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desolate last won the day on February 21

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  1. desolate

    Writing Styles

    The perennial discussions about post length are all carts without horses. Most roleplayers have an undeveloped style. In a literary sense, style is the use of composition to influence interpretation of the work. Brevity and verbosity are not styles. They are elements of composition, but brevity by itself is an iota. Brevity can be straight-forward, terse, or minimalist; brevity can be ornate, poetical, or erudite; brevity can use academic language, street slang, or professional jargon; brevity can be descriptive, diegetic, or persuasive; brevity can be any other quality that matters more than the brevity itself. Concision is preferred for the reasons you stated. Elements most relevant in the composition should be in the foreground. They should not float in a sea of prose like a derelict vessel to be discovered by a treasure hunter. As such, roleplayers overestimate the effect minor changes in diction and syntax have on their style. Changing the sails does not change the ship, let alone the sea.
  2. @amenities@The Alexandrian I'm going to help manage the Xelken at the scene three objective. Any thoughts on critical or interesting infrastructure that could serve as a place of power? A literal power station could work since there a lot of potential mini-objectives, some of which could serve as prerequisites to any ritual, but we'd have to decide some basics such as whether it's similar to a coal-fired, hydroelectric, or nuclear power plant. I'm assuming there would also be plenty of station workers that need rescuing. Let me know if I'm on the right track or totally off base and we can hatch out some basics. 🐣
  3. They entered Groff Basin. Marcos downloaded the most current maps through The Storage Movement and any relevant census data for the region. He needed to find a reasonably sized and accessible village along the Sea of Regrets for the courier to deliver his goods. Guarded courier, as was standard. Outside of imperial territory, the guard work was best outsourced to an adventuring clinic. Marcos made the exchange at Remord township, a municipality in a small out of the way county. Directing a dimwitted frost giant to follow a map through swampy cliffs was a true test of patience. Dealing with swamp elf fisherfolk was another. After treating the courier and convoy to local delicacies like deep fried mudskipper and pickeled pickerelweed, Marcos journeyed back to the Witch's Cauldron with a sled full of boxes and a tidy albeit silent partnership with Laboratorio Oyente. En route, he made the usual arrangements for an endangered identity. Personal belongings were disposed. Main domicile was to be planted with the necessary forensic evidence. Investments that could be dumped into non-Empire assets were disposed to set the foundation for a financial feedback loop, and any that were ineligible were donated. His will was in order, though when he inevitably died there would not be a body. Could it even be called death? Upon his return, the basin was barely recognizable. It was pockmarked with Xelkenways and sported an ominous tower. Xelken assistance was required to navigate the dense toxic fog and bog-like labyrinth. "I see," Marcos said when they reached Dul'Dorek. Entering it proved tricky. "How else to begin one's campaign against a maternal figure than with a massive phallic symbol?" With his affairs in Hell's Gate settled remotely, Marcos unboxed a stark white metal sphere and turned it on. It floated and followed him. The next order of business was to take samples—tissues, particulate matter, and scans—and have them analyzed. There was a great deal to collect: numerous Xelken, various structures, and strange brains. But he started with himself, disrobing completely as compartments in the drone opened up and unsheathed tools, none of them friendly looking.
