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Chouette

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  1. LotE: The Descent

    A loose square of white cloth flutters away from a grasping hand, and flies into a crowd to smack against the face of a tall man, who in his surprise drops a clay jar and sees it smashed to fragments at his feet. Wind chimes ring with an ominous melody, drawing worried glances from superstitious eyes. Prickling spices waft from an open pot straight to the nose of a wrinkled grandfather, who flinches, twitches, and then sneezes out loud. There's a mischief on the breeze. Fast and tricksy as a weasel, sweeping over hot ground and blowing up clouds of dust that'll have eyes stinging and noses stuffed, the ill wind darts through the market towards the jeweler's stall. Two women are there, one armed and armored, the other clad in soft black with a red purse hanging at her side. The wind pounces upon the latter, rippling through her clothes and tugging at her hair until she shoes it away, stifling a laugh. "I'm afraid I wouldn't know if I have." Basilica's eyes are the color of ash, her smile soft and quiet. One hand brushes her hair back into place before coming to a rest on the tabletop, while the other remains hidden in a long sleeve. "The Valley's overflowing with pipsqueaks at the moment. It's hard to remember which is which." With a look of concern, she glances out at the churning market. "Sorry, did you say a boy or a girl? It might have been... Ah, behind you-" The table jerks, and Bas steps back a little, her eyes immediately flicking downwards. She stamps hard on the fallen wallet, pinning it to the ground, and reaches out to try and grasp the knight's arm. "Don't worry! I-" Her hand is weak, however, and the mercenary is already rushing off after some unruly child. Frowning, Bas lifts her foot, then deftly slides the toe of one shoe beneath the wallet, balancing it there as she raises one leg just high enough to reach down and take it without bending beneath the tabletop. Laying the pocketbook just in front of her, she beckons to a nearby man with the look of a sellsword about him. "Would you mind following that woman-" here she points at the furious knight, "-and bringing her back here? I'll pay you for your trouble."
  2. I, Henrietta

    In just a few heartbeats, the loathsome kidnapper was turned into an obedient plant, which promptly answered everyone's questions while producing a lovely assortment of nature sounds to soothe their nerves. Who could have imagined such a convenient spell existed? Perhaps Sabiya's initial opinion of the red-caped man had been in error, for at the very least he seemed to have the right tools ready for almost any kind of situation. Inconveniently placed explosives? Let my silver slugs consume them! Ruffians causing trouble? A few words, and behold, they are now all plants! That last one was especially enticing, for Sabiya could think of a great many people whom she'd happily replace with shrubberies. As the body rose of its own accord, she too found her feet, and stopped for a moment to reach up and pat it on the head one last time. "Good plant." Her initial panic had worn off somewhat, in large part thanks to the reassurance that Victory would not be immediately killed. She had time, and time meant more options. A direct pursuit might yet succeed, but their targets already had a head start, and would likely have other countermeasures prepared for their pursuers. On the other hand, now that Sabiya could estimate where they aimed to conduct the murder and how long it would take them to get that far, another plan came to mind. Grander, more beautiful, better suited to her talents. She stepped past the floating milkweed and strode back towards the entrance she'd arrived through, waving one hand almost dismissively at the two living men in the room. "You go and chase them. I need to find Monroe."
  3. Small Steps and Unseen Wings

