Final Fantasy and Philosophy: Final Fantasy and the Purpose of Life

Greg Littman is our first returning author from Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy (technically the other way around – D&D&P was 2014, FF&P was 2009). In our previous foray into Greg Littman’s literature, he tried to convince us that no one could be held responsible for anything because the universe is deterministic, and then implored us to change our perspective/behavior based on this, something which he’d just got done telling us was impossible. This time he’s gong to try and discover the meaning of life.

This essay examines the moral philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, John Stuart Mill, and Aristotle by examining whether they would approve of the actions of the protagonists of various Final Fantasy games. It actually examines the actions of the protagonists of all main line Final Fantasy games released at date of publication (so, up to XII). Thomas Hobbes believes that all humans are fundamentally self-interested and that, in a state of nature, exist in a constant war of all against all, with a life that is nasty, brutish, and short. According to Hobbes, civilization is only possible because people give their absolute obedience to monarchs, and no matter how terrible a monarch’s rule, it is always better than civil war or revolution. Apparently he wasn’t familiar with Athens or Rome. Final Fantasy heroes get a poor grade from Hobbes, what with all the ecoterrorists, rebel alliances, and sky pirates.

John Stuart Mill generally approves of Final Fantasy heroes for all the world-saving they get up to. There’s an aside in each of these sections, more notable here than in Hobbes’, about Final Fantasy XI, the MMORPG, where it’s entirely unclear whether or not the vast and diverse army of PCs behave for one reason or another, but there’s also a discussion about whether or not the players themselves are moral for playing the game. According to Mill, kinda sorta, in that playing the game is fun and therefore increases utility, but probably players could get more utility helping other people even if they personally found it unpleasant. That’s true, but it’s not like John Stuart Mill didn’t live a life of idle leisure his entire life while the industrial working class lived in squalor, so what the Hell, man.

Aristotle claims to define his virtues as the balance point of moderation between two extremes, and like a lot of ancient Greek philosophy, this falls down under careful scrutiny because I guess once Diogenes bit it there were no more sardonic Devil’s advocates left in the entire Greek-speaking world and you could get away with practically anything. The flaw in this one is that you can redefine the extremes to push the middle wherever you want. Aristotle claims that courage is the balance point between recklessness and cowardice, but running away could just as easily be the balance point between fighting and being paralyzed with fear. Aristotle’s claim that being well-educated is the secret to virtue is not an easy one to evaluate Final Fantasy characters with. How did Cloud do in high school? How much education is involved in Yuna becoming a summoner? Even laying aside the fact that Aristotle’s virtue ethics are ultimately circular, we don’t actually know enough about Final Fantasy protagonists to determine if they’re keeping with the specific set of virtue Aristotle endorsed in the first place.

Overall, the essay is an exploration of three pretty well known philosophers through the lens of Final Fantasy. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a pop philosophy book and unlike Littman’s last essay it never ends up cutting off the branch of logic it’s sitting on.

LitRPG Reviews

I was going to wait until I had ten of these to make another directory post, but by the end of number seven it really felt like I had run out of things to say, and I’ve decided I should probably look into other genres and maybe even entirely different media for a while before I come back to it. Since that means it could be a very long time before I make another LitRPG review, I’m going to make a for-now complete directory.

  1. Way of the Shaman: Survival Quest
  2. Way of the Shaman: The Kartoss Gambit
  3. Threadbare: Sew You Want To Be A Hero
  4. Threadbare: Stuff and Nonsense
  5. Awaken Online: Catharsis
  6. Divine Dungeon: Dungeon Born
  7. Succubus

I don’t have a whole lot to say since the last one, but I will mention that Sew You Want To Be A Hero is neck and neck with Stuff and Nonsense and pulls ahead mainly because, though the major flaw is completely unresolved, it does at least not have the issue of aimlessness that the original had, and that the Kartoss Gambit suffered from a lot from Danny getting exclusive access to several very special and unique quests. He isn’t your usual LitRPG protagonist who’s ultra-amazing just by having basic gamer instincts because he does make honest to God mistakes in his quest and nobody fawns over him for how great he is until after he’s put in a lot of effort to get there (and even then, their motivations for doing so are pretty cynical rather than pure starry-eyed amazement). It’s still a few baby steps closer to that direction than Survival Quest was, though. Plus, there was that one really boring woodwothe quest.

