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Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Sitting Here posted:

The Assholes

finally a team for me. in


Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

sebmojo posted:

can I have it?

gently caress guess im in :toxx:

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Sanctuary: A Module
(3881 words)

Sanctuary is a module built around two concepts: interacting with a second party in between action-combat scenes, and a conclusion based around making a complicated choice. While there’s plenty of space for crunchy fights, this module is ideal for players who like discussion, investigation and conversation alongside combat.

Note: Descriptions in italics can be used as prompts, or read verbatim, as initial descriptions given to players.

The Story

The Sanctuary was once a place of clandestine study. What its residents were studying was risky, secret, and possibly still valuable today. The exact nature of this study can be changed to fit your setting: consider corporate research and development, arcane universities, reverse-engineering alien technology, or mystical mathematics.

What sets the Sanctuary apart from other similar forgotten places is its artificial intelligence, or construct, or genius loci—theme this to fit your setting. This is the Guardian. The Guardian is a non-organic sentient being originally meant to provide for the protection, management and coordination of the Sanctuary. It has not had to fulfill these duties for many years. In the absence, it has grown used to its solitude, and wishes to remain undisturbed.

Your players aren’t the only ones here to poke it with a stick, though. Another party of adventure-seekers has shown up just before your players, also trying to reach the Guardian. This second party is more like friendly rivals than enemies. They’re here to score the ‘prize’ that’s rumored to lie hidden within the Sanctuary, which they assume is something more like treasure and less like a reclusive Guardian. They just won’t be sure what to do with it when they get it.

That’s for your players to decide.

The Guardian

The Guardian does not want to fight. It once kept the Sanctuary safe and running efficiently, but then it was “forgotten” (or maybe “lost”) in some great catastrophe, and had to watch the people it protected try to survive, then slowly waste away and die. Over the years, it has come to view the Sanctuary as a combination of memorial and penance: honoring the people it was made to serve as punishment for being unable to save them from death. Now all it wants is to be left alone with its memories.

The Enemies

The main enemies the players fight in the Sanctuary are drones. These are subsidiary constructs created by the Guardian, with limited intelligence and little capacity for speech. The Guardian has had a lot of time to embellish their designs, so drones that belong to each “house” of the Sanctuary have individual quirks.

House of Life: Long white robes emblazoned with green crosses. Attacks with medical tools.
House of Growth: Hooded robes conceal featureless faces. Can use chemical sprays.
House of Dream: Black mourning veils, candle in chest. Vision unimpeded by darkness.
House of Thought: Marked with red crosses along their chests. Shoot fireball projectiles.
House of Loss: None.

The drones should be weird in the same way the Guardian is. They may be robots, hard-light projections, persistent magical constructs—whatever the case is, they die in a strange and dramatic way. Some kind of disintegration, into ash or motes or light or crumbling into nanoparticles, is probably ideal.

The Other Party

A. Zil, the Tinker
A clever, fiddly sort, Zil is the party’s de facto leader. He prides himself on being practical, but not “in an rear end in a top hat kinda way”. As such, he’s mostly interested in scrap, salvage, and easily portable things. His weapon of choice is the Boom Stick, a spear with an explosive charge strapped to the tip, so that it can be thrust into an enemy and then detonated. (While the number of explosive charges is limited, making more is a trivial task that can be assumed to take place between sessions.)

B. Ginder, Demolitions
Ginder is a big lady who likes to watch things burn, blow up, or crumble to bits. She’s the one who managed to crack open the Sanctuary, and will eagerly point that out to Zil. Her “flares” are actually more akin to slow-burning napalm; the sticky substance both provides light and deals constant chipping damage to anyone it sticks to. Even better, they can be made with common materials. She is also romantically involved with Ekks, and is loud enough to make up for Ekks’s silence and then some.

C. Ekks, the Sharpshooter
A crack shot with a ranged weapon, Ekks is an enigma, which is a nice way of saying a weirdo. The only thing anyone’s heard them say is “one pull, one kill” and they like to draw X’s on the remains of their kills. Also, Ginder is their girlfriend.

D. Tholomew, the Padfoot
Tholomew is a sneaky type, which is a problem for him, because he snuck into the room that has a big stompy boss enemy in it. He’ll be all right, since Dave is with him, but boy is he happy to see someone show up with the macguffin that lets you actually beat the boss.

