Part 2: Are We Tormented Yet?Are We Tormented Yet?
The thread voted to make us a Female Clever Jack. Despite the game heavily pushing us toward Nano, being a mage got 0 votes.
We fall, but something different happens when I fail to move the bowl:
I seem to remember being promised "interesting consequences" on failure, not "ha ha you take damage"
A red filter, oh boy!
This is how I set the stat pools. I'm sure half the people in the thread will tell me I'm making bad decisions here, but this wouldn't be a Monte Cook game without the opportunity to lose super hard in character creation.
We have 5 abilities to choose from.
Trained Without Armor gives us +10% Evasion and Willpower when in no or light armor.
Sucker Punch gives us the ability to do an attack that does 3 extra damge and inflicts the Dazed condition (penalties to attack and willpower) if the target has a debuff.
Practiced in Armor gives us reduced armor penalties and apparently lets us cast spells in armor better because D&D.
Hedge Magic is a spell that lets us autopass Quick Fingers and Smashing checks, which seems pretty great for not burning our stat pools on stupid shit. 1/day unfortunately.
Infuse Weapon is an attack that lets us attack with one of the game's damage types that has "bonus effects" based on damage type. No, the game doesn't explain and I don't know either.
I go with Hedge Magic and Infuse Weapon, as I don't know whether or not we can get good heavy armor quickly or if the defense buffs from Trained Without Armor are even worth noting.
Now we get to skills, and the skill system in this game is weird and not good. The highlighted skill is a Last Castoff only skill that lets you get more exposition by remembering shit. Then you have skills that are straight up combat number boosts, like Initiative (go first), Running (move faster), Endurance (more health), and Healing (increase the power of healing spells/abilities). The Jack gets the ability to arbitrarily declare a skill as trained 1/day for the rest of the day, so I'm not too worried, but I end up grabbing Stealth (which can only be used in combat) so I can make more effective attacks coming out of cloaking and also just sneak out of combat if it sucks too hard.
Here's what Clever does. Ignore the dot in Persuasion, I go back and change it out for Stealth.
Once we're done with that, we escape into Final Destination from Super Smash Bros.
It's amazing how much the writing thinks its communicating when it's really not. I don't know what "stylish" means in the era of space stations and wizards, nor what is considered "well-cut" for men. The first sentence could be cut entirely as the text goes on to describe a hazy specter.
Of course, the ultimate sin of the text is that it is providing a visual description for a character who we can see being portrayed in a visual medium. Only the last sentence provides anything we wouldn't get out of a blue ghost in... I dunno, a pimp hat or something.
Oh boy, are we going to be asking the questions.
: Before I met you it felt like something was hunting me. Do you know what it was?
: You said I had to 'finish the process'. What do you mean by that?
Christ already this random blue ghost is descending deep into genre technobabble. That has a very clear literary meaning, and that meaning is "read literally anything else".
: What do you mean, attune to the Tides?
Ohhh, it's the weird and incoherent Dungeons and Dragons alignment system, where you're actually aligned with "Good" supernatural forces and shoot gold lasers while the "Evil" supernatural forces shoot red lasers which have the [evil] tag because they're bad guys.
Remember, Monte Cook worked on the D&D 3.5 Book of Vile Darkness, which, among other things, exposited that poisons were evil because of their game mechanics. The sequel, Book of Exalted Deeds for good characters, introduced a whole new series of "good" not-poisons that worked mechanically the same as poisons but also turned you into an endlessly horny nymphomaniac. Really.
: What's a resonance chamber?
I see that "what does it do" or "what happens when the process is complete" are not questions our supposedly intelligent character is going to ask. Oh well.
: Who are those other people? You called them reflections?
We'll cover the codex at some later date.
: If this place is my mind, why don't I remember any of this? Any of you?
: Who are you?
So everything up to this point has been the intellectual equivalent of masturbation. I blame the Last Castoff's terrible haircut.
: How do you know all this, all that you're telling me?
: So how do I get back to the real world?
For people who are supposedly part of us and a place supposedly part of us this is certainly alien and external-seeming.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
Hey we did some magic shit that woke you up from...whenever you went to sleep while falling to your death. Anyway this is one big hallucination. Would you like some exposition?
