19 posts in this topic

Aftermath

Aphelion

Kavela drifted through the small, self-contained world of the Frozen Moon like a ghost. Conversation was a constant murmur about her ears, but she could not quite bring herself to intrude. She hesitated, a hand going to the unmarked skin of her throat.

Nothing at all.

How was this possible?

Things had seemed eerily familiar before: Asterion running out into the dark, Asterion’s body turning up in the pavillion, and she couldn’t remember seeing Joon or Wai ZhierSen, and yet they were here all the same, their presence indubitable. She brushed past a MaiPon server, and for a moment, saw him carrying both a large metallic sword balanced on a shoulder as if it weighed no more than a feather, and a repeating crossbow in the other hand.

It felt so real.

All of it. The hunger and the thirst. The Strikers waiting for them outside, in the dark. The terror, the long, slow death. Joon pressing the strangler’s wire into her throat, leaning into the movement with practised ease. His hands had brushed past her at some point, and they were callused and Kavela could not remember when he’d acquired those calluses. They should be soft, she found herself thinking. A spoiled pretty-boy’s hands.

She could still leave now, couldn’t she?

She flung open the door and strode out into the courtyard, with the peach tree. She’d climbed it, days ago. It felt like it had been forever. The MaiPon man was there, still, scratching at the fallen leaves with his broom.

Their eyes met, and for a moment, Kavela saw him, curled up on the ground, blood oozing from a crossbow bolt that had punctured his thigh.

Could she do this? Could any of them be saved?

Impulsively, Kavela said, “Gamman’s coming. You must leave, get out of here, go somewhere safe.”

“I know,” said Shi KwaiRan.

ㄢㄋㄌ

Ableah watched as Arbiter Urskevan left, ostensibly to search for more of the Frozen Moon’s excellent buns, and waited.

No one noticed as first Marzia, then Somi, and then finally, Asterion himself, made various excuses and left after the arbiter of the Glory Faction. He felt his hands clench into fists by his side. No. He had no love for the Glory Faction, not when Arbiter Urskevan had championed mercilessly hunting Ableah Edr and his fellow scholars of the Discovery Faction down, five years ago in the Succession Riots.

Meeting Asterion again had been a shock, the sudden jolt of thin ice giving way beneath his feet. He thought they were all dead. The Strikers had left him for dead, shooting him full of crossbow bolts after he’d killed enough of them with his halberd. Discord had been a good weapon, if chatty. Ableah wondered what had happened to it now.

Without particularly appearing to do so, Ableah trailed the hidden members of the Discovery Faction, scooping up an empty platter so he looked appropriately busy.

He might have felt something, once: relief, or a sense of kinship, almost.

He owed Discovery nothing now. They had not come for him when he lay among the dead, and he would not come to heel now.

Ableah reached for the repeating crossbow hidden within his armoured jacket, and felt the cracks in his soul and mind widen, just a little.

ㄢㄋㄌ

“Surrender in the name of the Emperor!”

Joon Banyung smiled, and reached for his bowl of powdered tea. He’d asked for it to be shaken, not stirred, so there was a pleasant layer of froth at the very top of the drink. Actions and consequences, or if you preferred: action, and then reaction. It was eminently foreseeable that Gamman might lash out at those who had gathered to plot against him.

There were several questions to be asked: how Gamman had realised this, and what Gamman’s plans were, and how the Discovery Faction had been involved in the first place. When Joon had seen the recall phrase scrawled on a tiny slip of rice paper and concealed in a jar of tea leaves, he had barely believed it. Had eaten the paper, out of sheer force of habit, even as he tried to work out the situation.

It had been five years. He was certain they’d forgotten about him.

Evidently, not any more. 

Ellira shivered. She was good, Joon Banyung thought, even as she let him put his arm around her to comfort her. She was slight, but packed with wiry muscle, and he thought he felt at least three knives and a slender garotte hidden about on her. Then there was that hairpin, which was very likely poisoned. He thought he noticed that the ornamental fan tucked into her sash was a little too heavy, which pointed to steel ribbing, perhaps. Even more concealed blades.

That was part of the fun, wasn’t it? Flirting with danger. It had been five years. Joon Banyung deserved to live a little. He raised his tea bowl in an ironic salute to Gamman, and drank deep.

ㄢㄋㄌ

It began with a Striker’s shouted command in the cool night air.

Ellira shivered, allowed her expression to show fear, and blinked until her eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want to die,” she whispered, rolling her eyes inwardly as Joon whispered sweet nothings to her. She was trying to work out what she should do next. Strikers meant a picket line with crossbows, and Ellira could take a Striker in a fight but she didn’t fancy her chances against several bolts from a repeating crossbow.

Watch and report, her Master had told her.

She did not know if this was what Arbiter Raishin had in mind. For all Arbiter Raishin was of the Reform Faction and Ellira worked for him, managing one or two agents in the Reform Faction’s eyes and ears, he had started putting her out into the field more and more.

Ellira didn’t mind.

