Ian continues into town imp-free, notes that it is populated entirely by shiny races, but apparently this has not stopped a level 23 warlock from waltzing around with his succubus like he owns the place. And, wow, level 23 and he’s already got the succubus, so apparently that’s actually kind of a low level trick. Which is honestly kind of refreshing. Ian’s not going to stumble his way into an end game demon and be catapulted to incredible power. He’s just gonna hit level ten and have a less useless demon.
I am not impressed by the description of the succubus, though. I’m gonna stick that below the break (she’s not naked, but she’s close), so first let’s take a look at her master:
There was a guy walking through the center of the town square. He was tall and good-looking, with long hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He wore all black – a badass duster jacket that came down to his calves, a black vest, black shirt, black boots, black pants. The shirt was open to expose a hairy, muscular chest. He had an awesome staff strapped to his back, apparently made out of an orc spine with the upper half of a skull at the top. Two huge rubies were fixed in the eye sockets and glowed faintly.
He basically looked like a Rock and Roll god.
Really? Dude has a black duster and a skull staff and your thought is “rock and roll god” and not “looks like he’s got his basic gear sorted out and found a decent magic weapon?”
Behind him strolled a woman. And not just any woman, but one of the hottest women I had ever seen in my entire life – in real life, movies, or the internet.
She had a gorgeous face – high cheekbones, slender nose, and sensual lips. Her teeth were white as pearls and perfectly straight. Her hair was a deep auburn color, thick and wild, and hung down to the middle of her back, nearly hiding her graceful neck.
But as beautiful as her face was, her body was even more incredible. She had D-cup breasts on a tiny little frame, nearly bursting out of the black leather corset binding her entire midsection. Her arms were thin and toned, her waist was incredibly tiny, and her hips were va-va-voom, with a luscious ass I didn’t expect on such a thin woman.
In addition to the corset she wore a black leather thong, which let you see every inch of her long legs. Her dainty feet ended in black stiletto high heels, and somehow she walked confidently on them even on cobblestone and grass.
Shortly after Ian clarifies:
Oh – I forgot a few minor details.
And then describes that she is, in fact, a red-skinnned, horned, winged, tailed demoness. That bit gets split across pages and I don’t want to bother copy/pasting it. This succubus isn’t even Ian’s, so I’m not going to complain that she is really generically sexy. Generically sexy is what you’d expect from some minor side character like the NPC sidekick to a guy who may or may not even be relevant past this scene. Likewise, it doesn’t bother me that she exists in this scene almost purely as eye candy, because according to the description Ian’s succubus isn’t going to be like that, and I don’t really care how much of a personality this NPC gets when her only real purpose here is to give Ian a kick in the pants (along with other pants feelings) and give him an early goal to pursue.
I am going to complain that, while trying to establish a baseline of sexiness for his story about sex, the author has decided that vague slang like “her hips were va-va-voom” and non-descriptive assertions of beauty like “a luscious ass I didn’t expect on such a thin woman” are the way to go. I’m also going to complain that this guy has apparently never seen a generically sexy video game woman before. This is really uninspired design, it’s exactly what I’d expect a sexy succubus (or sexy anything) to look like in a fantasy game, and this guy’s a veteran gamer. He should be familiar with this. Fine if he’s floored by seeing it in full dive for the first time, but he calls her one of the hottest he’s seen in his life in any medium, including movies and the internet, so it’s not just that she’s a photoshopped supermodel brought to life by the magic of full dive, she’s beating out most of the competition even by that standard. Yet her description reads like a checklist of things that most men find sexy, with what few distinguishing features she has – the wholly predictable horns and wings and so forth – shoved into a paragraph of their own, as something Ian literally almost forgets to tell us about.
There are two easy solutions to this: Either have Ian describe the succubus as being gorgeous because he’s seeing her in full dive for the first time, and previously he’s only ever seen these generically sexy video game women on a screen, in which case I’ll happily take Ian’s word for it that actually being there makes a big difference, or else have her demonstrate an obsessive affection for her warlock boss, and Ian wants that. “I want the affection and approval of someone pretty” is one of those nigh-universal human motives that can sustain an early plot by itself, because it stirs the base lust in with a desire for human connection, so even though the motive is self-centered, it’s got some depth to it. If you want the lust to stand as a motivation on its own, you had better absolutely floor me with how gorgeous the object of desire is, and this product fresh off the assembly line isn’t even close.
Also, motivations that self-centered don’t keep for a whole story, so even if this succubus had been adequately described as to convince me that she can serve as a motivating factor for Ian by herself, the succubus Ian actually winds up with needs more depth than that – but the book’s description alludes to this being the case, so I remain optimistic that this isn’t just going to be naked wish fulfillment.
The higher level warlock – his name’s Robert – gives Ian some advice that sounds like it’s something the red pill chucklefucks serve up while trying to suck people in, y’know, the stuff that’s easy to chain into the really creepy stuff without being so overt as to frighten off someone who’s lonely, betrayed, or otherwise susceptible to being recruited into their poseur cult.