: Wow, a pimp ghost. Oh god yes, I have no idea what's going on. What is this thing after me?
: That's the Sorrow. It is very bad.
: What is this "finish the process" with the resonance chamber you were talking about?
: It's the technobabble that does something about the Evil Proper Noun. Just like the Tides.
: The what now?
: The Tides. It's like D&D alignment, but completely divorced from the psuedo-ethical construct that game espouses. Look, Planescape loved alignment and this is a spiritual successor OK?
: Ok, sure. What's a resonance chamber, exactly?
: It's a magic robot sarcophagus. We were trying to fall to it.
: Ok, fine, who are the randos?
: They're just more weird hallucinations. This is all in your head, remember?
: Can I go now?
: Door on your right.
Oh no! An uninspired tentacle monster!
Not a proper noun!
Rest in piece, random person we vaguely remembered who dressed like Hopper Rouley from Ash of Gods.
Wait, why do our hallucinations have power?
: We have to get rid of them! Destroy its anchors or else the Sorrow will erase us forever!
This is the game's combat tutorial. Our goal is to kill the random hallucinations the evil Proper Noun has impaled on its tentacles in a totally nonsexual way, because this will somehow determine whether or not we get erased from existence.
Anyway, we get an action per turn (attack, etc) and a move.
This is very much a scripted fight, so we get highlights on all the recommended actions.
Anyway, we have a whopping 65% chance at punching that reflection to death.
So, attacking people is weird and dumb where you can ineffectually autoattack for poor damage or burn your stat pools for extra damage and being able to actually hit the enemy.
Let's see what happens if I attack burning no stat pools.
Every turn the tentacle monster shoots black sperm into the void which is supposed to represent it hiding itself inside our Castoff's mind here. I have no idea what this is supposed to represent or be about - maybe it's a PTSD allegory? If we're feeling generous this is representing us suppressing traumatic memories to avoid PTSD triggers? I'm no mental health professional.
Alright fucker, have some magic damage!
These are some of the damage types in the game. I vaguely remember Nanos being able to throw around "Relativistic" damage. Supposedly there are secondary effects, but if they're explained yet I missed it.
We go with Mental damage.
So for a 100% hit chance I burned three of the Last Castoff's speed pool. We started with 8. You can probably see where this is going.
Once we kill the second reflection a scripted event fires to teach us about buffs and debuffs. This guy gets a buff that increases his armor so we need to find a way around it.
Now I have no idea whether armor applies to those 4 damage types above or not, but I'm gonna do the scripted thing.
Picking up the mirror lets us shoot a laser at the last memory that banishes the tentacle hole to the anime from whence it came.
Does anyone actually list off synonyms when actually talking? "I have to go to the grocery store, the supermarket, and buy some bread, baked goods."
But wait! I thought we were symbolically destroying our memories - ah, fuck it.
: The portal to your body is that shimmering dome there. Go! Now!
I make no secret of my dislike for "worldbuilding" and things like replacing normal words with made up fantasy bullshit is why. "Dust" or "pieces" would be fine.
Lady, what the hell are you talking about? Also she has a weird effect going on where several outlines of her are flickering through her model.
: Will you look at...wait...I know that face!
Upon hearing this, we emit an energy blast that knocks them both to the floor.
Again. Visual medium. Put some tattoos on the model.
: You blame me? She emitted an internal physiological reaction in response to the fall - probably related to that fantastic healing process. Obviously, Aligern.
It occurs to me that "physiological reaction" could easily be "a giant fart" so that's my immature interpretation.
: Her voice rolls and hisses, and you have to rub your eyes to be sure that you're not seeing double. Faint echoes of her actions trail from her, each nearly mimicking her, though some act and react to stimulit that you can't perceive. Her vivid hair and outrageous clothing remain constant through these shadows.
: Who are you?
Yea, it's D&D alignment but sillier. Get used to this.
: You know she's not the Changing God, Aligern.
The what now?
: It's her face! I've never seen any other people rebuild themselves like that. Only the Changing God could have healed so quickly.
: He sighs and rubs his face, trying to regain his composure. "Maybe you could help me for a change. You know what this means to me."
