Chapter 9: The First Party(lol) Quest
After talking with the two hardcore crafters, it’s now early evening – in the game.
Although time flows the same in hours and minutes as real-life, the days and nights cycle in the game go in 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Maa, it’s something that you have to make allowances for in a VR game, I guess.
Because it’s early evening, the best place to hang out and hear gossip from the NPCs is the village tavern!
Complete with alcohol!
It’s pretty piss-poor beer though.
By the way, for the brats like the chibi, I have to tell you, although the younger players are completely prohibited from asking for, buying, or tasting alcoholic beverages, there’s no effect from the alcohol.
It’s not like they don’t know how to make alcohol affect you like it does in real-life, but then it’s practically a virtual drug, and that’s some illegal shit.
Instead, after a certain amount of alcohol, they mess with your vision and your avatar’s personal x-y-z axis so it becomes difficult to walk around and do things that need intense concentration to simulate drunkenness.
Quite a few people get motion-sickness from the Drunk Bad Status, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people from drinking the virtual alcohol.
The players can get really into it, have drunken races or drunken fights, or drunken crafting … iyaaaa, if the Drunk status is like other games, it could get really fun – I mean, it could get troublesome.
ANYWAY, I bought a round of drinks for some fun-looking ossans in the corner, and pretty soon they were talking about anything and everything I wanted to hear.
“Hm… I hear that sometimes there are merchants who leave from Honeysuckle Village periodically to go further east.”
“The Valley of the Fire Worms? Ah, there are several towns in that direction, but there is only a small frontier town once you get to the valley.”
“It’s best to bring lots of rations and water. The blacksmith’s kid went with some traders, but got sick drinking the water from the river, once they went through the valley.”
“How to get to the Valley of the Fire Worms? Ah… go talk to the Cartographer in our village. He can sell you a map out east. It’s not that detailed, but what can you expect from someone who doesn’t leave the village much?”
It’s really amazing how much conversing you can do with the NPCs, especially at the taverns. If you turned off your Overhead Name Display (OND), you wouldn’t be able to tell the NPCs from the players from interacting with them.
I have my OND toggled to appear after 5 seconds without changing my line of vision.
Although there are at least 3 other starter villages (west, south, and southwest), after butchering – er, subjugating the monster train, I get the feeling that my Talents won’t level much anymore in starter zones.
Sure I’d like to explore them at some point, but …
The Valley of the Fire Worms sure sounds like it would be a lot of fun, ne?
From talking with the NPC ossans, what I gather is that the easiest way to get to the Valley of the Fire Worms is from the eastern starting village, it takes quite a few days to reach, caravans needing escorts depart regularly from the eastern starting village, and you’ll need to bring your own water.
After going through the canyon, the water in the river becomes undrinkable, unless you filter it.
The filters cost 2 gold … so unless you go with a caravan, where the Wayfarer NPC should have survival kits, you will need to bring a lot of water and fill all of your containers before proceeding through the canyon.
Also, after going through the canyon, the way to the valley is a hard-earthed desert, so if you’re not careful you could easily lose your way.
Hrm hrm hrm…
I enjoy wandering and exploring, but only when I’m intending to wander.
Wandering around lost and confused is the worst, and who knows how the stars are aligned in this virtual sky. Navigation would be difficult, towns are scarce, and then there’s the worry of supplies.
Once your Average Level reaches 10, you’ll need to be careful to avoid Thirst and Hunger Bad Statuses.
Kuu… I should have departed immediately at Avg Lv 5! Then I could just wander indefinitely in the desert!
Ah, but there’s no doubt I’ll reach Avg Lv 10 in no time even if I started at Avg Lv5.
I’m a vanguard with a love for hunting, and although I don’t mind running away to survive, if it’s a monster I can fight, who wouldn’t eat the meal provided for them?
But, maa, to avoid the things I don’t like, I will rein in my recklessness a little.
And travel with a caravan so I can freely play hunt monsters and raise my levels!
“Oooh, that’s right, Jemino the Trader was lamenting that he didn’t have enough guards for his caravan. He was heading to Nortius, the frontier town in the Valley of the Fire Worms. If you head to the eastern village right now, tell him Herman the Cooper sent ya and you’re a fine fellow!”
Well, yeah, I bought you 2 rounds of drinks.
You’re too easy to flatter, if that’s all it took to stake your name on my temperament.
Well, I won’t do you wrong if all I have to do is beat back monsters!
“Heeh, that sounds good, I will go do that.”
