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Pagerunner last won the day on June 8 2020

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About Pagerunner

  • Birthday 04/29/1990

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    Searching for the Mask of Investiture
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    I've read a fair amount of Fantasy: Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, 1/2 of A Song of Ice and Fire. These days, I don't have time for much more than Cosmere.

    I'm also big into Sci-Fi. I used to be crazy for the Star Wars EU, but recent events have hit me hard.

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  1. Where did he say that about Mythos? I'm not seeing anything like that in Arcanum.
  2. We don't know much more than the name. It's a planet that was mentioned in The Lost Metal, and then it came up in the past two States of the Sanderson.
  3. I'm guessing this was cheekily mentioned in the State of the Sanderson: My first thought was that it was the Grand Apparatus story, since he mentioned it unprompted a few times. But as I'm looking through the Backerkit campaign page, I notice that the new secret project is referred to as a "mythic worldhopper adventure." So now I'm wondering if that particular word choice is indicating the story on Mythos.
  4. This year's State of the Sanderson is up, for those who haven't seen it yet: https://www.brandonsanderson.com/state-of-the-sanderson-2023/ A lot of stuff in there about the Kickstarter and future Kickstarters and collaborations and such. But there's also some pretty concrete plans about future books coming in the Cosmere (with Dan's series and Isaac's book thrown in there somewhere): December 2024: Wind and Truth Spring 2025: Skyward Legacy One(?) December 2025: White Sand Novel/Dark One(?) Spring 2026: Skyward Legacy Two(?) December 2026: Skyward Legacy Three(?) December 2026: Horneater(?) December 2028: TBD December 2028: Ghostbloods 1 Summer 2029: Elantris 2 December 2029: Ghostbloods 2 Summer 2030: Elantris 3 December 2030: Ghostbloods 3 (Granted, these have never been accurate beyond, like, two years. So we'll see how far these slip back as Brandon decides to write unplanned stuff. Also, I think the December 2028 TBD is supposed to be for December 2027, the convention release.) If Brandon can successfully hold off on publishing any major books for four years, he'll have that backlog he talked about in his early career, where he doesn't have to rush to finish a book to get it out. He'll be able to knock out a whole Stormlight book for 2031 at this rate, and he'll be pretty easily able to keep his yearly December tentpole release. It'll just take a bit of a reset here. And, truth be told... I'm ready for a break from new Cosmere material. I think there's a lot of stuff in Rhythm of War I still didn't get a chance to unpack fully, with regards to the realmatic theory introduced. A nice long break from new books will cool off some of the hype, maybe knock signing lines down to a manageable level (perhaps everybody can get a turn at Dragonsteel 2027?). Or maybe I can catch him at another convention again. I'm also looking forward to doing a nice, slow reread, take a lot of notes and such, without worrying about having to start over with a new book. I won't mind the fandom cooling down a bit. And, hey, then we've got the look to the future. Series that are mentioned, but aren't even on the projected release schedule (not even counting the Mistborn Era Four grand finale): Nightblood The Night Brigade Dragonsteel The Silence Divine The Grand Apparatus Mythos the Aether World book series I would honestly not be surprised if one of those slipped in as the 2027 release. If Brandon gets a little bit ahead on the others, he can squeeze something in and push it through editorial and publishing while he sits on the others. But, man, when is he gonna find time to write most of these? Even Nightblood, which is such a layup for "write a book when I find time to squeeze one in," can't even get on the schedule. He'll have, like, eight break slots for the back half of Stormlight (if he writes two books between each Stormlight book, which he's kept up with for the past few years), so that could cover everything if the Aethers only get a trilogy and Mythos and Grand Apparatus are standalones. That'd actually be a pretty neat way of doing it: 2031: Nightblood 2032: Stormlight 6 2033: Aether 1 2034: Silence Divine 2035: Stormlight 7 2036: Aether 2 2037: Night Brigade 2038: Stormlight 8 2039: Aether 3 2040: Mythos 2041: Stormlight 9 2042: Aether 4 2043: Stormlight 10 2044: Grand Apparatus 2045: Dragonsteel 1 2046: Dragonsteel 2 2047: Dragonsteel 3 2048: Mistborn Finale 1 2049: Mistborn Finale 2 2050: Mistborn Finale 3 2051: Rithmatist 2 Which would put Brandon at 75 years old when he finishes. Which is actually a few years ahead of projection I made four years ago, where I was assuming Brandon would consistently be cooling down with YA trilogies like Reckoners and Skyward. If he wants to focus on Cosmere and offload non-Cosmere as collaborations, then all those trilogies turn into these bonus Cosmere books. Which, honestly, I would be pretty thrilled with. Maybe I'll revisit that publication timeline chart after SA5, when I've got more time.
