Site-Wide Activity

  • A ton of SYOC fic went dead all at once. Annoying, but fitting for the one-year anniversary of this. One author chose to start a more successful Hunger Games SYOC instead, though, so we get to have something a […]

    • Is this something that happens throughout the fanfiction or is it happening because the author has to describe a literal huge procession of ridiculous outfits in one go?

      Oh no, that’s just a weird thing this author does. He doesn’t stop, either, he keeps mentioning hexcode colors for everything. At first I thought it was meant to imply the viewpoint character had super vision or something, but it happens regardless of the viewpoint.

      Anyway, you should review to tell him that!

    • The author complaints about the scenes being boring and redundant, which I think says a lot about where their priorities are.

      Sad but unsurprising.

      Are you engaging with the Hunger Games fandom right now? I’m curious about the current discourse.

      From what I’ve seen (and, mind, it was from a periphery, stuff bleeding into other fandoms and spheres of interest), it seems the fandom is fixated on the logistics of the murdergames: what’s the best weapon to murder other kids, what is the best strategy for murdering other kids without getting murdered, whether you should form an alliance before betraying your partner and murdering them or go lone wolf route and murder everyone indiscriminately, etc.

      It doesn’t appear like there is much room for questioning whether you should play the game to begin with or much focus on how it would affect you as a person. Nobody disputes that the Capital is evil, but its evil is treated as an afterthought compared to the excitement of the games.

      Which… yeah, about what I would expect given how the books are written.

      • This has been my only engagement so far, but given the popularity of SYOT stories, I’m guessing this is reflective of the fandom as a whole, yes. Are you looking at the questions the author asks each chapter? Some of them are very telling. (All the “what would you do in the Hunger Games” stuff is so unbelievably tone-deaf — like, surely everyone has seen the interview where she says the setup is supposed to mirror American imperialism, right? The books aren’t good at showing it but come on, do a little reasearch if you love the series so much!) 
        This is why I tried to make a tribute who would explicitly not participate in the concept at all, but it seems I underestimated fandom’s devotion to formula. I think next time I’ll just submit someone who suicides at the outset to make it easier on them.

        • Well, I’m looking now.

          Here is an interesting tidbit:

          What I mean is, the Careers you usually read about, whether it be in SnowLucario Hunger Games, Hoprocker Hunger Games, or just plain Hunger Games, are arrogant teenagers who volunteer for glory for their district or themselves.

          Again, sad but unsurprising*. Based on Career thing description, I figured the kids were raised in a communal effort and told all their life how what they’re about to do is good for the community, good for people they love. Their very existence allows everyone in a district to get supplies in exchange for increasing their chances of being chosen for the games as the Capitol allows, and if they win, they would bring money and food and supplies into the district, which would, again, help everyone.

          They should think of themselves as heroes risking their lives to help their home, even if ultimately that narrative just helps the Capitol to drive districts apart.

          *Should it be a motto of the fandom? Hunger Games: Sad but Unsurprising. Seems like it fits.

    • Ah, that’s probably just blind obedience to the stations of canon combined with running out of steam. Typical for fanfiction as a whole.

    • But the thing I hate, hate, hate, hate the most about this (especially after essentially becoming a Forever GM) is when these background NPCs appear in the hands of another person. I’m never satisfied with it.

      Nah, that was the expected result. The whole thing started with Farla writing an article on her forum about how SYOC stories are a bad idea and you shouldn’t write them.

      The whole thing here is basically about collecting data on the exact ways SYOC stories can be bad, not getting characters being one of them and one of the more obvious.

      What is frustrating is when writers not simply write characters kinda OOC or don’t get nuances or simplify their motivations, but when they actively ignore the core concept of characters and twist them so they could fit into a preexisting narrative, which kinda defeats the point of writing a SYOC story to begin with.

    • Which is why it’s unsurprising.

      I’m not really mad at the fandom for buying fully into the books’ narrative and not critically analyzing it or doing interesting subversions, just disappointed.

    • To be fair, that could be due to the action scene and most writers sucking at them.

      A lot of fanfiction relies heavily on dialogue and workmanlike descriptions with minimal action, so the massive bloodbath at the start of the games could pose a purely technical barrier for continuing writing.

    • (“Submit Your Original Character”)

      It doesn’t rankle me unless they ignore the character completely, as happened here. People can interpret things in interesting ways, and even when they twist them, it’s useful to see what people pay attention to. Did you see Chara in the Power Rangers crossover, for instance? Hilarious!

  • And, of course, I end up back in my room. Some traditions are forever.

    Mom: Looks like you slept well, Bonnibel.

    A doorbell again.

    Hau: A-lo-la! The salty breeze sang to me and brought me here to […]

    • Noooo go to Aether and talk to Gladion! It evolves through friendship so it is actually a good idea to get it early.

    • Gotta love how Hau’s motivation revolves around not one but two “awesome” male parent/grandparent figures instead of the usual one like Hapu’s grandpa or Flannery’s and the player’s back in Hoenn. :/

      Overall, Hau feels like he’s an exaggerated version of all the rival/general NPC problems we’ve already had. Maybe because they were taking a risk with making Lillie and Gladion major parts of the plot, they wanted to have a familiar option too? But that’s assuming anyone really liked that rival type in the first place.

      Apparently that’s because the keystone attaches to your z-ring and the z-ring doubles as your mega-ring from then on.

      But can’t you attach a keystone to anything? How much research did they need to do to figure out a z-ring is a physical object you can attach things to?

  • Because it has proven necessary. Discuss the original novel, the anime, Abridged, and all things between!

    • Is there any way to move the current thread on The Hero Appears over here? It’s great and all but I would like to keep things organized.

    • I think the derail is mostly wrapped up by now.

      So, anyway, in light of SAO:A finale, I think it’s worthwhile to revive the discussion about the potential continuation as it seems we are going to get it eventually.

      And, well, I’m not sure there is a way to make the second arc of SAO tolerable even in Abridged format short of employing editing so heavy that the plotline would become utterly unrecognizable.

      (Though it would be hilarious if the Abridged adaptation consisted of Kirito going to see Asuna, Asuna waking up, and then cut to credits roll with “And nothing happened in-between at all” voiceover.)

      Perhaps a better solution would be to jump to the second season instead, about that shooter game. It’s improved so much compared to the original SAO as to be a perfectly mediocre anime from which you can unironically derive some enjoyment (though, of course, there are still issues).

      Also, it has DEATH GUN, a perfect nemesis to Kirito.

      The only issue with adapting it into SAO:A continuity is that it has even less Asuna than the second arc of the first season, which would be a major loss.

      • I’m really hoping that they do some voice switching shenanigans. Either switch Asuna into one of the characters with more screen presence in the fairy arc or have her in Kirito’s body in SAO 2. I’d find it really funny and it would let Asuna be more relevant.

        • Hm, body switching is workable, but what about the plot? I suppose it should be possible to cut out the whole birdcage thing and make it be about something else. Or, I don’t know, make it so the villain uses Asuna-lookalike NPC to promote the game and satisfy his waifu fetish. Literally a soulless replacement for the character.

    • You should probably link the videos. I vaguelly recall hearing something about them on another site entirely, but I’ve never actually watched them.

      • Here is the SAO review. It’s just audio so you can treat it like a podcast. Whiles it does a good jobof comprehensively pointing out SAO’s flaws, idk how much I’d reccomend it as a primer since it’s an hour long.

        This is the start of the SAO 2 review series. It’s a lot tighter and is supported by visuals.

        • Yeah, an hour of pure audio is not for me. I can’t even listen audiobooks most of the time, and only listen to Welcome to Night Vale because it has hypnotized me help.

          Would you mind providing bullet points for the video? That is, if you have time and inclination.

    • I’ll disagree with consensus: there is nothing wrong with SAO being an awful MMO. The problem is only no one commenting on it.

      If we assume the maker of SAO is similar to the writer, in that both played MMOs as singleplayer games, and knowing that player retention is a nonissue because you just have to get them to log in once, it’s completely reasonable to have SAO built in such a way that it superficially resembles a MMO but Kirito’s lone-wolf playstyle is viable. It could even be set up deliberately to screw over MMO players. I’d guess, for example, that the exp mechanics are built so, say, two people fighting a monster get 1/4th of the exp each, or worse. You can’t level as fast as the people doing it all on their own and possibly end up taking just as much risk due to all the extra fights you’ll need to do. Etc. Now the main reason to join up is to gang up on other players. If the floor bosses are the only point where it makes sense to have multiple players fight a single enemy, then players aren’t experienced working together and it’s more of the traditional hero setup of everyone doing their own thing and one being better at it than everyone else, with bonus mass death because no one’s supporting each other properly.

      (This would give more bite to Kirito figuring it out – of course someone who designed his game to murder MMO guild players would be watching his own guild getting cut down with a creepy expression.)

      • This didn’t come up in SAO:A, but there were quite a few mechanics back in the original canon that basically existed just to foster mistrust among raiders. 
         The specific example I’m thinking of is the “last hit” mechanic. This actually originated in MOBA, where only the person who lands the killing blow gets experience for the mob. It became a strategy to feed one person all the kills so they would vastly overpower the enemy team if they tried to share experience, or set your own minions up to die before the enemy can get in the last hit themselves. I’m given to understand it’s not a common mechanic anymore, because, well, it’s stupid and not constructive.
        In SAO, the person who gets the last hit on the boss gets the rare drop. It’s almost literally the most insane way anyone could choose to reward something that is fundamentally a cooperative venture. I’d totally see that being the norm all throughout SAO. There is a short story Kawahara Reki wrote about Kirito’s first day, and how on that first day a beta tester tried to set him up to die so that he wouldn’t have to wait his turn to loot a quest item. 
        It’s got almost this Battle Royal-esque feel to it, where the game is designed to sow mistrust and discord as its premise.