“He leaves tomorrow, so you might have to take the teleporter, or some people have said there’s a secret passage that cuts through the mountains…”
Oh, yeah, that. I found it already…
“Then I should head out. Thanks for the fun and the talk, Ossans!”
“Aaah, ah, hang on miss! Here! I bought this from the Cartographer, but after I injured my hip, I can’t make such a long journey anymore.”
|You have obtained Map: Journey to Nortius|
Ouuu! My first map! So you can buy maps from a Cartographer, huh?
Then what is the point of taking [Scribe] for maps … is not the thought I had at all.
Instead … does that mean you can make and sell maps?! That’s the kind of thought I was having.
Heeeh…. [Scribe] is getting more and more interesting!
“Thank you very much! I will put it to good use!”
After leaving the tavern, it’s the middle of the night and most of the NPCs are either in the tavern or sleeping.
Even so, there are a lot of players wandering about.
No time for sleep for gamers!
The website didn’t mention anything about a Sleep Deprivation status or something, so hopefully we can all be insomniac characters together.
Hm, hm… If I go through the shortcut, I’ll get back to the eastern village before morning, purchase some necessary supplies once the market opens, and then find the trader to head out!
Now how do I use this map?
|You are about to use Map: Journey to Nortius.
Using this Item will consume it. Continue:
After reaching the eastern villa, as I tried to open the map this notification popped up.
Maps are consumable items?
“Yes, use it.”
The map floated up and opened, and then disappeared in a flash of light.
|You have used Map: Journey to Nortius.
It has been permanently integrated in your Map Interface.|
I open up the Map Interface and take a look.
Aside from the (non-hidden) beginner villages and the main city, as well as the beginner areas around them, the rest of the map was blank – at least, initially it was.
Now, a slim band of land east of the eastern starting village was filled in.
It wasn’t as detailed or complete as the beginner area maps, but there it is.
A route heading east to the frontier village, with a few other villages in between, was shown.
Waah! This is an interesting and fun system.
But now I’m curious about the word “permanently”.
That would mean there are some maps that aren’t permanent?
I closed the Map Interface. I wonder if I should go check out the cartographer?
The eastern village is just starting to come alive as roosters crow and the sun adds a hint of warmth into the air as it rises.
Super awesome virtual reality.
It totally feels like the time Jo and I reached the peak of a mountain right when the sun rose.
I can see why the older generation is worried that we gamers could lose our sense of reality in a world like this.
Although it’s just an urban legend about people becoming unable to tell reality from VR and dying from getting lost in VR, it sometimes feels like we’re getting closer and closer to an era where this could happen.
“Obaa-chan, how many waterskins should I carry if I head out east?”
“Hm… well, waterskins only stack by 5, so depending on your journey, I would stock up by 5s or 10s.”
Well, full immersion seems impossible in this game.
Some people prefer it when it feels like a game, though, so they most likely worked the gameplay elements into everyday elements for the NPCs.
It has a feel kind of like those “other world with game elements” novels and manga.
“Alrighty Obaa-chan, then can I get 5 waterskins and 10 rations?”
“Of course. Is Ms Adventurer going on a long journey?”
The grocer Obaa-chan asked.
“I’m hoping to.”
“Fufufu, I see. Then allow me to give Ms Adventurer some advice.”
She pulled out all sorts of herbs and tonics.
Haa… it kind of feels like getting scammed by a salesman, but I buy some Stamina Herbs and Antidotes anyway.
Once “Daybreak” has fully changed into “Morning”, I decide to find the Trader Caravan that’s heading out east.
I approach a man standing nervously in the eastern village’s square.
He has average-height and broad shoulders, as well as muscular looking arms and a solid waist, but he has a bit of a belly. A funny, fit-looking man who somehow has a round belly. His face is long and solidly shaped, but his cheeks are round and red.
A comical looking man through and through.
“Excuse me, are you Jemino-san?”
“Ah, yes I am.”
Well, I knew from the OND, but even when you go to the welcome party with your colleagues who are wearing name tags, it’s still polite to ask what their names are and introduce yourself.
“Hi, I’m Naruesin, and I just came from the northern village, where a man named Herman told me about your situation, needing another guard.”
“Ooooh! That would be really helpful! I only have 3 bodyguards to my name. The Wayfarer has a guard with her too, but we have to leave in such short notice that it’s been tough to find trustworthy Adventurers. Ideally we would have a party of Adventurers…”
This is the second time I’ve heard of a Wayfarer. I wonder what that is. Probably a guide?
