Chapter 24: Mysterious Letter-Black
“A’ight, Goya, first give me the news.”
I squat down next to the player swathed in black cloth, with two hamster ears poking out of the top of his headwrap.
Ah, I see. That’s why he’s wearing those baggy pants, to give him a more hamster-like look.
Goya, the hamster (for some reason), ‘black market’ player is my contact for buying, selling, and information about the current player trends.
I’ve been going to him for about 3 different games now.
Nn? Why don’t I go ask the Chibi if I want news about the current player trends?
Because Chibi only cares about information on the players in the top 10%, no, probably like, top 5%.
No, if you want the information around town, a player who decides to be a merchant is way more convenient, since they’re more worried about what the middle… 60% or so of players are currently wanting.
And Goya’s really good at what he does.
Or, put another way, Goya has a talent for catching the scent of a new selling opportunity.
The type of guy your guts would go queasy with jealousy over, because he always seems to be in just the right place at just the right time to make a ton of money.
Maa, Goya’s a hardcore roleplayer, so he never lets on what he does for money so that he can play almost all day, everyday, so I don’t know if his talents extend into the real world. Even though he claims he hates real-money transactions, I wonder if that’s really the case sometimes…
Anyway, Goya and I have a kind of mutually beneficial relationship, where I get information and help selling stuff, and he cheats me out of a few hundred gold each time.
Since I always come out in the green, I just think of it as a consulting fee when I deal with Goya.
“Well now, Naru-han, what kinda news are ya lookin’ for?”
“Oh, you know, just what’s been spreading around among the players.”
“Hm… the most interestin’ thing is yer playthrough on Hallow’s Eve. Everyone wants to meet ya, hahaha! Well, all the people who never heard of ya before, anyway. Everyone else just shook their heads and said, ‘Naru-han’s at it again.’”
Ah. Oh yeah. That happened. It felt like forever ago.
Goya continued, ignoring my ‘Oh yeah’ look on my face.
“Fumyu… let’s see… ya dropped out of first place on level and BR. Ya have to get better armor, Naru-han. That’s still Beginner’s Armor, yeah? Everyone’s –“
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I got to go over and talk to Chie about that, I guess…”
“Ooooohoho! Ya know that Tailor Crafter, huh? If ya could introduce me to her…”
“I doubt she’d go into business with you, Goya.”
“No no! That ain’t it! I want to be a black market dealer who masquerades as a merchant magnate! I want her to design me clothes that look like a stuck-up noble’s!”
… Nice to see you’re setting modest goals, Goya.
“Ooh, I almost forgot. Little Brother-kun is neck and neck with Baldro-han for establishin’ the first guild in the game.”
“Little Brother-kun… Toru is?”
“Yep, that’s right. It sounds like a huge pain, actually, to get a guild runnin’ in this game here. The Duke of this region has to give it the go-ahead, but to do that, ya have to get high reputation in all of those towns. That means the north, south, east, and west beginner villages as well as Karolstrem. And it seems ya have to do some chain of quests… iyaa, I assume Little Brother-kun will post the process after he gets it all goin’, but the rumors have it that Baldro-han and Little Brother-kun are the closest to finishin’ the process.”
“Eeeeh. I never heard any of this. Then that Chibi doesn’t have time to be mucking around with my stuff. Why didn’t he tell me?”
I grumble, half to myself and half to Goya.
“Oohohoho, of course he ain’t goin’ to tell ya. After yer Hallow’s Eve playthrough, that loudmouth, Kuroski, was all up in his face. ‘You only get this far ‘cause you’re a wimp who has to run to your sister for everything!’ And sayin’ all that kind of stuff. Iyaa, it was through voice chat, though.”
As always, Goya’s mimicry is amazing. His Osaka-ben disappears somewhere… I wonder if that accent is real or roleplay sometimes.
So Kuroski is still following Baldro’s ass around, acting all tough because he knows Baldro, but he’s a weakling himself.
Nah, he’s not really that weak, though. Just bad at actual combat. A perfect example of a Waste of Stats (WoS) – the avatar is built impeccably, with the best optimization, but as the person himself is a klutz, the best armor and Talents look like they’re wasted on him.