I’m probably going to continue reviewing books of some sort, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue adding to this same ranking. Comparing the latest Brandon Sandersen or whatever to this niche genre might end up being too apples to oranges for a ranked list to make sense even as the subjective evaluation of a specific guy. Guess we’ll see when we get there.

The Kartoss Gambit Is Pretty Good, I Guess

Part 1: World’s Most Obvious Werewolf
Part 2: Crossdressing to Victory
Part 3: Questapalooza
Part 4: Reversal
Part 5: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Trap
Part 6: Crocodile Tears
Part 7: The Dragon Dimension
Part 8: Story Time
Part 9: At This Rate We’ll Be Blowing Up Namek By The End Of The Book
Part 10: The Big Reveal

The Kartoss Gambit is a step down from Survival Quest. Now, Survival Quest was pretty good, so for Kartoss Gambit to be a step down doesn’t make it bad, but it is sinking down into the realm of “eh, pretty good, I guess.” If trends in this book continue, I could see later books in the series ending up downright dull. The Kartoss Gambit has only one truly boring segment, but that segment is the kind of thing I could see taking over the narrative, because similar trends show up in other scenes, just less overbearingly. I’m referring to the quest in which Danny goes into a forest to find some treasure, has a bunch of random encounters none of which are especially interesting, and ultimately finds out that he’s basically been pranked because the treasure is just a unique dress, although he does later find a use for it. It’s an episodic side quest, which is fine, except that the episode doesn’t work at all as a standalone story. Its final encounter is particularly egregious, because Danny is able to solve it just by summoning his totem, for no other reason except that the game gave him a rare totem.

Elements of the same problem crop up in bits and pieces throughout the rest of the story. None of the other parts are ever dreadfully dull, but there’s times when Danny gets something just because the game gives it to him. Multiple quests are given to him over every other player in the game, and they lead to cataclysmic consequences for the entire Eurasian server (it’s never actually specified which server Danny’s on, actually, so maybe it’s actually the American server or the Oceania server or whatever, but whichever one it is, it’s a fifth of the game’s playerbase). Danny is instrumental to the collapse of the current regime in both the major factions of the continent pretty much just because the tiny little village he was paroled to turned out to be the focal point of a unique and game-altering quest chain.

The first book focused on the local story of a couple of prison miners trying to win their way to a parole in the game world. The second book could’ve focused on Danny trying to set himself up for success in the game world while nailed to a small and backwoods region, low on valuable resources, home to only a handful of quests, most of them non-repeatable, and not really designed for players outside the level 10-20 range, making it difficult for him to level once he gets past that. The primary antagonists could’ve been that pack of PKers trying to get his rare dungeon drop from him, not as pawns of a sinister nation-spanning conspiracy, but just as selfish actors with a huge level advantage. The quest chain Danny stumbled across could’ve just been added as part of a general quest expansion update adding new quests to underserved areas, so no one’s really talking about it in the forums both because it’s brand new and because it’s one of dozens of new quests added, and the manual just serves to explain that yes, the quest exists at all, here’s where it starts and here’s a blurb vaguely hinting at what it’s about. Give the chain a prize that, for whatever reason, Danny really needs to get ahead, and the book can be about Danny trying to get to the end of the quest chain while dodging the PKers. Let Danny eventually escalate to continent-spanning stakes in later books, sure, but for now, just finding some way to successfully defeat a trio of PKers at mid- to end-game level while he’s still level 20-ish would be more than enough to make him seem like an exceptional up-and-coming fellow.

That specific idea is just an example of the kind of thing that could’ve happened instead of this sudden escalation to game-spanning stakes. What’s important is that it would’ve expanded the reach of Danny’s influence and capability at a more steady and believable pace (there are ways to do a sudden escalation of influence believably, but the Kartoss Gambit is not how you do it) while still providing a clear goal and clear stakes.

The Kartoss Gambit is still entertaining scene to scene (except for that one forest quest). It was fun to watch Danny hunt down the mist demon and he made several honest to God mistakes along the way, which helped make him seem a lot less Mary Sue after all the unique quests that got dumped in his lap. I have mixed feelings about how the ending zig-zagged a lot of my initial predictions, because setting up what seems like an obvious plot (the headman’s estranged son is clearly the evil werewolf menacing the town, right?) to then have it swerve off the usual plot line in a way that doesn’t actually make a difference at all (okay, so the estranged son is actually the good guy and the headman is the bad guy, but by the time we learn this the story is almost over anyway and the climax would’ve played out identically if the estranged son had been the villain all along, so who cares?), but at least it indicates awareness on the part of the author that this isn’t the first time his audience has heard a story.

