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Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
in I'd like a flash pls, I'll choose the tropes myself.

Also new year new dome wooo, I'm ready to partay

Simply Simon fucked around with this message at 16:50 on Jan 5, 2021


Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Absurd tragedy

Heir/Heiress | “For my father!” | Overbearing parent | Night of revelry | Enemies are foils

Death of the Family
1484/1500 words

News of his father’s death had reached Juan on a Thursday, which had left him little time to organize a party on the weekend. Fortunately, most guests had private planes.

The wake in the mansion of his childhood was in full swing. People of all walks of life - CEOs, aristocrats, fresh millionaires - met and mingled and socialized. A roaring success, Juan congratulated himself. His fiancée sipped on a glass of warm champagne.

“Think it’s time for your speech, honey?”

Juan downed his fifth glass of the half hour. “It might be, Karlita. Can you be a dear and tell the DJ to announce me?”

She winced at her unloved nickname, but smiled nonetheless, and kissed him.

“He would have been a phenomenal in-law. Be nice to him in my name.” She left.

Through his drunken haze, Juan still saw her clearly, shining through the mass of faceless guests she passed. He did not deserve Karla. But then again - he took another glass of expensive liquor on his way up sweeping stairs to the podium - neither did he deserve anything else here.

“I don’t deserve this!”, Juan started his speech. “I’m humbled that you all came here on such short notice to help me get over my grief, honor my father, have some fun in these dark times. Special thanks to my fellow student, my wonderful fiancée Karla, who helped so much to set up this wonderful wake.”

As the spotlights focused on her reddening face, Juan braced himself with another gulp of his drink.

“A wake for a great man,” he continued once the applause had died down. “Once, you’d have called him a captain of industry, a man who spent most of his life establishing a company that would give tens of thousands secure jobs…”

The words dribbled from his mouth automatically, he’d heard and said them so often. A price acceptance ceremony, the opening of a new plant, a requiem: the man, the function, all the same.

“His office door was always open.” For his employees.
“He dealt swiftly and personally with problems.” Unless his family had them.
“He gave attention to every charity that deserved it.” I guess his shallow wife and spoiled son did not.

Finally, Juan had rattled off the last phrases, and somehow managed to not add his own spin to them. He didn’t know if the alcohol had helped or made it harder; in any case, he raised his almost empty glass for a toast.

“I salute Antonio Hernández Vázquez, philanthropist, humanist, beloved father. His wealth paid for this party, so you better be happy alongside me!

Juan rapidly emptied the bitter dregs of his drink. Had he said the last sentence out loud? He scanned the crowd. Nobody reacted. So probably not.

The crystal chandelier reflected multicolored lights. People danced on marble counters. Off the mahogany wall decor, club beats echoed.
And got cut off suddenly, when a sabre split the DJ set in half. The shocked silence swept away the pleasant dullness in Juan’s brain.

“You’re a disgrace!”, the masked man who had destroyed the music spat. Nimbly, he climbed onto the 19th-century-secretary desk where the sound equipment had been installed. “You mock your father with this revelry!”

Juan spread his arms in a gesture of magnanimity. “This is in honor of him, actually. You must have missed the speech.”

“Honor him with this,” the party-crasher said, and pointed the hilt of a second sabre towards Juan. “This won’t be your first Mensur. Just pretend you’re at your German fraternity, the ambiance is fitting.”

Everybody on the lower floor of the mansion stayed away from the madman with two swords. Juan smiled - and vaulted over the rails. What an opportunity to show his skills, trained with the best!
Like his father, who had done his share of youthful fencing.
Juan gripped the offered sabre with enough force to bury the memory in pain.

The two men began circling each other. “Please, tell me what exactly my father would hate about this.” Juan said with what he hoped sounded like lofty confidence.

“Everything!” His opponent lunged, a mere test of Juan’s reflexes; he recognized it as such, and stepped aside. “A waste of his inheritance to celebrate the least important achievements of his life with perfect strangers,” the man continued.

Juan tried an attack of his own, managing to cut fabric on the other’s shoulder. The crowd ooh’d. “Couldn’t host such a great party without those achievements. You a friend of his?”

While they kept testing each other’s range, Juan desperately tried to get his liquor-soaked brain cells to work again. He thought he might recognize the voice, but it was muffled by the mask meant to evoke Dumas’ famous prisoner.

“A good friend of his daughter-in-law.” An unexpected diagonal swing had Juan stagger back.

Juan spotted someone on the edge of the crowd. “Karlita knows you? Also, we’re not married yet.” He came back, swinging wildly. From the corner of his eye, he saw Karla wince once more.

“But did Antonio not consider her his daughter?” The man easily defended himself. “It seems she forged a better connection with him in two years than you did in twenty-two.”

He suddenly stopped meeting Juan’s blade, who overcommitted, and tripped over an extended leg. He quickly rolled himself onto his back, only to see that his opponent had not moved.

“What do you want from me?” Juan scrambled backwards, trying to get up, but got stopped by a sabre swung over his head.

“Who was your father to you?”, his opponent asked. “A cash-cow?” Another swing. “A networking opportunity?” Third swing, lower. “An easy path through life?”

“A stranger!”, Juan screamed. The swings stopped. Juan could finally get up, tried to find his weapon.

“It was true for two decades,” the mask whispered. In the pallid silence of the mansion, everyone could hear him. “Then you brought Karla home.”

“Leave Karlita out of this,” Juan snarled. Where was the sabre?

“Stop calling me that,” Karla said. Suddenly, she was between the two. “For the last two years, your dear father, this wonderful man has tried many times to make up for his mistakes.”

Juan tried and failed to keep his voice from being petulant. “My love can’t be bought.”

“I know how to earn your love,” Karla said in a way that made Juan’s heart freeze. “You need someone to tell you that you are not Antonio Hernández Vázquez the second. Someone to help you figure out what you want. What you need in a life that provides everything. Your father was ready to help me with that, but you never listened.”

“Well, it’s doesn’t loving matter now, does it?” Juan fell to his knees. “The old man is gone. It’s too late for him to find the right words, for me to open my ears.”

“Maybe it’s not too late.” The masked man’s voice was much clearer now. It found its way deep into Juan’s open ears. And flipped a switch there that had been loosened by drink after drink, after he had done his best for so long to keep it from going off.

Letting all his rage flow free gave Juan a moment of total clarity.
His sabre was right in front of him.

He grabbed it and lunged forward.


A sickening sound as metal penetrated flesh. A scream cut short. Karla, on his blade. Juan stumbled back. “No…”

Behind her, the man loomed unmasked. His father’s face, shrouded in infinite sadness. He held the body of the woman he’d called daughter.

“When your mother died, I was not sad,” he said tonelessly. “I had not given her any love, and didn’t get any back. Only when she was gone did I realize what I had missed. With her. With you.”

He stared into Karla’s empty eyes. “I had given up on you and myself, but this woman chiseled my heart out of its shell. She’d desperately wanted to give you all the love she believed you deserved, her own and your father’s.”

Antonio’s son broke out in sobbing laughter. Images projected themselves onto the fog of the alcohol in his brain. The three of them on a family picnic. Juan and his father sparring. Long nights in front of the fireplace, sharing good whisky, bad jokes and mixed memories of a wife, a mother who could have been better. Karla had tried so hard and so long to reconcile the two men, culminating in this absurd scheme.

“You still didn’t listen, Juan. Now both our chances for love are gone.”

Something choked Juan from the inside, cut laughter and tears off, left him empty.


Antonio shook his head. “You were right, son. It’s too late for the right words. Enjoy the inheritance.”

The old man gripped the hilt of Juan’s sword and, embracing Karla, rammed the blade into himself as well.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Thanks a lot for the plentitude of crits! Very appreciated!

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

crabrock posted:

in. i don't need a flash rule but can i have a horse gif anyway?
Allow me

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
You will

You won’t go far enough. You won’t take her heart and rip it out and chew on it. You won’t yank out her stomach and put butterflies in and put it back. You won’t make yourself her world.

She won’t submit to you. Won’t quiver at the mention of your name, won’t scream when she sees you finally return. She won’t yield no matter how much you push her.
She is pure and you are filth and she is perfect and you are an abomination, she smells like good things do and you smell like the worst. You are negative and she is positive and if you touched you’d big bang into a world of hurt for her.
But you want that. You want to touch her and bang and trap her in the void of you. You want to defile her with yourself and drag her to your level and further down and keep her there. Topple her from her pedestal and break her into little bits and step on her and grind her into dust. This is what would happen if you touched her. But you won’t.

You won’t go far enough. You won’t become hers to use. You won’t be her bath towel, her dishrag, her toilet paper. You won’t make her your world.

She isn’t interested. She is aloof. She is immersed in her world which is a queendom and she rules your world of peasants and doesn’t know it. You are beneath her attention and you know it.
She wants to not be bothered by you. She wants to be left alone. She is happiest without you. She would hate the thought of knowing you, if she knew you.
But you wouldn’t dare change that. You want to make yourself known to her, but you’re a coward, you’re pathetic, you’re jelly-spined. You want to wave to her but it’d be like a germ greeting the body it sickens. You want to say something but it would be a faithless prayer to the entirely wrong God. You want to at least raise the corners of your mouth, forming something more crooked than any politician. But you won’t.

You won’t go far enough. You won’t become her boyfriend. You won’t go on a date with her. You won’t get to know her a little first. You won’t start a normal loving conversation.

She is sitting on the next table. She has finished reading her book. She is just a few steps away. She might as well be Venus and you are Charon orbiting something that’s not even a planet anymore. She is bored and looks around.
Her eyes get stuck on yours like a glittering dragonfly on sundew, but she manages to yank them away from your hunger. You’re glad. She sighs and you know it’s relief. She does not even exist in the same dimension as you. If you are length and breadth, she has so many layers that you could describe string theory with her.
You want to close the distance. You want to take those few steps. You want to move to her table. You want to comment on the book, which by the way you did also read. It’s not even a lie. It’s not even a bad book. But you won’t.

You won’t go far enough. You won’t eliminate the four feet. You won’t stand up and see how she reacts. You won’t need a backup plan if it’s a bad reaction, a chemical plant catastrophe. You won’t move a single muscle anyway.

She will not notice you as you sink into your seat. She won’t see you fade away because you never were there. She has already erased you from her memory despite looking directly at you right now. She smiles because she is glad you are gone. She waves to disperse the last remnants of your stench.

She gets up

Will you?

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
I'll judge

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
brotherly – In the Blue Glow

The beginning needs a little work. Branna is not the main character, but the story starts with him, I think the “hot poo poo” just sounds awkward – consider starting with Armie’s perspective on him.

In other ways as well the beginning could be improved – there’s a good story here about Armie learning that it’s okay that some people perform better than others, and that Branna is actually a really nice (hot?) guy, but it’s lost a little because Armie’s dislike of Branna feels really forced. He’s jealous, that’s basically it. There’s something about Armie disliking him as well because he secretly pines for him and can’t admit that, but it doesn’t go anywhere.

If you managed to set up the actual problem Armie has better, then the rest would click into place, imo. The sequence of him working himself into a frenzy is pretty well done, the ending is fine, but it needs a clearer arc and setup.

Overall, well-written on the sentence level but not really gripping on a story one.

gently caress Yeah! factor: Armie got himself down and the only obstacle to him getting back up was soreness. 3/10

Azza Bamboo – The Tale of Leam

I liked this, but of course there’s room for improvement. I was really confused at the beginning by the “work of their God” line. It becomes pretty clear as the story goes in that Leam is only useful as a worker for his hated king, but it is needlessly obfuscated imo.
I’m also having a hard time grasping Leam’s character fully. He’s strong and tall and broad but also very musical, and he speaks extremely poetically for someone just working unskilled labor day and night. At the end, he even writes an impromptu song. It seems a little out of nowhere.

The fairies themselves are also curiously glossed over, they show up after the duet and carry Leam away, and it’s just a single sentence – is he like “guess that’s happening”? Also, until they struggle to get the gun out of the pond, I had no grasp on their size.

Overall, well-written but a little too vague in parts.

gently caress Yeah! factor: I hate the British Empire as much as the next guy, but I wonder how effectively Leam is going to accomplish punishing the king by shooting a few foremen over in Australia. 4/10

Weltlich – A War Story with Uncle Welt

Wow, I did not like this story. Almost nothing of it landed for me – the framing (what’s the stakes? What does a wargame even mean? Is this a real thing or are you retelling a match of Battlefield?), the blasé tone (the motherfucker landed in a shallow grave), the amount of info you give (a whole second paragraph just describing the plane – then two more of the same?!) and what you don’t give (what the hell is a C-130 and why is it relevant? What’s a DZ?).

I especially don’t like how you explain tediously “oh btw this plane is old and dangerous to jump from, the biggest danger is slamming against its side if you gently caress up the jump” and then just two paragraphs later you describe how someone does exactly that. That’s the fastest-fired Chekov’s gun ever, did you base this on your sex life?

gently caress Yeah! factor: Clyburn jumps like a dumbass, gets knocked out and miraculously survives. Where did he lift himself out of his own predicament? Just terrible 1/10

a friendly penguin – Mint and Sugar

This does not quite land for me, and I think it’s because the tensions it builds up are generally resolved too quickly. You have, for example, people holding back Stibor from rescuing Rowan for about half a sentence before he breaks free and goes to rescue him. Later, Rowan struggles for a sentence in the beast’s jaws, but you immediately dispel the danger by calling it “not a beast” (as if a cat of that size wasn’t dangerous as hell, haha), then Rowan is rescued and the threat is literally dispelled.

Probably the biggest way the story suffers though is by you putting the prompt at the start, so there’s no mystery to what the “tentacle” is. Consider putting the flash rule at the end!

I do like how you set up Stibor as being an animal-lover. I also like the little interplay he has with Rowan. The first sentence is also quite good, but imo it would be stronger if you just stated “Peacetime made us question so much of our lives.” before going into the exposition of the mission.

I’m also wondering what the “hoards” are, are they especially dangerous people who can’t throw stuff away lol

gently caress Yeah! factor: Stibor gets knocked down by the tail, but away from the hole, and just scrambles away. There’s no real getting up involved. 4/10

Staggy – All feathered things

I liked this. Very visceral, great progression in the little space you have, and a great triumph at the end. There’s just two small details that irked me:
a) I don’t know the real significance of the treasure. Zhen Yi does not want to sell it because it’s more precious to her than money, but why? Obviously at the end it saves her neck, but that still does not explain why she treasures (no pun intended) it so much
b) I’m not fully convinced about the true urgency of her situation, the hunger especially. If she had that many pigs, she could have kept one to eat away at, like she’s apparently doing anyway, or keep the best parts of each she butchered for herself. Just seems like inefficient resource-management.

Overall, however, it feels like a classic adventure tale and it was enjoyable to read.

gently caress Yeah! factor: Zhen Yi’s observation that the roc likes shiny things saves her from getting knocked down again. That’s like a getting back up by proxy. 8/10

Tree Bucket – The Story of Erik Blue-Tooth

Wow, this was silly. But while humor is usually a hard sell for me, I didn’t hate it. My biggest issue with it is that the writing is a little clumsy. You start the first line of dialogue with a sad typo (“you’re clever one”), and the rest of the dialogue is also a bit messy. Sigrid is a bit too flippant, she is talking too much about stuff she must know he doesn’t get, but the latter also seems almost aggressively uninterested in trying to hear her out on the parts he would get.

Erik’s name is fun. Did you get inspired by the Bluetooth symbol being runes?

Overall, a bizarre idea pulled off competently, but it needs a few more editing passes.

gently caress Yeah! factor: Not really there, considering Erik has fallen offscreen, and he’s accepting an up(load) from someone else (which also doesn’t happen on-screen). 2/10, but actually 5/10 because it’s not supposed to be silly, not badass

flerp – just a few more minutes like this

yo this is cute. I like these two. There’s not much to say other than it made me smile, you did some excellent descriptions of injuries, and intimacy.

gently caress Yeah! factor: You write about not getting up again immediately, which is a great subversion because it’s a great story. I’ll allow it. 9/10

Mercedes – Flying By The Seat Of Your Pants

You are right, those are some p bad words. Sadly, even, because they didn’t have to be. If I understand the plot correctly, some braggart named Patrick bribes an occultist to take over his body in order to cast a spell that will allow him to survive an otherwise lethal fall. The fall is self-inflicted because Patrick wants to impress friends and strangers with a dumb stunt of jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

I don’t think this premise needs to be constantly shot in the foot by yourself, so why do you do it? What’s to be gained with the frankly terrible attempts at humor? You know how to write a tense sequence – the fall itself is proof enough of that – but then why put poo poo into pants, why an aside about the pandemic?

I weep for a better, much more fun story that could have been (as in, fun not funny, this lands about as well as Patrick would have without the spell).

gently caress Yeah! factor: At least you manage to build some tension during the fall sequence? 2/10

toanoradian – Making Me Mindless Minions

This seems amateurish, which means it needs practice to become better, so take everything with the idea of improvement. Why do I get the impression that you are unpracticed? Well, there’s tense issues (both in the first paragraph already and later) where you switch to present for a sentence, and typos, examples:
“on the back on my mind”
“Something have bitten me.”
“until I killed his back”
And that tends to stick out like a sore thumb.

Apart from those issues that could be fixed with more judicious editing, I’m also generally not too into your story because it’s honestly a little too confusing for its own good. You’re – I think – going for a NO YOU ARE THE ZOMBIES thing, slowly revealing that the protagonist is not getting away from zombies, no he hasn’t found a secret way to triumph over them, no he hasn’t suddenly realized that zombies taste well, but instead he is a zombie, and he became one after trying to kill a bunch of them, but the last one played dead and bit him, and now he’s replaying the moments leading up to that realization over and over again. I guess? Did I get that somewhat right? I feel like there’s too many twists and layers here to really follow it fully.

It’s not all bad – there’s some nice descriptions of fleshy bits – so do keep practicing! You’re just not quite there yet.

gently caress Yeah! factor: Him reliving a loop again and again is not very triumphant now is it. 2/10

Noah – Championships Are Forever

Wow, this is depressing. It’s probably harsh reality for a lot of former teenage athletes though. You captured that fairly well. However, I do have some issues with your story. First of all, I have zero idea of American football, so the opening paragraph just makes me think: The hell is a go-ahead touchdown into double coverage? I mean, I get the gist of it, but it’s still way too specific for me. Similarly, the last three paragraphs also kind of lose me, which is a surprisingly small problem, as they add nothing. It has been – to me at least – crystal clear that Sammy got a heavy concussion with a side of brain damage from his glorious victory, and that has been hammered in again and again, so it feels irrelevant to show the scene itself. I’m not sure what you were going for here by repeating it, it’s not like it closes off Sammy’s arc, or makes the scene loop back to a setup at the start.

Adding to the initial confusion btw is at least one typo coupled with awkward phrasing:
“In a corner, his bartender, Reggie sat”
Why is Reggie his bartender? Also, it’s missing a comma after Reggie, so I thought Reggie sat his bartender [down] somewhere until it clicked.

