Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Cenotaph Blade

Hi. This might be from the Binding Universe, but perhaps not. I'm not entirely sure it fits.

On a high cliff, in a faraway country, there is a monument. It is a long slab of metal, upon which are engraved many words, in many languages, and it is capped with a short pole.

There is a legend, in that country, that the monument was once a sword, that each word on it's surface is one of the names of it's victims, and that it swelled to include the new one whenever it took a life. There is but one exception; an old, old inscription on the hilt, reading: "Wonders Cease".

The legend says that the sword has been taken up many times, by many wielders, but not once lost or stolen, and that the last great hero of the land, weary of it's weight, planted it in a cliff near where it was first forged. He went his way, and never took up arms again.

Perhaps it is true.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Kurlin Fubukinov (Observed Universe)

Kurlin Fubukinov has been several things, including freelance spy, professional dance instructor, handyman, and most recently, soldier. He has been a soldier for a very long time.
A blond immigrant, raised by loving but sickly parents, he had to support himself from a fairly early age and grew quite good at it. Unfortunately, he was just barely old enough to get caught in the last major military draft, and was forced into military service.
There, his build and stature would normally have gotten him a position as a heavy weapons specialist, if he hadn’t abruptly shown enough talent as a Connector before his final placement to justify retraining.

When he debuted in the field he attracted several Observers, and upon confirmation that he was the source of their interest, he was immediately promoted to Advanced Forces, where he served for nearly a decade before assignment to Akabane's experimental commando squad, alongside Vanka.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thousand Hand School (Prismatic Universe)

Hi. The author doesn't even know why he didn't post this earlier. Except that apparently, he did. He's edited it's replacement, so it is now a second draft, at least.

The Thousand Hand School of Darkshaping is a somewhat obscure school of martial arts. It was developed in the eleventh century as an offshoot of prosthetics research, and focuses on duplicating one’s limbs.
Much of the reason for its obscurity is its difficulty, as it requires both precise casting of Darkness to mold one’s own limbs, and then a measured release that preserves the form both during release and in transit.
Beyond this, it can be somewhat unnerving, not least because Lightwielding is needed to actually move the generated limbs. Nevertheless, what following it does have is quite dedicated, not because of any great versatility or range advantages, but because of its efficiency.
Part of the shaping process requires pushing Darkness into the bodypart you’re trying to copy, not well understood increases the purity of Light or Darkness significantly. Thousand Hand also allows something that pure Darkshaping is incapable of - the ability to move the things one constructs without adding or removing Darkness. As the hands are controlled by Light, the control is both quicker and requires less concentration, and more force can be exerted by the duplicate limbs than would be safe for the originals.
Advanced uses include changing the size of the generated limbs, adding or removing parts, and even modifying one’s own body. This last is especially dangerous, as it requires the caster to rework large parts of their nervous system.
For some, however, the advantages outstrip the costs, and it is often taught alongside prosthetic medicine, as it still has significant overlap.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Vaccine Williams

Hi. The author said it would be a later time zone, didn't he?
Kindly ignore the fact that on no time zone on Earth is it still Thursday.

Veronica Williams is one of the most widely known and feared mages on the planet. She was a medic, one of the first mages of the Fourth Timeline to truly attempt to test the boundaries of what magic could be used to heal, and was reasonably good at it, but she is far more widely known as Vaccine Williams, first Plaguemonger and creator of Windblight.

A rough timeline:
  1. Veronica secures government research grant to develop cures for cancer, among other things. Veronica has early success towards developing a spell that can manipulate biology.
  2. Other branch of government threatens to have her grant revoked unless she shares her work with their supersoldier project.
  3. Veronica refuses, other branch of government sends mage team to apprehend her and recover her notes.
  4. Veronica completes Windblight and uses it to kill retrieval team. Veronica decides that her work on biological manipulators is too dangerous to make public, destroys her notes, and flees.
  5. Veronica is labeled a terrorist, adopts the nickname Vaccine.
  6. Some time passes. Attempts to kill or apprehend her slowly peter out. Vaccine discovers that the supersoldier project that attempted to co-opt her research has used her blood as the base for several Artificial Nephilim.
  7. She attacks the project’s main facility, and decides to adopt her infant clones, Sorcery, Alchemy, and Larceny. There’s a fourth, seemingly empty growth tank, which she destroys with the others. Somewhere near this point she appears to have made the acquaintance of the being known as Trigger, and they have become friends.
  8. The failed fourth clone, little more than a piece of spine, is used as the basis for Ivory.

