In Which Dee Is OP

My next opponent took me down pretty quickly, in a manner that just underscored how much I needed to be in the special section… that is, easily and painfully.

I’d grown used to being able to use my demon strength to blow through the average student’s defenses and just batter them to the ground. Doing that was a skill, and I’d been getting good at it, but that wasn’t the same thing as being skilled at fighting. A superior opponent who knew what I could do and wasn’t messing around was more than a match for me.

Even with two fights going at once, I didn’t make it back into the rotation from the back of the line again, though I did get a good look at what I would be up against. It was… humbling. Some of the fights went on longer than my bout against Asphodelos, but not because there was any posturing or bantering. I couldn’t always even follow exactly what was happening when a pair of combatants came together, or what had triggered the end of a fight.

I took a little solace in the knowledge that I’d be judged on how I improved more than how well I fought to begin with.

At dinner that night, I expected Amaranth to ask how things had gone but instead I found out why she had been waiting to unveil her new and improved adventure plan to the group: Monday was apparently some kind of wargame league night for Hazel, so we could talk about all things exciting and dangerous without fear of upsetting her delicate constitution.

“So, we’re an adventuring party?” Ian said. “I mean, all of us?”

“Everyone who wants to join in,” Amaranth said. “With one person sitting out from each, uh, play-through, because they’d be running the show. We’d all have different abilities, just like in a real party. I mean, you were a gladiator…”

“For like five minutes,” Steff said.

“…and Steff is really good with her knives. And Mack is really strong.”

“You know, this sounds like another way of saying that we’re all fighters,” I said. “And fighting ability is good if we get into a fight, but if that’s all we’re going to do we might as well just form a skirmish squad or a gladiator team… which, no.”

“I’m not a fighter,” Two said.

“Also true,” I said. “But what I mean is, there should be more to it than that. What about problem solving? Steff is quick and stealthy. Ian’s level-headed. I’m, you know, good at figuring things out. Two’s straightforward and methodical. I think we should be trying to take those kinds of things into account when we come up with our scenarios. Besides, how much fighting can we even incorporate into this? I don’t think anyone exactly has a pocket full of spare monsters lying around.”

“Maybe you don’t, but I have a whole dorm full of them,” Steff said.

“If you want to go around Harlowe Hall asking people if they want to be extras in a dungeon-delving fantasy, be my guest,” I said.

“I wouldn’t be that tactless… well, I wouldn’t be that tactless about that… but I can think of some people who’d be into it,” Steff said. “I mean, from their point of view, it would be a human/adventurer-smashing fantasy. After all, it’s not like they’d have to let you win. Though I don’t know that I’d need any ‘extras’, personally… I’d have to think about my scenario, but I do have other resources.”

“I sort of have my own ideas along those lines,” Amaranth said. “I mean, I have been thinking about this longer than anyone else, so I’ve kind of got a rough sketch in mind for what I would do. Though I probably shouldn’t say anything more.”

As much as they were both trying to play coy and cagey, I didn’t have to strain myself to guess about what they were trying to talk around. Steff was in a third year of pursuing her necromancy degree… I’d made a point of tuning out when she was talking about things relating to her studies, but it wouldn’t be surprising if she could rustle up some skeletons, zombies, or restless shades. And Amaranth… well, she didn’t make a point of flaunting her plant powers, but animating and controlling plants was within her capabilities.

The whole thing made me think about Coach Callahan’s boxes… she’d mentioned delving classes using them to replicate actual monsters. I couldn’t see them releasing even mocked monsters to students for entertainment purposes… and to be honest, it was kind of a long shot that I’d even be given access to the boxes.

Though I could call it a field test, or a proof-of-concept for the delving thing…

“I begin to see some intriguing possibilities in this idea,” Dee said, almost like she had read my mind, though I knew she hadn’t because that would have caused extreme damage to her psyche. Similes tended to break down pretty quickly in situations like that. “But… I would like to propose a modification to the basic premise.”

“What’s that?”

“I notice that neither you nor Mackenzie mentioned me when listing the abilities of our group,” she said.

