Threadbare: Crypt of the Nekomancer

Chapter 11

Threadbare’s been blown off a cliff and into a catacomb, in keeping with the cat pun theme of the dungeon, and the first thing I notice is that this book is good in inverse proportion to how much Celia is in it. Early on, when Celia was a secondary character and Threadbare’s developing relationship with the world around him and particularly Pulsivar drove the plot, it was good. Later, Celia became the protagonist and Threadbare a deuteragonist, even to the point of regularly jumping into Celia’s perspective without warning, and things began to drag before eventually becoming absolutely awful. Now that Celia is communicating intermittently through a long range comm skill and Threadbare is mainly figuring things out for himself, things are good again. Like, good enough that I went ahead and deleted an introductory paragraph about how I wasn’t sure I even wanted to finish Threadbare because I’m kind of stressing about some things lately and things I’d normally just laugh at are exacerbating the stress right now, and after actually reading a bit of chapter 11 I decided that no, actually, this is fine. This is actually a good book that I’m happy to read on its own merits, regardless of how many snarky blog posts I get out of it.

It took a while, and as he went, his thoughts strayed back to home. He was starting to miss the place. This was a fun adventure and all, but when they were done it would be nice to get back where he belonged. Hopefully Daddy was okay without Celia there to keep an eye on him.

This sets up a segue to Caradon back home, so clearly Anise is about to whack him or something. Hopefully Anise is not actually just going to show up to abduct/murder him, because if she does, that raises the question of why she didn’t do so earlier. She’s had access to the golem command scrolls and Celia’s been out of the house for a while. For that matter, seeing as how Anise can apparently command the king’s men as though they were her own lackeys, why doesn’t she get a patrol together and just stomp all over the raggedy men? Is being a golemancer so OP that a dozen warrior classed characters will succumb to one guy who can’t even get greater golems working right?

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GM’s Guide Video: Preface and Introduction

I’ll level with you, I’m pretty much only making video versions of this guide because I think it’ll catch a wider audience. You can get the written version in the upper right, and it’s generally the superior version. If nothing else, I’m better at writing than voice acting.

On a related note, I now offer GM services for if you want a GM, and I offer them at much lower rates than normal to help establish a reputation. As little as $5 a session right now. Details in the link.

Threadbare: I Warned You The Novelization Of A Dungeon Crawl Would Be Boring

Chapter 10

Okay. So. Celia and her new black friend are climbing up the mountain to a dungeon, where they will slaughter monsters for XP and gold while cursing the government for regulating their blood sport. For whatever reason, only the tamer kid is with Celia right now, and the others are gonna catch up later. Also, they meet a dwarf lady on the way, who I think was mentioned at some point towards the end of chapter 9 during technical difficulties.

The ankh on her steel breastplate gleamed silver, though, and Celia thought it looked familiar.

“Is that a holy symbol of Aeterna?”

No, you dumbass, it’s the symbol of the avatar of the eight virtues of Brittania. This is basic gamelore! Is Caradon even giving you an education at all in your remote, unabomber-style hideout?

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Up Next: Succubus

I’m starting to run out of Threadbare and in any case I am eager to get on with things, so the poll is now closed. Congratulations to that one guy who voted for Succubus. I dunno if my other half-dozen-ish followers are bots or just don’t care what comes next. I don’t actually mind if it’s the second one, but the first possibility continues to haunt me.

So once the Threadbare posts are all out, I’ll instead be posting Succubus. See you there.

Star Wars Saga Edition: Logistics

The Saga Edition house rules in my previous post made periodic references to a logistics system. This is that logistics system. It’s copy/pasted from a forum post and occasionally references earlier versions of the logistics system with the expectation that the reader will know what they are, but never in a way that makes it unclear what the new rules are (I checked). It’ll just sometimes say something like “we still have [rule],” because readers of the forum post will have seen that rule before. The rule is still explained in full for the benefit of this blog, and for reference.

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Threadbare: Nosedive

Chapter 8

Celia and Mordecai are out in the woods near a mining town doing scout things to power level Celia’s shiny new class skills.

“Two crafting jobs left.” She swallowed. “One of them will probably have to be smith, if I want to— If I want to follow in Mom and Dad’s footsteps.”

“Because of Emmet?”

