Chapter 6: Information and Expectations
Today’s a day off, so I’m currently wrestling with the most difficult decision of the day.
Do I smoke now, or break away in the middle of the game and smoke later?
See, I just had a cigarette 4 hours ago, but I was then asleep for 4 hours… And I’ll probably be gaming all day, but who knows when I’ll reach a good stopping point … Ah, but this might be a good opportunity to try to quit …
I’ve taken this cigarette out of the carton about 10 times now.
“… Nee-chan. What are you doing?”
Oya? It’s only 7:30 in the morning. Me aside, I’m amazed even the shortie woke up so early. Gamer power is amazing, na.
“Toru, you’re awake already. Impressive.”
“Noooo, you mean I’m still awake. I’m hungry… Nee-chan, make breakfast-.”
Ah. As expected, that was the actual case, huh?
“No. If Mom finds out you didn’t eat dinner last night…”
Toru’s window slammed shut and I heard him thud down the stairs.
… Even though Mom’s probably already in the store out front, you’re totally going to alert her to your actions like that …
I give up on the cigarettes, stow the carton in my pocket, and go back inside.
It was getting a little chilly outside the house’s front gate.
I’m not allowed to smoke inside.
That’s fair; I don’t want to give my little brother second hand smoke. Just ‘cause I made bad decisions doesn’t mean I can inconvenience my parents and the shortie.
Toru is swinging his legs while sitting on a stool in the kitchen, waiting for his dinner/breakfast to heat up in the microwave.
“So, Nee-chan, what did you find in game?”
“What do you mean? Quests, NPCs, wolves … the usual.”
“Nono, because Nee-chan is the reckless type, you probably found some interesting things, right?”
I lightly flick him in the middle of his forehead.
“I’m not going to tell you what I found. It’s no fun if you post it on the forums and everyone else comes running to look for it.”
He puffs his cheeks out like a chipmunk.
“Speaking of the forums, what’s the more interesting things the players have come across?”
“Oooh, so you’re not ok with sharing, but you’re ok with one-sidedly getting information?”
He’s giving me a sly look, like he’s pulled a prank on me or something. Cheeky brat.
I flick him on the forehead again.
“Oww… Let me think.”
Rubbing his forehead, the shortie opened the microwave right before it sounded the chime and moved the hot plate to the table.
“Oh yeah, a guy decided to see if he could kill the quest NPC in the Unique Instance.”
“Uwah. How reckless.”
“And he did, but he got immediately teleported out of the instance, and he only had 1 OS Talent to choose from. Um … [Enemy of Rustbourne Village]. It gave a bonus to DEX and END, but a negative to WIS, and -10,000 Favor with all factions except 3 of them. +500 Favor with the Dark Guild, though.”
“Hm… it’s not awful, but it’s a little inconvenient, huh? Did he restart?”
“Nope. He said it was really cool, and he wanted to explore all the ‘bad-end options’, and that’s quoting him directly. He said he was going to report on all of those types of things that he finds.”
“Hm… well, that’s a valid way to play too, but I think he’s going to get the Death Penalty a lot.”
“People are wondering if the reason he only had 1 OS Talent to choose from is because he killed the NPC right at the beginning or if it’s set to be that way if you killed the NPC at any time, but most people are too afraid to risk it, so no one’s tried to kill the NPC at the end yet. I bet someone will by the end of today, though, so we’ll know a little more about it. So far, there have been 33 confirmed different Unique Instances.”
“33?! That’s a lot!”
“Yeah, but there might be more, too. My instance was “The Menace in Karolstrem’s Back Alleys,” and Chie-nee got “The Caravan to Karolstrem.” Which one did you get?”
“Um… Something about the forest’s corruption…”
Toru has been scrolling through his phone while stuffing his face. That’s bad manners, but he’s a teenage boy in his growth period, so I don’t say anything.
“ ‘Source of the Forest’s Corruption’, huh? That’s … that sounds like a druid instance…”
“It was really easy for a hack n’slasher like me for the most part, but the last boss fight was really tough, even though the bear was tanking.”
“… What are you talking about? Doesn’t the bear fight you?”
“Yeah, but after the first fight, it follows you to fight the last boss.”
“Nn… they don’t say anything about that … though they say the last fight with the boss was easy…”
“What?! No way, the Bleed was so bad, once he started Raging!”
“Um… there’s no mention of a Rage Mode either. Maybe you had a different instance?”
“Jeez, Nee-chan, if you remembered what it was called, I could post it and people could compare their play-throughs…”
I can’t deny that it would be interesting to see how other people dealt with that final boss.
“Ok, so the 1st OS Talent you get immediately seems to be a support-type Talent. Everyone so far says it boosts Sub-Stats and armor, while the 2nd OS Talent is the one you really have to carefully choose.”