“I didn’t mean to leave you out,” I said. “It’s just… the rest of each sort of have our strengths, our own specialties. But it’s not that you aren’t… I mean, if anything, you’re even…”

“If anything, I can meet or exceed most of you in most of them,” Dee said. “I do not have your supernatural strength, but I’m more experienced and better trained, gifted with psionic powers and pure elven blood. I would not call upon any divine powers in a game of make-believe, but even in the absence of those abilities, any scenario devised to tax my full capabilities would be grossly unfair to the rest of you. Any scenario that you could realistically complete would be too easy for me. Therefore, it would not be fair for me to face these challenges beside the rest of you.”

“You don’t have to sit it out, Dee,” Amaranth said. “We could find a way to balance it out. Maybe you could only use your subtle arts, or something like that?”

“You misunderstand,” Dee said. “I was not proposing to ‘sit’ anything ‘out’. I said I would not face the challenges beside you… instead, I will put my considerable abilities to use on behalf of whoever is running the scenario, thus multiplying the available options.”

“…so, because it would be unfair for you to help us, we have to try to beat you instead?” Ian said.

“Not me in and of myself, but whatever role my abilities occupy in the current drama,” Dee said. “With my telekinesis, I could safely emulate a deadly rock fall or other trap, or animate a prop representing some manner of creature. With my telepathy, I could provide an additional vantage point for the author of the scenario or help coordinate any additional actors. I could myself stand in for a combatant with any level of skill up to and including my own. I would in any case restrain myself to whatever is necessary and appropriate for the imaginary situation.”

“But if you could do that, there’s no reason you couldn’t adventure alongside us,” Amaranth said.

“That would be less satisfying, though,” she said. “While everyone else would be struggling in earnest, I would be hampered with the knowledge that I could be doing more… but by fulfilling another part in the drama, I can have the satisfaction of knowing that the contribution I’m making is unique, that I share in the success of the game no matter who wins or loses.”

“It certainly seems like we could do more with your help,” Amaranth said. “To be honest, I’m surprised you’re so into this.”

“The games that I was able to participate in growing up were largely educational,” she said. “There were exercises that were enjoyable, but the process of play-acting was not a part of my childhood. And I’ve played a similar role in the stone soldier games before. It should be interesting to do so on a larger scale.”

“…I can actually kind of see that,” I said. Nothing definite was coming together in my head, but ideas were swirling around just on the point of coalescing into something solid.

“We’ll have to figure out an order to go in,” Amaranth said. It seemed like she wanted to say something else, and then she just sit it out. “Does anybody else mind if I go first?”

“I do not mind,” Two said. “I would like to go last, please.”

“What, you got something really good in mind?” Ian said.

“No,” Two said. “That’s why I would like to go last.”

“She wants to see how everyone else does it so she knows she’s doing it right,” I said.

“I don’t care if you go first, Amy-doll, but be honest,” Steff said. “How long have you been sitting on this idea?”

“I spent most of the summer sitting in my field, and B… without even anyone to talk to!” she said. “Books just aren’t the same once you’ve actually been out into the world. My field has never felt so small before… actually, it never felt small at all before.”

“I experienced a similar sense of ennui on my return to Ceilos,” Dee said. “In many ways, I find a smaller world to be… reassuring. But as the weeks passed, I found the constant familiarity to be taxing.”

“Yes, exactly,” Amaranth said. “So, I spent a lot of time daydreaming, and imagining, and… I’ve fantasized about things before, obviously, but this was different. I was imagining doing things… I mean, doing things, not doing things, and I didn’t have the whole idea figured out until recently, but I’ve had… thoughts. It’s only been these past few days that they turned into this, though. Before, I didn’t really know what to do with them.”

“Can I just point something out here?” Ian said. “We’re basically talking about setting up like a delving club.”

“I wouldn’t put it in those exact terms,” Amaranth said. “It’s more of an activity than a club. But so what? We’re allowed to have fun. There isn’t any rule against this… um… is there, Two?”

