Monstrous Compendium Ch 9 Ficbit – Loom

“Whew.” Recon slumped in relief, tucking his rope back into inventory. “That ought to give them something to think about. Though maybe Lyfa won’t mind hunting deeper in avariel territory for a while- eep!”

He’d watched Vincent loom at people, Kirito thought, bemused. It was oddly interesting to try it himself. “How do you know Lady Stheno?”

Moss-green eyes widened. “W-well, there were rumors-”

“My sister trusts you.” And that hurt, a mix of fear and anger that made him dizzy. “She’s my sister. Do you think I’d let her get sucked into Aincrad? Into Beniryuu’s reach?” Aha. Another flinch. And no one outside SAO should know that name. “I don’t know what I could do to you – not here, not now – but I’m willing to find out.” Under his half-gloves, he knew his knuckles were white. “And if my first try doesn’t take you down, I’m sure Lady Stheno would be willing to send me for another.”

“You know her?” Recon’s eyes got even wider. “And… you talk to her, and she hasn’t….” He made an abortive gesture toward his eyes.

Oh, now Kirito really wanted to kill something. “You’re from Aincrad.”

“I never said that!” Recon yelped, skipping backwards.

“Fine,” Kirito bit out. “Don’t say it. Why are you partying with my sister?

“Because she takes too many chances!”

Whatever he thought he’d expected, that hadn’t been it. “Sugu?” Kirito said incredulously. “She doesn’t take chances….”

She stood up to Grandfather to protect me. She might.

“She thinks I’m a dope, sometimes.” Recon shuffled his feet. “But that’s not all bad. She looks for easier fights if I’m with her. She slows down and thinks. And when she does fight,” his gaze softened, as if watching a treasured memory, “she just flows. Like gliding over water.”

Kirito blinked, the white-feathered scarf finally making sense. If somewhat crazy sense. “You’re a swanmay.”

61 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch 9 Ficbit – Loom

    1. A Swanmay is a “race” of wereswans that results from a beneficial curse. Think of it like a werewolf, but turning into a swan instead. (tho considering the “feathered clothing item”, it’s more like a Selkie) It’s also one that is passed on consciously, without risk of accidental infection (since it requires the old Swanmay to give a token item to the new recruit, which will then be necessary for it to carry in human form).

      Tho, normal canon is that Swanmay are all female, because they it does require conscious effort on both sides to recruit/convert the new potential Swanmay, and they only seek females for recruitment, and recruitment isn’t just into “you can now change shape”, but also into an organization with goals and traditions. It’ll be interesting seeing how Vathara handles that, with Recon being a guy.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Depends on your D&D version…. Folklorically, swan maidens were nature spirits, supernaturals, ghosts, Valkyrior, women with magic, and so on. And there were swan men too. Usually showed up in animal bride or animal husband stories.

        The D&D version is obviously designed to discourage gamers from having their characters steal swanmay magical clothing, or otherwise commit marriage by kidnapping. Which is not a bad thing, but is about as far from folklore and mythology as you can get.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I specifically searched for stuff on Eberron’s Swanmay, just to be sure I was getting it right, and all editions appeared to specify “female”. Some non-Eberron d&d settings mentioned male Swanmay, but there’s a reason I also mentioned “not just a ‘race’, but also an organization” in regards to Eberron’s version.

        And yeah, I know folklore is quite different from game mechanics or lore (often in very annoying ways), but while Vathara is prone to use obscure mechanics or bits of lore that few notice or remember, she also usually goes out of her way to make sure that she does actually follow all of the mechanics and lore and doesn’t just change stuff because she wants to. That’s why I said it’d be interesting seeing how she handles it, because there’s probably some obscure bit of lore or mechanics that explains it.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Swan knights, especially elven knights, are a less well publicized but valid folklore set along with swanmays. Usually they show up to rescue innocent maidens who have no one else to defend them – marriage may or may not result. I decided Suguha could use her own knight in sneaky not-armor.

