Monstrous Compendium Ch2 bit – Admin

Swift as her snakes, Stheno pounced.

Kirito trembled in her arms. Resistance to poison wasn’t immunity. He knew what her cobras could do.

Stheno kept their movements easy and smooth, as she tucked his head into the crook of her neck. For a nestling it would be soothing; the scent of skin, scales, and hair, the liquid flow of serpents past ears and throat, tongues flicking skin in a feather-light caress.

Human noses were duller, poor things. But they could still feel.

“You are alive,” Stheno said softly. “You are my Moonsword, and I know you did not leave them while breath or hope remained.” She stroked his cheek with the back of her claws. “Enough of could-haves. We must live with what is.”

He stiffened. “I….”

“You cannot die,” Stheno said; as if, like a truenamer, she could warp the fabric of reality to make it so. “You must find Kayaba. You must live to face him, and break the trap he has laid for us all.” Her voice sank, as she stroked trembling skin. “You are the last of the Black Cats. No one else can bring a reckoning for the dead.”

There was no sound. Only quiet, ragged breaths. But hot tears soaked her shoulder, and he huddled in her arms like a child.

He is young, Stheno thought, rocking him slowly. But he is no child. Not anymore.

Soon, too soon, the tears ceased. Kirito swallowed, and lifted his head. “…You said, the trap he laid for us.”

Ah. So she had. Not the most skillful slip of the tongue, no-

“Lady Stheno.” Tear-stained eyes were wide. “Are you an admin?”

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66 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch2 bit – Admin

  1. >“Lady Stheno.” Tear-stained eyes were wide. “Are you an admin?”>
    Alright place your bets people: how likely is it that Vathara ends the chapter on this line?
    😛

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The case against: The number of snippets is maybe less than usual for a chapter. A new chapter would be about a day to put the old one up, and then a day for the start of the next chapter. It is a longer wait if the answer is in between snippets, and there is more to this chapter.

      The case for: It is a really good place to make the reader swear, and the answer necessarily involves an emotional shift from where the scene was.

      We shall see.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Problem with Kirito and his survivor’s guilt over the death of the Black Cats is that he’s right. It isn’t communicated properly in the anime, but we get his thoughts on the situation in the Light Novel and even accounting for him being an unreliable narrator (and he is, big time) he still ignored every opportunity to break cover and tell them in no uncertain terms that it was a bad idea.

        In fact it was his hesitation over whether to reveal the fact that he had been lying to them for months that kept him from responding in time to at least save Sacchi from the stupidity that set off that trap.

        That said the narrative also makes it obvious that if it hadn’t been for Kirito most of the Black Cats – if not all of them – would have died before that day if Kirito hadn’t been there with them. That’s something that Kirito doesn’t actually recognize himself though so…

        There are other problems with it too, such as the fact that the majority of the people trapped in Aincrad were Middle and High School students with only a relative handful being older people like Klein and Agil. Something that, again, is not as obvious in the anime since…well Kirito was drawn as if he were sixteen the whole time when really he was fourteen when the whole thing started. This was the same with most of the others, some of them being bumped up considerably in age by their appearance such Caynz, Yolko, and Schmitt. Schmitt was explicitly described as looking like a popular high school track star. In the anime he looks like a grown man just finishing up college.

        Getting back to the point – there’s precious few people in Aincrad with the life experience needed to be able to tell Kirito that he should stay alive for the sake of those who died. Oh sure plenty could have – and probably would have (and likely in Klein’s case /did/) told him that, but those who are old enough for their opinions to hold enough weight to break through Kirito’s survivor’s guilt? Few and far between and it’s implied that most of them were mid liners or else stuck in the City of Beginnings.

        Which also ties into the final problem: Kirito didn’t have anyone he trusted enough to talk to about it. Especially after Keita condemned him just before committing suicide. Sure Klein is there, but Kirito feels unworthy of Klein’s friendship because he left Klein behind on the first day of the game in order to rush out and use his Beta knowledge to get ahead. Also: Klein is a total goof most of the time so Kirito probably views Klein as a High Schooler who just looks older.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well… I suppose she sort of is an admin, in that she is a party trying to keep the game from going too far off the rails? Unfortunately for Sethano, nobody ever explained what the actually Kayaba designated terminal station was.