“There isn’t any rule against having fun or imaginary adventures,” Two said. “There are rules regarding use of university grounds, equipment, and other resources, and the formation of organizations, the use of the university’s name, markings, and image…”

“Well, you can tell us if we’re running afoul of any of them,” Amaranth said.

“Yeah, it’s just… I don’t know,” Ian said. “I keep finding myself liking the idea, it seems like it could be awesome and at worst it would just be a little weird or silly, but…”

His eyes flicked over to me for just half a second, and I knew what he was getting at… what he was trying to talk around without actually having to say it.

“You don’t think it’s the sort of thing I’d actually do,” I said.

“Well, yeah,” he said. “You raised more than anyone else over having to take a class that’s even technically listed as a delving class, and that’s just poking at weeds and things. I just don’t want to get too deep into this if you’re not actually going to go through with it, especially since the original point was that this was somehow going to help you.”

“You didn’t even believe that it would teach me anything, though,” I said.

“Okay, forget the especially,” he said. “But the rest stands.”

“I honestly like it,” I said. “I mean, when it comes to ‘real adventures’, I’m with Hazel… but this isn’t real. I’m all in favor of imaginary danger. Plus, this is something that can be called on account of rain.”

“Okay, then I guess I’m in,” Ian said.

“Are you sure?” Steff said. “Because from where I’ve been sitting, you’ve been as on the fence about it as she is. Are you sure you weren’t just using the idea that she might back to sort of hedge your bets?”

“I said I’m in, so I’m in,” Ian said. “At least the adventure-having side. I’m not sure I want to participate in the adventure-making part… I have no idea what I’d do.”

“Well, you don’t have to decide right away,” Amaranth said. “I mean, I’m going first, and it’ll take me some time to put anything together… and even if you can’t come up with anything anytime soon, there’s not exactly a time limit on this. And the fact that Dee will be in on it with you means you have someone to share ideas with, without spoiling anything.”

“True,” Ian said. “And I guess on that note I could ask some of my bardic friends for ideas. They tend to be more… theatrical.”

“That’s a really good idea,” I said. “Not the bardic arts part…”

“Yeah, those are never a good idea,” Steff said.

“…the part about asking friends,” I said. “I’ll ask Nicki to help me… if nothing else, she can help me make my adventure look good.”

“That is a really good idea,” Amaranth said. “I wonder where she’s been? She hasn’t been coming around. I hope she didn’t give up on finding her admirer so quickly.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I could find out tomorrow in class, but I’m thinking about going over to see her after this… if I never make an effort to go see her outside of the classroom, she might start to feel like I don’t really want her around.”

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27 Responses to “Chapter 145: Party Planning”

  1. fman0801 says:

    First: Ook.
    Secound: Where is Nicki… Duhn Da Duhn Duhn….

    Current score: 0
    • Ducky says:

      In her dorm room watching the MU equivalent of Netflix? I spent a lot of college doing that when I didn’t have friends to hang out with.

      Current score: 0
    • derf says:

      found secret admirer. has better things to do than show up for lunch….knowing elves, probably trying to convince her not to cut off her fingers for a trophy because “drink this potion, it’ll grow back anyway whats the harm”

      Current score: 2
  2. dale says:

    In MU secret admirer find you

    Current score: 3
  3. Ben Lash says:

    “…doing things, not doing things…” *snicker snrk*

    Current score: 1
  4. Glenn says:

    It seemed like she wanted to say something else, and then she just sit it out.

    Maybe “spat it out” or ‘spitted it out”

    Current score: 0
    • Blargrarg says:

      probably not spitted.(thats different word entirely. think impaled for roasting) spit I think you mean. but spat is better I think anyway

      Current score: 0
  5. Zathras IX says:

    An extra in a
    Dungeon-delving fantasy
    Is always a “guest”

    Current score: 1
  6. pedestrian says:

    When you avant to adventure, you must remain on your garde, that the windmills you are about to tilt at are not actual giants!