There was a sharp mind beneath the soft-spoken exterior, and for all people spoke disparagingly of Arbiter Raishin, Ellira simply laughed. They were both playing a role, and if others could not see that, then they were fools.

She did not know what game Raishin played. It did not matter to her. Last week, she’d killed a soybean merchant on his orders. The week before that, she’d infiltrated a local gang leader’s home and stolen his ledger. That kill had been hers, because it amused her. She’d forced his head down beneath the surface as they shared a heated bath with fragrant oils. There was still a whiff of jasmine on her wrists, and she had felt it, the moment he stopped thrashing about and became dead weight in the water.

He hadn’t expected her to be so strong. Most men did not, especially if you’d honed smiles and tears into weapons.

Raishin, at least, allowed her the occasional diversion. He did not brook disobedience but he enjoyed giving assets the creativity to interpret and follow his orders as he saw fit, and Ellira in turn would have chafed at a tight leash.

She wanted, so badly, to lead Joon on a merry chase. He thought she was simple, falling for pretty words and a lovely smile, but Ellira hadn’t gotten to where she was by fluttering her lashes and falling hard the moment a pretty boy turned on the charm.

Two could play at this game, but her orders were clear: watch and report.

Joon would live.

For now.

lKegAtUtxTKETd6QWlonqED4o2u7cNvF-0jlTSQfE-APCQAaPhP4MRL4d2g0r8qJT8O4aWypENeaSxeCOUQn6yE24CPLiFRIdvyqiwQS1bpQ9T1OgC5qiysAa6_HTjz8WPNBU00P

Somi ignored the jar of dream honey and focused on the third object on the shelf: a jar of dried tea leaves. The scrawled label indicated it was Duck Vomit Oolong, aged for at least ten years. Somi raised an eyebrow. “Duck Vomit?” she wondered aloud, both impressed and taken aback.

She scrabbled through the jar of tea leaves until she found a tiny slip of rice paper, which she unfolded. The message had been written in an unfamiliar hand, and displayed one or two smudges and blotches, as though the writer was not well-versed in the codes commonly employed by the agents of the Discovery Faction.

Cover away, it read. Gamman spy here, which Somi supposed meant that their cover had been blown. The writer had probably swapped the code words around on accident. Kan had made no mention of a spy, though the MaiPon who had contacted them had once worked in such a capacity for the Reform Faction.

But she trusted Kan. It was fair to say they all did. It was Shuos KanSeun who had brought the Discovery Faction to prominence during his brief tenure as arbiter. It was Shuos KanSeun who had led to that first fall from grace, the beginning of the gradual decline that had become an abrupt descent during the Succession Riots, five years ago. Even in failure, he was still the paragon; the proof that even the smallest of Factions could produce greatness.

A chance to strike at Gamman. She thought of Urskevan. Had they thrown away this chance by leaving him to die? But how could they continue as though nothing had happened while Urskevan plotted with the conspirators? 

I don’t care if we’re doing Gamman’s dirty work for him, Marzia had said, slipping a short, heavy cosh into her fist. He hunted us down like animals during the Succession Riots. I’m not keeping my head down and pretending that everything’s alright.

If Gamman had a spy here, though, that changed everything. The spy wouldn’t be able to reveal their identity, for fear of the conspirators turning on them. But Gamman had no love for the Discovery Faction. They were in danger as long as the spy lived.

“We need to find the spy,” Marzia said, now.

“We do,” agreed Somi. Asterion merely nodded. He had not spoken, since the vicious attack that had almost cost him his life, five years ago.

There were several candidates for the spy. Somi scanned the crowded room of the teahouse, letting her gaze flick from person to person without particularly focusing on any one of them. There were a few outlanders who might have been coaxed into spying for Gamman—the man who named himself Stefan Trent Isle Nathan Kilkreath was one of them. There was the arbiter, Yesterday Jones. Marzia dismissed her. “She’s an arbiter,” Marzia said. “Gamman probably learns more from what she says to her fellow arbiters than anything else. She can’t be our spy.”

There was the quiet and unremarkable Itiah, sitting at a corner of the table, nursing a cup of hot tea and ignoring the pastries. Asterion indicated him. Perhaps there was something more; some hidden depths to the man that were yet to be revealed.

Somi considered, briefly, the legendary Wai ZhierSen, who had been seen on a few tasks for the Glory Faction before she’d vanished, presumed dead, after the incident with the glitter and the syrup and the sweetbreads. There was a story there, but Asterion would not tell it to her, and so she’d had to put it all together. Yes, Wai ZhierSen fit the profile of the spy perfectly, but Somi could not see one such as her condescending to work for Gamman.

It was probably one of the others.

Wasn’t it?

“I bet it’s Kilkreath,” Joon murmured. He had slipped away from the girl, at long last, and was currently lounging insouciantly on the chair. “He just seems like the sort.”

But when eventually they ambushed Kilkreath with a cosh to the temple and searched him, they found nothing, only a hank of twine, a ball of dried noodles, and half a bottle of rice wine. If there was a spy, they had slipped through their grasp.