  5. Sundays aren't great for book releases, but I managed to make it through it without staying up too late. The thrust of the main story itself seems pretty straightforward, but a few thoughts to get out of my head real quick: I was able to pick up Sigzil's Skybreaker past pretty early in the book. (He described Auxiliary as "gravitation and interaxial force," and I was like, "that sounds like Division.") Definitely some interesting things going on on Roshar. My impression was that he didn't bond his highspren until after he took up his Dawnshard (something about "choosing to bond" Auxiliary had consequences), but I'd need to take a closer look at the text to try and confirm that. After getting some info on Sigzil's Torment, I'm still leaning towards his Dawnshard being the one from Rysn. She describes it as "The will of a god to remake things, to demand they be better. The power to change." And Sig says that his is diametrically opposed to violence, i.e. unmaking and causing things to become worse. Zellion's new Connection situation is something very interesting. I'm wondering if he will leave behind a Threnodite Shade now, if his Oath to the Canticlites (or whatever that particular band of Threnodites goes by) was able to draw a small piece from their unreleased Shades to make one of his own. The cosmology of Canticle is still a bit of an open mystery. It seems like the Threnodites chose this planet because of its sunlight-racing situation... but why is it like that in the first place? The obvious question is: which Shard is the Investiture cycle from? I think we can get a clue from the compelled behavior of the Charred to fight each other; it reminds me of some of the descriptions of Autonomy from The Lost Metal. The stars in the Taldain system both give off Investiture through light, so I'm guessing this is a similar setup. (If I really want to go out on a limb, I'd call this avatar the "Sunlight Man.") Why mountains form in the same place every rotation also bugs me. It makes me think there's a terraforming process going on, very slowly and inefficiently (perhaps broken?), and every iteration the world is getting closer to a final version. Either that, or it's attempting to remake the original version of the world. (More on that later.) There's also the rings. They don't really do anything for the plot of this story, other than reflect sunlight so there's some light, but I don't think that's really necessary since just regular starlight during nighttime would probably serve well enough. So why did Brandon add them in? I think they're mass that belongs to the planet, I just can't decide which direction it's going. Is the terraforming drawing from the mass of the rings, and they're going to decline as the planet continues to be formed? Or is the planet ejecting mass (as was described in the mountain during the final sequence) and that's forming the ring? I'm leaning towards the latter, that the rings are splattered from the violent reaction at the surface of the planet. So, what's in the core, then? I'm worried the description of Threnody's Evil as "mountain-sized manifestations" hints at some Lovecraftian monstrosities running around the cosmere, one of which might be underneath Canticle. Hopefully we don't have an Eldrazi in there. But the Selish system essay also comes to mind, of how the land itself was developing sentience. I feel confident we haven't seen the last of Canticle. Zellion's last Skip. A watery world with Sho Del? Did he skip to UTol? We finally get introduced to the Night Brigade. They want a Dawnshard... but why? In the postscript, Brandon mentions an "ongoing conflict of a nature that might be too spoilerific to mention here." That has me very intrigued. This book mentions an arms race on all the major planets, and the Dawnshards are sought as superweapons... but what's the goal? I'm hoping we only have to wait a year to find out some of this stuff... maybe Stormlight Five kicks the door open. That's all that sticks in my mind for now. Maybe I'll have some more after sleeping on it, or if I can find some time for a quick reread once the physical book gets here.
  6. What update are you referring to? I'm looking at the schedule (https://tabletop.events/conventions/dragonsteel-2023/pages/programming-at-a-glance), and I don't see the panels you're referring to. In the past two years, the only panels that Brandon has been on (and, thus, the only panels that provided new information) were the spoiler Q&A and the release event itself. The main event gets livestreamed; the spoiler panel has been recorded by Dragonsteel in the past, but I know it never got posted on YouTube last year, so typically somebody will sneak a recording device into the room just in case.
  7. I'm guessing you'll get two at character creation, and then there will be a talent tree where you can take more forms (at the expense of, say, progressing along your Ideals).
  8. It's a short story in the tone of the Cosmere secret projects. It's in continuity with a few other pieces of Cosmere fanfiction I've written, called Apocrypha Unbounded; the links are in my signature for the other stuff I've posted. But the references are slight, and this story stands on its own.
  9. Another character sheet showed up. https://twitter.com/CHofferCBus/status/1687192372847722496/photo/1 A Skybreaker character shows the Second Ideal granting 2 ranks in Gravitation, and an ability that, when using Stormlight Healing, you can spend 1 Investiture to make a recovery test instead of healing an injury. (The recovery test doesn't count against the one you can make per encounter.) Similar to the Stoneward's healing, but not quite. What is a recovery test? I think this will be something pulled from Genesys. At the end of an encounter in Genesys, you can roll a type of easy skill check to recover strain (which are like mental hit points; stun damage targets strain, a lot of your abilities have a strain cost, etc). So you'll be rolling a d20 at the end of an encounter to recover hit points. (Probably not one-to-one, but it's possible. Depends if you get a lot of hit points as you level up, or if you keep a similar hp total and just gain better defensive abilities.) Stormlight Healing lets you spend Investiture in the middle of combat to heal in a similar fashion.
  10. I forgot how much fun this one was. The concept, a witch hunt about someone who can read, was always on my list of stories to do for Apocrypha Unbounded, but the Year of Sanderson really inspired the particular Hoid-like voice for this story. I’m very pleased with how it turned out, both the storyteller tone and the specific parallels between magic and reading in the arguments. But man, I do not envy Brandon for trying to write a full book or series in this style. The layers of narration was quite tricky; a narrator telling a story about telling stories… I probably did some quotation marks wrong in there, somewhere. To answer the anticipated lore questions: Yes, you can figure out who the narrator is speaking to if you’ve read my other Apocrypha Unbounded stories. Yes, that magic at the end is Shadesmar Allomancy. No, the Selish runestone at the end is not from any canon magic system. There’s so much we still don’t know about Hoid and his motivations, do you really think I have the balls to use him as a main character for a story? In terms of future Apocrypha Unbounded stories, I do have another one on-deck, and it’s the one I had written in 2020 but keep pushing back. I went back for a polish, and I really didn’t like it as much as I remembered. I’ve grown a bit as writer since I first wrote it, and it’s also sort of experimental in a few areas (cool concept, still), so it might need a little more work to get ready. I might have it out in August or September. I didn’t make a lot of progress on story #5, unfortunately, because I’ve been doing a lot of work on a D&D campaign I DM. But I think that’s at a point where I’ve front-loaded enough of the outlining and worldbuilding, so it will eat up a little bit less of my time going forward. I’d like to get that written before the end of the year. (That D&D campaign will almost certainly not involve a new class based on Selish runestone magic. But that's neither here nor there.)