  4. desolate

    Lagrimosa AMA 2.0

    If I may, doesn't the question boil down to: Will it be fun for me to play an Aragorn in a Star Wars setting? Players define fun in different ways. I've seen this dilemma several times over the course of the forum's history, and a lot of the time it's from players who derive their fun primarily from immersion, or "fitting in with the lore" as you put it. Another factor is that some players specifically don't have fun when they're dramatically overshadowed by another player's Rule of Cool, or when there's a difference in how they define Cool, and they might feel that this is inevitable when they play an Aragorn in a world filled with Droids and Jedi. Ultimately, Valucre is a fantasy kitchen sink. At some point, you have to grok whether Aragorn hitting Droidekas with AndĂșril is fun for you, and whether you risk other players throwing that kind of curve ball at you. Do you derive your fun from imagery? Then you might think the image of a ranger against droids is too ridiculous to be fun for you, or it might be the opposite and resonate with your inner Rule of Cool. Do you derive your fun from verisimilitude? Then you might think the unrealistic proposition of defeating laser guns with steel swords isn't Cool to you, or you might think that since Aragorn is destined to save the Realm of Men that of course AndĂșril is fated to triumph over laser guns. And to some degree, you can be selective about where you roleplay and who you roleplay with, but that might defeat the point of being on a big social forum with a lot of players (fellowship). I don't think it's necessarily a perspective that can be agreed or disagreed with as such. It comes down to how players have fun in their games. The answer "Why can't you just cast shield on a bullet?" or "Why can't you just do x?" is unsatisfying to someone who derives fun from immersion or realism, for example. In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, cyborg Raiden can cut rockets out of the air with his katana and parry bullets. In Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy can get murked by an arrow. If someone wants to play an Aloy, you can't just tell them, "Why don't you play like you're a Raiden instead?" The question in generalized form is twofold: will I have fun doing this, and will it be successful or at least worth the risks? In some ways, your answer is the only answer, because it's possible but it's really up to the player. You can't convince someone that being Aragorn in Hell's Gate won't shatter their immersion or sense of fairness. To some extent, that's just how freeform works. Have you heard of the MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics) framework? It states that rules (mechanics) lead to inputs/outputs (dynamics) that create certain types of fun (aesthetics). They have a basic taxonomy of how players define fun (sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge, fellowship, discovery, expression, and submission). A player who derives fun from submission (or abnegation) wants to turn their brain off when they play. They aren't going to do well in a game focused on challenge (game as an obstacle course). For example, our site does not at all cater to anyone who's looking for challenge, but it does to players who are looking for expression (e.g., players defining world details), although that might be a detraction for players who want fantasy (or immersion). Design is like dominoes in that way. Some solutions lead to other problems. Does vertical development vs. horizontal development channel the expression-types in a more productive direction or is it disaffecting? Although the more interesting question is where do the destruction-motivated players fall into the framework, and how can they be channeled.
  5. Hearing Kahd'Xel talk about the singularity was like listening to a podcast about archaic religious beliefs on scientific phenomenon. Briefly, Marcos imagined thousands of years ago. In the distant past, when fire was discovered, did the protoscientists of yestermillennia and that age's demons theorize it was another of Gaia's wicked inventions—like thermodynamics? More like thermodamnation. What about thunderclouds and tidal waves? Certainly caused by gaiastatics and gaiaquakes. That's right. Everything is Gaia and Gaia is All. It was tiresome as any of Odin's sermons, but he followed the mad scientist's creed: extreme data calls for extreme methodology. "Certainly. I am an expert lender," Marcos responded. "Truth and justice can expect to profit greatly." And he was blessed. The following lack of sickness was a welcome relief. No more sticky sweat and itchy eyeballs. If only he could get some lab-work done on what exactly happened. Too bad there weren't any cutting edge laboratories near the Sea of Regrets. He might have to wait for the autopsy. "I'll follow in the sled. Hiking isn't my forte." Back in the sled, and after rendezvousing with Hvalr the makeshift sled-dog, Marcos made contact with some of the biotech firms he was invested in. Through several layers of anonymity, naturally. He needed a top of the line medical drone loaded with alchemy tools and diagnostic software—and a few spares—delivered immediately. Not to mention a secure server to store the data, and a lab—preferably outside the Empire—to handle the more complicated work he couldn't perform onsite. In the meantime, there were some basic preparations he could conduct. Marcos called on some spray bulbs and stitch worms. His first task was to puncture a spray bulb and drain it, then milk stitch worms into its bulb. It was a more efficient receptacle than used water bottles, and a proof-of-concept. It was only a matter of time before he was an expert Xelken surgeon.