He might be able to work with the stat differences with normie players, but they’re complete shit against me, hahaha! And so he holds a grudge …
… Uwah. Don’t tell me, because he can’t beat me, he’s taking it out on Toru.
Maybe I should go hunt him out and beat that wuss three parts to the grave.
“Iyaa, Naru-han, you’re makin’ yer murder face. It’d be best if ya let Little Brother-kun fight his own battles. That’d be why he didn’t tell ya, right?”
“Haaah-? Who said I want to help the Chibi out? I just felt like rubbing that little bitch’s face in the dirt for fun.”
Goya just laughed a feeble, “Ohohoho…” and left it at that.
Yeah, yeah, I get it. If I come in and beat that bastard up, he’ll just yell even louder afterwards, so the best idea would be for me to stay out of it.
Well, that just means I won’t go hunting for him. If he happens to cross my path though, I might just whoop him for the hell of it.
But Toru, you’re really going to take that idiot seriously? Toru’s too sensitive sometimes.
In the world of top players, it’s common sense to take advantage of everything you can to get ahead, even if it’s your sister.
Hm. His rebellious stage?
“… Well, enough about the top players. What else is going on?”
I decide to switch the topic.
“Fumyu. Let’s see… Have ya heard about the Player Mission Board?”
No. What’s that?
My face must have conveyed that, because Goya nods and explains.
“I see, I see. There’s the Mission Board in the town square near the Mailbox, right?”
What’s that? First I’d heard of it – maa, I can kind of figure out what it is just by hearing the name, though.
“On the other side of that is the Player Mission Board. Instead of NPC’s quests like the Mission Board, Player’s can put up their own quests for other players to complete.”
“Hooooh… Now that is interesting. How does it work?”
“Ya have several categories that have standardized forms to fill out. Like, collection quests have a list of stuff ya choose from, a quantity to fill in, and the reward you’re givin’. Escort quests got a time limit, the target to protect, and the reward you’re givin’. That kinda thing. Lessee, there’s Collection Quests, Escort Quests, and Hirin’ Party Member Quests. That last one’s just for party quests only.”
“Eeeh. That’s kind of limited. No information gathering or crafting request type stuff?”
“Iyaa, ya have to think of it the right way, Naru-han. Ya don’t want a billion notices of stuff that’s hard to sort through. With the limited categories and the standardized way of makin’ the quests, ya can filter the quests to find what you’re lookin’ for in a flash. What information, what kind of item do they want ya to make … that would only be a nightmare to look through. I’ve been hearin’ from the crafters that the craftin’ system is so open, that even if the game was to judge the item ya made as completin’ the quest, the customer might not be happy with it. Iyaa, that’s somethin’ I have to ask more about, so I ain’t goin’ to run my mouth on it.”
“Ah, I see. But what about scammers? Like if they won’t give the reward at the end or something.”
“The reward is removed from yer inventory and attached to the quest when ya create the quest, supposedly.”
I see. I might check it out later… nah. At this point in time, the stuff is probably all pretty low-level stuff. Maybe a few weeks from now.
“Right now the player-made quests are probably all Escort or Party Member Quests. People are just now startin’ to look for help to do the caravan escort quest that heads out of the eastern startin’ village.”
“I see… so the average player is heading out towards Nortius, huh?”
“Iyaa, no, no. The average player is just startin’ to think about headin’ to Nortius. The top players have begun, though.”
Un. I got out of there in the nick of time.
“The problem is, some players have died already tryin’ to make it Nortius without the caravan, and people are nervous about the Thirst and Hunger effects that start croppin’ up. Iyaa… I’m concerned, too… about how best to make their preparations!”
Goya’s eyes twinkle with the lust for profit.
“Right. I have some tips for that, but next I want to know about some items I have.”
I watch Goya’s eyes carefully as I say that.
Somehow, I just know he’s making a smug grin under that face wrap.
I can’t blame him. He knows me too well, so it’s obvious that he expected me to know something about traveling east. This conversation, after all, is about both of us trying to get as much as we can out of the other.
In other words, before was just shooting the breeze … Now we’re getting down to business.