    Current score: 1
  7. dirtycarrie says:

    They’re… larping. My favorite alt-universe demon schoolgirl adventure world-builing porn serial is about to introduce LARPING.

    *dies of happy*

    Current score: 3
  8. zeel says:

    Anyone else been reading all the AWW blog posts and drawing connections here?

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      Say what? What’s an AWW blog post?

      Current score: 0
      • moxicity says:

        AE is coming up with a tabletop game, currently called A Wilder World (been in the works for quite a while now). She’s been blogging a lot about the worldbuilding and whatnot lately. Check it out!

        Current score: 0
        • The tag on my blog is here, for anyone who’s interested. The post go back three years, sporadically, but only the stuff from October of 2012 on is current in more than a “design philosophy” sense.

          (But no, this storyline is not directly related to that endeavor. It was planned since before I knew that AWW was going to start coming together now.)

          Current score: 0
          • zeel says:

            Hah, then it’s funny how that worked out. AWW immediately popped into my head while reading this chapter.

            BTW, I love the subtitle.

            Current score: 1
      • tigr says:

        “A Wilder World”, AE’s new (pen&paper) RPG system:

        (the content is the same, cross-posted; depending on where you prefer to read it, really)

        Current score: 0
        • tigr says:

          [Though the comment systems are separate of course, so might have different comments, and Tumblr has a couple responses to asks.]

          Current score: 0
  9. Readaholic says:

    Sounds like fun 🙂

    Current score: 0
  10. Erm says:

    and B… without even anyone to talk to

    Hm, B…arley, she was going to say?

    Current score: 0
  11. Erm says:

    I wonder where she’s been? She hasn’t been coming around. I hope she didn’t give up on finding her admirer so quickly.

    Hopefully the absence isn’t related to that. Tangling with midling elves can be somewhat dangerous, I remember from MToMU.

    Current score: 0
  12. Julian Morrison says:

    And thus, the sport of LARPing was invented in the MUniverse :-þ

    Current score: 0
    • Glenn says:

      It’s not LARPing, since they are actually planning to use the real abilities they have. If they were LARPing Mack, for example, might pretend to pull out some guns. But we are likely to see a game of Plants vs Zombies between Amaranth and Steph.

      Current score: 0
      • Anvildude says:

        And who’s to say that Mack’s ‘coagulating plan’ isn’t going to involve Mechknights, Motorcycles and Technological Fantasy? Or that Amaranth isn’t going to somehow incorporate Mekkan philosophies and legends into hers?

        Current score: 0
        • oarfter says:

          what happens anyway in muverse if you use a lever? I assume that works since they’ve got weapons like flails that rely on that somewhat. And wheels work. So since tech doesn’t, what then happens if you use a toothed wheel sort of thing to link a grain milling stone you have to push to a water wheel to do the pushing for you? gremlins? or do gears do the wizard tower sort of thing and gather/throw random magic once you get them spinning?

          cause if its some sort of magic feedback thing that nukes clockwork then playing too much at meccan stuff could be dangerous

          Current score: 0
  13. Crissa says:

    ”might back to” in Steff’s statement prolly means “might back out to”?

    Current score: 0
  14. That one guy says:

    It’s not that science doesn’t work, it’s that nobody’s ever tried to link a toothed wheel to deliver power from a waterwheel — why bother when gremlins/slaves are so cheap? And a combustion engine? Their mechknight motorcycle combustion engines bear as much relationship to our real motorcycle combustion engines as the Soviet Union Live Action Hobbit (Bilbo) movie bears to the Peter Jackson Hobbit movies. If someone who was a good metallurgist/blacksmith/mechanic were to go into the MU universe, though (like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), I’m sure they could make a real working motorcycle, which would just so happen to suck ambient magic out of whatever is near it.

    Oh, in the following paragraph, the word “sit” should be “let”:
    “We’ll have to figure out an order to go in,” Amaranth said. It seemed like she wanted to say something else, and then she just sit it out. “Does anybody else mind if I go first?”

    Current score: 0
  15. Lara says:

    Oh man, I’m excited for this.

    Current score: 0