright, Captain Felix, think something catty.

Yeah, I should’ve guessed. I suppose I’ll have to do this a few more times before we can really communicate together.

Crossing through the rimbal field, you hear a sudden shout.

Heads up!

You turn around and see a rimbal coming your way. Luckily, Zorzi gave you plenty of warning and you easily move out of the way. Even so, you can’t believe his carelessness.

As you’re chewing him out, another student yells at you. You ignore it at first, but Gwendy Zuyder’s shouting gets louder.

Heads up!

Finally turning, you notice another rimbal headed your way, but this time you have only moments to react.

Two green options, but I think the Flawless Timing one will be more impressive.

You quickly raise your hands and catch the ball inches from your nose. A number of students watching cheer your fantastic catch. Vrenelle, who just happened to be walking with you, observes:

There’s got to be some sort of game we could come up with where we catch a ball.

You, however, are much too sour today to consider such things. You drop the ball where you’re standing—let Gwendy come and pick it up. You’re certainly not throwing it back.

Still feeling tired after your session with Captain Felix, you are completely unprepared when you come back to your room and find a monkey fending him off from atop your dresser. Spotting you as you enter, the monkey whips out a letter from under its jacket, tosses it at you, and makes a swift getaway through the window.

The next few minutes you use to calm down your cat, but once that’s done, you can’t help but stare at the letter. This is obviously the correspondence you’ve been both dreading and anticipating ever since you handed in that draft of the treaty to the pirates. You were anticipating it because you knew you did your best and there is an outside chance you managed to do well by the pirates, and dreading it because you know it was most likely a dismal failure. In fact, you’re certain that it’s just going to be Kaidlette trying to soothe your feelings for failing a job no one really expected you to succeed at. You really ought to just tear it up right now and spare yourself the agony.

Then again…what if it isn’t? Could you really stand not ever knowing instead of knowing and getting rejected? Without giving yourself the time to change your mind again, you reach for the letter, break the seal, and pull out the paper. After one final deep breath to calm yourself, you dive into the text.


First, let me say sorry that I couldn’t tell you in person, but there’s something of a party going on here in the cove and I need to make sure these dolts don’t break something important. Congratulations, lass, you did it! It took some arguing on both sides and a few things had to be changed (and don’t take it personally, these things always have last-minute changes), but in the end the paper was signed by Asad the Lion and the Black Falcon Coaster both, bringing peace to a feud some of us thought would last until one of them croaked, or even beyond. That pirate council was a touch of brilliance if I may say, and there’s talk of bringing other bands in to really expand the scope of things.

We’ll make sure proper credit goes to you, lass, don’t you worry. Maybe it’ll even make up for letting the Captain of Mineta know you’ve been helping us with other things. I’d invite you down to join the party, but I’m afraid it’s a bit too rowdy for a girl of your age. Don’t let that stop you from celebrating with your friends, though!


The letter is trembling in your hand. You read it a few more times just to be certain. You did it! You really did it! You let out a laugh that quickly turns into a whoop of triumph, and for once you don’t care who is listening.

Too excited to sleep, you spend some time in the common room, curled up in a chair and basking in the glow of the letter. You’ll be letting everyone know what you’ve accomplished tomorrow, but as for right now your success is yours and yours alone.

At least, it’s yours alone until another student comes down into the common room. Tabin Furenzti looks around as though searching for someone, and when he sees you, he comes straight over.

I spotted a monkey earlier climbing up into the girl’s wing, and I don’t think it belongs to any of the Aranaz students. Just now I heard some shouting from the same area, and I can’t help thinking they’re linked. I don’t suppose you know what happened?

Although you didn’t really intend to, you wind up spilling the whole story of you and the pirates to Tabin, starting with your meeting with Kaidlette back on Juvenalia and culminating in the letter you still hold. At first, Tabin seems incredulous, but after you let him read the note, you can tell Tabin’s respect for you has grown.

Just wait until the Five-Handed Tree hears about this!

After staying up late last night, you decide to sleep in today, which does wonders for your state of mind. Throughout the rest of the day, aside from a few more bonding sessions with your cat, you spread the story of your achievement to anyone who will listen. Some students had been growing colder towards you when your connection to the pirates was revealed, but by helping forge a peace between pirate factions, you find your association with them is now forgiven. This speeds up considerably when word from the city filters in and confirms your story.

Late that evening, you are sitting at the bar in the Sign of the Wand Tavern, subtly trying to convince a patron to buy you a drink in exchange for telling your story again. Suddenly, a fight breaks out behind you. Two older students are arguing over politics, screaming insults and shoving each other.

“No, no, no! The Pasha of Oursouk started this mess. Just do me a favor and read a newspaper every once in a while! Do you think you can handle that?”

“Oh yeah, sure! Read the newspaper! You just believe everything you read, huh?”

It sounds harmless enough right now, but fights have a tendency to escalate at alarming rates, and you don’t want anything ruining this wonderful day.

Pure Luck sounds like an investigation, but I’m not certain. Better just take the sure thing instead.

You’re confident of your grasp on world affairs, so you walk over and share your opinion—one crafted to calm both sides.

Listen, boys, I’m not sure whom the so-called “aggressor” is, but at this point I don’t think it honestly matters. Both sides have gone too far by this point, they’re both wildly dangerous.

After a moment’s thought, the two older students are forced to nod in agreement.

“I guess it’s a little silly to argue who started it, considering all that’s happened,” concedes one.

“We should really just hope both sides sit down and try to make peace, shouldn’t we?” admits the other.