      • Hm. I would agree that it makes sense. Kayaba’s plans aside, it actually generally makes sense for SAO to be an awful game coaching on New Awesome Technology because, well, that happened already with early 3D games. Most of them were godawful, and even the better ones, like Grim Fandango, struggled with their own technology base.

        The issue, indeed, is that SAO is generally presented as a good MMO in-universe.

        While normally I’m mostly indfifferent about it, one thing I take issue with is solo players. SAO actually does establish that they operate at a great disadvantage: zero error margin, inability to reliably fight powerful enemies, vulnerability to status effects, etc. Yet Kirito is still the best at what he does.

        Which, I feel, is detrimenal to the narrative since the opposite situation, where Kirito has to join a guild to stay relevant (instead of machismo honor shenanigans) could have led to much-needed character development and more prominent character interaction.

        Your take on the issue, with more parallels between Kirito and Kayaba (and the author) drawn, is interesting, though it also kinda ties with another issue I see in SAO: the protagonists don’t really defeat the villain.

        They play the game in accordance with Kayaba’s designs, they reach an outcome he finds satisfactory, and then they’re released because he decided to actually uphold his agreement instead of eliminating all witnesses and starting from scratch.

        They can certainly be credited with saving lives on account of ending the game a quarter length earlier, but that doesn’t really feel cathartic to me (or, well, it wouldn’t if I were invested in Kirito, anyway. As it is, it’s actually amusing in undermining his power fantasy: he “wins” because the villain has accepted him as a part of his own fantasy).

        • Yeah, I think recognizing the antagonistic mechanics would be a good step towards improving the story, but it wouldn’t have a satisfying ending unless it was paired with the main characters fighting to overcome those in-built difficulties and deny Kayaba the man-eat-man world he wanted to create. If you’re not going to do that, either the story becomes entirely different and a whole lot darker, or you might as well scrap the evil design philosophy and have it work like a normal, tried-and-true MMO.

          • unless it was paired with the main characters fighting to overcome those in-built difficulties and deny Kayaba the man-eat-man world he wanted to create.

            Well, the summaries I have of Actual SAO don’t give me much sense of character, so I was thinking more in terms of Abridged, but I felt that was a good look at how someone comes to care about and support others without mechanics ever mattering. Kayaba could think that the regular MMO mechanics were there to force socialization/make it so those mean popular kids got unfair advantage over the truly 1337 lone wolves, and that all human interactions are always transactional, so he builds a system where there’s no benefit to working together at all but people just keep being social and working together anyway. He assumes this is because they are dumb losers who can’t figure out how to play the game, but post-battle game rewards don’t really matter in a battle to get out of the game, and he’s taken by surprise when his apparent soulmate lone wolf ultimately beats him by actually working together with other human beings out of basic altuism instead of the promise of numbers getting bigger.

            • It’s hard to get a sense of Kayaba’s character because he really doesn’t have one. When asked about his motives when he is defeated he basically shrugs and goes “I don’t know.”


              The closest the novels have to a motive for him is Kayaba’s girlfriend saying that he always wanted to build a giant floating castle and be a villian.


              A lot of the terrible game mechanics in SAO come from it both being written at an early time in MMO history and also Reki literally having no understanding of the one MMO he played (FF11).


              He basically thought the top tier players were like.. well, Kirito. Cool lone wolves who could take on a dozen players in PvP and out-regen their attacks and then solo raid bosses.


              Which was literally the opposite of how FF11, being intensely team-oriented focused, to the point that you couldn’t do anything without a party.

            • Hm, so, moving the conflict into a more ideological field and away from the literal confrontation. That’s probably the best approach given the basic premise.

              • Actually, you know what’d be cool?

                Kirito is challenged to a match (and with the same rules as their original duel, to be “fair”) – but only he gets out if he wins. BUT HEY, Kayaba’s reasonable, so after the match where they’ll lose their top fighter, he’ll let the rest of the group go to level/recruit and then try the boss again, since it’s not their fault Kirito screwed up here. He doesn’t paralyze them in this because he just kills the couple people who rush him and figures that’s good enough – who’d risk their life once it’s clear it won’t do any good?

                Of course, Kirito struggling with a L75 boss isn’t going to be able to take a guy built for a fight at L100ish, and Kayaba is now pulling out all sorts of fun boss mechanics he didn’t use while pretending to be a real player. This isn’t Kayaba recognizing his true greatness, it’s punishment for spoiling Kayaba’s cool plot twist. Asuna then does some sort of suicide strike save Kirito from the killing blow, as opposed to just getting herself killed – she gets the asshole below his precious 50% health, maybe impaling herself on his sword so he can’t block her strikes. Asuna gets absolutely nothing from doing this, but the combination of damage, shock, and her tangled up in his weapon lets Kirito finish him off before Asuna completely disappears (they are both supposed to be specialists in speed, after all).

                Because Asuna and Kirito together fulfulled the Floor 100 victory condition, and because Asuna doing this at all disproves Kayaba’s entire concept of how people work, he lets them all out and stops Asuna’s headgear from murdering her.

                As a bonus, it now makes marginally more sense he’d be mumbling about how he doesn’t even know why he did this at the end, he’s not really listening to them at all but is lost in his own head.

              • At this point may as well rewrite the final fight more and have it so Kayaba is all geared up for a manly duel between him and Kirito only for Klein to parry the killing blow while Asuna stabs him in the back, then Tiffany joins the fray, etc.

                I mean, that would kinda go into the cheesy anime ending territory where everyone and their dog fight the big bad, but it kinda works for me, and it would work thematically there since it would be about subverting the power fantasy of lone wolves in favor of cooperation and working in synch with each other.

                Kayaba can still attempt to do his boss mechanics to prove what a terrible idea that is for the players, but they would be able to overcome him anyway, with some losses (perhaps massive losses) because, despite all of his efforts, they actually did learn to work together.

              • And why would their team-up have him freeing everyone, exactly?

                The win condition for Kirito’s lone wolf duel is just to get Kayaba under 50%. He does this whole BEHOLD MY TRUE FORM THING, fully heals, and starts beating the shit out of Kirito. He’s near 50% when he’s about to do the killing blow. Asuna intervenes, getting him a good chunk below 50% but, more importantly, fucking up his ability to block blows, allowing Kirito to dualblade him down to zero and fulfill the Floor 100 victory condition for the game itself.

                The problem with Kirito volunteering to stay is that it’s really hard to sell “okay, so I thought I wanted to get out, but actually it’s super great in here, but actually actually I want to get out but with my friends I made in here” in a single burst. There would be nothing too surprising about wanting to stay in the game with the other players when that’s almost exactly what Kayaba wants too. If the game was objectively horrible and Kayaba was just doing it to torture people, then Kirito saying he’s getting out with everybody or not at all would be a counter, but this is totally Kayaba’s baby.

                (Also, in this view, it wouldn’t really be an offer so much as a “oh so you think you’re so fucking smart? how come you weren’t smart enough to see this coming?” bit of lashing out at the player who didn’t respect spoiler policy.)

              • At this point may as well rewrite the final fight more and have it so Kayaba is all geared up for a manly duel between him and Kirito only for Klein to parry the killing blow while Asuna stabs him in the back, then Tiffany joins the fray, etc.

                Well, at that point we’re back to it being a regular boss fight. Fighting the guy who can let them all out is understandable behavior, and doing it in groups isn’t any different than how it was before. Asuna getting herself killed so Kirito doesn’t die, however, is pure altuism because she doesn’t benefit from it.

                Also acceptable would be for Kirito, at low health, to realize he’s just not good enough to win this, sacrifices himself unparalyzing Asuna, who, as the other fastest player, then gets the dualwielding skill and finishes the weakened Kayaba off within the ten second grace period.

              • @Farla, yeah, I get your objection.

                Hm, I do think that an honest sacrifice from Kirito is a better counter to Kayaba given how much he’s invested in the whole “we’re not so different, you an I” thing.

                He thinks that Kirito is clearing the game because he likes playing out the heroic narrative, likes the sense of validation and meaning it brings to his life, not because he actually cares about people.

                Selfish altruism.

                So Kirito actually forfeiting his life for the sake of someone else taking his place and finishing Kayaba off could be seen by him as something inconceivable, a direct strike against his philosophy since it would demonstrate that for Kirito it’s no more about living a dream, it’s about killing his dream for the sake of saving other people.

                I guess it would still be a cliche, “Kirito died for your sins” and all that, but definitely an improvement over the original.

              • What about “while I really don’t want to leave because this is my dream world, I’ll clear the game to free all the people who consider it a nightmare”?

                Problem is that’s pretty much the start point for Kirito. He has every reason to stay in the game from the moment he put on the helmet. I think you could set up an arc where the point of the honeymoon is to make him realize that if he beats the game he’ll be the hero of the hour but if he stays he can be the hero forever, and he starts slowly dragging his feet and doing random fetch quests and catching delicious fish and talking to every NPC, and he’s pretty much dragged to the L75 boss fight on the basis that well, if they really must he doesn’t want to be left behind, but… And then the climax is him realizing how that was wrong.

              • I guess it would still be a cliche, “Kirito died for your sins” and all that, but definitely an improvement over the original.

