A non-D&D game you *need* to play: Ironsworn (FREE)
Why you need to play Ironsworn:
Ironsworn is a Viking themed low fantasy game it's completely FREE and you can play it in a group, with or without a GM or completely solo.
It has a highly customizable, modular setting.
It has a streamlined and elegant system that focuses on the narrative whilst still being deep and robust.
There are no classes, characters are created freely by mixing and matching modular thematic abilities.
The combat system is fast, dramatic and full of tension.
The game requires absolutely 0 prep, the rules and random tables how you make a satisfying game with no prior prep
It can be played completely alone or in a group with or without a GM. The games rules and random tables ensure that even without a GM it still goes in interesting directions you could never anticipate.
And it's COMPLETELY FREE.
I give the game a glowing recommendation and if that's enough for you here is the link. For those of you who need more details, I go into them below...
SETTING Ironsworn is set in the Ironlands, a gritty low fantasy wild frontier. The Ironlanders settled here a few generations ago after a cataclysm drove them out of the Old World. The Ironlander live in small settlements and villages or nomad and are constantly threatened by the things that lurk in the dark. You are an Ironsworn, one of the few people brave enough to venture wild for glory and adventure. The setting is fully customizable. There is a setting book that comes with pages on major setting elements like "communities" "religion" or "magic". These pages have 3 different options for what to do with the set element as well as a plot hook to go with it. You can choose one of these options or create your own using the setting elements as guidance. Creating a setting is quick, easy and engaging. PLAYER CHARACTERS You are an Ironsworn, a badass adventurer that travels the land fulfilling oaths called "Iron Vows." The game is human-centric, it assumes you are human but you can choose to flavour your character as a different race. Character creation is freeform, characters are made out of stats and assets. Stats: There are 5 stats: Iron (stcon), Edge (dex), Wits (wis/int), Shadow (stealth/deception), Heart (cha). Assets: PC's start with 3 assets. Assets are cards with 3 abilities tied to a specific theme, you start with one of these abilities marked and can spend XP to gain more of an asset's abilities or get new entirely (there are 70+ assets to choose from). These abilities generally aren't just number bonuses they are meant to give your more gameplay options or make you feel more like your character. A few example assets: Alchemist, Infiltrator, Archer, Swordmaster, Cave lion companion, Raven Companion, Divination ritual, Awakening ritual. CORE MECHANICS The game revolves around the action roll when you do something risky you roll 1d6 +stat vs 2d10s.There are 3 different results to a roll, unlike D&D binary system. If the d6 is higher than both d10s then you succeed, if it's only higher than 1d10 you succeed but at a cost or consequence, if it isn't higher than either then you fail and something bad happens. If you roll the same number on both d10's then its a critical success or failure. Only the PC's roll, how NPC's react depends on the result of your roll. The game gives you specific guidance on what to do through a system called moves. Moves are a chunk of rules that tell you how to resolve a specific part of the game, like fighting or compelling people to do what you want. Moves give you specific guidance on how to resolve the situation in an interesting way based on the result of your roll and often give you choices on how you would like to move the story forward. SOLO / GMLESS PLAY EXPLAINED You can play Ironsworn with a GM, with multiple players and no GM or completely alone. Playing without a GM just works, everything about the game's rules facilitate GMless play. The moves substitute for a GM by pushing the story in interesting and unexpected directions, and the game features many random tables to roll on if you get stuck. You won't even feel the GM's absence. COMBAT Combat is fast fluid and dramatic and it places a heavy emphasis on tension. It is nothing like D&D wargame-like combat system. There no, turn order or action economy or complex rules. Combat flows like a movie scene, you describe your action, you trigger a move and roll dice then depending on your role the enemies react appropriately. The combat system is designed to create quick, adrenaline and dynamic fights. A fight that could take an hour or more in D&D could take 10-15 minutes in Ironsworn and be just as compelling if not more. Ironworn's combat is nothing like D&D's slow tactical combat, but It is still filled with depth and meaningful decisions. You also don't have to have to worry about NPC stat blocks, an entire encounter can be designed on the fly. SEEING THE GAME IN ACTION Ironsworn is likely, unlike any game you've played before, so you may need to see it in action before you fully understand it. If you want an in-depth reading of the rules I recommend Adam Koebel's "Ironsworn First Look." If you want to an actual play of the game I recommend "Ask the Oracle," it's an actual play podcast made by the game's designer Shawn Tomkin and I also recommend the youtube series "Me Myself and Die" season 2 by Trevor Devall, (you don't need to watch season 1 first.) Thanks for reading those post I really hope you give my favourite game a try :)
Hello ladies, gays, enbys, and other pots-and-pans enthusiasts and welcome to the 2019 Hyperpop Rate! I'm your host, quenched, and am here to guide you through this month's rate full of boundary-pushing, experimental, over-the-top bubblegum bass, or as it is more commonly called, hyperpop. The genre has come a long way since it's humble PC Music beginnings and has grown to boast a large cult fanbase, majority of which is made of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Here are the cling clang bitches we will be rating: In case you're impatient like me and already know the drill... HERE is the link to the Spotify playlist HERE is the link to submit scores
Up first, we have Slayyyter, queen of high-budget-sounding-but-actually-low-budget Grindrcore music, with her self-titled debut mixtape. After releasing a string of singles starting in 2018 with BFF, featuring hyperpop legend Ayesha Erotica, she has held the attention of gays and hyperpop fans everywhere, propelled by her dominating stan-like presence on social media. While not every loose single made the cut for her mixtape, she still has a versatile discography with zero misses, whether making filthy, horny bangers on songs like "Candy" and "Daddy AF", braggadocious bops "Cha Ching" and "Celebrity", or glittery bubblegum pop such as fan-favorite "Mine". Warning: you will become slightly gayer upon album completion.
This rate marks the first time in Popheads rate history we have cut an album from a rate and replaced it with another. LIZ's album "Planet Y2K" was supposed to be in the rate initially, but it came to my attention that she is a transphobic Trump supporter with NO apology or backtrack ever given. So, I posted this comment one day in a Daily Discussion post, and after 72 votes, 65% of you wanted LIZ to be replaced with 100 gecs (which honestly is better anyways musically speaking). 100 gecs are definitely one of the more well known hyperpop acts. The critically acclaimed duo are one of the few hyperpop acts to reach well beyond the LGBTQ+ audience. Consisting of Dylan Brady and Laura Les (who is trans!!!), the duo's debut album, especially money machine, has gone semi-viral within the music sphere and TikTok alike. If you can say one thing about this album, it's that you never know what to expect or what crazy sounds you're going to hear next! They also released a phenomenal remix album called "1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues", reimagining every song on this album and featuring many Popheads favorites such as Charli XCX and Kero Kero Bonito. gecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgecgec
Challenging heteronormativity and the gender binary, Dorian exploded onto the scene with many loose singles, beginning with Clitopia in 2016. These singles led up to Flamboyant, an abrasive, electropop album that doesn't have a single skip! The album also features some production by Dylan Brady, who is one-half of 100 gecs, also present in this rate. Beyond the songs themselves all being bangers, lyrically Dorian explores different aspects of their sexuality and masculinity in songs such as "Emasculate", "Flamboyant", and Adam & Steve, a song which is sure to resonate which any religious gays participating in the rate. Dorian has already released their second album "My Agenda", which I also definitely recommend everyone streams after doing the rate! Note: Dorian uses they/them pronouns so I'm gonna be mad if I get any ballots using anything otherwise!
Lastly we have Hannah Diamond, who has been around the longest of the artists in this rate, releasing her first song in 2013. She was one of the first names in PC Music, taking her until 2019 to release her debut album (giving Sky Ferreira a run for her money as far as album waits go). Featuring A.G. Cook production and dreamy vocals from Hannah, this album was definitely worth the long wait!