“Yeah. And more like him, someday. So I’ll probably need Tinker too, like Mom had. So I don’t have a lot of room to learn more stuff.”

We’ve finally got the maximum number of jobs nailed down. Also a suggestion that maybe the ultimate plan here is to build a drone army with which to take over the world, which is surprisingly munchkin for people who can’t figure out how to use public quests for power leveling. Maybe “more like him, someday” means, like, five.

We usually sends little golem birds back an’ forth.”

“So THAT’S what they’re for!” Celia raised her hands. “I asked him and he wouldn’t tell me! He’s got a whole hutch of those things, and they come and go and I never found out why.” She frowned. “Wait, why would he need a dozen of them to talk with you?”

“Ah…” Mordecai shifted. “I ain’t the only one he talks with.” His eyes flickered, and his face darkened. “Though I reckon a lot of his friend up north ain’t gonner be talkin’ much wi’ him no more.”

“What?”

“Nevermind.

Celia is bizarrely underinformed for a native to this world. I half suspect that the idea here is that by making her so uninformed, other characters have reason to explain things to her, and thus to the audience, but most of the exposition she gets is either unimportant (who cares if the world used to run on AD&D rules?) or could’ve been demonstrated (we could learn that Caradon communicates via golem bird just by watching him communicate via golem bird – the concept is intuitive if depicted).

If you rip out 100% of all setting exposition from most fantasy or sci-fi stories and hand it to a reader, they can usually pick up what’s going on with no further assistance. What exceptions exist are almost exclusively abstract concepts like politics and religion, and even these can be worked in without expositional info-dumps if you’re willing to do some rewrites to, for example, depict the king’s men clearing a dungeon instead of talking about it. The tradeoff there is time. If you have a lot of complex politics to explain, having each policy and allegiance depicted might take up a hundred pages or more before you can actually get the plot rolling, and that’s like one-third of a decent size fantasy novel, so there’s definitely a time for expositional summary. That time is not “anytime I need to explain anything, ever.” A lot of this feels like the author writing their worldbuilding directly into their draft and then failing to edit it out rather than maintaining a world bible to drop their worldbuilding into.

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Threadbare: In Which Threadbare Meets An Anarcho-Capitalist Vampire

Chapter 7

Our chapter title today is “Randahm Encountahs,” so presumably it will be exactly like the last six chapters but in a funnier voice. Maybe also happier and with your mouth open.

The Raccants chased Celia and Threadbare around the hills for the better part of a day.

I suspect that what’s happening here is that the author wants the two day time limit on this quest to actually mean something, but in order to make that work has to find some way to burn through a bunch of extra time, so instead of just having the encounter, we instead have half a day gobbled up in the first sentence.

Celia and Threadbare get turned around, start going the wrong direction, and Celia decides to keep going anyway because she’s afraid of encountering the raccants again. They end up in a graveyard full of tombstones that have those spoopy little poems as epitaphs:

Threadbare moved to the next stone, and checked it for words. Celia followed, reading as she went. “Here lies Sandra Schtupp. Pissed off a vampire, never looked up. Here lies Barry the Bold. Went into my mausoleum to get out of the cold. Here lies Dorothy Gunn. Looted my lair but failed to run.” Words started to repeat, here and there as she went, and Threadbare’s mind expanded.

INT +1

Midway through the morbid recitals, Celia stopped, as a spreading look of horror crossed her face. “Oh. Oh no.” And from behind her, from the darkest part of the trees, she heard the slow, steady sound of leather smacking on leather, as someone clapped their gloved hands. Trembling like a leaf, she turned…

…to see a girl just a bit shorter than her, leaning against a tree.

This chapter has all kinds of weird whiplash in it, mainly just because I’ve gotten really familiar with the really good and really bad parts of Threadbare and they’re layering themselves pretty much directly on top of one another. That snippet there, for example, is funny. It’s got a great pace, Celia’s smart enough to figure out the obvious, and unlike what happened in chapter 2, the book doesn’t feel the need to spell it out for us.

Immediately afterwards, this happens:

“Finally, somewahn gets it!” The strange girl said with a nasal accent. “Good on yah! Four stahs! Now scram, kid, befahre I eat yah.”