“We don’t have time for this,” Marzia said, at last. More bravado than deliberate course of action. “We carry on with the plan.”

Somi rubbed the carved duck lucky charm in her pocket and hoped this lapse would not come back to haunt them.

ㄢㄋㄌ

Some of the conspirators surrendered, walking shame-facedly out of the Frozen Moon, hands held high up. They were arrested by the waiting Strikers, and taken away from everyone’s sight.

The rest of the conspirators, however, argued about the next course of action. “Gamman is not known for his mercy,” Yesterday “Yes” Jones said, “And we are ill-served by giving in to him.” As an arbiter of the Heritage Faction, her words carried some measure of weight, and put some steel into the conspirators backs.

Shuos KanSeun laughed. “Of course Gamman is not known for his mercy,” he said, shaking his head. “He won the Rose Throne through cunning and subterfuge and he is terrified that the day he falls behind will be the day he is deposed by someone more ambitious. Someone like Arbiter Frava, perhaps. Or Arbiter Urskevan. It has always surprised me that Gamman let them live, when he first seized power.”

“You said Gamman needed to be stopped!” Roashina screamed back at him.

“Of course he does,” Kan said, with a raised eyebrow. “Did you really think we would get away scot-free in the process? One does not hunt a tiger and expect all the hunters to return home safe and sound. And make no mistake about that: Gamman has the soul of a tiger.”

In the end, the conspirators held firm. They would not surrender.

“In fact,” DeTess murmured, “Murdering a group of peaceful citizens, among whom are the arbiters of the Glory and Heritage—and Discovery Factions,” she added, with a reluctant nod to Kan, “Might provoke popular backlash. Even Gamman can’t risk that. He will need to wait.”

“Former arbiter, I’m afraid,” Kan said, with a graceful bow. “A pleasure, Arbiter DeTess. History has come and gone, and left me behind in its wake, I’m afraid.”

“You are not in your grave yet, Shuos,” DeTess replied. “And neither are we. We will look for opportunities and negotiate with the Strikers. To kill so many arbiters from Factions not his own would provoke an uproar within the Theatre of Address.”

ㄢㄋㄌ

Days of deprivation and hunger followed. Kavela kept hold of her orange, stolen all that while ago from the marketplace, sucking at each slice for just a trickle of sweet moisture. 

A few more broke, and surrendered. Lawrence Scholdei, arbiter of the Glory Faction, caused a stir as he surrendered and was pinned to the door of the teahouse by a flurry of crossbow bolts.

Suddenly, the Strikers weren’t so peaceful any longer.

They were ready to kill. 

The well was poisoned, and then they began to ration their water. Shuos KanSeun was nowhere to be seen. Kavela did not remark on that.

And there was Itiah, brave Itiah, crossing the picket lines to bring back water. He lay sprawled in the dust, precious water trickling out of his pocket, his eyes burned out. How he had died, Kavela could not say. She only knew he had died terribly, and wished he had said something—anything at all.

The debates about whether to surrender continued. 

Herat lay in a corner, unresponsive, her eyes glazed over and muttering on occasion. Her skin was flushed with fever, and Kavela could not bring herself to give Herat any of their precious water. She was done for, she told herself, one way or another. Woundrot was setting in, for all they’d tended to the wounds after Kan had removed the crossbow bolts lodged in Herat’s thigh.

And then Herat died, and Kavela felt a shred of guilt, deep inside. She closed Herat’s staring eyes. At least Herat was no longer suffering.

Kavela was far too tired, far too dehydrated, to cry.

ㄢㄋㄌ

Gamman arrived on the last day, clad in full war regalia. It was the infamous paranoia at work again, Kan thought, as he made certain to keep sufficiently distant from the Emperor to soothe the worries of the Strikers. 

Gamman was no coward, but he would not leave an opening for the conspirators to strike at him. And it was a clever move: the Emperor of the Eighty Suns was a striking, resplendent figure in the war regalia, and clearly meant to stand in contrast with the rest of the conspirators.

“I will be interested to hear more about how you unmasked the conspiracy,” Gamman murmured, smirking. “I am especially interested in how you came to hear of it, in the first place, General.”

Of course, he thought Kan didn’t know he’d ordered the letters sent. All the more fool, he.

“Of course, your Majesty,” Kan smiled. He had been good at it as a child, this game of keeping a straight face. Letting people think what they wanted to. “I am grateful my efforts have won your Majesty’s approval and recognition.”

Gamman nodded. “Of course,” he echoed, briskly. “Where is Commander Ki?”

The gaunt-faced Striker rapped a fist against his chest in salute. “Orders, your Majesty?”

“Flaming bolts,” Gamman said, casually. “I want this teahouse up and in flames yesterday.”