  6. Marcos paused in the shadow of the demon. He could feel his stomach turn, and his esophageal sphincter spilled some of the contents of his stomach into his mouth. Before he turned around, he swallowed the reflux and wiped the perspiration from his forehead. Was the uncharacteristic sliminess of his sweat a product of his imagination? He squinted into Kahd'Xel's eyes through the light and dabbed some reflex tears away. "I am deeply disgraced by my unsatisfactory discourse." Muscle spasms caused him to twitch every so often as the stitch worm creature operated on him. "My research is more important than false wisdom and false idols," Marcos said about sapience and Gaia respectively. "Forgive my shameful ignorance on the extent of demonic academia, but how knowledgeable are you on the Law of Contagion? In short, it is the arcane theory that the mere act of contact creates a type of entanglement that can be leveraged for magical effect. This concept is not unlike the transmission of disease. It is most fascinating to contemplate that magic itself can be modeled as an infectious disease, but I digress. "As communities increase in density and interconnectivity, a network emerges through which every individual of that community will be in contact with every other individual. To summarize, someday everyone will be entangled by the same contagion at the same time, however brief. That is the Contagion Singularity, the subject of my research. "After I heard about Treedell, the master of plagues—that's you—presented an opportunity to gather new data. The most efficient course for my research is to support and study the Xelken. Analyzing the conversion of every creature on Valucre into Xelken, in addition to the effects of your various plagues, will yield significant insights, and an aggressor that poses an existential threat will cause Lagrimosa to further converge toward the singularity." There were other candidates for his research, but they were problematic. "Do you have a destination in mind after the Badlands?" The only notable Gaian strongholds to the west were Blairville and Biazo Isle. He needed to know which vacation home to stop renting out.
  7. Night passed. Marcos spied during that time. He memorized each person encountered and their location through the Stitch Worm and its Carrier, who felt unusually hale. On a mental map, he classified them by age group, and determined the location of their food and supply stores. In the event that he scried a patrol, he maneuvered relative to their position along the horizon to remain out of sight. At dawn, the Possessed Suujali approached again. The Mahrjan were cautious and formed a phalanx along the eastern fortifications. It was a feint. Marcos sent the snatch hawks, organized into three groups. The closest analogue the Mahrjan had encountered were the flying variety of trap-jaw ants. In their three groups, the snatcher hawks separately dive bombed noncombatants and the young, camels, and supplies. When it came to the Mahrjan and the camels, the snatcher hawks picked them up and promptly dropped them back to the ground, leaving as many crippled children and animals as possible. When it came to the food, they carried it away. At some point, the shamans conjured elemental spirits, and the snatcher hawks promptly left, as did the Possessed Suujali. The morning raid was quickly over before anything substantial became of the combat. More importantly, the spellcasters' resources were strained summoning reinforcements for a non-battle, and healing a bunch of noncombatants. Destroyed and stolen supplies, broken children, injured animals—it was catastrophic for morale. Arguments started about facing an ant colony to the west and the Suujali Tide to the east. Blame was laid on leadership for choosing this position. They needed to make a decision to abandon camp, and whether to leave to the north or south. Marcos capitalized on the fractious relationships and lack of cohesion. Mounted on the ultra hawk along with the brain druids and wizard fungal horror, his advance was preceded by quick flybys using spray bulb paralytics. The remaining snatch hawks dropped the insect horrors on the rocky outcropping to hold the high ground, then proceeded to harry the Marjhan forces. When the ultra hawk landed, Marcos enlarged it to twice its size. The battle might as well have been won at that point. A giant insect, now twice the size of an elephant, charged through any attempts to form up or organize battle lines. The shamans may have stood a chance if the brain druids and wizard fungal horror were not present with wards and counterspells. Throughout the battle, Marcos chose select targets to hurl balls of acid at, if only to demonstrate he had no problems melting rabble. Inevitably, the Mahrjan routed. Snatch hawks gathered the runners. The ultra-hawk shrank to its normal size. Marcos stood above the captured camp and watched impassive as the stitch worms went about their business, though he was particularly keen on observing which captive was turned into which Xelken, for what reasons, and the relative time-frames. Marcos knocked on the wizard fungal horror's head and inclined his head as before. "Your Malignancy, forgive this humble servant's delay. We inferior creatures of Gaia's bounty are only capable of so very little, but I hope the result nonetheless pleases you." A few spray bulbs had been popped, and a couple of snatch hawks lie netted and impaled. A single arrow protruded from Marcos' right shoulder. "If not, I submit myself to your punishment."