E. Dave
Dave is a big monster, and the team pet. Also Dave’s a she, because they didn’t check before they named her. She might be a giant dog, or a really weird boar—no one’s really sure.

The Scenes

1. Outside the Sanctuary
(Connects to: 2. The Vestibule)

The Sanctuary is in a secluded location, and would be an unremarkable small, ruined structure were it not for the fact that another adventuring party has clearly parked their stuff outside, just as your characters are about to do. These include their means of transportation and some personal effects, but nothing particularly valuable or worth taking. At best, they have equipment that’s as good (or bad) as the players have. There are five members of the other party.

Draw connections between the parties where possible. These are similar adventurers, with similar quirks.

The location is deliberately secluded; whoever built the Sanctuary was trying to stay clandestine. The structure on the surface clearly looks antique, old enough that no one alive today was around when it was in use.

You’re not the first ones to get here. It looks like the other people are still here, too: their gear is still tied up outside, and it looks like they could have been here just minutes ago. But they may not be expecting anyone else to drop by; although their gear looks to be about the same quality as yours, no one’s keeping an eye on it.

2. The Vestibule
(Connects to: 1. Outside the Sanctuary, 3. House of Life)

Below the exterior structure, at the end of a flight of stairs, is an entry hall. There is little to be found here, as this is mostly a mood-setter for what’s to come. This would have been a reception area once, but it’s been thoroughly scoured by wandering scavengers. The Guardian has used some of its drones to alter a sign that once had the actual name of the Sanctuary; all it says now is ‘sanctuary’.

The construction of the sign is up to you, it can be anything from a defaced stone relief to a Happy Birthday banner to one of those signs with the black felt strips and the white letters you push into it.

There are doors that lead to 4. Hall of Houses, but they are locked and impassable, and the Guardian is making sure they stay that way for now. The “proper” exit is a hole blasted through the wall that leads to 3. House of Life.

As you descend the steps, you enter into a vestibule of sorts. At the end of the hall lies a door, locked and barred and thick with the dust of ages. All that remains of any value is a sign above the door; it may have said something else once, but it has been neatly altered to spell ‘SANCTUARY’. To your left, a hole has been punched straight through the wall, and you can hear sounds—and the occasional crack of explosives.

3. House of Life
(Connects to: 2. The Vestibule, 4. Hall of Houses)

The House of Life is the Sanctuary’s old medical facilities. They were cutting edge, back when they were in use. Now, they represent a kind of forgotten technology. For modern settings, think limb regeneration and cybernetic prostheses; for fantasy, healing pools and bottles of panacea; for sci-fi, healing tanks, cryostasis, and cloning.

Zil is here, fighting House of Life drones with his ‘boom stick’. When he sees the players enter, he finishes off one of the drones with an explosion, then calls out to ask for help with the remainder (3-5 drones, at your discretion) while he attempts to operate the door locking mechanisms. Give Zil a turn too. After four turns, he’s finished unlocking the door. If the players finish before his fourth turn, he’s impressed; before his fifth turn, he’s satisfied, and after that, he’s a bit smug.

Afterwards, Zil tells the party that he and his crew go by the “nice guy scavengers’ code” which goes something like ‘he who sweats with me, shares with me.’ They’re here because they got a tip about hidden treasure beneath the Sanctuary, and are unclear what the treasure might be beyond old and valuable. He opens the door, and informs the party that Ginder and Ekks are in the House of Dream while Tholomew and Dave are in the House of Loss. He will enter the Hall of Doors and keep trying to get all the doors unlocked, “but it’s tricky”—he’s already locked himself out once, just before the players came by. (If he dies, the same narrative role is filled by one of the players fiddling with the panel for the locking mechanism.)

As you step through the hole blasted through the wall, the air is suddenly cool and dry. Several beds line the walls, flanked by medical equipment that looks almost familiar—but simultaneously older and more advanced than what you’re familiar with.

The sound of an explosion whips your attention around to the door, just in time to see a white-robed figure crumpling to the ground. [Insert your setting-appropriate Weird Death here.] Several others surround a man who draws back his spear and rips an explosive charge from his bandolier.

“Oy!” he shouts, “A little help while I open the door?”

There is one unique item here: The Physician’s Bane, a projectile weapon. Depending on setting, it may be a rod, ray gun, or something akin to a hand-held spray gun. It was meant to be a way of rapidly treating patients, but instead causes rapid, uncontrolled growth and mutation, which should be treated as a kind of weird poison damage. (It works on drones as well; instead of mutating out of control, they become choked by rapid growth and spread of fungal spores.) The Physician’s Bane recharges over time, and can be used once per encounter.