Unfortunately for this rate, we couldn't include the queen of hyperpop, Emily Montes, as she did not debut until 2020, therefore not fitting the rate theme. At only 5 years old, she is already receiving fairly decent critical reception. She has two projects on Spotify, the self-titled debut album, Emily Montes and the also self-titled EP, Emily. Featuring experimental production, lyrics that touch on serious topics such as COVID-19 and BLM, and never-before-seen insight into a 5 year old's life, both projects are masterpieces. Despite the seemingly large amount of songs, the bonus rate only lasts 7 minutes and 47 seconds so I definitely recommend setting aside this short amount of time to participate and experience a true visionary. This part is completely optional and is just for fun. You may rate as many or as few songs as you'd like. No 0's or 11's, and and no minimum artist average. Here are the songs for the bonus rate:
[OC] Punt Rank 2020: Week 5 - Brett Kern Appreciation Club, the continued painful existence of Kevin Huber, PUNTERS THROWING TDs and the birth of Air Townsend. All this and the best video highlights of the week...
Welcome back, Punt Fans, to your slightly later than usual but there's no Thursday Night Football so what else are you going to be doing edition of our weekly hunt for the King of Punt – it’s /NFL’s own Punt Rank. If you haven’t been here with me before, the concept is both simple and fantastically over-engineered. Lemme break it down: Each punter’s performance against five vital punting metrics is ranked against every other punter in the league. Those rankings are combined into a weighted average ranking – the 2020 NFL Punt Rank. Punt Heroes rise to the top; Punt Zeros sink to the bottom. Last week’s post and Week 4 standings are available here for the archivists, and all of this week’s stats analysis and highlights and lowlights in video form are just moments away. As always I’m excited to get your perspectives on your team’s punter, and you can point me to things that I may have missed or overlooked, so please hit me with your feedback and questions in the comments!
Brett Kern (TEN, +1 to #3). Eh what do you want to know. If you’re reading this it means you like punting. If you like punting, you know that Brett Kern is a really, really great punter. And, Q.E.D – Brett was demonstrably great against the Bills on (the other) TNF. His three punts this week for the no-longer-significantly-infectious-Titans pinned Josh Allen and his shorts at the 9, 9 and 3 yard lines – covering 86% of Average Available Field which is GOAT tier punting. Here’s the pick of the bunch (his 41 yard precisiobomb corralled at the 3 yard line by Chris Milton) covering 93% of Available Field, and measuring in 7.6 yards better than an average punt from the opposing 44 yard line. Tidy. In addition to his really really really great punting, the Kerninator also wrangled at least two uttely horrible snaps into decent holds for Gostkowski to continue his kicking renaissance tour, which is a majorly underrated part of the punter job description... Logan Cooke (JAX, +12 to #13). SPEAKING OF PUNTER HOLDS AND THE EFFECT IT HAS ON KICKERS. Now I’m not saying that Chef had anything to do with the end of Stephen Hauschka’s NFL career on Sunday (0 for 2 within less than two minutes at the end of the first half, not called upon again, then cut PDQ after the weekend), but then I’m not not saying that either. Luckily for Logan (shoot I think I used that joke last week as well) the punting element of his game was without such ugly question marks. 100% of his three punts ended inside the Houston 20 yard line, covering 73%, 83% and 89%of Available Field, sneaking him up to 13th overall. Now let’s see if he can hold onto it. Geddit? Hold?! Pah.
Bad Week for
Kevin Huber (CIN, -8 to #24). On a game where the Bengals only managed the paltry total of 12 first downs (an average of one, yes ONE first down on their 12 offensive drives), K-Hub’s Bad Day was at least somewhat salvaged by the first half holy trinity of Turnover on Downs, INT and Fumble on consecutive drives (2, 3 and 4 – if you’re counting). Without that magical offensive incompetence, he could have been looking at double figure punts (I see you, Tress Way in Washington). As it was, he escaped with just the seven (!), but he takes a slide in the Punt Rank rankings as two of those (admittedly 57 and 60 yard boots) snuck for touchbacks, taking his season touchback percentage total to 26.1% which is second last in the league, just behind Tommy Townsend (more on him later). None of the magnificent seven made it inside the 20, wiping 13% off his season long percentage. However, in Kev’s defence, the first of his two end-zone-botherers this week was another case of coulda woulda shoulda from his coverage team. Alex Erikson heroically made up all the ground to reach the ball as it took a hop into the end zone, but his flailing scoopitty-scoop only managed to floopitty-floop the ball into the wrong side of the pylon. Bengals bungle. Football is a game of inches, and those couple cost Kev. And, after last week’s feature in Egregious Touchback of the Week where basically exactly the same thing happened, it’s entirely possible that Kevin Huber is stuck in some kind of awful groundhog day based time loop. That would at least explain this instagram account. Ty Long (LAC, -5 to #23). Ty Long was the victim of the binary brain of Saints rookie receivereturnerobot automaton Marquez Callaway this week. In Marquez’s awesome little computer mind, he’s going: IF punt_catch_loc > 15THEN SELECTReturn_Like_CraycrayFROMReturn.Options ELSEFair_Catch_That_MF Unfortunately for Ty, six of his seven punts were outside that 15 yard threshold and the big red light on Robot Marquez's head went off like WOO WOO, and he went HAM on bringing those suckers back. 69 (nice) return yards on the day with a long of 19 wiped almost ten yards off Long's Gross Average for the day and left him at just 53% of Average Available Field covered. The Chargers have now leaked 149 return yards for the season which is second worst in the league (behind those irrepressibly awful Jets) and almost three times the league average of 56 through five weeks. Ty will be hoping that they can turn that around before… long. Sorry.
Punt of the week – Week 5
Corey Bojorquez (BUF) continues his wild oscillation between the sublime and the ridiculous. It’s an odd-week so I guess this week it’s Sublime Corey, whose 71 yard scud missile from his own ten yard line in the second quarter of this week’s edition of Tuesday Night Football Bought To You By COVID-19 was an astonishing 28.3 yards longer than my Expected Net Gain model for an average punt from that spot. Look at this baby fly! Bojorquez booms one.
Punters doin’ shit – Week 5
Hey, it’s Corey Bojorquez again! Guess he can do sublime AND ridiculous in a single week now. It’s Puntception. Corey’s first punt of the day was coming alllll the way back for 6 until he decided to put his face on the line to put an end to Kalif Raymond’s 40 yard return. BLOOF. Look at him putting on his cap all swag afterwards like yeah I blew that dude up… Yeah I think tackling with your head is good form? But that’s not all for Punters Doin’ Shit in Week 5, oh no. We have a bonus double edition! and I include this clip with great enjoyment but also great sadness. Gentlemen and Gentlemen (just being real here), this week Riley Dixon (NYG) threw a Touchdown pass! For Giants fans reading this is when someone on your team throws the ball into the big painted area at the end of the field and a player (also on your team) catches it. I know this sounds strange and unusual, but it can happen. And it did happen for Riley on this awesome fake field goal toss to Evan Engram, brilliantly narrated by the incomparable Tony Romo in the clip below. Seriously, this call is outstanding… Nobody look at me, doo doo do, you cant see me... Jim Nantz, don't talK to.. IM OPEN, THROW IT Unfortunately, the play itself was called back due to a player not lined up on the line of scrimmage and the Giants had to settle for a 50 yard field goal. For Chargers and Jags fans reading, this is when your kicker kicks the ball and it goes between the two big tall standy uppy line things. I know this sounds strange and unusual, but it can happen. No TD for Riley, but we have the memories…
Egregious touchback of the week – Week 5
I might start calling this the Kevin Huber Touchback Memorial Column, after ANOTHER narrow miss by the Bengals coverage left Kev high and dry this week against the Ravens (see Bad Week). Outside of that shambles, there were only 6 touchbacks on the other 102 punts in Week 5, and most of them were fairly ordinary so there isn’t much egregiousity (not a word but I’m going with it) to discuss. Instead today we’re going to take some time to appreciate Tommy Townsend (KC) who has apparently got some kind of nuclear powered leg and is playing a game called “look how far away I can kick a touchback from”. For those who haven’t been paying close attention, here’s how Tommy’s rookie season has gone so far in touchback terms. Week 1 – 44 yards, modest. Week 2 – 55 yards, expressive. Week 3 – only punted once so gave myself a week off from this. Week 4 – fucken LOLs this is, how about a 60 AND a 65! Week 5 –hold my beer… Oh my god Becky, look at this punt. 67 yards! SIXTY SEVEN! And that’s from the line of scrimmage - that sucker went almost EIGHTY YARDS in the AIR. It bounced at the two and I think the returner just never even saw it. He probably thought it went into orbit or something. Absolutely ludicrous distance and hangtime here from Tommy. And, thus, I think we have our new moniker for the lad: Air Townsend. Which is also funny because it sounds like hair and he has got long hair. I’m wasted doing this.