Ignoring that, I look at the 4 large wagons, each drawn by 2 strange goat/horse-like creatures.
I wouldn’t be able to say if they were more horse-ish or if they were more goat-ish.
But … hm.
Aside from the Wayfarer and her guard, if there’s only 3 bodyguards plus Jemino, rather than being bodyguards … won’t they just be wagon drivers?
It’s kind of like there aren’t any guards at all!
“Would it be better if I had a party?”
“Well … yes…”
As I thought, this is a party quest.
Jemino’s funny-looking cheeks puff upwards as he tightens his lips, looking around worriedly, before he continues, saying,
“But we leave in 20 minutes, so it may be impossible… To begin with, a guard trip like this isn’t something people can agree to lightly. It takes a full 3 days to reach Nortius.”
3 days in game is … 10.5 hours?! What… I didn’t know about this.
What to do… should I travel by myself? I can’t spend a constant 10 and 1/2 hours playing…
My worries must have shown through, because Jemino quickly says,
“We will be stopping in villages along the way, and spend 3 days in those villages. Naturally Naruesin-san would not be responsible for us in the villages, so it will be more like 3 separate 1-day journeys with 3 days in between each.”
It’s still a huge time commitment, but things are spaced out enough. So it’s 3 instances of a 3.5 hours of journey and 24 hours of down time.
Ah, I see, it’s the “healthy lifestyle in real-life” campaign, huh?
They’re including time to log off to sleep well and eat well … though I wonder how many gamers would just double up quests or go hunting for the 3 in-game days they’re waiting in the villages.
If it’s like that …
“Let me try to ask for some help. I’m just not sure they’ll be available…”
“Oh, just by trying would be a great help. I’m no judge when it comes to the strength of Adventurers.”
So if they wanted, you would hire Avg Lv1 players?
I open my Quest Journal.
It’s not marked as “Active” yet, but a tentative quest called, Caravan: Honeysuckle Village to Noxius, has popped up.
Suggested: 4 to 6-man party for Avg Lv 5 Players.
I call Toru with a private chat.
[“Oi, Toru, what level are you at?”]
[“Nn…? Nee-chan… I’m at Avg 5, though, but why do you want to know?”]
[“What’re you talking about? This game has slow leveling!”]
I had overheard people complaining about how hard it was to level their Talents, but for the competitive Toru to only be at Avg Lv5…
[“Ah… well, anyway, are you busy right now?”]
[“Ah… un. Yeah, I am. I have a party with me and we’re going around looking for all the Hidden Talent NPCs at the beginners’ villages… Wait a minute. If you’re asking this… Nee-chan, you found a party quest already?!”]
[“Yeah, it’s a long escort quest, though.”]
[“… Oh …”]
Don’t go sounding too excited…
[“So no? It’s fine if you’re not interested, I can probably handle it by myself, but I was just asking.”]
[“Yeah… we’re going to start lvl grinding soon, so …”]
Hm… I could probably ask Jo or Ane-chan to join up, but since they’re focusing on crafting right from the beginning, even if they’re Avg Lv5, there’s no way their combat Talents are at the level of the common Avg Lv5 player.
Chie is even more nope.
I look over at the Trader, who is puffing his cheeks out hopefully.
“…Sorry, they’re all busy.”
“As expected … but that’s alright, I was preparing myself to leave with no extra guards, so I am relieved at least you are traveling with us.”
Although his shoulders drop in disappointment, Jemino doesn’t seem devastated.
He really had no hope from the beginning, huh?
“Wayfarers are guides belonging to the Wayfarers’ Society. They can be hired to lead you through more dangerous zones, and are skilled in helping you survive in hostile environments.”
Jemino said so as he led me back to the wagons.
Of course I had asked about that.
Something I’m learning is that the NPCs are here to answer all your questions!
Anyway, he’s leading me over to meet the Wayfarer and give an update on their security detail.
The Wayfarer is a slight girl with dark tan skin and her guard, a skinny but broad-shouldered Nii-san.
“You found an Adventurer? At such short notice… well, that’s good too I guess…”
The Wayfarer, Aurey, peered over her tiny glasses, perched on the end of the nose. She looks me over.
Her guard sneered.
“Jemino-san, while I understand we’re desperate for help, there’s no need to employ some random person you don’t know the origin of. Especially from a single little girl like this.”
“Minas-san, saying something like that –“
Although he doesn’t know me well, Jemino-san is indignant and tries to rebuke the Wayfarer’s guard…
Maa maa, it’s ok, Ossan. This kind of development is more fun!