“Oohoho, don’t ya think ya owe me somethin’ for what we’ve been talkin’ about?”
“No no, that’s stuff I could have found out on my own, don’t you think?”
“Ohoho, iyaa… Naru-han, you’re goin’ to make me work for free? I don’t think that’s fair.”
“Hey, if you don’t want to, it doesn’t mean anything to me to go look for someone else to appraise something like this. I just came to you because I thought you’d be interested…”
“Uwoooh-! Hoho …ho … now, now, let’s not be hasty, there.”
Goya’s eyes shown greedily as he looked at the black envelope I flashed in front of him.
It seems like he recognizes it – and it’s something he wants. Although it’s just that Mysterious Letter-Black… Strange, Goya’s usually a lot more subtle about the things he’s looking for. Just what is this letter?
“Right. Naru-han, what do ya plan on doin’ with that letter?”
“I dunno. Why don’t you tell me what it is, first?”
“Gnununu… I suppose I have to level flat with ya. That letter is known as a Black Letter. It’s an order letter from the Dark Guild. Seein’ as ya got one, ya probably already know it’s a drop from a random encounter from Time-Limited Quests.”
Un. No idea what’s a Time-Limited Quest, but I assume I miss a lot since I always skim the Quest Log information. Anyway, the caravan escort was time dependent, so I kind of understand.
“So, ya also probably noticed that ya can take it to either to the guards or if the target was associated with a faction, ya can take it to them. The problem is, you’re not told what will happen dependin’ on if ya take it to them. You’re also not told that ya can take it to the Dark Guild.”
“Hm. I was right to come to you before I did anything, huh? So, what will happen?”
Goya rocks back and forth in agony.
As amusing as it is to watch a hamster beastkin writhe in frustration, the talk can’t proceed if he’s like this.
“Ah, just spill it, Goya. I can’t decide anything if you waffle like this.”
“…Fu… I get it, I get it.”
Goya takes a deep breath and then says,
“That’s a Quest Item to get into the Dark Guild. If ya turn it into the guards or other faction, you’re only goin’ to get some money and small increase in that faction’s reputation, and a medium decrease with the Dark Guild. By the way, if yer standin’ drops too much with any faction, ya get hunted by them, and from the NPCs, I hear that it’s the worst to get hunted by the Dark Guild, since ya don’t know who could be in it.”
“Uwaah… that does sound bad. Guess I don’t want to get on their bad side. And if you join the Dark Guild with that letter?”
“Instant reputation gain to Initiate, if ya deal with the NPCs the right way. Eventually there’s bonuses to stealth, but ya have to do quests for them to preserve yer standing, and that will put ya at odds with the guards and other factions.”
As I thought. I don’t want to join the Dark Guild in particular, though I’ll raise my reputation with them if I don’t have to join them. I’ll pass on bringing the letter to the Dark Guild.
As for this letter …. although it would probably take quite a bit of reputation decrease before they sent out hitmen after me, if I don’t have to turn the letter in to any other factions, I’d rather not. It’s best to avoid decreasing my reputation with the Dark Guild even a little bit, just in case there are tougher decisions to make in more important quests.
This letter will probably sit in my Item Box as fertilizer … if I use it myself.
“So tell me, Goya, what would a merchant like you get out of it?”
I grin at him.
“Fumyu. Yes, I admit it. I want that badly, and those things don’t show up often. I think that’s the first one I’ve actually seen, anywhere. For people who want to join the Dark Guild… I can’t even imagine the price you’d get if ya auctioned it off. Though I wouldn’t deal with it myself, I bet ya could get at least a couple of ten-thousands of yen for that, if ya put it on a real money auction site.”
“…Yeah, but somehow I think you’re going to want to use it. The Goya I know wouldn’t ever tell me straight up the value of something.”
The hamster sighed and curled in on himself.
“Naru-han… this is still a new game, yeah? There’s a lot I still don’t know … alright, alright, I get it. There’s a chance ya can be a Dark Guild merchant, and ya can be a fence.”
Aaah. There it is.
Goya… with his black market roleplay, he probably wants this so badly he’d attack me for it, if he had any assurances of actually being able to get it to drop.
