Monstrous Compendium Ch 10 Ficbit – System Overload

Make him tell me how he’s doing that later-!

Asuna flicked that thought aside with the determination of a surviving clearer. Kirito was strong enough to tank some monsters in a pinch, but just holding off the demon’s attack was grinding away his HP faster than battle healing could keep up.

Dodging the other claw, she stabbed at blazing eyes-

The world… blinked.

Lag?

Worse. Lag would have simply left her hanging, to come back to a world where the monster’s attack would have had every chance to land. This – it was as if the whole world skipped, a needle scratching across an ancient record. Claws were coming down again and Kirito was drawing his second sword again and the bebilith was so fast

Kirito was still faster, two swords crossing to block one claw as Asuna stabbed at a joint in the other, making it recoil. But his HP had dropped even lower.

As if he blocked it twice, Asuna realized, aiming for the eyes again. Hadn’t worked the first time, but she had an idea…. “It rewinds time? The lorebooks didn’t say that!”

“No,” Kirito gritted out. “Check your HUD clock. It’s running fine. The system’s glitching!”

You can keep track of your- Maim aggravating solo later, kill demon now!

Feinting at the eyes, Asuna leapt upward, wings one lightning-laced beat to carry her over the demon’s carapace. It didn’t have much of an abdomen, but even an immortal demon had to have vital organs vulnerable to sharp pointy things.

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51 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch 10 Ficbit – System Overload

  1. Oohhh. System glitch due to demon invasion/infestation. Some red dragon is gonna have an angry day debugging this mess. Maybe even get a pounding headache!

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer handbag-to-be.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘bugs in the system’?

      Or, given the term ‘bugs’ in this context originated in the days of vacuum tubes and came from literal bugs sneaking in and dying in machines in inconvenient places, maybe it’s just revising an old meaning.

      I guess ‘demonic bugs are the worst‘?

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Ugh, I think I’d rather have a time-rewinding demon than system glitches. The time-rewind ability could probably be interrupted if you knew what you were looking for!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. *snrk* as I’ve heard more than one caster say ‘Concentration checks suck.‘ and Spell-like abilities are close enough to require such checks.

      A glitching system… that’s more like an environmental hazard, which just further ups the encounter CR.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. And if the system starts to glitch now, then you can expect the same if any more demons show up, and might even crash, forcing players to try and get out earlier. Probably trying to handle the here but differently here of the bebilith and the players.
    I do wonder about reactions, since while the clearers have been fighting for their lives, up to now they fought against enemies that played by the rules and you could see their health. Now they are fighting something that does not follow the rules…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The main reaction? First, foremost, and completely logical stark terror.

      Seriously, there’s only two things saving their butts right now. First, they’ve spent large chunks of the past two years learning to fight even when you’re totally terrified. Second – they know the bebilith was in Caerulus’s lorebooks, so they know it’s a demon and what it’s likely to be vulnerable to. Or not. So they know it can be fought.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Can be fought?

        Yes.

        But I would/not/ want to fight one without 5th level spells. Wall of Force and the upgraded Magic Missile family of spells.

        Force Missile is good. As is Chain Missile for big armored dodge monsters.

        Spell Compendium is one of my favorite books.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. And knowing that is, frankly, a big deal.

        An interesting thought I had that’s been demonstrated a little bit in Monsterous Compendium Online.
        There is an advantage the SAO players have that neither the Youkai Lords nor Beniryuu really quite /grok/.

        And that is the value of a sophisticated modern /systemic/ education.
        The Youkai lords largely don’t /have/ one – they have sophistication, but it is by apprenticeship. So they know the things they know very well – and don’t really know the things they don’t know at all.

        Our modern systemic education, if you pay attention in all your classes, you learn not only what your major is and can do well enough to do it -but the other areas that are out there well enough to know a great deal of what exists, even if you can’t do it. And that’s only a few (Mind frustrating and difficult but /doable/) steps from re-creating those skills and techniques if you really need them. Because the biggest difficulty in creating something new is discovery. And discovery by accident doesn’t happen most of the time. But if you know it can be done..well, you can focus your research.

        Sort of like how…knowing something /can/ be fought makes you willing to try things untill something sticks.

        As to Beniryuu…well, the thing is Dragons, like a lot of monsters don’t so much /learn/. Oh, they can, and the clever, dangerous ones do – but they didn’t /have/ to. Dragons will just be growing deadly smart as they age in a way other races don’t.

        So even though they may have seen it, they don’t yet understand that the players being able to do metamagic tricks /literally no one/ in Eberrorn can do /already/ is kind of a big deal.

        Potentially a very, very big deal.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. >> As to Beniryuu…well, the thing is Dragons, like a lot of monsters don’t so much /learn/. Oh, they can, and the clever, dangerous ones do – but they didn’t /have/ to. Dragons will just be growing deadly smart as they age in a way other races don’t.