    In the pit of Larque's stomach, something black and acrid was welling up. With every word that came out of the woman's mouth, it spread a little further, reaching through his insides, curdling his blood, grasping his throat and squeezing it tight. Physically, nothing was wrong. Lances of pain still stabbed out from his wounds if he moved without taking care, but he had been dealing with that for some time now, and every pang hurt him a little less than the last. A mental problem, then? His mind turned inward, checking and double-checking for inconsistencies, finding none. Yh'mi no longer twisted and tampered with his thoughts- though somehow, that knowledge filled him with more dread than relief. If not his injuries, if not these vile lands, then what? He had bigger problems than malaise on his hands, however. Antique was gone, overwhelmed by foreign memories and reduced to mere babbling, a far cry from the keen lucidity she'd displayed before. He'd hoped taking some time to travel would have helped her recover. It had not, and even he could not predict how long it might take until her mind returned to the present. What they had done out here carried a death sentence. The Order would question them upon their return, no doubt, and if a half-mad girl were to let slip that they had conversed with Lun'Silth, that would be the end. She was a risk. An untenable risk, a detriment to his chances of survival. Nothing about that woman was of any use to him now, which ought to have made this an easy choice. So why did he refuse to come to the obvious conclusion? She looked almost dead already. Just a hollowed-out shell of a woman, barely even present now. A shell of a woman who had saved his life. Who had traveled a hellish path, and stayed with him all the way. Who had faced down monsters alongside him. When he had fallen into the grip of madness, had she doubted him then? The pit inside him yawned open, ever deeper and darker. He began to say something, and then stopped, for once at a complete loss. Words would do nothing for him here. Had to act. "Trust." Had to act. Slowly, he stood, testing his aching legs. He did not teeter, he did not fall. "Quite right. Many things." Now he limped closer, and crouched down beside her, one hand idly toying with his necklace. "But sometimes, you must be patient. You must be careful. Remember this, now-" No need to draw his bow into its full form. Contact with the necklace was all he needed to reach out, pluck an arrow from thin air, and plunge its sharped point into her thigh. He was quick. Efficient. Already standing up and stepping away the moment the deed was done. Given his own state she might yet have been able to follow him while injured, but he'd chosen his weapon carefully, using an arrowhead laced with paralytic venom. Not permanent, but enough to keep her down for a while, and ensure that she wouldn't be following him back to Inns'th. Perhaps, if she rallied what rational parts of her mind remained, she could survive, and make it back to the encampment on her own. Or so he told himself, as he turned his back and limped away.
  4. Beast versus Jaron (K1)

    What is this? A tiny hand is tossed to the earth before Beast, goading him on. Troublesome. He is wounded, still bleeding from many deep cuts, and knows it is safer to keep his distance and use his reach- but if he turns down this challenge, will the gods forgive him? They have been distant of late, more elusive than ever before, and their silence fills him with unease. Perhaps he has been lax, allowing deep-rooted fears to sway him from the true path. If this is so, it cannot go on. With a roar that shakes the heavens, he lunges forwards. His arms are spread wide, claws out with sharp tips extended. They bar the way to either side of him, forcing the enemy to choose between reckless advance and hasty retreat. The decision is a false one, however. Running away will do this mammal no good here, for Beast can outpace a horse once he goes down on four limbs. There shall be no escape from his jaws! He shall taste glory today! Alas, Jaron does not flee. Too fast, he strikes with a gleaming thorn, and before Beast can move to seize him a lance of sharp pain stops the old monster in his tracks. Beneath layers of flesh, something gives way. Balance slips from his grasp like sand, and the living mountain falls, crushing the discarded gauntlet beneath him. The impact is deafening. The silence that follows is more thunderous still.
  5. Beast versus Jaron (K1)

    A mighty fist hits home with thunderous force, and in that instant, the battle appears to be over. What mortal man could possibly withstand such force? The sound of the impact is enough to make any observer cringe, and it's hard to imagine someone even staying conscious afterwards, let alone fighting back. Beast, however, braces himself. It is true that his strikes are powerful enough to fell any man, but in the thick of a fight oftentimes the impossible becomes possible. A terrible wound can become merely a nuisance, a cautious opponent can become a wild berserker. A man can become a storm of steel. Jaron is gone, and the gleaming blur that takes his place shifts around Beast too quickly for the monster to follow. A thousand teeth bite at his arms and sides, and for every slice that glances off hard scales and bony ridges, another finds a point of weakness, tearing through time-worn keratin and digging into the soft flesh beneath. Beast is no longer grey. Streaks of crimson now drip down his heaving body, a vivid painting that shifts and grows as the fight wears on. Now this is a challenge! Beast's mouth opens just slightly, revealing rows of sharp white teeth, and his other arm swings about him, swifter than the last. He can't see where his opponent is moving, but he has an inkling of where the man will land, and aims to knock him down before those blades can taste blood again.
  6. Beast versus Jaron (K1)

    In the wake of a sudden movement and a powerful strike, silence fell and reigned over the arena once more. Then, once Jaron had been given a moment to recover, the ground began to faintly tremble as Beast moved in with long, heavy strides. This time, if the small one had learned his lesson, they would fight head-on, without tricks or traps that might bring dishonor to them both. Let them test their mettle, face to face, until the weaker one finally broke. This time, Beast made the first move. Claws curled inwards to form a heavy fist, almost larger than Jaron's head, that came hurtling down to knock him back on his rear. A blunt, obvious move, but one that had proven surprisingly effective in the past, for even a glancing blow from that huge bludgeon of flesh and scale was enough to crack ribs and spread black bruises across a whole torso. The question lay in how the man would react. Would he cower, like so many mammals had done before him, and let himself fall? Or would he be one of the few who struck back fearlessly, and spilled hot blood even as his own body screamed at him to surrender? Beast watched through narrowed eyes, quietly wondering.
  7. Beast versus Jaron (K1)