    Still pretty sure Sehano is going to end this misadventure with a full set of dragon skin boots, handbags, and whatever else you can make out of a whole dragon hide.

    Like

    1. Cape. Dragon skin cape, with a hood to hide her snakes for an Epic Reveal (I know, not her usual style, but so useful in the right situations!)
      And, y’know maybe a breastplate and armored skirt for battle too. Why not?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice cliffhanger at the end. In a sense, Stheno knows more about Kirito than he has told anyone else up to this point, and she has the experience to help him deal with the issue.
    And I do wonder how the long term relations will work. (Also, I was thinking of Laughing Coffing: I would think they would either be a pure human group, or some potential members embrace the lycanthropy and get killed off/die early).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course Stheno knows him best. He let things slip when she was just a NPC, one with a complex program, but not a person. She was a safe place to vent and talk and get advice. She wouldn’t tell anyone anything she heard, and she might have unique insight into the game. Figuring out she’s a person is probably a bit like discovering that your favorite rock formation is actually a nest of dragon eggs.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. i am reminded of another SAO crossover, with non players stuck in the game (a highschool DxD crossover called devils of aincrad on fanfiction net)-in which kirito asked questions to see if its really an admin-to check their computer knowledge. those were trick questions where a smart person could find the answer in the question, and a person who knows what kirito is talking about would realize the questions and answers are bullshit.

    I doubt kirito here has reason to think stheno is not from earth, but i think having him test her about computer related things admins should know is very much in character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think this is a trick question here. As the Beater, he would understand why anyone who might have high level knowledge of the game would prefer to be known as an NPC. And admins generally have privileges, so if her job was to watch over the players and give advice and spot problems or glitches, having her be powerful enough to pull a TPK would be best. Also, it would explain why she is so complex of complex a personality and her quest line. And why she’s kept the sunglasses. If you don’t know that there are legitimate nonhuman players, Stheno truly looks like an admin.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course there’d have to be some fast talking about why she’d actually kill players when player death is /real/ and /permanent/. Though that could easily be expressed as being compelled by Kayaba – if she doesn’t fulfill her role he might/would just pull the plug and kill everyone.

        A damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation where the best choice – killing some players – is still a horrible, no good choice.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Didn’t one of the more recent snippets include her figuring out that the kids who die in game are dying IRL, too, not just being booted back to Earth? Something about lying with the truth.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. From what I understood as I read, the party that got wiped were belligerent and more then is normal for most players. Certainly Stheno was a difficult to aggro ‘mob’. If they didn’t let up, she’d have to kill them to survive. Very aggressive self defense. There are still good explanations for if she were human.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Not necessarily… it depends on what is meant by the word “proper”…

        From the sound of it, Stheno thought that meant they go back to the world they came from. It could mean that they’re dying. Or it could mean that Kayaba is sending them to the world they should be in, aka the D&D world…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I found Issei entertaining, myself.
    and i do think that should stheno confirm, Kirito will ask her questions about the game-at least to see if she happens to know anything that could be of use. also about game mechanic that he might be curious about…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Easy out – Kayaba sand-bagged them and might well have changed the game without telling them as there are things she’s discovered since meeting Kirito that do not match up with her understanding of how the game was supposed to work prior to launch day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ouch! while talking about people who would have been turned into scapegoats, the Admins working at launch must have had a terrible time.

    also, I’m I the only one thinking of her gaze attack as the ban-hammer?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, a story focusing on the admins in SAO would be interesting. They would quickly become scapegoats, not only are a lot of normal admins a pain in the a$$. they didn’t stop Kayaba.

        It is sometimes obvious that SAO was written by someone who has never played an MMORPG, or bothered to do too much research on them. Seriously, SAO would not be fun to play if it wasn’t an opening-title for real-life Tron,

        Others have already made videos on the subject if you are interested. If you want to research the kind of games SAO is based on this video is a pretty good and ranting resource.