  11. The Magic of Reading It does not shame me in the slightest to admit that, over my many years traveling the cosmere, I have often found myself in courtrooms. While ignoring the laws of nature can be a trivial matter with the right type of Investiture, it seem to me that laws of humankind (and every other -kind you can find muddling about on various planets) have decided to take up the slack left by their lackadaisical cousins. Indeed, I’ve run afoul of anti-trespassing ordinances, interplanetary merchandising enforcement, archeological preservation statutes, defamatory speech principles, and I’ve even been arrested for having too many arms! Of course, these do not reflect any lack of personal or professional character on my part; no, I would argue that those are indictments of the laws themselves. As a dear friend of mine used to say, the persons you should trust the least are the ones who have never been accused of a crime. Such an incredible feat is only possible through an extensive campaign of deception, so don’t believe a word that such people say to you. I, on the other hand, have been repeatedly and incessantly found both guilty and innocent of various legal transgressions, and I take pride in every verdict I have earned. But the tale I’m about to recount for you, I do so with great trepidation and unease. For though I was no stranger to standing in front of a judge or a jury, on this disgraceful day, I was not the one on trial. No. I am going to tell you about the day I was a lawyer. Please, please, refrain from your hisses and jeers. There will be time aplenty for those at the end; you can be efficient in your expressions of disapproval and save it all for that one perfect moment of scorn. But, yes, though I am loathe to admit it, I have indeed stood in a courtroom as a lawyer. I was young, naïve, and careless; go ahead, tell me that none of you have any regrets for your past indiscretions. We’re all deeply ashamed of something we’ve done. (And some of you, honestly, could stand to be little more so.) What drove me to this madness, you ask? It’s a fair question; and, like most questions, it involved a new friend of mine. A young man who had found himself on an adventure; my adventure, to be specific, and through no fault of his own he had been quite caught up in my quest. I won’t lie, he was a great aid to me, and I wouldn’t have accomplished my goal without him. Which is why I felt sympathetic when the leaders of his village decided to put him on trial, when the only crime he had done was helping me. That wasn’t the charge against him, though. Formally, he had been accused of reading. Yes, you heard me right. Reading. No, not Fortune telling; not breaking into some unholy vault and unearthing forbidden secrets. You see, on this planet, they considered the very acts of reading and writing to be abominations, and anyone who dared to train themselves in these arcane skills would be stricken from civilization, forced out into the wilderness to become a hermit. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? You may expect that the literate outcasts would gather together and form a much nicer village, one that would quickly become a more attractive place to live than the intentionally ignorant hovels. But, as it happens, the sort of individuals who teach themselves to read and write tend to be… well, how shall I put it? They aren’t inclined towards farming, or lumberjacking, or really any of those pesky varieties of physical labor that are so useful to staying alive on an underdeveloped Class Two minor shardworld. Indeed, the most common question asked by philosophers is “why am I hungry?” Thus, any who dared out seek this knowledge kept it secret from their neighbors and families, leaving the vast majority of the population content in their illiteracy. This made for quite the peculiar experience when I visited this planet, Connected to it, and promptly forgot how to read. And this is where my new friend Geffrey came in. (Don’t ask me how to spell his name; understandably, he wasn’t too clear on the specifics of it, himself.) He was one of those rare intellectuals, self-taught by slinking away at night to the various ruins that dotted his countryside. Without my own ability to read, I was forced to borrow his. But as we were about my business, a nosy child spies on us, and when the elders of his village found out, he was dragged before the assembly of the entire town. I felt partially responsible for his predicament. (Probably because it was entirely my fault.) In a rare moment of magnanimity, I offered to argue on his behalf. And that’s how I, a storyteller converted into a lawyer, found myself in a tavern that had been converted to a courthouse, standing aside a scholar who had been converted into a criminal. “Ladies and gentlemen,” I began my defense, facing a crowded room that I suspected contained both, “we are not here today to seek out the truth. We all know that Geoffrey here has taught himself to read and write; I will not insult your intelligence by denying it.” I had a myriad of other ways to do that. “No, the burden of proof I lay upon you is this: why is it forbidden at all? Any penal sentence is only as just as the legal code it derives from, so today, I ask you to justify the prohibition on literacy.” This is not a tactic I would recommend you employ the next time you’re accused of a crime. If you’re lucky, they’ll laugh at you, accept your admission of guilt, and move on to the next case. If you’re unlucky, they’ll still find you guilty, but then they’ll insist on throwing you into a sequence of appeals, which is really just an excuse for lawyers to keep you around longer so they can take more of your money. But on this planet, since they didn’t write down their laws in any sort of book, I recognized that we could take the opportunity to relitigate any statute. It would take every shred of my imagination and charisma, but I knew I could convince this group of low-life hillbillies that reading and writing were valuable, not dishonorable. The first representative of the prosecution was an old man, the oldest in the village. I believe that made him in charge, and though I considered revealing my age to impress him, I decided against it. They wouldn’t have believed me anyways. Unlike mine, this man’s voice was slow and crackly, as if it had a hard limit on the number of words it could say and was wearing down as it reached the end of its lifecycle. “I can’t read or write,” he began. “I’m proud of it! We all are!” The townsfolk gathered around him murmured their approval, emboldening him in his ignorance. “And you know who else couldn’t read? My father! And his father before him!” The old man pointed at my young friend, quite rudely. “What Geffry here does, it ain’t natural! Words are meant to be said and heard, not scratched and seen! ‘Nobody needs to teach a baby to speak; it’ll learn that all on its own, because that’s how Adonalsium intended it.’” He punctuated each of those last words with a wag of his finger; so tired and cliché. He was obviously reciting an oral tradition, since I could see some members of the crowd mouthing along. That was a good sign; if they were set in their established rhetoric, I should be able to throw them off balance with something unexpected. “Not natural, you say?” I considered stripping and revealing my natural form to them, but decided to save it for later, in case I could get a bigger impact from it. Once you get naked, it