Chapter 201: Guided Creativity

on February 12, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 6: Career Counseling, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Impending News Is Good News

When the next meeting came around, I found myself wondering if I’d missed one. The first time we all got together, it had seemed like everybody was kind of awkward and stand-offish, or in a tight group with the one or two other people they already sort of knew.

Now, everyone… everyone who wasn’t me, anyway… seemed a lot more at ease with each other, with the whole situation. It was like there had been some bonding activity or teambuilding exercise that I’d missed.

We were back in the same musically-inspired coffee lounge, the one that Professor Stone had designed in memory of his friend. Acantha had provided a spread that was similar in quality, though maybe a little less extravagant overall in terms of variety. It was like a subtle way of suggesting that we’d be getting more down to business this time. Either that, or she was just going to cut back the catering budget incrementally as she became ever more certain that we were all hooked on the project and not the food.

Looking around the room, I couldn’t say that everyone was hooked. Everyone else looked a lot less uncertain, but that didn’t mean they were confident of the group or the plan, just confident in themselves.

And now that I’d thought that, that was really probably the reason they all looked so much more comfortable than I felt. It wasn’t just that they were all older and more experienced than me, though that might have been part of it. They were probably thinking something like this might be a good idea, but if it’s not they can get some free food and maybe something to put on a CV later in life, but nothing’s really lost if they walk away.

That should have been where I was, but my experiences with Acantha, good and bad, were complicating things… coloring how I thought about her, and this whole endeavor. Above and beyond my own background awkwardness and uncertainty, I kept falling into the trap of being paralyzed trying to figure out what her angle was, what she was lying about and why, and stuff like that.

Really, though, no matter how many times I got caught in that, I was in the same position as everyone else. I could eat the food, I could listen, I could participate, I could… I would… get paid, and if I ever decided the whole thing wasn’t worth it, I could walk away.

With that idea held as firmly in my mind as I could without crumpling it up, I took another, slightly more relaxed look around at my fellow coworkers.

It looked like at least one of them had gone to see Acantha privately, too… the elf who’d had a name tag that read “Sophia” last time now sported one that said “Wisdom”. That actually suggested that she’d had two interesting conversations in the interim: one with Glory, to join her court, and one with Acantha to tell her of her new name.

I was only guessing about the first part, but she’d been trying to sound me out about Glory the last time we’d spoken, and now she… like Glory, her sister Grace, and all of her followers… was using a Pax translation of her Elvish name.

Glory did it because she loved Magisterian human culture, though obviously not everyone in her group had a name that translated directly into something that sounded like a name to human ears. Honestly, “Sophia” was a common enough name for humans that it just sounded like Pax to me, whereas “Wisdom” sounded exotic and strange. But I supposed ears that had grown up hearing Elvish would never not hear an elven name as Elvish, whereas “Wisdom” was an unmistakably human word.

If Sophia… Wisdom… had communicated Acantha in private about her chosen name, they might have also spoken about other things. I didn’t think it would be worth asking her, though. Acantha had asked me to keep our private dealings private, and I was sure she would have laid similar injunctions on anyone else who dealt with her.

Also, I didn’t think I had it in me to go up and ask her a point-blank question like that, when I didn’t have an actual compelling interest beyond curiosity. I was curious, but one thing living in a dorm had taught me was that being curious about something didn’t mean it was my business.

As it happened, I wouldn’t have needed to go up to her, though, as she saw me looking her way, got up from where she’d been sitting by the illusionary instrument column, and glided over to me.

Because I was watching her… and more, because I was paying attention and thinking… I noticed that it wasn’t entirely casual. If a really idiosyncratic bookie had approached me in the three seconds or so it took her to cross over to me, I would have bet money that she’d been looking for an excuse to say hi.

“Hello,” she said. “I greet you in the name of her majesty, Queen Glory.”

“Hey,” I said. “You’re part of her court now, aren’t you?”

“Yes… and I bear a message from our queen,” she said. “Expect news.”

“That’s… not much of a message?” I said.

I might have been a little more tactful… I probably should have been… but hearing that she had a message from Glory had raised my hopes. I’d been waiting for her to move her plans forward for a while now. I didn’t expect anything to happen overnight, and I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that I’d expected anything to happen yet… but then someone had come up to me and said that they had something to tell me from Glory.

