Part 4: Interesting Abilities Not Found404 Interesting Abilities Not Found
This is gonna be a shorter update, because we have one more character generation decision to make that I completely forgot about because it's just not interesting.
Anyway, by thread vote we have concluded that we are the Changing God. Or we're lying to people that we are. Or something.
: I am the Changing God.
: I am.
We're going all the way!
Of course, the real question is, "what does it mean to be a god in a setting with nanomachines and spacecraft?" Anyway the game is telling us we've gone full egotism here, but we have the memories of the Changing God and his machines respond to our commands.
Mimeon basically tells us we're not the first people to try this bullshit and assigns us a task to prove we're the Changing God.
This said, rather than asking any kind of intelligent questions about the nature of divinity we get thrown back into technobabble and Proper Nouns.
What does this actually mean? I get the Clock is some kind of time fuckery device that does...a thing...but at its core the message is "only the real Changing God could fix the clock."
: I will.
Now, continuing the tradition of "comparing video games to the Bible", the scene is reminiscent of Elijah calling fire to prove that the LORD is the true God.
The Bible, 1 Kings 18:24 posted:
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
God of course answers with fire proving he should be worshiped. Thus we are given the challenge of replicating the Changing God's miracle and fixing this clock to do...a thing.
This is completely undermined by us getting assigned the exact same task if we don't claim to be the Changing God, but...well...I sure as hell can't find any meaning in what we've seen so far either.
So let's take a look at this clock.
To describe a futuristic clock, we say it looks like a clock. Really.
: Examine the machine.
: The towering mechanism wavers in the air. Similar to Callistege, it appears to be in several states at once, though all of the machine's states are in the exact same location.
: You can't touch it either - your hand passes right through the structure.
: There is the faintest sound of metal sliding against leather. You slap a hand on the central clock face, activating the clock's arcane powers. You're not sure what it will do to them, but it's better than what they'll do to you.
: There is a flash. Arcs of energy stretch out from the clock, over your shoulders to your would-be attackers. You don't see what happens to the, but they quickly disappear along with their screams.
The clock shoots out a purple ribbon thing that hits the stone statues that escaped from someone's abstract art collection.
Let's approach one.
: Look more closely at the changes around you.
These are where the tutorial memories of having our own robot armies, looting underwater cities, and fighting to defend our city come in.
: Examine the images on the surface of the device.
: Look at the memory in the underwater city.
: The memory is recent. Two men, both with tattoos like your own, are in an underwater city searching for something. The denizens of the city chase them from the artifact they seek and ultimately surround and capture them.
: Look at the memory in the lush valley.
: Look at the memory of the city under siege.
So yea, the puzzle is to match the memories with the descriptions the devices give us. It's not hard, but I screw up once because I'm not paying attention.
Once we do this the central pendulum on the clock starts moving and it shoots purple lasers. Yayyy!
Let's talk to our deluded cultists about our success.
: He smiles, though reservations still dance in his eyes. "Hush, Cas. Our inspiration had a question for us once the task we set for her was complete."
: He frowns. "Unfortunately, your task is not entirely complete. We told you our price. That decision stands."
Right, those guys. We can't just tell him they're traitors like we remembered, we have to go interact with the clock.
And...we're trapped in a generic MC Escher staircase with 3 randos. Great.
This has some mildly interesting characterization for the Last Castoff.
: Who are you?
Notably, we don't actually get recognized by the three traitors as the Changing God, despite us telling Casmeen that we were (and given the way Casmeen was looking at us, I am thoroughly glad this is not a Bioware RPG).
You'll notice none of our replies are "it is I, the Changing God". This heavily implies we're just lying our asses off to the Cult, which normally I'd be against, but they worship a god they call "The Deathcheater".
They kinda have this coming.
: I'll ask the questions. What were you doing in that clock?
I will need to do an update on the Tides, but we seem to be getting our egotism score pretty high.
: Inside the clock, perhaps?