really ruins the effect if you have to hurriedly dress just to expose yourself a second time. “We’re standing in a building constructed with dead trees, a place where men drink spoiled beverages out of burnt clay vessels in order to shut off their own brains for a time. We thrive on the unnatural!” My audience was frowning, trying to determine if I had insulted them or not with that statement. I was forced to pivot my tactics over to something much more familiar. “Let me tell you a story. This is a tale about a little green frog.” Yes, I figured that would catch your attention. The townsfolk there liked it, too. “She lived a good life, for a frog. She spent her days hopping between lily pads, eating flies, searching for a nice boy frog that her parents would approve of, and all the other typical frog activities. “But even a frog’s life can be fraught with peril. So many predators considered her to be a tasty treat; she was constantly hounded by snakes and fish and birds and even the occasional human. Now, I’m sure the lovely women of this town will admit that they enjoy a little masculine attention now and again, the thrill of the pursuit, but what can you do when that affection becomes hostile? Our poor little frog found herself with no choice but to hide in a hollowed-out log all day, wasting away, because the world around her was too dangerous. “But that world itself soon began to change. A foolish traveler, visiting her pond, accidentally let some frogs of his own escape their cage. The Scarlet Empress variety, they’re called; named for the color of their skin, they are a tremendously invasive species. They secrete a poison from their skin, very toxic, often fatal. The place the frogs come from, there are some species that have adapted to it, becoming immune to their poison. But not in the place this story happened. “As the Scarlet Empress frogs propagated, swarming around the pond, all the predators began to eat them, instead. Well, they tried to, at least; after snakes began to curl up and die, and fish began to float to the surface, and humans began to vomit blood, they all quickly realized that the red frogs did not make good food. Only the green frogs were acceptable to their stomachs. “And that’s when our little amphibian heroine saw her opportunity. By the side of the pond, there were red berries; in the dead of night, she sneaked out, squashed them under her tiny frog feet, and spread them across her back. When daylight returned and the predators began to prowl, they saw her red skin and left her alone. Like a child who burned his hand on a hot stove, they had learned what was dangerous. “But though this one green frog had saved herself, the rest of her family and friends and neighbors were still in peril. Not only were they still being hunted, but now the red frogs were stealing their food and their homes! So our intrepid little scientist shared the secret with all the other frogs she knew. Some ignored her, and over the passing weeks, they were all scooped up and eaten as they searched for food. But many listened to her. (Including one very shy boy frog who wouldn’t have ever talked to her if their lives hadn’t been in peril, because every story can use a happy ending.) And now, at the pond where the green frogs live, you cannot find a green frog at all. Because now, they all paint themselves to look like the red frogs. “Listen closely, because you are all frogs. The world is changing all around you; what was unnatural yesterday becomes natural tomorrow. But right here, today, you find yourself at the transition point. Adapt, or perish. One day, I guarantee that everyone will read and write. So don’t punish poor Jefferey here for looking to the future, for embracing life!” By this point in the tale, I was orating from atop a table, as I often do. I tell people it’s for dramatic flair or so that I can be heard better by everyone in the room, but the truth is that I have a pathological need to stand on furniture. I’ll take any opportunity, no matter how slight. But regardless of my motives, the vantage point gave me an excellent view of the assembled townsfolk, and I could tell that they were struggling with my story. There’s a fine distinction between a warning and a threat, and both of them will tend to put the listener on the defensive. Nobody likes to be admonished that their way of life is old and useless, and that it will ultimately lead to their demise if they persist in it. A young man chose to meet my challenge. He had probably left his parents’ home less than a year before, I guessed, still flush with naivety and enthusiasm for life. He had been raised “right” (at least by the standards of his mother and father, eminently qualified individuals they must be), so he had been taught what to say and wasn’t afraid to confront someone like me with The Truth. “Reading’s not gonna save anybody. We all know it’s a waste of time, anyways!” he shouted at me. “Let me tell you, I just started working on old man McGinith’s farm, and in the six months I’ve been there, I haven’t seen a single thing that being able to read could have helped me with.” He looked around the room quickly, making sure he was getting approving nods. For all his bluster and false confidence, he needed affirmation of his script. A large woman I assumed was his mother raised her fist in a silent cheer, and he turned back to me, emboldened. “This week, I built a fence. I used my own two hands. Writing about how to build a fence wouldn’t keep the sheep in their pen. Last week, I inspected the crops, looking for any disease or infestation on the cornstalks. And guess what? I found something, eggs laid by pests, and we were able to clean it up and protect the field. Reading about beetles doesn’t keep the beetles away!” It never ceases to amaze me how the small-minded can reduce the entire world to the scope of their own life. He didn’t see any reason to read or write, so of course nobody else could possibly live a different experience than he did. He limited his own knowledge to become the foremost expert in his field (quite literally in this case), swelling his head with unearned confidence that is normally only allotted to those who graduate from the most prestigious universities. He needed a story to put him in his place. And so I stepped down from my perch on the furniture, wrapped my arm around his shoulders companionably, and began. “You’re clearly a hard-working, intelligent young man. That farmer is very lucky to have you working for him. And, you know what? You remind me of a boy in another story I know! He was diligent and enthusiastic, too, but he didn’t limit himself to just one employer. No, this young man, the son of the town’s mayor, liked to help every single person in his village!” I had been holding on to my opponent long enough to make both of us uncomfortable, so I spun away into the crowd, seeking a new victim. Old man McGinith, or somebody who very well could be him: a sunburnt, middle-aged man with the mud-stained clothes that reveal a familiarity with the kind of manual labor I avoid. I rested my hand on his back, trying and failing to find a clean patch on his shirt. “In the morning, the boy would leave town and go out to a nearby farm, whichever one he heard was short on helping hands. He’d feed the chickens and the pigs, or perhaps he’d dig holes for fenceposts, or maybe even watch the farm’s young children and keep them from running underfoot.” Who to accost next? Ah, yes, I could