                If you set it up so the issue was that Kirito was never seriously trying to get out or only wanted to get out as the lone wolf hero who could do it all on his own, so he wasn’t sharing gear or helping teach other players new tricks, then it could be that Kirito died for his own sins – Asuna, a total newbie, improves so much, and she (and others) could’ve done even better if he’d been seriously trying to help instead of putting his focus on making sure he was always a level ahead of everyone else, including her. He wanted to be the one who saved them, instead of the one who helped them get out together. Because he wanted to lone wolf it, he ends up in an unwinnable lone-wolf duel that’s going to get himself killed and the rest of the players screwed over, so he dies to aid another player who has a better shot at winning now.

        • While normally I’m mostly indfifferent about it, one thing I take issue with is solo players. SAO actually does establish that they operate at a great disadvantage: zero error margin, inability to reliably fight powerful enemies, vulnerability to status effects, etc. Yet Kirito is still the best at what he does.

          While that makes Kirito’s continued existence implausible, if you combine it with a sliding exp scale it’d explain why Kirito is consistently a ridiculous level and so awesomesauce that he keeps getting asked to help out with things by groups because he personally is better than all of them. If the goal is to separate the very best players from the rest, giving huge rewards to risky, high-skill behavior works perfectly, and, assuming Kirito is just that much better than everyone else, is why he has time to screw around being badass at people without anyone else overtaking him through grinding. They spend five weeks fighting trash mobs, he spends five minutes fighting Killfuck Skullshitter who has three different instakill attacks.

    • The game seems like its meant to be like Dark Souls in that way- no matter how much bullshit it throws on you, it rarely does so just to deny you a victory you earned.


      You say that, but anti-crystal rooms exist and are the worst thing in existence.

    • How is Kirito a higher level than his girlfriend who spends all her time on the highest possible floor completing epic-level raids (because there’s nothing to imply that SAO has the solo xps)?

      To be fair, eating weird plants give weirdly massive amounts of exp.

      By which I mean, in theory it’s about Themes. Kirito is a better player because he immerses himself into the game world rather than treating it merely as a puzzle to be solved or a prison to escape, so he understands it better and is capable of achieving greater things.

      Of course, when you think about it, it makes negative sense, but hey, the same is true for the power of love breaking paralysis, so at least SAO is consistent in its bugfuckery.

      The only problem I have with this is that, even with the god mode cheat he has, Kayaba doesn’t really seem like he’s an unfair person.

      Yeah, Kirito brings it up during the murder mystery side story, buuuut the same story also introduced the mechanic allowing ganking sleeping players inside safe zones, so there.

      Not to mention that paralysis effect seems to be op, nerf plz. Like, it renders a player completely helpless and apparently can be delivered from a distance through what looked like good armor.

      Back in beta, the pvp scene must have been bloody insane if that’s an improvement.

      • To be fair, eating weird plants give weirdly massive amounts of exp.

        By which I mean, in theory it’s about Themes. Kirito is a better player because he immerses himself into the game world rather than treating it merely as a puzzle to be solved or a prison to escape, so he understands it better and is capable of achieving greater things.

        …Kirito is picking up piles of roleplaying exp handed out by a delighted Kayaba.

    • The only time I remember a player putting it on another player is Kuradeel putting it on Kirito, and he had to pretty much trick Kirito into drinking a Potion of Paralysis.

      No, there was an instance during the same murder mystery plot. A Laughing Coffin guy paralized Shmidt with a thrown dagger or something to that effect.

      EDIT: Oh, and I think it was mentioned in the light novel that some monsters have this effect, in the context of listing disadvantages of solo players.

    • He actually wrote it after SIGN started airing, as it was originally for a contest that he ended up not submitting for as it was too long.

      The thing about the Anti-Crystal Rooms is straight up that the trap rooms even exist. Also well, the fact that basically every boss room was one. It kind of made the things pointless when you couldn’t be sure if your healing or escape powers would work until you needed them enough to test them. That’s as far from Dark Souls/Bloodborne as you could get.

    • Plus, you have to wonder how Kayaba convinced people to design SAO that way, unless literally every programmer and designer was complicit in the death game scenario. You’d think someone else on the design team would’ve pointed out that an SAO with a final victory condition (something that ALO also has) is a terrible idea.

      While it can’t solve the fact that in-universe apparently all games work this way, the fact he could sneak brain-frying technology into the helmets suggests that either it wasn’t true in beta or he told people the fixes were already in the pipeline and it would be different come launch time.

      And there have been some really stupid games out there – if Kayaba was the one running the place without proper oversight, he may have been able to get away with all sorts of things that were obviously a bad choice for a MMO and everyone just assumed it was incompetence. Possibly they even figured that it’d be released, there’d be a wave of complaints, Kayaba would finally get that no one wanted to play a game like this, and they’d release a huge patch a week in, so hey, why keep arguing with the boss now?

      The only problem I have with this is that, even with the god mode cheat he has, Kayaba doesn’t really seem like he’s an unfair person.

      Dog-eat-dog isn’t inherently unfair. Some (Kayaba, probably) would argue it’s incredibly fair, since it means everyone’s being judged only on their own ability. It’s entirely possible for him to still place great value on honoring his word – indeed, a lot of libertarians/objectivists place great faith in that kind of thing because you need some way to run your new ideal society that doesn’t need kindness or police.

      • On beta testers, it’s actually more hilarious: they only got up to the eighth floor. Everything above was totally unknown to them, so it’s actually plausible they wouldn’t know about the winning condition.

        Of course, that should also mean that everything above eighth floor is a minefield of never-found bugs and glitches, but hey, details.

        • Of course, that should also mean that everything above eighth floor is a minefield of never-found bugs and glitches, but hey, details.
          Maybe that’s why it’s so grindy, everything the rest of the floors do is just recombining the elements from the first eight that got tested. 

    • Eh, there you’re supposed to discover the mechanics by dying a lot. Combining it with permadeath is inherently unfair, plus a game that requires sacrificing a certain number of players so that others can learn from their mistakes is actually ridiculously group-oriented, which is the exact opposite of what he was going for.

      Now, making it so the hint that the room blocks crystals is buried five hours into an item quest and given in braille, that would make sense.

      Or just having a giant sign saying NO CRYSTALS WORK HERE, given the main difficulty is just the crystals not working and getting blindsided by it isn’t necessary. Maybe establish it with terrain – the rooms where crystals don’t work all have nega-crystal walls, and if you find the boss room and don’t think anything of the fact it’s lined in nega-crystal too, well, too bad.

      • but even if it was, labelling the idea of sending disposable idiots into dangerous situations to blow up all the traps as “group-oriented” is kind of charitable.

        But that’s just it – the only person who would willingly play mine-detector once they realized this is someone doing it for the sake of the rest of their group, and you’d have to be doing it deliberately because if you all blow up the mine then there’s nobody to report back that there’s mines here.

        Kirito’s hilarious directions only work in a game where people respawn indefinitely and there’s a steady influx of new players. Once everyone knows the stakes, you’d have something like guilds drawing lots about who enters each new room. Or maybe a sort of reverse escort setup – most people just aren’t good enough at this game to have any chance of surviving battles long, but there’s a lottery and when picked a group go along with the handful of most talented players to help map (especially given the bodies aren’t lootable – this is a game with incredibly scarce resources that are either irreplaceable or locked behind high-risk activity, and the loss of any high level player is a blow to everyone).

      • That’s not really what I’m getting at.

        A game designed to be learned by trial and error, combined with permadeath, makes collaborative, self-sacrificing play the ideal behavior. Everyone pools their own individual risk for the greatest chance of the majority making it out at all.

    • But if no one ever gets the item before Sheeptar is defeated, then does it matter?

    • Seven people still died that day.

      More seriously, it ties with the issue I’ve discussed above, about how Kirito prevails by basically becoming a part of Kayaba’s dream, being the kind of person Kayaba wanted to reward.

      I… don’t think having villain’s approaval should be rewarded in this kind of story.

    • See, assume he’s Lawful Evil and it works fine. There’s probably something somewhere in the EULA that means they technically agreed to this, or the fact you’re not actually forced to fight is good enough.

      SAO is a terribly designed MMO with a ton of design choices that make little to no sense even in a deathgame, like how basically everyone is forced into the role of melee DPS. That’s not a bug or something different from the beta. This is stuff that even the most terribly designed and lazily made free-to-play/pay-to-win MMOs do.

      But it’s never meant to be what anyone else wanted, it’s just what Kayaba wanted to do. Like I said at the top, the only issue is no one commenting on how weird this is. So long as Kayaba’s goals weren’t to make a well-balanced MMO, and so long as he had enough control over the game that no one else could force him to do it, any design choice is fine.

      (Also the sword bit makes the most sense of all of this – coding a battle system run by your brain is probably really, really hard, and doing just one thing that works relatively close to reality is your best bet.)

      • Yeah, as I said above, a lot of SAO terribleness can be easily explained by it being a brand new technology (designed by Kayaba himself, no less, so he basically holds a monopoly on this stuff).

        Personally, I figured most players signed up for Second Life type experience, only with full immersion. Visit exotic location, eat delicious food, have a body of your dreams, and all that for a reasonably cheap monthly subscription.

        Fighting stuff was an afterthought for everyone except Kayaba probably.

      • I assume that, like America, there are legal provisions which would render that an equally invalid contract.

        Yeah, but Kayaba obviously doesn’t care about what non-Kayaba people think regarding his actions and even in real life there are a ton of contracts that, if actually brought to court, turn out to be totally illegal.

