Thursday, August 1, 2013

The SUE Files: Prologue is Past

Last post time. My apologies if this one is a little fragmented; I’m trying to rely as much as I can on the audio recording of the session, but it’s difficult to make out, and disagrees with my notes in places where he started waffling. This one also stops being funny halfway through.
Marty was drinking tea when we left off. I left out how this was a deliberate plan by Rick, who’d brought a magically miniaturized tea set to throw him off his guard, but ultimately the image remains. They were chatting amiably about how Marty runs “his empire”, because what else could Marty ever talk about?
This is going to be a long list. He changed the Imperium around a little, and not for the better.
Firstly, he patrols his disarmed, captured territories with the same troops that captured them, having essentially promised them anything the Empire didn’t want. They take the place of every law enforcement organization on the planet, down to the beat cops, and they’re completely above the planet’s law. While this is being set up, violently and crudely, the remnants of the planet’s armed forces and other dissenters are being lined up and shot down to the clerks. Oh, I’m sure there’s no bad feeling here at all. To Marty’s infinitesimal credit, he does remark on the policing of this arrangement being “where a lot of the trouble comes in”.
He has a solution. I’ve listened to it several times, and I still have trouble parsing what I’m hearing, and not just because the audio is echoey. It sounds like he’s “cutting out a lot of the corruption” by forcing the existing governments of national level or higher to function in an “advisory role”; they have no power whatsoever, and are apparently watched closely by the Fleet officers he installs to run his planets – who also pay them. People with no authority to stop corruption are tasked with reporting it to people with every conceivable motive to hide it while being held visibly accountable to their former constituents for it. They’re a complaints department. Even I’m not that cruel to existing politicians in my new world order-type settings, and I can’t say what I normally have happen to them for fear of being indefinitely detained.
Of course, there is always the possibility of some leader not wanting to step down, and he’s at least smart enough to leave the existing bureaucratic structure in place to maintain the infrastructure. That’s where the mind control comes in; as near as I can tell, those government officials converted to an advisory role are replaced with officers, and the minds of their former coworkers rewritten to accept and endorse the change. Oh, but using it on the general populace is “simply inefficient, and possibly unethical.” NO, REALLY? Apparently the general populace is just randomly scanned, and “only dissidents” are rewritten. Everyone already jingoistically enthusiastic about being invaded by imperialist dictators can go unmolested.
It only gets worse from here.
He promises world peace via forced demilitarization. Every single weapon not in Marty’s hands is destroyed, as is “the defense industry”. I’m…not quite sure how that works economically, or how that prevents people from, at the most basic level, just punching each other en masse. Apparently this represents an acceptable level of violence. “There are always going to be terrorist elements, those that are just angry at society […]. The mentally disturbed will always seek to hurt others.” Bravo, Marty. Not only are you calling everyone with a mental disorder violent, you’re maintaining that the only possible reason anyone would oppose a military dictatorship is an innate, irrational desire to rebel. You know, like that generation of French teenagers who stormed the Bastille to tick off their parents. “However, having a unified set of laws at least makes it easier to find and remove such people before they harm others.” Wow, can we just go back to denying the vote to “idiots” and be done with it, Marty? This is up there with his misogyny and his racism for sheer stupidity.
I have to interpret this next bit intelligently, because he’s incredibly vague. He maintains that the unification wars are never going to end, because “certain worlds are literally infinite”. Now, to my cynical bastard ears, that sounds like a transparent excuse to stay permanently on a war footing; he doesn’t need one, but he’s got a Eurasia and an Eastasia all lined up to funnel war materiel to.
Who am I kidding? He’s never read 1984. Nor has he read Fallen Dragon; he’s carrying out constant asset realization on an intergalactic scale, and he sees no problems with that kind of economy. Nor, indeed, has he read literally any world history:
Players: “And what happens when this empire breaks?”
Marty: “IF it breaks.”
Players: [various observations on the inherent transience of political structures]
Marty: “The difficulty with a large empire is in the corruption of those in charge, and with the loss of a charismic [sic] leader. For instance, the Hellenic Empire. Alexander the Great, on most every Earth. With the death of the single unifying charismic[sic] entity, the entire empire split up. Another example: the universe of Star Wars. If I had not intervened there, the single charismic [sodding sic] entity’s death would have caused it to fracture into warlord states.”
“And, in the case of a great empire falling, it’s rarely worse than what it was before they were unified.”
Hey, Marty, interwar Germany called. Something about inflation… (Okay, maybe not a great empire, but big enough…)
“For example, the influence of the Hellenic Empire under Alexander the Great created a unified feeling throughout Europe.”
Wait, WHAT? Europe? Alexander the Great started in Pella and went generally southeast; by my admittedly cobbled-together map overlay, he held (more or less) modern-day Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. That’s a few million Gauls short of Europe.
Undaunted by logic, he keeps heaping praise on Alexander, this time for “making Byzantium the best city of the ancient world”…because it was just two shacks and a fishing pole on the Bosporus before he got there, right? And incidentally, I’m deliberately avoiding making a Watchmen reference amidst all the Alexander love. Marty here is being any reference I could possibly make.
