Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Liaison
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Liaison Passive Aggressor

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The Palace of Oerelle

Standing proudly amidst the impassably dense forest of Saullies, a spire, a brutalist monolith caressed waist down by frozen outstretching thorned vines closer in size to Kraken's tendrils reigned. It left its everlasting impression on the earth after a great chilling force cursed the lands, freeze-framing the magical forest which even after decades of changing seasons, failed to reclaim its lushness. The oppressive, grating exterior of the Palace of Oerelle could only be seen from the eye of the storm shielding it. Only then did the blood-slushing cold take its knee off your neck. That is, if you survive a frost so devastating it leaves the most fiery spirits rock-solid.

Upon entry, your eyes are baptized with the views hidden from the prying eyes of the outside world. A palace within a palace. A vast atrium bathed in an otherworldly glow of sky blue and pristine white bleaching the concrete. Inside, the air was thick with an eerie stillness. The lively whispers of the wind echoed throughout its halls until they withered into whistles sounding like brief instances of child-like chittering.

Wherever there appeared to be glass proved to be crystal clear sheets of ice, the walls were decorated with immeasurably tall mirrors adorned with intricate carvings with delicate filigree and elaborate ice-glazed frescoes—ones depicting mysterious beings with jumbled mosaic faces obscured by frost.

Venturing deeper into the palace, if it wasn't clear, this was no ordinary abode. A light, untracking snow lightly peppered every corridor. Crystal ice mirrors distorted reality, reflecting twisted images of your reflection and passageways to unknown domains. Staircases spiral off in seemingly random directions, defying logic and gravity in an Escher-esque manner.

It was equal parts beautiful as it was terrifying. The unmistakable stench of a great tragedy nestled itself into every slight draft felt. bones to a chill. Something profound was buried deep within, but forces kept ventures at odds, dilating time and space on unprovoked whims. Hours often stretched into eternity, and corridors shift and turn like Rubix cubes unexpectedly, damning you further into its labyrinthine depths of the unknown.

The conundrum is whether this place has had a ruler or even an heir. Many speculate a vengeful spirit, trapped within the confines of its creation wanders the halls, while others believe it's the lair of a powerful warlock whose power is somewhere buried inside and for the taking.

Hidden 3 mos ago Post by L0nginus
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L0nginus Drachentötter

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Good luck!
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Alucroas
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Alucroas The Raging Singularity

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Whoops, wrong part to throw my post in
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Matt Nada

Matt Nada

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Hi, I'm Matt. I used to judge tournaments seasonally for the GT League, and I've been engaged by Alucroas, Longinus, and Lest to judge this topic and assign a winner. I'm posting here instead of in discord at GM Lest's request.

As this is a no restrictions contest that does not require GM approved character profiles, I will be judging only on the logical progression of the fight as a fight. I am assessing whether or not actions taken are justified internally through proper set up via a good faith introduction of each character's capabilities, and whether or not the characters as presented are properly motivated through roleplay, and not functioning solely as mouthpieces for their writers. I will not be relying on any prior knowledge of either character and their capabilities, nor am I relying on any additional supporting material outlining character abilities or player intent that is not contained within this thread. I will not be making any notes on the literary style or the technical proficiency of either player as a writer, though we can talk about that later if anyone wants advice.

I've identified three primary contests between Alucroas (playing as the dragon, Zucroas) and Longinus (playing as a shadowy, amorphous, malevolence interacting with the fight in the form of Kintar) that will decide the outcome of this fight. 1) A clash between Kintar's reflections and Zucroas' lightning serpent attack. 2) The effect and potency of a “psy-flame” attack that Kintar is using to attack Zucroas' mind. 3) A direct physical clash between Zucroas and Kintar herself.

I'm going to run through each of these and assess how they shape the overall narrative of the fight.

Skip ahead if you don't want my notes.

1) The first proper exchange begins with Kintar taking command of all reflective surfaces in the arena, casting her reflection (but not that of Zucroas, or anything else) within each mirror. Zucroas responds by immediately using some kind of binding ability that manifests as red light to fix each reflection so that they will take direct damage, and charging up an attack of “lightning serpents” to kill them. It's not always clear whether he envisions these as actual literal lightning shaped into the form of snakes, or if they're summoned creatures that bare the elemental attribute of lightning.