Overall, you waste a surprising amount of precious words on an irrelevant scene which you could use to instead have the story be even more depressing as Sammy more painfully realizes how hollow his current happiness he paid for with lasting damage to his mind and memories is.

gently caress yeah! factor: there’s nothing triumphant about this, but that was not your intention. I actually felt it stuck too close to the prompt by spelling out in the final scene that Sammy got back up again – and that’s what actually got him really badly hurt. 7/10

Thranguy – Oh, Boy

Pretty heavy. There’s some excellent turns of phrase in here, thought I don’t need to tell you that, you know you can write. That’s pretty much all there is, though, so is it enough? Basically, the plot of this little scene is Becky realizing that her short fling with some guy who turned out to be a serial killer (?) doesn’t actually mean anything. The core issue, what brings her down, is that Victor didn’t show any signs, and that means that normal-seeming people can be monsters. She then spins that into the idea that normal people are monsters as a baseline, but overcomes that by basically thinking “naw that’s stupid”.

I wonder if you’re implying at the end that nobody else had called her Victor’s dumb phrase, or that nobody else had gotten even that close to loving her. The latter seems unnecessarily harsh, so I choose not to interpret it that way. The former, then, is just another confirmation that Becky’s thought process of “okay that was a bit of an overreaction” is correct.

Overall, well-written but a bit of a nothing for me.

gently caress yeah! factor: only being shaken a little after realizing some fling killed a bunch of people is pretty badass. 5/10

Idle Amalgam – Waffle cone

The way you formatted this story makes my eyes hurt. Did you really have to have every sentence be its own line? However, it does highlight how pointlessly expository half of them are. It feels like the clumsiest attempt at world-building every time you overexplain a little detail, all of that could be done way better.

In fact, the entire plot flows extremely weirdly. You set up a ton of (as I said, rather superfluous) details, about the company and the ship and the family history and the ice cream and the sponge monster and so on, but the entire plot boils down to “huh, I hadn’t realized that I am out of debt now. Crazy” which is, imo, pretty weak. After all, Yuliya earned that freedom before the story has even begun.
That she has to realize it via Elgor’s innocent stupidity makes her come off even worse.

I don’t know. I’d say to improve this you should focus on what you really want the story to be about – capitalism critique, working to get out of debt, the unfulfilled quest for ice cream – and focus on that.

Overall: rewrite imo and lay off the Enter key.

gently caress yeah! factor: “I never had to get up because I am already standing” 1/10

sebmojo – I went down to the crossroads

This isn’t bad, but feels rushed in some ways, like it needs a little tightening here and there to make it pop. You are always an avid user of metaphors, and usually manage to craft ‘em with the best of them, but sometimes you overdo it if you don’t manage to rein yourself in, and you didn’t manage to hold the horses of you this time. See what I did there?
Concrete examples: I know the sentence continues, but “Imagine the grinding of cogs of bone, bone cogs that are grinding” reads like poo poo.

“He looked at me and through me and I fancied I could see the last grains of his interest me running out and down and through the narrow waist of his hourglass of attention.” this is a drawn-out as hell metaphor. Also typo.

Anyway, regarding the story itself, I like how unapologetic the protagonist is about being a terrible person, and that the only thing changing his mind is the classic “wait immortality actually sucks” revelation. The fly as a carrier of that is new, well done. However, that comes after a bit too long of a scene setting up the two people, where I got confused in the middle if the other guy was the literal devil or not, because you talk so much about his clothes and eye color but also a voice that sounds like bones that I got mixed up what was metaphorical and what was physical.

Overall, tighten said metaphors up, spend some more time thinking about what a reader will think when reading some description of the devil or other, and maybe integrate that a little into the ending: they’re gonna fight, so what does the current physical appearance of the devil mean for that? Does he look like a bruiser from the start? If you were going for that, I’m not quite catching it. If you do all of that, this’ll be a good one.

gently caress yeah! factor: starting a doomed fisticuffs session with the literal devil is pretty awesome ngl, 7/10

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Sure, you and your writing exercises!

Give me a location flash and a hellrule

Simply Simon fucked around with this message at 12:59 on Feb 2, 2021

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
900/900 words

The criminals sent into his labyrinth were all dead. He took a sip from his celebratory cup of tea, the bergamot aroma rewarding him for a job well done.

Using the monitors surrounding him, he tallied all their broken bodies for cleanup. The first victim, made into paste by two wall segments that turned out to be crushers, would take the longest to clean up. He made a note. These two had suffocated in a dead end when an airlock had closed behind them. He had sped up the process a bit by also releasing carbon monoxide. Some of the watchers had voted for hydrogen sulfide instead, but he had vetoed that. First of all, the foul-smelling gas was crass, undignified. Secondly, he wanted to spare the cleaning crews some vomit, at least.

Bisected by invisible wires, burned to ashes in a room that had turned out to be an furnace, impaled on the bottom of a trapdoor - all accounted for? He smiled as he took another sip, remembering how he’d led the last victim through a series of ever-narrowing corridors, until finally he could not avoid the portions that would break away under him. The public had loved this part - this criminal must have been particularly deserving of his spot in the labyrinth.

The man watching the monitors had always made it a point to not look up the reasons for his victims’ punishment. Stole food? Rape? Attempted containment breach? Not his business to know. They all deserved their place in the labyrinth, and not knowing how much exactly made him a better executioner. Twenty years - or was it closer to thirty by now? - and not a single mistake, lapse in judgment, and he still had new ideas on how to deftly reconfigure his labyrinth. To give the deserving victim this tantalizing illusion of hope, so they’d put on a show to entertain and educate the public.

To close today’s workday, he filed the paperwork, a relaxing task perfectly suited to calm him after the excitement of the main event.

He put down the cup with a frown.

How many victims in the furnace? Was this really enough to account for four bodies?

The cleaners had already entered.

He rapidly scanned through all the cameras. Turned the microphones to maximum. Until, finally, the faintest sound of panicked sobs tickled his eardrums. He emptied an ice-cold cup and grimaced, but a smile of relief prevailed. There! A mother and daughter, huddled together, the former desperately trying to calm the latter, hiding in a corner where he had to really strain to angle the cameras to catch a glimpse.

He had caught this potential embarrassment a few minutes before the cleaners would have found them. He raised an empty cup to his lips out of reflex while wondering how to best remove his problem. Through his irritation, the words of the mother’s plea reached him.

“You have to be quiet. The Guardian of the labyrinth will be angry if you make noise. He’ll let us go if you behave.”

Quaint. He wondered how these myths arose. He was just a guy doing his job, and yet people kept getting spiritual about the labyrinth. Was that something imminent death did to a mind? But then again, even the watchers had started to almost pray to him, begging him to smite the sinners inside him, enact rightful vengeance on the ones who had betrayed community, as if what he did wasn’t just a job. Of course, he’d gotten good at in in the decades since he first sat in front of the monitors and speakers and buttons, and if he were more spiritual himself, he’d say he had become one with the -

The cup shattered on the floor.

Unwanted memories forced themselves into his mind. Mistakes that had happened. Victims that had been allowed to escape. A job not done well anymore. Dissatisfied bosses.

Who had taken his body apart, sewed it into the fabric of the labyrinth. There were no buttons, speakers, monitors: they were his hands, ears, eyes. These two who had triggered his revelation hid in his guts, squirming like parasites.

He tried to pour himself another cup to calm down, but there was no cup, no tea. While he desperately tried to re-summon the image of the control room of his mind, he spotted the cleaners nearing the two criminals who were supposed to be dead. His job was on the line, and he was his job.

A sliding door opened behind the two, they tumbled through, and vanished in a back room just before they were spotted. In there, three cups of tea were waiting.

He had to reward them with something, after all. They had reminded him of something important: for him, there was more value in a job well done than for most.

“The Guardian has invited us,” the mother whispered. They sat down and drank with him. Some of the liquid in his cup vanished as he imagined himself drinking it.

This calmed him enough to make him realize something: the recognition of his situation had happened before. And he’d always came to the same conclusion: his job was paramount. For community, for unity, for himself. So with this cup, he’d make himself forget until the revelation would happen again, hopefully none too soon.

The other cups, of course, contained poison.

Your story takes place in a labyrinth - the labyrinth is sentient

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
in, hell me baby

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Vojtěch never really stopped drinking. He remembered why when he morning light reflected off an empty bottle, stabbing daggers into his eyes. His headache got worse every second. He dragged his bulk off the sofa, hit his knees on the coffee table, cursed for five solid minutes while lighting a cigarette, continued while smoking another, finally calmed down enough to sit down again, and immediately started cursing again when the same daggers violated his pupils. He - had - forgotten - to - get - another - argh! A large insect skittered across his coffee table. Out of pure animal instinct, he grabbed the empty bottle and smashed it down on the critter.

But that still hadn’t fixed the light problem. Vojtěch shut his eyes with the force of a grocery store owner closing shop. He contemplated giving up and spending another day sitting around doing nothing. But the headache, of course, only got worse. The light kept digging through his lids with long dirty nails. With his own yellow-stained fingers, Vojtěch tried to swat the cruel rays away, and somehow, seemed to succeed.

When he opened his eyes to the welcome gloom of his apartment, he saw five tiny figures stumble around on his coffee table. A red, a blue, a yellow, green and pink one - like humans in rainbow fabric, but five centimeters tall at most. They seemed disoriented.

Vojtěch glanced at the empty bottle. He looked back at the figures on the table. The blue one steadied himself, looked at the giant opposite him, jerked back, then raised his arm with a closed fist.

There was a bowl next to the five that had once housed a salad, now the once-clear glass was coated in green dross. Vojtěch tipped it over with an irritated flick of his wrist, neatly trapping all of the intruders in a barely-translucent prison.

“Settle down in there.” He finally got up and, after another cigarette or three, found a full bottle. He sat down opposite his catch and poured himself a tall glass. Again, the blue one raised his fist - this time, a beam of light emerged from some device on his arm, but it bounced off the curved glass, and the green one had to dodge. Their high-pitched voices arguing with each other rang like grenade blast aftereffects in Vojtěch’s ears.

“Quiet!” He slammed the table, making several rainbow men fall. “Stop torturing me. That was you with the light as well, right? When you arrived?”

The blue one gestured to the others, they nodded, and Blue wiped some scum off the bowl so he could look his jailer in the eye. He talked into the same wrist machine, and a synthetic voice spoke perfect if falsetto Czech. “Please. We mean no harm.”

“Didn’t feel like that.” Vojtěch took a deep gulp. “But I’m just slightly pissed, no need to be uncivil. You want some -” he squinted a the bottle. “Gin?”

The blue one wanted to say something, but got stopped by the green one. Who said: “Sir, we appreciate your…hospitality, but have to decline. We are on a mission to save the universe.”

Blue pushed himself forward again. “We are the Mighty M-”

Green shot him down a second time. “The Black Ranger has escaped from his phantom prison. We have chased him through time and space to your abode. You must let us out, or he’ll evade justice once again!”

A small sip for Vojtěch. He contemplated the dwindling contents of the glass. “I see. You’re big heroes.”

Red slapped yellow on the shoulder - at least one had gotten the joke. Green, however, failed to see the humor in the situation. “Please, Sir. We apologize for causing you discomfort. But you really must-”

An empty glass landed loudly on the table. Vojtěch pursed his lips and shook his head disapprovingly. He got up again, rummaged through the kitchen, eventually found some spent casings on the floor, rubbed them on his sweater, which didn’t improve their condition, and filled the small hollows with a few drops of gin. He lifted the bowl just a bit and slid the casings towards the increasingly antsy rainbow people.

“Stop yelling. Have a drink with me. Then we’re friends, and I’ll help you.”

“You don’t understand-”

This time, the pink one interrupted Green. She said a few incomprehensible words to him before speaking into her wristpiece for Vojtěch. “Let’s drink, then. But we should toast to your health. What do we call you?”

Vojtěch beamed. Finally, a sensible woman. “It’s Vojtěch. Lift your drinks - here, we say na zdraví - to your health!”

They dutifully drank. Coughed. Blue immediately spoke up again, but Vojtěch again disapproved in gaze and gesture. He took the casings, and refilled them. They drank some more. The rainbow Rangers told him about their mission. The misdeeds of the Black one. Vojtěch nodded often, laughed sometimes, and cried a little.

Hours later, Green managed to slur some words together. “So, Vojtěch, buddy. You said you’d help us.”

“Anything for a friend,” the jolly giant said. He tipped the morning’s empty bottle over, exposing something gruesome underneath.

“See? There never was a problem.”

He lifted the glass bowl, exposing three shocked Rangers and yellow and red sleeping ones. “Clean up your Black foe when you leave. And come back anytime, now that you’ve learned to be polite and quiet company.”

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
It is better be single as a bad company

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
It is better be single as a bad company

Siegfried of the Schoolyard
1800/1800 words

Siegfried and the dragon were locked in mortal combat. The foul beast’s scaly tail was wrapped around the teutonic hero’s neck. He felt the slimy caress of a garlic plumy emitting from the enemy’s nostrils. Ready to yield? Admit defeat, pretend hero, walk away with body mostly fine, but honor broken?

Through a teary veil, Siegfried focused on the reason for this bout. The dragon’s victim, the foreign princess, crumpled on the ground, nursed the cheek so uncouthly struck by the monster. The stinky, brutish, disgusting creature hugging Siegfried tightly enough to squeeze his very spirit from him. And with the hero gone, he’d be free to strike the princess once more.

The dragon was closer than a lover, whispering his words of contempt. Give up. Do you want to die for her? You pathetic little Kartoffel?

Siegfried roared at the familiar insult. He reached blindly up and grabbed the neck that was so way too close. He allowed his knees to buckle, the creature’s weight to push him down, and almost lost all strength in his legs.

But he was the hero Siegfried, and heroes slayed dragons.

He pushed his legs straight up again, used his low center of gravity and the dragon’s own weight, heaved the dragon over his shoulder and slammed him onto the ground.

The impact, the stunned silence, the sudden flash of hope on the face of the princess, made reality appear. A yard of a middle school, the lowest tier of German education, for the people deemed too dumb, too lazy or too poor to get opportunities worth a drat. A circle of these children deemed misfits by society had watched the fight between Selim, the Moroccan-Kurdish bastard who hung with the sons of second-generation Turkish immigrants, and Friedrich, the “Bio-German” loser who hung with nobody.

Friedrich was a stocky boy ravaged by puberty, called a Kartoffel - potato - as often for his German ancestry as for his appearance. Immigrant children often took out the prejudices they faced in larger society on the ones cursed with pure German genes. It used to be more than insults, until Friedrich had started fighting back, gaining a reputation as a “Kampfzwerg”, a nasty ankle-biter.

Selim had now realized why Friedrich usually was left alone. A year older than 15-year-old Friedrich, Selim had already started working out heavily, had a beard to go with his muscles, a dark complexion and a scowl to make middle-aged white Germans instantly consider voting for right-wing parties out of racist fear. But they didn’t need to be afraid of him. Gentle girls like Zeynep did. Friedrich slowly walked over to his princess, who had started to get up on her own. Her obsidian hair, worn open, framed a doughy face that already told Friedrich how she would look like in 40 years, and that was okay; she was beautiful. He extended his hand to her.

“Everything okay?”

She shot a look to fallen Selim.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“They can’t tell you what you have to wear on your head.” Friedrich shook his head. “We’re in Germany, not Saudi-Arabia.”

She slapped his hand away. “I know where I live.” Without assistance, she rose to her feet; she was a little taller than Friedrich. When she looked down awkwardly, she still met his gaze.

“But thanks, I guess. Just, please, don’t do it again.”

Friedrich got a little closer. “I’m not afraid to protect you again, Zeynep.”

Her expression was unreadable to him. But then she gave him the tiniest of smiles on compressed lips. “That’s cute.”

She turned away to join her concerned friends, who started to touch her flushed cheek where Selim had hit her, and talked to her quickly in a language Friedrich didn’t care to understand. His own cheeks had reddened. Her acknowledgment was his hero’s reward, all he needed. But maybe, eventually -

His chain of thought got interrupted when Selim’s fist struck his kidney. Expelling all air from his lungs, mighty Siegfried fell to his knee. The dragon towered over him. “Think this is over, Kartoffel?”

“It is over, Kanacke.” The slur from the sidelines made Selim’s head jerk around - to meet the icy looks of three tall German boys with short-shaved hair. “Go back where you belong,” their blonde ring-leader spat.

With a grunt, Selim turned around and rejoined his posse of foreigners in their own country.

Friedrich’s unexpected savior, a guy he knew was called Marco, helped him up. “That was pretty awesome.”

Again, the hero’s cheeks flushed. He angrily tried to suppress his pride. Marco was one of the cool kids, and those had only ever had contempt for the likes of Friedrich. This was probably a joke. A trap.

“Those Kanacken deserve a lot of strong lessons about respecting women. If they can’t even manage with their own, how are ours supposed to be safe?”

“I can’t stand people who hit women,” Friedrich answered as noncommittally as possible.

“Neither do I. Hey, we’re gonna hang out in the old shed after gym class. Wanna join us? We have some plans to make those Moslem fuckers change their ways, and we could use someone like you.”

Friedrich still was wary. “I don’t know. I had promised my mom to do laundry, and take the dog for a walk…”

“Dude, your mom can do that poo poo herself, after all she only has one man to take care of, right?”

The sharp pain of the all-too-common reminder was somehow soothed by two other feelings rising in Friedrich’s chest: he could not believe that Marco cared enough about him to even remember this detail about his life; also, this was the first time someone had called him a man.

“I’ll call her.”


Man of honor was also something Friedrich wasn’t called often. He was left alone on the yard of his victory, and wondered if this truly meant that Siegfried had bathed in the dragon’s blood, and become invincible except for that tiny spot where a leaf had stuck to his shoulder.


A week later, the plan Marco and his boys had explained over shared beers, cigarettes and other cool boy stuff, was ready for action. The four Germans lay in ambush along the main road from the school to the poorer district where almost everybody attending lived. Soon, their victims showed up, distracted by Döner and talks in Turkish. Behind the group of foreign boys, their women walked in a separate gaggle, chatting in lower voices.

Marco had a baseball bat. He struck two of the guys down before they could react. The other three Germans joined the fray, staying away from their armed leader and his violent swings.

“Hey, don’t you think it’s rude that you segregate the girls like that?” Marco’s voice dripped with contempt like a Bratwurst with fat. “We don’t do that in Germany.”

Selim was among the group struck by the sudden assault. “Shut the gently caress up, you Nazi piece of poo poo”, he growled. His impressive frame rose as high as he could before Marco and his bat. “Come here, Kartoffel. I’ll make salad out of you and eat you with the rest of the Schnitzel here.”

Friedrich was distracted with beating on a Turkish boy about his size and age, but less experience in the violence necessary to defend oneself sometimes. That’s why Friedrich missed how Zeynep had suddenly showed up, and gotten in between Selim and Marco.

“Stop this poo poo,” she yelled. “We can look out for ourselves. You’re nothing but a bunch of dickless cowards. Shove your bat up your rear end and leave us alone.”

Friedrich pushed his opponent away, who was quite happy to lie down and be done with it. He hadn’t known this side of gentle Zeynep. Well, he didn’t really know her at all. What a fierce warrior! A true Kunigunde to his Siegfried. His heart swelled. But then, Marco took a step towards her, bat raised.

“You Kanacken bitches need to be saved from yourself. Once I’ve freed you from this piece of poo poo trying to undermine our values, maybe you can suck my dick in gratitude?”

Marco took another step - when someone wrested the bat from his grip.

“Leave her alone,” Friedrich screamed. He tossed the bloodied weapon away. “I thought we wanted to protect women?”

Marco’s face of wild fury was enough answer for Friedrich. This was never about any noble goal. The true monster in this fight, the ugly creature full of hatred, was in front of him. Unfortunately for Siegfried, he had realized this at a very unfortunate time.

