Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – On the Wing

“They infest people. They eat you from the inside. Somebody gets infected with lycanthropy, you’ve still got a chance to save them. If a daelkyr-spawn gets inside you…” Issin shook his head. “You’re solo, Tae. Like Kirito. You don’t have to come.” He blew out a breath. “Heck, you’ve heard more daelkyr lore than any of us. If you’re scared, I know we should be.”

“Who says we’re not?” Dale said wryly. “But they’re our friends.” He gulped. “Even if we can’t get them out – how could we leave them in a ‘spawn nest alive?”

She covered her face with her hands, shuddering. “…You’re right.”

Yeah, Dale thought, trying not to shake himself. Why does that not make me feel any better?

Fists lowered to her sides, Tae unfurled her wings. “You’re all right. And if they’re going to have a chance, we have to move fast.” She fixed a dragon’s gaze on Kirito. “I don’t care what you say. I saw you. You’re a ranger. You can track a hawk on a cloudy day. Do it! I’ll find them. You find me!

A thunder of wings, and she was gone.

A ranger can do this, Kirito told himself. A ranger can….

Most players would say his chase was impossible. Tracking by way of Scan needed a trail you could see. And both Tae and the psiwasps were flying.

Trail or no trail, if you were on the map, an allied player could still find you. But drop into a pit, or get yanked into the air – and you weren’t on the map anymore.

Giant Wasps have their nests in trees or underground. If psiwasps hold true to that, they won’t show up on the map until we’re in the nest. Great.

So he was Scanning for a trail that wasn’t there. Literally. Tae left no trail of her own – but if he sensed where animals weren’t, spotting turned tracks and ruffled beast-minds where a larger predator had passed overhead….

He ducked and dodged down deer-trails and through swaying branches, following feelings as fragile as a spider’s web. He had to make this work. And he had to do it fast. Wings were so much faster than feet, and Tae’s could carry her into a fight she couldn’t win alone.


43 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – On the Wing

  1. Tho winged flight is not usually that fast for PCs in most systems. Magical flight is usually fast enough to matter, and monsters get fast winged flight, but PCs have to settle for slow winged flight if they get winged flight at all, because of “balance”. It made it interesting in one game I was in where my character was the slowest flyer because of using winged flight, while everyone else in the party was at least twice as fast because of using magical flight of various forms.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Who knows how balanced Kayaba made this part.

        Especially since he was aiming for a simulation of the realities of another world. Another world that he and his co-conspirators plan on dumping the survivors who meet whatever the requirements are for it (probably being adopted by a youkai and/or getting different enough from standard Earth human in some fashion that you get picked up despite still being human) into said world. A world that unless they can figure out how to get back to Earth (which the conspirators are pretty confident that they can’t), they are going to be living on for the rest of their lives. And if you want those lives to last long enough to make this venture worth anyone’s time and resources – it needs to be as close to actually living in Eberron as Kayaba can make it . . . without giving away the Cunning Plan hopefully until it is too late for the players to subvert it (I bet they are hoping that the players only catch onto the fact that they have been had even worse than being trapped in a death game when they wake up on Eberron instead of Earth after the game is cleared).

        Liked by 2 people

      2. When it comes to balance versus realism, he actually made a bit of a sliding scale. Early stuff started out mostly balanced so there were fewer people dying from sheer bad luck. But now they’re getting into higher levels and people have more of a survival-skills cushion, it’s skewing farther toward reality.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Nice! One of my biggest complaints about games is when “balance” trumps realism. Sure, I’m not full-Simulationist, I prefer games that focus on fun, and on what the characters do… but the quickest way to break my SoD is to base stuff on some arbitrary balance in a way that breaks realism. What makes the game fun, and the characters interesting, is living in a “real” world, where the world is internally consistent and everything makes reasonable sense. (which is one reason I like Vathara’s stories so much)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Did Tae just knowingly quote “The Princess Bride”? And who is going to give the Dread [s]Pirate[/s] Ranger [s]Roberts[/s] Kirito his first mask?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. and kirito branches his multiclass again.
    with all the cross specialization of his, when he finally gets into ebberon, the locals wont know what to make of him…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t really think he’s cross-classing all that much in D&D terms.

      I personally think that he basically started as a Ranger archetype rather then a Fighter, considering that Rangers are essentially specialized Fighters with some Druid aspects. (most of the nature/wilderness parts like tracking and animal empathy) Thus if I were to try and make a character sheet for Kirito as he is now, it would be a Ranger/Warlock combo or, if the GM would allow it, a Ranger with Warlock style magic rather then the mini-Druid that base Ranger uses.

      Of course, this is based my knowledge of 3.5e, a smattering of 5e, and how inflexible D&D can be compared to what has been shown in the story+snippets. For all we know this could be completely invalidated by the details we don’t know yet.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think it’s been mentioned that CrossOverCreativeChaos is mostly using 3.5 with a smattering of ‘it’s interesting, toss it in’ and that ‘Moonsword’ is effectively a prestige class that requires levels in Warlock and levels in a ‘Fighter Variant’. Which means some things can be concluded based on that.