It's a bit strange on its face that Zucroas just launches into that immediately, but Alucroas notes that Zucroas is unsettled by the evil presence in the arena, so I can accept that maybe he just had bad vibes and wanted to play it safe. I take some issue with Alucroas decision to backtrack, however, in presenting this attack as taking place throughout the entirety of Longinus' post. Had this been happening all along, Kintar—who stands in a hall of mirrors—would clearly have noticed this all happening. And it just isn't really necessary, she had not taken any offensive action against Zucroas at this point.

As part of a generalized defense, Longinus has the lightning snakes (after they bite the reflections) drawn through a vortex into Kintar's shadow realm to be negated. Alucroas responds by having the snakes open up a connection to an astral realm of chaos and cover themselves in a defensive energy membrane that will shield them from damage, while also counteracting and defeating the foreign energies of the vortex. And at the same time they start emitting a mist that has the same binding powers as the red light from earlier.

This does not seem credible to me. I do not object to Zucroas unveiling this capability, but it strains suspension of disbelief to accept that he just had it prepped and ready to go by default. It would have been better to just accept the loss of the lightning serpents, and then try again with a second attack, this time hardened against Kintar's abilities.

We next find out that Kintar's shadow realm was just hell all along, and that Zucroas' amplified lightning serpents will just fly around obliterating countless damned souls, reducing them to “entropic slime” which is gradually absorbed by the other damned, and so on, until the the snakes are eventually crushed. We're really just lost in the weeds this point, with this attack chain.

I accept that Kintar's abyss is just hell. There's nothing to say it isn't. But, once we know it's just hell, why continue with these snakes? Do a bunch of snakes flying around hell destroying souls pose a meaningful threat to Kintar? Does Zucroas have anything to gain by keeping them alive? I think you're both continuing just for the sake of it, for fear of looking like you didn't get the best of an exchange.

Next Zucroas redirects one of Kintar's attacks (the swords I'll talk about later) into hell, combines it with all of the ley-line controlling red dust his snakes were emitting (which I will also talk about later), and after absorbing more power from the chaos dimensions he invoked earlier, uses it to collapse and destroy hell. That seems to go too far, and shouldn't stand as more than the wishful explanation of what Zucroas is attempting to do. The aftershocks of the attack on hell feed back into Kintar's reflections, essentially hitting them from the other side, which does, at least, seem more plausible.

2) As part of Kintar's ability to command her own reflection, she takes control of her image within Zucroas eyes and transforms it into a “psy-flame” that is intended to “to boil away his psyche” afflicting him with “ego death.” Here, I believe Longinus was very clear that this is neither real physical fire, nor does it constitute a psychic attack in the conventional sense. It is essentially a spell that deals psychic damage instead of physical damage, and is not a dependent extension of Kintar's own mind.

However, I suspect the wording “Its caress made to boil away his psyche, all the way down to his instincts, leaving the creature a hollow, empty existence. A perfect thing to be remade as she saw fit” has led Alucroas to misapprehend this as a traditional psychic attack, mind to mind, particularly due to the implication that she will “remake” him. He reacts to the “psy-flame” as though Kintar has attempted to enter Zucroas mind through his eyes, and is now engaging him in psychic combat.

I don't think this is a fatal blunder though. We see Zucroas taking a few actions, going on to detail an elaborate mental landscape to serve as their battlefield, and using his red light power on himself to strengthen his resistance to psychic attacks. I think this reads as Zucroas trying to kitchen sink his way out of danger from an attack he does not fully understand. Nothing he's done so far could defeat the psy-flame, but it makes sense these broad defenses would slow it down and give him time to feel out what's happening.

And Longinus accepts that, allowing that the defense will slow the psy-flame for a while, before just failing once the flame has built up sufficient intensity, which I think is fair enough. But he also has some aspect of Kintar's spirit manifest within Zucroas' mental landscape, and engage him on the terms Alucroas' post had proposed. It evidently feeds on the sin of wrath, growing stronger the more wrathful Zucroas becomes, until acquiring the influence needed to shut off his nervous system.