“Your Majesty!” This was Arbiter Huzin now. For all she was a staunch supporter of Gamman, it seemed that this last order was a bridge too far. Even Arbiter Raishin looked disturbed, though he said nothing. At least Kan thought he looked disturbed. It was difficult to tell, with Raishin. People often mistook a chronic lack of principle and flexibility for a chronic lack of spine, but Raishin had a finely-honed sense for where the political winds were blowing. “There are people inside!”

“I know,” Gamman smiled. “That’s the idea. Flaming bolts, Commander! I want to watch the Moon burn.”

ㄢㄋㄌ

The Strikers dipped crossbow bolts tied with rags into oil, and then set them ablaze and launched volleys of bolts. The first few hit the stones of the pathway and soon flared out completely. But a few bolts found their mark in the wooden walls of the teahouse, and then more and more struck home.

Even the countless peach trees in the courtyard were ablaze.

Gamman held his hands out to the fire, dark eyes intent, as though he could feel the warmth against his skin.

So perished a part of history, Kan thought, and was surprised at the pang in his heart. Some of the conspirators struggled out of the inferno, as walls began to collapse. Too few of them did. A slight girl, with striking green eyes.

He caught the brief flicker of recognition from Raishin, and noticed especially when Raishin concealed it in the next moment.

Gamman accepted her surrender, and had her arrested and taken away without so much as a search. There was something going on there, Kan decided. The other was a familiar face: Yesterday Jones, arbiter of the Heritage Faction.

“Tsk,” said Gamman, shaking his head sorrowfully. “Another arbiter plotting treason. Take her away,” he commanded, and the Strikers wrenched Yesterday’s hands behind her and marched her off.

“What are you going to do with them, your Majesty?” Arbiter Huzin asked, uneasily.

“Starve them for a few days,” Gamman said, easily. “They’ll have water, but not very much of it. On the fifth day, we’ll feed them, and take their surrender, and we’ll watch them carefully but let them go. They shouldn’t cause anymore trouble.”

“Your Majesty, forgive me but...people like that don’t forget,” Arbiter Huzin said, eyebrows knit together in a worried frown.

“People are animals,” Gamman said. “Put them somewhere uncomfortable for days, deny them food and water, and they grow weak. The mind answers to the body. Ideals become much less palatable when you’re dying, and once they eat, they’ll surrender. The shame will never let them conspire to remove me from power again.”

“Not everyone surrenders, your Majesty,” Arbiter Huzin felt compelled to point out. “Some people regard ideals as more important than their lives.”

“I know,” said Gamman softly, smiling. “Who do you think the people who died in that fire were?”

Kan sucked in a long, astonished breath.

“They were the ones who wouldn’t surrender, no matter what,” Gamman continued. “The ones to whom ideals mattered more than their own lives.” The flames of the burning teahouse seemed to be reflected in his eyes. “For the rest of their lives, the survivors will feel ashamed of themselves when they think of rebellion. They will tell themselves they should have died in the fire. And word of the fire will spread, and others will think twice about mobilising against the Security Act that Arbiter Huzin will pass in a few weeks.”

He turned his head slightly.

A shadow moved.

Ableah Edr leaped out of the shadow of clustered tents, cutting down with inhuman grace and speed the first two Strikers that put themselves between the Emperor and him.

And then—

ㄢㄋㄌ

Shi KwaiRan knelt on the roof of the dwelling, steadfastly ignoring the pain in his wounded thigh. He barely dared to breathe, as he watched Kan lure the Emperor every closer towards the fires of the burning Frozen Moon.

The Frozen Moon, burning down. Goodbye. Goodbye, to a chapter of his life, goodbye to Wenshon, and Kwai felt a few tears prickle in his eyes as he saw the inferno. Perhaps it was better Wenshon was dead, and Kwai would likely be dead soon.

He braced himself carefully and drew back the laminated horsebow, nocking the arrow and pulling the string back with thumb and forefinger, almost past his ear.

He breathed, lining up where Gamman would be in physical space with the target in his mind’s eye, and felt the strain as he held the horsebow steady.

He half-exhaled, and loosed.

The arrow traveled in an arc, spinning about a little as it dropped towards where Gamman would be—

ㄢㄋㄌ

Ableah would have said he wanted vengeance, but each kill splintered his world a little more, shoving more cracks through the tattered canyons of his mind.

He was breaking apart, dying in fire, by the sword, reigning over an empire of ashes and bone, and Ableah did not care.

He had hidden himself well, and chosen his moment to strike.

As he burst out from the shadows of the encampment and lunged at Gamman, two Strikers tried to stop him. He cut them down with the Shardblade, barely slowing down. Metal fared badly against Shardblades. Trading for this one had cost him dearly.

He pulled back for a swing that would ram the point of the Blade through Gamman’s throat, and—

And there was a flicker of movement.

Then the arrow took him in the eye and Ableah screamed

ㄢㄋㄌ

Kwai lowered the horsebow, stunned. 

He’d just saved Gamman’s life. What’s more, Gamman knew: their eyes met, and the Emperor inclined his head slightly, and motioned away the Strikers that were about to surge like hunting jackals in Kwai’s direction.