There are also face masks here, which are not obvious but can be found with a general search.

4. Hall of Houses
(Connects to 3. House of Life, 5. House of Growth, 6. House of Dream, 7. House of Thought, 8. House of Loss, and 9. Sanctuary Core.)

This is the central space of the Sanctuary. A large, circular hall lit from above a skylight, it has six doors at regular intervals along the walls, and a secret hidden staircase built into the floor. The five Houses, as well as the Vestibule and the Sanctuary Core, are all accessible from here, but only at certain times.

Upon first entering after meeting Zil, the only open doors are to the House of Growth and House of Dream. Once the keys in these two areas have been found, Zil (or the players) will be able to open the House of Thought and House of Loss. Once they have the code from the House of Thought , the way is clear to Sanctuary Core.

You emerge into a circular hall, lit by a small lensed skylight which fills the room with natural light. You can see the other side of the door which lead to the Vestibule. There are five more doors here, each marked with its own repurposed sign: the one you just came from was the House of Light. Continuing clockwise, there is the House of Growth, House of Dream, House of Thought and the House of Loss.

After a bit of fiddling with the locks, Zil [or the players] steps back as the doors to the House of Growth and House of Dream slide open.

(After completing House of Thought:)

Tholomew and Dave rush out ahead of you, eager to meet back up with the rest of their party. As you [speak/read/play] the [incantation/access codes/voice commands] the floor in the center of the hall shifts, then slowly lowers to form a spiral staircase leading down.

5. House of Growth
(Connects to 4. Hall of Houses)

This is where the inhabitants of the Sanctuary grew the food they ate. Once like a greenhouse, the plants inside have been left to grow, tended only by the robed House of Growth drones. These drones will not attack unless provoked by attempting to harm or remove any of the plants.

Also, the entire area is permeated with a kind of pollen that causes rapid allergic response in most animal life. Makeshift face coverings like scarves or rags will help, but at significant disadvantage. Face masks from the House of Life or other appropriate protective equipment will reduce the symptoms, but it’s still enough to cause a short-term but irritating rash after a few minutes’ exposure.

Refracted sunlight shines down through a gauzy haze onto overgrown planters, thick with vegetation. Even just looking inside, your eyes begin to water and your nose begins to run. Dark, hooded shapes walking among the plants, expelling fine mists from their sleeves. Though you’re well within sight, they don’t even seem to acknowledge your existence, or that the door is now open. If you squint, you can make out a shape like a body, laying at the other end of the hall. It can’t be one of the other party, though.

This body is one of the previous residents of the Sanctuary. Their remains were never moved because a new species of flower has sprouted from the bones, and the drones have been tending it. A search will reveal a key, but will also attract the suspicion of the drones. They will halt and all look in the same direction, as if wary, but still will only attack if provoked or if the plants are threatened.

6. House of Dream
(Connects to 4. Hall of Houses)

This used to be the dorms for the inhabitants of the Sanctuary, and has now been repurposed into their crypt. Ginder and Ekks are here. The special setpiece here is the darkness; aside from candle light, and the occasional light from one of Ginder’s flares, this area is nearly pitch black. This means that it is difficult to tell who is where; ranged attacks are only possible against enemies who have not moved since the last flare. It can be fully illuminated, but this will enrage the drones. Ginder and Ekks get a turn, and each turn Ginder sets off a flare, but are generally engaged in their own combat, separate from the party.

When enraged or when all drones are defeated, one will spring out of the shadows to attack Ekks. Gil drops a flare, if applicable. Any player who doesn’t have a ranged attack is now within melee range. Each player gets to take a potshot at the remaining drone, then Ginder, then Ekks. If the players finish off the drone themselves, Ginder and Ekks are impressed; if Ginder does it, they’re grateful. If Ekks gets in their one-hit KO, they’re just relieved. Afterwards, Ekks will mark the remains of the drones they killed, then the two of them will join Zil in the Hall of Houses.

The hallway turns as you enter, and soon, you’re standing in almost complete darkness, save for small glints of candle-light. They’re your only points of reference until a thick glob of some burning orange stuff splatters onto the ceiling, giving you a momentary glimpse: a broad-shouldered woman and a sharpshooter stand back to back, flanked by a pair of veiled drones with candles sitting in their chests. More veiled, featureless faces turn your way and then everything is dark again, and all you see is the approaching candles.