        I have to admit on this one I hedged a bit. Male were-swans are not from Eberron rulebooks, but from Frost & Fur, a d20 sourcebook compatible with 3.5 ed D&D.

        Liked by 5 people

      4. Ah. Well, you’ve already had Beniryuu tweaking other stuff (the bit about the entire change of the casting classes), and delving into other worlds (the entire premise of the fic), so connecting a splatbook in also makes sense.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. >> Given there are some very frigid places in Eberron and the connections to Risia, I thought it fit. 😉

        Nevermind that while you’re mostly pulling Eberron-based stuff for this, the fact is that the moment you get into dimension travel/reality hopping/plane walking to other prime material planes – like, say, Earth – in all of Wizards of the Coast’s settings you’re technically dabbling in their shared Planescape multiverse and so you can theoretically justify anything from any Dungeons & Dragons compatible supplement/setting, even if it might seem to require a bit of reaching at first.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Dude! Never tell the DM that his homebrew rules do not count!

        Seriously, though, homebrew monsters and rule variations have always been an important part of the official rules. There is nothing more true to D&D than messing with D&D.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. – eep

    Eeep is right.

    He’d watched Vincent loom at people, Kirito thought, bemused. It was oddly interesting to try it himself.

    Interesting is one word for it.

    (At least, Recon, he hasn’t learned how to the hannya mask like Miya from Sekirei. Yet.)

    Into Beniryuu’s reach?

    Yeah, I would vote no on that too.

    Of course, given what Vathara has hinted about ALO . . . your sister might already be in Beniryuu’s reach.

    Oh, now Kirito really wanted to kill something.

    Or someone.

    “I never said that!” Recon yelped, skipping backwards.

    Didn’t have to. It’s practically written in neon across your forehead because you cannot lie with a hoot. Or at least you cannot lie worth a hoot when an angry big brother is looming over you. One that you just saw some very impressive sword and possibly magic from.

    “Sugu?” Kirito said incredulously. “She doesn’t take chances….”

    Aside from the Grandfather thing, Kirito, . . . . she’s upset and angry. You are trapped in a death trap and there is nothing she or anyone else outside of the game can do about it. Being a skilled kendo practitioner, I bet your sister isn’t used to feeling helpless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. *G* Kirito’s quite capable of looming. Poor, poor bad guys….

      Recon is not a disinterested observer in this situation, no. (Besides finding Suguha breathtaking.)

      Kayaba’s just racking up the number of people who want to maim him, yes?

      And no, Recon is a horrible, horrible liar. Great sneaky guy, though. Kirito will appreciate that. Once he gets past “grr male looking at sister grrr.”

      And yes. Suguha is beyond upset, and has every right to be. In a way this variant of SAO is even worse for the families… and more difficult for the SAO Taskforce to keep a lid on. They’ll have noticed the forum explosion, too.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Kayaba’s just racking up the number of people who want to maim him, yes?

        Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

        They’ll have noticed the forum explosion, too.

        And are probably going “Huh?”

        Because this is a new wrinkle. Which could make them nervous – new wrinkles in this particular case have so far not proved to be of the good.

        Also wondering if the blood on that feather Sugu has is going some . . . interesting . . . results. I mean, still Kazuto and still human but perhaps still something(s) . . . odd.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I think my uncertainty was more about the cultural and organizational aspects. But I’m not thinking clearly enough to be clear on that.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I am curious, if Kayaba then, and now, ‘Recon’… what of others potentially in japan from ebberon? are there others? how many? and how many are in ALO, or other games (what if Sigurd from ALO is from there, too)?
    maybe someone from human kingdoms is also around?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. OK a lot to unpack here, both from the snippet and from comments.

    -He’d watched Vincent loom at people, Kirito thought, bemused. It was oddly interesting to try it himself.-
    And on another world, Vincent gets the feeling his student is finally starting to put his teaching to use. Well the kiddy version of the loom(tm) anyway. The proper one would have Recon cowering in a ball, not even capable of the most basic evasion or lie.