    The mammal is moving. Quick, clever, he darts across the ground, seeking a means to outwit the looming monster that stares at him with vicious intent. Perhaps small eyes can only see so far, perhaps that great thick neck cannot turn towards every corner of that hulking body? His instincts lead him well. Beast cannot see everywhere, and just like in the myths of the small creatures, the cunning warrior rushes to one side of his mighty opponent, catching him unawares and striking the first blow against all odds- It had worked the first time. The second and third times, Beast had been ready. The fourth time, he didn't even have to look to know it was coming. By the twelfth time, he'd perfected a movement to counterattack. By the fiftieth, he had ingrained that counter into his muscles and his mind, a weapon he could call on at any moment. How many times had it been, over the long years? Over a thousand. Beast's steps might have been slow, but his long tail was very, very fast. The instant Jaron swept towards his flank, its coiling lengths lashed out like a whip, slamming into his midsection and knocking him down. It didn't hit him with a thump, but with a crack- for that same segment of tail had grown hard and callused with use, all the better for bludgeoning. The great lizard turned to face the man once again, his tail sweeping back behind him as he stood. Slow, but ever so steady, bearing a confidence bestowed by aeons of harsh experience.
  8. Beast versus Jaron (K1)

    When it comes, the sign is not so much a hint as it is an earthquake. Stone scrapes against hardened claws. One and two and three and four, a rhythm swiftly rising now, every moment louder still, rattling earth and bone alike. Lungs like bellows push and pull, drawing hurricane breaths to fuel a furious ascent, a monster now a-hunting. Scaly nostrils sniff the air, catch a scent, lead him on. Huge arms pull him up the wall, until at last one reaches out and crashes hard against the summit's edge. He has arrived. Claws as long as fingers, fingers long as hands, hands as long as forearms, tiny glaring eyes. He climbs onto the platform, and stands, a mountain rising. Faint hues of red and green yet decorate his scales, fading memories of a time long past, but they're drowned out by callous grey, the wastes of age slowly tearing away what little color remains. A walking ruin, this one. Beast spies a gleam of steel, a glimpse of flesh. A man, and he means to fight? Let him try. Larger, sharper blades have broken against these scales, and more skilled blood has stained them. With one earth-shaking step after another, the towering lizard advances until his shadow falls over the small mammal before him. There is no hurry in Beast's movements, even as aggression burns in his eyes. A long life breeds patience, and there are few more patient than he. There shall be blood- it is only a matter of time.
  9. Basilica