Sorcery, Alchemy, and Larceny are magically altered clones of Vaccine, technically classifying them as Artificial Nephilim. Alchemy’s modifications were based Omnicrafter Rings, but the other two’s origins are unknown. Sorcery’s powers seem to be based on complex effects, mostly blessings and curses, and Larceny’s powers appear to involve portals. Sorcery’s official name is Canum, and Alchemy’s is Solen. Larceny’s is unknown.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

First Episode Death Scene

As the author actually forgot to update last week, he's also finally updated the Links page. He's quite proud of this snippet, as well; it's the beginning to a Choose your Own Adventure-style story, that shall probably involve alchemy. And violence, lots of violence.

Ugh. I think there’s more shrapnel in my gut than intestine, at this point. The blood’s mostly stopped, that’s probably a bad sign.
The pillar behind me is hard, but not cold anymore. I should hope so, I’ve bled over it long enough. How long has it been, anyway? A minute? An hour? Not long enough for that guy to stop singing, at least. I keep hearing snatches, but it’s so hard to make out. “You are my sunshine… when thou art near me… thy Light has brought me… to~o this place...”
What is he singing? Why is he there? Does he know I’m alive?
Was he the one who tried to kill me?
Ow. I feel sick.

The viewpoint of a woman, running from some other figures. Blue uniforms? But blurry, I - she’s? running. Surrounded. She stops. She’s holding something. Stabs it into her wrist. Laughs. Her features start to change, hair grows longer, fanned out by gunfire. Gunfire? Hair fanned out by the gunfire, as it riddles her body.
My body. I’m standing, laughing. My clothes are shredded, but the blood’s obscuring that. I’m in a clearing - alleyway? Plaza? Somewhere small and circular, in the city. Around me, there are a bunch of people on the ground, riddled with bullets. There’s a lot of blood here. I’m still laughing. My mind is hazy, but laughing feels good. I feel good. Euphoric. Weirdly so, like there’s also nausea, or maybe hints of pain. Would those be bad? It seems like it, but I can’t tell.

[ ] Start investigating the people on the ground.
--[ ] You need clothes. You think you ought to feel cold.
--[ ] Make sure they don't get up again.
--[ ] They might need help.
--[ ] They’re just interesting. (Default)
[ ] Run. You might not be safe here. You remember being chased.
--[ ] There’s a path just a little to the right of where you’re facing. Were you going that direction?
--[ ] Up one of the walls. Could you do that, before? It feels obvious.
--[ ] Out the alley behind you. They won’t be expecting that.
[ ] Examine yourself.
--[ ] Start playing with your hair. Partway down, it changes color! Where it's not bloodstained, that is.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Boss List (Binding Universe)

Hello. The author was quite sure it was still Thursday, but apparently he was an hour off. The most likely culprit is Daylight Savings Time.
In any case, this is a list of bosses in a videogame the author had been scripting, but considering it's age, likely incomplete.

Bunkerbuster: A heavy assault, antiarmor, and anti emplacement unit. Early model, fed enough weapons that it’s grown beyond the original size and firepower specifications, at the cost of gaining enough independence to be a potential hazard if allowed to develop further. The project was shelved due to lack of subtlety, precision, or low cost per unit compared to the newly developed Wraith units, and the only working prototype was kept at the main storage facility as a guard dog/building specific mascot that rarely saw combat, but was usefully intimidating, and could reliably destroy anything else that would stored in the warehouse if it escaped. Vant crossed paths with it fairly early in his rampage, and the guards only started getting really serious after he destroyed it in three minutes and consumed the remains. It was four legged, had six rocket launchers, two to each arm, one each for the shoulders, and it’s claws had the dual purpose of allowing it to brace itself and dig through almost all materials. It a heavy cutting laser was intended for later designs, but never implemented.