        1. Very few Prestige Classes in 3.5 specify ‘X many Levels in Y class’ as entry requirements. Most instead grab a couple class features or minimum stats that it’s hard to get without a certain number of levels in the classes desired.

        2. Warlock Prestige Classes have a very easy time of this, because the designers just figure what level characters need to be for the Prestige Class abilities to still be balanced, and then from there how many of those levels should be Warlock how many should be ‘other’, and for the Warlock ingredient specify how powerful the main class feature of the Warlock – their Eldritch Blast – needs to be as the Prestige Class entry requirement.

        3. Prestige Classes built to appeal to an Archetype rather than a specific class are a bit more broad for requirements, because the designers can’t be too specific without accidentally excluding some builds they want to include.

        4. ‘Fighter Variants’ tend to focus on those available in the core book: Barbarian, Fighter itself, Ranger, often Paladin, sometimes Monk, and recognize that at later levels the Bard or Rogue may qualify. The first four fortunately all have a few things in common in spite of being very different classes. All four have the same Base Attack stat growth (which is also the best in the game) and all are proficient with at least all Simple Weapons, multiple if not all Martial Weapons, and Light and Medium armors, even if they’re not all proficient in Heavy Armor.

        5. The easiest way to let all of the above, or at least the first four of the above ‘Fighter’ Classes for a Prestige Class while keeping other classes out is to list Martial Weapon Proficiency, and a certain level of Base Attack. Figuring what level of Base Attack is usually where the designer figures out what level party the benefits of this Prestige Class are balanced for.

        6. Eberron – in spite of having some of the toughest​ exotic enemies of any DnD setting (I’m looking at you, the CR20 Daelkyr, and CR60 Rakshasa Rajahs) is actually a relatively low powered setting. Over time and growth from 3.5th Edition to 5th edition power seep has raised that level a bit (the Lord of Blades going from 14th Level in 3.5 to 21st level in 5th is the most extreme version of this), but overall in-universe if you’ve hit 5th level you’re pretty badass, 10th is Expert, and 15th is Living Legend. MCO has a slightly higher average level than baseline Eberron, but not too much better. So you probably don’t need more than 5 levels overall to qualify.

        7. If it’s supposed to be more Fight-y than Warlock-y, then it probably wants the PCs to have two levels in Warlock, and three in something fighty. This makes the requirements seem mild but actually be appropriate in-setting. Specifically: Requirements are probably:
        Base Attack Bonus: +4
        Caster Level: 2nd
        Eldritch Blast damage: at least +1d6
        Proficient in all Martial Weapons, and Medium Armor
        Skills: Probably enough ranks in either Knowledge (Planes), Knowledge (Nature), Spellcraft, or Spot to reflect a mixed class 5th level character who’s maxed out the skill.

        So when Kirito’s shows up, the locals are gonna take a look and think he’s odd, but eventually they’ll settle on him being a Moonsword. So above level 5, Multiclass Ranger/Warlock/Moonsword.

        Not actually that non-standard for DnD mid level. Oh, Warlock is rare, and Prestige Classes are usually rare – outside of ones that cluster by geography like the Silver Flame Exorcist – but not too crazy. Heck, I once ran a character – in the GMs Homebrew setting admittedly – who by Level 10 was Bard/Rogue/Sublime Chord/Fochlucan Lyrist/Seeker of the Song. Nevermind an epic level character I played in a different campaign in the same world who was also Ranger/Warlock, but his prestige classes were Geomancer/The Infused. I had one other character I wanted to make who would have been either Warlock or Sorcerer before going into Blood Magus, Osteomancer, and Flux Adept, but I never got the chance.

        And I was not the munchkin, or the min/maxer in my group of friends. Still aren’t honestly. Point is, even for a mostly baseline Eberron, Kirito’s MCO build isn’t too crazy or out there.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think my favorite is Master of Masks. ‘You must imitate a person well enough to fool one of their personal acquaintances’

        One of my gaming buddies – who is the min/maxer in our group, but is also an excellent roleplayer (and is personally responsible for some of the weirdest class combinations I’ve ever seen), played one. Specifically, one who met that particular prerequisite on accident before the player even knew the Prestige Class existed (the character started as a Rogue/Wizard, though he eventually hit epic levels and grew well beyond that, not necessarily in that order).

        Also: fun note, that Master of Masks is the only fellow PC I’ve seen to have – in character and from a place of genuine empathy, which the character did not possess a great deal of (as opposed to an extremely well developed paranoia) – offer to the group to mercy kill one of our fellow party members. I am not referring to mercy killing an NPC or GMPC party member either. The party member on the potential chopping block was in fact my own. My PC had been very unlucky, in both dice and other fortunes.

        My in-character misfortune was so bad that when the party convinced an epic magic item crafter to make us all custom weapons that – after the Master of Masks actually used his Perform (acting) to act out (as a comedy sketch) the various misfortunes of my character during the item crafting the Smith for absolutely free threw in a bonus on my PC’s item that it granted him a constant +4 luck bonus to all saves whenever the PC was wearing or wielding it. Didn’t really slow my tide of Nat 1s on saving throws tho’.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Yeah, Dale thought, trying not to shake himself. Why does that not make me feel any better?