identify my next target by the smell. A tall, thin woman who reeked of the river. I ran up to her, and took her hand gingerly, so as to minimize the chance of her unpleasant perfume carrying over onto me. “At lunchtime, he would head down to help the fishermen prepare their catch and sell it at the market. He would carry the dripping baskets, loaded down with the day’s wares, into town. And his hands were swift and sure with his knife, cleaning and preparing the fish for the market.” These sorts of illustrations are always best in groups of three, but the third figure I had identified was not the sort I liked to touch. A large, glowering soldier, sporting a worn and scratched leather jerkin. I would be better off keeping my hands to myself for this part of the tale. “In the afternoon, the boy joined the town’s guards, patrolling the outskirts. With his keen eyes, he helped spot bandits and raiders, which the guards could quickly drive away. Oh, yes, everybody in the town loved the mayor’s son.” I completed my circuit of the tavern, bringing me back to Jeferey’s side. “And every evening, when the day’s work was completed, this boy would gather with his friends in the attic of his house. And they would tell stories. Fabulous, fantastic stories, feats of ingenuity. They would keep themselves up until the late hours of the night, entertaining one another with their fables, before returning home.” “His other friends began to share these stories with their families and neighbors, but the imagination of children is often foolishly outgrown by the older and wiser. Life in their village wasn’t frivolous and carefree, and all the boys and girls needed to learn to behave a little more seriously. Or so the admonitions went. “The next day, when the mayor’s son went out to a farm, the man of the house didn’t ask him to perform any chores. Instead, he took the boy on a long walk through the woods, showing him the acres and acres of untamed woodland that surrounded his homestead. If the town was going to grow, the next generation would need to be hardy, practical men and women who could venture out into the wilderness and bring it to heel like a dog. The farmer wanted the boy to focus on what was in front of him, the task at hand, rather than invent fanciful challenges in his head. “And when the boy went to help the fishermen, the head of the guild pulled him aside, as well. While the rest went to the town, she instructed him in the different types of fish, the seasons they would appear and disappear, the times of day the fish were the most active, the fishing techniques that would be most effective. A wealth of knowledge, poured out into his head. He was a bright child, though, and he was able to retain most of what he was taught. But why did the fisherwoman do it? She wanted his mental energy focused on something pragmatic, not wasted on fictions. “And after lunch, when the boy went to join the guards on their patrol, they too altered their typical schedule. Instead of patrolling, they took the boy to a secluded clearing, gave him a practice sword, and that afternoon was filled with sparring exercises. The soldiers reasoned that, since he had enough energy to stay up all night blathering on with his friends, it was time to channel some of that useful exuberance into a tactile skill. One day, he wouldn’t just patrol with them, he would fight alongside them! “At the end of this very long day, the boy stumbled back to his home. Physically exhausted, mentally drained, and worried with thoughts of the future, he dragged his feet as he made his way to the center of the village. Where, unfortunately, he found that his house had been burned to the ground. A group of raiders had struck that day, pillaging the town and carrying off much of their wealth. “You see, the guards hadn’t scouted the area and caught the ruffians, because they were spending their day training the mayor’s son. And the militia was slow to assemble; many had missed their lunch because the fishermen hadn’t been able to prepare their daily catch, due to the head fisherwoman spending her time teaching the mayor’s son. And, in fact, many of those who were normally in town had needed to head out to the surrounding farms, because one farm in particular needed extra help with its chores because the farmer had spent his day touring the surrounding countryside with the mayor’s son. “In their haste to dissuade one boy of his so-called ‘childish fantasies,’ the inhabitants of the town had abandoned the responsibilities of their own. They learned that the quickest way to waste their own time was to worry about how others spent theirs.” And this, finally, brought the point of the story back to Geofrey. “If this man here wants to spend his free time learning to read and write, what business is it of any of yours? Is the time he ‘wastes’ in this pursuit more valuable than the length of this trial, which steals us all away from our usual tasks? If he spends an undue amount of effort on his endeavor, neglects his other duties, and becomes destitute, let that be its own punishment. You do not need to rush to an early condemnation of it. If he can balance his responsibilities and his passions, I say you should allow it!” The man I was arguing with didn’t know how to respond to me; he could only parrot what he’d been taught, what he’d been prepared to argue against, and his oh-so-prescient parents had neglected to include my catalog of parables in their son’s lessons. But it wasn’t like the rest of the room fared any better; I could hear them mumble and mutter amongst themselves. But at least it wasn’t murmuring; no, they were unsure, perhaps willing to believe the points I was making. A wad of saliva landed at my feet as an old crone pushed through the crowd and spat at me. Never a good sign, that. Her face was contorted in rage, glaring at me with barely contained, self-righteous fury. Ah, we had a zealot on our hands. “Don’t pretend you care about Jeffry here!” she snarled at me. “You’re trying to lead him into sin! Into temptation! Wicked men write things down to lead astray as many as they can!” Another shriveled woman followed right behind her. A sister? Or perhaps she’d been split in two, and each half regrew just as hateful as before. “That’s right! You can trust words that are spoken, because you know who’s saying them. But books? For all you know, they were written by demons! You’re telling our children to listen to demons!” The appeal to the unseen fiends clued me in to why these women were so upset. I’m sure they’d each had children, little girls who they had hoped would grow up as little copies of themselves. But they’d done a bad job raising them (or perhaps a good job), and when their offspring came of age, they had distanced themselves from the old hags. Rather than examine their own mindsets, they had instead chosen to blame anyone and everyone else for leading their precious little darlings astray. Real people had a nasty tendency to defend themselves, but demons only rarely showed up to sit down and chat over tea. “You’re absolutely right, oh wise matrons.” Stooping to their level, confrontational and accusatory, would not serve me well here. “Who our children listen to, who they take advice from, is one of the most important areas we can guide them in. A wise mentor can mold them into brilliant leaders and heroes, but a deceitful charlatan can leave their psyche twisted and scarred. This is true for your children. It was true for your