I think Longinus made his own tactical error here. To this point, Zucroas has not mounted an effective defense against the psy-flame, treating it instead as a mental tug-of-war. Why give him one, instead of just letting the flame continue to burn, until he finds a way to stop it? I also don't really buy Zucroas as being particularly “wrathful” in his actions. He didn't like Kintar's vibes, and attacked. It seems reasonable considering her shadow was evidently hell itself.

Alucroas next seems to treat the psy-flame as though it has either dissipated already, or that it has transformed into Kintar's mental construct, continuing to misunderstand it. From Longinus' previous post these were two separate attacks entirely; the mental construct was created from Zucroas' resistance, and not from the psy-flame.

As Kintar feasts on his wrath to empower herself, Zucroas fends her off with what is basically the power of love, thinking back to the bonds of brotherhood he formed with his counterparts. He then reshapes his mental landscape into an endless oceanic abyss, and drowns Kintar's projection in it while throwing all of his red mist and lightning serpent attacks against her.

This I accept as a valid response to the Kintar apparition. But because of how the psy-flame has been described, I have to treat it as though it is still burning away his mind without having been, as yet, directly contested. At best, all of the red mist ley-line power that Zucroas is flinging around could constitute an incomplete partial defense, as it's being directed at his own mind, and as Longinus has conceded that these powers should possess at least some ability to restrain the psy-flame.

Meanwhile I have a larger problem with Longinus' final word on the psy-flame/mental battle aspect of the fight, wherein he presents that Zucroas is merely lying to himself about his motivations and emotions, has failed to master his rage, and is swiftly overwhelmed and defeated by the attack on his nervous system. Far be it for me to question whether the devil could negate the power of love, but I think it's generally inappropriate to write your opponent's character for them in this manner. Alucroas is the only person who really gets to decide what Zucroas thinks and feels, regardless of how credible the motivations he assigns may seem.

3) And lastly we have the direct clash. Zucroas charges up his big dragon breath attack, and Longinus accepts the attack and allows Kintar to fall to the ground electrocuted. Here we receive the first very clear implication that Kintar is only a marionette, and that the real character is her shadow (or whatever is inside of it), when it grows eyes and starts swallowing the lightning. Evil fluids start pooling around her body, covering the arena, to extend her shadow's event horizon, and Zucroas then jumps away from them while powering up his lightning and imbuing it with his red light binding power, so that it will burn away the shadow and give him a clear path to Kintar. He covers himself in more of that astral chaos membrane for protection, coats his natural weapons in his red mist, and charges in at Kintar's prone body.

I'm not sure Alucroas understood here that his real opponent was not Kintar, the woman, but was actually Kintar, the evil vibes clouding the arena. Nevertheless, I can accept that Zucroas just doesn't really know what he's fighting, and is just trying things out. Longinus, I think you run into problems where you throw a lot of unnecessary adverbs into your prose, to the point where it is not always obvious whether you are offering up a poetical metaphor, versus stating directly what is actually literally happening.

Kintar then puppets herself out of the way of the breath attack, and the puddle of evil fluids is vaporized into magical mist that absorbs all of the lingering lightning. As Zucroas charges in, the energy of his lightning is returned upon him. Kintar continues to puppet her body, pulling herself upright, and unfurls the ornaments she was wearing in her hair, now revealed to be swords. She stabs Zucroas in the skull with four of them, and uses the other two to slice him opened.

Zucroas defends against the electric discharge with a combination of the membrane he'd covered himself in earlier, and also his red particles. We find out that the red particles were actually teeny tiny little dragon robots all along, and that they not only share all of his powers, but also control the red light ley-line power. This sounds incredibly nutty when you read the post, but the red particles were in the first post of the thread, and the ley-lines have received considerable description before this point.

So I think its nuts, but I also think it's fair to treat it the same way as finding out that Kintar's shadow was hell the whole time. “Tiny dragons” makes about as much sense as an explanation for the red mist as anything else. It can be allowed because as with Kintar's shadow, we already knew Zucroas had this power, we just didn't know what it was or how exactly it worked.

The tiny dragon robots analyze the blood mist as Zucroas charges through it, while also using their ley-lines to try to push Kintar's shadow away. The dragon shoots by Kintar's body as she dodges, then makes a handbreak turn with his tail. He uses his tiny dragons to catch Kintar's swords and throw them into hell. He charges again.