And, y’know, if he had any hope at all of being able to PK me. (He doesn’t, by the way. Even if I don’t know what Talents he took, I know he can’t do that.)
For me, I don’t need the letter, and no one else I know would want it as bad as Goya. Knowing Toru, he’d start working with the Dark Guild out of curiosity, then get tired of doing things that would make the guards attack him. Although I don’t know exactly how that will work.
Point is, if I was going to give it to anyone, I’d give it to Goya. But it’s no FUN just doing things like that. And like Goya said, I would get a ton of money, gold or otherwise, if I auctioned it off right now, before people can easily do those quests that would drop them…
“It won’t be worth auctioning in-game, huh? Since right now no one has more than 10 gold… So it should be a real-money auction after all.”
Uwah. He actually looks like he wants to cry.
“You know that you can’t actually offer me anything worth the value of the letter, right?”
“But ya know I always pay my debts in the end.”
I laugh at his eagerness.
“That’s true. Maa, it would be beneficial for me, too, to have a Dark Guild informer, huh? How much gold would you give for it?”
“5 gold. I only have 7.”
I flip open the trade window, but Goya cancels it.
“Hang on, let me do it. I’ll gain ExP in [Merchant] if I initiate it.”
“…There’s a [Merchant] Talent?”
“Ya have to get it from a quest chain. I sold so much fish… would have been nice if they didn’t make the scent so realistic…”
Goya grumbled as he opened the trade window.
I put in the Mysterious Letter-Black, and he put in 5 gold. We both confirmed the transaction, and then Goya danced around the little alleyway with the letter.
“I think I was gettin’ ulcers, thinkin’ about when I would get this, but to get it so soon-!”
Greedier people probably wouldn’t have sold it to him and just gone with the real-money auction, but I dunno. Getting rich quick is definitely appealing, but … I’d rather sell it to someone I know.
Do I still regret it a little?
Yeah, just a bit, but this way isn’t so bad either. At least I don’t have to deal with a rabid hamster who would probably hate me for the rest of my gaming life. Instead, now he owes me … a lot.
Yup, selling it to Goya is going to be worth it in the end.
As he’s still capering around, I just smile a bit, and say,
“Hey, Goya, I still have business with you, you know…”
The Dark Guild
The Dark Guild is a joinable faction for thieves, assassins, and the various people who support them. There are many NPCs who live a double life as being Dark Guild agents – although you would never know it.
As a joinable faction (non-joinable factions have a different tier set), the Reputation tiers are as follows:
ENEMY: -20,000 and below
You are actively hunted by the members of this faction, and attackers may be sent out periodically after you. It is possible to be attacked on sight by NPCs associated with this faction regardless of location.
No NPCs associated with this faction will deal with you on matters regarding this faction, and there is a chance they will not deal with you at all on any other matters.
It will take a lot of effort or a huge favor done to be able to start gaining positive reputation with this faction again.
OUTSIDER: -19,999 to -1
It is possible to be attacked on sight when in the territories of this faction.
Very few NPCs associated with this faction will deal with you on matters regarding this faction. They may be rude if you continue to try to get this kind of information, and forcibly disengage conversation.
Positive reputation gained will be at a reduced rate.
STRANGER: 0 to 999
There is no chance for attacks, but most NPCs associated with this faction will not deal with you on matters regarding this faction.
*Additionally, for the Dark Guild, many NPCs associated with this faction will not let on that they are associated with the Dark Guild, and may even mislead you.
There will be moderate opportunities to gain positive reputation with this faction.
ASSOCIATE: 1,000 to 49,999
You are beginning to be recognized by some NPCs associated with this faction, and they MAY introduce you towards others in this faction.
*Additionally, for the Dark Guild, you can begin to unlock repeatable quests. The quest contents depend on whether you want to be a Fence (merchant playstyle), Muscle (intimidation/abduction/guard playstyle), Assassin (er… assassin playstyle), Thief (pickpocket/stealing/planting playstyle), or Forger (crafting/swindler playstyle). There is a little bit of everything for everyone, and it is possible to select more than one type of quest.