“You got it all wrong, man – it’s not about the hit points, it’s about the attitude. You gotta walk around here like you own the damn place. You get me?”
He gestured at the crowd.
“These people? They’re just NPC hicks with a bunch of potatoes. You are a freaking rock star. You are a scary mofo. You are a binder of demons – a destroyer of worlds. You are the emperor, and these are your peons. It’s the mindset, dude.” He tapped both of his temples with his fingers. “It’s all up here, man. Psychological. You gotta act like you got the biggest swingin’ dick around, understand?” he said, suggestively rotating his hips.
“Uh… okay…” I said, trying not to look at his gyrating crotch.
The narrative seems to get how ridiculous this is. Ian’s uncomfortable, Robert’s making a fool of himself, and if the NPCs are intimidated by him, that’s because they’re backwards hicks easily impressed by bravado. Which is all fair enough, but we’re on the edge of some really dark waters here, and it’s got my hackles raised.
The demoness turned around and strutted away. I swear to God, she had the most perfect bubble butt in the history of the world, and it swayed tantalizingly back and forth as her tail curled in the air behind her.
Please stop drawing attention to how boring your demon is. Like, I get it, Ian wants one. You’ve established that, and your efforts to convince me that this demon showing off her cookie cutter hip-sway walk animation is some kind of breakthrough in the field of video game sex appeal is just drawing attention to how unimaginative her character design is.
The guy kind of acted like a douchebag, yes – but on the other hand, when you walked around with a chick like that following you… I could understand why he had a big head. And that can be me!
Not the douchebag part.
Just the ‘having a mega hot chick’ part.
Following up “not the douchebag part” with “just the part where I own a hot chick as a trophy” without any trace of recognition that treating a sapient being like a trophy to be owned is the douchebag part is something I’m hoping is intentional. Like, it would be dumb for me to make fun of it, because that’s the point. Ian is a flawed character who needs to grow. On the other hand, maybe I’m going to do a lot of ranting in the near future. I believe in you, Succubus. Don’t let me down.
“I don’t know, boss.” Stig was sitting on a tree stump in the forest, looking doubtful.
“What you mean, you don’t know?”
The imp shook his head. “Hot girls, boss – they’re nothing but trouble.”
“But she’ll be under my control.” The imp raised one eyebrow – or would have, if he had any hair on his brow at all – like I don’t know about that. “Are you saying that she won’t follow my orders?” I asked.
“Do you know what a succubus is?”
“What you mean?”
“They make men fall in love with them, and then they make the men do whatever they want.”
Didn’t sound that far off from regular women in the real world. “But I’m the master,” I said jerking my thumb at my chest. “I’ll be the one in control.” The imp gave me another raised eyebrow like Suuuuuure you will, buddy.
This is a lot of casual sexism all in one place. I remain fairly optimistic that it’s intentional, though – that Stig is going to continue to be a somewhat antagonistic character and isn’t meant to be a voice of pure wisdom. Sure, he’s probably smarter than Ian right now, but this really doesn’t feel like “Stig was right all along” is going to be the ultimate point, more like the act 2 down beat before Ian discovers the true meaning of Christmas. Like, I’m not saying I expect Succubus to knock this out of the park in terms of being a paragon of well-written female characters or anything, but it does seem like sexism is being set up as a flaw, here, so I’m reasonably confident it won’t sink to being actually offensive. Which sounds like an “at least we’re not Hitler” defense, but it’s more than Threadbare can say.
“You want me to disappear again, boss?” I remembered Robert the QC Warlock and his words of advice.
You got it all wrong, man – it’s not about the hit points, it’s about the attitude. You gotta walk around here like you own the damn place.
“No, you’re not going to be hiding anymore,” I said confidently. “We’re going to be the ones in charge of the situation from now on. Time to let them know what’s what.”
Stig gave me another doubtful look, but said, “Okay, boss.”
We walked out of the woods and headed towards the nearest farm. There was a whole family out in the field – a farmer with his wife, and three small children under the age of nine digging potatoes out of the ground. The youngest couldn’t have been any older than four.
The farmer had a golden ‘!’ above his head, the sure sign of an NPC with a quest to offer.
Act like you own the game, I reminded myself as I walked up. Stig walked hesitantly in back of me, peeking out from behind my legs.
“Farmer!” I yelled. “I’m an adventurer – and I know you have a quest for me! What do you – ”
Suddenly all three children screamed at once.
“Imp! Imp!” they howled, and started throwing potatoes.
Turns out following Robert’s advice was dumb. Ian only doubles down on his commitment to doing so after declining to murder a peasant family and instead fleeing into the woods, deciding that if he can’t command the respect of the peasants now, he’ll aspire to it later, instead, but my confidence that this is going to prove to be just as much a bad idea in the long run as immediately is growing.