Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Magical Tea Party

Chapter 9

The chapter opens with Threadbare’s party trying to figure out how to get into a village as an animator show. Because…apparently they can’t just walk in and be like “‘sup, we’re golems?” My guess is that wandering golems are usually monsters, so the village would react with hostility, but the book doesn’t actually say. In any case, Threadbare’s got a lesser golem carved into the rough shape of a human and wearing gloves and hood and so forth so that “she” will look passably like the animator leading the show.

While he’s trying to get the voice right, we get this bit:

“You’ve got decent volume, just… I don’t know, work on the voice a bit. Remember how Celia was. Only older.”

“Like Zuula,” the plush orc grinned.

“Sweet Nebs no, don’t try to talk like Zuula.[“]

Is the book actually noticing that its accents are annoying? That’s the least of the problems with Zuula as a character, but still.

Also, isn’t that Garon talking? The lack of dialogue tags (there’s more dialogue after my cut, but no tag) makes it hard to tell, but from earlier context it seems like this is supposed to be Garon and Zuula talking. It’s definitely not Threadbare or Dark Threadbare, and it doesn’t sound like Madeleine’s accent. So why is he calling Zuula by her first name?

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Dark Side Boogaloo

Cecelia Quest 2

That’s right, after a two-chapter interlude, we’re back to the Dark Side with our favorite Sith apprentice in all of whereverstan.

Cecelia was far, far from Reason, and she hated it.

She had her plate mail, at least,

Look, I don’t mind “chain mail” to refer to what was historically called maille, because the fact is that we’re in the modern era, most people don’t know the word maille (the WordPress spellcheck doesn’t even recognize it, although the WordPress spellcheck also doesn’t recognize “WordPress”), and if you say “chain mail” everyone knows what you’re talking about.

I refuse to make that exception for “plate mail.” Yes, everyone knows what you’re talking about in common use, but it actually makes it significantly harder to explain the word maille to people who are getting slightly deeper into pop history. It’s still not especially difficult by itself, but it does take noticeably more time, and that’s time you could’ve used explaining how Richard the Lionheart’s actual real biography is basically an action movie. It’s pretty straightforward to explain to people “in the actual middle ages this was just called ‘maille,’ but these days we call it ‘chain mail’ or even ‘chain armor’ to avoid confusion with postal services,” and that much harder to say “oh, and also maille refers exclusively to chain mail, and referring to other armors like ‘plate’ as mail was just a mistake from the 70s that caught on.’ These kinds of clarifying preambles force historians to choose between being accurate and being accessible, if you have enough of them they can seriously hurt you in one direction or the other, and history is riddled with enough of them already that every new piece of straw on this camel’s back counts. “Plate armor” is a perfectly good term that doesn’t make ‘maille’ any harder to explain to people.

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: It’s Not Ogre Yet

Chapter 7

Our new puppet party is playing grindluck to get their stats up and maybe not get ambushed by random encounters every twelve seconds, while also talking over the situation. They are discussing this book’s favorite subject: Something ~*~mysterious~*~.

[“]So,” [Garon] said, changing the subject, “Have you thought it over?”

“Whee!” Missus Fluffbear said, as she rolled over a few times, and Mopsy let her come to a rest before licking her fur. “What? Oh, that. Yes I have.”

It’s not like I’ve accidentally skipped some context or anything. There’s just no indication of what it is she’s supposed to be thinking over. Threadbare spins its wheels for another paragraph or two before shedding some light:

“I’ll do it. It’s not like I have to choose those jobs right away.” Threadbare nodded approvingly. “It’s only three classes, anyway. That will leave you two more to play around with if you do have to take those jobs.”