    – And that hurt, a mix of fear and anger that made him dizzy.-
    Don’t worry, that’s just your over-protective Big Brother perk kicking in. Gives a auto-crit on intimidation checks against boys associating with your younger sister.

    -Oh, now Kirito really wanted to kill something.-
    Kind of understandable as he likes Stheno. I would have thought that other ‘monsters’ wouldn’t have the ‘PC race’ view on Medusa. I mean it’s not like she’ll turn anybody and everybody to stone at the drop of a hat.

    -“You’re a swanmay.”-
    One one hand, far from the wrost species/individual to be tagging along after Suguha. On the other, Kazuto is justifiably paranoid about Youkai ‘adoptions’ and Recon seems to have taken a shine to his little sister.
    -Usually they show up to rescue innocent maidens who have no one else to defend them – marriage may or may not result. –
    So how close is that darkfire-covered sword being held to Recon’s neck as Kirito explains that there are not to be any Bloodstones or similar item anywhere near Suguha in the game or IRL?

    -Recon is not a disinterested observer in this situation, no. (Besides finding Suguha breathtaking.)-
    Again, darkfire-covered sword. Close to neck.

    Though I imagine that Recon’s main purpose in Bastard-Dragon’s Scheme(tm) is to help lay the groundwork so the….involuntary immigrants to Aincrad get there as planned when the Machine is built.

    -Midori Kirigaya will not be amused. –
    I imagine not considering how calm her son seems to be about (admittedly minor) self harm in order to give Suguha a message.

    But whatever Beniryuu has planned I imagine that he wants as many players converted into Youkai before the game ends to help ‘convince’ them to stay in RL Aincrad. I see two ways of doing this.

    1. Make the bloodstones more ‘proactive’. As seen with Dynamm’s adoption, something funny was going on.
    2. Tweak the encounters and/or equipment drops etc so that humans become less and less viable as a race the higher up you go. Maybe more and more mobs that have bonuses to damage against humans or the higher end gear can only be wielded by Youkai and so on.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. *G* Kirito will have to have more practice looming, yes. This will do for now.

      Do not mess with Big Brothers.

      Stheno has a terrifying rep, though. She took out a large portion of an army by herself.

      Swanmay is certainly not the worst, no. OTOH Kirito is a bit… twitchy, about the subject. Recon is probably lucky the Black Swordsman’s jaunt is limited duration.

      Recon lives up to his name. 😉

      Midori probably isn’t surprised – she knows how strong-willed her son is. And how desperate he has to be to get back.

      1 and 2 have been steadily increasing the pressure, yes. Kirito’s noticed. And added that as a factor in his plan….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. -And added that as a factor in his plan…. –
        That dragon is as good as a hand-bag and pair of boots.

        Kirito’s bad enough when he’s working by the seat of his pants or has just a few moments/minutes to plan. Here he has months, source material (Caerulus’s library at the very least) and allies inside and outside the game.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. -Like it’d be that easy. 😉-
        True, but I eagerly look forward to the scene when Beniryuu realizes that things are not Going According To Plan anymore and that there is nothing he can do to stop it.

        As Kosh once said: The avalanche has already started; It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Honestly, the thing about the complications with Dynamm’s adoption was seriously reminding me of Vathara’s earlier work, “Thorns” – specifically, Cloud being feverish and even worse off than he already was, up until Zack cut open those “blisters” on his back and letting the newly-grown wings free.

      Only, since this version was happening in VR, the “biological” processes involved were being dumbed down by a lot, and thus wasn’t making quite as much sense as it would have, otherwise.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I knew that it was in my books!

    Found it in 3.5 Book of Exalted Deeds under Prestige Classes.

    A Ranger/Druid based one, female only, good only, and has to have preformed a great service to another Swanmay.

    Oh, and a vow of never touching dead animals or people. No leather or meat.