“Fufufu, that’s true, Nii-chan.”
I cut off Jemino-san, lightly tapping my axe on my shoulder and grinning my battle-grin.
“Alright, since this Nii-chan’s so worried, want to try me out?”
Oya, his face is cramping as my grin widens.
How rude, it’s simply a grin of excitement. I don’t know what everyone’s talking about when they say my battle-grin can chill blood.
It’s kind of depressing that it’s apparently bad enough to intimidate an NPC.
“Well, confidence itself is worth a lot. However, there are only 10 minutes left until we depart … finding a full party seems impossible.”
Minas-san averts his eyes and lets the matter drop.
No no, peace between colleagues should be preserved. It’s not like I’m completely disappointed in not being able to test my strength against a named NPC, not at all.
Although he kept making disgruntled looks in my direction, Minas didn’t say anything more.
When we depart Honeysuckle Village, we’re definitely moving at a pace slower than normal walking speed.
But well, with people(NPCs) to talk to, it doesn’t feel too bad.
About half an hour in, we saw the signs of the first prey – I mean attackers.
“Jemino-san, incoming wolf pack, about half a kilometer off and moving in fast.”
Aurey spotted them first and gave out the warning.
Hi-yo, let’s get to work!
“Ok ok, I’ll go out to meet them-!”
And off I went, ignoring Minas’s
“Oi, don’t move by yourself-!”
You want me to fight right up against the wagons? Don’t joke with me.
There’s a reason I’m bad at escort quests, you know?
And that reason is “collateral damage”.
These wolves are definitely stronger than the ones from the beginner areas!
At first they come at me with wild abandon, seeking to tear right through me to get at the caravan, but after I dodged most of their attacks and whacked off the head of the lead wolf, they skidded to a halt and warily circled me.
Even the monsters act very realistically.
There are 5 left … fufufu…
Even though they’re cooperating – no, because they’re coordinating their attacks, this is going to get fun.
5 minutes later, I return to the wagons, dragging 3 wolf corpses behind.
This wolf carcass is “Pristine”. The Trader would pay well for such a carcass.
That Quest notification kept popping up at those 3 corpses, so I decided to drag them back for Jemino.
Although I could have cancelled it and gotten more drop items, I will gratefully accept the ExP and money to make up for any potential losses I’ve taken by accepting this long-term escort quest.
“Wha – you-“
Minas spluttered in disbelief.
“Naa, Nii-chan, don’t worry about the small stuff, just help Aurey-san keep an eye out for what’s ahead, yeah?”
I just grin as he glares at me, and then walks off.
Guys like that are so much fun to mess with.
Another 20 minutes later there’s another wolf pack.
And then it was another wolf pack.
And then another …
Jeez, there’s so many!
Jemino mopped his forehead, and then said,
“Tsu- was it a bad idea to be carrying so many smoked meats?”
After the first (in-game) day of travel, 17 Wolf pelts, get!
I remove my headgear with a sigh.
I’m an embarrassment of a gamer, but 7 hours of gameplay is just too much.
I was starting to get VR sickness, so as soon as the caravan reached the first town I logged off.
Even though I could play up to 12 hours before I got nauseous in high-school…
Shit. I’m getting old.
Even though I could vent this frustration on monsters in game, there’s nothing I can beat up in the real world.
At least, not without making my mother cry.
Can’t be helped; let’s have a smoke and then tinker around in the garage.
Wiggling an unlit cigarette in my mouth up and down, I scratch my head and stretch as I come down the stairs.
The chibi’s still busy playing, huh?
Even though he should start feeling hungry in real-life soon, I don’t know if he’ll actually stop playing.
You can go afk for a few minutes to eat something, right?
Well, I’m thinking something like that, but even I didn’t stop playing until I got VR sick and logged off.
I push open our front gate to smoke as far from the windows as possible, but as I was just about to light up,
“Narumi! Good timing!”
Mother was just heading out of the shop-front.
“Nn? What’s up Mom?”
“I need to head out to right now. Can you take over the store for a few moments?”
“Eh, uh, right now?!”
“Sorry, it’s urgent!”
Mother ran off in the blink of an eye.
… Well, that’s fine. For the Mother who lets us 2 brats indulge in games like this, I don’t mind. We probably ran out of stock or something so she’s just running out to the market, I bet.
The thing is …
You know I can’t cook anything other than fried rice, right?!
We’re a cafe, right?!