        That only works if he’s the only person physically creating the game. When someone works with a team, their idea is going to get dilluted. Even if they’re employees legally obligated to enact his will, its not going to be a 100% perfect representation

        Maybe all the bits that do resemble functional MMOs are from them!

        Look at Duke Nukem. Game studios making terrible decisions because the person on top is nuts and no one can rein them in is entirely possible, and if Kayaba’s a genius coder he has the advantage that he can set his team to doing the more normal tasks, like coding all the backgrounds, while he focuses on his own pet issues.

        And given it’s the only game for the technology, I’d bet that the beta testers kept playing regardless. It’d be easy to manipulate them too by saying that lots of features totally are there, but the beta only lets them play part of the game. The fact they’re random kids means they’re unlikely to be suspicious. (And there’s always lying about the feedback you’re getting as another option.)

      • ? What a third party things of a contract is only relevant for making that third party enforce the contract. People agree on unenforcable contracts all the time. If Kayaba feels he needs some sort of permission for the totally illegal thing he’s going to do, I don’t think he’d care that the permission is not considered legally binding.

        Doesn’t that defeat the point of a beta test, then?
         Which would explain why they weren’t using real beta tests. Two plot holes closed with one stone!

      • Nah, people can have codes of honor that bear no resemblance to the legal system or even internal fairness. I mean, there’s that guy who said it was okay he had sex with a donkey because he only had sex after he’d “paid” her with corn, so the donkey was a prostitute and really she was the one who should be ashamed.

        Assuming Kayaba has an issue with it in the first place, then five minutes before the file is copied to the game drives, Kayaba puts in the middle of the EULA, in article fifty-three b, that you agree to be killed if you die in the game. Technically he told them and it’s not his fault they didn’t read it before clicking agree.

    • basically everyone is forced into the role of melee DPS

      Well, that’s not true. Asuna’s doing fine as the Grand Wizard.

    • How do you figure?

      It’s a joke from SAO:A. “Grand Wizard” is an RL title for KKK leaders.

    • Roarke replied 1 day ago

      Asuna being extremely racist to Tiffany. Kirito tries to conclude their business “before Grand Wizard Asuna starts a race war.”

    • It isn’t relevant, it’s just funny to me.

    • True, but its still a structure that would appear to have an end goal. Would they just keep adding more and more floors with expansion packs?

      Isn’t that pretty much what MMOs do, it’s just usually the expansion is sideways and not up? It’s always been possible to use up all current content if you’re a dedicated enough player.

      Plus there’s always the option of adding basement levels, a second tower on another floating island, etc.

    • There’s actually no problem expanding up given that SAO is designed around what used to be  (maybe still are) called “global events”. In MMO’s, those are unique events that can only be completed once per server. In this case, that would be clearing a floor’s boss.
      They aren’t very common these days. To my knowledge, World of Warcraft only had them in Vanilla. Like SAO, their scarcity sparked fierce competitions among guilds. Blizzard later realized that was kind of a bad way to produce content for an MMO. I would be 100% sure Kayaba wouldn’t realize that.

    • Well. I really don’t want to have to reread, like, Volume 7, to be absolutely sure, but I’m relatively certain each boss is still cleared only once even in ALO!SAO. The reason Yuuki needed to clear the boss with only a single party is because the memorial only has room for about 7 names per boss. Each name is the leader of one party within the raid group.
      It is possible that the bosses respawn, but I don’t recall it and I’m relatively certain that ALO’s Aincrad is faithful to the original. Minus permadeath.

    • Which is a shame. Without permadeath it’s not authentic.

      More seriously, can we talk about how fucked up it is to willingly return to your murderprison of two years shortly after finally getting out of there?

      Because it’s fucked up.

      I can believe that some people (like canon Kirito) would do it, but it definitely can be unhealthy.

    • That reminds me of the first time Kirito died in ALO. It was actually one of the most effective moments in the series, to me. The way he was briefly gripped by terror and claustrophobia because he thought he was going to die was pretty well-done.
      Strictly speaking, if you returned, it didn’t murder you. Just other people. That said, yeah, it’s super creepy. Though, if you take SAO at face value as the BEST MMO EVA, then I could absolutely see people being sufficiently Stockholmed.

    • It was actually one of the most effective moments in the series, to me.

      Let me ruin it to you: then Kirito kills a dude and eats another dude (when he was transformed into a monster because that’s how illusions work) and doesn’t feel a thing.

    • In theory, your form is determined by your stats, so it can only be done by players who are already comparable to bosses without the transformation, and probably picked some better magic along the way.

      What actually peeves me is that it’s not proper TRPG illusion magic. I mean, yeah, you won’t find proper illusions in video games because they’re very context-based, and in MMOs specifically there are way too many ways to foil them (just a simple voice chat does wonders against shapeshifters, for example).

      But ALO is controlled by a super-advanced AI (and its predecessor had fully-sapient AI as a subroutine), and it’s full-immersion, so I feel it would actually be viable.

      And it would be such a perfect way to go:

      – No need to give Kirito power at the starts because “skills transfere between games.” He can rely on using simple illusions in creative ways, which even ties with the theme of him “getting it, man,” and being the best because he buys fully into the virtual world and drags other people with him;

      – The creativity requirement would explain why it’s not very popular among players since you need to game other people to utilize it properly, not the system. Its power is very subjective;

      – Would explain why he needs help and actually engages with the virtual politics even before he arrives at that tree and discovers an impossible fight. You don’t even need to make the fight impossible for that, just, you know, something that would overwhelm a first-level player, which isn’t hard at all.

      (On that note, one of my numerous grips with ALO is Kirito for some reason caring about peaceful negotiations between factions and Salamanders trying to disrupt them.

      He gives a big speech about how “your experiences in the virtual world are just as real as IRL” and so on, and there is a grain of genuine moral here, but the issue is that consequences are wildly incomparable.

      Peaceful negotiations going awry or Salamanders winning would mean a flame war for a month on forums and some players maybe ragequitting.

      Failing to get to Asuna would mean raped Asuna.

      The two are not exactly on the same level.)

    • I think he might’ve had some vague notion of resolving the faction war so that the slyphs would help him with Asuna, at which point it becomes a passable motivation

      Not that I remember. Pretty sure he helped them out because Heroism and Virtual Reality is like Reality, then went to rescue Asuna alone, failed, and was actually surprised when cat girls showed up to help him.

      (Speking of, the Salamander leader dude and his two lap babes.

      What’s up with them? Are they actual players who are into posing erotically all day? Or are they paid to do so?

      Or is it an unwritten duty of some guild members, so occasionally Steve and Joe log in as hot women to pose on their boss’ lap?

      I suppose it’s also possible that there are NPC trophies: clear a dungeon and get a hot sexbot to take away with you. The guy in charge is certainly skewy enough to do it.)

    • Or is it an unwritten duty of some guild members, so occasionally Steve and Joe log in as hot women to pose on their boss’ lap?
      Maybe they log in as hot women for selfish purposes and sit on the boss’s lap for some easy gold. Enough guys IRL do it.
      VR would open up a weird can of worms when it comes to opposite-sex characters.

    • Well, it did bring at least two people hapiness (seriously, those two guys from the start appear on numerous occasions, always together), so it’s not all bad.

  • “Argubaly Pokémon are people so it wouldn’t matter if their names are capitalized.”

    re: Your review to A Reason For Vengence
    49m agoSacredSwordFire
    A response to your review at […]

  • We are finished with 2016 at last. Hallelujah!

    The end of the year contains a semi-interesting fic that tries to “deconstruct” mega evolution by adding in random grimdark while doing nothing to question or crit […]

  • I’ve been reading through the Tamroa Pierce catalogue, as they’re good lighthearted fantasy fare for the broken, stressed-out brain. I’ve enjoyed them. I’ve preferred Tortall to Emelen so far, largely because […]

    • I may be way off here since my knowledge of such things is patchy, but from what I know, it could be connected with the formation of YA market.

      From what I understand, it used to be that there were kid books and adult books, but YA books occupied this weird niche where they existed in a sense that people were writing books aimed at the demographic but didn’t exist in a sense that they weren’t advertised as such.

      They were marketed as books for girls or books for women, not books for teenage girls and young women.

      And, I don’t know, it kinda feels that it’s generally perceived as more acceptable for girls to be proactive and do stuff than for young women? At the very least girls are less frequently sexualized* (I mean, that happens, but not quite that often), so it might have influenced the cover designs. If you can’t draw boobs and lips, well, I guess you’re stuck with people doing stuff and killing things?

      Granted, that doesn’t account for other stuff you’re talking about, like the change in video games. I do think that technology played a big role in it. Gender didn’t matter as much back when everything was a little bunch of pixels, but now you can turn women into proper objects of desire, and so it is done. (Though, to be fair, there are games that are good on that front. Your Bioware, Torment even if it does have flaws on other fronts, other games we’ve discussed and recommended here. And old games had their share of issues as well. Could be that the awful is just louder now, more noticeable because of easy access to everything.)

      But yeah, it does appear to be a more global phenomenon than just one thing that can be explained by some innocuous factor. Some change in attitude.

      *Mozilla spell checker, why do you fail me so? Seriously, you know “desexualized” but not “sexualized?” Seriously?

      • Could be that the awful is just louder now, more noticeable because of easy access to everything.

        I think this is probably a big factor. People are talking about the issues more now, but that’s led to a larger pushback as well. There may be some truth to the whining about how the mere inclusion of women or gay people is “political” — writers who previously wouldn’t have thought about including women at all now either feel compelled to or, cynically, feel they can field a larger catch by doing so, and the results are obviously forced, sterile, and awful. Writers who write genuinely good, diverse casts are still around, but whereas before they stood out, now they’ve been diluted by the people trying to capitalize on a trend.