parents. And it was even true in the distant past, in the land of dragons.” My listeners reacted exactly as I’d expected, with a collective gasp and widening of eyes. They’d heard of dragons, before; nearly all planets have, even the most remote and uninteresting of them. It’s a point of pride for the entire species, to be revered across the cosmere. Even my most principled adversaries in this room would hang on every word of this last story. “Yes, in a land called Yolen, the dragons flew high above the kingdoms of humanity. For the most part, the dragons kept their own affairs, leaving men and women to both cause and solve their own problems. But from the rare occasions that dragons had entreated with humans, their wisdom was much renowned. “In this land of dragons, there lived a man. He was an excellent carpenter; not only were his constructions sturdy, they were also incredibly beautiful. Though he was young in years, he possessed greater skill than any of the master craftsmen in his city. Truly, he was a prodigy with his saw and chisel, and all who he graced with his creations considered themselves blessed beyond measure. “When this man sought advice, he did not turn to any man or woman in his home city. No, he struck out into the wilderness, climbing a mountain where a dragon was known to live. The magnificent beast graced him with an audience, bowing it serpentine neck low to the ground. Even the dragon had heard of this man’s aptitude. “‘Oh great dragon,’ the man entreated, ‘I beg you to offer your advice on my situation. My sister has just been married, and she and her husband are preparing their new home. She has asked me for many intricately carved pieces of furniture, and though I love her, to create them all would demand so much of my time. What should I do?’ “The dragon replied. ‘Your sister thinks herself the better of you, and she invites you to subservience. Even should you grant her these requests, her demands will never cease. Give her nothing.’ And when the man returned to the city and did as the dragon suggested, his sister was deeply grieved, and the entire family was split from him in a terrible schism. “Several months later, the man returned to the mountaintop. ‘Oh wise dragon,’ he pleaded, ‘I beg you to offer your advice on my situation. The carpenter’s guild has invited me to join their ranks. I would carve less, myself, and I would instead teach others in my techniques and methods. I see that it would benefit the entire city, but I love to work the wood with my own hands. What should I do?’ “The dragon replied. ‘The other craftsmen are jealous of your skill. They seek to elevate themselves by your absence. The students they give you would be unteachable, and your perceived failure would weigh on your soul until you could not stand to work the wood anymore. The guild master is your enemy. Give him nothing.’ And when the man returned to the city and did as the dragon suggested, the guild was deeply offended, and they rescinded their offer of membership. They spread rumors about the man’s haughty presentation, and before long few in the city sought his craftsmanship. “A third time, the man climbed to the dragon’s lair. ‘Oh loving dragon,’ he cried, ‘I beg you to offer your advice on my situation. My friends, the companions of my youth, are about to set out onto a journey. They will tour the entire kingdom, see every wondrous sight that our land has to offer. They tell me to empty my savings and join them. I would like to go with them, very much, but I do not know if it will be wise. What should I do?’ “The dragon replied. ‘Your so-called ‘friends’ do not care about you, they merely desire your wealth. They will finance this frivolity with the money you have earned through your hard work and your skill, and once they have bled you dry of gold, they will abandon you. Give them nothing.’ And when the man returned to the city and did as the dragon suggested, his friends were saddened, and they set out on the road the next day without him. “A year after his first visit, the man crawled into the dragon’s lair and prostrated himself on the floor. ‘Oh, dragon!’ he wept. ‘I am ruined! My family has forsaken me; my friends have deserted me; and nobody in the city will pay me to work. What should I do?’ “The dragon reached down and placed his claw on the man’s shoulder, drawing him to his feet. ‘My good man,’ the dragon replied, ‘forget those shallow-minded individuals. As long as I draw breath, you will have a home here with me. I will fly across the land to find the rarest trees, bringing them back for you to carve wonders for me. Together, you and I will adorn this mountaintop with the finest works of art this land has ever seen!’ “And thus, the man found himself a new life. As for the dragon… he had found himself a slave that would never seek to escape.” I paused to let that last sentence sink in to the crowd’s mind. They weren’t accustomed to dragons being villains, so it took them several seconds to be appropriately shocked. “You see,” I continued, “the dragon had been jealous of the city and of its new sensational woodworker. When that very same man approached his lair, the dragon hatched a plan. By tricking the woodworker into isolating himself, the dragon could present his salvation as the solution to the manufactured problem.” I gave my head an exaggerated, mournful shake. This was the part where I really started to play their heart strings and dredge some empathy out of them. “I spent many long years serving that dragon before I realized his deception,” I said with every ounce of melancholy I could muster. Oh, don’t look at me like that. Of I wasn’t the man in that story. But I had now painted myself as a victim, and as someone who suffered through and triumphed over the very concerns they were expressing. A little unscrupulous of me, sure, but I did tell you that I was playing the part of a lawyer. “That dragon tricked me,” I continued, “but he did it in my own native tongue, in Yolish. He could have spoken to me in draconic to give his words more weight to a humble tradesman. But he chose not to use that ancient and powerful language; by using the dialect of the city, he made his words all the more agreeable to my ears. “And that is the true conflict that we must guard the youth against. It’s not how a thing is communicated; spoken or written, Yolish or draconic. There is perversity spoken by those we think we trust, and there is true wisdom found in the pages of books” A village elder, the one who was ostensibly in charge of the proceeding, was the first to respond. “You tell a lot of stories, stranger. How can we know they are true?” This wasn’t a challenge or an accusation; it was a genuine plea from hopeful truth-seeker. “It doesn’t matter whether or not they are true.” Since I opened with a tale about a frog scientist, I thought that point should have been obvious. “The real question is: do they contain truth?” I had done it. Oh, they all still looked quite puzzled, trying to wrap their tiny little brains around the new worldview I had presented them. But I recognized the worming doubt that I had implanted in their minds. This trial was as good as won; they had no response for my arguments, and the longer they deliberated, the more they would come to believe what I had told them. I turned to give Geffery a smile and a bow, to let him know that soon he would be a free man. And at that unfortunate moment, my cloak decided to turn loose the contents of its