: "You're familiar with the word changing, Aligern? It implies inconstancy. Thus, the Changing God may well have...changed."
: Several versions of her shrug, and she addresses you. "You'll have to forgive him. He believes you're someone he once knew, even though it's painfully obvious to anyone that you are newly born."
We remember a city ablaze and an army of robots we used to impress a lady.
: Where are we? What is this place?
: Who is the Changing God?
1.2 million dollars, folks!
: If you know the Changing God through my body, why do you keep referring to my sire as "he"?
: "We know your creator through legend and research. He's taken the form of men, women, visitants, and... other things. His form is fluid, as his name suggests. But the stories about the Changing God always refer to him."
: Are there other castoffs?
: "Dozens. Hundreds. Who can say? Your sire has been doing this for several centuries."
: So you say I was born when the Changing God left, but why am I not dead?
: I used a cypher to slow your fall futher, but the damage still would've killed an ordinary person. But think about it. If you're the kind of person who can make your body into anything you want, what do you do? If you've constructed bodies for centuries, you want to make each one better than the last. You want to live forever - you're not going to let your life end by accident. No, you'll make strong bodies - fast, powerful. Maybe throw in regeneration while you're at it."
: If the Changing God abandoned my body, where is he now?
: "If. If he abandoned your body, then his consciousness fled to another."
: He eyes you keenly.
: What was that blast of energy when I woke?
: As I was telling my 'colleague', it was obviously a physiological reaction of some kind. I've never witnessed the birth of a castoff, but yes, it could very well have been caused by your nascent consciousness. Don't worry. I don't believe it caused any real harm. Not to me, at least.
My God, you two, just fuck already and get it over with.
: Are you sure that surge didn't hurt you?
: If it did, it was damage in our minds. Though how you'd check if it carked her, I couldn't say. Tough to find normalcy there."
: Do you know anything about the Tides?
Well that was helpful and I'm surprised Aligern didn't cut in to call her a dumbass.
: I want to ask about something else.
: Before I woke, I was in some kind of dreamlike labyrinth with a glowing specter.
: If falling from the sky didn't kill me, is there anything that can?
Make your own "bored to death by technobabble" joke, kids!
Wait, conflagration? All you'd need to do to kill us is just set us on fire? What kind of invincibility is that? This is a videogame, everyone and their mom uses fire attacks!
...what the fuck is a temporal barrier?
Please don't be a time travel story.
: With a series of gestures, you bring up an image of a crystalline pod. "If the resonance chamber works, it will give us the powerto stop the Sorrow's hunt once and for all. We just need the right focal point, a catalyst..."
: The memory fades. Callistege is still talking. You realize that the device you saw in the memory is identical to the one behind you now. It looks just like the Specter had described it - a transparent sarcophagus inside a crystalline dome, with mechanical arms arrayed around it on a metal ring. Unfortunately, the dome is shatter, the sarcophagus is cracked, and one of the arms is in pieces on the floor.
: Whatever its function, it clearly needs repair.
I elect to skip question #1 because...we still don't know these people, even if Aligern maybe saved our life.
: Do either of you know how to fix that crystal chamber there?
: Aligern chuckles. Then, firm and certain, he says, "Not likely. Though it might not be impossible. You need people with the appropriate knowledge. I'm sure the Cult of the Changing God will hold the answer.
: What's the Order of Truth?
: Knowledge seekers, the learned who try to wrest secrets from the hearts of the prior worlds. They gather in the city to exchange their findings and help humanity to build a brighter future.
: She smiles brightly.
: Our friend Aligern here was once one of them.
: Frauds, quacksalvers, and charlatans. They don't have all the answers, and I'd not trust them with the Changing God's secrets.
: What's the Cult of the Changing God?
Decisions Lie Before Us!
As you may have guessed, Aligern and Callistege here are party members. Unfortunately they do not like each other and will not both join your party. We are also being pointed in two different directions - and this is independent of party member, we can take Callistege to the Cult of the Changing God if we want.
Are we inviting Aligern, Callistege, or neither to travel with us? And do we want to go to The Order of Truth or the Cult of the Changing God?