Wisdom gave me a wan, tight smile.

“Her majesty has been judicious in keeping her own counsel,” she said, which seemed like an awkward way of saying that she’d been tight-lipped until you realized that she was bending over backwards to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as criticism. “Since entering her presence, I have been very impressed with how well she maintains security in courtly matters.”

Given how gentle a hand Glory had with her subjects… who, like the former Sophia, had all chosen her, over and above other would-be queens with more power to hurt or protect them… I took Wisdom’s unwillingness to speak critically even of something that had obviously disappointed her to be a sign of how much she actually liked Glory as a person. Maybe that was naïve, but I wanted to believe the best of Glory and the people she surrounded herself with.

“Well, if she’ll have news soon, then obviously there will be something more for her to say,” I said.

“Obviously,” Wisdom agreed.

“If everyone’s here…?” Acantha said, though everyone had been for at least ten minutes. There were ten people in the group, including her, so it wasn’t like she could have missed anyone. “I think it’s time that we began.”

She had in her hands two folders, which she opened on one of the round table to reveal two short stacks of paper.

“While I’d like to keep these gatherings on the social level for the time being, before we can go any further I’m going to need to ask everyone who wishes to remain and participate in the project to sign an agreement which will outlines how the proceeds of the work will be shared, and one that binds all participants to secrecy.”

“Secrecy about what?” the one human boy asked… he’d eschewed his nametag, but I remembered he was called Micah. “What are we even doing?”

“Well, that is yet to be decided,” Acantha said. “That decision, in fact, will form the basis of our discussion for tonight, and possibly our next meeting. But even if nothing is settled this time… well, imagine if one person were to sit in on the meeting and then run off and try to sell one of the ideas we’d bandied about before we’d reached an consensus to move on it. Now, I don’t expect that to happen. If I didn’t have a basic level of trust for all of you, I wouldn’t have invited you. But… people talk. Without any malicious intent… without any real intent at all… without meaning anything by it at all, people talk. A non-disclosure agreement is simply a good way of driving home the importance of discretion.”

I didn’t think she was being open, but I didn’t let that dissuade me from signing the agreement, the wording of which was pretty short and to the point: we wouldn’t disclose what we were working on, the content of any discussions or communications relating to the project, or who was involved.

There were obviously plenty of sinister reasons why Acantha might want all participants sworn to secrecy, but it was the sort of thing she would have done anyway in the normal, non-sinister course of business. As Professor Stone had pointed out to me, a certain level of secrecy was standard operating procedure.

I did check the payment agreement over to make sure it didn’t contradict my private agreement with Acantha. I didn’t think that it could or would, though… she would be paying me out of her own pocket, while the contract in front of us was concerned with the disposition of future profits. There was a line in there that said it didn’t supersede any other agreements between the project participants, which I thought might have been added to allow for deals like mine. Someone asked Acantha what that was about.

“Just boilerplate,” she said. “It keeps things flexible, in case we need to do something like cover out-of-pocket expenses, or something, or one member of the group decides to sub-contract part of their work to another. These aren’t necessarily situations that will arise. But if they or other, similar situations do come up, we won’t have to work around the contract to cover them.”

I couldn’t help noticing that she’d avoided saying the clause itself was unlikely to come up, which would have been a lie since she knew it already had at least once.

“The important thing is that no change can be made in the distribution of the profits except with the unanimous consent of the entire group,” she continued. “If everyone will sign, then we can begin.”

It only took a few minutes for everyone to sign on. Memphis went last, though by the time Andreas made up his mind to sign on, it was obvious that he was doing it on purpose. There was no deliberation going on behind his face, and he put his pen to paper as soon as Andreas had.

What was that about? An obscure point of pride, maybe?

“Very good,” Acantha said. “Now… let’s talk about ideas.”

“So, you really don’t have a project in mind?” a human girl, whose nametag proclaimed her as Sapphire, said.

