Monstrous Compendium Ch1 bit – Quest Start

Afternoon. Kirito blinked at golden sunlight, shading his eyes to look around the garden. Except for one bright-combed cockatrice giving him the evil eye from a tree branch, and a few hens and chicks scratching for bugs and seeds, he was alone.

He breathed in a sigh of relief. Stheno’s company had been pleasant, yes. Like talking to another person. But time to himself, when he was safe – that was all too rare. Especially in such peaceful surroundings. You didn’t see Kermes Knotweed and Orchil Irises every day-

Wait. What?

He’d laid down to nap near a bunch of simple <<Uncommon Flowers.>> He’d checked that before letting himself sleep; there wasn’t anything much more embarrassing than accidentally rolling over a necessary crafting component. But now, awake-

<<Kermes Knotweed. Orchil Iris. Shaman’s Fingerprints….>>

The plants even looked subtly different. Some dark green leaves now had lighter sage-green patches near the stems, like fingerprints. Others had leathery fronds and the first hints of red buds that said the root-nodules were ripe for harvesting. The irises had dustings of pollen on their flowers he could smell, like hot sunlight on cedar twigs.

The system’s letting my Scan pick up more details. Kirito brushed a finger over one of the Knotweeds, studying it carefully. Why? And why now?

Sitting up, he took off one half-glove to look at Stheno’s ring.

<<Stheno’s Gift: the Cockatrice Feather Ring.
<<Automatic save vs. touch petrification.
<<+10 vs. petrification/paralysis/poison.
<<Col: None. Perm-equipped.>>

So anti-poison and petrification. Nothing about adding bonuses to Scan.

It was the perm-equipped part that raised the hairs on the back of his neck. Kirito could think of a half-dozen reasons why he couldn’t take this ring off, and none of them were good.

Well, one might be, the swordsman admitted to himself. If this is just the start of a continuing questline – it might need someone who can’t be petrified.

And so far, Sword Art Online had been fair. Not easy, and definitely not safe, but fair. Kayaba wouldn’t have programmed in a cursed item without a warning to a player of what they were picking up. He hoped.

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25 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch1 bit – Quest Start

      1. Hmmm… How long did Kirito “nap” for? Because I know that one of the things that happens in DnD is that you actually apply when you level up during a Long Rest, which is usually defined as 8 hours of sleep/down time, not immediately upon receiving enough EXP.

        Now I can’t help but imagine Kazuto sitting at a table with a not insane Kayaba acting as a GM for a DnD game doing a little solo session between the big group sessions to hash out a quest for Kirito to do, because that way Kazuto can be the wonderful little Genre Savvy Munchkin that he is on his own, and not annoy the rest of the group with his shenanigans. Oh, they don’t complain too much because they have fun getting dragged along for the ride in the at times ridicules string of events that somehow manages to get the best possible outcome, but it helps when they can just watch Kazuto and Kayaba play off of each other to get adventures that have to be experienced to be believed. (also, recording of game sessions is not only allowed, but encouraged. And the more Ham and Rule of Cool, the better)

        The best part is I can totally see Kayaba being some sort of super-GM and managing 3-5 different adventure parties at once (in different sessions over the course of a week) and having them cross over at the best times, occasionally resulting in these utterly ridicules multi-day sessions that have 15-20 people working together with – and against! – each other and everyone having a blast.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. See, the problem with this train of thought is that it’s not really a game. I don’t doubt Stentho’s intentions, but just because she and her allies mean well, who says no one else from her dimension can access Aincrad? I can see someone less-than-ethical slipping something past the system
    (Also, who says Kayaba will always warn you about a cursed item? He seems more like the type to go “Well it’s not *my* fault you didn’t grind your Scan skill high enough…”)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Difference between a curse and something else here seems to be effects. What would be the consequence of removing the ring while cockatrices are in the area? It’s worth it as a safety precaution as long as someone powerful enough can remove it if he needs to equip better gear to remain competitive at higher levels.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What would be the consequence of removing the ring while cockatrices are in the area?

        Other than instant petrifaction the next time the cockatrice gives you the side eye and you fail your save roll?