It’s kind of weird that this summary is coming out so negative, because the fact is that while reading the Kartoss Gambit I generally wanted to continue reading it. During the hiatus over the holidays, I actually had to force myself not to finish the book early because I didn’t have time to blog the book as I went and I didn’t want to lose that “reaction as it’s read” element, but the book was good enough that I wanted to finish it up. I think this phenomenon validates the blog-as-I-go approach, too, because if you go back and read most of the parts, you’ll find a lot of them generally have positive things to say about moments as they happen, but after I put it down, nothing really stuck to my memory (contrast Survival Quest: Danny’s revenge on Batman and his whole ring crafting hustle were lots of fun to watch). How much it matters that the book left such a meh impression afterwards despite holding my interest as I read is left as an exercise to the reader.

The Kartoss Gambit: The Big Reveal

Chapter 12

After the cliffhanger ending of last time, the identity of Kartoss’ dark master (not, like, the master of all Kartoss, just one of the four who advise the dark emperor) is now revealed to be…the village headman. I kind of wonder if Danny’s “now it all makes sense!” line was sarcastic? Because while this doesn’t contradict anything that came before, it does kind of come out of nowhere. The headman explains that he and his two sons were secretly evil and made no actual effort to actually track down the sklic demon, so Tisha was basically hunting for it on her own (since her werebear fiance apparently couldn’t be bothered to help), which, sure, that makes sense, but as last-minute reveals go it kind of feels like shock for shock’s sake.

The dark master has surrounded Krong in a disruptor dome of some sort, so if heralds attempt to teleport in they will arrive at a random location in the province. They instead teleport to the edge of the province and begin amassing a huge army of both NPCs and players to invade the province and scour it for the dark master’s location, by which point it will already be too late to thwart the dark master’s nefarious scheme to transform everyone in Krong into Kartoss creatures.

“The Lord’s plan is perfect. It was put together by four Masters and no room was left for mistakes. We planned for everything. You’re bluffing, Mahan. Your attempt at a delay has failed.”

“Master, let’s make a bet,” I was ready for anything at this point. It’s not like I had anything to lose. “Don’t touch me for thirty seconds and I spoil all your plans. Without ever moving from this spot. If I win, the Dark Empire owes me one wish. If I lose… You’ll think of something – you’re smart enough.”

“You are able to spoil our plans in thirty seconds without moving from this spot?” The Master made for quite an interesting sight. He was almost laughing, but was just able to restrain himself in some unfathomable way. “All right! On behalf of Kartoss, I Master Naahti, agree to your conditions! If you manage to spoil our plans, the Kartoss Empire will be obliged to carry out any wish you may have. I repeat – any – which is within our power. Including having the Dark Lord sing you a lullaby. But it comes with a limitation – the wish must only be connected to yourself. No world peace, end to all hatred or other social foolishness. But if you fail, you will work as a servant in the Lord’s fortress. You will be teleported to our capital and end up serving food. To everyone! For a year, without any increase in levels or reputation! Agreed?” the grinning Master was looking down on me, convinced that he had presented me with conditions that couldn’t be met. NPCs have become rather naive these days.

“Agreed,” I was, of course, taking a great risk, but my intuition, may it be damned, told me that the plan should work.

So what’s Danny’s plan?

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: The Big Reveal”

The Kartoss Gambit: At This Rate We’ll Be Blowing Up Namek By The End Of The Book

Chapter 11

Danny brings the herd back, and the village is appropriately grateful. He goes to talk to Elizabeth and asks her if she was a high priestess of Eluna, the head of Team Shiny’s pantheon in this continent, if not all of Barliona. Danny suspects she has some strong connection with the church because when he prevented Elizabeth from completing her ritual the night before, his reputation with Eluna plummeted. Elizabeth denies any association with the church, claiming it must’ve been some other Eluna priestess.

“Before meeting you Shaman Mahan never met Priestesses of Eluna. As the Emperor is my witness,” I called Barliona’s most dangerous arbiter as a witness. A cloud of light immediately formed around me and quickly dissipated, leaving me unharmed. Calling on the Emperor is the final argument in communications both with other players and NPCs. Only free citizens are able to call upon the Emperor, at least those not sporting a red headband. This would have come in really useful at the mine, especially when Bat set me up that first time by taking my Rat Skins. When a player calls upon the Emperor, a special Imitator is activated. It analyses the words of the summons, looks up the game logs, checks the truth or falsehood of the words and then surrounds the player either by a light dome, showing that he was right, or by a dark one, which comes with a three-month debuff of -50% to all stats. Moreover, the owner of the dark dome gets a special ‘bonus’: -10% to levels.

