Not Everything Is A Clue – Ch 16-18

Chapters 16-18: I Could Believe Everything Up Until There Was No Boner

For next week — Chapters 19-21

19. Montage!
20. Desert Course
21. Cliff Racer

Steven’s Predictions – Everything is a Clue

Worth the Candle can be read at AO3 or RoyalRoad.

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  1. I like to say i also leave points unallocated when playing an RPG, until the point i am having trouble with a certain situation, But i don’t regret it, i feel like it makes the game more fun and challenging. I feel like allocating points too soon and being overpowered is not a good way to play the game. Not sure how applicable that advice is to the story since the main goal would be survivability, and creating a challenging experience is not what the main character is shooting for.

  2. FeepingCreature

    Very minor correction: The Scroll* of Icarian Flight boosts your jump, which does control your fall damage as well. You can’t kill yourself by jumping no matter what your athleticism score is. Their limit is that they wear off after seven seconds, so if you’re still in the air at that time, your athleticism drops down to normal, and *then* you take fall damage.

    If you limit yourself to one moderate-length jump, they’re entirely usable as an early fast-travel system.

    Amusing note: If you look to the sky before you reach his location, you can see the wizard floating placidly before his fall script triggers. Luckily, players never look up.

    The description of entads really reminded me of Dwarf Fortress, where dwarves are likewise sometimes struck by sudden inspiration and work tirelessly to produce an artifact of immense value. (Of no particular special power, if simply because the game cannot simulate arbitrary powers.)

    “The Dimension Researcher is taken by a Fey Mood! The Dimension Researcher retreats to his workshop…”

  3. AAAND now I realize that one of the two comments literally talks about “Strange Moods” and my reading comprehension sucks, but I typed out all of this so I’m going to post this unaltered anyways.

    I am actually reading along with the podcast on this one, unlike with HPMoR and Metropolitan Man, which is why I am commenting here on an old episode, as this is where I am read up to. I don’t know whether I will be able to muster the self control to not read ahead once I am caught up, but for the moment I will try. I just cannot keep my mouth shut on this until I am all caught up.

    If someone else already told you between this episode and now that artifact creation is likely a Dwarf Fortress reference, feel free to ignore this, but it was driving me insane every time you passed over the references without recognition, and nobody on your discord or here seems to have told you up until this episode(ignore this, I suck at reading)

    Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress sometimes randomly get so called “Strange Moods”, where they kind of get possessed with the desperate need to create some kind of masterwork artifact. They will stop at nothing to acquire their materials and will ignore everyone and everything until they have finished, to the point that if they can’t get all their materials they either go insane or just starve to death.

    The result is then always an artifact of the highest quality possible, a legendary artifact, with a procedurally generated description, which is often surreal and hilarious (famously, there is an artifact produced due to a bug that was decorated with a depiction of literally everything that ever happened in in-game history and everything that exists therein, including a full and detailed description of itself, which recursively includes its self description.) Dwarves will often make artifacts this way which are impossible to recreate with normal means and often involve a level of skill far beyond their own comprehension.

    Also, the jokes about Elves eating people that Fenn makes are also straight from Dwarf Fortress and the DF community. The Elven civilizations there do not have cultural taboos about eating sentient beings if they are enemies in combat and enraged elves will often jump straight on a fallen enemy in rage and start devouring them, even if they are are still alive. I might be wrong, but the weird cannibal thing was independently invented by the creators of DF and I have never heard of another universe with elves that devour other people, so I think this has to be a DF reference. So I was already expecting some further DF references after the cannibal jokes, but this description of the artifact creation process could be a description of “strange moods” with almost no alterations. The only difference is that dwarves don’t make items with unique magical effects, their unique artifacts are just supernaturally durable and supernaturally good at hurting people if they are weapons or traps. Not being strongly magical, they also don’t have a bloodline of people who get exclusive use, though dwarves do consider them heirlooms of the bloodline that created the artifact.

    I just checked to make sure, looking at the languages of Dwarf Fortress for possible Etymologies of “Entad”, and found that in the Human language, “En” means Legend and “Tad” means “to start”, so an Entad could be something like “Legendstarter”. Since they are called “legendary artifacts” to the players in that game, a unique magical sword could make the wearer into a legendary knight, thus “starting” their legend. But lets be honest, this at least is probably just be a weird conincidence. If Alexander had really gone as far as to use an in-universe dwarf fortress term, he would have probably gone with something more straight forewards. Then again, he might not, people in DF are exceptionally weird about naming things, with infamous fortresses like “Boatmurdered” being among the examples on the more coherent side of translatability to English. Depending on how much of a DF nerd he is, this might be intentional.

    All that aside, all the strange anthropomorphic animal people are certainly not unique to DF, but also just fit straight in, just alongside the demon wing lady (necromancer experiments). There are a lot of strange fellows running around in DF.

    Even the necrotic field in the exclusion zone sounds just like what happens in certain types of evil biomes, where anything and everything that dies rises again as some kind of undead (including half butchered animals in your butcher workshops). I think you can destroy the warding stones that keep evil auras at bay in Adventure Mode, leading to sudden expansions of these necrotic fields, and of course a necromancer lab can also sometimes cause that after world generation, if I remember right.

    Honestly, at this point I would not be surprised if we saw a forgotten beast later on. One of those would be very much in line with whatever horrible stuff Juniper is afraid of encountering. I’m also keeping my eyes peeled for any info on the dwarves here. I’m just waiting for a dwarven baby already drinking alcoholic beverages or for a dwarf to break out into weird interpretative dance. DF dwarves are just so fucking strange that it should be easy to recognize if their behaviours/cultures are influenced by DF. Also, really really strange “Were-creatures” like Weremamoths, Werehyenas or Wereorcas would be a dead giveaway.

    Now that i have read chapter 18, my strange headcannon is that this is all just a fanfiction set in an expanded Dwarf Fortress universe, whith the table top references as a veneer on top so Alexander can hide that this is just an AAR of his “Adventure Mode” playthrough.

    At the very least I think that it is highly unlikely that cannibal elves and strange moods aren’t a DF reference. Both in isolation, maybe, but not both so close together.

    It would fit if it was, though. Dwarf Fortress is always a big talking point when it comes to “emergent storytelling”, where sufficiently complex game mechanics and an open sandboxy world result in the player finding their own fun and finding their own stories in the chaos. Players also often use the events that happen in their games to construct coherent narratives where no intended story exists, with many people writing out the stories they found, drawing comics, or stuff like that. Tarn Adams, Co-Creator of DF, once said that there are probably more people who read those stories than people who can even manage to play the game, and that he always considers those readers of the retold emergent stories to be the real “players” of Dwarf Fortress, with those running the game being more of a creator than a player.

    I think that would tie in really neatly with how the tabletop and storytelling themes of the novel could develop in the future, with Juniper having to find his own purpose, his own stories, with any coherent “main story” only existing in the tutorial. At least that is a direction in which I can see the story developing.

    Well, with all that out of the way, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy the podcast. I just happened to need to redownload a corrupted audio file when I wanted to relisten to HPMoR, right around when Steven and Brian started their journey, and just happened to spot it on here. I was immediately stoked, because I just unreasonably love this podcast format of the one in the know and the unspoiled. I just loved it ever since I found the “Unspoiled Podcast” when I started reading the Dresden Files and just could not continue reading without hearing some spoiler safe discussion of the extremely offputting sexism of the first two novels.

    I am especially stoked because this is actually the first time I found such a podcast with people I actually want to listen to who also discuss a great source material that I hadn’t read yet, so thanks for introducing me to this story.

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