The Turks were very happy to leave the Germans to sort out their differences on their own, which ended with the hero severely beaten on the side of the road.


A week later, Friedrich had recovered enough to remove the bandages from most of his face. He sat alone in the corner of the schoolyard, eating a bread roll with Mettwurst. The hero had lost a battle, but at least he had stood up for his values, the ones truly worth upholding. Right? He had saved the princess twice now. Zeynep, beautiful and proud Kunigunde, would surely appreciate it.

Friedrich daydreamed. He’d start working out as well. Improve his looks, despite the broken nose. Maybe Zeynep actually liked the rugged charm? He could grow a beard.

He had the hero’s courage to ask her out. She’d tentatively agree, as a favor, but then she’d soon appreciate his gentle nature. He respected women, of course, as a child of a single mother. He had nothing against foreigners, not really. They were proper Germans anyway, their ID said so. That must count for something? Yes, she’d see how tolerant and nice he was. They’d fall in love. Grow old and fat together. They’d have Schnitzel on even and Döner on odd days. And beautiful, German children…

Someone had sat down next to him. It was a Muslim girl, with a headscarf hiding her hair.


Friedrich’s courage died in his desert throat. She looked over. “Listen, I have no idea what you tried to pull last week, but I appreciate not getting a bat to the face.” She sighed. “But I’ve seen you look at me in class. Like, constantly. You can’t do that. He’ll get mad.”

“Who?” A croak through a veil of dust.

“Selim. We’re together now. If he sees you looking at me again, he’ll beat you up. So, don’t do it.”

Of course, the saga of Siegfried could not be complete without its end. His one weakness betrayed by his queen and cravenly struck. The hero’s heart pierced by his rival. Kunigunde got up without another word, leaving Siegfried's dying body to rot alone.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
I'm also in and give me an article, but I'm gonna call a mulligan if I actually understand the contents. Choose wisely

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Dam Burst
1500/1500 words

The constant bellow of the motorcycle had long become a background hum. To her, it was like the sound of her own blood flowing. The soothing constant quiet of a calm river, but sometimes spiking as it picked up speed, down rapids, when she turned the throttle, and the machine roared and jumped forward and dragged her with it. She knew exactly how to handle the beast between her legs, but every interaction still made her aware of its untameable ferocity, and that made the river flow a little faster every time.

“Don’t think you can get away from me, baby!” Spike’s voice never failed to make her blood boil, even after so many races. She felt his wedge-shaped open-top supercar approach from behind her, the low spoiler almost kiss her tailpipe, and she had to consciously struggle to keep the river from jumping its banks.

Charly kept her voice even as she responded into her headset. “I’ve been leading you for three laps. What makes you think you can overtake?”

He made his engine scream in protest as he slammed on the gas. Charly almost flinched, but for all of his competitive bravado, Spike never cheated. He’d kept the clutch disengaged so he wouldn’t slam into her.

“As much as I enjoyed basking in your slipstream, Charles, I’ll enjoy imagining your face after this more.”

“This part of the track is too narrow, Spike.”

He didn’t answer, which worried Charly more than his feeble attempt at intimidation before. She saw him back off a little in her rear-views. Just to make her point, she made sure to keep the bike steady right in the middle of the track, which currently ran through a concrete tube in a U-shape as if a glacier had carved it.

His car erupted into a noise like a flash fire exploding behind Charly. She felt an ice-cold wave run through her. There was no way a car could pass a motorcycle here. And yet he shot forward with fire erupting from his exhausts. But if he thought she’d budge -

Seemingly just centimeters off her tail end, Spike suddenly yanked his wheel around. The car jumped to the side. Spike’s right wheels kissed the edge of the tube, and found grip. They rode up.

No way.

Charly had to look despite the danger of taking her eyes off the road at over two hundred kilometers per hour. Her visored gaze met Spike’s helmet turned towards her, and she could feel his smirk burn into her soul. With his car almost turned 180 degrees, he managed to barely pass Charly, a hair’s-breadth of air between the vehicles.

“How was that, baby?”

She desperately tried to calm her breath, both from the shock of him being able to pull this maneuver, as well as the anger at now having to stare at his exhausts.

“Did you know the physics engine was capable of that?” She managed to say after a few seconds.

“Please, Charles, we both know how to make STUD our bitch by now.”

Spike wasn’t wrong, but Charly kept getting surprised by the sheer depth of Speed Them Up! Duel, the game they’d been playing for - for a while now. She studied the wall textures. Maybe next lap, she could as well -

“Hey nerd girl, I can hear your heavy thoughts. They’ll just weigh you down!”

Charly gritted her teeth. She should never have accepted this oaf’s challenge to an endurance race. But like the roar of a forest fire, his words still drowned out all engine sounds whenever she remembered them. Hey, number one speed demon on this server. You seem to do quite well against newbies still struggling with the bike controls. But what about a racecar pro? You bike dudes think you have a leaderboard subscription, but that’s all equipment, no skill. Wanna take the chance to get creamed, reamed and blasphemed by a champion of the wheel?

“Mesmerized by the view of my handsome backside, Charles? This reminds me of our first dates. You were so stunned when my nitrous burned the cocky smile off your face!”

“Sad to hear your sense of humor has not improved ever since.” Charly had learned long ago how to play off Spike’s attempts to heat up her cool. Oh, how he’d be steamed when she would cross the finish line in front of him a final time. This was an endurance race, after all. No way could he keep the flames of his passion burning for long enough to pull through. Like a constant stream of droplets wearing away rock, her approach would see her through this.

“Well, King Charles, how’s that for a joke? Wanna take a break after, say, ten more laps, save our placements and pick it up later?”

It’s working! He’s burning out!

“What’s the issue, Spike? Your butt getting itchy in the VR chair? Need to phone your mom in RL?”

“No, but yours.”

“Dude. You’re making me want to log out just to wash away your smell of burnt rubber and grease.”

His tone suddenly became uncharacteristically chilly. “Seriously, Charly. We’ve been at this for quite a while now, and we’ve never been more than a minute apart. Maybe we both have simply taken STUD mastery as far as it can go.”

Charly felt her blood flow faster. She finally had him where she needed him.

“STUD is mastered by the person on top of the leaderboard. That’s a one-woman-spot.”

His fire flared up again. “Have it your way, then.”

Beneath her helmet, Charly grimaced. Maybe they both could use a break, even though the VR chairs kept their bodies suspended in a way that eliminated the need for rest. Maybe she did, perish the thought, want to phone her own mother.

“Hey, Spike. Let’s make the lap count go up to a nice even number and settle it until then.”

“Tell me the number, and I’ll tell you if that’s enough huffing of greasy sizzling rubber fumes for you.”

She activated the user interface, which she usually kept disabled to increase her immersion.

The bike started wobbling so heavily that Charly almost fell off it. Spike must have seen that in his mirrors. “What’s going on, Charly?”

Her breathing came in spurts. “Spike, please take a look at the lap counter and tell me it’s glitched on my end.”

His ashen silence for the next few seconds told her everything she needed to know.

“Spike, if we finish a lap in about three and a half minutes, this number means we’ve been here -”



His voice lacked all warmth. “Much longer.”

“We need to stop this. Log out. Take a break.”

“With me in front, Charly?”

“I don’t care.”

The usually churning sea between them lay becalmed with this honest admission. Fully automatically, they kept racing on for a two-digit count of laps. Finally, they had to admit to each other that they could not find a way to quit the game nor log out of virtual.

“gently caress this,” Spike finally said. “We’ll force it. Jump over the track borders, that has to get you somewhere.”

“The walls are too high.”

“Not if you have a ramp.” Spike suddenly slammed the breaks, causing his car to severely understeer. Charly barely managed to not crash into him as he finished half a spin, slammed the car into reverse, and raced backwards facing her.

“What are you doing, you lunatic?”

“Making you a ramp.”

“You’re gonna crash!”

“So what? We’re in virtual!”

“We’re trapped in virtual, Spike. What if the game ejects you when you total your car, but you don’t have a body to return to?”

Suddenly, the all-too-familiar S-curves halfway through the lap. Spike had to silently concentrate on navigating them backwards.

“Spike.” Charly’s tone had become pleading. “If I actually get out like this, what about you? Do you want to race against ghosts forever?”

The S-curves were done. She could almost see his smile through his helmet. “I’ll figure something out. This serves me right for not taking the lighter vehicle.”

“I’ll take you with me!”

“Sorry, trapped by the wheel in this thing.”

Her thoughts a wild river. “If this is modeled after a real Formula One racer, you can take it off.”

“And crash.”

“One shot, firestarter. More than you’ll get otherwise.”


Then he flared up like a solar prominence. “Take us out of here, Charly.”

He yanked the steering wheel off. The next curve, he went straight for. His car crashed into the wall, the wedge-shaped aerodynamic front forming - a ramp.

Spike’s avatar started to fade. Charly went full throttle, yanked up her front wheel. The river jumped its embankments.

Charly took one hand off the bike’s handle. Spike extended his just in time. They locked arms.

Together, they jumped out of the race track, and into the freedom of the entire rest of virtual reality.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Crit for a friendly penguin’s Nothing of Note

First of all, I had forgotten the prompt you wrote this for, and was very confused. For C# after all very much exists irl, so Simone’s mad quest to prove that it does made little sense to me. Your intro didn’t really help me to accept that this is a story about a world where C# as a concept disappeared – you instead have her talk in the second paragraph about severing and memes, and that threw me off when you then talked about the loss of C# and replacement with another note. It seemed to be about that particular piece, Simone’s relationship with that “first composer”, and not the general loss of C#.

Despite that issue, I did enjoy your description of Simone’s obsession (I’m a sucker for those). In fact, I might have enjoyed it a little more because it was more fun for me to imagine her being obsessed about the loss of something that is only lost in her mind, and her failure only stems from her complete inability to understand anything about music at all (see for example the 41 cents line, which makes no sense, she’s off her rocker, that’s funny). Like, she’s approaching it in entirely the wrong way, trying to make algorithms do the work for her, instead of just playing the drat note on, like, a piano, the simplest instrument for that.

The step into absurdity as you have someone else explain what her plan is exactly is therefore not too hard to manage, though I find the framing device a bit hard to swallow, especially because you didn’t seem to write it with a lot of care. Example, the last two lines:


“TV went off air?” Jessica lifted an eyebrow.

Jim laughed. “Let me show you what you’ve been missing out on.

Seem to contain two typos (I think the first line should be “TVs went off air?”, as in used to).

I like how esoteric the ending is. It also quite nicely closes the circle (heh) with Simone’s obsession with numbers, and her belief that only through pure mathematics could she possibly recreate the lost note. Did you know that she should rather have resorted to physics? Sounds are waves, after all.

Overall, I think with an intro to make more clearer what exactly has happened, divorced of the prompt that would have made it clear when the story was current, this could be a really nice piece about a mad obsession that, by mad escalation, actually succeeds. Special shout-outs to the “For those interested, my bibliography is in the chat.” line, that made me smile.

Crit for Chili’s Burn

This is well-written, and I enjoyed reading it. However, I felt that at some points it was a bit too dispassionate. Daniel doesn’t seem like he’s going out of his shell much, so that’s kind of understandable, but he does have big feelings and punching up the language sometimes could have helped underscore those better. A big sample sentence for that particular issue I have is this: “I ask if my accident made a scene, and to my horror, she reveals that everyone saw it.” The “horror” carries a lot here, and it’s not strong enough imo.

Overall, it’s sweet and very readable, but I have an issue with the ending: I don’t get it. I do not understand what Gonzo means with “It’s the only safe place left.” What does that mean for him? Why does he therefore only kiss Daniel once and basically flees? I was there for the cigarette metaphor, I was into the sudden kiss, but those final lines lost me. What’s his issue? Is he simply afraid of commitment, hence his many rumored affairs and his inability to do anything with Daniel but a single smooch? What does that have to do with the lighting job, which he seems committed enough to, considering how good he is at it? Give me a tiny bit of a better idea of his reasons for acting like he does, and I’m on board.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Barnaby Profane posted:

in, hellrule, also U2 sucks change my mind
I'll have what he ordered

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Spilled Milk
995/1000 Words

“You should pee in it,” said Jack, almost bursting with eager glee.

Kurt eyed the milk in the glass bottle. “But why?”

“How else are you gonna have some fun?”

Kurt looked to the left, down the road where he, Jack, and Pjotr had already made their thankless deliveries. Milk of unhappy cows, never drunk. The suburban houses stretched into infinity. To his right, a mirror image.

Pjotr glanced onto the list he always cradled. “It’s ten more houses.”

Jack spat onto the driveway. “It’s been ten more houses for at least a hundred deliveries.”

Pjotr shrugged.

Kurt sighed. “Yes, that is how it works here. We deliver with no end in sight, and if we’re good boys, we might get out of this.”

“Or we have to do this forever no matter how we behave.” Like the man himself, Pjotr’s voice was small, weak, hunched over.

“That’s what I’m saying!” Jack made a sweeping gesture. “This is hell. You don’t get out of hell. Let’s get crazy instead.”

“It’s not so bad,” Kurt said. “It’s almost the same job as when we lived.”

Pjotr scoffed.

“A job so tedious that you two snapped hard enough to end up here,” said Jack.

Kurt furrowed his brow. “We never talked about -”

“Kurt, my boy, I know a few things about how things work down here.” Lanky Jack suddenly seemed a little more grandiose to Kurt’s eyes. “But I can’t really tell you or else. You just gotta trust me.”

Pjotr shrugged. “Nothing to lose.”

Kurt hesitated. “Except for our chance at redemption.”

Jack cackled. “Okay, how about that. Let me show you what a little wrench in the gears can do.”

He gestured for the bottle, and Kurt gave it up. Jack unscrewed it, chugged half, then yanked down his pants and proceeded to enact his own suggestion.

With exaggerated care, he screwed the bottle closed again, put the vile thing down on the porch, did a sharp about-turn, and goose-stepped back towards their milk van. The others followed meekly. It was Kurt’s turn behind the wheel.

“What’s next on the list?”, Jack asked with a grin so broad it seemed to split his face in half.

“Five bottles to number…” Pjotr squinted. “Eleven digits, and I think it ends with an eight.”

Of course, hell’s delivery list was an almost unreadable scrawl.

Kurt braked hard, causing the infinite bottles in the back to scream in clattering protest. “Almost missed it.”

“And wouldn’t that be a shame.” Jack got out alone. “Watch this.”

He proceeded to take out five bottles and pitch them with pure joy against the walls of house number 47123964258. White liquid ran down white-washed walls.

“Next time, we aim for the windows. Come on, what’s next?”

Crazy as Jack might be, it was hard for Kurt to not get swept up in his tornado of energy. After the windows, Jack used milk to repaint terracotta walls. Then he left glass shards in a mailbox. Scratched obscene pictures into plaster with shattered bottles. And whatever else struck Jack’s fancy. Along with his deeds, Kurt’s anxiety escalated. Pjotr, however, seemed to get into it. And eventually offered to help, with the tiniest of smiles.

Was Kurt, quietly driving, not doing enough to stop the others? An accomplice to their crimes? Were they dooming his chances of getting out of this infinite delivery run? His gaze drifted down the endless rows of houses in front of him - and stopped.

For the first time in an eternity, the street made a turn.

When the others entered the cab, they found Kurt frozen. Pjotr looked at him askance, then saw what Kurt was staring at and joined his rigor.

Jack painfully shoulder-slapped them. “Toldya I knew what I was doing! Let’s check it out!”

Ignoring the list, Kurt floored it. Was this is? The path to heaven, or at least purgatory, just around the corner? Was Jack a messenger from the angels?

They turned the corner.

Kurt felt his foot ease off the gas. Pjotr seemed to inflate in size. Before them, another street, endless rows of houses. But these weren’t suburban - they were luxurious. Villas. Designer houses. Fountains, columns, frescoes.

Jack’s grin burned so bright that Kurt didn’t even have to look. “It worked,” Kurt said in reverence.

“So now we have to endlessly deliver milk to nicer looking houses.” Pjotr had already deflated again.

Jack’s voice overflowed with contempt. “But are you gonna do anything about it?”

So this is what a little chaos can do, Kurt thought. He nodded gravely.

“Give me the list,” he ordered Pjotr, who silently complied.

Kurt got out of the van. He took a bottle and poured it out. Opened the gas tank, put a tube in, sucked on it until the gasoline flowed, and filled the bottle with it. He jammed the list into its neck.

“Done this before?” Jack’s eyebrows were arched mockingly.

Kurt held out his hand. “Lighter.”

Of course, Jack had one to give. The list burned. The bottle flew. A mansion ignited. The flames danced in Kurt’s eyes.

Suddenly, a heavy fist landed in his kidneys.

Before Kurt had a chance to yell, Jack’s leg impacted the back of his knees, and he collapsed.

“You dumb bitch.” Jack kicked the fallen Kurt. “Pjotr was exactly right. What good will nicer facades do you? Who do you think you’re hurting with this tantrum? You haven’t learned a thing.”

Through tears of pain, Kurt could only sputter. “But you did -”

“Sow a little chaos? It’s tempting to let loose, eh?” Jack spat in Kurt’s face. “Did you really think I work for people who want you to get out?”

A body impacted the ground. The van had vanished around Pjotr. He just kept lying there unmoving.

Jack threw two heavy trays filled with bottles onto the floor.

“Have fun delivering on foot from now on, assholes.”

And the weeping and the frozen man were left alone.

Hellrule: Milkman's version of hell.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Her True Colors
1498/1500 Words

“Gosh, I hope her husband’s death didn’t hit her too hard.” Angela’s pink-nailed finger hovered over the doorbell button.

“Yeah, if she spends half the time weeping, we will never be done. Can you just ring, Geli?”

Of course, Bruno pronounced it like “jelly”. Angela glared at him, but he pretended not to notice. After an uncomfortable second, she pushed the button, sending a polychromatic melody through the lavish mansion in front of them.

The door opened and their client, bereaved Elisabeth Walsten, let them in with a wry smile.

Soon, the two lawyers were seated in comfortable chairs opposite the thankfully composed widow, who perched straight on a landscape of a sofa. She spread some papers on the hardwood table between them. “As you probably know, my husband fancied himself an inventor. These are blueprints for a handheld UV light emitter. It uses novel nano-architecture chips, but instead of controlling electronic information, it deliberately breaks focus to upscale fifteen-nanometer-wavelength extreme UV waves into more standard hard UV light.”

Bruno stared at the diagrams. “Mrs. Walsten, I’m afraid that -”

“It’s a laser gun, Bruno.” Angela couldn’t quell a wave of smugness rising. This assignment might not be so horrid after all.

Mrs. Walsten cocked her head. “Impressive. Did you take some physics courses on the side?”

“Chemistry, actually. I’m into colors. Can’t understand those without learning about light.” Also, maybe Forensics will finally accept my application.

The two shared a smile, and Angela felt a sort of kinship with the older woman. Especially with regards to embarrassing her oafish partner.

“Anyway.” The moment ended as the widow became all business again. “Speaking of ‘gun’. Rudy realized that this could be used as a weapon, and just stopped developing it at some point. It still has one fatal flaw - the light is scattered over a large radius, it’s more of a UV shotgun - and that wastes precision and energy. I picked up a thing or two assisting him - I’m confident that I can make this into something marketable. Quite profitable, actually. But I want to make sure that it actually belongs to me. I need your firm to help me draft a rock-solid patent, in my name only, so that none of our kids get any ideas.”

Bruno perked up. “We’ll be happy to assist you with this.”