: The varjellen shuts its eyes. Six nostrils open wide as it inhales deeply.
: Why did the Changing God trap you in the clock?
Yea, jig's up, we're full of shit.
: Why can't you get us out of here?
: I don't know how to get out of here.
: I don't see any way out.
This is because we need to get railroaded into one last gameplay choice.
: The varjellen stretches its neck, putting its face within a handspan of yours. It seems to be examining you. Then it says, "Your mind. Only you have the power to change."
If only we can change it, how the fuck did these assholes get here?
I'm gonna pre-empt my usual nitpicking by pointing out that while we are a "clever" jack, Kamose here is "foolish".
: I chose an aspect of myself when I was born, deep in the heart of this labyrinth. Is that it?
Take a look at the dialog options above. This is the game asking you if there's anything you forgot to fill out on your character sheet. As it so happens, there is.
: Diviaticu shakes his head. "I can see what you speak of," it says, and you get a momentary impression that its eyes can see through you. "This aspect describes you, just as I am varjellen, Villon is observant, Kamose is foolish."
: I built a path out of a deep fathom in my mind by recovering memories I had lost.
Oh, it's not a metaphor for piecing yourself together, it's an actual literal event. I don't even know.
: I'm a jack-of-all-trades.
: Let me look around. I'll be back.
: The three of them mutter to each other, looking around this strange space, as they try to find another way out.
: I don't think I have the ability you're talking about.
: Shut your eyes. Search your memories for this ability they speak of.
Hoo boy. I apologize for the screenshot dump, but the game doesn't have portraits for these assholes. I will probably need to start bringing in external images for some of these NPCs, as you can't get to the recall part without proudly listing off the elements of your character sheet. Anyway...
: You rifle through your memories, past everything you actually remember to those memories you didn't create yourself. There must be a key or a door - anything that would help you to escape this fathom of your mind.
: Just as you're about to give up, you find something, a cluster of sparks, nascent abilities deep within the core of your being. You sense the abilities to speak eloquently, to use a shield with a master's skill, to lurk among the shadows as though they were home...
Counterpoint: This shit should have been in the character generation screen. But hey, I bet we get some cool abilities if they're gating it here, right?
What does Natural Charisma do? It lets us spend more intellect points when talking.
That sounds badass and supernatural. It gives us minor bonuses to D&D rogue skills (Nocturnal) and a D&D style sneak attack. Really.
Counterattack gives up our turn to make counterattacks when someone tries to hit us and misses, and a defense bonus when carrying a shield.
This is the most uninspired shit I have ever seen.
I want to point out that these are supposed to be core abilities granted by a maybe-divine immortal technologist with access to all kinds of crazy crap like time fuckery, spontaneous regeneration, and his own space station.
One of these abilities is "carries a shield". Not like a forcefield or some kind of become a ghost phase out or anything that would be cool or interesting, but literally carries a shield like a medieval knight. The "transdimensional" stealth doesn't actually let us sneak better, it synergizes with out existing sneak skill and lets us do extra damage coming out of stealth.
This is the dark secret of Numenera - it doesn't actually have anything interesting to say, so it wraps up the Dungeons and Dragons experience in meaningless sci-fi jargon. You're not just eating a sandwich, you're consuming a transdimensional sandwich. What does that mean? Dunno. What do other dimensions have to do with this? Dunno. Are you mystified yet? Do you wonder about this? No, because it has no deeper meaning.
For bonus points, all of these descriptions are blatant lies. The promise is that each focus grants you abilities usable in and out of combat, but only the shadow one does. Silver Tongue is only usable outside combat (barring a scripted chat event, maybe?) and Masters Defense is pure combat abilities. Masters Defense also claims to give you the ability to defend yourself and others against mental attacks, but as far as I can tell it doesn't actually do that. You can't even draw aggro with it.
Well, goons, you know what time it is.
Pick a focus for the Last Castoff. Justify your choice.