Future of Punt Rank: desperate data plea
So part of my data collection for this analysis used to come from the brilliant Pro Football Reference gameplay finder. Which, as of this week, appears to have been absorbed into Stathead. And they’re now charging $8 a month for access to these individual play description tables, which is a massive punt in the balls. Without this data, I’ve got no way to calculate Average Available Field coverage, no plus/minus performance against the Punt Expected Net Gain, and no data on punts inside the 5 and 10 yard lines – all of which come from that analysis of the individual punt plays. Whilst this data doesn’t feed the actual rankings (which come from free NFL.com data tables), they are all metrics that really help add context to the basic stats, and are things that people reading have commented on in the past and said they found interesting. So, if anyone knows of anywhere else where I can access and download these play descriptions for each individual punt (without manually sifting the ESPN play by play reports!!), then please please let me know in the comments below. Alternatively if the eight people who read this each wanna chip in a buck a month on an ongoing basis so we can pay Stathead then that’d be cool too. A sad day for punt stat fans to be sure. Fucken big corporate… And on that note, all that's left is to say I will see you again next week for a likely more analytically constrained but still enthusiastically trying my bestest edition of Punt Rank. Yours, Eyebrows.
Why the Genie Warlock's "Bottled Respite" is overwhelmingly powerful
Despite being limited to a single use per long rest ( Which can be as short as 4 hours with High Elf Trance ), if it is preserved according to the UA description, it stands to be one of, if not the most busted features in 5E history. For just a one-level dip into Warlock, and a free action, it has the potential functionality of several high level spells combined, with the value of dipping into the class just for it being fairly high. First, lets overview all the benefits granted by the ability in its own right, then go over all of the ways to combine it with other abilities as well:
A mobile semi-Demiplane - Starting with the obvious, the storage space. It is kind of an hybrid, in regard to storage rather than safety, betwen an 8th level spell that can probably be used only once a day anyway and the very rare magical item bag of holding. You do have to get inside to store objects there, true, but there are many ways of carrying even big items on your person, minitaurizing them, disassembling, etc that I won't get into, that essentially allows you to perform feats previously unheard of even at high levels.
Portable alchemy labs, equipment, instantly deployable ( assembled within the vessel ) siege weapons, structures. By lowering your vessels HP to the breaking point willingly, you can destroy it above a group of enemies heads/something else to unleash virtually anything imaginable that you could fill a 20-foot cylinder with over time - Acid, water, boulders, dangerous items, dangerous creatures ( at higher levels ), traps, heavy cages, quicksand, the list is infinite. And if you have the time, you can scoop it back in the new vessel after an hour.
Poor Man's Magnificent Mansion - Needless to say, it is safe to assume that a tiny object hidden underneath the ground or camouflouged somewhere might be a lot safer and covert than your usual arrangement, not to mention rendering you immune to most divination by virtue of your extradimensional location. Fun Fact - At level 1, with 4 hours of lodging time, it is sufficient to complete a High Elf's Trance and recharge itself on the spot.
Enhanced Durability - If you choose to carry the vessel on your person, while it might be fragile initially due to low AC and HP, nothing says you can't encase it with a superior steel or Adamantine shell to make it even more difficult to crack, a point which may prove handy for the next chapter.
Eavesdropping - You can hear everything around your vessel while in the shape of an innocous tiny object of your choosing, imprevious to divination, and you can even cast Nystul's Magic Aura on your vessel. Enough said.
------------------‐------------------ Now for the fun part, which is all that can be done with a little bit of magical help, though it can only be a partial list since the possibilities are endless. Let's dive in.
Airforce 1 - Bottled Respite + Find Familiar = 1st level travel via flight. Many attempts to harness familiars for personal flight have been attenpted before, but none as cheaply and lengthily as this. Many pitfalls and intricacies are involved with this method, but at the outset, you can command a flying familiar to fly somewhere it can see/knows how to reach or in a given direction for a certain amount of time while you are chilling comfortably in your vessel and set you down before it ends. Keep in mind, since both the familiar and vessel are tiny, you could infiltrate all sorts of inaccessible spaces. Furthermore, should your familiar perish and the vessel dropped, you won't be shunted out until it hits something and breaks, with the prior momentum being irrelevant.
This is pretty amazing in itself, but you can't exercise control over your familiar for the duration from the extradimensional space. There are various ways to mitigate that flaw, which I'll discuss briefly: You can actually make clever use of Prestidigitation to allocate 3 Yes/No indications, or 3 'Condition alerts' with other meanings to your familiar per trip. Say you have an Owl, you can instruct it to hoot in a specific fashion/number if something happens ( Enemies in the air, a storm cloud, missing the destination, etc ), then set up 3 Prest marks/symbols on the vessel lasting for 1 hour which can be dismissed with an action from anywhere. Turning off a symbol, or any of the 3, can be taken as a binary command of some sort, like aborting trip or retreating.
Depending on DM interpretation, Shape Water might work even better. Attaching a water vial to your vessel and choosing it prior to departure, assuming you don't need to perpetually see it in order to animate it into shapes ( Its not even concentration btw ), you might be able to change the water inside into arrows/signs for your familiar depending on auditory input. Either way, sadly both prest and this are 1 hour only.
More advanced steering options include a Chainlock familar, which is intelligent enough to formulate a detailed route and deviations, spells such as Animal Messenger, Beast Sense, Magic Mouth piloting systems, Sending, and finally bypassing telepathic restrictions entirely with high level spells like Telepathy.
If you level up as a Warlock, eventually your whole party will be able to take rests while cruising inside your vessel. You can even turn the fucking thing into the most lightweight spaceship ever if you can propel it ( and there are simple ways ). Resting inside, you will survive the single turn it takes for you to get back in once ejected.
Invisibility - Casting Invisibility on the familiar carrying your vessel or Sequester allows for even more spying and infiltration prowess
Glyph Buffet - Casting Glyphs of Warding inside the space with beneficial effects on them can be triggered immediately upon your entry, using the bonus action to emerge completely healled and buffed back into battle. High-level Genielocks can of course apply it to a full party or even store summoning spells and bring out any number of creatures with them.
Divide by Zero - This application of Bottled Respite with Drawmij's Instant Summons ( Which also targets magical objects ) may result in trapping yourself inside the vessel indefinitely, opening a gate to the Astral Plane, destroying the multiverse, or all three. You cast the spell on the vessel, keeping the sapphire with you, proceed to enter the extradimensional interior of the vessel, then speak its name and crush the sapphire in order to make the vessel, regardless of planar distance, appear in your hand...while still inside the vessel's extradimensional interior.