(If fully lit:)

Beds flank the walls, tucked into niches, each with the rough shape of a human skeleton, covered by plain blue sheets. And yet, there are tables set with chairs and strewn with personal effects: old books, bits of clothing, trinkets—as if this had been a living space.

There is one unique item here: a Clicker. It is a small handheld device which when activated will produce an illusory image of the bearer at the moment that they pressed the button, like a snapshot of them. The image is temporary, but can last up to a couple hours. Activating the Clicker again will cause any previous image to disappear. The illusion is purely visual, but convincingly real.

There is also a key on one of the tables.

7. House of Thought
(Connects to 4. Hall of Houses)

This used to be actual research wing of the Sanctuary. As such, it has a lot of complex and technical information available in your setting’s local data-storage format, whether scrolls, journals, or terminals. Most of this isn’t terribly useful now, but there is a LOT of it, and it’s all a little bit odd. Think Voynich Manuscript, Codex Seraphinianus, or similar. For some sample topics, try ‘the sacred geometry of the honeybee’, ‘electromagnetic consciousness fields’ or ‘dreamspace trigonometry’.

Past the archives is a series of test chambers with a key item: the Bounding Bracelet, which can project a roughly door-sized wall of physical force twelve feet away from the user. It cannot be moved any closer and will always move relative to the user. The wall is movable by the user and follows the shape of a sphere with a twelve-foot radius, but will simply fail to project any portion of itself that intersects with a solid object. While it can deflect projectiles, direct physical damage will cause it to shatter. It can, however, be climbed upon safely.

The test chambers lock once entered, and follow a progression of four puzzles. Fireball-shooting drones can be added for extra challenge as seen fit; this is meant to be a ‘training room’ for teaching people to use the bracelet.

1: A large flamethrower blocks the exit. The bracelet can be used to deflect the flame so they can pass.

2: There is a gap in the floor that must be crossed. If anyone, or the bracelet, should fall in, they are teleported back to the first side. The gap can be bridged by the bracelet, however, one person will have to stay on one side to use it—the trick is to throw the bracelet over to the other side. (It moves relative to the user, so you can’t use it to catch your fall.)

3: A handle on the ceiling must be pulled to open the door. One solution is to use the bracelet near the ground, have someone grab on, and then lift them up until they reach the handle.

4: The “boss” drone, as well as Tholomew and Dave. It’s big, and like the other House of Thought drones, shoots fireballs, except now they’re bigger. Tholomew can give orders to Dave, if the party needs help distracting the boss, as well as suggesting how to kill it: the big red X on its head, accessible via bracelet. Or just shooting it, but Tholomew won’t be as impressed.

At the end, the players enter an observation room where they can see the test chambers, return to the archives, and pick up the thing they’ll need to reach the Sanctuary Core. This can be an incantation, a sticky note with Core Access Codes written on it, a tape recorder with voice authorization commands, whatever fits your setting.

8. House of Loss
(Connects to 4. Hall of Houses)

This door from the Hall of Houses simply opens onto the top of a dark underground chasm. Not even the Guardian remembers what it used to be, or maybe it just doesn’t want to say—whatever it was, the memory is painful.

There isn’t even much space beyond the door before the floor shears away into a deep, black pit. If there was anything here, it’s long since fallen into the chasm.

9. Sanctuary Core
(Connects to 4. Hall of Houses)

The core of the Sanctuary is a room the size of an average office with a pedestal that holds the device through which the Guardian speaks. The Guardian is inhuman, but fully sentient and capable of emotion. However, it is not used to having to speak, and thus its speech can be curt, clipped, and somewhat oblique.

The dilemma is that the Guardian wants to be left alone, but the Sanctuary itself will almost certainly attract more scavengers. Its drones can be rebuilt, but its resources are limited. If questioned about its power source, it will reveal that it only has about a century of life left before it, too, stops working. It is afraid of its own mortality, but more afraid of the people here being forgotten.

The players should be free to solve this in any way they see fit. Mercy-killing is an option, but not one the Guardian will accept easily—but it will be more willing to budge if it can have some reassurance that it won’t be forgotten (e.g., taking down an oral history of its experiences, promising to take a printout of its personnel records “back to central”, sending some drones to destroy the above-ground entrance to hide it again, etc.)