        Probably nothing, unless it somehow renders you “not threatening” to the birds.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Given some of the things you’ve done to Kenshin’ over the years… Well, Sessha suspects that making characters a Little Bit Beastly has some Author Appeal, that it does.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s a funny question: did Kirito’s version of Earth have Gary Gygax and/or DnD. Probably not Eberron, but DnD itself is… pretty developmentally important…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absent the business issues, the property might not have ended up the hands of wizards of the coast, in which case perhaps a different developmental path than 3.0, 4, 5, etc…

      Going for an earlier cleft point, D&D’s success tells us there was a market, and hypothetically, one of the other similar things of the time could have succeeded in its place. (IIRC, this is a case where similar independent inventions happened at about the same time. Can’t remember the specifics with certainty, and might be wrong. One could argue that the wargaming community was bound to figure out something primed for a wider audience sooner or later.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good to know.

        Part of why it occurred to me was just… well… Kirito tends to think in videogame stats, and the User Interface seems to echo that; but MMORPGs grew out of RPGs, which in turn grew out of Tabletop RPGs, and DnD is kinda the ur-example.

        So for Kirito’s​ lingo to be recognizable to us implied a similar developmental background. Most likely not Eberron in specific, but… Not to get too meta about stuff, but it’s possible some people might be tripped up by the odd similarities when it comes to figuring out this stuff is real.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Brings up an odd question though…

        One of the more interesting things insisted upon by the developer of the Eberron setting in specific is that NPCs in Eberron grow in ways more like the real world. Their stats hit the limit they can achieve​ with their training and level of activity. And if they get out of practice their abilities wane. This is why there’s an NPC who’s a retired soldier and a veteran of the Hundred Years war, but he’s only a 1st level Warrior. Further, stats are a remove. Character stats are not how Eberron works. Eberron works like a real world, DnD stats just help us quantify for a tabletop game.

        However PCs work the same as ever. PCs just… level up in Eberron like they always do in DnD. The developer basically made it a point that the player party and whatever NPCs the GM says should all grow and level like PCs always do in DnD purely because that’s how the game works. But in setting this is a unique characteristic that the world …usually fails to notice, and said characteristic only lasts as long the GM says so/the game lasts.

        But just here, we witnessed Kirito level like PCs in the game do. And he noticed. So the question becomes: is that something about how the system/simulation they’re using works? Something about how the world works? Or are all the players of MCO PCs and – therefore – is Eberron about to get a few thousand PCs added to its population when MCO reaches its zenith?

        Because a single party – even with slow XP growth – can forge nations, shatter empires, and leave their mark on history for the ages. Eventually, anyways. But MCO mid-levels and up are exactly the types to make it to that ‘eventually’.

        Something tells me that – if I’m on to something here and not just jumping to conclusions – there’s no way even Kayaba could predict the long term ripples of what he’s done.

        Also, unrelated question: is this the same version of Eberron where Karakura is kicking around somewhere?
        (Because I still haven’t figured out how exactly to represent ‘Shinigami’ in Pathfinder, and while I am all for trying to stat out this new prestige class that Stheno is trying to bring back… Well my brain can only handle so much insanity at once…)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. First – Karakura’s definitely not in this AU. Thank goodness. Ichigo and Kirito in the same ‘verse would be extremely well intentioned nitro and glycerin.

        (Pretty explosions, though!)

        Huh. I’d forgotten about that bit on NPCs – in part because a lot of the ones I was focused on reading up on were either monsters with set stats, one particular vampire king, or in active adventuring.

        But you can assume MCO was created for several reasons – and one was, indeed, to let a lot of people level like PCs. Beniryuu is a pretty experienced red dragon, he’s kept track of little magical quirks the rest of the world ignored, he’s looking at the daelkyr and Quori as rising threats… and with eldritch devices involved, many rules get broken!

        BTW – for statting Moonsword, one of the classes needed is some kind – any kind – of fighter. The other is warlock.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. First – Karakura’s definitely not in this AU. Thank goodness. Ichigo and Kirito in the same ‘verse would be extremely well intentioned nitro and glycerin.

        Eep. The shambling chittering mass of what appears to be dozens of rabbits melted together cries out “Ichigo, Uryuu, probably Yasutora and possibly Orihime have dead mothers. Do it. You know you want to.” Yes, I do, but I think I’d already made things impossibly complex. Fortunately, I’m learning to say no.

        Liked by 2 people

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