  8. "It will be my pleasure, Your Malignancy." He inclined his head in a slight bow. Marcos should have expected to communicate only through messenger. None of his former colleagues had been face-to-face types either. Another expectation he should have had was to fight. What a novel idea. How long had it been since he had last "partaken in combat"? Not since becoming Marcos. Could Marcos fight? Insufficient data. His nose scrunched. At least one mystery was solved right away: Xelken were created from their prey, unlike the bygone Shift Corporation's bioweapons or Artifacture Unlimited's artificial lifeforms. Somehow he doubted the Xelken would appreciate a surgical exploration of their differences. "Hvalr," Marcos began. "Stay. No fight." "FIGHT!" the frost giant roared. "No. No fight." "No fight?" "No fight!" While it was the path of least resistance, using Hvalr's strength would not prove Marcos' worth. Neither would Marcos' usual modus operandi. Although he was confident his methods yielded superior results, for better or worse employment at a new organization meant conforming to the business culture and impressing the hiring manager. Perceived similarity had a measurable impact on likability. His previous employer, as intelligent as he was, had also been susceptible to seeing himself reflected in his employees. Key performance indicators notwithstanding, Marcos familiarized himself with the capabilities of the Xelken detachment, since Kahd'Xel had slept through the invention of the résumé. First, Marcos and Company traveled west of the Mahrjan encampment, but stayed past the horizon's arc and out of sight. Save for the Possessed Suujali and one Stitch Worm, who approached from the east to deliver the opening act. As expected, the Mahrjan response to the night raid was adequate. That night's watch occupied a superior vantage point atop a rocky outcropping, knew about the Suujali Tide, and knew to watch the east. Alarms sounded and a squad of hunters both on foot and camel intercepted before the Possessed Suujali could reach their camp. Perhaps it was a failure of the Mahrjan warriors to fully adapt from desert to tundra, or an inability for persistence hunters to compensate on the fly in a battle of attrition against the Stitch Worm's regenerative assistance. Speculation aside, the Possessed Suujali tore through them, despite arrows and longspears protruding from it like a porcupine. None were left dead, though the Mahrjan squad was variously crippled, unconscious, or routed. Given that they were too injured to pursue and more were on the way, the Possessed Suujali concluded the hit-and-run by scooping up one unlucky hunter and dragged him away into the night. Once it reached an acceptable distance, the Possessed Suujali abandoned the hunter, and the Stitch Worm switched hosts. It burrowed into the hunter's, now the Carrier's wounds and nestled in. Meanwhile, Marcos had been scrying on the skirmish through the Wizard fungal horror's mouth. "Don't give me that look," Marcos coolly regarded the Wizard. "An artist must prime the canvas before painting. This is merely the gesso." Eventually, Mahrjan scouts recovered their injured fellows, including the Stitch Worm and the Carrier. They found neither the Possessed Suujali nor any sign of a Suujali Tide. Through the Stitch Worm, Marcos discovered the encampment's layout, and the number of spell-casters present. Unfortunately, the Mahrjan were not cowed by the attack and did not flee west into Marcos' waiting arms. "Alas." Marcos sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Sometimes you just gesso wrong." Had painting always been this difficult?
  9. D20 opposed - Mahrjan stay
  10. D20 opposed - Mahrjan abandon
  11. 1. Any complex elements in particular you want to see worked in? 2. Any post milestones you want the thread to reach? I can do it all in one go or break it up into multiple posts. 3. Marcos is likely to approach the raid unconventionally for a fantasy battle. Let me know if you'd prefer to see something straight-forward instead.