So now I’m waiting for the part where it gets happier and with your mouth open.

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Star Wars Saga Edition: War

It’s clear at this point that my Saga Edition group has dissolved. Alas, but it seems we were too busy for too many months and now the will to go on playing has gone. Also, some people appear to have stopped using Discord entirely. To memorialize the occasion, I’m posting my house rules for the war system. It’s fairly easy to adapt to other systems, but very notably it’s also untested. I had originally planned to post a refined version after it saw actual use in the later stages of the campaign when the wars in the stars got going, but that never happened, so instead you get the prototype version. Caveat emptor.

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Threadbare: Yet Another Random Encounter

Chapter 6

I keep waiting for the point when Threadbare starts to get repetitive and I enter into more long form summary mode instead of going chapter by chapter, but it still hasn’t happened. Partly that’s because Threadbare started strong, so I spent a lot of time praising it, and then got weaker, so I spent a lot of time criticizing it.

Early on in Chapter 6, Caradon decides to send Celia off with Mordecai to learn the ways of the Scout (read: gimpy proto-Ranger), and does so by formally offering a 1,000 XP quest for it. Now, we’ve already established that offering quests is a means for one character to transfer XP to another, presumably in exchange for some act of service. The details haven’t been explained, but it seems like the best use of this would be to offer trivial quests for assloads of XP. It seems like anyone can accept the quest (probably within a certain radius), so this could lead to accidentally draining several times more XP than anticipated when a bunch of randos complete the quest in advance of the person you want the XP to actually go to, or accidentally giving the XP to whoever shows up first if the quest ends for everyone once completed by anyone, but there’s ways around that. One of the most foolproof but logistically difficult ways around it is to hand the quests out in a secluded area, but the logistical difficulties aren’t actually a problem for Caradon, Celia, and Mordecai, because they already live in a secluded area.

It’s not entirely clear to me whether XP affects just level or job rank as well and how important it is to level up individual abilities (which appear to level only when used) as compared to just raw stats, but it is certainly true that Celia could be walking around with a much higher level if Mordecai offered her trivial quests for large amounts of XP – XP that he, being fully grown, already high level, and presumably with a high job rank, can much more safely re-acquire. The entire plot of this chapter revolves around Celia needing to get a higher level (and when discussing it in the last chapter, it was specifically her level they used to measure her overall power, which implies that level is more important than anything else, although this might just be because they haven’t realized they can hand out XP wildly disproportionate to what someone of her power could safely acquire on her own and thus expect levels, job ranks, and ability upgrades to be roughly consistent with one another even if that’s not necessarily the case when power leveling), and the chapter opens up with Caradon busting out a trick that he (or especially Mordecai, who seems to kill monsters more frequently) could easily use to power level Celia and not even noticing that he could use it for that purpose.

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Threadbare: That Is What Bemused Means

Chapter 5

“And if I let her go after every adventuring job she wants, she’ll fill up her choices before we know it, without the one we need. Then we’ll all be sunk. You know the stakes, Mordecai.”

This is approaching the worst line I could possibly imagine in this situation. I’m sure you could come up with some contrived even worse thing to write here, but this feels like it may actually be the worst actual thing to write into the early pages of this chapter without actively trying to be bad. “The plot has stakes, I promise,” the book says, without elaborating at all. Fantastic! Tell me what they are.

“Nah, lessn’ you fink. Dye her hair, mud up her face, take ’er into town as me apprentice from a family out in the hills, won’t nobody bat an eye.”

“Mordecai, I don’t want to hear it.”

“Then you sure as hell won’t wanna hear this. Right now she’s eleven. In a year or two she’ll get her woman’s blood. And if you fink she’s restless now, what d’ya fink she’ll be like then?”

Mordecai’s accent was grating enough before he started using “charming colloquialisms” to add a whole extra layer of creepy to this conversation between two older men deciding the fate of a girl without consulting or even informing her. She is literally a child, so that’s not actually unreasonable or anything, but it’s a sign of two things: First, Mordecai’s accent is grating and things that draw attention to it in a weirder way than normal make it grate worse, and two this conversation is boring. It’s full of promises that the plot is right around the corner for sure without actually delivering anything. Threadbare has three chapters of good will to burn through, and they’re getting through it pretty quick right now.

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