        Granted, this doesn’t explain why so many YA authors are women yet still write awful women. It is quite strange.

    • Ah, that’s actually not surprising. Both styles of cover ask the potential reader the same question: “Wouldn’t you want to be her?” It’s just the idea of what girls want to be that is drastically different.

    • Twilight came through and showed there was money to be made, so good stopped mattering. In fact, checking, it came out in 2005.

      Stuff I read suggested YA became female-dominated by accident – you’d be told that nah, this story with dragons needed a male protagonist, and this story with spaceships needed a male protagonist, this serious book needed a male protagonist… So female main characters mostly made it to print there, so the genre ended up with proportionally more and felt dominated by them, so authors with male characters were more likely to avoid it and authors with female gravitate there, and that was our YA, when I would spurn the adult section of the library because so many of them with just spinning their heels while the YA stuff had actual plots.

      It wasn’t Twilight’s fault, I don’t think – Harry Potter had already showed children’s books could be moneymaking engines, and it was inevitable that YA would have its own super popular book before long. And then everyone else shows up to make money off girls and say, as one, “Oh, but what girls REALLY want is to be side characters in their own stories, because, I mean, god, girls, who fucking cares right?” I just saw someone ranting about the romance genre, because a whole bunch of male new authors are trying to move in with this groundbreaking twist of it ending in misery, because everyone knows romance is just some crap women read so there’s no need to try to figure out what they actually want.

      And when one year I return to my precious Yellow playthrough…it was the fucking graphics that did us in with videogames, because if you have the pixels to make sexy girls, people demand you have sexy girls and that they don’t have anything else that would get in the way of being objects, and you can see the first glimmers there. And the HP/Twilight movie empire means the goal of every book is to be a movie, so you need sexy girl characters for the sexy girl covers for the eventual sexy girl actor to languid her way through her movie. And that’s all you need, so who cares if the girl doesn’t get to do anything? She doesn’t need a plot if she’s got looks.

    • Would you recommend any of these books to an adult male […] or are they really something better suited to reading to remember how kickass they were reading them for the first time as a twelve year old girl?

      Not to, like, make an example of you, but this is a really bizarre thing to say. Why would being an ‘adult male’ affect the quality of the books, considering I’m an adult as well (as I say in this post!), and I specifically said, “I’ve enjoyed them”? Why would the only people who could have potentially enjoyed them as children have been “twelve year old girls”? Is this an iteration of that gaming meme where men insist they can’t possibly relate to a female protagonist because female characters are the different, lesser kind and they’d rather get to play as real people? Or is it just that stories about girls must be inherently lesser? (Could you imagine someone asking this about the Harry Potter books?)

      The books are kids’ books, so the plots are simple, the bad guys always lose, and they’re quite short. Whether or not you can deal with writing aimed at young people or will be bored by it isn’t something I know, but what I can tell you is what I said in the post. Pierce’s writing is quite readable, the characters are likable, and they’re nice lite fare for when I’m stressed out.

      I don’t intend to stock my future child’s bookshelveves differently depending on if they’re a boy or a girl, nor do I ask myself before picking up a book, “Should I read this despite ovaries?”

      What separates this from things like slice of life or from comfy healing anime?

      I’m not sure what you mean by the latter, but as I’ve said in the past, slice-of-life very much has a plot, has rise and fall of action, etc. I love S-o-L as a genre, but because it’s a really subtle genre it is absolutely overflowing with boring crap, and is particularly prone to anime/manga that serves no purpose but fanservice.

      ARIA is a good example of well-plotted So-L, as is Yotsubato! — every chapter has an internal plotline and conflict, despite the overall story just being day-to-day vingettes. ARIA holds interest with its futuristic setting, while Yotsubato! is carried by humor and characterization, but both writers are very careful to have each chapter follow the good ol’ story pyramid.

    • What separates this from things like slice of life or from comfy healing anime?

      Aside from what Act said, it’s also worth noting that slice-of-life stuff generally presents itself as slice-of-life. You generally know what you’re getting into before you start reading, just by reading the summary blurb on the cover.

      YA novels that we talk about on this blog, by contrast, often present themseleves as being about adventure or mystery or high drama or what have you, and then utterly botch the part where adventure, mystery or drama happens.

      Basically, the books make promises they don’t keep.

    • Ah, so at least part of what’s going on is: I actually haven’t read Pierce before! It’s weird because they seemed right up my alley, but my dad always was always of the mind that kids who liked to read didn’t benefit from being talked down to, so I basically jumped from Hooked on Phonics to Tolkein and Jack London because of him without reading a lot of stuff for my age group I probably would have liked.
      I actually quite like Pierce’s writing. She’s not making high art, but it’s smart, technically sound, and concise, which are generally the things I look for. She’s also good at having a lot going on aside from the typical “will the bad guy win” plot so that I always know they won’t isn’t a big a deal as it might have been otherwise. And as I said, I’ve found them surprisingly character-driven.
      As for order, I’ve been reading her whole catalogue in pub order, skipped back and forth. I did skip the Lioness series (the first one) since people here said it was of a noticeably lower quality, and then I read that it was one book for adults that got split into four for kids come pub time, and nothing good can come from that change, so it seemed alright to skip. I don’t really feel like I missed anything by it.
      I will say that I found the first two Circle books to be the toughest to get through. I’m always bored by school setting and they were really traditional school books. But the last two were entertaining and the first ones weren’t bad, just a little too trite for me. Tortall is better as a whole so far.
      And they’ve all been in third person, thank god.
      I believe the japanese term is spelt “iyashiki”
      Interesting! I did not know this had a name, but it makes sense to define it as its own genre.
      RE: Flying Witch, it’s odd you bring it up, because I was looking at it at our comic shop yesterday and decided not to by anything. I’ll check it out!
      The complaint isn’t that there isn’t an overarching dramatic plot, but quite literally that nothing happens
      Yup. It’s genuinely hard to believe, but this is a huge thing right now in YA. I originally thought it had to do with publishers wanting series and things getting padded to fit multiple books, but it’s happened in single titles we’ve done as well. It’s so weird.
      if you’re the person who went to the all-girls school, how realistic the non-fanservice-focused girls high school anime are in your experience
      It’s really weird, but I absolutely adore Azumanga Daioh precisely because it feels just like when I was in school. I’m not sure how an adult man in Japan was able to capture my expereince at a Catholic high school in New Jersey so well, but he really did. It helps that Azuma seems to just have a knack for capturing what makes charaters relatable; I actually tried to find out after I first read Yotsubato if he had kids, and I don’t think he does, he just kind of gets what makes them unique and funny.
      K-On does seem like it’s the same idea — nonsexualized high school girls technically still aimed at men — but the music part always turned me off. I’m just not into music anime/manga.

      edit: Also, Joshiraku seems like something I’d like. I think humor and cleverness can carry a premise in the absense of a real plot, and I’m willing to read things that are basically thought exercises as long as everyone involved is honest about that.

      • […] I did skip the Lioness series (the first one) since people here said it was of a noticeably lower quality […]

        Damn it.

        Well, I already got the first book, might as well read it.

        • Haha, the Lioness books are still fun, but they do show their age/naivete, yeah.

        • Oh, I think I’ll be fine, then. I’m actually going through something like that now with “Wizard of Earthsea”. Not that it’s childish or anything, and I really like Le Guin’s narrative style, but it just seems out of place when I compare it to modern works; old-fashioned, but without any of the negative connotations associated with the word.

    • So I take it you like Nisio Isin? That man’s body of work is nothing but “thought exercises: the rambling monologue”.
      Bwahaha. I think probably not a single person on this blog has managed to complete the (Bake)Monogatari series. At least, not the anime. I tried finding the light novels myself, but couldn’t find a complete translation. Not that I tried terribly hard. That series is like the golden mean of decent writing bogged down by a hundred tons of fanservice.

    • I dropped the anime after one episode for reasons I can’t remember. It just kinda didn’t leave any impression on me whatsoever, neither good nor bad. I think there was a vampire maybe? And something about scissors.

    • If you only watched one episode, you didn’t experience anything that turns people off Monogatari. That said, I deeply enjoyed the first season for reasons I don’t really recall (this happens to me. I just reread a 70~ chapter manga called Chibi Vampire because I remembered reading it a decade ago but didn’t remember why I liked it).
      I honestly would try to pick up Monogatari again, hopefully through the light novels, now that I’ve finished Oregairu and need something to eat.

    • and that’s from someone who just spent two months hospitalized for an eating disorder. 

      (hugs if wanted)

      I wish I’d read the Emelan books first, Pierce’s thing for older dudes grossed me out as a teen haha. Miles above a lot of the other junk I was reading at the time for sure though. I loooooooved Keladry although I promise my internet handle actually came before I read the book.

      Book covers in general are dreadfully mismanaged, I blame Twilight for the spate of stock-photo-y “minimalist” terrible covers, but I’m sure that publishers were happy not to pay artists to do full illustrations and matte paintings (that they would then chop up and paste unreadable text on, looking at you SFF section). “Wolfhound Century” caught my eye the other week simply for having a non-messy spine on the shelf at Chapters.

      If you’re looking for more heartwarming berks, I read “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” and “A Closed and Common Orbit” by Becky Chambers recently and they are A+++++

  • “Don’t go telling people they’re doing things wrong even if they are. That’s just their way of doing it.”