But, y’know, not that much light. There’s some kind of class combo that Dark Threadbare is aiming to pull off, but we have no idea what. It’s only after a montage scene (there’s a literal montage mechanic that allows Threadbare to teach Fluffbear stuff over the course of 12 hours that blur past in what seems like seconds) that we find out exactly what they’re referring to:

The newly made doll haunters had had a long conversation with the two greater golems, about how their continued lives were literally dependent upon someone having the necromancer/golemist combo, who was sympathetic to them. Therefore, since Missus Fluffbear had already chosen to be a necromancer, she’d agreed to get the unlocks for animator, enchanter, and golemist. Though they weren’t exactly directions she thought she wanted to go in, she didn’t want to risk her friends dying and having no bodies to return to.

In fairness, this isn’t the very first time this was brought up, since the idea of Threadbare being the only one who can rez them was mentioned earlier, but it was still pointlessly vague considering that they end up explaining exactly what they mean in a few paragraphs anyway.

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Power Gaming

Chapter 6

The party is sifting through the ruins of the toy shop, and the conversation drifts towards Dark Threadbare’s time with the raccants.

“Yes. They gave me to their children to play with, at first. They played rough! It was very dangerous. But when they saw I could move things and carry things they took me from the children and made me work for them. Then I got attacked by those big hatted cloud things one time and beat them up with my spade. That’s when their Chief, the great Hoomin decided I should be in his dungeon. Then you saved me from that. And then some of them were dead out front and I don’t know why.”

So Dark Threadbare was endangered by the raccants, then enslaved by them, and finally abducted – to the point where she refers to Threadbare as unambiguously having “saved [her] from that.” This does not sound like a fun time.

Threadbare twitched. Zuula’s words rang through his mind. Friends don’t lie to friends, mostly. He pondered it for a second, and decided that it would be bad to lie, here. “They were dead because I killed them.[“]

Okay, if this was going to be a character moment, then probably Zuula shouldn’t have reminded us of her total amorality in the same breath she provided what’s meant to be this scene’s moral guidance. This is the kind of minor nitpick that I probably wouldn’t notice if it weren’t reminding me of how atrocious Zuula is, though. Like, if she had a coherent philosophy in which she actually considers some things to be dishonest or dishonorable, then it’d make sense that she’s the one propping up the virtue of honesty. But she was totally on board with using deception to kill her enemies – to the point that the orc culture she draws her “wisdom” from has actual sayings and traditions about it. You could have a culture where “friends don’t lie to friends” is the moral and lying to enemies is fine, but Zuula has already explicitly disclaimed the idea that she attacks enemies because of their actual wrongdoing, and is instead motivated solely by taking what she wants from anyone too weak to stop her. The only definition of “friendship” here appears to be “people you don’t particularly want to hurt,” which means this “moral” is “only lie to people you want to lie to.”

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Dark Side

Cecelia’s Quest 1

And now for something completely different.

Cecelia is Celia. Threadbare has had some obvious twists – Anise being Amelia was the one that was really easy to guess and also really wanted me to be surprised by it anyway – but I’m pretty confident that “Cecelia = Celia” is too obvious even for this story to think it’s a “reveal.” Like, King Melos is her father, and hopefully this book doesn’t hold its audience’s intelligence in such contempt that it thinks adding one extra syllable to a name is enough to get readers thinking “I guess he must have a different child that we don’t know about.”

So, Cecelia’s sparring with some knight. She’s got a bunch of skills at levels like 57 and 48, which makes her significantly stronger than Threadbare, who’s still muscling through the 20s even on his best skills.

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Spooktacular Free-For-All

Chapter 5

We start with a perspective switch to Madeline, where she recaps the plot of chapter 4 to Garon. This takes several pages. Towards the end, a note arrives, in which Threadbare says he’s got the dungeon core but is injured and needs backup before the cat queen comes to claim it. Naturally, the cat queen gets the same note. Both show up, but when the cat queen arrives, she notices something amiss about the stuffing left lying around from Threadbare’s battle with Zuula’s skeletons:

The Cat Queen stood in the clearing, looking up at the fluff scattered around the wrecked hut. Then her eyes narrowed. “Puffweed fluff?” She said, peering at it more closely. And it was. Here in the mountains it bloomed far earlier than it did elsewhere, and someone had wadded great masses of it together, wetted it down to look like stuffing.

