Monstrous Compendium Ch 13 Ficbit – What-Ifs

A quiet footfall was Kirito’s only warning, before a grinning redhead’s arm dropped over his free shoulder. “’Course it is. Heck, that’s one of the reasons I’m going.” Silver gleamed at Klein’s throat. “The Church of the Flame’s probably going to throw a fit, but I’m going to get some of their paladins onto ‘just smite the evil youkai’ path if I have to drag them kicking and screaming. I owe the big ball of fire that much. Plus somebody’s got to bring along the healing spells for you two. You get into waaaaay too much trouble for battle healing to handle.”

He was not going to blush, Kirito told himself. Even if he didn’t get into that much trouble.


“You’re right,” Kirito said instead. “In Aincrad… no one’s lucky enough to wake up from a mercy kill. They need help. I want to.” He took a breath. “But that’s not the only reason I’m going.”

Asuna nodded at his glance. “Beniryuu read the Prophecies, and one of them made him target Earth. We know he’s old, respected, and powerful. So if one ancient dragon interpreted the Prophecies that way – why not others?”

Klein whistled. “That? Is a scary thought.”

“Amen to that.” White-knuckled, Agil put the glass down before he broke it. “Still. Can’t be that many ancient dragons willing to pull off coming to a whole other world and playing human.”

“They don’t have to,” Kirito said grimly. “Beniryuu knows Earth exists. If he found it, other creatures can. One demon almost got to Earth through us. What if someone gave another demon a planar map? Or the daelkyr? Or the quori? Earth barely has anything to defend against magic. What happens if one of those psionic dream-monsters plants a mind seed in some world leader and starts World War III?”

“And I didn’t have enough nightmares,” Agil muttered.


29 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch 13 Ficbit – What-Ifs

  1. Whoof.

    That feeling when you realize that while Earth would dominate in most conventional wars and even a few unconventional ones, that lack of familiarity with magic would bite it in the behind. Especially with some of the more nightmarish things that exist in D&D.

    Of course I wonder if, perhaps, there aren’t those who are familiar with magic, few and far between as they must almost certainly be, that have those same thoughts and have managed to actually put up defenses that might, maybe, keep such a nightmare scenario as that posited in this chapter from occurring.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Even if they had found indications of native magic use I’d be damned disappointed if they weren’t considering worst case scenarios. You /always/ consider worst case scenarios!

        Even if you dismiss them as being too unlikely or unfeasible to mount any kind of counter or defense against when contemplating something like this the heroes must always contemplate the worst case scenario because if they don’t it will occur!


        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh I know how those things work. When you really, really want to go out and take a long walk to exercise but the weather’s overcast and cloudy with a 20% chance to rain it almost always starts to drizzle right when you step outside and and it always starts to pour about the time you hit the halfway point and you end up soaked by the time you make it home.

        It doesn’t make saying it out loud or giving voice to it in other ways sound any less like a silly superstition.


  2. Current limitation in everyone’s planning is that they don’t know how easy/hard it is to get to Earth from Eberron/the various outer planes.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Well Beniryuu managed to exist just fine on Earth for at least some period of time and dragons are pretty high up there on the ‘inherently magical’ scale.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m liking this a lot. Thanks.

    WWIII is a little bit harder than just a single world leader. You need some combination of societal stress, and ideology.

    Where could we possibly get enough stress and ideology. (Hot tip: A theory that the earth itself will become uninhabitable unless certain things are done, and those things boil down to either eliminating a lot of humans, or making a lot of humans miserable in otherwise unnecessary ways, could possibly do it if enough people believed it strongly enough.) Anyway, 2025 could have all sorts of interesting things happen by then, and even if we are not a single leader away now, we might be then. (In my Fairy Dance replacement, the PRC is fairly confident in its ability to invade Japan and the RoC during a few years when the US is focused otherwise. Part of this is meddling in the developing Japanese civil war. Kirito is of course initially ignorant of all this.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. World War III requires exactly one thing to happen – successful ICBM launches. The only instance where it /might/ not start WWIII was if North Korea was the one launching the nukes.