    Shapeshifting, spell resistant, charm effects, talks to animals and shrubs, and eventually become a fae.

    All together not a bad package save for the super vegetarian oath.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh! I remember that prestige class!

      I was flipping through my GM’s gaming books trying to figure out what prestige classes worked well for a character (hilariously, an epic level multi-classing Ranger/Warlock/Geomancer – the GM was nice and changed one of the requirements
      from spell slot to caster level so I could take Geomancer) when I spotted Swanmay and noted it down. I actually really wanted to take it, but the GM was always a bit odd on what prestige class requirements he was willing to negotiate on vs. the ones he wouldn’t; said the character having to be female was non-negotiable and ended up recommending I take the caster varient of the Infused prestige class from Dragon Magazine.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. So with all the discussion on Swanmay, the note on Elven Swanmay in particular, and the comment about Swanmay as a prestige class from The Book of Exalted Deeds… It makes me wonder what exactly Recon is.

    An Elf with a prestige class? A variety of Fey? Or an Elf with a template who qualifies as one of the ‘monstrous races’ that populate the Kingdom of Aincrad the way that Werewolves or Half-Dragons are technically ‘Humans with Templates’?

    (There was actually a fun little throw-away line from an article in a Pathfinder module that talked about the various kinds of lycanthropes where it was noted that – in spite of lycanthropy being equally transmittable amongst all varieties of Humanoids – different subtypes actually tended to have different varieties be more common, with the well-known lycanthropes being the varieties most common amongst humans. Mixing up what’s a Kitsune and what wasn’t were chaotic nuetral were-fox elves, then there were halfling were-dogs, gnomish and goblin were-badgers, and orcish were-bulls. In addition some types of lycanthropy were muti-racial in incidence, such as humans and elves having equal numbers of were-tigers, halfling were-rats technically being more common than human were-rats, were-boars were as common among orcs as among humans, and apparently while humans make up most were-sharks there are plenty of mermaid were-sharks too. It may have seemed a bit silly to some people, but I liked it. It felt like it fleshed the world out a bit more and made things seem less human-centric.)

    And if he isn’t that last one and a citizen of Aincrad… Then where exactly is he from? Better yet, if Beniryuu is technically responsible – in a broad sense – for Recon’s passage to Earth, then exactly who is Recon loyal to? (…beyond Suguha, honestly. And also, here’s hoping that Recon’s loyalty is to Suguha and not Lyfa, because while those two are usually the same thing, in this case there’s a distinct. Difference.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. -And also, here’s hoping that Recon’s loyalty is to Suguha and not Lyfa, because while those two are usually the same thing, in this case there’s a distinct. Difference.-
      Yes, Lyfa is what Suguha could be, should be. Freed from the ugliness and dullness of base humanity, she’d dance on the water and sky in a wondrous, eternal ballet. All it would take is a single brush with a bloodstone granted by Lord Beniryuu to-

      And then Recon remembers the talk that Kirito had with him and that line of thought is promptly clubbed unconscious, hog-tied, dragged off into the woods and shot through the head.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. More than happy to help. And yeah, it was clear several of the lycanthropes that were more common amongst other humanoid races were deliberately chosen based on existent myths of magical animals or part animal creatures (see Elven Were-Foxes and Kitsune, and Orcish Were-Bulls and Minotaurs). O’ course it got better after talking it over with one of my more… creative… (read: off-his-rocker) gaming buddies.

        The way the Lycanthrope template works in Pathfinder – and I think in 3.5 – whatever humanoid is being infected has to be within one size category of the animal being used for the Lycanthrope template. ‘S why were-bats and were-rats are actually were-dire-rats and were-dire-bats, dire bats are Large, while dire rats are Small while actual rats are Tiny and bats are officially Diminutive size category.