“Oh, my… I hope that no one came onboard on the strength of their conviction that I am sitting on a million gold coin idea that depends on nine college students,” Acantha said. “This is our project, yours and mine. Does anyone else have a project in mind? A product? A service? An innovation? No? Then we’ll need to brainstorm… mutual, guided creativity.”

“Maybe something with golems?” Memphis said. My mind flashed back to the rune tablet she’d been studying, and for a moment I thought he must be her plant, there to steer conversation in a direction that suited her.

“Well… that’s a part of an idea,” she said. “‘Make something with golems’ is more like a goal than a plan, and unless there’s some reason that an end product involving golems would be advantageous, there’s no reason we need focus on a plan that will get us thee. I don’t want to say there are no bad ideas. Maybe there aren’t, but we’re looking for more than ‘not bad’. We want good ideas, or at least ideas we can use.

“A usable idea will have two things going for it: it will be something we can act on among ourselves, and it will have a market we have ready access to. A good idea will be something with the potential to go further than that… something we can start selling locally, say, to students on campus, local farmers, or people in town… but that the world beyond Prax will be interested in, once they see the potential. If we come up with a usable idea, we can make a little money and then maybe sell it off to someone else who will take it over as we move on with our individual lives. If we come up with a good idea, we’ll have buyers coming to us.”

“What if… what if we don’t want to sell it?” Andreas asked. “That’s not a very dwarven way of doing business.”

“In all likelihood, the money will be decent but not enough to be worth keeping you from your own future endeavors,” Acantha said. “In the event that we come up with a great idea, those of you who are interested in making a career out of it could form a corporation and buy the rest out, of course. That’s a possibility, but let’s not lose sight of the present in hoping for the future. There’s no sense in shooting for the moon when the sky itself is such a temptingly large target.”

“Can I make a suggestion?” Sapphire said. Maybe I was actually slightly paranoid, because as soon as I heard her say that, I wondered if she was a plant.

“Certainly,” Acantha said. “I encourage anyone to speak their minds. We are forming a partnership here.”

“If we’re going to try to sell this ourselves… I think it would make more sense to focus on students as a market,” Sapphire said. “I mean, we’re here, right? We wouldn’t have to go anywhere. We know what students like. And we wouldn’t have to try to sell to strangers.”

“Those are very good points, Sapphire,” Acantha said. “Let’s agree not to throw out any idea just because the market would be off-campus, but let’s keep it in mind. As far as selling to strangers goes, though, let’s remember two things. One is that we’re not merchants ourselves, and that any scheme that requires people who aren’t merchants to talk their friends and family into buying something isn’t going to be worth it, at least not to the people stuck doing the selling.”

They were good points. I thought I was starting to understand Acantha’s method here… if she wanted something focused on campus, then she didn’tneed anyone planted in the group, because someone would suggest it anyway.

People started throwing out ideas based on college living, everything from study aids to pizza delivery methods. The problem with a lot of them, as Acantha gently pointed out, was that most of them didn’t do anything new… or they were impractical for reasons that were obvious after a moment’s thought. Instant food delivery was possible, for instance, but it wasn’t practical in terms of either energy expenditure or security concerns. If this weren’t the case, everybody would already be doing it.

“Let’s try taking a different tack here. There’s a common chain of thought that says that a successful product is one that fills a need,” Acantha said. “And that’s true in some cases, but it’s not the only way that a product can succeed. Nobody needed compact communication mirrors before they were mass-produced, though once they were introduced to the market, many people found them indispensable. There are many lines of work where anyone who suddenly found themselves without one would be at a distinct disadvantage, so we can say that the creation of this product created a need for itself. Still, that’s a bit ambitious for a first effort. So instead of needs, let’s focus on wants. What do people want? Or more accurately, what can we create that people will want, once we let them know it exists?”

“Maybe something with a… mockbox?” Memphis said, and I realized that of course he wasn’t saying these things to help Acantha, he was trying to rattle her, or dig something up. Suddenly, I would have done almost anything to find out what he suspected, what he knew, and how he knew it.

Anything short of actually talking to him. The guy kind of oozed smarm, and on top of that, the last thing I wanted was more elven intrigue.