Angela stifled a sigh. He might be, but for her this meant that the brief moment of excitement had passed. Why had she ever accepted the transfer to Inheritance? And would she ever get out of it again, away from Bruno specifically?

Regret made her mind a shotgun blast of scattered rays not finding their target. Angela stared at the sofa just behind Mrs. Walsten. Really nice fabric. Obviously expensive, but showing taste, a mingling of colors in a lazy spiral pattern that drew the eye in without being overbearing. The Walstens must have had it for a while now, the blues and greens had already started to fade. Angela followed the lines of aged green, like a path through a dying forest, sunburned leaves yellowing -

Angela blinked. Half hidden behind their client, a patch of the original color remained. Unmistakably - malachite green, vibrant dye reminiscent of the gemstone it was named after.

“Geli, are you listening?” She startled as Bruno’s cruel nickname yanked her back to reality. “Are you going to be able to deliver your side of the documents by Friday?”

Angela employed her usual tactic to get out of an awkward situation: brutal honesty. “I’m sorry, I was distracted by the fate of this poor sofa. The curse of nice big windows - all that sunlight killing the colors.”

Mrs. Walsten’s head shot around to look at the fabric of her seating. “Oh, yes.” She turned back around quickly to stare Angela down with a gaze from icy hell. “I’d prefer not to talk about deadly sunlight, actually.”

Angela felt a red riptide wash over her face. Rudy Walsten had died from heatstroke, face all burned like hers must look right now. She barely managed a stumbled apology, and the next hour at the Walsten home was pure torture.


“You need to act more professionally. Gaudy make-up, oversized glasses, that circus tent you call a dress, Geli. Jiggly fatty Jelly with her garbage fashion sense and dreams that belong in the trash too. The only way you’ll end up in Forensics is as a bloated, ugly corpse.”

Okay, Bruno hadn’t exactly said all of these things, but he’d meant it, all passive-aggressive on the ride back from the Walsten estate. gently caress him. gently caress this job. Angela nursed her fourth glass of wine and already eyed the cognac. She had done research straight through 2 AM, and her initial nagging feeling had turned into a steady throb behind her brows. Malachite green, three benzene rings, a very stable organic compound. Excellent dye.

The cognac had magically appeared in front of her and made Angela feel like a proper detective. Like someone doing something actually interesting with both of her skillsets, lawyer and amateur dye chemist. Someone deserving a shot at working in Forensics.

And the pieces just fell into place too perfectly to not risk this.

She had to spellcheck the mail asking for another meeting with Mrs. Walsten seven times, but she did manage to hit send without as much as a twitch in her fingers.


“So, what did you want to talk with me about, Angela?”

Angela sipped her champagne, which she had to admit was probably worth the price. “I came here to warn you, Mrs. Walsten. Elisabeth.”

She smiled a conspiratorial smile. “First though, from woman to woman, I get it. Lazy, unambitious men holding us back. Like Bruno, my partner, dull worker bee. And you probably wanted to be the wife of a famous inventor. Someone who made a real breakthrough. Possible applications be damned.”

Mrs. Walsten joined the pact offered by Angel’s smile. “Not entirely wrong.”

“And now you’re going your own way. But here’s an issue: the sofa’s color.” Angela pointed with her glass. “Sure, the ultraviolet part of sunlight would eventually degrade it. But not enough to leave a head-shaped patch of pristine color in the shadow of someone sitting here. Elisabeth, you killed your husband with his own invention.”

The older woman’s smile faded. “He died in the garden.”

“They found him there, with a heavy ‘sunburn’. Come on. It’s been pretty cloudy the last few weeks. You’re depending on people like Bruno to not ask any questions, but what if someone smart takes a look at the whole affair? It’s too dangerous. You’ve been sloppy.”

Mrs. Walsten held onto her glass like it was a rope she dangled on. “What are you getting at?”

Angela swept her hand over the blueprints still on the table. “These are an issue for our firm. We negotiated a flat-rate contract for legal assistance with your husband because we didn’t expect something like this to happen. All of this extra patent work will cost us months with no compensation. Worse -” She took a long sip. “It’s holding me back, and I’ll have to continue working with Bruno.”

Angela put the empty glass down. “So I propose the following: you drop the patent thing. I get to focus on being promoted without this albatross of a man around my neck. And nobody will investigate the holes in your story further.”

The other woman finished her glass as well. “Tempting. However -” She produced a thing of wires and mirrors, with a handle - and a trigger. “Would be a real shame not capitalizing on this.”

A sudden rock in Angela’s throat made it hard for her to swallow. “You are further along than I thought.”

“Angela, you have seen a reflection of your ambition in me. Of course I kept working on this.”

Angela stared down a muzzle. Mrs. Walsten took careful aim. “It’s too risky not to do this. I’m sure you’ll understand.”

A flash, not even a sound, and Angela’s vision filled with the absence of color, an energy too high to be perceived by humans.

Suddenly, the door burst open. Bruno waltzed in, and behind him, three policemen. “Angela! Oh God, we’re too late!”

Her corpse perked up, pulled a phone out of her pocket and hung up. “No you weren’t! Thanks for listening to my call.”

Elisabeth Walsten, frozen with her smoking gun in hand, seemed to have a small stroke herself. Angela blinked a few times in order to try and banish the afterimages, and see her expression properly. “I’m very happy that you did manage to focus the beam,” she said. “Hit me right in the bespectacled eye. Too bad that glass absorbs UV light. You really should have known that.”

She inspected the molten frame of said spectacles, and tried very hard to stop from shaking. “Think Forensics will accept my application now, Bruno?” She managed to say with an unwavering voice.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
This sounds fun as hell, in for random future

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Crits for Week 456

UraniumPhoenix - Ridgewood Alternative Elementary Wizarding School’s Program For Socially Maladjusted Adepts

This was a really good read, and I was especially impressed with how you managed to keep a light-hearted tone despite the heavy subject matter. It feels extremely real even though the setting is fantasy, making every spell and other magical tidbits seem like a tantalizing metaphor. Good stuff.

The only parts I’d criticize: “It’s 8:36am when Dr. Paudry strolls in, wearing business formal and an air of infuriating superiority. “Dr. Paudry,” he says, shaking Ms. Amanda’s hand, who is your sole para helping with behavior support. She raises an eyebrow, glances over to you, and shakes his hand, but only after she says her name twice does Paudry realize he isn’t talking to the teacher.” – I had to re-read this paragraph a few times to get what’s going on, and I’m still not entirely sure. Paudry thinks Amanda’s the teacher, but it’s actually Mrs. Wright, and he only realizes when the wrong name is pointed out twice – that presupposes that Paudry knows the name but not the appearance of the teacher, something I have no way of knowing, and then it confuses me still why he’s so insistent on thinking Amanda is the teacher. As both staff are women, it’s not even sexism. Also, I don’t know what a “para” is, sorry.

Further, I really liked how you kept emphasizing the precise time, because it adds to the atmosphere of “they have to meticulously plan their day, or stuff goes wrong”, and was wondering why you dropped it halfway through. Maybe it emphasizes that the day has gone up into unplanned chaos (or is about to) because of Paudry’s interference, but it’s a bit weak to me.

Overall though, really excellent and a deserved winner for sure.

brotherly – The Censor

I kind of liked this, the general storyline and some of the concepts, but it has a few very weak and cringy bits. The dialogue is especially lacking, trying to set relationships between these jaded punky kids who keep busting each other’s balls while also expositing at the same time, and it just doesn’t flow well. Even worse are the interjections by the narrator, going for a snarky tone that doesn’t land for me and doesn’t endear me to his struggle much.

I think using poetry of questionable quality as bait for a brainwashed entity who really hates artistic expression (again, no matter the quality) is a pretty fun setup, and the resolution of the narrator actually appreciating getting a reaction from someone, anyone, is quite interesting, but it would profit from you not feeling compelled to set up all these various characters, have them do something, and also world-build at the same time. You’re stretching yourself too thin.

Overall, I certainly don’t regret reading it, but it either needs expansion or some heavy pruning to be good.

anime was right – Stygian Winds

Before I even read on, here’s a first impression: wow that’s a terrible first sentence.

Now that that’s said, let’s talk about the whole thing. Generally, I wasn’t too fond of it. You narrate a lot of the stations of Klariss’ journey pretty drily, it’s almost like reading a history book. Take this passage: “At first Klariss gardened and cooked, but she could not keep up with the work asked of her as she was too feeble-fingered and easy to anger. Instead, given how far she had come, they recommend she venture to other villages to find doctors, carpenters, musicians, and more.” It would be so much better if you had a scene where she actually fumbled something and exploded. Actually, this is the only time in the story where her anger issues are mentioned. Previously, she’s terse and focused. Afterwards, she’s become a diplomat and isn’t angry anymore, of course. Hell, it’s not even clear what the issues she initially had recruiting people were, except that she wasn’t offering them the right things.

Finally, I really don’t like the ending. I think it would have been way, way better if she had accepted that she wouldn’t find her sister, but found fulfilment in what she did for the community instead, and then it’s revealed that Eloi is alive, and that’s it – their dialogue doesn’t really add anything, except super heavy-handedly lay out how ~important~ Klariss’ work was. Eloi’s out of nowhere reveal that she has single-handedly solved The Issue is almost insultingly facile: just like that, all problems evaporate. And all you had to do was talk to some people.

Overall, I think the post-apocalyptic world you build is pretty good, with all the dead left where the stygian winds ended them, and it’s good that you don’t try to expand on them. I like how people try to find a way to move on. But you fumble the main story set in this world hard, imo.

weltlich – Dive Bar

This story confused me a little, because I initially had trouble understanding just how deep the reservoir was meant to be, what the TVA is (still don’t know), and – that’s on me – I just don’t know intuitively how much 140 feet is. It didn’t help that there was at least one tense mistake (“succumb”), and I was wondering if your exposition was going somewhere.

I kept wondering that as you described in detail how diving works, and what can go wrong (but didn’t, in the story), and how the whiskey barrels would float, and that’s interesting I guess, but not very captivating? It felt like at points I was “watching” a nature documentary, with the narrator going “oh yeah and here we had to really pay attention, but as you can see, we’re good at what we do”. The one moment of tension is also quickly resolved because the narrator is just very competent. Which is fine, but you know – not super fun to read about. I think you try to establish some tension with the nitrogen hallucination explanations, but those don’t really happen either, except for the line that it might make you sit on a porch swing – which clashes weirdly with the first time you mention that, when it’s described “as a goof”, aka nothing to worry about.

Overall, I was left confused and slightly bored. I think, for me at least, this would be better if something happened, for example hallucinations kept cropping up for the narrator, and they worried more and more if they were also getting to Jake, and so on.

Susan tried hard to be a good manager

We did a draft exchange for this one, so I can’t offer much more of a crit than I already did in private; especially because you sadly didn’t have time to edit it, so this is literally the version I already gave critique to. There’s no need to repost my incredibly extensive list of grievances itt.

Sitting Here – it’s kinda like this sometimes but also not really

lol ockpig

This was very enjoyable, a fun read. It’s hard to write convincing comedy, especially for me who goes all grumpy old man when reading prose, but you have a way of being sincere when it matters and funny without pointing fingers that just works. Another bold choice is the no caps+punctuation/all caps dialogue, which, again, also just works because you know how to write. In fact, it fits perfectly to underscore the personality of the two, particularly the bored, tired, empress.

I think the weakest part of the story is Scruptis, who is just a little too mundane, with a problem that – in the world you suggest – should be more out there than just a landslide. Like, I’m fine with him being a boring bureaucrat, but magic is commonplace, you have a benevolent but blood-throne dictatoress, he should really be boring about something crazier. Imo. This also makes the scene where they talk him down drag a little with no good, funny resolution.

Overall though quite enjoyable, suffers from a few typos but you know that.

“EDIT”: oh poo poo I just got the title lol

Thranguy – Nifty

This story suffers a lot from the problem that NFTs have in the real world: they’re mind-bendingly stupid and make my eyes glaze over whenever someone talks about them. That’s not your fault, but it doesn’t help if you write about them. Especially when you spend two long paragraphs talking about technical details, peppered through with magical references of course, but it’s still very dry. The experiments are also kind of interesting, but mostly because I am an experimentator myself and like to read about other people’s setups. I don’t know if that’s a broadly applicable thing, though.

In the end, because the topic kind of bored me, and the magic additions didn’t really help, I kind of didn’t understand what the narrator actually invented. Therefore, I also couldn’t really follow what exactly Edgar was offering him, how that would actually impact the world (they stayed pretty vague) and if I wanted him to succeed or not. Overall, he was so detached with the whole process, that I had a very hard time telling if he actually thought “wow, that really sucks” or “amazing business opportunity, no downsides”. He was quite blasé about the possibility of making a murderous tulpa, even.

Overall, just not a subject matter that resonated with me, you could have made it so but didn’t, sorry!

My Shark Waifu – Territorial Animals

One could feel the bird nerd knowledge oozing from this story, which makes it incredibly on-prompt. I’m not much of a bird nerd, but I didn’t feel, like, annoyed by it; your main character is pleasant enough to “listen” to, and their prattling makes sense with the conceit of the story.

Your setup is pretty clean, I have no issues with your first part. You get to the point quickly and establish what’s going to happen. However, I think it then takes a bit too much to get to the action, when they get discovered by the white supremacists. The “messenger of death” thing is a bit too clumsy for me to feel the tension that something bad might happen; I’d rather have that be because e.g. Jones gets the main character to shut up by reminding them that this is not a game, because these people are already suspected of hospitalizing someone, they just couldn’t pin it on them, or something like that. In the end, I couldn’t quite see them as a threat, with a dog small enough to be valid prey for a falcon, and the officers – imo – probably covertly armed (they’d be really stupid if not, right?).

Overall, therefore, it was competently told and constructed, but the actual contents left me kind of cold.

crabrock – Sacrifice

This is extremely sad. It gains a lot from knowing how personal it really is to you, and there’s nothing more to say than that: it reads exactly as heartfelt as it probably is. Well done, and I’m sorry, and thankful for the work you do despite it all.

sebmojo – 6 inch Pizza Sub with Cheddar

“Tony turned the paper over, uncomprehending. On its back was intricate writing that was at first incomprehensible…” tell me again how his comprehension was comprised at that moment. I don’t remember if this one was submitted close to deadline as you tend to do, but if it was, it would explain particularly the first paragraph; it feels like it flows weird, as if you rearranged the sentences a few times, but didn’t quite find a good way to start with a strong hook and still have the information conveyed to the reader in a good order. Personally, I’d have put the text after the “readable English text” to increase intrigue.

I liked the middle part, where Tony struggles trying to balance his attraction to Annabel with the urgency of wanting to do something about the invasion plan he just learned about, and how the difficulties just keep piling up. I think the ending is a cop-out, though. Nothing else happens between them to justify the Tony’s crush subplot, and then the anticlimax just occurs and that’s it. I think it would be stronger if something ironic with Annabel happened, like he does arrange a meeting regardless of the paper vanishing or not because he thinks it is a good opportunity to ask her out, and then they toil together in the mines, or he is shot down immediately and to add insult to injury, he’s insured; dunno, that’s your story to tell. But anything more than just “rocks fell, everybody died”. Please.

Overall, rocky start and weak end. Middle chewy enough to make me want more, bastard, at least write that badly enough so I can wholly pan it!

Chairchucker – Time for Filing

This takes a while to get going, and this is both because of a conversation that drags a bit without really setting up too much (I don’t get too much of a feel of the relationship between the narrator and the Captain, for example – not enough to set up him trying to maybe bail the narrator out, or how apologetic her really is, at the end), and also because there’s plain to many useless words. These are entirely redundant lines and can be cut without losing anything, for example:


I’d thought they were more commemorations than celebrations, but what do I know.

‘I just think, maybe it’s not the right time to be bringing these files to light. Might distract from the celebrations, ey?’

Once the time device is introduced, things get a little more interesting, and I enjoy this part of the plot; it’s written quite straightforwardly, maybe even a little terse because you wasted words at the beginning, but it’s not bad. All the elements are there, it’s internally satisfying, and you wrap up all the threads nicely.

Overall, it’s a slow burn that’s got too long a fuse at the start which needs trimming. That would allow you to flesh out the final part even more, maybe give Petra a little more to do, give her and the Captain more character, and such things.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
3170/3200 Words

Dead Ireland lay starboard. On the icebreaker-cum-cargo ship Bull, Zoe could just make out the remnants of what once was a coastal town. Her eye had been drawn to it by a ferris wheel, standing alone in a sea of dust that used to be wood, concrete, people. Metal was among the few materials surviving longer in the new world, because it didn’t rust right anymore.

Were there survivors further inland, where the destructive ocean wasn’t so close, where its devouring vapors were kept at bay by winds of fortune?

A low buzzing forced itself through her contemplation of a world wrung dry by its oceans, streams, lakes, rain, mist, condensation. Already? The alarm indicated that the first barrier protecting her from air intent on killing her, the oil coating her drysuit, had almost worn off.

It had been twelve years since just a few drops of anti-polarized water had splashed overboard an ocean laboratory in international waters of the North Sea and caused a chain reaction that within days had twisted all water on earth to its wrong polarity. And Zoe could not, would not get used to it. She wanted to shower again. Get drenched in the rain. After her freak survival as a teenage intern in a hermetically sealed clean room, she had vowed to find a way of twisting the water back, eradicating what the remnants of humanity had dubbed terwa.

So, with the buzzing sound getting more urgent, Zoe finally got to what she had come outside for: check the route to her projected goal. After the climate collapse of the late 2030s, the ice caps had all but vanished. Conversely, the gulf stream had stopped delivering its payload of warmth to Europe. But with the terwa cataclysm, it had started to flow again. Backwards, of course. So if the calculations at the Institute were correct, there was now a “natural” pipeline from Greenland towards the south of Iceland, sucking in what might have been left of the glaciers. And in this icy vein of terwa, the most precious gemstone might be found: a piece of frozen water, actual water, from which they could develop a panacea to fix the world.

Zoe’s gloves had already started to smoke when she began dangling the thermometer unit off the ship’s side. The terwa vapors in the air had encountered the unavoidable traces of moisture absorbed into the polymer fabric, and reacted violently. Her skin began to warm. If any terwa penetrated her second layer of protection, the sweat on her hands would cause them to instantly get obliterated. Calm down, Zoe. The airlock was just a few steps behind her.

Suddenly, something yanked on the chain. Zoe was flung forward, slammed into the railing and had her breath knocked out of her; the lenses of her helmet fogged, and she was disoriented enough to not notice for a second that she was almost dragged over the side of the ship, into the churning terwa sea below. The shock made her stop breathing entirely.

The moisture harvesting membranes of her drysuit kicked in, cleared her vision, and Zoe could just barely make out something moving below. The bodies of terwa-men, skin burned off, muscles bulging in sickly tumors where the cells had mutated in a desperate effort to stave off obliteration, bone partially dusted where blood vessels had boiled, but somehow still alive in a parody of what the word meant. These creatures, who had their water replaced with a constant thirst that terwa could not quench, now craved any drop of real moisture that still existed.

The warning buzz had become a constant drone in Zoe’s ears. Her hands felt hot, both from the reaction eating away at her gloves and because of the exertion. But she needed the readings to know they were on course. She buckled her knees, put one leg against the railing, and started pulling on the chain with all her strength. It started to dig into her gloves. One rip in the weakened material, and it would be over -

Something grabbed Zoe around the hip, and an arm reached out to hold onto the chain together with her. “On three,” a voice filtered through a drysuit said.