“So it’s ok to get a crappy 1st one, huh?”
By the way, the Stats of this game are Strength(STR), Defence(DEF), Dexterity(DEX), Endurance (END), Wisdom(WIS), and Intelligence(INT).
Sub-Stats are other player statistics that are calculated from the main Stats. For example, HP is calculated from END, but so is how long you can run without getting tired and how long you can stay underwater. DEX calculates run speed, accuracy, etc. Things like that.
I was really happy that OriginStory doesn’t require you to take Talents for swimming and climbing. How well you can do it depends on your DEX, STR, and END. Although, according to the official homepage, there are optional NPC quests that can teach you how to swim and climb if you need help learning.
I really hated that auto-pilot feeling when the skill takes over in some other games, so I’m glad they let you enter the water without having to have a certain Talent.
“As for some of the other stuff … eh … you’re not really interested in drop rates and stuff like that … Where’s the stuff you’d be interested in … Oh yeah, some people at Rustbourne Village, the northern starting village, said they saw some sort of ninja fairy.”
“… What the heck’s that?”
“Dunno. There was sparkling lights, like a fairy sprite or something. When they tried to get closer to see, it disappeared, literally ninja-vanished, just like a shinobi in anime.”
Hm… After I check out that cave, I might head towards the north …
“And near Honeysuckle Village, there were a few people who said they saw the first overworld boss!”
“What? Where’s Honeysuckle Village?”
“… That’s the eastern starting village, Nee-chan. The one we met in?”
Ah… so it had that kind of a name …
“Jeez, Nee-chan … anyway, they said it was this big bear wielding an axe, and it was completely destroying the horned rabbits, but later on, when other players went to verify it they couldn’t find it.”
Hmm… that kind of sounds familiar … or maybe it doesn’t … Nope. No idea what you’re talking about.
“So later today, me and some other guys were going to go see if we can track either the fairy shinobi or the axe bear down.”
“O-oh, is that so …”
“… Nee-chan. You totally know something about them.”
I immediately look the other way as he tries to look me in the face.
Dang this persistant shortie…!
“An orange Talent?! Nee-chan, you’re totally hacking!”
“As if. Like I know enough technical crap to be able to do that.”
Even though he knows that, of course Toru was going to react that way, the brat.
“Nn… w-well, it’s not that different from Werewolf Form, honestly, though I think it’s more like STR and END based, while Werewolf Form is more STR and DEX. Also, Werewolf Form only has a CD of 20 seconds, and it doesn’t have a duration limit. You activate it, then build Bloodrage as you continuously attack. As long as you can sustain the Bloodrage, you can stay in Werewolf Form. Well, some of the Werewolf Form-only attacks consume Bloodrage, and there’s an END drop, so it’s kind of a balancing act to pop in and out of Werewolf Form.”
“That makes sense. Werewolf Form is part of your race, after all, so it’s something you can use more often. Werebear is just an OP addition.”
“But that’s so cool! Nee-chan, let me post this on the forums, including how your Unique Instance went!”
“Um… how about after a little bit? I don’t like the idea of a bunch of people trying to copy me…”
“Muu… you’re so stingy…”
After polishing off his meal at an impossible rate, all the while talking with me, Toru yawned loudly.
“Shortie, go get some sleep.”
“Falling asleep while still hooked up to the game, or getting some sleep before you play, you remember which one was better, right?”
“Nnngh… that only happened … a few times…”
“Come on, go to bed, or I’ll unplug your headgear when you least expect it!”
“No! Fiiiiine, you better wake me up in an hour!”
“Yeah, yeah, up you go.”
Let’s set the alarm for 2 hours from now…
As I put my headgear back on and log into the game, I make sure to set an alarm to wake the shortie up on my phone.
It’s not like we were always this close. A few years ago, we didn’t get along at all. I was in my rebellious stage, so it couldn’t be helped. I even made Mom cry a little … haaa … Everyone has some dark parts of their past they don’t want to bring up anymore.
Even though it wasn’t chuunibyou, I kind of wish it was … nmaa, luckily my delinquent stage only lasted a year until Dad beat me back onto the right path.
Anyway, a former yankee being a VRMMO addict, it’s kind of funny, right?
Being pulled back into the body of my avatar, I stretch a little, although it’s not really needed, and leave the Inn. Even though the village is a safe, no-combat zone, it seems like everyone still prefers to log off in an Inn, since your avatar gets loaded into the world before you get loaded into it, and standing there in the middle of the road with a vacant stare and a T-pose for up to 2 minutes is seriously uncool.
The Inn rooms only cost 5 copper, anyway. It’s a completely impossible sum of money to be able to run an Inn on in the real world, but this is a game after all.
Walking around the eastern starting village, er, Honeysuckle Village, I locate the female florist NPC and complete the quest for both the herb gathering and the night-time flower gathering.