    Review Reply
    53m agoOC-FREE Dinosaur
    A response to your review at […]

  • In which I get to review the same story twice, because the author still hasn’t figured out how to block me.

    Also contains a high school AU with a protagonist named “Moon Selene”, because her parents just hated […]

  • “Capitalization occurs when referring to a specific name, title, location, or set/subset of people. For instance, we refer to them as Muslims, or Christians, or Jews, because once the subset class is stripped, […]

  • “Today I get to pick my lifelong partner, companion, and friend: I get to pick my first Pokemon. Of course, I’m picking Tepig. Who wouldn’t? Strong, dependable, great evolution. You can’t lose!

    Of course, s […]

  • In which I unreasonably jump the gun on an ESL author who did in fact use a native beta reader. Make sure to use this against me, hate-followers!

    re: Your review to Alola! When Pokemon Worlds Collide
    9h […]

  • Mostly just miscategorized anime fic today.

    This belongs in the Anime world. Find your story under “Manage Stories” and select it from the dropdown menu that says “World: Any” in the “Category” section.

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  • Kukui: Hey there, Bonnibel! Woo, you’ve come a long way! You’ve made it through all the trials and grand trials that make up the island challenge! Congratulations!

    Thanks!/Aren’t you cold?

    Kukui:Nah, I’m […]

    • So this means Gladion is going to be watching over Lusamine? That can only end well. When Lillie comes back to the smoking remains of the Aether Foundation, she’ll at least have a full team of Pokemon to help clean it up.

      I can’t insult Hau all game long and yet it’s fine for me to spit in Lillie’s face?

      The really weird part is that the game’s writing still seemed to presume the player is male, so you’re super-nice to your dumbass rival but potentially a negging bastard to your… love interest? Is that what’s going on here?

      All the characters I liked get pushed aside for that idiot’s stupid knockoff League, then when I get through it I’m rewarded with the best one leaving?

      And don’t forget her character arc being dumped on for the conclusion that being a trainer really is the best decision anyone’s ever made.

      • So this means Gladion is going to be watching over Lusamine?

        Hahaha oh no it’s so, so much worse. Farla, when you start the postgame, go to the Aether labs and talk to Wicke.

      • The really weird part is that the game’s writing still seemed to presume the player is male, so you’re super-nice to your dumbass rival but potentially a negging bastard to your… love interest? Is that what’s going on here?

        I’d assume the reasoning is that regardless of gender, boys should be respected but it’s fine to judge the hell out of girls if that’s your thing.

        Alternatively, the real important factor is that Hau is the grandson of somebody important and always suck up to anybody with bluer blood than you.

        • Probably the first, sadly. It’s just so weird that there’s basically never been a competent girl rival in what, four or five generations?
          It just boggles me how much respect the narration gives Hau, considering he’s not even convinced of his own ‘worth’ until later in the game. It’s like every cast member except Hau has read the script to find out that he will become totes awesome (does he even?) and treats him like that before he’s gotten there.

          • It’s weird. I suspect there was a real push against a boy having a girl rival the first time – at least, I feel like third gen wasn’t trying to do anything much with the gender split, but they dropped the idea like a hot potato for fourth gen, fifth gen had a pair with a carefully crafted nonthreatening girl and sixth repeats the setup then redoes ORAS to be more in line with the new system.
            It’s like every cast member except Hau has read the script to find out that he will become totes awesome (does he even?) and treats him like that before he’s gotten there.
            Well, Because Bloodline is basically the closest real world equivalent of reading the script, if you think about it.

            • Huh. Yeah, that’s valid. The dominant narrative is that the kid of a king will be a good king, ignoring all the horrible implications it has for all non-kings.

              Yeah, you pretty much said once per game that you had a choice: a competent female NPC, or being a girl yourself. Is that actually true though? Are you sure that the NPC of Serena or Hilda or w/e their canon names are even become decent rivals? Honestly, the boys aren’t even decent rivals anymore, so I have a hard time believing the girls would be.

              • You know, I’m not sure. I assumed the script was the same because that was my experience with the earlier games and ORAS took me by surprise. It’s possible the script divergence happened before that.

              • Yeah, you did bring up the ORAS scripts for NPC!May multiple times. Shit was a creepshow. Honestly, that might be where the Pokemon writers put in the most effort, considering how utterly lackluster the main plots are. 

    • Seems kinda odd to me to expect more than five since every Elite 4 from Kanto onward had five to a team before the champion’s six-mon team (aside from Unova which cut it to four). I get wanting other trainers to have more but I don’t see how it was unexpected here.

      Because if the reasoning is small teams all game to try to stem the exp flood, then it’s no longer an issue. And the new system of all of them being the same strength and the fact they won’t be significantly higher level means the only way to make up for it would be to emphasize the type issue by stuffing as many onto the team as possible.

      It’s not that I expected it to be other than easy, it’s that it’s annoying that in every way it’s very easy.

      It’s a shame they don’t have 4 teams per member and you face a slightly stronger leveled team based on how many of the Elite 4 you’ve gotten through already. Seems like that would be simple enough to program.

      I thought of that but it wouldn’t help very much because it’s too gameable – face whatever type is hardest first and whichever is easy last.

    • they can’t really force you to have Nebby with you in your team for the League.

      Actually…the fact your pokemon aren’t frozen in ice pillars a PC in this generation and the mechanic for lati flying in ORAS would work fine. “Look! Nebby sensed something and flew here in case you needed it! Switch it with a pokemon on your team?”

      What would be more elegant would be to lock the legendaries unless you show up with Nebby in tow. If you don’t have Nebby, the tapu appear, say IT IS NOT YET TIME… and disappear again until you get the hint.

    • Well, they also have a mechanic already to prevent trading! If they want a pokemon to be plot-relevant, stick one of the no-tradey ribbons on it. That’d make getting a backup one make more sense, that one’s meant for trading, plus it’d be such a better use for those damn ribbons than making it so people can’t trade event pokemon.

      • No, the ribbons lock the GTS too, and with this the first of the new generation, they could easily add in a new ribbon that blocks any trading/blocks trading prior to the elite four. And they made a mechanic that made HM pokemon come back if you tried to release your last one in an area you needed it, so just add a delay on there and a released Nebby can show back up every time you try to poke the tapu.

        They’ve done so much – far too much, really – to completely idiotproof these games. This should be well within their ability.

  • I read this book months ago now so I can’t really do a full writeup, but for the sake of having the complete series here I figured I’d jot down the points I did remember.

    Anyway, overall, I thought this book […]

  • So you’ve completed all four of your grand trials. Then go forth to the Pokemon League.

    I just want to say, yet again, how utterly disgusted I am by your callous discard of your culture in favor of me-tooing […]

    • Yeah, Lillie’s resolution is totally messed up. Ember did a meta post on it, I’ll send you a link later.

      And aw, no comment on Silvally?! I love it, it is perfect in every way.

    • The stakes were so low, Sun and Moon might as well be a High School AU.

      This game has given me a idea for a fanfiction in which basically everyone except the main character has protagonist privilege.

      It starts out with the MC doing the starting chosing thing, but he get rejected by each of the pokemon. The rival gets the first pokemon she chooses. the professor then tries to cheer up the MC by telling him about a cousin in Unova who had the same thing happen, but found a riolu egg on the way back to their house.

      Of course, no such fortunate event happens. The MC steals the popplio in the middle of the night and just makes up a story about the pokemon following them home. Such a story wouldn’t be questioned in this setting.

      • Hm. I’d say that it’d be important to be clear your point is about how things would work “normally” and not just a misery sue of its own.

        A counter to a protagonist-privileged kid would probably work better – MC spends ages getting to know pokemon until he’s trusted, just like most people, but Sue just has to point and it’s hers. MC works hard to buy one semi-rare, Sue gets handed unique pokemon by total strangers. Etc.

    • The main idea is that it’ll cover a lot of bad tropey stuff like unorginality, but will actually include a journey narriative throughout. Unfortionately, most of our recorded cliches are story starting cliches. I don’t think I could feel out the middle of the story well. Fortionately, Sun and Moon provided a lot of stuff by itself.
      Here’s later stuff I want to include in the middle:

      Egg giving: The MC recognized his egg as a wimpod egg. Rival scolds him for not caring about all pokemon while she is holding her latios egg.
      The MC captures a shiny of a common species. Everyone assumes it’s one of his favorites species and that he has amazing dedication to fit it into his team. He trades for a more useful pokemon, and the trainer who gets the shiny percieves the trade as rescueing a pokemon from an abusive trainer who abondons his pokemon.
      Rival talks about getting her fifth ride pokemon, while the MC doesn’t even have a ride pager.
      Gladion not having protagonist priviledge and being aware of it.

      It won’t be a full length fic because it’s not quite worth that much to me. Being short has the possibly of being finishable, and I do have an end in mind.

    • I’d rather show how much of the problems the fandom has comes directly from the games. After witnessing a stranger hand out an aerodatyl in canon, it’s clear where some of these issues come from.

    • Welcome back! <3

      And yeah, those are about my thoughts on BG and PT.

      BG is a very codifying game. You can see a lot of modern RPG tropes starting there. That makes it really important historically, but also not that fun to play unless You Were There since you’ve seen half of the game already if you’re at all into wRPGs, and a lot of them did better gameplay-wise. There is something about the combination of AD&D and Infinity Engine that just makes the gameplay unfun.

      I would still suggest playing BG2 if you didn’t already simply because it’s a huge evolution on the concept and was actually more influential on RPG genre than the first incarnation.