What happens following this inception is anybody's guess, though if we ignore the semantic shitshow of what the vessel's interior being extradimensional means, and treat it like a Demiplane - I.E the 3D object and its volume existing independently of the much larger dimension in teleports you into, then when the time is up, you will simply remain in that dimension indefinitely, as the physical lamp is now inside the extradimensional pocket itself and that will be the nearest unoccupied space to shunt you toward.
The Mayday Rescue - A more stable application of Instant Summons, you can instead entrust the sapphire to a Simulacrum, Familiar, Summoned being or ally. Even if you find yourself without high level magic, or enemies that would counter it, you can try sending a message ( or use some premeditated time/Chainmaster familiar telepathy/etc ) for your ally to safely evacuate you, or your party, via summoning the vessel right after you use your action to enter it.
That is all I can think of for now, and remember what we're talking about - A level 1 Warlock action per long rest. It has unbelievable value.
[Fanatical] 25th Anniversary Sale Day 4 (Includes GUILTY GEAR XX ACCENT CORE PLUS R (-81%), Learn Japanese to Survive Complete Pack (-93%), F1 2020 Deluxe Schumacher Edition (-50%), Space Crew (-20%), Human: Fall Flat 4 Pack (-79%), BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle - Basic Edition (-53%) & More)
Hi Reddit, Day 4 of our 25th Anniversary celebration brings more games and DLC on sale! Join our party and enjoy big savings today. Plus, with every basket over $4.99 you will get to spin to win with huge prizes to be won. Including spending sprees, free games and PC gaming accessories. You can find more information about this in our blog post. You can also learn all about Focus Multimedia’s history with this overview of the company. TOP DEALS OF DAY 4
It wouldn’t be a big event without Killer! Slay that lockdown boredom and grab nine impressive Steam PC games in the brand-new, exclusive Killer Bundle 14! You will also get a spin of the wheel for a chance to get incredible prizes with every $4.99 purchase. You can check out the Reddit Thread here
RESULTS of the State of the Game Survey: September 2020
Hi all, It’s time for the results! Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond - we had over 1,750 responses, which is great! These insights wouldn’t be possible without your time and support. As always, neither myself nor this survey are associated with Intelligent Systems or Nintendo in any way. Please direct feedback about the game itself to the official channels. Now let’s get into it!
PreviousSurveyResults: April_2020_State_of_the_Game_Survey ~ Demographics ~ 53.8% began playing FE:H in February 2017, with 20.0% more joining during the first year of the game. 12.0% of respondents joined during the second year, 8.7% joined during the third, and 4.0% joined during the fourth year (the last ~7 months). The age range breakdown of respondents is as follows:
(2.6%) 12 – 15 years old
(15.0 %) 16 – 18 years old
(23.4 %) 19 – 21 years old
(21.8 %) 22 – 24 years old
(25.8 %) 25 – 30 years old
(8.2 %) 31 – 40 years old
(1.0 %) 40+ years old
75.8% of respondents identified as Male, 18.4% as Female, and 3.0% as Non-binary. 24.6% of respondents have never missed a daily login, while a further 38.8% have missed less than a month’s worth of logins, 11.7% missed 1-2 months, 9.9% missed 3-6 months, 5.8% missed 7-12 months, and 4.7% missed over a year’s worth. 33.5% report being F2P, while 28.7% have spent less than $100, 18.3% spent between $100 - $499, 7.3% spent between $500 - $999, and 8.7% have spent over $1000. 46.6% last spent money on FE:H during the fourth year of the game (the last 3 months), while 6.6% last spent money during the third year of the game, 5.8% last spent during the second year of the game, and 5.1% last spent money during the first year of the game. ~ Summoning ~ “Which of the following banners have you used orbs on at least once?”
~ Summoning Mechanics ~ 33.7% spent orbs on the Hero Fest banner AFTER Intelligent Systems announced how they would be compensating players for the Hero Fest banner glitch, compared to 61.7% who did not. 30.5% say that knowing about the compensation for the Hero Fest banner glitch caused them to spend more orbs on the banner than they would have otherwise, compared to 41.5% who say it did not. 28.0% did not spend orbs on the Hero Fest banner. 34.3% feel positively or very positively about the quality of 4* focuses on regular banners, compared to 26.9% who feel negatively or very negatively. 69.7% feel positively or very positively about the quality of 4* focuses on seasonal banners, compared to 7.8% who feel negatively or very negatively. 53.8% report that the system guaranteeing a free 5* after 40 summons generally makes them summon more, while 5.4% report that it generally makes them summon less and 36.1% report no change in their summoning habits on New Heroes banners. “If all New Heroes Banners used the permanent 40-summons-for-a-guaranteed-5* system that CYL4 used, how would your orb-spending habits on New Heroes banners change?”
(1.8%) I would spend fewer orbs than I did before
(22.3%) I would spend the same amount of orbs I usually do
(10.3%) I would spend more orbs than I did before
(62.2%) My spending would depend more on the Heroes offered
~ Choose Your Legends IV ~ “Which CYL4 Brave Heroes have you summoned, whether from the guaranteed choice banner or the regular banner?”
Of the summoning milestones on the CYL4 banner:
(20.2%) did not reach any of these summoning milestones
(79.7%) reached 40 summons
(41.0%) reached 80 summons
(19.8%) reached 120 summons
(11.1%) reached 160 summons
45.7% say that the free 5* hero at 40, 80, 120 and 160 summons caused them to spend more on CYL4 than they would have otherwise, while 50.3% say it did not. 22.8% say that the potential use of a new Brave Hero in future F2P Guides for content such as Hero Battles influenced their Brave Heroes summons, compared to 74.0% who say it did not. “If you could only get ONE of the new Brave Heroes, which one would you choose?”
“Which Brave Hero do you believe is the overall strongest?”
“Which Brave Hero do you believe is the overall weakest?”
“Which Brave Hero do you believe has the best art?”
“Which set of Brave Heroes is your favorite overall?”
23.6% feel positively or very positively about the addition of Jorge as the CYL4 GHB hero, compared to 33.0% who feel negatively or very negatively. 86.3% believe CYL5 should add further protections against vote botting, compared to 4.4% who do not. 70.1% believe CYL5 should require Nintendo Account sign-in to vote, compared to 12.6% who do not. ~ Feh Pass and Resplendent Heroes ~ 41.2% feel negatively about the addition of the Feh Pass (down 15.8% from the last survey), compared to 11.6% who feel positively (up 1.5% from the last survey). 46.1% are neutral (up 14.3% from the last survey). 40.2% have purchased the Feh Pass, compared to 59.8% who have not. This is a 9.5% increase compared to the last survey, following a 6.7% increase before that. Of those who have subscribed to Feh Pass, 17.4% have purchased Resplendent Heroes separately (up 12.9% from the last survey), compared to 82.6% who have not. “Which Resplendent Hero has your favorite art?”
“Which Resplendent outfit theme is your favorite?”
~ Miscellaneous ~ 15.8% feel positively about the introduction of Harmonized Heroes, compared to 31.3% who feel negatively. 29.5% have a Harmonized Hero, compared to 70.1% who do not. 14.6% feel positively or very positively about the Resonant Battles game mode, compared to 51.5% who feel negatively or very negatively. 4.6% say that the Resonant Battles game mode influenced them to pull for Harmonized Heroes, compared to 94.5% who say it has not. 34.8% believe the new Arena maps are better than the maps they replaced, while 7.4% believe they are worse, and 36.7% believe they are about the same. “How often do you use Auto Dispatch in Aether Raids?”