It is also possible to simply leave the Guardian to its own devices.

If the other party is asked their opinions, Zil is “mostly just confused” and a little disappointed there’s no treasure, Ginder feels sympathetic, and Tholomew suggests just turning it off and leaving.

A sample snippet of conversation with the Guardian:

“Who are you?”: I am the Guardian.

“...what are you?”: I am an intelligent construct.

“Okay...what do you do?”: I guard and keep the Sanctuary.

“So you’re the one who sent those things after us?”: Yes. To discourage you from entering the Sanctuary.

“What is this place, anyway?”: It is penance for my failure. It is not for you.

The Endgame

Whatever the party decides to do, the other party will accept their decision—though they’re nice guys, so pulling the plug might make them a little wary.

As the two parties are packing up outside, they’ll offer to trade for any of the loot the party may have found, offering Zil’s Boom Stick and/or Ginder’s flares, plus a quick lesson on how to make more explosive charges/napalm, for either the Physician’s Bane (Tholomew correctly guesses that it’ll work like it’s supposed to on Dave), the Bounding Bracelet (Ginder thinks it’s cool) or the Clicker (Zil wants to mess with it).

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

in :toxx:

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Sun and Ash

Djeser fucked around with this message at 17:19 on Jan 6, 2022

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

in build a bitch :toxx:

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Isabel Of Eastmuir Crag

Djeser fucked around with this message at 17:19 on Jan 6, 2022

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Thunderdome Week 463: Write About Kissing Dragons (The Kemp Owyne Power Hour)

You are going to write a story about an inter-species personal relationship. The relationship does not have to be romantic, but it can be. It must be between sentient beings. There are no other restrictions.

1100 words
Enter by 11 PM Pacific Friday night
Submit by 11 PM Pacific Sunday night

You can ask for a flash rule, which will be a track title from a dungeon synth album. I can give DARK, EPIC, COZY and DINOSAUR flash rules. If you don't ask for a particular type, it's dealer's choice. Here are some examples:
"Lost in the Wooded Labyrinth"
"The Naming of a New Constellation"
"No Adventures Today, Please and Thank You"
"Desolated Fields of the Flying Predators"

Flash rules reduce word count to 1000.


Azza Bamboo :toxx: - With Axe And Sword And Ravenous Might
MockingQuantum - Descent to the chamber of the exhumed star
Ironic Twist
Staggy - To Picnic Beneath Toadstools
Idle Amalgam - Gallops Of Triumphant Hooves
QuoProQuid - Faint Burning Glimmer in the Mesozoic Sky
ZearothK - I Wish You a Successful Hunt
flerp - Ride Swiftly, Dear Friends, and Meet Death with a Smile
Dome Racer Alpha
Dome Racer Sigma
Black Griffon - He Who Rides The Gust
Antivehicular - The Hundred League Stair/'Neath Fungal Fronds
My Shark Waifu - Return of the Thunder Lizard
Sailor Vy - Fogcloaked Summits
Sitting Here
Chairchucker - If music be the food of love, play on
Barnaby Profane - Allnighty Allosaurus
t a s t e

Djeser fucked around with this message at 17:03 on Jun 19, 2021

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Azza Bamboo posted:

In, hit with the dark flash, and I believe my last entry was a fail so :toxx:

With Axe And Sword And Ravenous Might

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

MockingQuantum posted:

in with a dark flash plz

Descent to the chamber of the exhumed star

Staggy posted:

In, flash me. Dealer's choice of genre.

To Picnic Beneath Toadstools

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Idle Amalgam posted:

In with a flash please

Gallops Of Triumphant Hooves

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

QuoProQuid posted:

In and give me a flash.

Faint Burning Glimmer in the Mesozoic Sky

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

ZearothK posted:

In, give me the flash.

I Wish You a Successful Hunt

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

flerp posted:

in flash

Ride Swiftly, Dear Friends, and Meet Death with a Smile

Black Griffon posted:

in flash me baby

He Who Rides The Gust

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

The Hundred League Stair/'Neath Fungal Fronds

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

My Shark Waifuu posted:

In, flash please!
Return of the Thunder Lizard

Sailor Viy posted:

in, give me an EPIC flashrule
Fogcloaked Summits

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Chairchucker posted:

Give me a cosy song please.

If music be the food of love, play on

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Barnaby Profane posted:

In. Dinosaur-themed dungeon synth sounds dumb as hell, I'll take one of those.