She nodded. The count happened, and she and her savior pulled as hard at they could. The thermometer was flung onto the deck, with a terrible thing that once was an arm still clutching it, oozing blood of all the wrong colors.


After a long day of calculations and double-checking values with data recovered from the very ocean lab that had caused this whole mess, Zoe could allow herself to relax, having dinner with her savior, captain Ureos himself. He was ten years older than her, and she could still not imagine how hard it must have been for a full adult to adapt to a world so radically different.

“I still think you didn’t have to take this risk,” he said, his mustache twisted in disdain. “My crew is well experienced enough to find Iceland without your measurements.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you - I don’t fully trust myself,” Zoe answered. “If my theories are wrong, I’m wasting all your time on this excursion. Better validate them early.”

He took a long swig from his glass. The drink, a thickened gloop of eternally reprocessed water stretched into oblivion with a tasteless, slightly sticky gel, was called ratwe. A moniker alluding both to the fact that it was yet another wrong form of the lost life-giving liquid, and to its skunky taste.

With a grimace, Ureos put it down again. “Your Institute developed ratwe, and the drysuit coating. I have every reason to trust your process.”

Zoe hid a flush of pride behind her glass. “The coating needs some work still. It’s not an issue if we make it in the lab. But the stuff you process aboard here, you can’t get it water-free all the way. That’s why terwa vapors can degrade it.”

“Maybe you could come up with a way to dry our machines out. We could sell the process.”

Zoe smirked as she lowered a spoon into the bowl in front of her. “Are you offering me a job?”

The captain stopped her from eating, stood up and went to a drawer. With his back turned, he unlocked it accompanied by a series of clicking sounds. Eventually, he produced a pot, and in it, a small green plant. Zoe gasped. “Is that thyme?

Carefully, Ureos clipped a few of the tiny leaves off. “I’m offering you an opportunity,” he said while sprinkling some on the ratwe-wettened gruel made from powdered mushrooms, lichens and other produce that was rescued from those first chaotic months of every twisted water molecule trying to murder every single remnant of life on earth. Zoe almost wept as she took the first bite of something tasting like anything in years.

“I have to be honest with you: I don’t really believe that the Institute will find a solution to a world full of terwa,” Ureos said while eating his own, unflavored food. “Even if you recover some ice, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to reverse-engineer what made water water.”

Zoe was too blissfully savoring each flavor molecule to protest, so he continued. “They compensated me handily in goods, formulas and blueprints to take you on this trip, and I’ll be able to trade those to other settlements for a good while. But that will dry up, and they won’t send you out again if you come back empty-handed.”

Her bowl was empty, licked sparkling clean, and now she finally had the clarity to register what he said; Zoe’s face began to contort, but Ureos held up a hand and went on after a sigh. “Listen, I’m an optimist, despite what I just said. My belief that we humans can turn every catastrophe into an opportunity has kept me going, made me dare salvage and repair the Bull, find a source of diesel for his engines, seal up his interior, and look for other survivors to sell things to. But I’m not a dreamer.”

He looked her right in the eye. “As far as I know, I’m the most successful man in the world. But I’m nothing without innovation. Work for me, invent new things I can sell, let’s make this new world our own.”

Zoe furrowed her brow. “We won’t get the old world back anyway. But maybe one where rain won’t kill us anymore.”

“In the old world, I had a minimum-wage job cleaning some rich guy’s underground shelter where he hid from the summer sun. When terwa came, I founded a community in there that’s now my loyal, happy crew. You were an unpaid intern having your idealism exploited by academia. Now you are inventing things that literally keep humanity alive.”

“Barely. It feels to me like we are turning into abominations ourselves, just ratwe- instead of terwa-men.” She held her glass upside down for a second, which didn’t spill a drop of the goo inside. “Every cycle we put these precious untwisted molecules through dilutes their essence.”

“That doesn’t sound very scientific,” Ureos said with a raised eyebrow.

“Neither does your hope that my inventions will somehow make living in a terwa world more bearable.”

“We made the old one almost unbearable already. Then we made terwa. That’s the bed we have to sleep in.”

“Well, I’m gonna throw an ice cube under those sheets.”

“If you say so.” Ureos locked the thyme away. “What did the measurements say, by the way?”

Zoe crossed her arms. “Two full degrees lower than last time I took the temperature, which is exactly as predicted by the data.”



Three days later, Zoe stood on the Bull’s deck again, watching the sickle of a moon sickly reflect on the surface of a sea that never flowed quite right. The light of the stars was distorted through the terwa haze, shining every color but the clean white she had known from her childhood. Again, her drysuit told her to step inside already, and again, she savored the bath in hostile air more than she should. She hadn’t talked to the captain again since his dinner invitation. Every time she thought about it, she shivered a little. Nothing had happened, and he had given off no hostile intent, but she kept being painfully reminded of the fact that she was alone with her mission, in a hermetically sealed bunker drifting at sea, no control, no guarantees but his word. And doubt in his mind.

“It’s late for a measurement. Fishing for terwa-men again?”

She hadn’t heard the captain approach and startled enough to almost drop her sextant. He put a hand on her shoulder that was meant to be reassuring. “Have you thought about my offer?”

“We are approaching Iceland,” Zoe said. “Soon, I’ll have my prize, or not. Can we not talk on the way back?”

“Depending on your decision, it might be more…efficient…to turn around right now.”

She could not make out his face through the reflection of the multi-hued starlight on his helmet’s visor. “My decision depends on what I find,” she said firmly.

He gazed in the direction of the Bull’s brow. Pointed - for now - towards Iceland, where a block of true ice might wait.


He went back in without another word. Zoe stood still like the ferris wheel on the coast of Ireland. How soon would she see it again, and under whose control?

She went back to the air-lock, applied another coating of sealant to her suit, went back out, and commandeered a lifeboat.


Zoe had not planned to sleep, but wouldn’t have been able to anyway; her drysuit’s alarm was a constant ring in her ears now. Because it could not measure exactly how much her crude re-appliance of coating had extended Zoe’s survivability, it was all but useless. It did keep her alert, though, aware of the thin layers of metal boat, oil coating and polymer fabric separating her clammy skin from an ocean that wanted to eat it alive. She had just enough fuel to reach Iceland and make it back to where she’d left the Bull. Her drysuit’s integrity on the other hand - well, she’d just have to see. And the captain, would he come after her, stay moored, or just turn back in the name of ‘effciency’, or, as she’d put it, greed?

A heavy impact cut through her dark thoughts, something hitting the boat hard enough to make it rock, make the ocean splash, and she scrambled away from the spray that would rapidly eat through the every-so-slightly moist coating, soak into her suit, and snap hungrily for the flesh beneath. While watching an empty expanse of terwa around her, sweating beads thick as ratwe, she blindly fumbled for the harpoon gun.

A terwa-man, like leftovers of a surf-n-turf-buffet glued together, dragged itself over the railing of her lifeboat. She screamed, and the harpoon shot went wide. A hand with flesh undulating along too many fingers closed itself around her ankle. With the butt of her gun, she hammered on what might be a wrist, and caused a crunch like someone very inexperienced at eating lobster. Under the still persisting grip of the terwa-soaked fingers, she felt her leg go numb and burn up at the same time. She yanked it away with both hands, and the creature’s arm came right off, like she’d seen before with the thermometer. Her own fingers were frozen in a claw gesture of disgust and terror; could she touch this safely, get it off her, to prevent the perverted liquid from poisoning her?

The abomination hadn’t given up. Zoe snarled. This was not how her search would end. She hit the thing across the face with her weapon, pushed herself backwards with her good leg, impacted the supply box that had housed the gun. Another harpoon, quick, before it recovered! It lunged for her, the morning sun reflecting off her visor into her opponent’s strangely human eyes, filtered through unnatural terwa vapors -

The harpoon pierced the eye, shattered the reflection, threw the thing back into the sea that had made it. Zoe scraped the rest off her with another harpoon’s blunt end, hands shaking as they cramped hard in a desperate attempt to not damage the fabric further. She was deafened by the drysuit’s alarm. Every time she moved, she imagined a crinkling, bone-dry, uncoated material just waiting to crumble and leave her exposed. It wasn’t that bad, she told herself. Her leg, her leg, that was bad. In the box, she found an emergency bandage. No time to apply it correctly; she slashed it open with the tip of the harpoon, spraying white powder everywhere. Calcium chloride, very hygroscopic; emergency water absorber. She piled it on her leg, felt it draw water from it, burning her skin, but the pain, at least, told her that her cells were working as intended. For now. Weeping wasteful tears, she pulled the bandage tight around the damaged drysuit leg.


It was almost noon, a cold sun sending octarine rays onto a sea the color of madness, when Zoe began to admit to herself that she wouldn’t make it. The coast of Iceland had appeared before her, the lifeboat was making good pace, but the air around her suit was shimmering from the heat it sent off, and she felt it inside as well; a fever of anti-water obliterating her life essence. But she’d at least push through to see if she was right. She needed a bay, where the gulf stream would catch, cold enough to preserve ice. A bay like the one she drifted towards right now, driven by instinct or fate, she didn’t know.

Something impacted the boat again. Zoe limply lifted the harpoon gun, but nobody peeked over the side. So she did.

Her eyes widened.

Thirty minutes later, the buzzing in her ears had stopped, and she didn’t know if it was because they had burned out or the alarm did.

“Hey, do you need a ride?”

Oh, it was the alarm after all. With the effort of Atlas lifting the world, Zoe rose to her feet. She felt something crumble off her leg and hoped it was just calcium chloride.

“I need a fridge!” She yelled back, and lifted her world above her head: a piece of jagged ice, not much bigger than her head. Its surface reflected half normal, half wrong, crystal yin-yang, terwa kept by cold from consuming the contents. Inside, something sloshed, lifeblood from the world before.

Leaning on the railing of the Bull, which had indeed followed Zoe almost all the way, stood captain Ureos in his suit. Harpoon gun trained on the triumphant researcher.

“I think I’m gonna spell it out this time. If the Institute manages to turn the oceans back, anyone can sail the waters again. People can just exchange information without me as an intermediate. It’s bad for business, it’s bad for my people. We’re all getting used to this world. Leave it as it is, and help me conquer it.”

Zoe felt herself burn up, shiver, vision clouded by the haze of the obliteration reaction, arms aching from the weight of the ice, hands freezing up from contact with it, but she had never been clearer-headed in her life.

“I decline your offer, captain.”

“I’m no longer asking for your decision.” He trained the harpoon. The projectile flew. Zoe stood unmoving.

The sharp metal pierced the ice between her hands, shattered it. From inside, water showered her, wonderful cool clean fresh, heavy rain, drenching her in childhood. All it was now, memory, soon to be lost. Terwa vapors already reached for it, heated up her soaked garments. Clawed and slavered for the life beneath.

She could try to somehow make it back up the Bull, severely burned, maybe they could nurse her back. Or she could test a wild theory, the last chance to do something with her discovery. A tiny amount of terwa had started a chain reaction that consumed all the free water on earth. Now, what if a comparatively large amount of untainted water would enter a whole body of terwa?

Zoe spread her arms and threw herself into the ocean. Terwa splashed high, met the puddle in her boat, and the resulting explosion’s shockwave sent her deep under. She was breathless, surrounded by sudden blackness. Reaching for her with anti-polarized tendrils.

But repelled.

She floated in a bubble of real water. More than she had started with.

The ocean boiled around her, warmed her to comfort, and she rose up with it, her drysuit keeping her breathing, safe, as the world violently remade itself in ripples caused by the tiny pebble that was her.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Tosk posted:

Wow, I have now managed to sign up for 4 prompts and not submit for any of them (once due to forgetting, twice due to not finishing and this time I was impeded by real life)

That will leave me tied for worst failure at 400% on the thunderdome site, which I also just realized existed and already has statistically calculated what a failure I am

I will make sure to post for the interprompt. I have never managed to participate before, are there word count limits to the interprompts?
1) no if not given
2) just post, don't post about posting
3) finish your two unfinished stories. Redemptions are honorable

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Lest I forget, in with Artpunk

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

The Faceless Artist
1983/1984 Words

Jacques felt a pressure inside like a can of spray-paint, and he felt like when he reached his goal, he might as well splatter on it like a botched artwork on concrete canvas. CR had asked to meet him alone, without the others of their collective, and what could that mean? Had CR noticed how Jacques stared just a bit too long when an aristocratic eyebrow arched over chiseled features, how the content of inflamed speeches was swept away by the sonorous sound of CR’s voice?

And if CR had noticed - did he want to tell Jacques in private to knock it off and focus on their noble goals? Or was it…a date?

“A date with fate to elate?”, a voice asked, and cleared the anxious cloud surrounding Jacques.


A man dressed in a creased, ill-fitting suit and a tie too long in front shoved a piece of paper into Jacques’ face. “With the rhymes on this list, you too can write poetry like the best, can feel from a muse kissed, all your friends will be impressed!”

Jacques cringed. “I’ll stick to painting, thank you.”

The man gasped exaggeratedly, holding up a manicured hand in front of his mouth, nails painted in a color that clashed with his lipstick. “Oh, but painting requires actual skill! For the paltry price of three green leaflets of currency, you can take a shortcut to high society. I have no talent, but I have my list, and now look at me!”

He made a crude approximation of a model pose.

Jacques opened his baggy paint-flecked coat to expose four paint cans in a belt holster. “My money goes into supplies. Because I’m an actual artist, you see.”

The hustler cocked his head and sneered. “I’m sure petty vandalism will propel you into fame, fortune and recognition.”

Jacques looked to the left: a packed street of uneven buildings, designed by committee not architects, with crude stalls in front where people tried to desperately sell sketches, figurines, novellas; art made by the artless, who could never hope to scrounge together enough talent to make it.

To the right: the slums eventually gave way to competently made - if uninspiring - houses, where craftspeople lived. Talented not in artistry but precision, they earned their keep making canvas, binding books, mixing clay. Further along, the artisans, who made unique paint mixtures and the like. And finally, the villas and mansions, all columns and stucco, marble and glass and daring design, some classical, some neo-brutalist, all architectural marvels. Where the demigods calling themselves true artists resided.

Jacques pointed up there. “You’re a far cry from the shining city on the hill. Try crafting better words instead of better scams.”

Turning to the left, angry words following him like the stench of propellant, Jacques chastised himself for bristling like this. This man was a victim of the system as much as anyone else here, kept down by the ones on top who made and dictated what was “art” at the same time. They cemented their control with the vague promise that one day, the talentless Hacks too might have a breakthrough with their feeble attempts at writing, painting, sculpture, and earn recognition as one of the greats, and afford a house up there. A nice lie made even more obvious by the fact that Jacques knew that he had talent, just in a “wrong” discipline. He passed one of his works, already half painted over, eaten away by urban decay, and smiled a bitter smile. What kind of activist was he, putting down his fellow Hacks while pining after someone with the style and grace of a capital-A Artist?

The bitter thought only made him walk faster towards what he still hoped was a date with said Artist.


“So here’s the plan.”

It wasn’t a date. However, it was also no frank shutdown of Jacques’ affection, so he counted his blessings. And maybe they’d have time to relax together after CR was done being serious.

CR slid a poster printed on glossy paper over the table. It featured a tasteful font, carefully balanced colors, and just the right amount of deliberate imperfections - skewed title, paint splashes - to draw the eye in. GRAND UNVEILING: THE FACELESS ARTIST’S NEWEST MASTERPIECE - AND IDENTITY! it proclaimed. The date was set for the day after tomorrow.

“This is my father’s next vernissage. Everybody who has a name will be there to find out who Faceless is. We will spoil the surprise, ruin the masterpiece, and embarrass the crusty old tyrant.”

Jacques pried his gaze away from CR’s perfectly manicured fingers. “Is this your only reason to crash his party?”

A wry smile. “It plays into the main reason, mon ami. His vapid Artist ‘friends’ love drama, so they’ll listen to every word I say. I’ll present our cause, plead social justice for Hacks, put our group officially on the map. After that, I’ll be disinherited of course.”

“Is that really worth it?”

CR put a hand on Jacques’ shoulder, which caused a pleasant ripple to go through his body. “Jacques, do you know why I wanted to speak with you alone?”

Without waiting for an answer, CR continued. “The others still don’t trust me. They think Claude-René Seurat, spoiled child of renowned Artist Hyacinthe Seurat, just plays at being rebel and will discard the collective once he’s bored of them.”

He put both hands on Jacques’ shoulders and directed a smoldering gaze into his eyes. “You have always seen how little I care for that superficial world of his. With your help, I’ll prove it decisively. Sever my ties to a corrupt upper class. Discard my name, become one of you. A rebel for our just cause!”

Jacques put a hand on one of CR’s and allowed himself a playful smile. “I’ll make a Hack out of you. First, you gotta get rid of your ridiculous clothes.”

CR preened about his suit. “Maybe I’ll let you undress me once we’re done.” A shy smile that made Jacques want to kill giants for him. “But in two days, I’ll have to still pretend that I’m one of them.”


Two days later, Jacques was also dressed in a suit, which was surprisingly comfortable. He hated to admit it, but it also looked kind of nice. CR had paraded him around a barber, a tailor, even a beautician, and the results spoke for themselves. But wasn’t that, again, the point? Everyone should be able to afford to make a work of art out of themselves.

Jacques scanned the crowd at the vernissage. Women in form-enhancing dresses, crowned by impossible hairstyles. Men with suits in all colors and stripes, desperate to stand out while still adhering to a strict code. They all hung onto cocktail and champagne glasses for dear life, filling the room with the drone of vapid conversations like the poorly-ventilated studio Jacques tested his tags in.

“So, what do you work in?”

He startled as the high-pitched voice of the small woman interrupted his thought process. He looked down on puffy hair overflowing with jewelry and fresh flowers.

“…murals. I paint murals.”

“Oooh, that sounds like a lot of work. Who do you pay to actually do it?”

Jacques clutched his glass of warm alcohol. “I, uh, myself?”

Her eyes widened. “Someone with actual talent? In this crowd? Well, that makes two of us! I’m a writer.” She rose up for a conspiratorial whisper. “Of course, I mostly come up with the plots and let someone else do the typing. It’s all good stuff, though. High society Artist finds a disguised Hack in a vernissage, falls in love with his rugged looks, they have a fling, you know.”

Jacques fingered his collar which had suddenly turned rather tight. “That’s rather specific.”

“Isn’t it?” She made a pout meant to be cute.

Jacques realized that before her appearance, he had been standing in a void of people, surrounded by groups of Artists discussing this or that. Of course, he drew attention. He did not belong here, because he did not want to. The suit began to itch from his sweat.

“Relax,” she whispered, and gave him a wicked smile. “Claude-René asked me to tell you that his father is about to make his speech. I’ll distract this fop, you get going.”

She turned to a lanky dandy leaning next to a door. “Oh, it’s great I meet you!” She said, sweeping him away. “Didn’t you want to tell me about your atelier of copy-makers…?”

With a heavy sigh of relief, Jacques slipped through the door using the key CR had given him, found the flight of stairs as directed, and made his way up to the rafters supporting the spotlights for the later reveal of Faceless Artist’s identity. For now, they were trained on the centerpiece of the exhibition, the masterpiece: a giant blank canvas. Faceless like the artist, symbolic pretension.