Well, we’re a coffee shop/cafe, so I can at least make the coffee without trouble and dish out the pre-made pastries, but don’t blame me if we lose customers who come in for a late lunch!
Tch, but what happened to my smoking break?!
Since I already left the house and was on the streets, I didn’t bother going back through the house to reach the store and just circled around the streets, entering the shop from the entrance.
“Oh, Narumi! Another cup please?”
“Nn, got it Tanaka-san. What was it?”
“Ossu-, adding a House Blend refill to your tab.”
“Fufu, Narumi-chan, we’re not at a bar you know.”
“Oh, but it’s easier to understand if I say it that way?”
Our lively regulars, middle-aged business man Tanaka-san and the old Kobayashi couple were there as I walked in.
Our coffee is the pour-over type.
When I was really little, the image of Mother concentrating as she poured hot water over the coffee was really cool, and as an impressionable child I eagerly said something like, “I will master the way of coffee!” or some Shounen MC-like line.
Well, coffee was the only thing I learned how to make in the end.
“Narumi, aren’t you and Toru-kun busy playing that new game that came out? I’m surprised you’re not tethered to the computer still.”
Tanaka-san said with a teasing tone while I prepared him a new cup and wrote down the refill on his bill.
“Oooh, doesn’t that mean Tanaka-san is also interested in playing? Since you knew that a new game has come out?”
It’s not that uncommon for middle-aged businessmen to play VR games to unwind. Although it’s weird for middle-aged businessmen to play MMO games instead of the relaxing simulation games…
It’s weird? It’s not weird?
I’m already 22 myself, but I can’t see myself not playing MMO games in 10, 15, or 20 years, so maybe it’s not weird.
“Ahhh, I made my character already, I did, but to my dismay … I have to work on Saturday-!”
Tanaka-san pretended to bang his hand on the table, although he really only lightly tapped it.
Thank you for not damaging our shop’s furniture.
“Uwaa, thanks for your hard work.”
“Fufu, Tanaka-san, work hard, work hard.”
Kobayashi Obaa-san laughs lightly from the side. Kobayashi Ojii-chan is kind of hard of hearing, so he doesn’t talk as much, but he’s laughing quietly at the side too.
It feels like more and more older people have been getting into VR lately.
Even Kobayashi Obaa-san plays garden simulators, now that her knees can’t handle tending a real garden.
“Well, you can get started tomorrow, right? Unless you were hoping to rank, it won’t matter if you lose a day?”
“Maa, that’s true. So how is it?”
“Pretty amazing so far. The NPCs are really realistic, the quests are pretty diverse, and the map system is interesting. Right now I’m doing a kind of timed escort quest, so in about 24 hours I have to go back and play.”
“Heeeh… no wonder it’s such a big download then…”
Still swinging my unlit cigarette around in my mouth, I chat with the lively regulars while planning what to do next when I return to the small village.
[Bolstered Endurance]Lv10 (+2)
[Sharp Senses]Lv10 (+2)
[Spirit of the Wild Hunt]Lv9 (+3)
[Inheritance of the Forest Guardian]Lv6 (+1)
Avg Lv: 9
About the Game Pt5
VR sickness isn’t some sort of debilitating disease, nor is it an obsessive love for VR. Instead, it’s a nausea similar to motion sickness.
Since VR links to the senses similar to how the brain is linked to the body in real-life, at this point in technology, VR is extremely realistic and feels like you really are in your avatar’s body.
Buuut, there is still a difference.
First of all, the avatar’s body is a lot more sensitive than your real body. If that wasn’t the case, you would end up accidentally moving your real-life body a lot more instead of sitting quietly in a chair.
Second, there is still a learning curve to controlling the avatar without controlling your real-life body.
Many new VR game players will move their bodies or jitter at the beginning as they try to smoothly integrate into the system, both their real bodies and their avatars.
Only after finally becoming accustomed to it do people start really feeling like their avatars are their real bodies.
In other words, in a VR game, your real body gets left behind.
It really is having things being sent directly to your brain instead of being filtered through your body.
That difference is just enough to cause some incongruencies to build up, and thus, after some time, the player will feel queasy or nauseous.
Like motion sickness, everyone has their own level of VR sickness, and there are some who can’t stand VR at all.
This is the main reason there aren’t many people who try to throw away real-life for virtual reality.
<A/n: Thank you Dvang4 and MK for your donations!
Sorry for the delay, got super worn out… introvert who can moonlight as a pseudo-extrovert in a wedding party … sooo tired.>