The Lords of Silence: The Twelve Lords of Silence, four of which are reserved for the Queen of Dead Echoes’ honor guard. They are all weaker, weaponless, nonsentient imitations of her. Fought twice, once when the eight deployed as a defense against airstrikes drive Vant back indoors, where they don’t have enough room to maneuver, and the second time shortly after Vant absorbs Bombshell, where he’s actually able to hit them. They get called back shortly after he starts killing them, but he still gets at least three. He is, however, incompatible with their masks and robes, as they’re designed to show absolutely no identity, and conceptually opposed to his nature as a face stealer variant.

Rook: The leader of the elite squad of security androids native to the facility. Essentially a flying, better armored, ridiculously fast Shock Trooper, it uses rockets placed strategically around it’s body to outpace most targeting systems, including Vant’s, and has an inherent immunity to homing effects. Four working copies have been made, and trained in assistive movement, but mass production was being held off until a solution to the pausing glitch as they connect could be found. They all ambushed Vant soon after the Lords of Silence drove him back inside, but he was able to exploit the glitch to defeat and consume them.

Yuuyel: A Machine King commando sent to investigate the facility for completely unrelated reasons who ends up crossing paths with Vant. Vant presumes he’s another guard, and Yuuyel decides that the rampaging robotic abomination is probably something he’s allowed to shoot. He’s also believed to be working with Vant from approximately the minute he makes himself known, and the “shoot first, questions later” attitude of the base security gets several of them court martialed for criminal negligence after the actual situation comes to light. Protagonist of Yuuyel Mode, which follows his  misadventures as he attempts to use his Covert Entry Warrant and stealth specialization to discreetly sweep the Sulieman Research Facility for highly illegal weapons, only to be mistaken for an infiltrator working with the Rogue (Vant), and shot at. Uses a rocket launcher with an underslung plasma cutter, and has a grappling hook launcher attached to each limb. The trick to defeating him is to attack his grappling lines with heat or cold, and use explosives when he tries to hide. Electrocuting them also works, but only if he’s not grounded at the time.

Bombshell: A research subject, Bombshell was believed to be a conglomeration of severely damaged Bluefire Drone, several Type III Combat Doppelgangers with the basic machinegun loadout, and a recently shot down jet fighter. The working theory was that the Type II Artificial Wraith had attempted to repair itself with nearby materials and accidentally absorbed the not quite metal of a mostly dead Combat Doppelganger looking for new parts to copy. It is believed to have either then shot down or merely recovered a previously crashed fighter/bomber, and proceeded to absorb it. It is known to be mostly still loyal to the U.S. military, and capable of flight, transformation between several preset modes, and generating complex ammunition types, all facilitated by Bluefire. It can also apparently make generated projectiles explode into Bluefire on contact, suggesting more innovation than normally expected of a drone, and was also being vetted for tampering before copies were rushed to mass production.

Tanner Hobson: An optional, hidden boss, she made a segmented whip/club/chain out of pistols, with hinges attached to the bottom of the barrel and the back of the slide. The triggers were also removed, although the trigger guard was kept for the handle. While it was theoretically possible to reload manually, she kept it loaded with magic, and designed the hinges such that they couldn’t end up pointing any of the barrels at herself with any ease. She made it with facility supplies, deducted from her own paycheck, as something of a hobby, and used the working prototype to attack Vant at least partially because she wanted to see how well it worked. Put up a reasonable fight, and ran after being disarmed. Vant was unable or unwilling to follow.

The Queen of Dead Echoes: An attempt to copy the Dead Messengers, with several misconceptions about their actual creation process. As a result, she’s powerful but quite flawed, and her weapon, Piercing Echo, was created for her and bonded to her at birth, unlike a true Dark Nature. Her actual inherent powers allow her to replicate or cancel sounds that occurred in the local area, including shockwaves, and travel at the same speed. This allows her to match velocities with supersonic projectiles, one major distinction from the Lords of Silence, and she can also produce noise rather than simply modulating silence, however they do share in common the inability to move slower than the speed of sound. Her movement abilities are shared with her weapon, which takes the form of a five pointed star that splits into psuedo boomerangs. Freeing her is Vant’s objective, although she is quite possibly the final boss.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A history of Pactmaking (Observed Universe)

This is one history of Pactmaking in the Observed universe. It may or may not be correct.