That seems like the kind of thing that would drastically alter how people interact with the world. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty, so you can invoke this oath in order to determine the truth or falsehood of anything at any time. Demanding an oath is an instant and near foolproof lie detector. And it seems like it’s being hastily retconned in just for this one scene, especially since it’s disabled for red headband players for no apparent reason. Why make it so that specifically criminals have plausible deniability as to whether or not they’re telling the truth?

With the Lie Detector of Sudden Convenience on his side, Danny convinces Elizabeth to share her story: She heard word of a brewing plot by Kartoss to take over Malabar, and she tried to tell people. No one would listen to her, so she went over the heralds and advisers heads and went straight to the Emperor, who then banished her to Beatwick for scaremongering. Danny got a Get Out Of Jail Free card from a herald during one of his various run-ins with them, which can be redeemed to retroactively make someone having been working for the Emperor, which would clear Elizabeth of all charges on account of having been secretly acting on the Emperor’s orders. Something that Danny can make true with an item. So far as MMO logic goes, that’s not too horrible a stretch, but it is kind of weird. In any case, Danny declines to hand the Get Out Of Jail Free card over just yet.

After getting back onto good terms with Elizabeth, Danny finally looks up his totem’s stats. It’s mostly pretty normal stuff, except that for some reason Draco has six different “acceleration coefficients.” A (non-lethal) duel with Draco reveals what this means: Dragons know the Kaioken technique. They can drastically increase their power up to six times (and the power boost accelerates, so they’re more than an order of magnitude stronger with all six going at once), but there’s a long cooldown on the power boost, with each successive stage of the boost having a longer cooldown than the last, so you can use Kaioken x2 a relatively frequent once per hour, but Kaioken x3 is on a two-hour cooldown. Looking forward to seeing what happens when a dragon goes super saiyan.

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: At This Rate We’ll Be Blowing Up Namek By The End Of The Book”

The Kartoss Gambit: Story Time

Chapter 9 (cont.)

Danny’s still blind for a good long while, and some parts of his interface are even affected. He can access crafting, but not spirits. I guess maybe it’s because crafting causes the fugue state thing? At least some of the time it does. In any case, since Danny’s almost completely out of commission, he asks his landlady Elizabeth to tell him a story of the legendary dwarves of the legendary chess set, hoping that better understanding them will help him craft them. And then the narrative switches to a depiction of some dwarves. Not, like, a recounting of a story about dwarves with the quote tags taken off, but a prose story with specific dialogue and stuff:

‘Borhg, sledgehammering damnation, where are you going?!’ a stocky, practically square dwarf, his eyebrows in a frown, watched Borhg going down into the depths of the Black Maw chasm.

It’s not a bad decision or anything, just something that felt notable to me.

In the many centuries of his people’s history no-one had yet succeeded in descending below the level of darkness. To the place where the thrown torches could not drive back the black and show what the gloomy haze concealed. The daredevils who went below this fateful threshold never returned. Those who went down on a rope were lifted back up with eyes full of terror. Dead eyes. And now another young fool had decided to explore the secret of the chasm – without a rope, trusting only in the strength of his hands and the innate agility of the undermountain people.

“Father, I’ll be quick! I have to find out what is concealed by the darkness. What kind of a chief would I be if my subjects end up laughing at me my entire life? Our people need knowledge and I will gain it for them!”

Why? This Black Maw thing kills everyone who goes inside, and if it ever spews anything dangerous back out, it hasn’t been mentioned. And who would laugh at someone for declining to enter the darkness that kills every single person who enters? The dead explorers who went before? What kind of idiot calls someone a coward over something they are themselves unwilling to risk?

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: Story Time”

The Kartoss Gambit: The Dragon Dimension

Chapter 8

“Key!”

I’m a man of steady nerves, but when the Dragonkin’s malicious muzzle repeated the same phrase for the fortieth time, you developed an irresistible itch to put your boot in it.

As soon as the portal with the Orc Warriors disappeared, the Dragonkin got up from his knees and, as if nothing happened, placed himself in the doorway of the hut.

“I need the scroll that will take me to the Dragons,” I approached the four-legged NPC.

“Key!” the Dragonkin rumbled for the first time.

“What key?”

“Key!”

“I found the clearing and met all the conditions. I demand to be given the scroll!”