      PT, on the other hand, is perfect in everything but gameplay (and a few unfortunate skimpy outfits that are there for reasons that escape me. It’s not like you can even see them clearly with graphics being what they are). If you didn’t play it, go play it. If you played it, go replay it, it’s worth it.

      Also, what are your thoughts on Practical Incarnation?

      Also also, fun fact: Flemeth is another thorn of Ravel.

      And now that you’ve played PT, you may be interested in playing either Torment: Tides of Numenera that I just reviewed since it’s a direct spiritual successor, or Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer (the original campaign is kinda helpful in understanding what’s going on in the add-on, but not strictly necessary, and it’s pretty meh). It was probably the first attempt by Obsidian (former Black Isle) to create a spiritual successor to PT. Would be interesting to read your thoughts on that one.

    • Yeah, I couldn’t finish Baldur’s Gate. I knew what it was trying to do, and I tried to appreciate it for that, but I ultimately got too bored. It’s a dent in my wRPG nerd cred. I think the last time I tried I fired up DA:O and replayed that instead.

      Planescape:Torment on the other hand remains one of my favorite games of all time, but if I tried to replay it right now I still wouldn’t get through it. Though how I managed 50 hours of Tales of Symphonia instead is a mystery, I guess.

      PS:T was just such an insanely personal story, and it’s really easy to forget that given how epic everything was. The only time you do what might be considered “saving the world”, it’s tangential to your own story, and the actual best part of saving the world was setting a fallen angel back on the path to redemption. The game is really firm in saying that no matter how bad you fuck up, it’s not too late to turn around and try to be better. That’s a positive message that is kinda hard to carry. Though having to spend eternity in capital-H Hell is still a thing that happens, so it’s not like it’s all saccharine.

      • Hell is just a hole in the ground regular plane like the rest, though, you can walk out well enough if you know how, and it won’t even count as cheating death since you’re dead already. The danger it represents is less about eternal torture and what have you and more about getting sucked into the Blood War, losing yourself and forgetting there is anything else, a better world out there.

        • Well, yeah, TNO is last seen wading into the Blood War. To solo it, probably, since he’s at angry-god-level of power. Also the incarnation of justice itself will hound him if he ever leaves.

          This is one of those times, I think, where you’re just supposed to ignore all the loopholes in D&D that let you get out of things like eternal torments. 

          • Wait, what incarnation of justice? The empty armor guy? He’s dead, Jim.

            And if we’re going by AD&D rules for PS specifically, dead people are supposed to lose their memory over a year, become one with the plane of their incarnation and then emerge as one of the lesser beings inhabiting that plane. So, like, a lemur or an imp in this case.

            Granted, the rules also state that the plane of your death depends solely on your alignment and fuck your actions (unless demons steal your soul on the way there, anyway), so we’re clearly departing from them.

            • No, Vhailor survives the events of PS:T if you also had Ignus and were not evil. He promises to hunt you down if you ever try to cheat your punishment. 

              • I’ve convinced him he doesn’t exist, so he doesn’t. It actually felt like a pretty neat end for his arc.

                Ignus, meanwhile, survives until the Fortress of Regrets even if you kill him.

              • Vhailor has always been interesting to me, as a companion that is always a hair’s breadth from turning on you, and someone you have to walk on eggshells around. It just feels very organic as a companion, since so many companions these days are basically just extensions of your will no matter how much you piss them off. 

              • I’d say he’s potentially interesting, but you meet him way too late in the game for my tastes. By that point you know and love the rest of your companions, so letting him join you feels like an inferior option narratively.

                If he were with you for more of a journey, it could have been fun (you know he’d JUDGE you every single time you do something remotely approaching questionabke from his point).

              • Having him around the whole time would have been too difficult to design around, in my opinion. Companion interactivity was even harder back then. I just like him as a brief exploration of a companion that is also a potentially fatal challenge. I also like his backstory, that Practical trapped him instead of killing him because he was an existential threat, like Dak’kon, and he then justified that consideration by surviving his own death.

      • The only time you do what might be considered “saving the world”, it’s tangential to your own story, and the actual best part of saving the world was setting a fallen angel back on the path to redemption.
        The Undertale fan in me is darkly amused that they added a way to kill him and get the infinity+1 sword while still technically keeping your hands clean, though.
        I should replay this sometime, I played it when I was younger and don’t think I properly appreciated it. Was too busy being nervous I’d miss something like always happens to me in wRPGs.


        • Act actually missed one of the biggest moments of the game, when TNO learns his true name. It’s understandable because you need to carry that damn bronze sphere from the second dungeon all the way to the end, then talk to Practical and Good Incarnations, pick the right options for both, and find out that the Good Incarnation is the first. 

          I was simultaneously amused and frustrated.

        • You probably did miss some cool stuff as it’s insanely easy to do in PT unless you’re an obsessive completist who talks with everyone including nameless NPCs, checks every objecct and hoards everything ever.

    • Oh, and also:

      which isn’t to say that PS isn’t buggy, there’s just not an alternative with fixes as far as I’m aware

      There actually was a huge fan-driven restoration project that adds a lot of originally underdeveloped stuff and fixes quite a few bugs.

    • I finished BG1 once, and I only remember two of my party members clearly: the misanthropic druid, and the illusionist/cleric. I think I was a mage, but I only remember the two broken items I had. I’m quite disappointed at some of the follow up to some of the characters in BG2.

      BG1 is quite a slog with low level characters. I know my mom handled most of the encounters with slings and arrows. Your party casts a few spell, your tank(s) runs low on health, and then everyone’s an archer.

      I’ve beaten BG2 three times and remember a lot more of it.

    • Something weird going on with posting. I think I broke it with my massive bighueg text. Let’s see if third time will be the charm, thanks to magic of ctrlv:
      Yaayy, you’re back! And with BG-PT post too, things I actually know of and can comment intelligibly on. Let’s do my huge quoty posting once again.
      (let me tell you, you have not lived until you’ve stayed up to 2 AM in an attempt to avoid eating a pear)
      I’d have thought going to sleep would avoid eating a pear (or anything else).
      Also, this is neither here nor there, but my health insurance coverage has an option called “AD&D”
      ADnD is a nasty disease, I can attest.
      and I think it’s only in holding them up next to each other that you can really see the inner workings of each
      The only leg of the IE tripod this post is missing is Icewind Dale, the purified hack&slash experience with some basic worldsavity going on in the back opposed to the visual novel named PS:T that had, for some inexplicable reason, extremely terrible gameplay bits bolted on. IWD is probably not necessary for anyone to play at this point in time due to the glory of ADnD combat but would’ve made a much better counterweight to Torment.
      Baldur’s Gate follows you, the self-insert protagonist, after your life is turned upside down when your hometown is attacked and your adoptive father murdered.
      Hometown is attacked looong after adoptive father is murdered. It’s such groundbreaking originality, how could you possibly miss that. 0/10 review[/nitpick]
      I liked that they went out of their way in the character creation to make it clear that women and men in the society are seen as equally capable; it was kind of cute to see how far back the focus on those issues goes for Bioware’s fantasy team.
      While that’s not Bioware’s doing and they deserve no particular praise for sticking to TSR canon, they certainly ran with it in the following decades.
      OTOH, DnD canon is always mutable and the original/oldschool Faerun lore goes to some deep and dark rabbit holes with that stuff on account of being made up by ultranerds of 80s.
      Even things I hated in DA:O, like the stupid random encounters that interrupt fast-travelling, got their start here and felt kind of quaint and endearing because of it.
      They were obnoxious back then too and I hated them then as much as I hate them now. Quickload 4eva. Strange thing to be forgiving about, especially for someone without actual nostalgia for BG.
      This game very much wanted to be what you wanted it to be, whether that was in allowing you to upload a customized character portrait, choosing you party members, or just making decisions that would influence the course of the story.
      A great description. Do you know just how much modding (also fanfiction) is available for BG series? I do and it’s insane. Pretty certain Elder Scrolls modding scene also owes its scope to IE games.
      You embark on his journey through a grostesque, surreal worldmultiverse
      It’s the best setting they ever made for FRPGs. It’s also the worst, so kinda evens out.
      (if you want to be angry and self-righteous, you can look up reviews and find people whining about the indignity of having to read words in their video game)
      They’re right. PST is an incredibly shitty crpg that desperately wants to be an awesomest visual novel but can’t on account of all the DnD (and 90s western gaming industry) baggage. And being served a burger when you ordered pizza is unhappying, doubly so if it’s a terrible burger. (also one reason why I despised the only Metal Gear thing I “played” cos it was a damn movie with more cutscenes than gameplay)
      and if you do get BG, make sure you get the Enhanced Edition that was rereleased on Steam and GOG — the original is so buggy as to be unplayable, as I discovered…
      I’ve never had any particularly bad bugs with originals as recent as a couple years ago. Might have something to do with still using WinXP but they didn’t cause any hiccups even with a billion mods installed. EE is only worthy of paying for convenience cos everything it has was freely available on mods.
      But by the same token, every story is unique because it has not yet been told by the person telling is now, at this time, in this way, and it’s people who understand that second part, who aren’t afraid to use the tools given to them by their own experiences of fiction, who can do really great things.
      This is what used to happen before writing was invented. Then people started to write things down to make them “official”, to preserve stuff without any distortion and canon appeared. It was also happening before literacy became a common thing and wandering minstrels/bards/actors/storytellers did their thing for the entertainment of the masses. Then recorders and cameras came about and nonwritten stuff could get “written down” too. It’s not at all surprising the same thing happens to vidyagames. History really does go round and round in circles.
      The characters were really just so compelling; Ravel was a big standout, as was Fall-from-Grace.
      As cool as those are, Dak’kon is by far the best thing to come out of PST. He singlehandedly took one of the trillions of generic random humanoid DnD races/species and gave them an identity so hard, every single githzerai since then has been Dak’kon. It’s like Drizzt all over again, except these aren’t merely mysterious and misunderstood asskickers who kick ass.
      Also Ravel is like every woman character Avellone has ever written. She’s great but the guy keeps writing the same thing over and over.
      I answered Ravel’s question with ‘regret,’ because…
      Considering what the final level is, that’s probably the intended answer of this particular story.
      That said, I was repeatedly surprised by how not-grimdark the game was, and I think the you!incarnation of the Nameless One’s response had a really hopeful beauty to it as well.
      Yes, there’s hope for Nameless One at the end. Ending on that was a good idea to keep the game from drowning in bleakness (the music helps a lot with it).
      Tho all the companions are still tormented beings doomed to suffer indefinitely, bound or not, and Lower Planes are a fundamental part of existence. Grimdark is eternal and infinite in the planes. But wallowing in that wouldn’t bring a better ending.
      Lastly, there’s Mask of the Betrayer xpac for Neverwinter Nights 2. It’s another thing you should give a go someday for best DnD storytelling, read/watch an LP if playing an even worse IE game doesn’t appeal. It also deals with identity (kinda). All the rest of NWN stuff is chaff and can be safely ignored.
      It’s neat that you’re back and hopefully you’ll keep being back.