      1. Depends on the state of Russian and Chinese delivery options versus US defenses. Russia has an economy the size of Mexico. Putin fears what the US may develop in terms of missile defense, otherwise he would not have made that ‘defense systems are futile’ system announcement. China is internally doing some incredibly screwed up things to its intellectual life, and is going to prioritize internal oppression over a truly robust and ready nuclear arsenal. IIRC, China has always been putting less effort into numbers of devices.

        I’ve only ever had access to open sources. I do not think we can really assess the capability and reliability of the Chinese and Russian nuclear deterrents. If both prove incapable, which could happen, instead of a wider, lasting war, we instead might see Russia and China, and several other powers, become former nuclear powers.

        We’ve pretty much become locked into future use of nuclear devices. Once that happens, we have a choice of either serious reprisal, or seeing people start treating them more like toys. If the US uses its arsenal for reprisal, then the China and Russia questions come into play.

        But that is not the same as our Chinese, Russian, European, Canadian, New Zealandian, etc. adversaries being able to support a substantial conventional force, much less project it far enough to be a problem. (Okay, Canada would be seriously dangerous as an enemy. Canada joining of a war against us is not going to be tied to ICBMs.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. IIRC, China has always been putting less effort into numbers of devices.

        The back-of-a-napkin version I was given:
        China works on controlling China (with a very expansive idea of what ‘China’ consists of, sometimes includes Japan, etc) and figures they can ‘acquire’ anything else they need.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You’re overlooking something. While we’ve definitely stood down we still have functional ICBMS with nukes and missile subs that carry them and while MAD might not be as ever present in our minds and daily lives as it was during the Cold War it’s still in effect.

        Nobody with Nukes wants to use them because it will see them getting dogpiled by everybody else, and if it’s a big country like Russia or, more likely in this specific case, the United States that dogpiling is going to involve nuke flinging.

        If it’s the US that kicks it off it’s guaranteed to be a World War no matter how long or short it is. If it’s Russia there’s a chance that it will be contained to Eurasia (hah, as if). If it’s one of the other powers…well it’ll likely be Isreal or on of the hostile Muslim nations surrounding it and if that happens it’s war for the rest of the world as the various powers try to salvage what’s left of the Middle east in hopes that the Oil Fields aren’t glowing too badly/brightly and the sudden loss of one of the world’s leading producers of oil means there’s a sudden shortage and fights start to breakout over what’s left.

        Or any of dozens of scenarios.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It isn’t overlooking.

        I really do believe that mutual destruction is not necessarily assured.

        Soviet disinformation efforts were directed at convincing us that we had already lost, and that fighting was futile. I have made an effort to discard corrupted information, and to look at things from first principles.

        I really am looking at scenarios of going up against the whole rest of the world, and some of them look winnable to me. I very much believe that the correct mindset for the US is to prepare for winnable wars.

        So, if you have read the Nofi and Dunnigan guide to why wars happen, you are a wee bit concerned about where my thinking could lead.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I really do believe that mutual destruction is not necessarily assured.

        Go to a nuke-strike calculator (there are several online) and figure out how many hits there would have to be to take out only the major hubs in the US.

        For “I have no idea” level guestimates, look at what it’d take to take out all the international airports.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Depends a lot on who’s faster to get their people all cranky in the same direction. Though I agree with you on how much damage the disinformation has done to civilization in general and American optimism in particular. Fixing it is going to be a long-haul effort.


      7. I…don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

        I’m arguing that the nightmare scenario at the end of the chapter is in fact plausible because the deployment of nuclear weapons is such a nightmare scenario for the entire world that the nation that does it will get a significant portion of the world dog-piling them and will likely have a fair portion of the rest of the world getting involved for other reasons.

        Because Nukes are a big deal.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Okay, yeah. We were talking different things.

        Single leader magically gone insane is still not sufficient for WWIII, even with nukes as a force multiplier. You’d still need pre-existing tensions.

        You’ve got to take into account a) internal regime security b) forces needed to maintain, target, and deliver devices.

        Crazy leader needs a security force inclined to think that his crazy targeting strategy is a good idea, otherwise they won’t keep him alive and in power. That tends to require preexisting tensions, or a regime insane enough that if it had the capability, it would have used it anyway.