“Key!”

This is the first page of the chapter. Eventually, Danny gives up on getting inside and instead decides to craft a chess set for Anastaria’s birthday as was requested/demanded of him by Hellfire. He fugue-crafts the set with the Phoenix Clan on one side and the Dark Legion on the other and turns out, oops, it’s cursed, now the two clans need to play against each other once a month and the winner gets a buff and the loser a debuff. Anastaria is not amused, but it turns out crafting a unique item was the key the dragonkin was looking for. So, not only has Danny crafted a legendary unique item again, this time by doing nothing else but taking a bunch of rare materials supplied by Hellfire and then poking at them for like ten hours, but it just so happens that this is the secret key that allows him to teleport to the hidden island of the guardian of all draconic lore. The first Way of the Shaman was mostly free of this inexplicably unique kind of achievement, and while this second one is much less incessant with it than, for example, Awaken Online, the series overall is getting worse at this kind of thing.

Danny summons up his dragon totem for more help in customizing his spirits (also, Kornik, the new shaman trainer he met in the last post, is also here, but refusing to actually help him, so apparently “training” here means “watch while Danny figures it out by himself”).

“Hi. I need your help. Will you come?”

“Awe we going to pway?”

“No, we won’t play. I have to get to grips with the Spirits.”

“Awwight. I come.”

I really hope this dragon isn’t going to be a frequent conversant.

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: The Dragon Dimension”

The Kartoss Gambit: Crocodile Tears

Chapter 6

Danny has returned to Farstead and picked up a tremendous amount of loot left for him in his bank vault by Anastaria. She also leaves a note in which Danny’s craft-unlocking fugue state gets even specialer:

[“]The only thing that Rick was curious about was how you managed to change stats, since you need character level of 150 and 100 levels in any profession before you can access the design mode. It goes without saying that this is unlocked via a quest chain, which needs several people to complete – it’s physically impossible to solo. Our analysts are still racking their brains how this is possible and are even putting Karachun’s words into doubt. But Eric, whom I contacted specifically on this account, has confirmed that you were able to change the properties of the rings you crafted. All my analysts are in a state of shock and can only shrug at this. This is the third reason why we want you in the clan.[“]

There’s also a letter from one of his prison buddies, Eric, confirming that the Phoenix Clan was lying when they said they’d ditched him to join Phoenix, but also that they’d told the Phoenix Clan everything about what they’d done in the dungeon. So, Danny’s earlier trick question was actually totally pointless? Apparently Anastaria did have access to reliable information on who got what item, she just didn’t have the information memorized and assumed Danny was being truthful when he said Leite got pauldrons.

There’s a new shaman trainer coming to visit town, which Danny was notified of a bit ago, and he wants to pay this new trainer a visit while he’s within Danny’s extremely limited range of travel. Upon arrival, it turns out that he is apparently expected and the new trainer came here to visit him, specifically. He’s about to give Danny a step-by-step walkthrough on how to find the secret land of the dragons and unlock sweet new totem powers, but Danny stops him. He said to himself earlier that he’d puzzle out this secret dragon quest on his own because doing things without hints always got a bigger prize from Barliona than accepting help from NPCs. The trainer visiting town apparently considers it vitally important that Danny complete his totem quest ASAP.

“All right. If you can provide a good reason why you must find the Dragons on your own without my help, I will agree. But your reason must be indisputable.”

“I cannot give you a reason. This… This is something within me – I feel that this is the way I must do things and if I accept your help it would mean a greatly inferior result,” I decided not to beat about the bush and tell Kornik the whole truth. As ridiculous as it might be. Even if he’s an NPC, he’s a clever NPC with access to the information that I need. If I don’t get help with sorting out my feelings, one day I’ll go mad from the inner contradictions between logic and emotions. This isn’t easy for someone who’d been guided by his head his entire life. And a pretty shabby head at that, I thought, remembering how I ended up in prison.

“That is the most cast-iron reason that a Shaman can give,” there was now a hint of satisfaction in Kornik’s voice.

What’s the point of even asking for reasons if your culture considers “because I don’t feel like it” to be the most impeccable excuse for doing or not doing anything?

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: Crocodile Tears”

The Kartoss Gambit: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Trap

Chapter 5 (cont.)