    • From what I understand, PT novelization is just boring and doesn’t live up to its potential, while BG one is actively vile.

    • So are we all just going to ignore the fact that the post title is misspelled? I mean, Planscape? (jk I just noticed myself)

      • Act replied 2 weeks ago


        • I think maybe at this point I’m just late to the party and everyone else is too polite to say anything. 

          • Act replied 2 weeks ago

            I haven’t had a chance to proofread this so god knows what it looks like. I figure everyone’s just used to it at this point.

            • I’m always up for proofreading, fyi. I have no life.

              • Act replied 2 weeks ago

                I certainly won’t stop you — even when I do it, I’m just an awful self-proofreader and a ton of stuff slips through. The real problem is my need for instant gratification.

      • Everything’s scaping according to plan.

    • Act replied 2 weeks ago

      Well now I can’t change it.

  • This game was advertised as a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, made by the same people. Let’s see how it holds up.

    The story takes place in the far future. Millions of years have passed, great […]

    • Okay but like, just saying, Rhin is my precious daughter and I will protect her from anything. Including your criticism.
       edit: Actual thoughts time: Like you, I did like TToN the most when it wasn’t trying to be a Torment spiritual sequel. The setting of Numenera is frickin’ incredible, and the game was made by folks who are really good at that kind of worldbuilding. 
      One specific thing that I wish had been explored more were the Meres. A big deal was made about how special you were for being able to adjust the past through them, but the choices you were able to make through them tended to make little difference in the future. Maybe the devs don’t believe in butterflies, but I wanted *something*. 
      The Bloom was really nice. Sagus Cliffs was still my favorite area, though. It just had the most going on and felt the most developed. My honestly biggest gripe about the game though, was that you can’t return anywhere after you’ve left. PS:T had this in a big way, too, but like you said, it’s been 20 years and we as gamers have moved past that. There were like 4-5 quests I had end in Sagus Cliffs with blokes swearing vengeance on me and then it was like nothing happened. Let me come back and face foul consequences!

      • Rhin’s ending was kinda underwhelming. “Hey, nice to meet you again, it’s me, future Rhin! Imma gonna help you with the endgame! OK, was nice seeing you, by!” I don’t know, felt like it lacked proper closure, could be better if she were to find you (or your grave) only in the epilogue.

        Meres are indeed mostly just side reading. I actually get why you aren’t allowed to make more waves: too much to code, too many possible forks for quests. Still, expanding on it would have been nice.

        The later parts of the game are clearly less polished than the early ones, yes. The game can clearly be expanded, it’s actually pretty short for this kind of RPG as it is.

        • I mean, I consider the Future!Rhin thing as more of a bonus, really. Her real ending was getting sent home. Though I did appreciate how circular her story was. You find her in the beginning, she finds you in the end. Her first god is Ahl, a god of hiding and solitude, and the god she gives you at the end is a god of friends and finding. It just felt like a very clean narrative arc, bolstered by the fact that her character was so damn lovable. If I was ever going to do an evil run of that game, I’d need to not travel with Rhin at all basically. 

    • Well, I only played a bit of it, so I don’t really have much of an opinion yet. It seems… OK? Clearly modeled after old school games, the gameplay seem to be better than BG (mostly because BG gameplay was kinda meh to begin with).

      • Somehow I also only played a little of PoE and then haven’t returned to it. I’ll eventually finish it after replaying the shit out of Dark Souls 1-3+DLC.


    • Why is it that the only good character Patrick Rothfuss has ever written isn’t involved in his own books at all.


      Actually, that may be why.

      • Name of the Wind has some good side characters in it. The reason it flounders is because 99% of it is a skillcheck for Kvothe “Max Stats Max Skills Max Level” Kingkiller.
        When he writes a character the story isn’t supposed to revolve around and isn’t based on having max stats, he seems to do just fine. It’s a problem a lot of authors, new and old, have.

        • I don’t know, while not writing about his pet Mary Sue helps, I wasn’t exactly impressed with his side characters and can’t actually remember more than a general archetype of some of them.

          I guess a part of it could be creative boundaries. By necessety, Rhin’s screen time is heavily limited, so he was forced to think about how to deliver maximum information with minimum words, which is generally helpful in writing.

          Plus, he played in a setting not of his own, that could have provided him with a foundation he needed to get out of his set patterns and think up something creative.

          • I liked Elodin, but that might be because of all the shit he gives Kvothe giving him more brownie points than he deserves. Similarly, I liked Kvothe’s friends more than the kid himself, Devi especially, because, again, people who give Kvothe shit. 

            No, I guess you’re right. I really only remember the people who give Kvothe shit. 

  • “It’s my story, jackass. I’m not required to put in line breaks. Go fuck yourself.”

    Don’t talk to me
    1h agoDragonFoxlover
    I was reading the reviews on your stories and from what i saw you have absolutely […]

    • Reality shows are supposed to be mature and edgy. Just look at The Total Drama series and The Jersey Shore or Keeping up with the Kardashians.


      Also, someone’s writing a fic about a reality show that isn’t a satire?

  • Meh fic today. There was a semi-interesting one, but the author took it down.

    This belongs in the Anime world. Find your story under “Manage Stories” and select it from the dropdown menu that says “World: Any” […]

  • Okay, so I head through a gauntlet of trainers. The final one, right before the gate, informs me, The altar is just a little farther, so I can’t let you pass easily. Show me everything you’ve got!

    The strength […]

    • I haven’t played this game yet, but I’ve watched a fair amount of footage, and the scene where you acquire the cover legendary might be one of the most baffling writing choices I have ever seen. It just makes no sense on any level. I think Game Freak must have been so stuck on the mental model of “battling and capturing the marquee pokemon is a climactic moment” or something that they felt like they had to force it into the game even when it didn’t fit at all and ran counter to the narrative they’d constructed.

      “I want to travel with you! Not the person I’ve already been travelling with who cares about me, you, random dittochild! So despite having never shown any interest in combat prior to this point, I am going to attack you whilst you throw balls which I will struggle to escape until you render me too exhausted to do so. I really want to go with you, honest, I do!”

      And then despite it having had a “trainer” on some level (it’s clearly attached to Lillie at any rate) and a “nickname”, the game doesn’t even acknowledge that; you still name it whatever the fuck you want and it goes into the PC with you as its OT. This despite the fact that as far back as generation fucking one there is precedent for in-game trades yielding pokemon with nicknames and OTs other than you.

      It just makes no sense. Especially if we’re supposed to believe the conceit that bonds between humans and pokemon are all-important, as various games keep telling us.

      It would be so easy to fix, too. If they insist on the specific one that played a role in the story joining the player, fine, let it do so, but have it join as a gift pokemon already nicknamed Nebby with OT Lillie. There’s already a way to obtain a second one later in the game, so this isn’t the DUX problem all over again (although honestly, if it were me I’d make it breedable instead, it’s already odd for a cover legendary thanks to having multiple evolutionary stages so what’s one more quirk?).

      That said, as long as we’re rewriting, it would be even better if it stayed with Lillie (whether she became a trainer or not; I think the Pokemon series could actually benefit from having a character who is explicitly not a trainer but still has a powerful/legendary pokemon) and maybe asked the player to take care of its offspring instead.

      It seriously irritates me that there are so many obvious fixes for this nonsense and they couldn’t be bothered.

      • While it wouldn’t have been satisfying, particularly, I think it would’ve been doable if the game was willing to just let Lillie be herself and not a trainer.

        Grown-up Nebby wants to keep traveling around and try out this fun battling thing it’s heard of. Lillie is still anxious about battles and just wants to go home. She knows she can trust the player because we’re (supposed to have been) great people. And Lillie’s thing has been that she’ll do what’s best for Nebby over what’s best for her, so of course she’d give it up if she thought it’d actually be happier with someone else.

        There could even something where, if Nebby isn’t in the party, it hangs out with Lillie instead of on the island and you can visit it by visiting Lillie. If you keep it in your party you’re taking care of it like Lillie wanted and if you don’t you’re not taking it away from her.

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