        Huh.

        This honestly just reminds me of some of what Kanzeon Bossatsu said about he Goa’uld and their… absolute lack of curiosity in River of Stars… tho’ I might be conflating lines with Djehuty’s same exposition in The Dragon King’s Temple.

        The two system lords may have explained it different ways, but there was a lot of ‘same/similar concept’ in their words, and Gamlain was talking about something different, but it… rang similar, in content.

        (DnD AU for Stargate: all the System Lords as Evil Dragons)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The systemic education bit brings up a point that none of the Youkai Lords seem to have realized (at least ‘on screen’). Though given that Euryale (and the other Lords) are poking around SAO-earth and have an idea of what Beniryuu is up to with ALO, they might be starting to think about it.

        Let’s assume that the majority of the SAO players (call it 15,000 survivors) and maybe half of ALO.(400 or 500 thousand players) end up in Aincrad. Granted they’ll be all various species but that’s still a hefty population injection. Particularly for those with slow/low birth rates, apparently have breeding/population issues (the swanmays) or are basically extinct (Medusa).

        The thing is, even if they’re all new species, the players aren’t just going to shift their culture to match the locals. There might be shifts over time but they’d mostly stick to the mentalities they were raised with. That will cause tensions.

        Even more so with the Medusa since the only living ones we know of are Euryale, Stheno, and Yui. Even if there are only a few hundred Medusa players, the species’s original culture is going to be wiped out.

        Might be part of the reason Euryale is so snarly. She knows that the end result of this entire scheme won’t be the Medusa race restored. Instead it’ll be a bunch of Medusa-shaped humans walking around.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. There won’t be that many survivors, first off – the numbers Matteo quoted were from the first year, well before Laughing Coffin got going or some of the really nasty bosses kicked in.

        That said you’re entirely accurate about cultural transplants and numbers. Euryale is fit to be tied.

        Liked by 4 people

      6. Modern systemic education? Excuse me while I laugh hollowly….

        I went to a very good school, got good grades, and did tons of outside reading; then I went to a good university, took difficult classes, and still did a lot of outside reading.

        And then I spent most of my twenties and thirties learning about important things that had been left out of all that. And feeling very angry about it. Often it turned out that things had been deliberately tossed down the memory hole, or were referred to in a way designed to slide right over it or discourage investigation.

        Fortunately, it turned out that the things hidden away did not contradict most of my important beliefs; It shored them up. But if I had known those things earlier, I would have been spared a lot of mistakes and wasted time/energy.

        But yes, in general we know more bits of information and more about various physical properties, if we have a good general education. OTOH, you really need exact information and experience, for things like making smokeless gunpowder without blowing yourself up.

        Liked by 4 people

      7. The other thing to remember is that anyone in a pre-modern, on!y partly literate society is going to have a better memory than almost any modern person, unless he is a card counter or similar. An educated person from such a society is likely to be able to do all sorts of things with memory structures.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. So I have to admit, this is the kind of observation that damages Suspension of Disbelief.

    From what I understand, they experienced a skip on the order of a few seconds, Kirito looked at the system clock, and concluded that the clock hadn’t rewound from… when he checked it a few seconds ago?

    Personally, it takes me more than a second just to read the time down to seconds, and it’s really easy for me to lose track when I’m distracted by a shadow demon.

    I wouldn’t be completely confident about any increment less than 10 minutes, and that’s only if I was checking the time recently.

    One one occasion in grad school, I started work at 10 AM.
    I stood up later and felt dizzy, only to realize it was 6 PM.

    I’t might be more believable if Kirito was tracking something else, like the duration of a buff spell, which he would routinely keep track of in battle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gamlain below already has a fairly solid counter argument to this damaging your Suspension of Disbelief (although I don’t think they were counter-arguing you intentionally, just commenting on the same detail from the opposite direction).

      Adding on to it, I know when I’m playing videogames (which I do. A lot.) that I basically enter a state where I’ve got a constant awareness – tho’ not necessarily track – of everything on my HUD. I personally have concentration and focus issues, and have lost track of time just like you described even when gaming, but what Kirito’s doing doesn’t sound like he’s constantly keeping track of what time it is via the clock on his HUD, it sounds like he’s maintaining enough awareness of his HUD to line up the world twitching like that with his HUD and knowing there wasn’t any correlated interruption or skips on the numbers read-out on his clock. He’s not really conciously reading the time – which I agree, would be hard to believe – so much as keeping track of all his information flows and letting his brain process the information for him without thinking about it or focusing on it.