        What my friend looked into and came up with was… well. For the Lycanthrope template all it says about the animal being turned into is that it has to be the ‘Animal’ creature type, subtypes don’t matter, and all special and defensive abilities are inherited by the Lycanthrope upon either a full or hybrid transformation. This meant the truly ridiculously large – various species of Giant qualifying to be made were-elephants or even were-rocs in some cases – and the strange.

        Did you know that the effective size category and type of a swarm creature are the size category and type of it’s component creatures?

        Since rats are Tiny, they’re within one step for Small size category humanoid creatures, and therefore having Halfling or Gnome Were-rat-swarms comply with all Rules as Written.

        To be fair, several Vampire varieties can turn into swarms, and a Halfling spy who falls apart into a small flood of rats before fleeing down every mouse-hole and crack the PCs can’t follow is a hell of a dramatic twist. Nevermind fighting them in their hybrid form where they get to be humanoid with hands and standard weapon attacks, but also possess the swarm sub-type that makes them resistant to weapon and non-mental precision effects. What we took away from this was the hybrid form visually is a Halfling sized and shaped mound of rats standing on top of, crawling over, and holding on to each other? ‘S a nasty fight, and hashsome good creep-out+intimidation factors, but it’s not actually anymore dangerous than a werewolf would be. (Rat Swarms and Wolves are both CR 2, and the CR for a Lycanthrope is the CR of the base humanoid or animal – whichever is higher – +1)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh! Also, in hindsight, I may have misremembered. I think it was Dwarven werebadgers, and gnomish weremoles. Tho’ in hindsight whoever wrote that article probably wasn’t looking to closely at the template mechanics. As much as I like the elven werefoxes, foxes are Tiny size category, so not valid lycanthropes for Medium size category elves to be by the Rules As Written.
        Ah well… I’ll probably just house-rule that in any campaigns I run.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My favorite character ever (and my avatar picture!) was a were-fox gun bunny in a BESM campaign that was supposed to be a were-wolf, but I informed the GM I couldn’t play evil. (I just can’t.)

        So I got a chaotic neutral fox, who functioned like a pre-rippoff of Pinkie Pie.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Shame. I had a little bit of experience building a character for… I wanna say 3rd edition? Whichever was the last edition before they went d20… and another character for BESM d20 itself. Sadly, in both cases the games never actually got off the ground.

        Like

      5. Truuuuuu… Personally I always prefer to have a solid base of a system to start out on, and only Homebrew stuff if what’s wanted/needed doesn’t seem to exist anywhere else. Otherwise it’s less full Homebrew than… Modified for my specific groups and our circumstances/preferences.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, so that implies he’s someone who wants to see Moonswords in the world (possibly only to spite Breland), and regards them as ridiculously dangerous (which… really just seems to be an accurate read of how tough you have to be to take levels in the class..). So he’s either got accurate information on how dangerous they are – first hand or otherwise – or has heard all sorts of urban legends about how terrifying they are.

        At this point I’m leaning towards Aincrad, with his “You’ve met Stheno and aren’t serving as her newest piece of sculpture for her garden?” being a misinterpretation of her attitude towards humans (when really it’s mostly Khorvaire and Breland she’s pissed at, if memory serves).

        Like

  6. Something Something Herbivore Male? =P Recon does initially come across as Suguha’s “tagalong” in ALO. I haven’t forgotten that he was savvy/ballsy enough to spy on Sigurd and discover his betrayal of Sakuya and Alicia’s meeting to the Salamanders though. Or taking the penalty for the suicide spell to clear the way for Kirito get past the World Tree Guardians.

    Big Brothers gonna Big Brother. At least a line of communications has been opened.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Definitely looking forward to that. I always feel like his character was given a kinda raw deal both during and after the Fairy Dance arc.

        He always seemed like he had enough to him to actually be a pretty cool character, if not as bad-ass as most of the cast.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Why? ‘Cause that means Kirit- Kazuto approves of Recon enough not to chase him off immediately? Or because Recon had the spine to not be chased off immediately?

        (Snarking, by the way)

        Liked by 2 people

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