        Secondly, delivery and targeting plans are in place for targets the regime already thought were a good idea. Where a force capable of keeping a large number of devices in readiness is involved, there tends to be serious thinking involved in the plans, not just lulzs and “the hague is a crime against law”.

        If our hypothetical crazy ruler is trying for crazy targeting plan, they aren’t going to stay involved in decisionmaking long enough for other powers to become involved, at least not conventionally.

        If they are going for a saner, limited, plan that they can defend internally, and they are the United States, there is a chance of brazening it out. “It was time to take out North Korea anyway.” European nations maybe don’t have the balls for a conventional fight simply for that cause, and the rest of our allies might be sufficiently friendly likewise. Russia and China might possibly decide that our nuclear retaliation against them is not worth their nuclear retaliation against us for a strike on North Korea. They know that US officers would support the broadening of a limited plan to include them in that case, and might not otherwise. It would be a pretty serious problem, but it might not become WWIII, unless it happens when tensions are already high.

        To keep the world’s conventional armies engaged long enough to really qualify for a World War, you need those tensions, that build up, those causes for war, and those convictions that “yes, this one we can win.” Then, yeah, a single mind controlled leader could set things off.

        As for the story, it would be stupid for Kirito and Asuna not to have informed the taskforce about the quori. From there, it would be stupid for the Japanese not to have quietly notified certain allies that, yes, we can prove magic exists, and by the way, here are some precautions you want to take.

        It is a reasonable fear for Kirito to have. I think for it to actually go down that way, you’d need more than one leader.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. O.o

        People use(d) it as a metaphor?

        In all seriousness though if you want to tank modern/first world civilization you don’t even need to hit cities or major distribution centers – we could recover from those without a great deal of difficulty or regression.

        No you go after the /breadbaskets/. It won’t have the same immediate effects, but the lingering inability to use the land means that it’ll be a slower, but more complete death of modern civilization.

        Like as not it will result in a lot of wars to “bleed” the population down to more manageable levels and that’s not the worst possible outcome of such a situation I could think of. (Soylent Green and the Holocaust come to mind, never mind combining the two *shudders*).


      2. We actually produce significantly more food than we could possibly need. In first world countries, farmers are paid (or simply forced) to throw it away to artificially control supply. Even in (most) third world countries, more food is produced than is needed (it’s just that most of it is then lost, due to vermin/storage-climate/etc), tho that varies significantly more year to year than in first world countries.

        So hitting the breadbaskets would definitely hurt (especially if we don’t change how we deal with those things as a culture), but would actually take greater amounts of destruction to actually knock us out with (simply because of greater area to hit, and more spread out areas).

        Also, there’s lots of problems with the horror stories “everyone knows” to be “true” about the results of nuclear attacks. From how devastating they are to life not caught in the immediate vicinity and killed quickly, to how well and how quickly the environment can recover from the damage, and how easily one can defend against it (outside of the immediate kill zone). The party line is still “total destruction, everyone loses”, but more and more evidence is coming out that shows much of that was wrong at best, and active disinformation and lies at worst.

        I still remember one nature documentary on Chernobyl a couple years ago, that basically spent the whole show going “we all _know_ how horrible and permanently dead this must be, because nuclear-bad, so we’re checking everything we can for even a hint that it’s actually that bad off… and not finding it. in fact, everything’s doing really well, almost paradise levels… so we must just be not seeing what’s really there, because obviously it can’t really be recovering. anyway, we’ll keep looking because we must continue to believe that eventually we’ll find proof it’s still as bad as we all know it must be.”