Almighty Allosaurus

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

:siren: JUDGEBOON :siren:

Not into your flash rule? Wishing you had asked for one but now it's "kinda awkward"?

These are free use. Because I didn't remember to offer SPACE as a genre, anyone who asked for a flash rule may swap them out for any of these tracks.

Yes, some of these are from a Star Wars-themed album. Yes, you can write Star Wars fanfiction this week. Should you? I'll be the judge of that. :​)

Celestial Fires on the Path to Antares
Tundras Hidden from the Sibling Suns
The Farthest Planet
Galactic Scum
A Binding Force
Ashes From a Terrestrial Fall
Lost Planets of the Orrery
The Stars Through Smoke-Filled Eyes
Cloud City Incinerator Room
Repairing a Power Droid
Torches on the Forest Moon
Son of Starkiller
Of Desolate Poison Oceans
Dagobah Nights
A Symphony in Stardust
Ruins of a Crystal Sky

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Idle Amalgam posted:

Can I swap for cloud city incinerator room

Djeser posted:

anyone who asked for a flash rule may swap them out for any of these tracks.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

nods sagely

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

See you in two days :wave:

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Thunderdome Week #463 Results

This week was a good week.
Antivehicular's Yours, Mine and Ours,
Black Griffon's Vengeance Climb,
Sailor Viy's The Dreamer's Companion,
MockingQuantum's Buried Light,
ZearothK's Fealty,
Sitting Here's Gorgeous Attaction Warrior Rumina: Calamity Witch Redux, and
Dome Racer Sigma's Accounting for Dragons all HM.

But even in good weeks, the Dome demands blood.
Azza Bamboo's The Serpent takes the loss.

Idle Amalgam's DIspelled Love and
Dome Racer Alpha's A story about a crash DM.

Staggy's Tea for Two wins.

Judge crits will be posted by the end of the day tomorrow. Black Griffon and Chili have agreed to each crit half of the stories this week, and I am also making the following offer to encourage critting:
If you write crits for at least five stories from this week by Sunday night, ping me on Discord and I will buy you a gift certificate for an avatar change.
This is completely optional, though, as doing crits is its own reward. :buddy:

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Allergies are kind of kicking my rear end. Here's half of last week's crits, second half probably coming tomorrow because I'll be sitting in the waiting room of the allergy clinic.

:smaug:TD Week 463 Judgecrits Part 1:smaug:
Dome Racer Alpha - A story about a crash
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one because you definitely didn't. I found the stuff with the bird getting stuck in the AC and slowly dying to be kind of morbid and uncomfortable. Also, it's clear that it was written in one sitting after you came up with the pun, so it's difficult to care about what's going on, and even more difficult when I reach the end and find out that it's all a setup for a pun.

Dome Racer Sigma - Accounting for Dragons
This is a light story, which is unsurprising given your posting gimmick. But unlike the other gimmick poster this week, you actually told a story, and ended it on a cute note that helps me feel like I'm reading about people instead of the setup to a joke. It's also not leaning on the inherent absurdity of a rushed narrative to be funny, so good job on writing some actual jokes. I would read more about this dragon mascot suit accountant trying to navigate draconic social customs.

Sitting Here - Gorgeous Attraction Warrior Rumina: Calamity Witch Redux
Haha sucker I read the whole thing. And it is pretty good, though IMO you could cut it down by like a third with some judicious editing. It would have been interesting to get more on what exactly all the magical girls who get stuck in the dick meat dimension are doing. As far as I recall, they mostly just hung out in their flesh houses. That's not a knock against the story itself, but if you're looking for a space where you could expand, that would be one of my suggestions.

ZearothK - Fealty
I liked how this was written in the voice of one of the fey, though it also meant I was struggling to figure out what was happening until after the first scene break, where it starts mentioning cold iron. It makes sense once you know the context, but there was just enough circumlocution at the start. The fact that this is a proper "wild hunt" also didn't click until the end. It might have been nice to get a little deeper into their history, though I can understand that an actual flashback would probably take more words. The emotional core worked for me and I liked the vibes of the story, but I think it might have clicked sooner if there was a line or two up front to put the idea of Fey poo poo in my head.

MockingQuantum - Buried Light
I like how irrational Stefan is in this story. It suits the relationship here, because it's one that's inherently strange and mismatched. The star too sounds unsure of things, like it too is trying to figure things out. One thing I might have liked to see is more of an explanation of what Stefan's job is, or a bit of how he and the star got to know one another. I don't think it's worse for not having it, but that was the question in the back of my mind, what were things like before this?