(34.3%) All of them, always
(0.2%) All of them, in Light Season
(3.6%) All of them, in Astra season
(24.3%) Only sometimes
(37.6%) I never use it
“IV Mango” is the preferred term for Trait Fruit according to 32.2% of respondents, followed by “IVcado” at 28.9%, “Fruit” at 7.6%, and “Dragonfruit” at 6.6%. The remaining 24.7% prefer to just call them Trait Fruit. 39.3% say they will use their first Trait Fruits on a Heroic Grails unit, while 32.9% say they will use them on a Summonable unit, and 1.3% say they will use them on an Askr unit. 58.7% prefer Stat Boosts for Legendary Heroes, compared to 26.3% who prefer Pair-Up. 56.5% generally prefer Regular Duo Heroes, compared to 8.8% who prefer Harmonized Duo Heroes. 1.8% say that the update that raised the minimum hardware/software required to play the game affected their ability to play FE:H, compared to 95.8% who say it did not. ~ Recurring Miscellaneous ~ “Which game do you want a New Heroes banner from the most?”
(26.0%) Three Houses (-1.9%)
(9.7%) Radiant Dawn (+0.5%)
(7.7%) Sacred Stones (+0.2%)
(7.5%) Awakening (-3.1%)
(6.4%) Genealogy of the Holy War (-1.3%)
(6.1%) Path of Radiance (-0.9%)
(6.0%) Gaiden / Shadows of Valentia (+2.7%)
(5.9%) TMS #FE (+1.9%)
(5.4%) Blazing Blade (+1.3%)
(5.0%) Fates (+1.0%)
(4.2%) Thracia 776 (+0.8%)
(2.4%) Binding Blade (+0.6%)
(0.8%) Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light / Shadow Dragon (-1.0%)
(0.8%) Mystery of the Emblem / New Mystery of the Emblem (-1.1%)
“How much do you care about your rank in the following modes?”
(2.90/5.00 average) Arena
(2.82/5.00 average) Aether Raids
(2.48/5.00 average) PvE game modes with player ranking boards
(1.82/5.00 average) Arena Assault
“How have recent changes to FE:H changed your opinion on the game as a whole?”
(39.3%) My opinion was positive and has stayed positive
(5.7%) My opinion used to be negative, but has turned positive
(9.9%) My opinion used to be positive, but has turned negative
(5.1%) My opinion was negative and has stayed negative
~ Intelligent Systems Approval Ratings ~ The approval ratings are calculated by the proportion of Approve responses compared to the number of both Approve and Disapprove responses. Percent who approve of the way Intelligent Systems is handling:
74.6% - The addition of new heroes / characters to the game (+11.9)
69.4% - The gacha mechanics and summoning banners (+5.5)
59.2% - The story/plot (+9.4)
85.2% - Unranked PvE game modes (Hero Battles, Forging Bonds, Tactics Drills, Lost Lore, Hall of Forms) (-1.2)
50.7% - Ranked PvE game modes (Voting Gauntlets, Tempest Trials, Grand Conquest, Allegiance Battles, Rokkr Sieges, Mjolnir's Strike) (-2.6)
34.6% - Arena (-6.2)
48.0% - Arena Assault (+6.7)
45.8% - Aether Raids (+12.7)
40.5% believe Intelligent Systems cares about its Free to Play userbase (up 10.1% from the last survey), while 34.7% do not. This continues the upward trend from the previous survey, bringing us to 8.8% down from where we were before the February drop). 42.9% approve of the way Intelligent Systems is handling Fire Emblem: Heroes as a whole (up 14.8% from the last survey), while 16.9% disapprove. This continues the upward trend from the previous survey, bringing us to only 2.5% down from where we were before the February drop).
A NOTE ABOUT METHODOLOGY: The overall approval ratings question above has traditionally been the exact percent of Approve responses, as a proportion with both Neutral and Disapprove responses. Note that this is different than the way approval is calculated for individual modes (the proportion of Approve responses compared to the number of both Approve and Disapprove responses), where Neutral responses are excluded. The difference in calculation has continued this way in order to maintain comparability with previous survey results. For comparisons sake, the overall approval rating trend going by raw Approval percentage over the last 4 surveys is: 50.6% (Dec) -> 22.9% (Feb) -> 28.1% (Apr) -> 42.9% (Sept) Whereas the overall approval rating trend going by proportion of Approve/Disapprove with the Neutrals excluded over the last 4 surveys is: 82.2% (Dec) -> 41.0% (Feb) -> 51.3% (Apr) -> 71.7% (Sept).
~ Bonus Questions ~ “Who is your Favorite Hero added since the last survey?”
Dimitri (Brave) is the winner, followed by Edelgard (Brave), then Claude (Brave).
“What would be the best Harmonized Hero (a pair of two heroes from different games) and why?”: Rather than selecting a subset of responses this time, the link below is to a google sheet of almost all unique responses. I cleaned it up a little bit to remove “idk” type answers, duplicates, and partial string duplicates, so don’t worry if you don’t see your exact response in it. [Full Responses]. ~ Feedback ~ As always, I received lots of great feedback, both in your survey responses and in the thread itself. A heartfelt thank you to all participants for your encouragements and criticisms - these surveys wouldn’t be where they are without your feedback. But it’s not all serious; feedback messages also included:
“There once was a CYL4 banner / That hit my orbs hard like a hammer / The very next day / FloomMom Duo came our way / Now I'm stuck bartering with a loan planner”
“bonk, go to survey jail”
“Am I also allowed to put in "Norne and Azura" for a Harmonized Hero pair? No reason.”
“Brace yourself. Winter (armours) are coming!” “Brave Hector's refine has made me so very happy with it's inclusion. Go shove your bow up your butt Legendary Chrom.”
“Give me villager alts or give me death”
“I expect the next survey to come with +12 to attack, null follow up, and special cooldown reduction.”
“The true best Harmonized Hero would be Azura and Roy since it would make me uninstall the game and never want to play a gacha ever again”
“My headcanon for the dream storyline is that the evil fairies have the Summoner off picking up pebbles that look like orbs. Fredrickson would be proud.”
“Where's the most wanted unit to add to the game question so I can shout my want for Seteth into the void?”
“I no longer dab, for Legendary Seliph has finally appeared.”
And greetings from Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, the UK, Vietnam, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Toronto, and St. Louis, as well as from many fictional locations!
And some personal/meta comments:
“Any chance we end up seeing another Super Serious Survey in the not-so-distant future?” -> I could not believe it’s been over a year since the last one! We’ll have to do one soon!
“Feels like the end of an era, not having to count all my five stars” -> I know, right? I may have it return in a side survey for the most hardcore of respondents at some point, since some people are asking about it and it would be good to get data on it every once in a while.
“I was looking through your Nornes skills and saw you haven't given her live for bounty yet! It's the best skill for her, what are you doing!?” -> I am a fraud :( I have given her Live for Honor though :P
“What do you hope for in FEH?” -> Norne alt, Resplendent Jaffar, and Shamir
Multiple people mentioned that they had returned after a long break and were surprised to see Norne instead of Azura! Welcome back!
I also missed a bunch of other possible Trait Fruit nicknames, which I knew would inevitably happen. Sorry!
Note: Please don’t ask me to feature your feedback comment; it’s the only guaranteed way to not have your comment added! Finally, the suggestion to have separate options for serious vs non-serious feedback was a good idea, I’ll try that out on the next survey! ~ Closing Remarks ~ If you missed out on responding to this survey when it was available, consider subscribing to FEHSurveys. This subreddit serves as a place to organize FE:H-related surveys, make new releases more visible, and make it easier for users to see when surveys are active. Thanks again to everyone who participated! I hope you find the results interesting, and if there’s anything else you think can be discovered from the data, let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige!