Unexpected. Kwai’s arms shook as he lowered the bow, as the Soul Stamp dissolved into a puff of red smoke against his skin. He had set out to assassinate another Emperor. He had not expected to save Gamman’s life by sheer accident.

Had not expected Gamman to acknowledge the gesture, and to call the Strikers off. That made them quits, didn’t it?

Wenshon would not be avenged, not today. The eye shot had been a one in a million chance. The arrow was meant to go through armour but Kwai didn’t feel like rolling the dice a second time, not against imperial war regalia.

He had lost.

He felt so tired. He unstrung the bow, coiling the string about.

Below, some distance away, the Frozen Moon continued to burn.

ㄢㄋㄌ

Raishin didn’t come for her, but there was a symbol scratched into the dirt of the tent. Three diamonds, overlapping. 

Ellira knew what was expected of her. 

She killed the Striker standing watch over her, by crying until the Striker came over to make her be quiet, and then she drove the poisoned, sharpened hairpin into the Striker’s eye and slipped away as the woman died, choking on her own blood. Pity about the hairpin, Ellira thought. 

She would have to get another.

lKegAtUtxTKETd6QWlonqED4o2u7cNvF-0jlTSQfE-APCQAaPhP4MRL4d2g0r8qJT8O4aWypENeaSxeCOUQn6yE24CPLiFRIdvyqiwQS1bpQ9T1OgC5qiysAa6_HTjz8WPNBU00P

The Frozen Moon burned to the ground that night. It was said that the dying conspirators had remained defiant to the end. No one had cried out. No one had asked for mercy.

Word of the Frozen Moon massacre spread throughout the Imperial Seat, and then the Rose Empire. It grew more and more exaggerated in the telling, until it was said that Gamman had played a flute and the bones of the dead had walked, even as the Frozen Moon, the former jewel of the Imperial Seat, had burned.

Arbiters refused to comment about the Emperor’s actions. The gathering in the Theatre of Address proved to be subdued, with Arbiter Yesterday Jones of the Heritage Faction a silent figure at the back of the room.

The Security Act was passed and approved, with little fanfare. Gamman’s grip on the reigns of power tightened ever further.

And in the cellar at the base of the Frozen Moon, which had sheltered them both from the devouring flames and the searching Strikers, three surviving agents of the Discovery Faction parted ways, for the moment.

They would return to their lives, return to hiding.

And perhaps one day, they would strike as the lightning, and their enemies would never see them coming.

ㄢㄋㄌ

“The Frozen Moon Massacre was a turning point in Gamman’s domestic policy. While Gamman had previously arrested dissidents and had rebellious arbiters killed or cowed, he had never acted so openly before. Some believe that the Frozen Moon Massacre was carefully planned and orchestrated as a way of removing Gamman’s enemies and sending a strong message to the rest of the Empire. Others argue that Gamman had no way of knowing that the Frozen Moon Massacre would not become a propaganda victory for his enemies: he simply chose to take the risk, and to test how much he could get away with. The true answer, I think, lies between both these views. Either way, the Frozen Moon Massacre was a significant step in Gamman accumulating unchallenged power as an absolute emperor.” —Shuos KanSeun, When the Rose Blooms: The Lives of the Emperors

ㄢㄋㄌ

And that's a wrap! Thanks to everyone for playing! Once again, congratulations to Team Disco [Alvron, Burnt Spaghetti, Elandera, and Arraenae] for the victory, but you have been outfoxed and hoodwinked by the Village! Bragging rights and kudos goes to the Village for a magnificent display of trolling, as STINK was not the Reform Spy! :P 

Player List

 

 


1. I think I am here (Itiah) Conspirator Vanilla (Heritage)
2. DeTess (DeTess) Conspirator Arbiter (Glory)
3. xinoehp512 (Ecnelis) Conspirator Vanilla (Glory)
4. StrikerEZ (Roashina) Conspirator Vanilla (Heritage)
5. Elandera (Marzia) Discovery Survivor (Glory)
6. Burnt Spaghetti (Somi) Discovery Vanilla (Glory)
7. Young Bard (Kavela) Conspirator Vanilla (Glory)
8. Rathmaskal (Yesterday ""Yes"" Jones) Conspirator Arbiter (Heritage)
9. Alvron (Asterion) Discovery Vanilla (Heritage)
10. Elbereth (Ellira) Reform Spy Handler (Glory)
11. STINK (STINK) Conspirator Vanilla (Heritage)
12. Butt Ad Venture (Lawrence Scholdei) Conspirator Arbiter (Glory)
13. Devotary of Spontaneity (Faitren) Conspirator Vanilla (Glory)
14. Arraenae (Joon) Discovery Embedded Operative (Glory)
15. Little Wilson (Wai ZhierSen) Reform Spy (Glory)

 

Dossier

 

Edited by Kasimir
12

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I’m dead tired and work is threatening to drown me, so this may be less coherent than usual:

  1. We were fortunate in having an extremely helpful IM, @Fifth Scholar. Much appreciation for his dealing with flailing, mistakes, and panicking, especially during the Strikergate incident of the first iteration.
     