“Let’s try something else. Instead of specific product ideas, let’s talk about trends,” Acantha said. “Some people try to follow trends, but the problem with that is that by the time you can see one well enough to follow it, it’s probably on its way out and you end up following a long line of people right out the door. Some companies spend a lot of time and money trying to create a trend, but you can put a lot of effort behind pushing something and still not get anywhere that way. It’s far better to spot something coming and then get out in front of it, where you can steer it a little if you need to.”

“How do we do that?” Wisdom asked.

“Well, the last thing I want is to treat a group of talented young people like yourselves as a mere focus group for market research,” Acantha said. “But we should always be aware of the resources we have at our disposal, and the fact that you’re all college-aged and better connected to the current youth cultures than I am is an advantage. With that in mind, I thought we might spend some time talking about what trends you see coming.”

“Skirmish,” one of the other human girls said almost right away.

“Skirmish is always big, but it’s more evergreen than current,” Acantha said. “You can’t own skirmish, and unless something new is happening there and we’re among the first to notice, there isn’t much that we can do. It’s a perfect example of how changing possibilities brought on by improvements in the state of the art and changing tastes came together to turn something niche and old-fashioned like mock warfare into something huge and modern, but that cat is firmly out of the bag now. Now, something like skirmish the way it was at the outset, something like skirmish but not skirmish… not big like skirmish is big… if anyone can think of something like that, that would be ideal.”

Everyone lapsed into thoughtful silence at that, but no one had anything to say. I could understand why: like skirmish but different… similar to skirmish, yet not big… that was a tall order.

“Okay, maybe that line of thought is a dead end,” Acantha said. “Let’s back up and try a different approach. As I said, something that fits that description would be ideal, but it would be one thing that would be ideal out of an almost infinite number of possibilities. And something like that might not even exist! However useful such a thing would be, if no one in this room can come up with anything that could blow up the way skirmish did but hasn’t…”

Then, Memphis spoke again.

“What about stone soldiers?”

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48 Responses to “Chapter 201: Guided Creativity”

  1. Jane says:

    And thus was formed Games Workshop… now, will they stick to wargaming, or will they also invent RPGs and possibly virtual-reality gaming via something mock-box like?

    (looks around)
    Well, that’s a first. I suppose I have to say it. Ook!

    Current score: 11
    • DaManRando says:

      Naaah, Games Workshop is already kinda like Stone Soldiers…. if anything they may be more Privateer Press, who do Warmachine/hordes

      Current score: 0
      • Order of Chaos says:

        I’m thinking Total War not WarHammer here, they don’t need to sell models so Games Workshop makes a poor business model.

        Current score: 0
  2. Robert says:

    Interesting chapter, the paranoia seems to be getting to our protagonist.

    Edit: haha games workshop. I love it! They should totally name their project group with a GW pun/Evil Empire reference

    Current score: 0
  3. Rafinius says:

    Golems. Mock-boxes. Stone Soldiers. How many of you see animated armies duking it out on tabletop?

    Current score: 7
    • Dani says:

      I like that idea. You create a set of table-top-sized Golems, and imbue them or train them with fighting skills. Then you sell – or almost give away – a mockbox that will, for a fee, give you a skilled tabletop army for an hour. For a slightly-higher fee, you can mock slightly-better golems…

      Current score: 2
      • WorBlux says:

        I don’t think so, mockboxes are very expensive, seems way beyond the price point of a student. It would have to be more specific. Each figurine might be enchanted to release a phantasmal golem when placd in a box designed to charge it. That way you only have to create one golem for each type of unit, read a phantasm out with one mock-box, and bind the impression to however many figurines you want to sell.

        Current score: 0
      • Zukira Phaera says:

        Set up a gaming arcade with a mock box as part of the services provided. Run tournaments/game sessions where players can rent the animated armies, from mocked batches, set to go ‘poof’ when killed in the in game combats or at the end of the match. Franchise this if it catches on. Selling a ‘set’ of the animate soldiers and mock box to each new franchise.

        Offer static (non animated versions) for small fees. (maybe)

        Find a way to animate the soldiers for a set number of charges, and sell ‘refill crystals(?)’ charges (batteries as it were).

        It is kind of a grey area as to the existence of ‘batteries’ in the MU world or not. You can load something with charges, you can pay someone to add charges – but can you (currently) have a device that is capable of using charges be imbued with the charges from a secondary device that is applied to it?