What is up Depthians! We are back with another monstrous update as this one incorporates five beta test builds, so we have a lot to cover. If you want to dive straight into the massive changelog/dissertation Click We should probably start with the biggest change to From The Depths in this update and that is the change of fuel and ammo storage. Quoting Nick, our lead developer
The change is quite simple: "remove ammo and fuel as separate resources. Weapons will consume materials directly, fuel engines and CJEs will burn materials directly". Before I dig into why I think this is the right thing for FtD, I'd like to explain a few details. Energy, fuel and ammo are still needed for your constructs. We have changed the "ammo barrels (etc)" and "fuel tanks" so they are just alternative material storage containers, but with the following properties: --"ammo barrels" now increase the maximum possible rate of usage of materials as "ammo" for reloading guns. They still explode. --"fuel tanks" increase the maximum possible rate of use of materials as "fuel" for fuel engines and CJEs, with the future stretch goal of fuel tanks being flammable. --So ammo racking is going to remain a feature of the game- vehicles that need to reload a large amount of materials may need additional ammo barrels Ammo and oil processors are replaced ship-wide with existing material storage containers of the same size. They'll be made decorative blocks so you can still use them decoratively in future if you want to. The oil refinery will be repurposed (described later in the patch notes) There are two main reasons why I think this is the right move. Why it's right for the business and why it's right for the player. Let's start with why I think it's right for the player: Ammo and fuel containers are currently purchasable as either "empty or full". This is confusing when considered in the context of the campaign, story missions, custom battles, multiplayer matches...how do empty and full tanks behave in these modes? I'd need an hour to study the code and a small essay to explain it. That's not good game design. Localised resources, when considering just the moving of material (and energy, if you want), becomes infinitely more manageable. The supply group system and the transit fleet system are not intuitive and for a lot of situations, their usage becomes fiddly and too complicated. We've replaced these systems with a new supply system that is much more intuitive for moving materials and energy around. The UI is less cluttered now that ammo and fuel bars are not shown. This is not a minor point...it'll reduce the amount of data on screen by about 40% in a lot of the different views. It'll be so much easier to know at a glance if a particular fleet is running low on "materials" or doing fine. Is a transport ready to leave, or does it need to pick up more materials? Will a set of vehicles have enough materials for the next fight...this is so much easier with just one main resource type per vehicle. When you or an enemy run out of ammo or fuel in a battle it's just frustrating. By combining fuel, ammo and materials for repairing you can guarantee that if someone runs out, the fight is going to be over quickly. I imagine that deep down the majority of players would rather not have to create, stock and resupply fuel and ammo. I know that personally, the requirement to do this puts me off playing the campaign. By using a single material it still focuses the game on making efficient war machines, maintaining supply lines and growing your economy, but without the extra confusion of mat->ammo and mat-> fuel conversion. Being able to assess weapons, engines and vehicles in terms of material cost and running cost is elegant. Most grand strategy games and RTS games don't have localised resources, and many don't have more than 2 resource types to handle. Very few combine localised materials with multiple types. Why it's right for the business: The ammo and oil processors were created about 8 years ago. Boring single blocks that don't add much to the game. It's been our intention to add something similar to the oil refinery but for ammo creation. That's a lot of work and adds to the complexity of the logistical part of the game, which we feel is already a burden. Making the localised resource supply system more user friendly to make it easy/natural/pleasant to move ammo, fuel and material around the map would require a lot of effort and, quite frankly, I'm not sure we'd ever manage it. The complexity of the UI scares off a lot of our customers. The barriers to getting a gun firing or a boat moving will be lowered if a single material container can theoretically get everything working. Running out of ammo/fuel in combat is a problem for our players. We want to find a solution to that, but it would take a lot of effort to do so. We also want the strategic AI to always enter a battle with enough ammo and fuel for the fight- that's another massive bunch of work. The campaign's strategic AI has to work hard to get materials where it wants them. It's a bundle of work and added complexity to get NPC fleets to restock ammo and fuel as well. We had proposed work to make resource dumps (from dead ships) contain ammo and fuel...again, that's more work, more bugs, more testing. Certain game modes such as story missions, tournament mode, and multiplayer maps should theoretically allow the player to choose the amount of ammo or fuel stocked into their vehicles before the match begins. That's another bundle of work and added complexity we'd like to avoid. Currently out of play units on the map can run out of fuel and will still continue to move "for free". It's exploitable and we don't have a solution to that...but if all the different out of play movement calculations are burning material, there will be no avoiding the cost. The development effort can be much better spent polishing up other features that I actually believe in, rather than flogging the dead horse of logistical complexity in an attempt to make it interesting, approachable and fun for everyone (which I fundamentally don't think it would ever be). Fundamentally I think that by winding back this feature we tie up a large number of loose ends and it results in a far more finished and enjoyable product. And what's-more everyone on the development team agrees that we enjoy the game for fighting, looting and creating...not staring blankly at dozens of resource bars trying to figure out who needs to head back for more fuel and how long we need to wait for ammunition to process. We've also simplified the resource transfer system. "Supply groups" and "Transit Fleets" have been replaced with a simple but comprehensive three-tier system. You can mark a vehicle as a "Creator", a "Cargo" or a "User". Creators fill up Cargos (and Users), Cargos give to Users (up to procurement levels). Users equalise their material with their neighbours, so do Creators, and there are a few handy transfers from Users back to Cargo and Creator to make sure they maintain their procurement levels as well. This system covers 95% of the way people were using the resource system and does it all semi-automatically. This simplification is much more possible now that materials are the only resource, as they invariably just need to flow from the resource zones to the front line, with everyone (Creators and Cargo) keeping what they need and passing the rest on. This new resource system also facilitates the long-range transport of materials from refinery to refinery, which is neat. The system also has an option, for Creator and Cargo types, to set their "supply chain index", so if you want to relay materials from output to output in order to accumulate them at a central location you can set the supply chain index to determine which way along the chain the materials will flow. It's all explained in the game.
After spending a lot of time with this new system from adventure to campaign and designer mode, the gameplay feels a little faster to get going and a little simpler for fleet management. As if you didn’t already know, you can shift+right click (with your supply construct selected) on the target construct / flagship of a fleet to keep supplied, keep holding down shift and right-click where you want to pick the resources up from and once again while not letting go of shift, shift+right click on the target construct/flag ship to finish the loop. This would be done of course after setting up the settings Creator, Cargo and User. Creator as an example is the harvesting construct, Cargo which would be the supply ship, User which would be a single target construct that uses the mats. This will keep the supply ship target waypoint updated and therefore your supply ship will always head to the target construct no matter where it has moved to after setting up the loop. You still need ammo and fuel boxes on your constructs, as these are governing the transfer rate / the speed that stock your turrets and fuel engine with the materials needed for them to run. You can run a construct without fuel or ammo boxes, however, once your APS clips are empty you will see a drop in your rate of fire as the material is not being transferred fast enough, this is the same for fuel engines and CJE. Another change that goes hand in hand with resource management is the changes to fuel refineries. In short:
Refineries on a force with greater than 1 million materials on it will begin refining the material into 'commodities' that are stored centrally. Commodities (AKA centralised materials) can be added by the player to any vehicle in allied territory, at any time.
Steam was previously totally unbalanced and arbitrary. For example, 9 small boilers with 1 small piston was the optimal steam setup, which was more efficient and denser than almost all other engines; and turbine power generation only depended on its pressure, so compact turbines were always optimal.
It lacked many critical info in its UI.