Hellfire has left Danny a note at the site of the wolf pack’s destruction, explaining that he’s guessed that they’re Danny’s wolves, that Danny crafted the pawns of the legendary Chess set, and that Danny would come to see what happened to the wolves when he got the notification that the quest had ended. That’s some pretty good guessing. There is one clue in that the wolves don’t despawn after dying which means they’re quest-related, waiting for Danny to come and collect the tail of the Grey Death (which he does, because at this point, why not?), and Hel does know from Danny’s traitorous prison buddies that he has the ultra-rare Crafting stat. Still, this guy would be amazing at Codenames.

Despite his growing spite for Hellfire, Danny remains enthralled with Anastaria. This feels a lot like it’s headed for Danny defeating Hel to take over the bestest clan in the game and get married to the prettiest girl in all of Barliona, but that hasn’t actually happened yet, so I’ll reserve judgement. Danny calls in to Anastaria to report his run-in with the number two clan, and she lets him know that after finishing off the last squad in the area, she and every other person in the game except Danny was immediately required to leave the Krong Province. This is one of forty provinces for the entire Eurasian gaming population, and Danny now has it entirely to himself.

[“]So, Have Eric, Leite and Clutzer really been accepted into Phoenix?” I still had trouble believing that they ditched me. They just couldn’t have, whatever Hellfire may say.

“Yes, but not all. A few days ago we were approached by several beginner-level players who had First Kill. This really piqued my interest, so I personally oversaw their testing.”

“Testing? What’s that?”

“Identification of their abilities. Eric turned out to be an excellent tank and he’s already been sent for a leveling boost. Clutzer’s a decent DD. But Leite didn’t pass the trial. He makes a pretty average DD and we decided not to take him. Now we’re looking for Karachun to assess his abilities.”

“An item doesn’t make the person. If you have clumsy hands, no amount of gear will help. We gave Leite a chance, but he didn’t take it.”

“Fine, another question. What is a Phoenix Master?” I asked nonchalantly. You can relax, Oh Gorgeous One. This just made for another point against joining Phoenix. So I am supposed to think that Eric and Clutzer are now in the clan and even came out with a full report… Yeah, right, they just ran in and typed it all up, especially about the non-existent second place and Leite’s pauldrons. So, it looks like Karachun was the one you spoke to… But he doesn’t know about the fifth place or Leite’s sword.

This is pretty clever and I like it.

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Trap”

The Kartoss Gambit: Reversal

Chapter 4

The chapter opens with Danny examining his quest log and deciding that his first priority should be the treasure hunt quest. By that I mean his first priority as a quest. He’s still got other town business to attend to, including a visit to the local mage. There’s a puzzle door you can try and enter through to get a discount from the mage, although the price actually goes up if you’re unable to answer enough questions in the time limit. Danny goes for the puzzle door, answers some math riddles (example: “We have a ten-digit natural number. We know that its leftmost digit is exactly equal to the number of zeroes in the number written out, the digit following it is equal to the number of ones and so on until the rightmost number, which is equal to the number of nines”), and gets a discount of two. He buys a few teleportation scrolls for Farstead and Beatwick and a scroll of “bone trap” that works on level 100 creatures to try and capture the werewolf.

He next goes to a jeweler, is asked what specialization he would like, and picks gemstone cutting on pure intuition, despite the fact that rings have been his bread and butter since he started this character. He makes the decision on “pure intuition,” because that is how shamans do, apparently.

The next trainer Danny hunts down is the mining trainer.

The Mining trainer was an almost square-shaped dwarf, who taught me the Hardiness specialization for three hundred gold. He even presented me with a patch for my cloak: ‘Swinger’. No stat bonuses, just Attractiveness increased by 1.

Does the “swinger” pun translate to Russian, or is this just a minor title for reaching high (ish) level in a crafting profession that happens to be a pun when translated to English?

Danny doesn’t have any prison buddies to take care of blacksmithing for him anymore, so he decides to learn that profession for himself. The bonus from his crafting stat makes him reasonably likely to find even incredibly precious gems if he gets his level high enough and starts smelting weird magical metals like phantom iron, something which is completely unknown on the forums and in the manual. Danny suspects that manual managers were bribed to scrub any mention of it. The amount of information blackout that goes on in Barliona is really weird considering a playerbase that is presumably at least tens of millions strong (it’s the Illuminati global government’s psuedo-state sponsored entertainment and all). If crafting is so rare that only .01% of players ever discover it, that’s still thousands of players, and apparently none of them have made a forum post or updated the wiki (unless the bribes passed around to keep this under wraps included an extensive coverup, one thorough enough to thwart the Streisand Effect).

Continue reading “The Kartoss Gambit: Reversal”