    Name: Basilica Sett, 'Bas' for short. Race: Human. Gender: Female. Age: Thirty-two. Occupation: Jeweler Physical appearance: Fairly tall, blessed with an elegant figure but prefers to dress modestly. Her left arm from the elbow down is badly scarred, so she usually keeps it hidden. Will have at least one bag, rucksack, or purse on her at all times. Though her voice is soft and doesn't carry far, she moves with calm and confidence. There often seems to be a faint wind blowing about her, even when there's none anywhere else. Personality: Bas is closed-off, concealing her inner life behind a veneer of passive affability. What she thinks of things she'll often make known, what she feels about them is a trove of secrets she carefully guards. Trying to get a read on her without magical means is like grasping at smoke. In spite of this, she's not averse to others- her occupation has taught her to maintain cordial relations with potential clients, and she enjoys long discussions and arguments, to the point where she's liable to play devil's advocate just to try and spur someone to counter her. As to her own moral stances, they seem contradictory at times. When she can be, she's generous and considerate. When she needs to be, she's merciless. Patient though she may appear, it's a rare thing indeed to see her hesitate. Background: Her life was meant to be a quiet one. The Sett family, long native to Isore in Nar Oeste, possessed wealth enough to see them comfortably through the generations, and their trade- the dealing of precious stones and metals, of newly forged ornaments and priceless antiques alike -had thrived in recent years. Born alongside a twin sister, Bas turned out to be the quieter and more patient of the two, and was sent abroad to apprentice under traveling merchants, while her sibling grew up in the city and was eventually married off into another family of higher social station. On returning, Bas took over the family business, ran it successfully, and kept her life in order. Her travels had been... surprisingly eventful, but now came the time to settle down and be with her family, to seek out a husband of her own, to spread happiness in what small ways she could and perhaps help raise the next generation. It was enough. She could be content with this. So she was, until in one day it all came crashing down, as Isore fell before a powerful invading force. Taking only what she could carry, Bas sought out her family so they could find a way to flee together, or at the very least die in each other's arms. Unfortunately, she found them too late. In the moments of terror and desperation that followed, she- She's not telling. Basilica is missing, but alive. A quiet life is no longer an option, not while her heart still burns with horror and fury. She must make her presence known. Her current destination is the town known as The Valley, where she seeks to sell off what remaining goods she has and acquire enough money to- whether through mercenaries or political leverage -make a difference in the dark days to come. Abilities: Ill Wind: The air curls and dances around Bas, holding her tight and bringing her whispers of faraway conversations. She can hear things that would normally be well out of earshot, and in dire situations the wind may come to her defense, hindering those who would do her harm and aiding in a swift escape. Contract: Bas holds the power to draw out a being's fullest potential, and even push them beyond their limits. With consent from the one being enchanted, and a single touch, she can heal wounds, restore stamina, remove debilitating diseases and effects, and most notably grant temporary boosts to physical or magical attributes, causing the recipient's prowess in one or more areas to suddenly skyrocket. Alternatively (or additionally), she can enhance an object, weapon, or tool belonging to a consenting individual, so long as said object is relatively small in volume (a suit of armor she can manage, but a house would be too much). For every boon she grants, however, there must be a price. Depending on the nature and purpose of the aid received, the person receiving it must pay a physical, mental, material, or spiritual cost. As one might imagine, more powerful enchantments incur more dangerous and difficult costs. Bas cannot lie about these side-effects (to do so would violate the rule of consent), but the more power she expends the less she will know about exactly what the price will be. Equipment: Jewels and Trinkets: Bas managed to escape the fall of Isore with some valuable stones and baubles in her possession. These are mostly very small, and she keeps them well-hidden. No special properties, other than being very pretty and very expensive. Obsidian Dagger: An ancient knife, supposedly ceremonial. Still sharp, and works well enough as a weapon in a pinch. Memento from her time spent traveling, years ago. Broen: Her horse, a brown gelding of moderate size. Not particularly fast, but is tough and persistent enough to ride long distances with little trouble. Seems quite docile.
  10. A Simple Supernatural Investigator...

    The gentleman's name is Mr. Burton, and his manners are exemplary. The lady in blue readily meets his offered hand with one of her own, a slight and pale thing that feels soft as a mango fruit between his fingers, so fragile that it might just break were he to squeeze a little tighter. "Well met, Mr. Burton." Then hands slip deftly away, and the final details of the meeting are set, the invitee confirming their offer with a slight nod of her head. "So you shall. 'Till then!" With the remainder of their conversation postponed for this future encounter, they leave each other to go about their business, the blue-cloaked stranger walking calmly away with a pair of tiny butterflies trailing in her wake. Well now, with that business resolved pleasantly enough, she has time to explore some more of the city- Casper has so many sights yet to offer her, so many tastes and smells and sounds yet to be experienced! Although now, come to think of it, she has trouble remembering precisely where she was going. Where another might find this a nuisance, the thought makes her smile. So be it: she'll take a wanderer's winding way, and see where fate will lead her.
  11. I, Henrietta