It was hard to control the usage of steam
What's good with new steam:
A bit more of realism and complexity
Larger steam now generally have better efficiency and density than equivalent smaller steam
More useful info such as total power production, performance over time
Possibility to regulate steam usage with valves
Pros of steam compared to injector fuel:
Denser and more efficient
Even denser with turbines
Easier to fit into irregular space
Provides a buffer with flywheels or steam tanks
More efficient when used for propellers
Doesn't require fuel containers, uses material directly from any type of storage
Computationally less intensive
Cons of steam compared to fuel:
Still hard to regulate, so it's only useful when the power usage is constant or there's a buffer energy storage
Turbines waste energy when batteries are full
Crankshafts waste energy when reaching speed limit
More susceptible to damage (injector engines can often still run fine even when half of it is gone, steam can stop working when a single pipe is destroyed)
Why cost of parts is hilariously high: Steam engines have better efficiency and density (many players seem to forget that one) than injector engines. So a higher initial costs makes it less overpowered. (In my opinion, the potential waste of energy is a major drawback of steam and justifies for its high potential power. But iirc Draba said that injector engines would be useless on designs that require a lot of power if steam doesn't have higher initial cost, which also makes sense.) Problem with new steam that can't be fixed:
Many old designs are broken due to low power output
Problems that can probably be fixed but I don't have a solution:
Inefficient steam engines are ridiculously bad (a bad steam engine is like 30 PPM and 50 PPV, while a good one is around 600 PPM and 110 PPV) (I tried to fix this and spent like 40 hours on that, but I only managed to make it easier to build a mediocre engine)
Cannot be simulated to calculate a stable power output, like fuel engines do (actually it's easy but would take a lot of time to do and I don't think it's necessary)
Another massive change is the detection rework which I also left a few questions for Ian AKA Blothorn to explain the system and how it works. Why a change was warranted:
Different types of detection weren't well balanced--for instance, visual components had better accuracy than IR and vastly better range.
Detection autoadjust used an incorrect formula, so optimizing adjustment was both mechanical and tedious.
Trackers having much better detection ranges than search sensors meant that detection was very binary--if you could see something at all you could usually get a precise lock (barring ECM, which was only counterable by large numbers of components).
Needing both sensors and munitions warners made reactive missile defence difficult on small vehicles.
There were a number of other inconsistencies/imbalances, e.g. some visual/IR sensors working through water, steam engines producing no heat, etc.
Overview of the new system: On the offensive side, each sensor type now has a role in which it is optimal, and large vehicles are best using a variety to cover their weaknesses. Visual probably remains the default for above-water detection--it remains impossible to reduce visual signature other than reducing size. IR is better against fast vehicles, as they have trouble avoiding high IR signatures from thrust and drag. Both visual and IR are weak in rangefinding (although coincidence rangefinders are adequate for most purposes); radar is correspondingly strong in range and weak in bearing, although it often offers better detection chances against vehicles that don't pay attention to radar stealth. On the defensive side, there are two approaches. Most obvious is signature reduction--while it is deliberately difficult to avoid detection entirely, reducing signature reduces detection chances and thus degrades opposing accuracy. At short ranges, however, this doesn't work well--detection chances are likely high regardless, and low errors at short range mean even sparse detections can give a good fix. Smoke and chaff can be useful here: they increase detection chance while adding a distance-independent error to opponent's visual and radar sensors, respectively. ECM, buoys, and radar guidance have also been reworked. Buoys are more powerful, becoming more accurate as they get closer to the target. While their base error is high, at long ranges a buoy at close range can beat the accuracy of any onboard sensor. If you worry about opponents’ buoys, ECM can now intermittently jam them--except if they are connected to their parent vehicle by a harpoon cable, in which case they don't need the vulnerable wireless connection. Most blueprints should need no modifications under the new system, although a few may want a few more or less GPP cards. The one exception is water interactions--IR cameras, laser rangefinders, and retroreflection sensors can no longer work through water, so submarines that used them underwater or vehicles that used them to detect submarines will need to replace them (likely with buoys). Vehicles that predominantly used visual detection should also consider adding a greater variety of sensors--in particular, visual camera trackers tied to AA mainframes should likely be replaced with IR cameras. Also, radars and cameras can take over missile and projectile detection (radar is required for projectile detection), so munitions warners can be removed/replaced with additional sensors. Last but not least a sweet little addition to our build menu prefabs. https://preview.redd.it/iqw1ymabu9t51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=aa1e3cdba6e1d62e07aef83caf0acad2a39249ed Please do make sure you go through the changelog as a hell of a lot has changed!
Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a Solo modern day occult RPG, written by Alex T. for Blackoath Entertainment. I first stumbled upon it on Kickstarter in October of 2019, and immediately backed it. There are few deliberately designed Solo RPG's, and its promise of solo rules, robust system, and setting was irresistible. I received my print copy this summer, but haven't had a chance until recently to play it. Now that I have, I wanted to do a quick review of the game, based on both my reading of it as well as the couple of sessions I've been able to play. While most of the review will be discussing the book itself, I'll include some notes on my play experience in spoilers. Layout and Design The book itself is solid. The cover image is cool and evocative--and the art in general is very well done. I only backed at the softcover level, but it's a solid and well designed layout. Actually, better than some of the recent games I've bought from more established companies. Setting It's modern day London. Your character has gone through some traumatic and horrifying experience that awakened them to the greater supernatural world. After much searching, you have come to the Omphalos, a secret town populated by mystics, monsters, and other...things. There, you begin your journey of both personal enlightenment and personal power. Character Creation Seekers uses the 6 classic attributes--Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma, with Will replacing Wisdom. The scale is from 1-20, with all starting at 10. You then get an additional 20 points to further customize your character. I ended up putting my points into Dexterity, Will, Intelligence, and Charisma. I figured Will and Intelligence are key to any aspiring wizard, and--desiring to do something different than a rogue bad ass--I was hoping that Dexterity and Charisma would give me options to solve issues with something other than direct violence. This would become an issue later on. Next, you have "Secondary Attributes"--Hit Points (Con x10) or Sanity (Int x10) and the like. Then, you have Skills. They're pretty much what you would expect, a mix of combat and non-combat. You have 250 points to spend on the skills, but are limited to no more than 50 in any skill at creation. Some skills have a base value derived from your attributes (for example, One-Handed Melee starts with a value equal to your Str+Dex, while Persuade starts with a value equal to your Charisma X2), while other skills--the mystical ones--begin at 0 and can only be increased through gameplay. If you use a skill 5 times, you can make a Skill-Up roll. If you roll above the current value (i.e.: fail), you add 1 point to the skill. Given that I had a decent Dex, my combat skills were decent to begin with. I wanted to play an "ordinary joe" kind of character, so I spend my points on skills like Technology, Linguistics, and Persuade. I finally caved to my min/maxing tendencies though, and ended up boosting Parry and Sneak as high as I could, with a smattering of points in other combat skills. I had quite a few in the mid-40's, so my "mild mannered accountant" was surprisingly dangerous. Or so I thought. Backgrounds After the basics are done, you roll a d10 for your Background. Each provides and in-depth backstory for your character, and details the traumatic and often horrific moment that set you on the path of magic. Each also provides various penalties and bonuses that further modify your character. I rolled the "Near Death Experience"--my PC was a workaholic who almost dies of a heart attack. While "dead," he encounter a horrific spirit that he just barely managed to evade. Upon waking, he through aside his career and sought out some explanation for what he had seen. He has a bonus to Psychic Combat--which is used in the Astral Plane--but a penalty to his Constitution and Charisma. I had left my Con at 10, so it dropped to 9, and my Hit Points also dropped from 100 to 90. I wasn't worried though, as I had intended to be more sneaky and charming than tough. He said foreshadowingly. Combat Combat is relatively simple. As you approach a foe, you make an Initiative roll on a d20. Each foe has a static Initiative value; if you beat it, you go first and if not, then they do. If you beat them on the first turn, you have a chance to surprise or avoid them entirely. All combat rolls are done by the player. If an enemy attacks, you need to make a defensive roll (Parry, Dodge, or Find Cover) to avoid their attack, and you make your offensive roll (like One Handed Melee) to hit them. Certain foes are Veterans, and apply penalties to these rolls. Different types of weapons do different amounts of damage--like 2d10+10 for a pistol. In the intro adventure, the PC gains a "talent" that grants them a flat +25 to their damage from then on. Most foes have roughly 100-130 Hit Points, so even with the player bonus, it can take quite a few rounds to get through even minor enemies. The Mystical World The next few sections are some of the most interesting, describing the Astral World, Magic, Summoning and Binding Spirits, and the like. I haven't had a chance to really dig into this aspect of the game, however. The Omphalos and Scenarios The core of the game is the Omphalos, a hub of trade, commerce, knowledge and intrigue. Here the PC can buy and sell gear, learn new knowledge, encounter the strange denizens of this world, and get missions for various factions. There are four listed in the book, each with their own agendas and philosophy. Each has constant need for "foot soldiers" to do various unsavory tasks for them, and as you gain Favor with each, they provide various bonuses and spells and other benefits. >! So, I finished the intro scenario, had some knowledge of the greater world, and had been introduced to the Omphalos. Time for the first "real" adventure! First, I roll on the Emphalos Daily Event table and got "quiet day"--things are calm today, and prices are low. I have only a few obols (the currency of the magical realm), so any discount is nice. Then I roll for Encounters, and get "pickpocket." There's no roll to avoid this, so my PC loses 100 obols. This is more than I have, so I am no broke. Desperate for work, I see who is hiring. There are 4 factions, and each might have a represented in town that day, based on a roll of 7+ on a D10. I roll for each, and only one is present, the Causa Scientiae a particularly rational and Order focused faction. I then roll for the Scenario--I get "recover." One of their artifacts has fallen into mortal hands and is in a museum. They want me to recover it for them. Given the setup, there will only be mortal guards--which is nice--and they don't want me to kill anyone. In fact, each guard I kill will cost me the possible Favor reward with the faction. Works for me--I don't want to kill anyone either.!