  12. It was another disappointing close at the Hell's Gate Stock Exchange (HGSE). In his home office, Marcos perused an unrealized gains and losses report on a secure mobile banking app for Crédito Riego, one of his preferred financial institutions for private investment in public equity (PIPE) deals. As before, their forecasts indicated low confidence in Dinåmica Arcana (DA), a noncombat supplier to the Wasteland Border Patrol (WBP). One of Marcos' fund managers confirmed that casualties during the so-called Suujali Tide could be partially attributed to deficiencies in certain parts of the WBP IT infrastructure provided by DA, which the CEO Yesenia Freixa covered up. The same propaganda arm of the Daily Weekly responsible for the tasteless term Suujali Tide was already spinning a narrative to burn DA to the ground. Unsurprisingly, private military companies (PMCs), like the one responsible for interfering in Treedell, were poised to make a profit. Speaking of Treedell, the propagandists were disinclined to connect those events to the Suujali Tide. They insisted it was a demonic random act of violence (DRAV). Protesters encamped outside of City Hall were incensed that the ancient demon evaded capture. Calling the event random, and more importantly isolated, was a placation. Or the prevention of potential reinforcements, if one believed the propagandists had been infiltrated by agitators. Either way, Marcos was intrigued by both the familiarity of these incidents and possibilities that went beyond monetary. Master of insects and king of plagues. Marcos lacked the expertise in demonology to confirm the accuracy of that identity. Titles aside, what was a king of plagues if not alike to a bioweapons manufacturer? While Marcos had use for exotic and occult bioweapons, there was high risk when it came to demonic contracts, including the danger of being crushed during negotiations. The situation called for not only a bodyguard, but a test subject for the efficacy of these insects and plagues. Resilience and strength in excess of suujali were required. Intellect was not. That left a convenient and obvious choice. Marcos prepared for travel and checked himself in the mirror. What he saw reflected back was neither himself nor the oppressive brutalist interior of his home. Instead, a suited businessperson in a room of tall mirrors stared back. Peace, Marcos imagined the figure saying and felt his pants tighten around his groin, has made you soft. "Not anymore," Marcos replied to his fantasy and adjusted himself. Time to begin. In the days that followed, Marcos traveled north of Hell's Gate and visited several Palyopama tribes in the Wastelands. The absence of WBP was noted. It was at Gran Hielo that Marcos acquired Hvalr, a frost giant convicted of murdering ice fairies allied with the tribe. To a species inclined to deductive logic, the circumstances surrounding the murders might have aroused suspicion. Palyopama being anything but, Hvalr signed himself away, or was signed away, without fanfare for an undisclosed sum of material wealth. The terms of service were drafted by lawyers at CHC Abogados who specialized in legal mediation between Lagrimosan races of divergent intellectual capacity. Marcos sowed the potential for ongoing criminal rehabilitation services should Gran Hielo or its neighbors find themselves hungry for profit. Presently, Marcos occupied a sled so opulent it resembled a boat over a snowscooter. To conserve fuel, Hvalr had dragged the sled across the tundra to the Badlands, while Marcos configured medical apps, prepared documents for the next phase, and read pertinent e-books on a burner. Given Hvalr's size, their approach was conspicuous. Inevitably, the duo was party to the abominations that patrolled the border to Mahrjan territory. After one last run through the script on his burner, Marcos pulled down the hood of his winter coat, lowered the scarf from his face and stood tall at the sled's prow. "Kahd'Xel Yedapher, Father of Plagues, Baron of Insects, Lord of Decay, The Festering Foe, Glutton of 1000 Jaws, Conqueror of the Wastelands, Usurper of the Badlands, Destroyer of the Terran Empire and the Lagrimosan Kingdoms," Marcos called out. "Before you stands Marcos Solà and Hvalr, chattel in Gaia's gilded cage who wish to break free. Beyond lies the detestable Mahrjan. I beg Your Virulent Majesty, allow us to partake in your conquest of those heretics and prove our worthiness!" Hvalr raised a massive fist on cue and managed a gruff, "Destroy them." It was all Marcos was confident the frost giant could remember.
  13. I would use Marcos, though I imagine the bulk of any evil-doing will be from Hvalr. Not picky about the scene, I can show up now since there's a lull in activity or later if you already have a bun in the oven. Marcos will offer frost giants, starting with one. Note that they are the incredibly stupid ones and not the smart ones. In return, he wants Kahd'Xel to put bees in the frost giants and let him observe Hvalr-with-bees and the Xelken. His interest is academic.
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