  2. I will admit to some disappointment, although this is a QF, that both Striker Kalebane and Alvron were up for death early, just as they were in the past iteration. It is also somewhat sad that Wilson got shanked early, and this is from the perspective of returning players, rather than the issue of the Reform Spy. Getting killed early is often a point of frustration for players, particularly when they are killed repeatedly for reasons they are powerless to influence (or so they perceive.) We can do better.
     
  3. The Eliminator distribution was somewhat unusual: ultimately, we decided on a four Eliminator team. This was pushing the upper end of the safe Eliminator % boundary, at 26.6% of the player group. The mitigating factors, in our view, were as follows: first, we anticipated at least one early Eliminator casualty, due to Spy action. We therefore built the expectation that the Eliminators would be one member down from the start/early on into the team size. Second, we wanted some cover for the Embedded Operative. To this end, we knew we needed at least one Survivor in the game. We also expected the Spy to be able to mobilise a stronger voting coalition, due to the ‘ludicrous amount of arbiters.’ We did not anticipate a high arbiter mortality rate. Finally, in our view, giving the Eliminator team a Survivor rather than a fourth member had the advantage of providing them with the expected four bodies, but putting them at a vote disadvantage (they had four bodies but commanded three votes.)
     
  4. The Embedded Operative, as usual, remains tricky to balance for, and potentially swingy as a force for either side/faction. On the one hand, to some extent, the Embedded Operative should be swingy: as a role, they have the capacity to add more firepower to whichever Faction they declare for. We also deemed it more critical for Factions to be able to function in the absence of the Embedded Operative. In particular, Factions could take a variety of strategies towards the Embedded Operative: they could decide to try to enter a bidding war for the Operative, or to try to sway them to their side. They could decide to eliminate the Operative (especially as a non C3 Operative will be fragile), though this would potentially drive the Operative to Team Disco. Ultimately, I am divided about whether the C3!Disco Operative should get to know who Disco is. The lack of communication and imperfect information might help as a further check on the Operative’s abilities, by making them more cautious about killing, for fear of (un)friendly fire.
     
  5. In the first two cycles of the game, I experimented with sending players an RP prompt that could be generic, or customised to the RP they had already produced. The aim was to encourage more player activity, even in the form of a few lines of RP, and to produce more setting immersion. I later mostly abandoned it as work began to drown me, but I also think that it was in general a good idea but poorly-targeted. First, RP prompts should be around drabble-length. Second, this game has not been marketed as a RP-centric game. I think RP prompts are best integrated with games that have been indicated to have a significant amount of RP, and thus would hopefully appeal to such players.
     
  6. There is some doubt about whether 24 hour cycles are sufficient. Ultimately, as I prefer games to be more fast-paced, I think it was fine as a QF, though the Avalon format could also lend itself to 48 hour cycles. I also would tie this with how lynches turned out less useful than expected for the Village. I think the Village spent more time focusing on those who were thought to be evil, at the cost of informational lynches. As a result, when the lynch target turned out to be neither evil, nor informative, the Village was at a loss. Elandera, for instance, would have proven a good target for an informational lynch, in part because of how she became the ‘big agenda item’ of more than one cycle.
     
  7. The Reform Spy and the Assassination Cycle ended up being balanced well enough. Ultimately, I don’t think I can say much about whether the Reform Spy works well, as the Reform Spies in both iterations have had very short life expectancies. That being said, I like the Assassination Cycle solution better than the Assassination mechanic, and think it gives players both a chance to have some light-hearted fun, and to mess back with the Eliminators. It also restrains how obvious the Spy can be about identifying Eliminators, and creates a strategic trade-off on the part of the Eliminators: killing suspected Spies early removes the informational advantage the Village might enjoy, but at the cost of the Eliminators going fairly blind into an Assassination Cycle, should the game turn against them later anyway. I think the Embedded Operative is another decent check on the Reform Spy, but might consider employing more complex Avalon characters in future games, e.g. Mordred (is Evil, but is invisible to Merlin/Spy), and Morgana (is Evil but appears to be Merlin/Spy to Percival/Handler.) These might serve as better balances to the Spy and has the advantage of removing the Operative-associated considerations from game balance.

That’s about it from me. Thanks to M’Hael for being an excellent co-GM, though we were both dead tired and out of it near the end as work took a significant toll on us. Thanks for playing, guys, and hope y’all had fun! Cheers and catch you all around sometime!

Edited by Kasimir
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Elbereth was the handler. Elbereth. Wilson being spy, okay sure- good job btw and all that. But el was the handler? Wait what??? O_o that. Huh. Okay. Well then. 

 

Well that was a great game, thanks hael and kas for running this.