  4. Honestly the biggest danger to earth would be the Dark Pack finding out about the place.

    It would be like World War Z only the zombies don’t die until you literally blow them to pieces (I’m assuming lycan regen isn’t to the level of trolls were the severed arm regrows a new body etc), are intelligent/can hide among the populace and possess at least some magic users.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Technically, D&D werewolves etc don’t regenerate.
      OG D&D was pretty harsh about it. They really are /immune/ to weapons that aren’t silver. You shoot them. It does nothing. Then they kill you.
      3.5/Pathfinder makes it damage resistance. So if you do /enough/ damage in /one hit/ you can overcome it. And hurt them. Some. Most of the force is still wasted. So…rocket launchers, basically. Grenades. Anti-armor machine guns. Handheld weapons? Worse than useless, they advertise your position and /can’t do anything/
      Of course, that’s a base, no character levels werebeast. The actual Dark Pack Members? Stack ten levels of fighter, ranger or /antipaladin/ on that would be typical.

      Stack ten levels of Bloodrager or ooh, Warlock on top of that would be the nightmare scenario.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. /Handheld weapons? Worse than useless, they advertise your position and /can’t do anything/
        Are we talking police pistols or the proverbial assault rifle here? Because the only time I remember seeing firearms in a D&D setting, they got nerfed…..very hard (basicily to the level of a mundane bow and arrow) in order to ensure that the melee weapon crowd charging into battle don’t get gunned down like at the Battle of Shiroyama.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dr 15 or 20/Silver depending on edition and were type. A great-sword – a two handed weapon capable of literally cutting you in half fairly easily in the hands of a D&D fighter specialist (even one with ‘average human’ strength) – does 1d10 damage. A bow actually does pretty similar damage to a bullet. It puts a hole in you and tries to mess up the hole. Higher strength bows do a nastier job. guns accomplish this with ‘hot’ gunpowder loads and designs to make the bullet fragment or tumble.

    An Assault rifle? Is better than any other rifle only because it’s designed to kill squishies in numbers and leave horrible, crippling wounds on soft targets. It is /not/ designed for hard targets. It’s worthless. it’ll do 1d4 or 1d6+2 (+2 for modern ammunition and tumbling bullets mind) damage probably several dozen times…and net effect: Nothing at all.

    Current firearms rules in Pathfinder are actually slightly overpowered relative to the damage pattern they exhibit IRL. Antipersonnel Guns are not really designed to inflict massive damage in absolute terms. They are designed to inflict /enough/ damage precisely and /quickly/. After all – non-leveled modern humans are 1hd. We die /real easy/ as long as you hit us.

    Against something that really is that tough, you need stopping power. There is a real event that happened in Africa where a group of lion hunters had a man eater /caught in a cage/ and proceeded to empty every light rifle into the camp into it.

    It not only didn’t die, it wasn’t very hurt, and escaped.

    Shooting at werecreatures would be worse. You need elephant or anti armor weapons – and by ‘armor’ we mean ‘APV or Tank’.

    Hot loaded armor piercing rounds would probably still not do enough damage in non high calibur hunting weapons to be meaningful: You’d /hurt/ the werebeast… a little. If you hit them /precisely/ right.

    Hurting a non-leveled incoherent werecreature a little is a mistake. Hurting a dark pack member a little is very agonizing suicide at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem with basing how tough something is off hit dice is that HP is an abstraction that doesn’t really translate into a more realistic setting very well.

      Take pathfinder falling damage for instance: 1d6 per ten feet up to 20d6. Ergo if you have over 120 hit-points, you can drop from any height and not go KO etc. In comparison IRL from what I can find, a straight drop of ten feet onto a hard surface is about the max anybody can do without taking injury. People can do more by going into a roll etc but there is a rather harsh limit.

      Ergo either Ebberon has some very different psychical/biological laws in regards to a person’s self-improvement/training or the players are going to have to unlearn some tactics/tendencies they picked up in SAO due to game mechanics.

      Prime example would be HP. In D&D you can go to 1 out of however many and you’re still fighting at full effectiveness. But if one translates HP into overall ability to continue fighting etc, a person at one HP would be bleeding profusely, wounds covering their body, barely able to stand from all the punishment they’ve received. A person in that state doesn’t tend to be a very effective combatant.


      1. I think there was some attempt translate that effect into game rules.

        Might have been that you had to make a System Shock roll if took more than half your HP worth of damage in one hit. Something along those lines.

        Whatever the mechanic was, I suspect more people ignored it, because its hard enough already to keep combat going at a reasonable pace.

        Liked by 1 person

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