In the Observed universe, Powers are based on Pacts, not the other way around. The First True Power was something like a shared fantasy, allowing simple descriptions to evoke much more detailed scenes, providing faster, more advanced communication than would otherwise be possible. These were not always truthful - lies, delusions, and the simple limits of memory and perspective could always translate into these, not to mention the outright fantasies. But they were curious for two reasons. First, that both parties could always agree on the details when they shared one, although they almost never appeared from the perspective of an actual body, and second, that they were not always consistently achievable, even with the exact same people and the exact same story.

There was a man, generations before the first Pact was devised, who had devoted himself to studying this phenomenon. His true name has probably been lost to the mists of time; all the myths call him some variant of Andralusia, a word meaning Wise One, but there are some hints that this meaning came into being afterwards, or it could have actually been his name. In any case, his work was extensive, cataloging the numerous factors that seemed to influence whether a vision would happen or not, and what could be done with them. He made early forays into how it rarely hindered combat, but he was primarily concerned with how personal biases could affect visions, and more troublingly, how the factors that most influenced successful visions seemed to correlate with situational drama, but not necessarily for the participants. He posited that the visions were not truly those of humans, but that they were simply sharing the sight of things outside the world, be it angels in heaven or devils in hell.
This was by far his most controversial point, as the First True Power had long been thought a natural phenomenon, exclusive to humans, and it had also been proved that trainable human action was a necessary factor in making them possible. Nevertheless, he managed to get enough of the presiding church on his side that he wasn’t executed for heresy, and his theories were mostly left alone, not quite in obscurity.

Several generations later, another man would look at Andralusia’s inconclusive research into midcombat visions, and realize that not only did they rarely hinder the viewer, they also appeared to grant greater strength and motivation, even when initially triggered by paralysis or indecision. He posited that the connection to the true viewers of the visions granted some power that both parties could manipulate, and believed that this could finally prove their existence. He devised a contract, in which he would make one of two simple choices based on different stimuli, and would be given power to work with at the same time, so he could learn what was possible with it. He tried several different methods of attracting attention to it, finally succeeding with a simple but difficult game of skill (bouncing a ball against a wall), which he challenged the Observer to beat.
To his surprise and fascination, it did. In one try.
His physical performance was improved, albeit within expected parameters, and was also remarkably uniform; there were very few random or wasted movements, despite the simplicity of the instructions he had made himself susceptible to. He suspected that that simplicity was in fact the cause, and he was mostly correct; he hadn’t specified free movement otherwise, and the power he was channeling optimized his stance. Several more tests correlated this, and he realized that it was probably impossible to channel the power granted by the connection in any way not previously specified, explaining something about visions. As to the Observer’s apparent skill, he had several theories, but assumed that the most likely explanation was that they were simply some degree of omniscient.
He immediately set out to learn the limits of what was possible with his Pact, starting with whether or not he could modify it while it was still running. He learned that it was possible but very difficult to do so without also changing his physical abilities, such as picking up a weapon or tool, and that simple effects were the easiest to grant, although they could be layered to achieve more fantastic abilities fairly easily. He spent quite some time playing around with various devices and the powers they granted, but he wasn’t done yet. At this point, his suspicions of the Observers true nature were rudimentary, based solely on the fact that it hadn’t killed him during his testing despite having obvious difficulty, but his eventual confirmation that they weren’t bound by time in the same way as humans came completely by accident. He was testing a new type of movement when his Observer made him dodge several obstacles he hadn’t seen while sharing it’s sight. This was unsurprising, what was surprising was that he learned of a much less frustrating path after he had already terminated all Observation Windows, with more rewards.

He eventually figured out that he could create a clause that would improve his powers as he fulfilled simple conditions, such as collecting materials or completing challenges.
He realized fairly quickly that if he made the conditions for advancement too simple, his Observer would lose interest, having gained some experience with their psychology in the course of his studies.
And so he made his Pact enhance some aspects of new things he encountered, thus creating scaling difficulty. It worked... spectacularly.

At this point, the stories all start conflicting again, but it is known that that man known to modern historians only as the Old Soul proceeded to wreak a swath of destruction across the countryside. He then appears to have paused for a bit, possibly as the ruler of a country, and was sealed away by an unknown party for a minimum of a quarter century.
He has been freed at least once since then, usually by a greater Pactmaker. See: The Old Soul, Ouroboros Imprisonment, Historical Pactmakers