Jacques found everything ready: his harness he used for adorning bridges, and the instrument they’d paint their message with: a gun, fat shells, double-barreled, blanks filled with paint. He began fastening the harness to the walkway; on the stage, CR’s father had already begun prattling on about the beauty in what cannot be seen. With the paint gun, Jacques would paint Hyacinthe Seurat’s silhouette on the masterpiece, and slip away while the disgraced son gave his passionate speech.

Used to working quickly between train passes, Jacques ratcheted down in record speech. The room fell silent around him as he readied the gun. He stared in the old Artist’s frightened eyes, so close to his son’s that never failed to pierce Jacques’ soul. Squinting to banish the image, Jacques pulled the trigger. A bang. Recoil sending him spinning. Many-throated scream. He opened his eyes again.

The canvas was stained only one color: red.

While Jacques stared uncomprehending at what his decidedly-not-blanks had done to CR’s father, someone walked on stage. Dressed entirely in white, with a blank mask: the faceless artist. Spotlights focused on him.

“Our life is a blank canvas,” he proclaimed in a painfully familiar voice sounding like a fork on porcelain in Jacques’ ringing ears. “It is nothing until we paint it with our sacrifices.”

He locked his arms behind his back. “My first artistic efforts were dismissed by critics, claiming that I was expecting recognition because of my heritage. So I discarded my name! Now, with my final masterpiece as the Faceless Artist, I can step out of the shadow of my father, and reclaim it.”

He removed the mask in a grand gesture. “I’m Claude-René Seurat!” He pointed at the horrid stains. “Behold my work: I call it Inheritance!”

“You used me,” Jacques voiced tonelessly. His heart felt empty like the canvas had been.

CR’s smile pierced right through it. “This member of a terrorist collective helped realize my bold vision, for which I’m eternally grateful.”

His expression darkened. “Of course, he still murdered my father. Justice will be served.”

CR stepped closer to the limply hanging Jacques, grabbed his shoulder and drew him close. “You should have listened to the others, mon ami.”

The jewel-haired woman from before suddenly appeared next to the pair, took away the gun and handed each of them a champagne flute. Jacques took it with numb fingers and mind.

“I’m truly grateful, though.” CR clinked the glasses together. “That’s why I paid for the fastest-acting poison I could find. Santé!”

Jacques stared at the still achingly beautiful face of his former friend. Finally, he found an emotion inside him. His lips curled up, exposing teeth.

“I know I won’t find justice,” he said. “But I can at least help you paint another canvas.”

He smashed the glass in CR’s face, staining the white suit red as well.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Rod of Mutos
3614/4000 Words

Clad in ragged once-white cotton, the old man was a pathetic sight. A dirty blanket poorly hid a right arm hideously deformed by mutations. With this clawed mass of tumors, he beckoned the adventurers closer.

“You have performed admirably in the swampy wastes defending our village from the last mutant outbreak. Now, if you’re willing to listen, I have a proposition for you.”

The group signaled interest.

“Beyond the swamp, the source of this island’s problems lies,” the old man continued. “In a hillside, a few dozen years ago, the Mutos research lab was carved out. Their goal was to find a cure for mutations. The island was chosen as natural containment in case something went wrong.”

He paused for a moment to take a sip from his mug of poorly-fermented grains. A waitress with a prosthetic elbow, otherwise blessedly unmarred, offered a refill which he gladly accepted.

“Things went very right at first. The scientists had gotten frustrated by the random nature of mutations caused by exposing wildlife to mutagens harvested from danger zones. So they grew a conductive crystal from mutagen-saturated solvents, connected it with a power source, encased the arrangement in a lead shell, and gave it a handle. They dubbed it Rod of Mutos.

It worked very well for its intended purpose - push a button, the lead shell opens, a beam of concentrated mutative energy fires out, and what’s bathed in it is rapidly altered. With one problem: the beam is absorbed differently by various materials. It penetrates skin easily, muscles somewhat well, but marrow is hungry for it. So if you shine it on a vertebrate, the mutations start from their core, growths from within the bones burst them open, the muscles give way as they themselves sprout new tumors, and the skin has no choice but to split open like an overripe crabapple dropped from a very high place.”

His fingers-cum-spikes drummed an uneasy rhythm on the wooden surface of the table. “So they made a lot of twitchy rabbit goop turned inside-out, but - sadly for the rabbit - still alive. Fine for initial experiments, but in this severity irreversible, ultimately defeating the point of the lab. Eventually, they turned to bigger animals, and discovered something very interesting: tougher, more resilient organisms were able to withstand the internal pressure of the mutations’ growth and direct it somewhat. Do you see where I’m getting at?”

The party leader raised an eyebrow. “They used it on humans.”

“Precisely.” The old man gave a sad nod. “The head scientist, a man I’ll refer to only as the Professor -” he spat on the floor “- claimed they were volunteers, but then why would they scream so? But the man was brilliant, I’ll give him that. After only a few dozen people turned inside out who were mercy-culled, he managed to mutate someone - and then turn them back by reversing the beam.”

“So they succeeded?” Someone asked.

“Well, the Professor thought so, of course.” The old man sneered. “Which is why he immediately used the Rod on himself.”

Gasps. The old man silenced the clamor. “You see, the Professor had had a very personal drive for his research. He was married to a former research assistant of his. By some accounts, they’d been a happy couple, doing their best trying to find a cure for a sick world - until he made a terrible mistake on a field trip, fell into a puddle of heavily contaminated water, and got severely disfigured by mutations. I don’t know if his wife was particularly vain, or something more than his body got altered, but after this, their love was dead.”

He took another long swig.

“She still worked under him, now a full scientist herself, but their interactions had turned purely professional. I think he hoped that if he could reverse his mutations, he could also undo the rift between their hearts.”

A sad shake of an old head. “I don’t know what exactly went wrong, but from his office, an abomination burst. Through the scientists trying to stop it, it tore like your swords would through wheat-stalks. Those he didn’t kill, he shone the rod on, turning them into monsters themselves. Within minutes, the lab was a pandemonium of bodies, mutants, broken equipment and panicked screams.

There would have been no survivors if not for the Professor’s wife. She confronted the abomination birthed from him, and actually managed to stop his rampage for a precious few moments.”

Another mug drained.

“I was among those who managed to shut the door to the lowest chambers, sealing the Professor and his wife in. I saw him bent over her broken body, and the Rod of Mutos opened to shine its terrible light down…”

Silence descended over the corner of the tavern. The party leader eventually managed to break it with a clearing of their throat.

“So, what is your proposition?”

The old man rose up as high as his bent frame could manage. “I’m the last of the scientists who survived the catastrophe in Mutos. I too am responsible for what happened, and what is still going on. The village hired you to fight mutants in the swamp, but they will come back. They come from Mutos, and they are growing in strength and numbers. The containment is failing. Soon, they’ll overrun the village and kill everyone here. In the best case. Worst case, they bring the Rod with them, mutate everyone to align to their twisted image, and take the next ship to the mainland.

Someone needs to go into the Mutos lab, penetrate into the deepest chambers, and retrieve the Rod. Only then will the plague of mutants be stopped.”

“I gotta be honest,” one member of the party said. “You’re not making this proposal very attractive.”

Some laughs.

“There’s a significant sum attached, of course.” The old man looked each of them into the eye(s) in turn. “The real prize is the Rod, though.”

Incredulous protests arose, but a raised hand promised an explanation. “I managed to grab some schematics during my escape, and I had a lot of time studying them. I’ve figured out what the problem with the Rod is. It can reverse mutations - but only if they’re fresh. That’s why the initial tests were so promising, because it reversed its own effects. But older mutations are baked into your body - they are what you are now.”

He put his good hand on his bad arm for emphasis.

“That must be what frustrated the Professor into committing his fatal mistake. So consider what power the Rod has: you can cure anyone with mutations incurred within the last few days, that is already phenomenal. But there’s one more thing, perhaps even more attractive for someone in your profession.”

The old man leaned forward with a glint in his eye. “If you are strong enough of body and will, you can use it to mutate yourself, become an unstoppable killing machine, shred your foes to pieces, and reverse the effects before they become permanent.”

The adventurers exchanged glances, then excused themselves to do the same with words. Eventually, they returned. Interested.

The old man smirked; while they were gone, he had already had the table cleared. Now, he spread some papers on them.

“These are Mutos lab’s original plans, modified with what damages I remember from my escape. It may not be entirely accurate by now, but it should be good enough to guide you to success.

There’s three main levels, each deeper underground than the last. Ground floor: lobby, offices and administration. First basement: storage and general laboratories for synthesis and analysis. Second basement: heavy security labs, the containment level. Your goal.

Of course, you can only get in at ground level. Nowadays, there’s two ways, both of which have their own drawbacks and advantages. First, the main entrance. Right after our escape, we immediately gathered some villagers to collapse the hillside overlooking the door. It’s still impassable. However, the air vents are not. We figured mindless mutants would never make it through, but by that point we should really have learned about making assumptions.”

He nodded to the adventurers. “For skilled and able people, the vents should be no problem. But you might encounter resistance in them. You know what to expect from the ones you fought in the swamp - those are the ones with lithe bodies. Their mutations stretched them out, made flesh tentacles out of limbs, with bones and joints so ground up in the process that they can contort however they want. Sometimes they’re pure muscle, and very fast. Do not underestimate them, especially not in the confined spaces of the vents.”

The stoutest member of the party looked uncomfortable. The old man looked at him with a stare that was supposed to look understanding.

“The other point of entry is from behind. The hill terminates in a cliff that used to be a natural back wall of the lab complex. However, there was an explosion, when one of the generators malfunctioned a few years back. The ground level is now open to the elements, and you could get in through the breach. That entails climbing over the cliffs, however.” The old man gave the the party a once-over. “You might be up for that. Again, your choice. Most mutants are not strong or coordinated enough to manage a climb, but I’ve seen corpses of some that looked certainly capable enough, so be aware that you might be attacked while climbing. It’s also possible that there’s mutated birds who may be very aggressive. Beak permanently spread open due to the teeth being way too long, neck twisted back, exposing a chest that grew another mouth between powerful flight muscles, you have seen the likes.”

He made a dismissive gesture.

“Anyway, I’m sure you’ll manage. Once you make it inside one way or another, you gotta be careful. You haven’t seen anything yet. As I said, the only mutants who made it out of the lab so far were ones able to fit through the vents, or climbers. But there’s a lot more inside. Small animals turned into tragically alive puddles of organs that still seek sustenance. Don’t step in them. Dogs, sheep, even a cow or two who held together somewhat okay, but are confused, angry, and hungry. Do not expect a herbivore to stay interested in plants after mutating. Finally, humans. Stuck in there because they got turned into masses of meat that would not fit through a vent, with club-hands studded with bone shards incapable of climbing. They too are hungry - or looking for recruits.

See, recently we managed to capture a mutant. And it spoke to us. Apparently, some of the ones touched by the Rod’s fallout kept some of their sentience, hunting lesser mutants, trying to survive and hold onto what connects them to humanity. We had to put our prisoner down soon because it lashed out at us in the delusion that we were members of a rival tribe. Do you realize what that means?”

Heavy silence. The old man continued.

“The mutants have established a rudimentary society in Mutos! There’s more than one faction of cunning but deranged almost-people in there, complete with infighting, claimed territories and knowledge of the terrain. At least this means they might have kept the lights going - or figured out how to set up torches - which would help you get around.

The offices, meeting rooms and cafeterias of the ground floor are easily separated into tiny nation-states. I could imagine that there’s fighting over control of the larger rooms, or maybe they have declared the central lobby a neutral ground. Enter these parts at your own risk. Ideally, you’ll sneak through without letting any faction know of your presence.”

The old man paused to focus once more on the burly adventurer.

“Alternatively, you could throw subtlety to the wind, kill a few of each tribe, cause open war to erupt, and slip away in the chaos. Your choice.”

He motioned to the waitress. While she made her way over, he asked the party: “Are you with me so far?”

The leader repeated some of the information to show that they’d absorbed it, and everybody urged the old man to continue. He nodded, satisfied, and ordered a round of subpar alcohol.

“That’s all I know about the ground floor. There’s two ways down to the first basement: stairs or elevator. The latter is of course defunct, but you might manage a climb down the shaft. Won’t be easy, and there’s possibly enemies lurking there as well, in pitch-black darkness. Maybe mutant bats, maybe more humans with organs fortuitously changed to work in this environment. They could have developed suckers to hold onto the flat walls. However, if you manage to deal with all this, it might be the quickest route.

The stairs are easier to traverse, but I can’t imagine them being unprotected. Both to keep dangerous mutants from below out of the comparatively peaceful upper level, and to establish control over the hunting grounds down there. You will have to expect heavy resistance in the stairwell, and if they are really smart, they might trap you in a pincer attack. Be very careful.

Once you have reached the first basement, you can expect things to be…wilder. The parody of a civilization from above will not exist there. If the lights are on, it’s going to be because the inhabitants of the ground floor have established corridors they use to hunt the creatures down there, but those won’t lead you all the way down; you’ll have to go off the beaten path eventually. We stored mutagen samples from the mainland there, which we used to cause alterations before we made the Rod. Those tanks are surely breached, and their rooms are heavily contaminated. At least you’ll be able to see from the glow.”

The old man showed the rooms on the map, circled in a nasty green.

“If you go through here, you might suffer mutations. Another limb, or an existing one turned to goo? But consider the goal at the end of this. If you make it through to the Rod, you can reverse the mutations. If you’re confident that you can push through all the way, this might be the most convenient path to take.”

Some of the adventurers had already suffered alterations to their bodies. Those changed limbs and other parts now twitched uncomfortably. The old man smiled enigmatically and indicated the other side of this floor’s map.

“We stored reagents in these other rooms, various solvents and standard chemicals. All safely kept in security cabinets - when the labs were still operating fine. I don’t know how their state is now. You might open the door to one of these rooms, and find out very rapidly that they’re filled with explosive fumes. Consider illumination beyond torchlight. Don’t cause sparks.”

He had circled these rooms in red.

“Both kinds of storage rooms flank the laboratories in the middle of this level. I cannot tell you what’s in there. The labs might be fine to traverse, and you can ignore the almost-guaranteed-to-be-dangerous side rooms. Conversely, the lab spaces might be full of mutants that figured out how to throw beakers full of explosives at you, who wield glassware like weapons, intending to cut you into ribbons with the shards. There’s doors to the side rooms, however. Maybe you can open one leading into a storage, throw a torch in there, and burn attackers to a crisp with the resulting plume of flame? I’ll leave that up to you.

Here’s the biggest issue of the entire expedition, however: gaining access to the lowest level.”

He indicated a big red X on the map.

“This is the security door we closed just in time during our escape. Its controls are in a room off the side - a little too easy to reach, we figured. So we flooded the passage with acids from the chemical storage, a rather nasty cocktail. It’s also assuredly contaminated by now. So you’re looking at the prospect of swimming through a caustic soup of mutagens to push a button to open a door, behind which some really disgusting things might have been waiting for years to escape. I have no idea how to tackle this conundrum. But you’re a crafty bunch. You’ll figure something out, my info is giving you the chance to prepare. Use it well.”

Some murmurs erupted in the party as they already started a discussion on how to deal with this obstacle.

“I’m almost finished!”, the old man said. They quieted down.

“Behind the door, there’s a spiral corridor down into the second basement. There’s a secondary power grid that used to supply the containment level only; if it’s still active, you can expect emergency light, door power, and so on. If something is still capable of thought down there, however, they might use the emergency generator against you. Turn it off once you’re through the spiral, beyond retreat, for example. Then you’ll have only the glow of mutagens - and some mutant parts - to go by. Beyond this possibility, I cannot tell you much. There’s just a few rooms, you can see them on the map here. The Professor and his wife will be there. I’m sure at least one of them is still alive, it would be too much to hope for that they killed each other. They will be quite mad. The Rod will have continued to mutate their bodies until not a cell has remained unchanged. They might be a disgusting blob of quivering flesh and you just have to mercy-kill them - I really wouldn’t count on that, though. Do not let your guard down for even a second.

And that’s it.”

The others had barely touched their mugs, probably not only because of the content.

“So we kill the unhappy couple, get the Rod out, and we keep it as a panacea and/or weapon?” The leader studied the maps intently.

“Don’t forget the hefty fee,” the old man nodded. “We’re in agreement then?” His right, mutated arm twitched nervously.

They were. The next day, the adventurers would set out to tackle the lab. After a few more uncomfortable pleasantries, the old man excused himself. He ran up the stairs, clutching his arm.

In his room, he barely managed to lock the door behind him. He stumbled to a chest, in which he found a hidden compartment with trembling fingers. From there, he retrieved a leaden sphere with a handle, adorned with a few buttons. He pushed one, the sphere opened, exposing green glow from within. He pressed it to his right arm, his good thumb found another button, and a flash of light suffused the ravaged flesh. Below the ripped lab coat, it already tried to escape its confines of often stitched-up skin.

He had been quick enough. The surge of mutation subsided. The old man sighed with half pain, half relief, and hid the Rod of Mutos again.

This bunch had seemed a little slow on the uptake. He wondered if they’d even be able to reach his wife, despite all the help he’d given them? But they’d be acceptable feedstock for the first basement, at least. The mutant hordes needed replenishing.

The Professor sighed. The surges in his arm were getting more frequent. His wife’s sacrifice had brought him to his senses for long enough to activate the reverse ray on the Rod, but he’d been exposed to the mutation effect for too long. Without constant attention, he’d turn into the abomination again. And soon, he’d succumb either way. He desperately needed someone to pass the Rod on to, but these ones wouldn’t be it either.

There had to be an adventuring party strong enough to make it through all his carefully crafted traps, including the final test of toughness and willpower in form of the acid bath. They’d find his wife, put her out of her lonely misery, and obtain the clues necessary to figure out that the old man who had given them their quest was the Professor himself. They’d return, confront him, probably kill him and take the Rod. And they’d have proven that their bodies and mind were strong enough to withstand its destructive force. Unlike his own, way back when.

Hell, if the prospective candidates vetted through the swamp-clearing mission looked strong enough, he might not even tell them as much as he’d told these ones. Make them prove their worth even when unprepared for mutant tribes, explosive rooms and irradiated acid pools. And if they did it - he might use the Rod of Mutos once more, to give them a personal, final challenge. His face split open just a little too much as he smiled at the prospect.

He dug claw-fingers into his good shoulder to calm his murderous thoughts. Control. Don’t squander her gift.

He stared at the chest hiding his biggest accomplishment and most devastating failure. Prize in hand, a successful party would have two paths to take, like for most of the laboratory. Either they’d use the Rod as a force for good, heal people all over the world, figure out how to improve upon it and maybe, finally, put an end to the plague devastating the lands.

Or they’d go mad with its power, flood the mainland with mutants and usher in a new age of mutants. Either way, the wretched thing would be used, his legacy alive, her sacrifice not entirely pointless.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
I had a few minutes so I added notes on how you might use my story as a setting guide if so inclined.

It's in this google doc which contains said notes and the full story with some bolded passages.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Shackled Soul
1200/1200 words

The two-meter-high metal pod cast a long shadow over the valley. Cynthia and Mantis, dirtied from the excavation, admired their prize.

Mantis touched the cables leading into a ruined brick wall. “Ancient tech - pure copper! No composite ceramics, no carbon nanostructures. Just processed base metals.”

“Will this help the village?”

“It will feed us all for months.” Mantis clapped her on the back. “I have to apologize, Synth. Your powers are a blessing.”

Cynthia felt like she had surfaced from a black sea of pure Void.

“It’s been a while since they felt useful. Since I did.”