        Plus, A lot of the people playing on day one would have been beta testers, since most developers release the beta to increase interest in the final game and to have their customers pay to test their game.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a third of players on day one had also played the beta.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right now, all of the normal games do various things– my husband has been playing MMOs for so long that he still complains about not being able to pay for his sub by doing admin work.

        We were both struck by how the people who wrote it probably had at least similar experience to his– and then didn’t assume that “people have always done it this way” would apply to a scifi death trap that’s explicitly stated as being a hot, new, nobody else has tried it thing.

        Kayaba had enough control over the game to put a death lock on it– he could manage to make it so any scheduled admins wouldn’t log in, and would have reason to do so, since he was supposed to be the only source of power.

        Kind of a basic thing for scifi– it doesn’t assume that everything is the same as what is done right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Honestly, I could see future Virtual Reality MMOs using AIs as admins, but they don’t do that in SAO. When Kayaba uses his admin powers he does so through his menu. instead of using, say, voice commands to an AI-admin companion following Kayaba around – Kayaba could pretend to be a Tank/Beast Tamer.

        TL;DR: the admin system in SAO is built for human users, it doesn’t use AIs although it would be cool if it did.

        The complaint that SAO would have been terrible to play still stand.

        If you want Dark Souls style combat? SAO would be boring. Since the weapons are basically all the same, the dungeons are basically all the same and the boss-battles don’t have enough variation for Dark Souls players.

        If you want a more classical MMORPG? it would still be boring from the lack of Ranged, Support and Tank classes to give the game some variation and strategy.

        The abridge series even turned it into a joke. every strategy session is interrupted by someone screaming “hit it ‘til it dies!”

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I find it a lot more likely that Kayaba had a way to demote the other admins, instead of him convincing the others that they only needed one guy to take care of all the problems on day one.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s canon that there were no Admins other than Kayaba logged in. There were several people who had worked on the game – the fisherman from the honeymoon mini-arc was one of those – but actual admins were not logged in.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You know I get really tired of people claiming that Sword Art Online would be a terrible game and flatly ignoring the fact that when Kawahara originally wrote the story World of Warcraft had not even been released.

    Let me repeat that so that you don’t miss it WORLD OF WARCRAFT HAD NOT BEEN RELEASED when Kawahara wrote Sword Art Online’s Aincrad Arc. I don’t even think it had been announced at that time for that matter since Sword Art Online’s first “volume” was originally written at the same time as the original short story that all the .hack// properties were derived from.

    At that time the MMO that ruled the roost – at least here in the West – was Everquest. That game had /none/ of the elements of today’s MMOs, but if you go back and look you’ll find that SAO has a lot of similarities in design to Everquest.

    The other bits that people gripe about so often – the menus, the combat, the hud, the lack of chat functionality, just the interface in general – are a result of people /not thinking/ when comparing what is essentially a holo-deck in functionality to sitting in front of a monitor with a mouse and keyboard.

    WTF people, are you really that dumb, or are you just hating on it because all the ‘cool’ people are?

    All that said? SAO as it’s presented in the novels along with ALO would probably be commercial flops in the /WESTERN/ market if they were released today because the market has changed since Kawahara originally wrote the story. I don’t know enough about the /EASTERN/ MMO market to comment on how it would go over there – and keep in mind that SAO /was/ a Japan-only release making it something that was built for the /EASTERN/ MMO market.

    That doesn’t mean that SAO was a “terrible” game. Just that it was one that was modeled off of a style of MMO gameplay that isn’t popular now. I mean Everquest is a dead game. It’s servers have shut down and nobody can play it anymore, but I dare you to go and claim that it was terrible when there are probably enough facts and figures, not to mention old fans, out there to tell you that no, it wasn’t terrible, it was in fact quite good for its time. That’s an understatement mind you. It was THE MMO for quite some time and that even an MMO newbie like myself, someone who didn’t start playing MMOs until 2012, has heard of Everquest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly don’t know much about Everquest, only as a name used in reference to old MMOs. So, if you say SAO looks like Everquest I have to take your word for it.