But, hang on, that battle actually happened. Zuula was power leveling Threadbare by actually attacking him with skeletons. Since Threadbare has the skills to mend himself and they had the better part of a full day before the undead would be out and about, why not just actually injure Threadbare enough to leave some stuffing around during the fights they were already having? It would’ve prevented the cat queen from catching on and would probably have taken no more time than gathering up puffweed fluff anyway.

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Undead

Completely forgot to have a Threadbare post on Monday, so instead we’ll have three for today, and I’ll stick the usual Tuesday article on Wednesday instead.

Chapter 4

Threadbare plays cards with the vampires, some kind of heavily luck based game that helps get Fluffbear’s stats higher. While there, the subject of Threadbare’s mission to save Celia from King Melos comes up, and from there, how much the vampires dislike Melos.

“S’aw right. Ya good company, ya know?” Madeline sighed. “Knew it was coming. Soon as the north folded, and Balmoran fell, all the little revolutionaries and resistance fightahs that had gathered heah were next. But nobody listens to the vampaiah, huh? Now Balmoran’s gone, the dwarves are next on the chawpin’ blahk, and only the ranjahs up in Jericho’s Reach ah keepin’ them alive. They’ll be gone too soon, and tha King’ll have total control. Of what’s left ah this land, anyway.”

So apparently Balmoran isn’t the last pocket of resistance? Earlier it sounded like King Melos was already the king of everywhere reachable, but now there were two, maybe three different entities outside his control? Depending on whether these Jericho’s Reach guys are their own polity or just an organization within the territory of either the dwarves or Melos. Why did Caradon hide out within Melos’ borders when he could’ve been in dwarf territory? If Melos knew Taylor’s Delve was full of rebels all along, why did he wait ’till Balmoran fell to torch the place, especially when Balmoran is apparently not even the last formal resistance? If the dwarves and Jericho’s Reach capitulate, is there going to be another rebel territory that turns out to have been resisting Melos all along? That last question is the really important one, the one that all these little questions add up to: Is the Rebel Alliance going to be able to just keep pulling out new allies as the plot demands? Because it’s starting to feel that way, and it’s hard to care whether the dwarves bite it when they’re completely interchangeable with whoever the next final bastion of anti-Melos resistance turns out to be.

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Halloween Wars

When I said that I might not be posting daily for a while, I’ll admit that I was thinking “I might miss a day or two here and there,” not “there will almost immediately be a nearly week-long dark period split up only by reassurances that I haven’t wandered away, I’m just really busy.” The .pdf text for Petals and Thorns is now locked in, though, and I don’t have any more deadlines to hit except to get the Pathfinder conversion done by the end of December so I can get it presentable by the end of January. That’s not a trivial task, but the deadline is generous enough that I will hopefully not be busy for several days straight anytime soon.

Now that we’ve taken care of the explanatory paragraph that people reading through the complete series in the future don’t care about, it’s time for…

Chapter 3

Threadbare and Dark Threadbare are burying the raccants while Pulsivar hangs out. The soap thing from earlier comes up again: The familiar scent from when Pulsivar was a well-cared for pet and not a wild animal fighting for survival has a calming effect on him, so rubbing some on Dark Theadbare convinces Pulsivar to trust her (it also came up when Threadbare first reunited with him, but I couldn’t find a good place to mention it).

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: The Novelization Of A Dungeon Crawl Is Still Boring

Chapter 2

Threadbare and Pulsivar enter the raccant dungeon in search of Dark Threadbare, and soon come across…

The little bear thought that maybe there was something hiding under the junk, but no, nothing was under there. The mob of trash had moved on its own and just slunk up and whacked him a good one.

An animate mob of trash. A trash mob, if you will.