        (wrote all that above and then facepalmed – how exactly do Mack’s Mechknights work after all for their animation)

        The Mock box for this would fall under the out of pocket expenses that is in the NDA/contract agreement they signed. If this seemed like a strong enough of an idea (the franchising/game shop side that is) Acantha might front the money for the box, with a dividend from the profits going towards the student group purchasing it for the shop. Also, she does know someone in the field of Mock box creation and development. She might be able to get one at a discount or as a favor either temporarily or permanently for the group.

        Current score: 0
        • tomclark says:

          Batteries = powerstones

          Current score: 0
          • Zukira Phaera says:

            true. I just don’t recall if they work for anyone besides their creator.

            Current score: 0
            • sdfasdfasdf says:

              she sells her energy so I assumed she’d been charging somebody else’s

              Current score: 0
  4. Anvildude says:

    Oh yeah. As soon as they were going ‘something on the up, confined to Campus’. Stone Soldiers. Heh.

    Current score: 2
    • WorBlux says:

      I didn’t suspect it until “let’s talk about trends”

      Current score: 0
    • Snuffa says:

      aww, and there I was hoping they would invent Facebook :/

      Current score: 1
  5. Glenn says:

    “unless there’s some reason that an end product involving golems would be advantageous, there’s no reason we need focus on a plan that will get us thee.”
    thee should be there.

    Honestly, Mack was being unusually dense in this one. The way Acantha lead the discussion directly to stone soldiers should have been clearer to her.

    I wonder though if the miniature golems Acantha is aiming at might have real military applications. Callahan’s mock boxes seemed harmless at first, but as Acantha pointed out while talking with their dwarven creator, the underlying magical techniques involved could revolutionize warfare.

    Current score: 4
    • Lunaroki says:

      Typo Report

      but if it’s not they can get some free food and maybe something to put on a CV later in life,

      I’m guessing this one is not a typo, but I have no idea what CV stands for. Is this something that has been mentioned previously in the story, or something that’s supposed to be common knowledge IRL? A little anchor tag pop-up that defines what that is would be nice.

      If Sophia… Wisdom… had communicated Acantha in private about her chosen name,

      There seems to be a word missing between “communicated” and “Acantha”. Perhaps “with”, or maybe “to”?

      then she didn’tneed anyone planted in the group,

      Another case of the space in front of the italicized word disappearing.

      Current score: 1
    • Anvildude says:

      “We. Are the Commando Elite!

      Everything else… is just a toy…”

      Current score: 1
  6. Tierhon says:

    Enchanted stone soldier sets stored in the mock box, never loose your pieces again!

    Current score: 1
    • Lunaroki says:

      And since you never loose the actual pieces you wouldn’t lose them either. 😉

      Current score: 3
  7. Zathras IX says:

    Greco-Elves know that
    Knowing that you know nothing
    Is the true Wisdom

    Current score: 5
  8. Whoa says:

    You could mock real people, remove their intelligence, leave behind fighting instincts only, turn their basic element into stone, and put no duration on the spell. As a result you have perfect, skilled mock stone soldiers that could have a command word to stop and start with a bunch of safeties built in.

    Or make miniature stone golems and then mock them for mass production.

    Current score: 0
  9. Guitardrumr says:

    It didn’t click for me till the last 2 paragraphs. Not Skirmish, but like Skirmish.

    This could be an opportunity for Mack to make Steff some money as well, and maybe help Steff with a direction after she graduates.

    Current score: 0
  10. shanri says:

    Poor steff and all the others making the soldiers. Also, military applications of this? Life size army of stone soldiers?

    Current score: 2
  11. tomclark says:

    Well this will put Mackenzie in a difficult position, since the people already doing stone soldiers are friends of hers, and at least one of them is making money off the idea already…

    Current score: 6
    • Anvildude says:

      You realize that there’s no reason more than one kind of SS could be made, right? Seriously, GW seems to have brainwashed everyone… 🙂

      I think the idea will either be a method of animation for the SS (possible using the Precedent of Mocking for more realistic combat without harming the actual models) or a method to create portable mockboxes to allow the mocking of the models and then animate the mockeries. They may sound similar, but the process and implementation would be radically different- and in either process, you still need the original figurines (though maybe not as many for the second, if you’re doing units of identicals)- therefore, you still need designers and sculptors, and the figurines are still a valuable commodity.