Even though it is easy to gain positive reputation from this tier, it will take a long time to progress from this tier in the Dark Guild (this varies in other joinable factions).
However, for the Dark Guild, it is possible to have a profitable relationship with them even by remaining in this tier, and depending on your gameplay, it may not be recommended to progress to the next tier. If you do not choose to progress, you will gain a small, random prize for every 10,000 increase in faction standing past 50,000.
TRUSTED: 50,000 and up
You are able to begin the process to officially join this faction and you will begin the journey that will have ordinary NPCs associating your name with this faction.
You can begin the quest to become an Initiate, and your reputation tier switches to become your factions’ ranking tier. (Initiate/Apprentice/Expert/Artisan)
*Warning: In the Dark Guild, you must complete a quest to become Trusted, AND a quest to become an Initiate. Becoming Trusted will switch on a mode that causes guards to have a small percent chance of becoming suspicious – or worse – of you when you are on a Dark Guild quest (that means, it is active in your Quest Log, even if you are not actually doing the quest). Although it can be solved with persuasion (which is not reliant on stats), bribes, running away, or any other creative ways you can think of, and although it will not (generally) result in getting arrested, it is still something to be wary of, for those who wanted to maintain an appearance of a law-abiding citizen.
After completing the Initiate quest, as you climb the ranks of the ranking tier you may begin to automatically turn certain other factions hostile towards you, and trigger greater chances that guards may arrest you on sight. (Of course, there are secret Guild skills (passives) in certain questlines if you try to do certain things in certain ways and initiate certain dialogue options, that can minimize this effect…)
As you can see, the Mysterious Letter – Black is a cheat item that jumps you straight to the Dark Guild’s Initiate quest… Since he only heard about how it makes you an Initiate from wheedling the information out of NPCs, Goya doesn’t realize exactly how valuable it is – and exactly HOW rare it is. Unfortunately, no one really knows exactly how the Dark Guild’s reputation system works right now.
(Goya is too aware of Narumi’s influence, so he doesn’t try to scam her too much. This time, it really was an accident on his part.)
Mysterious Letter – Black serves as an introduction straight out of STRANGER, and starts a unique questline that allows you to blitz through ACQUAINTANCE as you progress the questline, ending in the Initiate/Trusted quest all rolled into one.
As the Dark Guild was designed to be especially difficult to reach TRUSTED, (and actually, it was designed to maximize the benefits of being associated with a shady organization within ACQUAINTANCE), the Mysterious Letter – Black is an item designed specifically for people who were deadset on playing on the wrong side of the law from the beginning.
If Narumi sold it now, before people realize exactly how different the reputation system is, she wouldn’t get nearly as much, compared to if she held onto it until this information becomes widespread.
By the way, everyone starts out with a Reputation of 0 with the Dark Guild, even if your Origin Story has you as a thief or assassin. You will not start out negative even if you come from a law-making background.
How you deal with your Unique Instance can give you a boost, most obviously by killing the essential NPC quest giver, for +500 Reputation. There are other ways, but they are convoluted and more difficult, with the added bonus of giving less than 50 Reputation.
And, the Dark Guild is by far one of the nastier factions to become an ENEMY to. The main reason is because it is difficult – to near impossible – to determine which NPCs belong to it, as well as which ‘territories’ actually belong to it.
It is difficult to run when you don’t know where you can go, or who won’t stab you in the back.
NEW Char Profiles:
<A/n: Thanks Raist and anonymous for your donations!
Goya is my new favorite character. I redid all the images, because I have a better idea of their characters now… I kinda started OriginStory suddenly, so tbh, I probably shouldn’t have published the images until I had a better grasp of the characters… oh well. I tried to give Toru a similar nose and facial structure as Naru, just smaller face, but it turned him into a kind of pretty boy… sorry Toru. It’s kind of funny, because as I was going back through the character details, Naru and Toru really are similar in some strange places. Although Toru went with a shade deeper for both, both Naru and Toru chose gray-ish hair and yellow-ish eyes, lol. Changed Naru’s (eventual) armor because I nixed the game crafting mechanism that made it.
There is another Cursed chap>