And not much deeper in, Threadbare finds the heart of the raccant operation:

Threadbare gazed upon a large cave, with multiple seats and benches made from stalagmites, free-standing and in rows. Ropes and chains of lanterns hung from the ceiling, flashing with odd colors, and at least three dozen raccants sat on them or jumped up and down, dancing to the music.

Garbage piled high around the cavern shook to the beat, piles of trash and even cans of the stuff shaking as the beat thumped on. Occasionally a can would boil over, and a new trash mob would rattle out, then head toward one of the corridors leading out of the cavern.

And up on stage, was a Raccant wearing a pair of baggy black pants, a gold chain, and some odd contraption over his eyes that Threadbare had never seen before. Though for once that wasn’t due to his ignorance. After all, very few people in Cylvania would have recognized a pair of sunglasses.

Didn’t Caradon have regular glasses? Maybe I just imagined that. Either way, “glasses that are dark” doesn’t seem like it’d be that hard to puzzle out. Nitpick aside, though, I like this setup.

Threadbare is able to dispose of the raccant mooks by animating their own masks to attack them and then using his Wolverine claws to tear up what’s left, with some support from his animated high chair minion that he salvaged from the camp outside. That’s when the boss attacks with a hurricane of puns…

Then in a flash, the raccant was there, bashing the high chair to bits with a heavy hammer that he’d pulled out of literally nowhere.

He’d stopped because it was hammer time, and broken it down, just like that.

Threadbare popped claws and laid into him- or tried to, anyway. The bard could dodge like nobody’s business, thanks to his Raccant Touch This skill.

…which then retreats into a particularly abbreviated example of detached summary.

The fight went on for a bit, and Threadbare switched from trying to shred the guy to just trying to survive, letting Pulsivar do the real work. Fortunately that was a good strategy, and in the end, after three dodge skill ups and two more bodyguard skill ups later, the raccant fell, glasses shattering. Threadbare sagged into Pulsivar, hugging his wounds away with what remained of his sanity.

Survival Quest had this problem, too, where what makes for a good MMO fight doesn’t really make for a good book fight, and instead of having the MMO be weirdly high-lethality in order to pace the fights for a book, it retreats into detached summary. Survival Quest at least had the excuse that it was an actual MMORPG and it would actually be weird from a worldbuilding standpoint for the fights to be balanced around high lethality that allows them to be portrayed beginning to end in just two or three pages of book space (and also allows players to win with a strong alpha strike or even just some lucky crits rather than demanding an effective long term strategy – that’s bad for gameplay). Threadbare has a built-in excuse for having fights balanced for pace rather than strategy:

It's Magic 2

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Sew You Want To Be A Hero: Threadbare Returns

We’re back, baby! One successful Kickstarter later and we are looking at Threadbare’s sequel, Sew You Want To Be A Hero. Like all of these reviews (so far) I’m reading this blind, with no idea whether it’s going to be great or terrible. Unlike the previous ones, this is book two of a series. The previous installment, Stuff and Nonsense, was a rollercoaster of really good and really terrible chapters. We’ll see if the sequel keeps ricocheting around or if it breaks one way or another.

When last we left our hero, the animate teddy bear Threadbare, he had just emerged from the overgrown remains of his home after spending five years regenerating from an otherwise fatal wound. He picked up that wound in a short-lived attempt to protect Celia, his little girl, from the nefarious evil king Melos. In a shocking reveal that has no impact whatsoever on the stakes, context, or balance of the conflict, Melos turns out to be Celia’s father, and his sinister demonic ally Anise was Celia’s mother all along (she used to be human – you can turn corpses into demons in this setting).

According to the status screen Threadbare popped up after finishing his regeneration, that was five years ago. Celia was abducted by Melos at the age of eleven, so by now is quite possibly some kind of evil Sith apprentice. As much as Threadbare’s middle dragged on without a plot, that ending was actually a fairly compelling inciting incident (which isn’t supposed to go at the end of a book, but better late than never), and I’m excited to see what happens next – although admittedly, also nervous that we’re going to have to wait until the end of the book for a single significant plot development.

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