      Plus, Andreas is there, and he’s in on the fad, I think.

      Current score: 1
      • Zukira Phaera says:

        He’s been roped into making figures for Hazel, I don’t recall if he actually plays though.

        Current score: 0
  12. pedestrian says:

    “…With that idea held as firmly in my mind as I could without crumpling it up,…”

    Yep, my head is stuffed full of crumpled up ideas! Sometimes, they leak out…

    The biggest problem with new technology applied to warfare, is that the politicians directing the conflicts and the generals managing the conflicts have a tendency to lag intellectually behind the capability of new technology.

    We are at the beginning of using Speed-of-Light weapons. Forget all that hollywooded crap you see on TV, Cinema, comic books. A war fought with a SOL weapons would last maybe as long as one second. From first strike through retaliatory and counter-retaliatory strikes till one or both opponents are unable to continue.

    All the dead people will still be standing, maybe with a puzzled look on their face. All of this within one tick of a second hand. The entire conflict will have been fought and long over before they all hit the ground.

    We had the Neutron Bomb, a primitive form of SOL weapon, with interesting and lethal possibilities. But they were banned and dissembled when the politicians realized how easily they could lose control of technology they are incompetent to understand.

    That is why I do not share the common disquiet over the violent uses of mockboxes. I would think the contrary nature of the MUniverse would inflict an amusingly painful wrath upon any attempt to ‘game the system’ with mass-production of weapon-grade devices.

    However, the idea of Stone Soldiers combined with Action Figures, maybe miniature Golems, maybe something else. Now that has possibilities for Acantha’s think tank to run with.

    Do you think any of the “Little People” involved in originally inventing and developing Stone Soldiers, will share in the potential profits or credit? Maybe this will turn out to be a divisive plotline for AE in future episodes?

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      Neutron bombs are still part of the real world arsenal of nuclear weapons. Understand; these are still atom bombs and they are still in existence. It is, in no way, a ‘speed of light’ weapon in terms of its effects. Outside the immediate explosion radius, it takes weeks for the radiation poisoning to kill.

      The kinds of weapons you are postulating about are still many decades, maybe centuries away.

      Current score: 1
      • William Carr says:

        Well, technically Neutron bombs kill with Nuclear radiation, the fallout is a waste product.

        The goal was to make a weapon that wouldn’t destroy a city but would kill everybody in it.

        Current score: 0
  13. Cadnawes says:

    Oh Mack… LAWYER. Seriously. And now you sign something without him.

    Current score: 3
  14. Mist42nz says:

    Programmable , personal-able fighting miniatures soldiers. Use mock tech to create change able dlc’s for appearance teams. Level up systems always popular. Modular moves and upgrades. Create narrow initial designs. Reduces the options, creates a point buying like skirmish so players have to make choices which way they put there soldier/team. Upgrade to VR short range mirror. Can have everything from people, to fantasy things like guns, or even weird stuff like wobots

    Current score: 0
  15. That one guy says:

    That non-disclosure seems as though it is expressly designed to prevent someone from speaking up about how Acantha screwed them over.

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      I cannot speak for the Magesterian Legal System and NDA’s. But I do have a little experience with our legal system attempting to correct abuses.

      In our legal system (USA), theoretically, if one or more the principals to a contract can be proven to have intended bad faith and proven to act in bad faith, that contract is null and void. Illegal activities, fraud, inability to give legal consent, agents acting against their principals instructions to profit the agent or shown to have acted in bad faith or against their principals best interests.. These and a lot more causes can break a contract.

      People who are asked to signed NDA’s rarely have the resources to request legal counsel or afford to pursue legal action. Unless you belong to a strong Union or Guild.

      That is why the different levels of government have the regulatory police authority to go after contractual criminal activities. To half-heartesly attempt to level the playing field for us 99percenter cattle against the onepercenter wolves.