    Metal meets flesh, juicy meat squeezes against a hard surface, viscous fluids slosh about in the nooks and crannies of muscle and gristle and mushy fat- squisssshhhh. Skin resounds like a drum with the impact, tiny vibrations shaking their way across its tightly stretched exterior- whap! Bone crumbles- cracckkk -and then for the most fleeting of intervals, there's silence, before the body hits the floor and the music starts all over again. She listens intently. Ex-qui-si-te! The prey clearly isn't going anywhere soon, and the roaring dies down a little after his fall, as the motorcycle slows down to more reasonable speeds and then comes to a complete halt, teetering to one side as its rider dismounts. For all her previous injury, she doesn't seem to have any trouble standing. Indeed, she stands there stock-still, one hand holding her vehicle upright beside her, not even turning around to look back on her work. She is a statue. No hint of idle twitching or hastily drawn breath shall mar her form. Only blood, dripping down off her ruined clothing, until her loyal mount of rubber and steel fades to a thin outline, and then to nothing at all. Ticktickticktick-tick-tick-tick-tick tick tick tick tick. Sabiya looked down at her clothing. Red. It had been stained, defiled, a pure empty canvas turned into a mockery of a person's insides. Her head snapped around, and she drew in a sharp breath, visibly trembling as she glared back at the man who'd splattered himself all over her. How dare he? Her features morphed their way through several variations of disgust, before settling on a look of shock. She hadn't meant to do this. It was supposed to be clean, quick, only the good man had shot the bad man, and she'd had to- No time to dwell on the details. She wanted to stop, shriek, tear off her clothes and chew on her fingers, but a child remained in peril, and no priority stood higher than acquiring Victory. Or rescuing her. Same difference. She limped towards the man, moving a little more easily than she had before, and knelt down next to his head. With both hands she picked it up, taking extra care not to pull or snap the neck. "It's okay. You can have so much more, as much as you want." Her wild eyes stared into empty white orbs, in a futile attempt to read something there. "All you need to do is be a good boy and tell us all about what happened today." Pale hands brush through his hair, soft and tender. "Do you remember where your friends were going? What they would do if someone tried to chase them?"
  12. Wasn't my last one, but assuming you mean the one I referred to earlier in the thread: it only really brought distance into the equation on the large scale. Smaller scale battles (3v3 and below) focused mostly on interactions between powers, so how far the characters were away from each other had pretty much no mechanical impact. For larger battles, distances were usually represented by separation: the battlefield would be divided up into areas (ex: 'outside the building' and 'inside the building') and characters would only be able to fight each other if they were within the same area (and could only reinforce other areas once they'd resolved their immediate conflict). Maps were never really needed, since combatants would usually only need to keep track of 2-4 different 'places' even in larger battles. The powers side of things, on the other hand, got so complex people ended up using spreadsheets to keep track of things.
  13. You know, I've played on a site that used pretty much the exact kind of ruleset you're proposing as its default system. It worked amazingly well. Not only were there virtually no arguments in player combat, there were also far fewer drop-outs and no-shows in fights. Which in turn resulted in almost the entire site being heavily involved in the PvP scene. Which in turn allowed awesome things like: - Fights with stakes: people could actually battle over IC territory and plot direction without it devolving into a saltfest. As a result, player characters were able to make huge changes to the setting through successful engagements, and all the different factions vying for power made for some great plot/drama in addition to adding to the atmosphere. - Fights with teams: T1 gets confusing enough with two people, and it's almost impossible to have a competitive fight with several on each side. With this system, not so. You could get huge teamfights, which were great fun since you had to work with your allies to come up with a combined strategy. Characters with synergistic ability sets would end up forming teams to cover each other's weaknesses, and in some cases characters would join a fight on one side only to turn coat and backstab their allies mid-skirmish! - Hidden skills: This is probably not necessary, but adds a lot IMO: character abilities were hidden, and could only be determined through observing that character in combat. This added a huge layer of complexity to battles. People would hold abilities back in some fights so they could take people by surprise in others, speculate and theorize about enemy powersets, and even hold IC trades to exchange valuable info on enemy skills. - Boss fights: Once every few months the admins would have some giant monster or invading force attack the setting and everyone- I mean everyone -on the site would get together and fight it, because if they didn't it would wreak havoc on the setting and damage each faction's territory/reputation. Thanks to the combat system, along with the fact that character death in these boss fights was permanent and enforced, each one of these battles became incredibly tense and epic affairs. Old enemies would put aside their differences to come up with a winning plan, players would weigh the worth of exposing their abilities for the sake of protecting the setting, and we even had a few characters heroically sacrifice themselves for the sake of victory. In short, absolutely awesome stuff. Of course, this kind of system is not without its weaknesses. For one thing, it's highly reliant on referees to moderate fights and keep the system balanced, and the greater the volume of fights, the more work this ends up being. The place I rave about up above ended up collapsing when the admins suddenly stopped posting, since they left nobody else to run the combat system or enforce the rules. Nevertheless if you're thinking of experimenting with something similar over here, I'm all for it. If I can help with testing or whatever just let me know!
  14. Tell me about your early works.

    Back when I was little, I used to read this series of fairy tale books. Technically it wasn't a series, just all the classics (Hansel and Gretel, the Gingerbread Man, etc.) retold in easy-to-read language by the same author and illustrator, but they had matching spines so as far as I was concerned they all went together. At some point, I started to wonder why the characters never met up with each other. Cue my fully-illustrated fanfiction storybook in which the Ugly Duckling and the Big Bad Wolf team up to fight crime.
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