      According to Wikipedia, SAO came out in 2009 and WoW came out in 2004. So, healers and tanks are not the cellphones of the 50s.

      I will give you Dark Souls, that didn’t come out until 2011

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      1. The Light Novels started publishing around that time, but the Web Novels – of which the light novels are simply a cleaned up and professionally edited touch-up with edits only to the storylines and characterizations (and usually fairly minor at that) and not the setting.

        .hack// by comparison first made a major splash in 2002 when the anime .hack//SIGN was released. The original story that the first of the anime series and games were based on was written for a contest in…either 2000 or 2001. I don’t have access to my bookmarks or light novels right now so I can’t check for the actual year.

        .hack// won the contest though Sword Art Online wasn’t submitted as Kawahara’s story went over the word limit.

        As to the lack of the MMO trinity, that was a conceit of Sword Art Online’s game world and one that tied directly into the narrative as Kayaba didn’t want magic – healers or DPSers – in his game’s combat system. (Actually the ‘holy trinity’ of MMOs predates the genre entirely I think and goes back to pen and paper systems like D&D).

        It doesn’t mean that the game is a failure though. One game I play, my main MMO in fact, doesn’t subscribe to the MMO holy trinity and while the three classes in the game (only three!) might have shades of each part of the trinity they aren’t locked into being Healer, DPSer, or Tank and in fact can be built to be any one of the three through different means making the game quite a bit of fun. It’s not perfect, but neither are the games with the more stringent roles.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Sneaky,
      SAO was originally ‘published’ on the internet, and the internet version went up through the Alicization arc. The light novel publication by Dengeki Bunko was in response to the internet version, and would have been fairly late in the plot of the internet version. At ‘not being paid for it’ rates of production, more than four years to write up through the early or late Alicization arc would not at all be improbable. Or maybe it was done more quickly than that, and there was a long time between writing the short story and figuring out how to write an extended series of episodes.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay, in order.

    1st: SAO is apparently older then Wikipedia thinks, I stand corrected.

    2nd: I knew that the Tank, healer, DPS trinity was in the earliest D&D and to a lesser extent in the wargames it developed from (they were called medics back then), I just thought they won’t so relevant

    while I think, there is a minimum level of research you should do for your story, I also think at some point you are writing for historians.

    3rd: SAO didn’t necessarily need strict classes based on the RPG-trinity to be fun, games like bloodborne added variety with weapons that had different strengths and weaknesses.

    Want to add variety and tactics to SAO while staying realistic? just add bows!

    Like

    1. ODD was Fighting Men, Clerics, and Magic Users. (Thieves were later, and I personally would not include them.)

      Clerics sometimes didn’t get spells until the second level, and apparently had yet to evolve into healbots. Magic users were not necessarily DPS either. I understand that they tended to pick sleep or charm person as the first spell, and could use it about once per delve when starting. Parties starting at first level leaned heavily on the Fighting Men for tanking and DPS, and on avoiding unnecessary fights to compensate for the low availability of healing. This style works well with treasure for XP. If you are doing heists because straight up fights are too wasteful, you don’t need an uber complex combat system.

      I don’t understand how to do an MMO built around treasure as xp, it is probably easier to do one about fighting as XP.

      Like

      1. An SAO styled system? No, combat based XP system is best. A modern MMO which is much more focused on Questing/Missions than emergent gameplay as Everquest and Aincrad were? That’s actually quite easy. You get the XP from completing the quest or mission.

        You can also make the XP an “item” that is awarded upon opening the chest in much the same way that gold or whatever the standard game currency is in your MMO.

        Like

      2. It wouldn’t be that hard, just have XP removed and players level-up and learn new abilities by paying trainers.

        For dungeons, just take a page from the game Depth. Adventurers would go into dungeons for treasure to sell back home, then use the profits to improve themselves and their gear.

        For special gear, some of the treasure is cursed items that can be cleansed at town to be turned into magic gear.

        You could have poacher as a class, they would be able to turn killed monsters into treasure.

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