With a wry grin, you take the opportunity to start into your tale once again.

…Yes, you’re a hunter, and I understand that you like to toy with your food, but sometimes Persuading others is more effective.
Then speak their language, of course they won’t want to learn yours! Mice just chitter a lot, don’t they?
Have you even heard what other human languages are like? I really don’t think I’m asking that much.

There has to be an easier way to do this.

Gains of the Week

Earlier adventure was successful!
--Politics increased by 3 steps.
----Informed on Els Rottmundyn.
--Charm increased by 1.

Successful adventure!
--Flawless Timing increased by 1 step.
----Inhuman Timing spell learned.
----Plot increased by 1.
------Detail Plan action learned.
Successful event!
--Composure increased by 1 step.
----Stony Look ability learned.

Orthography increased by 1.
Theory of Glamour increased by 1.
--Amplify pheme learned.
Successful adventure!
--Confidence increased by 1.
----Confidence skill maxed!
----Self-Assured ability learned.
Cyrus Dawes used Birds and Bees.
--Relationship with Cyrus Dawes increased to 2.

Successful adventure!
--Library Knowledge cannot be increased.

Illustration increased by 1.
--Calligraphy increased by 1.
Famous Dilemmas increased by 1.
--Learned about Chauranglaith Path: Natural Spring.
The Early Empire increased by 1.
Cast Intense Focus.
--Plus 5 to The Everard Equation.
--Minus 2 to Flowers and Wilderness Survival.

Glamour Phemes increased by 1.
--Glamour Phemes maxed!
--Omni pheme learned.
--Stars pheme learned.
Calculated the Familiar Equation.
--Vitality decreased by 1.
--Familiar Kinship increased by 1 step.
----Groom Familiar ability learned.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Stars increased by 1 step.
----Bond increased by 1.
Successful event!
--Competition increased by 1 step.
----Eyes in the Back of your Head ability learned.
Tabin Furenzti used Hang Out inside the College.
--Relationship with Tabin Furenzti increased to 3.

Stress and Vitality reset.
Calculated the Familiar Equation.
--Vitality decreased by 1.
--Familiar Kinship increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Stars increased by 1 step.
----Bond increased by 1.
Calculated the Familiar Equation.
--Vitality decreased by 1.
--Familiar Kinship increased by 1 step.
----Learned Explore with Your Familiar ability learned.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Stars increased by 1 step.
Successful event!
--Politics increased by 1 step.
--Oratory increased by 1 step.

Calculated the Familiar Equation.
--Vitality decreased by 1.
--Familiar Kinship increased by 1 step.
----Play action learned.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
----Bond increased by 1.
------Wizard and Familiar ability learned.
--Bond of Stars increased by 1 step.
----Refreshment of Spirit action learned.
Calculated the Familiar Equation.
--Vitality decreased by 1.
--Familiar Kinship increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Stars has reached the skill cap.
Trained Familiar.
--Captain Felix’s Persuasion increased by 1 step.

New Abilities

Inhuman Timing (Spell): Insight/Flawless Timing v6; +12% Chance of Success for any Combat action or ability for 3 days.
Detail Plan: +2 to choice of skill, +10% Chance of Success, and +1 Stress for 2 days.
Stony Look (Permanent): +1 to Composure and Lie.
Self-Assured: +3 to Confidence and chosen skill, -2 to 2 random skills for 10 days.
Groom Familiar: +1 step to chosen Bond skill and +1 to Charm for 3 days.
Eyes in the Back of your Head (Permanent): +1 to Danger Sense.
Explore with Your Familiar: +1 step in random Explore skill, random familiar’s Patrol skill, and random Bond skill.
Play: -1 Stress, +1 step in familiar’s Playfulness, and Charm/Befriend v5 for +1 in chosen Bond skill.
Wizard and Familiar: +2 to all actions, abilities, and spells for 3 days, but -1 to random Relationship.
Refreshment of Spirit: -2 Stress, +1 to random Relationship, and +1 Merit.

Let me take a moment to explain how the Familiar skill cap works. Oan explained this way back when, but the thing about the Bond level is that no skill of the familiar’s can be raised above the Bond level +1. Rather unfortunately, this includes the Bond subskills themselves, so as long as the Bond of Silver remains at level 3, Calculating the Familiar Equation will cause more harm than it’s worth, raising only the Bond of Silver and not touching the others. Fortunately, all those new abilities that Familiar Kinship revealed will raise Bond levels while doing other useful things, but the only really good skill for the job is Improved Familiar Handling, which is only unlocked at Zoology 5. Still, Iliana has just enough Zoology skills revealed to reach it, and even after the 12 actions it’ll take to get there, it’ll probably give a net savings considering how many skills Captain Felix will need to do his adventure.

Not that I’ll turn down a better shortcut if anybody knows one.

Oh, and there’s one other thing. I’ve only put one adventure into the ghosts plotline, but I’m already at a significant branching path, and I’d like to put it to a vote rather than decide myself. There are three ways the Cold Room adventure can end:

A. These poor ghosts have been here for centuries. It is long past time for them to meet their final reward.
B. These ghosts are nuisances that have flummoxed mages for generations. Iliana will get them out whether they’re ready or not!
C. Two of the best duelists of this or any age just sitting there, wasted on each other? Iliana’s got two words: dueling classes.

Mind you, I’ve got a suspicion which way the vote will go, so let me add this: if the first five votes are unanimous, I’ll stop the voting early and go with the result.