His eyes shone with an old friendship rekindled. “The Souls are gentle and benevolent, but their guidance is a whisper, not a shout. When you left the village for the Academy, you didn’t listen. Now that you’re back, your ears are finally open.”

She giggled. “When did you become so serious?”

“It’s a serious world.”

Cynthia thought of the Academy, the promises of might and glory for someone granted power by the Souls, the reality of indoctrination and control, the regime’s dogma and oppression. She remembered how she had felt about the offer to become a Souldier, those merciless enforcers. How eagerly she joined the fascists’ ranks.

Only when a girl like her, in a distant village like her own, refused recruitment, Cynthia had realized what could have happened had she not said yes. The fire and the screams still haunted her, but less than the shame at needing such a thing to shatter her belief in the regime.

“I know,” she whispered.

To escape the awkward moment, she sprung up. “The Souls didn’t guide me to this valley for scrap metal. Let’s see what’s in there.”

With the hiss of trapped air escaping, the pod’s heavy door swung open. The air carried a stench with it that hit Cynthia like a tidal wave. She landed with a heavy thud, looked up inside the capsule, and screamed. Right above her face, a decayed one hung, half-broken lipless teeth spread apart by a thick tube marred with chew marks. In the corpse’s arms, long needles fed by thinner tubes, connected to the outside of the capsule. Around the wrists, sensors, cables - and shackles.

Mantis helped her up. “Why in the world would the Souls want you to see this?”

Cynthia was shaking in body and voice. “Was he kept alive in there for who knows how long?”

“It doesn’t matter! We take some cables to pay for heavy gear, load it up and pawn it wholesale.”

“But -”

“Synth, this is some Void-cursed poo poo. I’m not staying here.”

“Martin.” She used his given name to shut him up, efficient like a slap across the face. “These tubes go underground. There’s a whole facility under this rubble.”

He obviously had to fight to control his expression. “Are these your Academy days talking? There’s no place for curiosity in a struggling village. Your home.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and expanded her mind. She felt a burning behind her brow, urging her on.

“There’s life under this rubble. Some pods like this still work. The Souls want me to rescue the poor prisoners in them.”

“What if they deserved it?”

“Mantis, please. Nobody deserves having their Soul trapped inside a body deprived of all senses.”

He took a sharp breath. “Do you think the Tyrant did this?”

Cynthia’s eyes widened. “That must be it! He wanted to exterminate all Soul-users besides himself, but what if he instead kept them here in case he ever needed them? And when he disappeared…”

“…this secret facility was forgotten, and buried in a landslide.”

“These people were buried here for decades.” Cynthia pointed to a spot the Souls screamed at her to search. “Let’s get them out.”


Righteous determination made their work quick. They’d unearthed another fully operational pod. Cynthia unclasped it with full confidence.

Inside, chained upright, a body was kept alive by ancient nourishing fluids. Eyes like a muddy puddle stared out.

“By the Souls above.” Mantis performed a warding gesture. “We gotta get him out.”

They did. The prisoner’s skin felt like wet tissue paper under their hands, so delicate and pale it might rip through at any moment. His left wrist had been fitted badly into the shackles and gotten infected.

“He’s fevered. I’m gonna try my best, but I don’t know if I’ll make it.” Mantis began to tend to the catatonic man.

Cynthia’s gaze was drawn to the next half-excavated capsule in the row. “There’s another one alive in there.”

“Get them out! I can take care of this one alone.”

The capsule cracked open. The escaping air was odorless, sterile. The prisoner was pristine. Cynthia breathed a sigh of relief - and furrowed her brow.

She shot a glance at the first victim. The two men appeared identical. A clone?!

A block of ice formed in her throat. “Mantis, did they teach you what made the Tyrant such a threat before he mysteriously vanished?”

No answer. She continued. “He had devised a way to transfer his Soul when he died. Every successful assassin they sent would just become his next body. He should have been immortal.”

She surveyed the valley hiding a facility full of sleeping clones.

“This is how they got rid of him - they buried him alive. Surrounded him with vessels to trap his Soul whenever he’d die.” Her voice had become a hoarse whisper.

Very slowly, she looked down on the man they’d put on the blanket.

He had succumbed to his infection. Or rather, decided to die.


“What’s the matter, Cynthia?” The voice using the wrong name sounded like the one that had called her here. It hadn’t been the Souls at all.

Calling on them, she drew her knife and rammed it into the gut of the creature that had taken over her friend.


Despite bleeding out on the ground, the Tyrant managed to keep his voice level, while Cynthia sobbed over Mantis’ body. “I slowly rubbed the skin of the clone bodies open. I invited the infection that took weeks to kill me. Eventually, I knew I’d run out of vessels and be free. Do you think you stand a chance against such determination?”

He dug Mantis’ hand into his hideous wound, opening it wider. “You’re mine.”

Her revulsion at this made Cynthia snap out of her grief and terror. The Souls had not called her here, but they would give her the strength for what she needed to do. She went up to the empty pod, prepared the shackles so they’d snap close own their own, and propped up the door so it would shut with a kick from within.

“What are you doing?”, the Tyrant demanded around gritted teeth.

“Making sure that I’ll never aid a fascist again.”

She jammed the needles into her arms.

“You don’t know how bad it is to be in there!”

“Then die instead of entering me. Your choice.”

She could not answer his next plea. The feeding tube was already down her throat. Right before the life left Mantis’ eyes, she sent a prayer to the Souls, and buried herself alive.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Give me a song you personally can't stand and I'll try to redeem it by writing something decent from it


Tyrannosaurus posted:

:siren: thread announcement :siren:

We're having a party next week! A birthday party!

But what do you get for the 'dome that has it all? Why... More words, of course! As of this exact moment, we have nine million, seven hundred and sixty-five thousand, eight hundred and fifty-eight. It'd be a lot cooler if it was 10 mil, though, yeah? Why isn't it 10 mil?

Probably because you suck. Because you're weak.

We're doing this party potluck style! We're a couple of days away but you can go ahead and tell me what you're bringing! A brutal hellrule that broke you would be lovely. An insane flash you couldn't handle would be a delight. I'll lay out a table for everyone and the strong can pick up where you pathetically left off!

Other acceptable additions to the potluck:
  • A hell/flash rule you wanted to assign as a judge but never got the chance to
  • A hell/flash rule you actually used but hurt so good you wanted to share it with others
  • Something appropriate you've made up because you're new or Thranguy or whatever honestly this is a party I'm the Blood King not the Blood Police
There will be a prize for the person who brings the most to the party! A birthday prize!

Fill out the form today!

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Roles to Play
2498/2500 Words

The crisp morning sun glinted in the warm eyes of two young men. Cilantro and Prince Rosemund began circling each other on the castle’s well-swept rooftop.

“I’ve decided to take our sparring more seriously,” the Prince said with a joyful spark in his eyes.

Cilantro cocked his head. “So that’s why you insisted on using real swords?”

A lunge from the Prince forced him to step back. “Heavier is more realistic,” Rosemund said.

“If you want something to weigh you down -” Cilantro created distance with a slash “- try on your father’s crown.”

Rosemund’s cocky smile was wiped out. He stepped forward with a heavy slash. Cilantro barely got away.

“Hey! You need to stop letting me get under your skin so easily.”

Rosemund lowered his sword. “I’m sorry. You’re simply too good at your job, future jester.”

Cilantro couldn’t stay mad at the chagrined boy with the smooth brow already beaded with sweat. “That was blunt. The best barbs are subtle. That’s how my father -” he chose this moment to attack, Rosemund stumbled “- is still serving yours.”

A snarl marred the Prince’s face, foreshadowing his stab.

Cilantro easily parried. They locked blades, got close, their breaths intermingled. “The King being such a sore subject makes you predictable, Rose.”

Finally, the cocky smile again. “Maybe the true lesson is how I can stop being so prickly.” They disentangled, circled again. “I feel like grain under a millstone, though. From negotiating to diplomacy, from history to statesmanship. How does the old man expect me to find time for combat training?”

“His Majesty doesn’t,” Cilantro said, evading.

“I suck at politics.” The Prince emphasized his words with wide swings. “I’d be a great general, however.”

“A great general would be well-advised -” Cilantro dodged a final clumsy swing, and disarmed Rosemund with a pommel strike “- to keep his emotions flat in battle.”

Suddenly, Rosemund charged forward, ducking under his opponent’s sword. Cilantro had his breath driven from him as the Prince impacted him. With strong arms wrapped around him, he stumbled helplessly back, until the ramparts’ stone just barely stopped him, and he hung there, over the moat’s abyss, held only by the Prince’s embrace.

“How’s that for emotions?” Rosemund had a wild grin, and Cilantro matched it with a wry one of his own.

“I like your emotions, don’t get me wrong.”

They stayed in this position for a long moment. Cilantro was not afraid of the fall; he trusted his Prince. He lifted his hand to move a sweaty lock from Rosemund’s brow -

“Your Majesty!” A voice like the tenth cough in a row.

Rosemund rolled his eyes, disentangled himself and drew Cilantro to his feet. “What is it, Chancellor?”

Chancellor Honewort finished catching his breath. “Your father has fallen ill. He can’t reside in court today. You must sit in his stead.”

“I’m training, as you can see.”

“It’s canceled. Wipe yourself down, get in your gown and on the throne. The King’s subjects won’t be made to wait by your selfish whims.”

The Prince started to protest, but Honewort shut him down with a surprising burst of authority from such a tiny frame. “Your father’s fine, by the way. Just a persistent cough, ill-suited for the public to behold. Your concern is appreciated.”


Soon, both Cilantro and Rosewood were dressed in their uniforms. The former wore a patchy combination of screaming green and red, with rows of chimes around the joints, and a bobbing hat. The latter was strapped in a gold-embroidered waistcoat and a heavy fur cape pushing his shoulders down. He cowered in a throne that seemed too big for him, even though he had outgrown his father a while ago. Cilantro leaned comfortably on its left side, with his father Garbanzo next to him in the background.

“This is going to be a good test for both you boys,” Garbanzo whispered to his son. “You have to feel the mood of the room. Sometimes you’re needed to defuse a situation, even before the King realizes as such. I can give you a signal -”

Cilantro waved him off. “I’m fine, dad. With Rose, it won’t be an issue.”

“That’s what I thought about his father as well.”

Before Cilantro had opportunity to put his concerned frown into words, the doors to the throne room opened.

“Acting in the name of King Oleander II, his esteemed son, Prince Rosemund,” the Chancellor announced, standing on the throne’s right side. “State your requests, so that the King’s wisdom may judge you fairly.”

The commoners in need of judgment started to file in. It seemed like Honewort had done some pre-selection; the first issues were simple. Faulty copper ingots, the wrong chickens butchered, a dispute about a border stone. All dealt with swiftly and fairly, with minimal advice required from the Chancellor.

Rosemund had begun to sit more upright in his throne, but now the hard cases began to appear. Two men, bruised and red-faced, were brought in by guards. They had been brawling in a pub, drunk before midday.

“Did someone else get hurt?”, Rosemund asked.

“No, Sire. Only these two. But plenty of glasses, plates and furniture broke.”

“Well, I suggest the bartender tallies up the loss while these two sober up in separate cells. Then if they can pay -”

The Chancellor interrupted with a whispered piece of advice. Rosemund’s eyebrows rose. “Disturbing the public peace carries that heavy a sentence?”

Another whisper.

“I guess they can stay in jail a little longer. A…year, in fact. Yes, take them away.”

“That seems harsh,” Cilantro murmured. Garbanzo leaned over. “It is, but it is in line with Oleander’s policies. See, the mood is all gloomy now. Do you want to try lightening it up?”

Cilantro curled his lips. “Not in the mood myself, right now.”

“That’s the hard part of this job,” his father sighed.

The next supplicants were a couple accused of pickpocketing a merchant’s coin purse. The grimy man, young like the Prince, argued that they had needed the money to buy food for their family - two young children.

“My father’s food banks should be open for the hungry,” Rosemund said.

“The rations were almost cut in half last year,” the woman protested. “It is not nearly enough for two growing children.”

“So why not steal the food directly if you ran out too quickly once? Getting caught stealing food carries a much lower sentence -”

“It does not,” Honewort chuckled.

Rosewood stumbled over his next words. “- and, erm, anyway it seems like an act of greed taking an entire coin purse.”

“Your Majesty, I recognize that there needs to be punishment.” The man went on his knees and bowed his head. “But please, I’m prepared to take the full brunt of it. Spare the mother of my children.”

Rosemund seemed moved, unsure of what to do. Honewort broke the tense silence by rustling some papers.

“Says here that your beloved helped distract the merchant. She’s far from innocent in this, and needs to face consequences as well.”

The man started to rise from his supine stance in protest, but encountered the flash of authority from the Chancellor’s eyes, and got shut down. Honewort continued. “If you were married, maybe you could have an argument. Another poor choice of yours, though. Two children out of wedlock, they’ll end up in an orphanage now. At least there they’ll be fed.”

“Chancellor.” Rosemund seemed displeased. But Honewort put a hand on his caped shoulder, and its grip seemed to deflate the Prince.

“This is what your father would have done. King Oleander keeps order by providing strong examples of what happens if you don’t.”

“Is compassion wrong?”

“If shown to the wrong people, absolutely. We all have a role to play in this court. Play yours, little Prince.”

Rosemund sat up straight and took a deep breath. “In the name of my father, King Oleander II, I sentence both of you to three years in jail, to be reduced by at most one year provided good conduct. Your children will be cared for, and hopefully grow up into better citizens.”

The couple’s protestations and the murmurs of the crowd entwined to form a noise that seemed to buffet Rosemund like a thunderstorm. Cilantro looked at his hardened face, imagined it being whipped by sheets of rain, his wet locks yanked on by the wind.

He got up, chimes jingling.

“Not now, son!”

Undeterred, Cilantro picked up his mandolin. He felt Honewort’s glare buffet him as well, but stood reed-straight like Rosemund sat. He started to pluck the strings, and a song he’d always dreamed of reciting to his friend in private spilled out for everyone to hear.

You can remain your father’s son,
Without becoming him;
You can take what you want from life,
You should fulfill your dream.

We’re both supposed to fill big shoes,
I like my fit, do you?
You can recobble them, my Rose.
If you can’t choose, then who?

Garbanzo had stood up and shook his head in warning. Honewort looked like he had swallowed a snail. Rosemund sat petrified. Cilantro could not stop.

Break out! From this cage!
You made around your heart!
Run away, on new shoes,
With me - your truest friend -
Let’s never be apart.

Silence in the court. Until someone started slowly clapping. A sardonic sound, like bones clanking together, Honewort’s thin hands.

“Heartfelt, I’m sure. Not very funny, though. Another who doesn’t understand their role. You need to leave, boy.”

Rosemund moved only his mouth. “Cilantro…”

“Young Prince, this is interruption of the court. Make your father proud and throw him out.”

Rosemund’s spine was straighter than a fletcher’s masterpiece. “Leave, jesters.”

There was no spark of joy left in his eyes; they’d turned into the obsidian of Oleander’s.

Cilantro turned and left without a word, walking past stunned drunkards, a weeping couple and many more who’d find no justice in this court.


In the dull puddle on the floor of his cell, Cilantro saw the reflection of his eyes; the spark of hope had left them. For a year, he had worked on saving Rosemund from himself. Begged him to reconsider his father’s policies, tried to separate him from the influence of the Honewort’s poison whispers. But Rosemund’s desire to prove himself worthy in his ailing father’s eyes had won out.

Then, the final break between them, when Rosemund had been crowned Oleander III. Cilantro hadn’t been able to keep quiet about an unjust tyranny perpetuated by a friend tainted by his family name, but the new King was too busy to consolidate his rule. And with an irritated gesture, Chancellor Honewort had the jester family thrown into prison to silence their barbs, no matter how subtle.

A tear disturbed the puddle, muddling Cilantro’s visage. He had given up hope. Nobody would help his father or him, except…

Rose, if he still was inside that cruel king.

The puddle cleared. In Cilantro’s eyes, a spark shone again.

A jester is deft with sleight of hand. He’d always been able to escape his cell, but what had been the point, with Garbanzo left behind? But now Cilantro had a plan.

The King hadn’t retired to his room yet, so it was unguarded. Cilantro left a note on the pillow.


A storm had started after sundown, and lightning flashes reflected in the cold eyes of two young men. Oleander III had heeded the call for a duel on the castle’s roof, even brought two swords.

“So what is your ideal outcome, Cilantro? You run me through, and let the rabble govern in anarchy?”

Cilantro squinted against the rising wind, taking in the gleaming armor of his former friend. Oleander was not stupid. But he had come alone.

“You can keep your kingdom, Rose.” Used to disrespect from him, Oleander didn’t react. Cilantro continued. “I just want it ruled by my friend, not his father.”

“If my father still ruled, you’d have been executed on the spot.” Oleander suddenly attacked.

Cilantro managed to dance away in time. “So for how long did you intend to keep me in that cell instead?”

A vicious swing. Cilantro ducked underneath, his prison rags barely impeding his well-trained agility. He kept talking. “You’ve always hated the compromises necessary in politics. Why take half-measures with me?”

“Defend yourself,” Oleander snarled. Cilantro dodged once more, then brought the pommel of his sword down in a lightning-quick strike.

Through the gauntlet of his armor, Oleander barely felt it. He backhanded Cilantro with the same gauntlet, sending him reeling into the ramparts. Oleander charged, but Cilantro had managed to hold onto his sword, and he parried. The blades clashed a few times. Thunder rumbled as if to provide a rhythm.

“Did you miss this?” Screamed Cilantro. “I can see the spark of joy in your eyes again!”

“Maybe I’ll miss having a persistent itch to scratch.” Oleander backed off to give his next swing more weight - what Cilantro had been waiting for. He let go of his sword, pushed himself away with both arms from the slick stone he’d leaned against, and managed to topple the ironclad king. He pinned him down, their faces in breathing distance.

“Do you even know why I was so persistent, Rose?”

Oleander’s arm shot up, and he grabbed Cilantro by the throat. He desperately tried to loosen the iron grip, but his fingers kept slipping in the rain.

“Enlighten me with your last words, jester.”

Cilantro poured all the fire from his heart into his eyes, and shot it into Rosemund’s. “It’s because I want your bright light to banish the shadow of your father. The light of the Rose I love.”

The King froze. The moment dragged on.

“Your Majesty!”

Honewort had appeared with a gaggle of guards. Oleander threw Cilantro off; his fire spent in his last-ditch effort, he fell limply into a wet heap.

“Run the meddlesome jester through!”, Honewort commanded with all his cursed authority.

“No, you won’t.” Oleander raised his hand - and the soldiers stopped.

“Your Majesty, he has raised a weapon against you. There can be only one punishment, as per the decrees your father put into place.”

“I’m not my father!” Oleander walked towards the Chancellor, and grabbed him by the collar. “You always tried to mold me into him, you slug in my cabbages. Took my best friend, my only good influence, from me.” He dangled the thin old man over the moat. “Now guess what your new role will be?”

“Stop!” Cilantro had managed to get up. “Is this what your father would have done, or what Rose would do?”

The King looked from the whimpering Chancellor to Cilantro and back again.

He sat Honewort down on safe ground. “Take him away, and leave us alone.” The soldiers did as told.

One last triumphant thunderclap lit the same spark in Rose’s and Cilantro’s eyes as their faces got much closer than ever before.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Ya in ofc

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Party Princess

Vanessa smiled a blissful smile, white teeth reflecting in the champagne glass. She bobbed her head to the slow pop music. Sandy and Astrid had thrown her the perfect princess party. Her one special day, to make up for 364 others spent in dead-end retail. The cake looked phenomenal.