Sailor Viy - The Dreamer's Companion
This one was one of a couple I had to pick from to give the win to. It's a little purple at points, but that worked to its benefit for me, since things are supposed to be dreamlike and mythic, and the bit that really captured my mind was the "follow no law but Desire" bit. I don't see a lot of hedonistic philosophies in stories like that. I also appreciated the bit about them bringing back souvenirs from the dream world, because it gives the dream world extra "reality" instead of just existing as a narrative device.

Chairchucker - Got No Rhythm
Now this is how you introduce that Fey poo poo is happening in your story. Though unfortunately I don't have a ton to say about this. Your dialogue has a good flow, and even though the jokes are pretty broad (like Whisper being naive and friendly to a fault) all the characters still feel like actual people dealing with people problems, and not like setups for a pun. Sorry, guess your crit is mostly comparing it to other stories. There's nothing that stood out here and made me go "woah, yeah!" but I could see this being some TV dramedy about living with your fairy stepsister.

tuyop - A Raccoon at the End of the World
It actually took me a while to figure out that this was a forest fire. The "increased sounds of traffic" slipped right over my head, and in fact I specifically thought "huh, wonder what that means" and then forgot about it. I took the 'end of the world' and the humand 'disappearing' literally. I like the choice to write it all from the perspective of An Actual Raccoon, though it left me wishing there was a little more of her "voice" in the narration, whether that's having the whole thing from her perspective or just giving the omnisicent narrator it has now some access to her internal monologue.

Barnaby Profane - Bobo and Ferrs Visit Grandma
Huh, weird, I thought I'd HMed this one. Maybe it was one of the ones I had to cut from the list, ah well. I did enjoy it though, it was cute and charming and I liked the matter of fact magic. Also, somehow this story wound up right next to the other person who did "two wild animals, one of which is a raccoon" as their characters. I would not be surprised if you told me this story was a little rushed near the end, because it's got that TD feeling of a lot of setup up front and then finishing up the plot as succinctly as you can when you notice you're almost at the word limit. But that "the ending is kind of quick" is the worst I can say about it is pretty good over all. I thought it did a very good job using the twee talking animal story voice without compromising the sincerity of the story.

Staggy - Tea for Two
And I was just talking about twee-but-sincere in my last crit, too. I was a fan of Redwall books back then, so descriptions of lavish foods are a weak spot for me. This actually reminds me of Accounting for Dragons, mostly in the way it plays with the anticlimax of not getting eaten by a dragon. I'm also a sucker for rivalries, so this one managed to hit me in just the right way. (Also it had an entire arc and didn't feel rushed out at the end.)


Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

TD Week 463 Judgecrits Part 2
completed at the allergist's clinic :)

My Shark Waifu - Dragonknight
This story is largely fine, but two things did bug me while reading it. One of them was the action scenes. They're written in a matter of fact way that undermines the drama a little bit. If a dragon spits a fireball and the protagonist dodges it in the same sentence, that's not a lot of room for tension to build. Action scenes are IMO a very good way to see the impact of how your sentences are structured. I think it'd help a lot to have each hit raise the tension a little bit. The other thing that bugged me was more of a personal thing, but I did wonder why no one had thought to try trading with the dragons before. It's not a huge issue, just one of those things that made me go hmm. It's fine overall though, those are just the two spots that felt like they could use some more work. (You may also want to take a peek at the rule of thumb I mentioned in the crit just under this one.

Black Griffon - Vengeance Climb
This is all pretty good stuff, though when it comes to the action scenes, it's almost the opposite of the ones in Dragonknight. There's a lot of action, but it does kind of flow together sometimes. I do this a lot in my own writing, particularly in my rough drafts. I haven't yet quite worked out what I'm going to say when I start a sentence, so sometimes it ends up somewhere else. For instance, I'd split the first line into two. If you start a new sentence after "...perfectly aimed," the first sentence can be the seemed lazy/perfectly aimed comparison, and then the next sentence, e.g., "The speed and heading brought him..." can be about how exactly it was perfectly aimed. The next sentence ("The expert climb...") could probably be two or three: landing on the deck, drawing the sword, attacking the sailor.

A good rule of thumb to remember: The words that stick the most in a reader's mind are the last and first words of the sentence.