    It’s really not supposed because a choice between leaving your friend to die a horrible death or give them a mercy killing is not a choice at all. No one likes a situation where their options are awful, terrible, horrifying. No one likes a situation where the only thing you can do is pick which ugly option you can do and hopefully still live with yourself afterward.

    Believe in yourself, Kirito.

    Yeah, Kirito is probably going to confuse people. At least some of them. He just isn’t into fitting neatly in one little box.
    “Moonsword Ranger? How does that happen?”
    “Trying not to die.”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. >But it means moving very, very fast!>
        They’re going To Dresden the Hive and yank their buddies out in the confusion/panic aren’t they?

        For clarification, To Dresden is a semi-popular joke that arose in the fic ‘When Wizards Meet’ by Shadow Crystal Mage.

        > Besides, he’d just recently found out that the Sidhe, all three vampire Courts and the younger Wardens were all using his last name as a verb. Apparently, ‘to Dresden’ meant ‘to burn down a building all by yourself without apparently meaning to’. There was also ‘to Dresden up’, meaning ‘to burn down a building all by yourself with disastrous political results’. When four ‘nations’ and your own allies are making jokes about you, maybe it’s time for a little change.>

        Liked by 4 people

      2. The same author, Shadow Crystal Mage, has another fic which intrigues me from the summary alone – which is: SAO is cleared. The game has been beaten. Thousands of survivors swear off VRMMOs forever, opting for ‘safer’ monitor-and-mouse games that can’t possibly trap you in a deathgame no matter how hard it tries. Many opt to start fresh in the venerable old game ‘Elder Tale’. Oh look, the ‘Homesteading the Noosphere’ update is about to come out… (Hollow Fragment Continuity)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. >They’re going to be very deliberate about Kill It With Fire.>
        Note that she isn’t denying that the hive is very likely going to be thoroughly on fire when they are done.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. >*G* Not denying that, no.>
        And in the aftermath of all this:

        Asuna: “What did you maniacs do this time?”

        Klein: “Aw come on Asuna, why you blaming us?”

        Asuna: “Your guild resembles used target dummies, Issin is completely drained, Kirito looks three-quarters dead AGAIN (‘why do you keep doing this Kirito?’) and there is a gigantic pillar of smoke on the horizon.”

        Klein: “OK it looks bad but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened.”

        Liked by 4 people

      5. >Worse. They bring in more maniacs. *G*>
        At that point Asuna starts dragging Kirito away from Fuurinkazan for extended duo monster hunting/scouting/dungeon clearing. Because while he causes mayhem, and they cause mayhem, when they work together not only do they cause Mayhem cubed, they end up finding more mayhem producers!

        It’s just that she wants to lower the insanity level among the clearers to the level that she doesn’t go grey before the age of 20, really. It has absolutely nothing to do with any presumed personal concern for Kirito’s wellbeing, I have no idea where anyone would get such a crazy notion. 😛

        Meanwhile watching the show, Tetsutora is radiating enough silent amusement to be seen as a visible aura and Argo has simply keeled over laughing like a loon.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Eh, Shadow Crystal Mage can be fun, but he tends to be light on the actual ‘what’s it mean to cross these over’ and heavier on the ‘what kind of crack, jokes and shenanigans can I pull out of crossing these things over’. I like Shadow Crystal Mage, but I don’t tend to feel gripped by his writing so much as it gives me a good laugh. My favorite fic of theirs is honestly the Negima! fic Ala Alba Plays Pathfinder for just that very reason.

        On a separate note, that description of Kirito plus Fuurinkazan just makes me think of one well known Detective Conan/Case Closed fan fic all about how Kudo and Hattori can tell whenever the other is in town because Kudo’s usual gift for finding murders is apparently amped up enough that bodies literally start falling out of the sky. I think in proper canon there was only one such incident? Clearly it was enough to inspire the fun little fic though. Wish I could remember the writer… drat.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Ah-hah! …Now I have to wonder if your favorites list may have been where I first saw it. I can’t actually remember…

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Do you think it gives Asuna an eye-twitch that their only defense to being complete maniacs and creators of mayhem is to say “It worked, didn’t it?”

        Through that twitch is probably nothing compared to the growl that using “If it’s crazy and it works, then it isn’t crazy.” Asuna mostly growls about that one because it’s difficult to argue against as their actions might not be pretty and certainly left common sense gasping in the dust several miles back but the results speak for themselves.

        Across the multiverse, far away, Ja’far has the strangest feeling like he should be sympathetically commiserating with someone about maniacs and their crazy plans that somehow ended up working . . . it only lasts until he gets distracted with the realization that things are too quiet around here and he better go find out what his maniac has gotten into this time . . . .

        Liked by 3 people

  5. >>that description of Kirito plus Fuurinkazan just makes me think of one well known Detective Conan/Case Closed fan fic all about how Kudo and Hattori can tell whenever the other is in town because Kudo’s usual gift for finding murders is apparently amped up enough that bodies literally start falling out of the sky.

    It’s Raining Men, Hallelujah. I love it.

    Liked by 3 people

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