Vanessa watched Sandy dance to the throbbing beat of the new song. She shook her head and took another nibble of the nachos. She couldn’t imagine having this kind of energy. And of course, Sandy did it all in jet-black platform boots. So tough, so impressive. Best friends forever.


Champagne had been replaced by a soda; the night was young, she had to pace herself. There was Astrid, in an intense discussion with another guest. Bespectacled, mousy Astrid - the smartest girl Vanessa had ever known. How often had she saved both her and Sandy with some insight or handiwork.


A game had erupted. The guests were milling in a dense cluster, shouts from Sandy and accusations from Astrid protruded from it like loose strands. Vanessa stood leaned against a wall, picking at the strands like a playful kitten. It was great that they could have fun without her, too.


“I like the action,” Sandy said, clinking glasses with Vanessa. “Thought this was gonna be boring but you really made something happen.”

“Thanks!” Vanessa beamed. But then a cloud cast a shadow over her light. “Wait, didn’t you organize this?”

“Naw.” Sandy emptied her glass. “Not my thing. Rather Astrid’s.”


“I like your other friends,” Astrid said, munching on some chips. “Sandy can be a bit too…short, sometimes. But these are good talkers.”

The nacho tasted off to Vanessa. “Didn’t you invite them?”

“Why would I invite people to your party?”, Astrid asked, a vacant look in her eyes.


Another game for the others, another wall to lean on for Vanessa. Condensation from the warming soda dried on her hands. Her friends should take more credit for making her so happy. She felt tears forming. If only this party could last forever. But tomorrow, back to serving thankless customers.


“Hey, princess! Get out of your ivory tower.” Sandy put her hand on the wall next to Vanessa’s head.

Astrid appeared on the other side. “These games are awesome. You should enjoy what you came up with!”

Vanessa shook her head. “They weren’t my idea. Play without me, I’m good!”


It was the most magnificent slice of cake one could imagine. The fondant was like the fence of an enclosure full of your favorite animals. The bottom was fluffy like your favorite pillow. The cream seemed like you could bathe in it.
Vanessa wasn’t hungry. Something was gnawing at her.


“Don’t you want cake?” Astrid smiled invitingly. “It’s so good. It’s the perfect climax to your perfect party! Come on, dig in!”

Vanessa lifted the fork, but froze. What lay behind the pushy mask of Astrid’s empty smile? Did it falter for a second, revealing anguish? And where was Sandy?


Astrid was gone. Vanessa stood alone in a party full of people she didn’t know. The cake smelled like heaven, but she wanted earth. What was going on? She felt a shiver run from her spine to her hands. The fork clattered on the plate. Were had her friends gone?


This was ridiculous. The party was supposed to be fun. She’d enjoy the cake, then find her friends. Vanessa lifted the fork again -

There was Astrid, shaking her head. Vanessa frowned. Astrid’s smile returned, like a drained glass of champagne. Was there a door behind her? Did she indicate it?


Again, Vanessa was alone. No door, no Astrid, no Sandy, only cake. Delicious beckoning sweet and beautiful cake. The only constant after the party had turned confusing. Vanessa couldn’t find the fork, but no matter. She’d dig in with her hands. It was her party, and she could be messy!


Someone slapped the plate from her hand, splattering cake all over the walls. It was Sandy! She grabbed Vanessa by the shoulders, it hurt. She yelled something, but Vanessa couldn’t make it out through the static the shock had caused to erupt in her ears. The cake! A ruined mess!


Alone again! Sandy, vanished, avoiding accusations. Vanessa scanned the crowd. Was there a black-dyed undercut? Did she even see the glint of Astrid’s oversized glasses? But whenever she thought she spotted a trace of them, her gaze was drawn back to the cake. Even the broken crumbs looked inviting.


Vanessa kneeled on the floor. Cake stained her grasping hands. What was she doing? Nobody seemed to mind. The milling crowd didn’t judge her. Would Astrid? Would Sandy, who had tainted the cake? Would Vanessa?

The door had appeared again. Stay for floor-cake, or leave to find her friends?

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Party Crashers

The sign hung askew over the entrance. Some of the neon tubes were still lit up, casting irregular shadows over the locked double doors. Eternal Party of your Dreams, it had once read. Virtual reality promise turned to real world nightmare. The dream had died, but the dreamers hadn’t woken.


Sandy tapped the heel of her steel-toed boots alternating with her baseball bat. Her slicked-back hair and slick leather clothes shone in brilliant black.

“Are you gonna be done soon, or should I test this baby on the lock?” Her voice dripped like tar off samesuch colored lips.


Astrid adjusted her glasses for the third time in twenty seconds. Sweat dripped off her brow onto her sweater, mingling with drool from the small lamp clamped between her teeth. A lock of drab brown hair tickled her nose. Ignoring Sandy’s yell, she finally managed to cross two loose wires.


“Behold.” Astrid pushed a rust-speckled button. With a sound like a goat dying in agony, the doors opened.

“Well done.” Sandy’s approval was terse. “Let’s pull Vanessa out of dreamland.”

“Think we can do it?”

An indignant tap of the bat. “We’re her best friends. Who, if not us?”


Inside, the only light was again from tubes still working by chance. Sounds off shuffling and moans came from the shadows.

“They really sealed all of these people in here,” Astrid said.

“Most aren’t people anymore.”

Emaciated figures wearing virtual reality helmets appeared. Their mouths were caked in dried blood.


Sandy’s bat smashed the brittle arm of a VR zombie. The creature stumbled sideways. “Caaake?” emerged from between teeth like weathered fenceposts.

“Sugar’s bad for you.” Sandy splintered the fence and the face behind it. Astrid’s sweater obtained a crimson pattern.

Gritted teeth holding back vomit, she swung her wrench.


Having dealt with the first wave of people trapped in the forever fete, hungering for treats of flesh, the two women snuck through maintenance tunnels and back offices.

“Will we even recognize Vanessa?”, asked Astrid.

“Hush!” Sandy lowered her voice to a growl. “She’ll be wearing pink. You know her.”


“Go on without me!” Sandy’s scream was punctuated by her bat shattering goggles, but two more ravenous zombies grabbed her arms.

“I can’t!” Astrid tried to pull one of the creatures that had ambushed them away, but it lashed out, broken nails breaking skin. She had to run, leave Sandy.


Two VR zombies gorged themselves on the innards of another, believing it pizza or cookies. Once hungry again, one would eat the other. Astrid hoped the moist crunching would mask her footsteps. Her sweater was drenched in blood and tears. How could she go on without Sandy, tough, strong, dead?


The helmeted zombie leaned against a wall and slowly nibbled on a rotten rib. Her pink dress was gore-stained.

“Vanessa?”, Astrid whispered. Suddenly, the zombie jerked towards her.

“Cake?”, a sweet voice asked. Vanessa lunged at Astrid, who barely managed to stun her with the bloody wrench. Astrid ran.


In a corner, lost deep within the facility, Astrid hugged herself, the sweater worthless against her shivers. Sandy was dead, and Vanessa seemed beyond help. Could she even get out, at least save herself? Or did she owe it to Sandy’s mad legacy to try once more with poor Vanessa?


She did. Vanessa was leaning against the wall again.

“Why did you do it, Vanessa?” Astrid had to speak through a veil of tears. “How could we miss the signs?”

She touched the VR helmet. “Can I pull this off without hurting you? Will you even appreciate me doing it?”



That wasn’t Vanessa’s voice. Before Astrid could react, a zombie had grabbed by the shoulders. She tried to get away, but mad hunger made the grip on her unbreakable.


Teeth dug into her.

A metallic clunk.

A bruised, bitten, bleeding, but alive Sandy pulled the broken corpse away.


“Snap out of it, drat it!” Sandy shook Vanessa, who drooled a little in response.


“No cake!” Sandy’s iron grip on her wrist made Vanessa’s hands go white. “Party’s over!”

Astrid clubbed another zombie while Sandy tried her thing. Bits of brain and broken bone splattered the two women.


“Don’t do it, Sandy.”

The leather-clad amazon stopped trying to dislodge Vanessa’s helmet. “Why?”

“I’m pretty sure you’ll fry her brain. She has to want it.”

“Oh, because you’re always the big brain expert!”


“For gently caress’s sake, Vanessa.” Sandy shoved her away. Astrid meekly tried to comfort Sandy.


Sandy’s tears were white-hot. “We can’t leave her.”


“She’ll alert everybody. Sandy, please. I’m just so relieved that I didn’t lose you. Let’s go. Maybe she’s happy with her party.”

With effort, the woman in black turned her back on the one in pink.


Astrid’s eyes widened.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔
Oh boy, a birthday buffet! I'm loading up!

Should I get some cookies? Man, that's tempting, but I want some cake instead. I'll just...keep them in mind. [Divide your word count in two and write two stories. They must be connected thematically but not literally. [used as inspiration, but my stories are literally connected (+0 words)]

Oh, but chips! Those are fine to start with. [Exactly half your story is a dream, and that dream is more important than the reality (+200)]

Salty. Need something to drink. [Your story must start and end in the same location. (+100)]

Pizza, awesome! But I spoiled my appetite with the chips :(. I'll share my slice. [Your story is "Campy Gory Girl Power" (+300; or rather +150 because only one story is that)]

Cake! I've been waiting for that... [It’s someone's birthday! (+600)]

Phew, I'm stuffed. Time for some high-octane fun. [Your story is split into more than ten scenes but no scene can have more than 50 words. (+1000)]

in total: 1950, spread over two stories. I only used 800 each, 16 scenes with exactly 50 words.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Simply Simon
Pre-read note: if the thematic similarity here is “birthday” I’m gonna be not pleased.

Post-read note: okay its fine but you hosed up the flash rule. “Divide your word count in two and write two stories. They must be connected thematically but not literally.” These are literally connected. They’re two parts of the same story. I like them so I’m not going to DQ you but it’s a failure of the flash rule.

Other things I liked: the cake emoji to break up the scenes, the difference in tone/setting/everything between the “two” stories, the idea itself is intriguing.
Thing I didn’t like: lack of adherence to your chosen rules, the 50 word scene limitation (because if you’d been able to stretch your legs just a little… this could have been pretty sweet)

Oh, thanks for telling me that I failed to read the rules correctly. Extremely gracious of you to not DQ me

Simply Simon posted:

[Divide your word count in two and write two stories. They must be connected thematically but not literally. [used as inspiration, but my stories are literally connected (+0 words)]
oh wait I was actually well aware of that.

You know, I have always had a personal pet peeve about people who are super sticklers for rules that don't matter. Are you my middle school teacher graciously giving me a C- because while I wrote an excellent essay, it wasn't entirely on topic? Are you a fellow artist, or a Bürokrat?

I'm steamed about this so let's throw down. I want to brawl you with the additional challenge that whichever rule we get, we deliberately only use it in spirit, not in letter.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Simonosaurus Brawl

Knight’s Quest, Hero’s Desire
1861/2000 words

Over the smoldering corpse of the Ungor-Discombobulator our intrepid knight stood. The butt of his rifle was caked in the thought-slime that he had clubbed out of the beast’s many heads. The congealing slime with the viscosity of spoiled mayonnaise mixed with the knight’s blood into a cocktail sauce of victory on his opponent’s shrimpy corpse.

The Ungor ululated unisono words of deepest gratitude. They told the knight that for this feat, they would grant him absolute power over their people.

The chanting became subsonic. Knowledge what this meant forced itself into the knight’s head: the Ungors’ singing could shape the very soul itself. He would be granted the power to bestow life or death.

But of course, the knight knew that this power was not his to take. His master had given him a mighty vessel, terrific weapons and an awesome purpose: to scour the universe for a prize worthy of the Emperor of All. He would not waver in his conviction; he would deliver the soul-shaping to the rightful recipient.

It was tempting, however. As every enlightened of the hero’s species knew, there were two spirits in each being’s soul, warring over control. With the Ungors’ power, he could solve this eternal conflict, for himself and everybody else.

Yes, the quest of his people to unify the soul-spirits was of course a noble one. But a mere vassal like the knight knew he should leave this to the priests and philosophers. The Ungor and their gift belonged to the Emperor. Remember the knight’s story so far, and how he always made the right decision: to follow his duty.

Remember how he recovered the long-lost treasure of the Flak’ti? They wanted to share with him the gift of love-granting, which could make any soul admire the radiance of his own, but he spurned it.

After three years on their planet, taking love both physical and mental as a hero like him deserved. He moved on because he was tired of unearned reverence. And because he did not succeed in making the spirits in his soul love each other.

Be that as it may, it wasn’t his to keep anyway. He rightfully called the Emperor to the Flak’ti, so they might endow Him with love-granting as well.

And the Emperor spurned it too, because He already commanded the hearts and souls of His subjects. And, without a word of gratitude, sent the hero back out to scour the universe for a worthier prize, alone among the cold stars.

Where after a paltry seven years, the unerring eyes of the knight found another people to educate on the Emperor’s glory! He braved the terror-rays of the Gzzzzzzd-shrrrrk, which threatened to scream his soul apart, and their respect was his. Humbly, he declined to see the blueprints for their fear-invoking weapons, and moved on.

He feared what the Emperor might do with the terror-rays. And he saw the effect they had had on the warring spirits: it drove them apart further, instead of uniting them against the terrible waves of darkness.

Also, the knight knew that the Emperor didn’t need crude tools to strike fear into the souls of His opponents.

More years between the stars therefore, ever searching for what the Emperor craved. But he always enjoyed the simple pleasure of fulfilling his duty. And finally, the Ungors’ planet.

Where the Discombobulator proved a welcome diversion, and a worthy challenge for a hero’s skills. The Ungors’ worship was well-earned, and so was their gift.

Indeed, the hum-chant of the queer creatures had ceased to be audible entirely, but it was all the more able to be felt. The knight’s bones reverberated with the alien rhythm. His blood evaporated from the pools on the floor, leaving the monster’s behind. Inside his veins, it boiled in a soothing seethe. Behind his eyes, kaleidoscopic images formed as his neurons made new connections. All of this in preparation for the true gift: the reshaping of the soul, to allow its vessel to give or take lives. Before the Ungor did this, the knight had to stop them; the gift was not to be squandered on a vassal, it needed to be preserved for the Emperor of All.

Unless, of course, the Ungor could give the gift to more than one. The hero asked as such of them, and they happily informed him: anyone their savior deemed worthy, they would too shower with their affection.

In that case, the knight decided, receiving the gift as a test might be acceptable. He motioned to the Ungor to go ahead, and they dropped their song another octave, which now he could hear clear as a black hole’s corona. Something shifted inside him. Imperceptible compared to the physical changes, but he knew with absolute certainty: the nature of his being had forever changed.

Curiosity compelled the hero. He focused his gaze on a small avian watching the ceremony with curiosity.

One thought, and a lifeless bundle of feathers and hollow bones dropped from the branch it had just perched on.

The sacrifice of the creature proved the authenticity of the gift. The knight hurried back to his vessel, and sent the signal out with highest priority: this might be what his master had sent him out to obtain so long ago, and he might finally be able to fulfill his quest.

And obtain the freedom to focus on an even greater task: the uniting of the spirits. The hero listened inside him. Disappointingly, the two spirits still were at odds, despite the changes to his soul.

He decided to spend his time waiting for the Emperor’s arrival in meditation, pondering the implications the twin powers of life and death had for the seemingly irreconcilable natures of the twin spirits.

When He arrived months later, the knight had not found the answers he was looking for. Nor, indeed, he could have; it was, after all, a question for the scholars and theologists.

The Emperor’s palanquin slid out from His royal barge. The assembly of all the Ungor beheld Him with befitting awe. Clad in the skin and bones of the Discombobulator, the knight lay prostrate.

Before the Emperor could order such, the hero stood, having earned the right to do so as the de facto ruler of this planet.

He informed his master about what he had found here, and why he thought it might be the one prize worthy to be called the goal of his quest. Naturally, the Emperor was skeptical at first. Maybe the knight needed to demonstrate the power? His decision to take it first for himself might have been wise after all.

Around the Emperor’s neck, His favorite concubine lay curled. Her slime sacks gently dripped on His awesome chest, and sometimes His tongue flicked out to taste some of the slime.

This would be a most effective object of demonstration. But the knight knew that his master would surely be angered by this choice.

The hero raised his rifle, cranked the activator, and a ray of crystal light pierced the concubine’s brain. The Emperor, unheard of in living memory, twitched with a hint of surprise. The slime sacks all emptied at once, drenching Him in their sweet fragrance.

Hurriedly, the knight invoked his power, and brought the concubine back to life with a mere thought. He went prostrate again to apologize for his transgression, effective as the demonstration might have been. As the Emperor hastily lapped up the spilled slime in order not to waste a precious drop, He demanded a full explanation.

Gladly, the knight told Him that with one swift ceremony, the Ungor would grant the Emperor of All the power of life and death as well, so He might snuff out and rekindle whoever He desired.

Which His glory would already allow Him, the Emperor remarked. But not forever, the hero posited; would He not, with this power, be able to extend His reign to eternity?

No, the Ungor eagerly provided. The power only worked on other living and dead beings. One could not revivify oneself, as a dead person soul cannot use the power.

Then the power was worthless to Him, the Emperor rumbled. The knight immediately offered that he could stay by His side, and if the unspeakable happened, revive Him; and conversely, with the power in Him, the Emperor could do the same.

A suggestion met by a scoff. The knight understood. Of course, in His position, the Emperor could not grant anyone this level of trust. So, like with the Flak’ti, this planet had turned out to be an empty prize. The Emperor confirmed it swiftly: the knight’s quest would have to continue.

But for how long, the hero dared to ask?

The Emperor did not even dignify this obscene question with an answer. He turned the palanquin around to board the barge again.

An eternal quest. Spirits, warring without end. The universe ruled by such a callous man.

The knight had some rebellious thoughts. His disappointment at not being able to fulfill his duty clouded his mind. However, he would recover, and -

The hero imagined the Emperor dead, and so it happened.


His mighty body slid off the palanquin, almost delivering the poor concubine to a second, crushing death. The Ungor ooo’d in a unified shocked voice.

Surely, this can be undone? The knight’s tone had an edge of desperation. His mind tumbled over said edge when the Ungor informed him that a death delivered by the power was irreversible.

What’s done is done, the hero thought. The barge was there, he could just take it, and assume the mantle of Emperor himself. Would this not be what he deserved after all his hardship?

No, the hero wouldn’t do that. He’d spurned the terror-rays to not have them be the instrument of the universe’s subjugation. This kind of man would not reign just as the dictator he’d just felled.

Then what would the knight do? Make sure this terrifying power isn’t misused either?

Indeed, not by himself, nor any other who would follow. The knight doffed the slain Discombobulator’s body parts. Into them, he poured his power. Thought-slime reformed in many heads. Blood pumped once more below taut skin which started pulsing. A hurt roar was sucked into breath-tubes.

With grave tears in his eyes, the hero watched the monster tear through all the gathered Ungor. Once the entire race had been discombobulated, the beast turned its attention to the one who’d slain it. It could not know that it was the same person who had raised it again. Only primitive revenge churned in its brain.

The power would not work on it. As one cannot revive a being killed with the power, the reverse is also true. The knight raised his rifle. Like before, a simple fight to the death.

The hero looked forward to it, no matter the outcome.

For once, the knight agreed; it did not matter who won here.

And so the spirits ceased their fight.

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