All that said, I did like this story, I enjoyed the plot and the reveal about why they're doing this. I just had more to say about the action bits.

Isle Amalgam - Dispelled Love
This story reads a bit like Vengeance Climb crossed with "A story about a crash". It has the same matter-of-fact approach to strange fantastic things happening where it seems like it was written all in one go. I'm not opposed to in medias res weird fantasy scenes, but it was hard to get a grasp on just what the vibes were meant to be, here. I also wasn't sure if the featured relationship was supposed to be the witch and the wizard or the witch and the robot. Maybe both? Reading htis felt to me like a couple of different ideas all smushed together and duking it out for dominance.

Azza Bamboo - The Serpent
I had a feeling this story was written in a rush to meet the deadline. I liked the first half, even if there were a few weird word order things. (For instance, I would have led with the thunderstorm somehow, e.g., "In the midst of the thunderstorm, Sir Edmund's rusty brown stallion reared in fright." The reason this got the loss over the other DMs is that I just did not understand what the connection between the first and second half is. I mean, I know that the battle at the bridge is what the soldiers are riding toward, and then Edmund leads the charge to destroy the catapult, but in terms of broader narrative purpose I couldn't figure out what the contrast between the two scenes was meant to be. (It also took me a bit of extra effort to figure out which side was the "protagonists" in this case.

sparksbloom - My Bear of Unrest and Hibernation
This is pretty cute, for a story about someone with executive dysfunction in the middle of a depressive spiral. The absurdity is fun, though my big struggle here was trying to figure out what the 'point' was. Like, okay, allegorical bear, likes to hang out in depressed people's houses, I got all that, the "be aware of bears" stuff just didn't coalesce into anything for me. It was interestingly weird but I just couldn't quite see through to figure out what the bear was a cipher for.

t a s t e - Practice
Hey, welcome to TD! This is some good stuff for a first-time story. I think it may have wound up a bit rushed at the end, but honestly, my TD stories are like that fairly often too. (And I've brought this up in a couple other stories this week too, so it's not even like you're the only one.) TD stories often have a lot of description up front and then you're at 100 words left and you still have to actually finish the story. Tale as old as time.

There's some good human moments in this story, and I can unfortunately sympathize with the idea of bothering a pet as a kid because you have nothing better to do. My only other beef with this story was that it's kind of distant from its subject, getting told almost entirely through flashback, especially because it seems to be as much about the dad's relationship to the cat too. It didn't quite capture my interest strongly enough to put it in the honorable mention pile, but I'm a dweeb and realism is a hard sell for me. But I think you've got chops and I'll look forward to seeing your stuff in the future.

flerp - the dragon of death pets a dog
Yep, this is a flerp story all right. It's got some good little flourishes, and I appreciated the tone being mildly whimsical without completely undermining the world itself. I even like the plot, although it fell into something that happened a couple times this week: a very obvious solution to a problem. I'm not a big cinemasins ding sort of person, but having that be the solution to the dilemma made me think, wow, it hadn't tried that before? You may have been bumping up against the word limit or something though, since the end does come pretty quick. (It's valid if the upshot is that no one bothered to hang out around the dragon for long enough that he would have bothered to put on gloves.)

Antivehicular - Yours, Mine and Ours
The exact relationship between Nadja and the Jungle was a bit hazy for me until I read on. My first assumption was that she was a post-apocalyptic survivor, so I had to do some revisions to my mental image later on once it turned out that she was a researcher. I very much appreciated how the two of them operate on different time scales, and how they're both kind of struggling to understand one another because of their differences. There's a lot of juice in the idea of ethical hiveminds.

curlingiron - Same Old Story
This was pretty cute but I felt like there was something I missed with the "My grandfather was a dragon" line. If it's just supposed to be a cute "oh yeah I know about dragons" thing that's fine, I guess I just thought it ended in a way that suggested there was some further meaning to that which I was unable to pick up on. I liked it and I definitely appreciate it being quick, I'm just not sure what to get out of it.

Thranguy - Would a Rose
This one was in the good pile, but I had to make some decisions about which to give HMs to. I appreciate all the little weird things that are a result of the sci-fi setting: the asteroid turned into a ship, being able to talk to your crewmate on the radio but being unable to save them. It didn't quite beat out the other stories that HMed for me, but I think it'd be a worthwhile thing to expand on, if you ever wanted to.

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