I had a lot of fun being evil, got to be evil with alv for longer than one cycle, which is a record! Now just need to be evil together again and both survive past cycle 2! Also love that we all forgot that we only had to outnumber village and were planning for the scenario where they all needed to be killed >> definitely read the rules i swear >>

Definitely love the assasination round. Giving village the opportunity to have a cycle where they can be trolls is awesome

Love love loved the writeups and the rp that came out of this game. Even though being a qf doing a lot of rp was a bit challenging, this game as a whole and the people in it and all the rp kinda felt like being back at home in the eaarly days. Though also it blew my mind at one point when i realised Elandera had never played with Wilson before and that people existed who hadn't played with the players i played with when i was still a kid in school and now im like. Woah. Im an old player. And old player still terrified of voting in thread and being vocal :P

 

Anyways i need sleep as usual so if i remember thouhts theyll come but  yeah

Twas a fun week. I wanna go again can we have a part c lol

 

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17 minutes ago, Burnt Spaghetti said:

Twas a fun week. I wanna go again can we have a part c lol

Only if Striker Kalebane, Gamebreaker, Terror of GMs, the Shield of the Lynch doesn't play :ph34r: j/k

You want a part c? cries in 11 reports and 3 presentations and 1 folder of logistics assignments >>

Actually, I do have a third game planned - this was always meant to be a loose trilogy of TES SE games. Which made plot beats a bit easy, as Gamman was always meant to reach Maximum Despot/Authoritarian status (or appear to be reaching it) here, before the actual wrap-up game. It won't be Avalon mechanics though, I'm toying with something involving faction swapping (i.e. swapping powers) though not wincons. I've learned my lesson from MR7 :ph34r:

Since I'm a stickler for tradition, and this game took place 4-5 RL years after MR7, stay tuned for the LG to come in about 4-5 years! :P j/k

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Thanks Kas for running this game! I had a lot of fun with it. I really liked the Reform Spy mechanic, and hope it gets used again sometime.

Congratulations to the discovery team on their victory - I think the village was slightly unlucky with the Reform Spy dying early (and two of the Arbiters), but at least it had done something.

And I hope I'll be around whenever Kas chooses to run Part 3, anyway - I wouldn't want to miss it, because it ought to be a very interesting end to a very interesting series of games. :P

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Good to see that I had everyone convinced I was village even after I flipped. :D

I'll be honest, part of the reason why I did it was also because I'd spent so long setting Joon up as the most incompetent buffoon ever. It was just too tempting. Y'all can blame El for that, with all the comments she made about Joon.

I let my playstyle change so drastically on the last cycle because Elandera's name was bandied around so much, and I didn't know she had an extra life, so I didn't want the lynch to hit her and thought that I might be able to draw aggro by acting different. Not that anybody seemed to notice...

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26 minutes ago, Kasimir said:

Only if Striker Kalebane, Gamebreaker, Terror of GMs, the Shield of the Lynch doesn't play :ph34r: j/k

You want a part c? cries in 11 reports and 3 presentations and 1 folder of logistics assignments >>

:ph34r::ph34r::ph34r::ph34r::ph34r:
I’ll definitely be playing the next game. The question is whether or not I’ll have mercy on you. :P

Anyway, despite how early I got lynched in part b and how stupid I was in part a, this game was pretty fun. The RP was all really great, the mechanics were really fun, and it was great talking with Wilson and everyone else in the village dead doc. Honestly, I’m kinda glad I broke the first run of the game. Not only did that let Rae and Wilson join in, both of which were amazing in this game, but I also got a pretty great title out of it. :P

@Kasimir @Haelbarde Thank you so much for running this game!

@Arraenae I definitely didn’t realize you were the EO. You played really well! Also, I still can’t get over how good your RP was. You too, @Elbereth If there was one thing I’d change, it’d be making a character I could RP better.

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1 hour ago, StrikerEZ said:

If there was one thing I’d change, it’d be making a character I could RP better.

For me, what helps in creating an RP character here is finding some quirk or other noticeable thing that I can stick to for most of the game. This type of thing helps your character stand out across the dozens of posts per cycle. It's harder to plan for character arcs when you can die at any moment, though sometimes it's still worth a shot. Good examples of this were Asterion's PTSD and Zhier's glitter thing. Then to make them feel more like a person, throw in a few other traits.

Making your character interaction-friendly can also help a lot. If your character will react to things in fun ways, then others will want to interact with things. I played a lot off of dramatic irony with Joon's interest in Ellira, and a layer of irony on top of that with Joon being the EO despite acting so clueless and out of place. If you can pull something like that, it tends to increase reader enjoyment a lot.

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1 minute ago, Arraenae said:

For me, what helps in creating an RP character here is finding some quirk or other noticeable thing that I can stick to for most of the game. This type of thing helps your character stand out across the dozens of posts per cycle. It's harder to plan for character arcs when you can die at any moment, though sometimes it's still worth a shot. Good examples of this were Asterion's PTSD and Zhier's glitter thing. Then to make them feel more like a person, throw in a few other traits.

Making your character interaction-friendly can also help a lot. If your character will react to things in fun ways, then others will want to interact with things. I played a lot off of dramatic irony with Joon's interest in Ellira, and a layer of irony on top of that with Joon being the EO despite acting so clueless and out of place. If you can pull something like that, it tends to increase reader enjoyment a lot.