And finally, Longinus writes that the draco machines have become infected by general exposure to Kintar's corrupting aura, and that the very act of analyzing her has opened each machine up to “[the] Daemon” in the same way that instigating psychic combat opened Zucroas to Kintar manifesting in his mind. I think this is all fair. The energy absorbed by the blood mist earlier continuing to release, and reaching some kind of critical mass with the corrupted machines, is a fitting continuation of the previous posts. What I'm less willing to accept is the idea that the “blasphemous touch of an endless falsehood” can just outright sever Zucroas' connection to his powers, but as with Alucroas trying to destroy hell, we can let it slide as a summary of Kintar's intention.

While all of this is going on, the collapse of hell and the shattering of the mirrors has opened up innumerable connections to many additional hells, from which more copies of Kintar emerge. They all throw their swords at the same time, and their combined manipulation of space-time rips away Zucroas defenses and destroys the arena grounds.

There we have it.

In summary I would say firstly that I think you both spent far too much time on the mirrors and the lightning snakes. It speaks to both of you wanting the final word on absolutely every exchange, even though it ultimately went nowhere, and it becomes increasingly hard to believe that either Kintar or Zucroas actually have time to monitor the situation with everything else going on. At the point where the snakes fly through a portal into another dimension, each subsequent post should have followed one of you just dropping it to focus on another avenue of attack.

To the psy-flame and the mental battle, as I said earlier it is a huge problem that Alucroas never properly acknowledges what the psy-flame is actually doing. Stumbling around mounting one shaky defense after another is fine, it feels true to him playing a character that doesn't know exactly what to do in this situation. I would have liked to see him figure something out and actually deal with it properly were this thread to continue, but it's noteworthy that Longinus himself largely drops it as the thread progresses, to focus instead on the Kintar that has manifested within his mind.

Now, I like the idea of Kintar manifesting in reflections, and manifesting in minds, and in machines—the idea that the very act of perceiving her gives her some measure of power over the observer. But it's not for one player to dictate, rather than speculate, as to the internal thoughts and feelings of the opposing character. Allowing for the permissiveness of the rules, there were three clear examples of god modding in this fight: Alucroas blowing up hell, Longinus cutting off Alucroas' connection to other dimensions, and Longinus determining that Alucroas was playing his character wrong and has succumbed to the Wrath attack. The first two I think can slide as the both of you being overzealous in describing what you want to see happen. The last one is just antithetical to RP fighting without agreed upon auto-hits.

And as to the last point, the direct exchange between Zucroas and Kintar, I think Alucroas did an overall better job at introducing his character's entire kit early on, and revealing a little bit more of what it can do as time went on, while ultimately still sticking to that set of abilities. It is a very expansive set of abilities, but you know overall that he's going to attack with lightning and his natural weapons; he's going to defend with his membrane; he's going to attack and defend both with his ley-line powers and those tiny little robots. It makes it easier to see the thought process of how he's going to engage, of what options he'll have opened to him if he's stopped. He said he was going to block the mist with those powers, and then he did that in the next post, and went into a detailed explanation of why he thought it would work.

It is somewhat harder with Kintar, who can be difficult to visualize as more than an amorphous evil with many different, albeit thematically linked, corrupting abilities. The one really strong through line that I though you had, Longinus, was the way that she seems to infest reality as she is perceived by others. I thought that was a really good basis for an attack, and whenever a similar idea recurred it pulled your posts together very well. Otherwise, I thought you had cool ideas (I liked all of the duplicates emerging from the different hells, in particular, and I didn't mind the concept of the psy-flame though I wish you'd just pressed the advantage when you had it), but the overall set of tools was too disjointed. It reads too much like you're just coming up with something totally new, on the fly, to counter Alucroas, based on what sounds cool and not employing a strategy. No one really sticks to a strategy like that in these games, but there's a threshold of suspension of disbelief that we need to aim for, where it could in theory have been a plan.

It's my opinion that Alucroas has won the fight, though in the event a closing post (or a continuation) is made I do not think it is plausible that he could kill Kintar at this juncture. He has, at best, succeeded in driving her away from the arena.

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