pockets onto the ground. I hastily scrambled to pick them up, but I wasn’t quick enough, and the assembled townsfolk caught sight of an object I had been trying very hard to keep hidden from them. It was a book. One that had, of course, been written by demons. This was the very reason I had gone to that planet in the first place, to navigate the ruins and find an ancient tome from that long-lost civilization. It’s why I had needed to recruit the nascent scholar to bail me out of my anti-literate predicament. And I had, against my better judgement, decided to intertwine myself with local affairs instead of absconding with my prize. And because of that one small mistake, I was treated to another familiar sight. The moment when a crowd turns into a mob. I scooped up my book, grabbed poor Jefree by the arm, and led him out the window as we fled. The ensuing chase scene was anti-climactic and poorly choreographed, so I’ll spare you the boring details. I know some of you love to hear me retell those sequences, the unwieldy blow-by-blow of every step I take and every punch thrown my direction, but this one wouldn’t be worth your time. Suffice it to say that my friend and I found ourselves locked in a pantry while our pursuers on the other side of the door argued about whether to burn the house down around us. “You know,” I told Geoffry with a long-suffering grin, “I’m going to count that one as a win. The key evidence really should have been disallowed. Up until that point, they were convinced!” He shook his head in exasperated disagreement. “I don’t think you understand just how much people here hate reading and writing.” “Oh, really? Well, if that’s how they feel about the strange and unfamiliar, then they’re going to absolutely abhor this.” I reached into my aluminum-lined pocket and pulled out a small, white stone. But no ordinary rock; this one had a Selish rune glowing on it. “A symbol?” my companion asked. “What does it mean?” “I have no idea.” I couldn’t stop tapping Connection yet to restore my ability to read, but it didn’t matter. The rune itself wasn’t a source of power; it was merely a signal to my compatriot waiting in the cognitive realm. A hole tore itself open in the air of the pantry, and I swear that Jef nearly broke the door down in his haste to escape. As for me, I merely placed one foot through the portal, striking a dashing and heroic pose, before I turned back to my new ally. “Come on. There’s an enormous universe out there, far beyond this tiny place you call home. And you wouldn’t believe how much there is to read.”
  12. Brotherwise just posted a character sheet for the new Stormlight RPG over on TikTok, and there's quite a bit we're able to glean about the system from it. This may be a little bit biased based on my experience, but it looks an awful lot like a combination of D&D 5e (the most popular RPG system) with a lot of Fantasy Flight's Genesys system. (I've played a lot of FF's Star Wars version over the years, and just recently I got elected to DM a 5e group, so those are the two systems I'm most familiar with.) First off, let's drop down some screencaps of the character sheet. It looks like it's two-sided: one has narrative info and equipment. (The big "AND" in the middle of the page is hiding that the first path is Champion, and the middle box is Goals. I couldn't get a great picture of with everything visible.) The blurry box on the right is "obstacle." The second page contains mechanical info. (Ignore the TikTok play button white triangles.) The top half is abilities and skills, and the bottom half is an unlabelled box for miscellaneous features. And that's an entire character sheet, right there! Let's break it down. Starting with narrative, most of this looks pretty straightforward as roleplaying cues. I see the Goals box has three check marks; in the absence of any box for experience points, I wonder if that's the main leveling mechanism. Every time you accomplish three goals, you gain a level. The Paths are going to be pretty similar to Genesys's talent trees (which are a point buy system, so SARPGs are probably going to have a lot fewer boxes). As an example of talent trees, in my Star Wars RPG, I played a character who started in the Doctor talent tree and then moved to the Force-Sensitive Exile talent tree. That system does a really good job of letting you mix and match to pull together exactly how you want your character to play, but it balances it with a higher XP cost to get access to more talent trees. I'm wondering what restrictions, if any, SARPG will have on taking new paths. Maybe it's a level cap; you can't take a third until 8th level or so? Equipment looks pretty standard D&D, both with ranges and damage dice. I wonder if the Javelin counts as heavy or light, but if I were running a game, I'd make my players include that info on their equipment lists. I don't see any encumbrance limit, which I think is essential to any RPG. Maybe they just haven't developed it yet (which would make sense, it's a lower priority for sure), but Genesys's encumbrance system looks like a better fit than 5e's. (Although I am very fond of Crafty's Mistborn encumbrance system, which doesn't involve you buying gear at all.) I'm very curious about what the "expertises" are; there's no common "proficiency bonus," so they can't work like tool proficiencies or such in 5e. I'm guessing they give advantage (which is explicitly included in the features section, very similar to one of the Stoneward First Ideal features). Next, let's look at abilities and skills. Brotherwise says you have Physical, Mental, and Spiritual abilities, and I understand the appeal to Realmatic theory... but it looks like Social to me, not Spiritual. There are arguments to be made on Realmatic theory on how much Connection plays into this sort of thing, but the applications on the character sheet definitely align with Genesys's pairs of attributes. I've always viewed a pair as "proactive and reactive," and that mostly holds up in this arrangement. I'm a little confused on some of the specific choices made in the skill lists. (I'd swap Initimidation and Survival, I see that there are only two Strength skills and four Speed skills so I'd replace Thievery with Endurance), but on the whole they look pretty similar to the Genesys system, too. You don't have ability scores and modifiers; it's all rolled into one number. And then each "rank" you gain in a skill increases it by 1. So your skill bonus is equal to your ability score plus your ranks. (Instead of, in 5e, your ability modifier plus you proficiency modifier. Don't ask me about Genesys. Their dice don't have numbers.) To get into some gritty details, I think this is actually a pretty neat mixture of 5e and Genesys. The leveling mechanism is identical to Genesys, with a max of 5 ranks, but the "equivalent proficiency bonus" will be very similar to 5e. As you go from 1st level to 20th level, your proficiency bonus increases from +2 to +6. Here, it's only +1 to +5, but the ability modifier equivalents are all higher since you can't have 0's or negatives. Most 5e characters I stat up using a standard array get something like +3/+3/+1/+1/+0/-1, average +1.2. But in SARPG, the average ability score for the example character is 2.3, so just about 1 higher. You lose 1 on your proficiency bonus, you get it back on your abilities, and that has the wonderful effect of making 5e's DC levels match almost perfectly. Untrained checks will do a little bit