      Current score: 2
  16. Aran says:

    “Maybe something with golems?” Memphis said. My mind flashed back to the rune tablet she’d been studying, and for a moment I thought he must be her plant, there to steer conversation in a direction that suited her.

    Or she just showed him the same tablet when he met her to work out his private deal (which was probably better than Mack’s, by the way). Maybe she showed it to both Memphis and Mack (maybe others) to make sure somebody would mention it. Maybe she showed him something that would make him think of mockboxes too, which she obviously wouldn’t have shown to Mack after the whole Callahan thing.

    Now, something like skirmish the way it was at the outset, something like skirmish but not skirmish… not big like skirmish is big… if anyone can think of something like that, that would be ideal.”

    She almost certainly planted the skirmish idea too, by the way.

    And then, all the suggestions mysteriously add up to illusory copies of golems used for combat – and somehow, everyone thinks it was a group idea.

    Current score: 0
  17. Aran says:

    “What about stone soldiers?”

    Oooooh, holy ethical quandary, Mack!

    (You know you have friends who would be insanely interested to know about this, and it’s not like you signed a piece of paper saying you wouldn’t tell them or anything.)

    (Actually, you may be fucked regardless, because if your friends go ahead with their idea, you cannot plausibly convince people you didn’t breach the NDA…)

    Current score: 0
  18. Lakanna says:

    I seem to remember a mention of terrain pieces that could become other terrain? With the right set of enchantments and illusions, they could create some very realistic and versatile terrain sets, maybe even ones that would do things like provide an illusion of bonuses and penalties for each terrain it mimics? There’s a LOT they can do with soldiers, too, from customizable color schemes to fully-animate mini-golems. I think they’re going to make money on this little project.

    Current score: 1
  19. Joseph says:

    If you have golem stone soldiers with Two’s ability to help in the creation of magical items, then you could use them to make proportionally smaller soldiers. After a few iterations, you would have the magical equivalent of nanotechnology. At that point you have something insanely valuable and insanely dangerous (a “grey goo” philosophers stone).

    Current score: 1
  20. Melki says:

    I’m sure AE has addressed this (probably with the revamped schedule) and I missed it. Does anyone know if bonus stories are no longer “a thing”? It’s cool if not, but I selfishly miss them 🙁

    Current score: 3
  21. Elf says:

    AE, More Tales of MU isn’t working anymore. Will you be fixing it? =/

    Current score: 1
  22. Thinker of Thoughts says:

    Ok, so similar ideas have been propsed by others but I suspect that they may be headed towards a stone soldier set composed of one golem for each type of unit in an army and a mockbox much like the ones Calahan has. This would allow for an entire army to be made (using repeated mockings) in which each soldier reacts realistically since each unit is reacting according to to its specific situation. In addition, it automatically has the appropriate effects for dying etc, if desired. Finacially this approach would work well because it mitigates much of the cost of buying individual units normally associated with wargaming instead buying a single expensive piece rather than several cheaper ones. Soldier golems with advanced training or different appearences will ensure that the buisness doesn’t kill itself. It still works best as an arcade style setup though because of the (likely sizeable) cost of the mockbox, an arcade would also be able to afford a fairly large number of combat terrains. Renting the golems, the terrain, and probably a small time based fee will largely be profit. Although the startup cost could be significant the profits could be quite satesfactory.

    Current score: 0
    • Order of Chaos says:

      I think an arcade would be the best bet. We know that you can have a pay to use cloths washing so it’s just making the game table.
      I must ask if we need the models? we could have an army pre loaded onto a cristal like they do with music or on the game table and pre mock some gogles so you can see your own stelth units.

      Current score: 0
    • Nick says:

      Few problems… One is that the mock that Callahan uses only lasts for a few hours, not the whole day you need to play a game.
      The other is that every piece is normally hand carved soapstone, the carving is the only bad part.

      Current score: 0
  23. William Carr says:

    Does anybody see combining Stone Soldiers with Golem magic to create “Drones” for the real battlefield?

    Tiny, remote controllable killers that can ride a metal bird and drop incendiary spells.

    Add a mockbox and you could create millions of the things; the real ones that ACTUALLY kill would blend in and be very difficult to shoot down.

    Current score: 0