The compensation is just money, but I’m ok with that. It’s always weird when you get equipment or something from people who don’t look like they would have that stuff, though potions would be nice too.
“Waa, so you heard about my need for Nightbloom flowers! Thank goodness, I have an arrangement needing them soon, so this really helps out a lot. Here, for your trouble for the herbs and the flowers!”
8 silver, get! And now, for information, get… hopefully.
“Ah, by the way, do you know where I can find some illuminations? It would really be helpful to have a source of light when I’m exploring…”
“Illuminations? I’m not sure, but if you’re looking for things for exploring, Ralphie the General Vendor might carry what you’re looking for.”
“Ah, thank you very much, that’s what I was looking for.”
These NPCs are super helpful… It’s nice not to have to run around and talk to every merchant in order to find if any of them have what I’m looking for. Even if Ralphie doesn’t have it, as a merchant NPC he might have more knowledge about who I should look for.
“Ahh, lights for exploring. Right, I’ve got light stones and a lantern for them. Light stones last 1 hour, and 1 light stone costs 75 copper, and 1 lantern costs 5 silver.”
I’d like to buy 5 hours’ worth of light, just in case … let’s see. 5 stones would be 3 silver and 75 copper, so the total would come to 8s 75c.
Crap. I don’t care about going broke in a game, but I’m 75 copper short. Even though it’s only 75 copper, I still don’t have it.
Buying things at the beginning of a game is always painful …
“Hm… I’m a little short, but here’s some things that I have.”
A trade window opens between us, and the merchant puts in the light stones and lantern, while I first unload the wolf fangs, and then the feathers.
“Uwoh, that’s a lot of wolf fangs and feathers. Hm… I really need the feathers, so although I usually buy them for 20 copper, I will buy them for 50 copper each today.”
Ooh, it seems like there’s “special deals”, so I should ask all the NPC vendors what they need if I want to sell things.
I decide to sell 10 feathers, and paid 3s 75c for the lantern and 5 light stones.
… Ah! I still haven’t gotten my rewards for giving the lunchbox to the woodcutter!
Cheh. Oh well, that’s fine.
Before I head out to Honey Forest, I stop by and talk to Freid’s wife first, getting another 1s 20c. It’s just a delivery fee for one of the first quests you can take, so naturally it won’t be much.
Now I’m off to explore the cave!
The light stones work pretty simply. Put one in the lantern and it lights up, starting a timer counting down from 60 minutes. Take it out to stop the timer, and it doesn’t light up anymore. Put it back in and it lights up and resumes the timer from where it left off. Once the time runs out, it becomes a depleted light stone, and it’s useless.
Armed with a light source, I climb up the deceptively steep slopes until I reach the clearing.
Kind of because I wanted to see if I could withstand the Fear, but also kind of because I wanted to show that ghost wolf that I wasn’t afraid of it, I purposefully step out into the clearing.
… Nothing happens.
Hm… that ghost wolf might be a night-only event. Right now it’s right around midday in-game.
Hopefully the cave isn’t day/night based too… although I doubt it.
When I enter the cave, it’s still pitch dark, after all. It doesn’t seem like day or night can penetrate it.
Waaaai! It’s narrow and dark and damp!
I feel like such a kid, getting excited about tramping through an adventurous looking cave.
Creeping along meter by meter, I’m sure if there was someone watching, they’d think I’m completely neurotic. I’m carefully swinging the lantern behind every rock, up to every crevice, and into every dark shadow.
I have suffered from back-attacks way too many times from hard-to-see side tunnels, so I think my neurosis is completely understandable. I don’t have the patience to jiggle every rock or slab to check for hidden passages, though.
Instead, I activate <Enhanced Hearing> and drag the handle of my axe along the side of the passageway, tapping the other side with my fist.
So far, no hollow sounds.
Fumu. 5 minutes in and there hasn’t been any side passages, the enemies are just rats and bats that appear one by one, and they only drop things like “Ordinary Stone”. This might just be a beginner’s dungeon… how anticlimactic.
With <Enhanced Hearing> still activated, I listen carefully. Mixed in with the scraping sounds on the rocks that I’m making, beyond the slight squeaks of failing-to-be-sneaky rats, in the distance I can just make out the sounds of unsteady, clacking feet.
Golems? Or skeletons?
Before I’m aware of it, I’m baring my teeth in a grin.
The first true prey is just a little ahead!
Hm… what a let-down. Even this widened room only had 5 skeletons in it. Although they gave me a little bit of trouble, since slashing weapons have reduced damage against skeletons, they seem to be low level so it’s no problem.
Using the axe like a short spear, I stab at the skeletons with the blunt “tip” of the axe, but I’m getting reduced damage from not using the weapon properly. So it doesn’t matter what part of the axe I use, I’ll get damage reduction, huh? In the end, I just hit as hard and fast as I can, using my axe normally.