I do need to figure out little things that make a character who they are. I’ll admit that I never did spend time trying to figure out who Roashina was, and I only had enough time to do analysis when I was able to get on and post. I’m gonna try harder to RP in the next games I play in. 

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3 minutes ago, Arraenae said:

For me, what helps in creating an RP character here is finding some quirk or other noticeable thing that I can stick to for most of the game. This type of thing helps your character stand out across the dozens of posts per cycle. It's harder to plan for character arcs when you can die at any moment, though sometimes it's still worth a shot. Good examples of this were Asterion's PTSD and Zhier's glitter thing. Then to make them feel more like a person, throw in a few other traits.

Making your character interaction-friendly can also help a lot. If your character will react to things in fun ways, then others will want to interact with things. I played a lot off of dramatic irony with Joon's interest in Ellira, and a layer of irony on top of that with Joon being the EO despite acting so clueless and out of place. If you can pull something like that, it tends to increase reader enjoyment a lot.

You have no idea how much pain this brings me in the form of LG15b flashbacks :P I had a full character arc planned out for Sonder! And then I got iced in the first? second? cycle (probably second, since it's me) and then I was so furious it never got to see the light >>

I can also attest to the fact it definitely increased my enjoyment as the GM reading the RPs :P Fun characters all around, but Joon and Ellira did stand out for me!

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4 minutes ago, Kasimir said:

You have no idea how much pain this brings me in the form of LG15b flashbacks :P I had a full character arc planned out for Sonder! And then I got iced in the first? second? cycle (probably second, since it's me) and then I was so furious it never got to see the light >>

...after all this time? Even four years later?

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2 minutes ago, Arraenae said:

...after all this time? Even four years later?

:ph34r:

:ph34r:

Always.

Edited by Kasimir
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7 minutes ago, Kasimir said:

:ph34r:

:ph34r:

Always.

At this point I can't even tell if the reference is intentional or not.

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24 minutes ago, Arraenae said:

At this point I can't even tell if the reference is intentional or not.

I promise that although the text beneath my avatar says "Most Ancient", I am conversant in Harry Potter memes and quotes :P 

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4 hours ago, Burnt Spaghetti said:

Elbereth was the handler. Elbereth. Wilson being spy, okay sure- good job btw and all that. But el was the handler? Wait what??? O_o that. Huh. Okay. Well then. 

That was also Wilson’s reaction. :P Yeah, so you know the post you made about Wilson not being the spy because she wouldn’t have called out two elims in one post? This was also my reasoning. >> Which is why I continued to think Elandera was village the entire time (although, had the game gone on past when it did, I’m reasonably sure I would’ve changed my mind and pegged Rae/Elandera as a team). 

3 hours ago, StrikerEZ said:

 

@Arraenae I definitely didn’t realize you were the EO. You played really well! Also, I still can’t get over how good your RP was. You too, @Elbereth If there was one thing I’d change, it’d be making a character I could RP better.

Join my MR! It’ll go up next week sometime, will be LotR themed, and heavily RP focused! :D 

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22 minutes ago, Elbereth said:

Join my MR! It’ll go up next week sometime, will be LotR themed, and heavily RP focused! :D 

I mean, I would...but I’ve never read or watched LotR, so I don’t know if I’d enjoy it. :P

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8 minutes ago, StrikerEZ said:

I mean, I would...but I’ve never read or watched LotR, so I don’t know if I’d enjoy it. :P

:o...

Great job Wilson. I dismissed you as spy because it seemed too obvious. You did a great job playing us with the mind game. 

Kas, Hael, thanks for the game! It was a load of fun as an elim.

Thanks, El, for your support. :P 

Burnt and Alv, it was awesome working with both of you. And Rae, glad you joined our side! 

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4 hours ago, Kasimir said:

You have no idea how much pain this brings me in the form of LG15b flashbacks :P I had a full character arc planned out for Sonder! And then I got iced in the first? second? cycle (probably second, since it's me) and then I was so furious it never got to see the light >>

I've once had something close to the opposite in a recent AG, with a character arc that I realized would work best if I ended up getting killed around C4 or so-ish, and then the game went long and the elims only killed me in the second-to-last cycle or so :D. By that time I'd also gotten busy enough that I didn't have time to ready my own death write-up, but the Gm ( I think it was Elbereth?), had picked up on where I'd intended to go and finished it beautifully anyway.

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19 hours ago, DeTess said:

I've once had something close to the opposite in a recent AG, with a character arc that I realized would work best if I ended up getting killed around C4 or so-ish, and then the game went long and the elims only killed me in the second-to-last cycle or so :D. By that time I'd also gotten busy enough that I didn't have time to ready my own death write-up, but the Gm ( I think it was Elbereth?), had picked up on where I'd intended to go and finished it beautifully anyway.

Okay, that's pretty excellent. Glad it ended well! :D 

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