      It’s still a little hard to believe from most people, but as long as the HUD clock used a digital display instead of (or at least alongside) an analog one, and knowing that – for all my hours spent in videogames – I am not a professional level, where Kirito frankly is, especially at this point in Sword Art Online (and especially in Sword Art Online at this point)…

      Yeah. I 100% buy it.


      When Kirito ends up no longer in Monstrous Compendium Online and having to deal with magic and combat in a real-world environment, I totally suspect one of the first things he’s gonna do is develop a custom spell (or perhaps I should say Invocation, given he’s a Warlock) that mimics a custom version of the HUD he had in-game.

      Given the tricks a caster can pull with a 0-level Prestidigitation, I imagine it wouldn’t be too long before other Monstrous Compendium Online survivors start doing the same and developing their own versions.
      (Augmented Reality for the win! Apparently.)

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I know there’s a slightly higher level spell – I think Status? – that Clerics among others get that lets you do the same for your party. I always remember feeling like the spell level was too high, and while that effect was useful it wasn’t quite enough bang for its buck.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do pretty much the same thing with game HUDs I spend a lot time looking at. After a while, you stop specifically “looking” at the actual HUD and are simply “aware” of what it is telling you while looking at other more important things on the screen. Like where that enemy is and where it is attacking next…

        Liked by 2 people

  5. And this is the canonical difference between everyone else and Kirito. He can pay attention – wide angle- and *think* while he concentrates – to a very high degree. This is a skill and a talent and Kirito has in SAO pursued both to a very high level. It’s why he wins so much – it’s not just his fast reflexes, it’s certainly not that he knew something about swords before he entered the game; His sister is canonically better than him in that regard by a good deal before he enters SAO because he’s acquired family issues about swordsmanship and all but given it up IRL.

    Yes, real people can really do things like this. The best of the best baseball hitters have remarked that they are able to read the ball by being able to see the stiches of a spinning fastball moving at 80+MPH towards them. While also watching the other players covering the bases to be able to plan how they’re going to run, and the pitcher himself.

    Yes, it is exactly as frightening as it sounds, if you run up against it. I’ve practiced trying to expand that awareness – to fight off tunnel vision and such to be able to pay attention to all of my abilities in other MMO’s. And yes, there comes a point where, if your system clock is displayed in your hud?
    You track it along with everything else no matter what you are doing.

    At that point it’s not something you read. You’re just aware of it. Kirito…can come up with plans in the middle of a fight. He’s /far/ past that level.

    It’s still pretty exceptional to do it this well. Asuna has some cause for her exasperation.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. While doing acrobatic flips fit to make professional circus performers green with both envy and nausea.

        Hmm… plot bunny for you, Vathara: crossover between SAO and Frank Herbert’s Dune. Kirito as one of the only handful of human players, able to truly master the Bene Gesserit art of Prana-Bindu, and the Weirding Way.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. >> The breeding program for a Messiah kind of squicked me out.

        Understandably.

        I only read the very first novel. Everyone talked about Dune as a sci-fi classic – which it is, several aspects having directly inspired Star Wars amongst other franchises – but one thing I’d heard my dad talk about was that apparently Frank Herbert wrote the first book with the major moral of ‘follow no one blindly’ and intended for Paul to be the ‘worst’ character in the book. And yeah – ‘follow no one blindly’ is an important lesson. But that wasn’t the main takeaway for a lot of Dune‘s readers, and so Herbert wrote more in the series specifically to correct that misinterpretation.

        Paul was not a perfect hero by any stretch of imagination, but he also was far from the worst villain running around in that book, and I had absolutely no interest in reading more of that setting written – at least initially – to enforce that he was the True Villain of everything.

        Everything everyone’s told me about the sequels has always left me with the impression I made the correct choice. I doubt I personally would enjoy much of the sequels. If someone else does then good on them, but not for me, no thank you.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Mostly I was thinking the setting itself, i.e. the Paddashah Empire, but without all the Great House politics bollocksing everything up.

        Think of Elder Scrolls Online, how it deliberately sets itself during a period when none of the numbered games are happening, or even have much if any effect on the setting. Kinda like that.

        IIRC, the Kwizatz Haderach was an effort of literally thousands of years – just set this idea a few centuries before its culmination, boom problem solved.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. >> [S]et this idea a few centuries before its culmination, boom problem solved.

        I could be speaking out of turn, but I think you’re missing the issue.

        CrossOverCreativeChaos found the Messiah Breeding program setting component objectionable, I found the writer’s stated goal of convincing the reader the original main character was a terrible villain annoying. Both of us chose not to read further because of our own objections to content of the series.