< I could refuse job, but risk losing Favor with them. Given that they are the only ones hiring today, I'm loathe to refuse. Plus the job seems up my alley--no magics needed (and I have none), and I should avoid all combat. Since other types of mission are "kill everything on site" or "kill everything and cast a really tough ritual" I figure I'm unlikely to get a better mission. Next I go to the scenario design. There are a number of possible locations, and each has a unique setup, Events, and Discoveries. This is probably my favorite part of the game. I roll some dice, get a list of rooms and locations, and then create a simple map for my explorations. I know given the setup that the artifact in question will be discovered in the 16th room. But, a roleplayer is gonna roleplay, so I decide my PC will make a beeline for the Archives, assuming that the object surely must be there. And, if not, it will have the necessary paperwork showing where the object is. Each room has unique odds for three different types of encounters--Enemies, Events, and Discoveries. I begin at the Entrance, and have no enemies but an Event reveals Drug Fueled Goons--apparently the guards here are all high as hell, and have a bonus of 20 to their Hit Points, but a -10 to combat. So, tougher to kill, but easier to hit and avoid. The next room I enter is the Lobby, and there's a guard present. The guard rules state that they will attack on site. I could use an alternate rule that lets you talk past human-type foes but, well, I am breaking in and they are all drugged the hell up, so I stick with the basic rules. Still, I try to avoid them but fail in my starting initiative roll. The battle begins, and the dice are on my side. It's a running gun battle, but I'm able to kill the guard. When he's wounded, he calls for backup, and the dice gods are still smiling at me, and I make it through that battle without any injuries. I'm upset at my failure to avoid combat--and losing Favor with my client--but after some nasty battles in the intro adventure, I start to think I'm getting things sorted out. I continue exploring and even manage to successfully sneak past a guard. As I'm exploring one of the administration offices, I run into another one. This time I can't avoid him, and another fight ensues. This time, the dice don't roll so well. He quickly gets the better of me, and I end up taking a lot damage. And with only 90 Hit Points, it's far more than I'm comfortable with. I decide to run. To run away, you need to roll a D20 and, like initiative, and beat their Dexterity but even still they get a free attack on you. Not that it matters, as I fail to disengage. After two rounds spent trying to run away, my PC is shot dead on some secretaries desk and my game came to a close. Concluding Thoughts Seekers Beyond the Shroud is a very interesting game. Obviously, a ton of thought, love, and work has been poured into this game. And there is a lot I love about it--the world, the discussions on magic and spirits, the mission setup system--all top notch. But, there are some things that didn't quite work for me.
Skill resolution. The binary pass/fail doesn't really interest me, particularly for a Solo game. This is purely a personal preference, however.
Skill improvement. 5 usage of skills or 5 combats (for combat skills) to have the chance to increase a skill by 1%? Character progression seems like it would be glacial. Not that I would know, since...
Combat is brutal, and tedious. Not only does even simple combat take several rounds (each requiring an Initiative Roll, a defense roll, an offense roll, and various damage rolls), but they are fairly generic without a chance to meaningfully do anything different or interesting. Also, while the game embraces an "old school" philosophy that not all fights should be fought, this runs counter to both the Scenario design (where "kill all foes" is a pretty common goal), and the System itself. Combat is assumed, after all, and avoiding it requires two separate rolls, neither of which will have a more than 50% chance, at best, of success. And failing either results in combat which requires sheer luck to disengage from.
The Scenario and the system felt...disjointed. This is another purely subjective point, I'll concede, but I didn't like how I had to "dungeon crawl" my way through the Museum. I like the idea of a museum unknowingly having a mystical artifact and my ex-accountant having to figure out how to steal it, without killing anyone. I'd love to do a solo game where I need to assemble a crew to try and help me (can I trust them?), try to locate where the artifact is, do some recon, plan the heist, try to get and get out without drawing attention. Sounds like a fun heist game that could at any moment fall apart. Walking around room by room killing guards didn't seem to do the setup justice.
Failure. Failure needs to be part of any game system, because otherwise it's not really a "game." And death is the ultimate failure, which gives combat meaning. But there has to be a middle ground between "you can't fail" and "oh, you didn't roll significantly better than average for the past 8 dice rolls, so your character is dead and the game is over." I don't know how to square this particular circle.
I'll probably give the game another shot. But, instead of playing an average guy awakening to a wider world, I'll probably go with a more "badass" character and hope he can survive the first few missions. In Seekers, knowing ancient languages is nice, but real mages know how to use a Glock. TLDR Seekers Beyond the Shroud is an interesting Solo RPG of modern occult shenanigans. it has a lot of very interesting and fun mechanics to bring the game to life, but suffers from some bad editing (make sure you play through the intro scenario or you WILL miss a key "PC Bonus") and an unforgiving system. Still, worth checking out for any Solo gamer interested in more contemporary game.
The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet. Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured. Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it. During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper. Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss. "Hello?" Ghen answered. "Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details." "Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?" "No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about." Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?" "Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up." Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically. As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?" Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery." Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans? "Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time." A week later. At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting. "Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?" All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts. "Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!" Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing? "Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded." "Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost. "Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount." "So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked. "If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder." "And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists. "Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options." Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket. "What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time. Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately." "And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone. "Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!" "And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money. "Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?" Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working? As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase. And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times. Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way. Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies. And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits? Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more. ... There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept? Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there. "Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?" "Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down. "Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form. "I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little." "Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod. "As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact. "Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so." Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually." "Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?" "Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest." "Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?" "If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated. "So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?" "Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case. "Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted." "Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise. "What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious." "I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?" Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold." "A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted. Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares." Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later. After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always. "I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?" "I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?" "I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch." "You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor. "I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle." "I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk. Several weeks later. Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt. While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route. After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891. And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it. And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back? His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful. By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs. What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real? It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off. As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen. "What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments. "D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car. "You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!" "How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh. "Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!" Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares." Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?" "Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?" "Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin." And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?" Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?" "Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!" "Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it." "Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited." "By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them." "Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go." Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?" Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it." ... It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%. Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way? What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching? He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late. Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well. "I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?" Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say." "Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?" "Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them. They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus. "May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar." Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please." "Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean. Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him. Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high? And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm. And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money. And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible. The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it. Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing. Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal. Three Years Later. Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat. It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply. Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik. Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes. Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery. "Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon." "Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik. "Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good." "What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik." Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month." "I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk." "You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently." "Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know." "Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?" "I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement." Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?" AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
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