better, but I don't think that causes any real problems with understanding appropriate DCs based on your 5e experience. I can't quite figure out how defenses work. (How they get calculated, I mean; it seems fairly straightfoward that skill tests that target you use your appropriate defense for the DC.) I'm gonna assume you add both your scores together to get your defense, but there's another degree of freedom in there. The example character has: Physical Defense: 11 + Str + Spd Mental Defense: 9 + Int + Wil Social Defense: 10 + Awa + Pre So why are all the base defenses different? Is the physical defense +1 from nimbleform? Are there modifiers from the paths that haven't been written on the character sheet? (Personally, I like to have auditable character sheets, so an undocumented path-related modifier would really bother me.) Health, focus, and Investiture are probably all based on your paths. Health is hit points, obviously. Focus and Investiture are both limited resources that get consumed by features, sort of like Genesys's Strain or 5e's spell slots. I think it's interesting that the "current Investiture" field is blank, so I'm guessing that it doesn't recover like focus or health, and that you start at 0 at the beginning of a combat. (I also think it's telling that they didn't call it Stormlight. Already planning for worldhopper paths?) Down in the features, we're able to glean out how combat works somewhat. There are black triangles, white triangles, and the tap symbol; I assume a black triangle is the equivalent of action in 5e (although the Memories of Stone has two triangles and specifies what happens if it takes longer than a single round, so you might get more than one black triangle per turn) and a white triangle is the equivalent of a bonus action. The tap symbol... is that a full-round action, perhaps? But it's something you spend, which the triangles don't say, so it must be some kind of resource you either have or gain. It's not focus or Investiture, since those are both spelled out in other features. There's some info about Paths, as well. I see one Champion ability, Decisive Command. I see one racial ability, Forms of Finesse. And I see three Stoneward abilities: First Ideal, Second Ideal, and Memories of Stone. So I'm guessing this character is Champion 3/Stoneward 3, and that two levels of Champion increased skills. Not every level gives you a new feature; I'm guessing some of the Champion stuff gave more defense, hit points, focus, etc. I wonder if you can just flat-out gain ranks in skills (1 of your choice per level, for example), or if you can only earn them from paths? I haven't looked a ton into the OneD&D playtest material, but I think I see some elements of it. "Skill test" is similar to the new "d20 test" term, and I see attacks "grazing," which I want to say I saw in there somewhere, too. There are some other combat-related terms, like a recovery test or an "injury," (Genesys critical injuries?) which I don't recognize. Are they OneD&D content? I have some specific questions about Stormlight Enhancement and Forms of Finesse. If they modify an ability, do corresponding values (like defenses) also increase? Or are those just for skill tests? I know, it's just a playtest, but I'm definitely going to need some more more precision. And that covers about all the detailed analysis. Big-picture, I think there's going to be a pretty stark culture shock from going from 5e to the SARPG in terms of combat. Genesys combat is simply not balanced, full stop. In 5e, every character at a given level is roughly balanced to be an equal participant in combat, so you can choose appropriate monsters for them and make reasonable combats. (That's enforced by the "monoclass" system that the TikTok referred to.) But in a more open character creation system, not all 6th-level characters are created equal. There are going to be paths that are much more useful outside of combat, but they won't be able to keep up when the bullets start flying. My Genesys experience has always wound up with half the party dominating combat, and the other other half making all the checks outside of combat. (Which worked fine for my group dynamic, but might be jarring for 5e groups.) We played three campaigns with the Star Wars Genesys system; the first finale was a difficult, balanced combat, which to this day I still consider a miracle how well it came together. The second campaign ended with PvP, but us poor Dark Siders were all utility characters and got flattened by the bloodthirsty Jedi. And the third campaign... well, we stopped time and did a finale without rolling a single die, that's how little we cared about combat at that point. But beyond balancing the players' abilities, my GM also had a hard time picking appropriate enemies. His trick wound up being infinite enemies, but our combats always had a narrative goal. We didn't need to kill all the enemies, we needed to accomplish something, so he would load up a million enemies and have them get distracted with other things. The combat-heavy characters would shred, the noncombat characters would kill one enemy maybe, and then we'd figure out how to "win" the combat to move on. The combat itself wasn't terribly satisfying, it was just another step in the overall narrative. That's very different from 5e, which in my experience allows you to design well-balanced combats where each player can contribute, and a good fight is an end unto itself. EDIT: And Another Thing. My Star Wars group had an electronic character sheet, and I tweaked it a little to make it fit with SARPG. I've rearranged a few things based on my experience using online character sheets. (Only the top-right box should have any changes outside of level-up, so that combines the current health/focus/Investiture with the conditions. All mechanical abilities go in the bottom-left regardless of source, so that gets the senses and expertises. Only include ranks in skills and not final values because if you can't add 2+2 you're going to have a bad time with any RPG.) I also took a few liberties on how the paths will work; the lines show prerequisites, and the darker squares are the improvements that have been gained. I'm guessing for the Radiants, you'll be able to buy straight down for the five Oaths, and then any extra abilities branch off. So I treated the Champion the same way, and gave it a trunk and branches, too. (On closer inspection, I realized that the Combat Coordination is an improvement on the Decisive Command ability, so it makes sense as a branch.) For what the first level of Champion gives him... I'm guessing defenses and skills.
  13. Hey, Brandon's there right now! It looks like he has two panels: one this evening on Friday with another sci-fi author (which he mentioned on his stream will be recorded and posted on his channel later), and one on Saturday (which he didn't say anything about recording). If anybody is going to the one tomorrow, it would be good to record audio, since I have a good feeling about getting a new Stormlight reading. There won't be any official recording of the signing lines, so if you're asking a question, I'd encourage you to get your phone out and record his answer. Barring that, the sooner you can paraphrase your report, the more accurate it will be, so feel free to drop a line in this thread or add it to the Arcanum event: https://wob.coppermind.net/events/517-tampa-bay-comic-convention-2023/
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