        Setting a fic – moreover writing a fic – elsewhere in the timeline of the setting doesn’t fix those issues. To write a good fic for a franchise, the writer needs to be familiar with that franchise and/or its setting. I can’t actually say the only way to do that is to read that franchise or other works set in the same setting, but I do think it’s probably the best way. If the potential writer found something distasteful enough about the setting that it killed their interest in reading much of it, then the writer in question probably won’t have a solid enough grasp on the setting to be able to write a solid fic for it, nevermind that – unless it was a spite-fic written to fix those parts of the setting they found objectionable – the writer probably wouldn’t want to.

        Your suggestion is an excellent way for a hypothetical writer to dodge having to deal with portions of the setting they don’t know very well or don’t want to write about, but I think what was expressed was a lack of interest in the setting as a whole, and writing something else-when in the setting doesn’t fix that.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Exactly. I couldn’t write Star Wars fic if I didn’t love it enough to pay attention to the details. Ditto everything else I’ve written in fandoms. Dune makes me eh. I wouldn’t pay enough attention to the details to get it right – and that makes for lousy writing.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. More like, while I do understand what the basis of your objections, what I don’t understand is the reasoning behind the intensity of your dislikes.

        At its core, the breeding program is ultimately no more than a pretty basic eugenics program, designed to strengthen certain genetic features. Really, the only thing unusual about this is A) the preternatural means by which the ones running said program are able to influence the outcomes of individual pairings, thus leaving far less up to chance, and B) the sheer timescale involved.

        And even that latter makes a lot more sense, once you take into account 1) the fact that human lifespans are tripled thanks to the Spice, and 2) the Bene Gesserit’s collective obsession with ruling only from the shadows.

        I’d have to reread the first book to be sure, however at a glance, it’s unlikely that the breeding program’s existence would affect anyone not either in on it, or targeted by it (which seems to be largely limited to just the Houses, anyway). In a theoretical VRMMO of the setting, such a thing would almost invariably be relegated to the level of background lore fluff, simply because it wouldn’t be able to affect day-to-day events.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. “At its core, the breeding program is ultimately no more than a pretty basic eugenics program, ”

        -If you can’t see what I intensely to the point of burning hellfire dislike about that aspect of the setting, which is crucial to the entire plot… I don’t know what to say.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. Maybe I’m looking at it too objectively, then?

        Ever since Babylon 5 – the Narns’ ongoing attempts to re-breed the telepathy gene back into their population after it was nearly wiped out by the Shadows, versus the Nazis-in-all-but-name Psi Corps – I don’t really see eugenics itself as outright evil, but rather as simply a tool that unfortunately has a lot of potential for misuse. (Like Kirito’s use of Force Lightning in Change of Fate.)

        As such, I tend to judge more based on the breeders’ intentions for starting the project, as well as what methods they use to achieve it – on a scale of white to black, the Bene Gesserit would definitely rate a dark grey, but not all the way black.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Thing is, people are people, and breeding “for” X usually leads to “let’s also breed out Y, it’s icky.”

        As one of the people the eugenics movement in the U.S. in the early 20th century and later Germany would have eliminated, I have Opinions on this.

        Liked by 3 people

      10. That’s fair enough.

        I just consider it a shame that, despite the extreme ethics controversy that is the setting, there are several abilities that would be genuinely useful and desirable – Prana-Bindu and the Weirding Way, as I said already, but also the Mentats.

        Like

      11. I’m all for doing stuff to improve yourself and your descendants… but I, too, found Dune to be exceedingly squicky, for the same reason as most other transhumanist and related settings. As soon as you start defining yourself _by_ those things, and start making them a goal in and of themselves, rather than just a means to a goal, they cease to be neutral (let alone good), and start becoming horrible. It’s like the difference between Aesop’s Fables using anthropomorphized animal characters, and the stereotypical furry fetishist. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anthropomorphized animals, per-se, but the very act of defining oneself in relation to enjoyment of such things leads down the slippery slope. Or, since you used Kirito’s use of Force Lightning, I’d counter with “but he didn’t define himself that way, he just used it because it was necessary” as opposed to Sith defining themselves by “we can (and usually will) use this, muahahahaaa!”

        Liked by 2 people

    1. The thing is, the brain is very good at shunting stuff into “automatic” processes. So yes, of course one can learn to read a text and copy it over into typescript at top speed, while conversing with all the other secretaries doing the same thing, and while keeping track of other stuff going on.

      People usually do not have to do enough of this in.modern jobs to get good at it, but it is still a thing in games. Also in childrearing.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Make him tell me how he’s doing that later-!

    Yeah . . . survive first, questions later. Provided you ain’t dead. Or worse.

    Given this is a demon or something equally awful, worse is certainly on the menu.

    The system’s glitching!”

    Probably because it wasn’t designed to have actual, honest-to-gods demons and other such creatures in it.

    Beniryuu is an evil bastard. He’s NOT that kind of evil bastard. If for no other reason than the demons / worse do not give a single flip about his precious prophecies . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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