But unlike the trash drops from the rats and bats, the skeletons dropped small wooden boxes, aka, some things that are a little more valuable. Hm… a few copper here and there, and an unidentified piece of white equipment, a sword.
Mumumu … even though I shouldn’t expect too much excitement from a cave so close to a beginner’s village, somehow, I still feel really let down.
After checking the room thoroughly to make sure I didn’t miss any drops or gimmicks, I reluctantly conclude that there is nothing left in the room to do.
Hm… even though there wasn’t any side passages, I check the map to see how far I’ve come.
[SUB AREA MAP UNABLE TO BE DISPLAYED]
Oooh, so this is one of those un-mapped places … If that’s the case, I can somewhat understand why they wouldn’t make the layout too complicated right near the beginner villages. But y’know … a fork in the road or a dead-end wouldn’t be THAT complicated, right?
Puffing out my cheeks a little in displeasure, I close the map function and re-shoulder my axe.
Opposite the passage I had come in is another passage leading out of the room.
To keep track of which passage I came in versus which one I left, I had dropped a small pile of Ordinary Stones in front of the one I entered the room in.
Again, it might seem really OCD to do, but as a vanguard-type fighter, getting turned around in the middle of the battle and going back through the same passage only to end up at the entrance … I can’t deny that it’s happened to me far too many times.
Un, it seems like it was pointless for me to do that in this cave, since the passages are marked with different pairs of runes etched into the rock face.
… Though I didn’t take note of which set of runes marked the passage I left, so in the end I would still have to guess, huh?
Heading towards the passage without the pile of stones, it happened as soon as I made to step out of the room.
The runes glowed brightly, the lantern dimmed, and the world shook.
An inexplicably dreadful chill manifests, and the light of the lantern flashes before it’s restored, but it feels like the light is colder than before.
A flare of cold, gray light erupts from the center of the room, and I turn at the presence I sense behind me.
A shadowy, incorporeal body stands there.
A ghostly wolf missing its head.
[Sharp Senses]Lv6 (+1)
[Spirit of the Wild Hunt]Lv3
[Inheritance of the Forest Guardian]Lv3
Avg Lv: 4
About the Game Pt3
VRMMO equipments are all based on modified versions of Virtually Manned Drones developed by the military.
A person’s consciousness isn’t transmitted into the virtual reality, but instead the feedback is transmitted from the virtual avatar back to the real world player. A headgear is used to stimulate the brain … well, some sci-fi stuff happens, and sensations are transmitted directly to the person wearing the headgear.
The avatar is controlled much like the brain controls the body in real-life, however reflexes and such movements directed by unconscious thought are simulated by stimulating the avatar. Such things like a barely-there touch, a slight flicker in light, or a small drop in temperature, these things are coded into the scenarios in order to draw attention to different places that the player might have overlooked in their virtual body.
A lot of psychological research has gone into what types of things can attract attention without drawing direct attention to themselves, and games have become excellent at manipulating the focus of their players without the players being aware of it.
It IS disorienting to man a virtual body at first, and first time VRMMO players will usually have a hard time through the first few levels just walking around.
Because the player is not actually being transported into virtual reality, there are some times when the action gets intense, and the player ends up bringing it into real life, though it’s not a common occurrence. Speech is more likely to leak out into the real world than actions, though, especially in heated arguments, and the darkly-muttering gamer talking to himself has become a more popular stereotype.
One of the more famous stories is of a man who accidentally punched his computer monitor through a window in a particularly tense VRMMO battle, dragging his tower and cables towards the window, and both in real-life and in virtual, he was bent over in the middle of the fight, floundering as he tried to figure out what went wrong, before he finally went afk and discovered that the cable to his headgear was pulled taut, and his expensive gaming system was about to fall out the window of his 4th floor apartment.
Although it’s rare, there are also stories about how the codes sometimes get messed up, and the wrong senses are stimulated, like “hearing” the light dim, or the more subtle screw-ups where the right and left hearing stimulations are swapped.
If someone is accidentally disconnected without logging out, like if a power shortage occurred or the headgear got unplugged, the worst that would happen is a nausea and dizziness from the sudden change in stimulation. In general, though, there is only a few seconds of confusion in an accidental disconnection.
Pain and potentially traumatic experiences like fear and gore are dialed back from real life. In exchange, knockback, unresponsive limbs, and other such Bad Statuses and Debuffs are used to emphasize damage instead of increasing the pain.
In the military development of this technology, before it became commercialized for entertainment, the strain of receiving full feedback was noted to have a very bad reaction that sometimes manifested itself in the receiver’s actual body as chronic phantom pains.
The placebo effect can be a frightening thing, ne.
<a/n: thank you Moon for your donation!>