Moving on, more reason from Rick and Lily: if I may paraphrase, problems integrating disparate cultures tend to increase exponentially as an empire increases in size and diversity, generally because people have their own ideas of how to govern themselves. 7200 whole realities just seems inherently unworkable as a conventional top-down empire. Ah, but Marty has his answer. “Just individuals seeking power…It is rarely the people themselves who seek to fragment when an empire falls.”
If you’ve never heard the Great Man theory of history, there you go; it has more intelligent proponents, but it generally sounds precisely this stupidly dismissive. I’ve rarely seen elitism this nigh-solipsistic, and when it has surfaced, it’s generally in the type of people rich enough to pay historians to lie to them. This…this is all the rock-stupid presumption of “winners make their own luck” with the defensive insecurity of “you built that”, but Marty doesn’t even have the decency to self-importantly confine it to his own accomplishments. Go ahead, Marty, white knight for the 1%. See where that gets you.
His players are naturally having none of it, but Marty has more bastardized history. “It was not until the thirteen colonies broke off from Britain that its empire started to collapse” almost two centuries later. Apparently they “had had it with unfair laws and taxes”...and we’ll just forget that the whole thing was more than half a proxy war between Britain and France, shall we? You know them, with the army who outnumbered the British forces seven to one and the war chest handing the colonists the vast majority of their war materiel. They worked their baguettes off getting the revolution going.
“If [the colonists] had had more freedom in their own government, then they would not have bothered to try.” Two words, Marty: Colonial Legislature. Sure, the Council appointments were theoretically subject to State Department approval, but they were vetoed approximately never; the Assemblies were elected, for goodness’ sake. I’m just waiting for him to mention “taxation without representation” – because, yes, the British trying to recoup the immense debt caused by the French and Indian war by taxing the people they defended is just patently ridiculous. This is 200-year old propaganda, and he’s just lapping it up.
“And without them as a precedent, no other colony would have tried to free themselves for perhaps a century or more.” What. Okay, MAYBE the French Revolution would have been delayed, but come on, Marty, this is getting a bit silly.
Thank goodness the players just let it drop and go for the larger point: we can’t manage a unified government across a single planet with one sapient species, and he’s trying to do it across thousands of universes. Apparently, the Martesian Imperium avoids the problem by having most of its laws apply selectively – that is, the (installed) planetary government picks which laws it wants to have in effect. This just gets better and better.
I love this next part.
“Without military forces to command, political differences remain in the political arena without escalating into armed conflict.”
Players: “Unless, of course, there is a difference of opinion between the military and the civilians.”
Already planning the rebellion, I see. If my ego were totally out of control, I’d say I rubbed off on them. Seriously though, this is a good sign.
Marty: “If it’s a single person who’s upset […], you do not have an uprising.”
What about “empires are torn apart by leaders” up there? He goes on for a while here, about how rebellions result from insufficient self-government, and since everyone has a voice in his empire about some things, clearly there will never be true rebellions.
…but we still have the orbiting police kinetic harpoons. Must be for pest control.
“Take the Federation, of Star Trek. There is no internal rebellion.”
The Federation doesn’t conquer, Marty. And is deliberately kept a vague utopia by the writing staff.
“And when have you seen a people rebel with peaceful alternatives?”
Word association game time: Post the first qualifying rebellion that comes to mind.  
Seriously, I’ve never seen someone this energetically stupid. He builds a dictatorship, lets people vote on what color to paint the Ministry of Truth, and calls them free – then turns around and mind-nukes them for disagreeing, because clearly they must be insane to dissent. Sure, they can vote on anything, but if the installed governor has absolute veto power, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s like some toy-train democracy set up in an elementary school classroom, plastic and hollow and more of an exercise in jingoism than anything else. They don’t have the right to do what the government doesn’t want them to do; without that it just seems pointless.
Oh, and apparently other than very polite wars “there is no conflict [in Fantasy Japan]”. What a surprise. We also get this gem: “not everyone can be heard, but a people can be heard.” Le People, always ready to stand with anyone and curiously never turning up to object at how many of Le People die in their own collective name. Sure, individuals might, but as we see, The People are quite distinct from the sum of the actual people.
And apparently The People want war, and lots of it. “There will always be war.” He’s built some of the key tenets of his system around maintaining permanent, large-scale, multi-front conflicts in infinite planes. Admittedly, so did EVE Online, but that’s just as much a hamster wheel of a system—and at least it makes a twisted sense economically. Politically it seems incredibly unproductive, and he’s also depending on it to drive technological development. His economics are far worse.
He is the Tyranids. Remember what I said about asset realization? Here it is in full swing; he intends to constantly encourage people to “make their fortune on the frontier”. The frontier with people already living on it. Because, you know, the industries that thrive in undeveloped areas with no technologically compatible infrastructure are always so beneficial to the surrounding areas… he’s got a horde of thieves, looters, and slavers incoming behind the army to strip the new worlds dry, and he’s acting like this is good policy.
“Those who join diplomatically never need worry about having their lands burned and their people killed. Whereas those who join by conquest…”
Okay, so it’s an army of dispossessed thieves, looters, and slavers with nowhere to return home to. I love how he’s doing a scorched earth offensive, though. Totally logical. Naturally, the players ask about neutrality. What of the empires who aren’t hostile, but want to remain sovereign?
“Well, a large amount of diplomacy is what begins…however, force may be required if they refuse.”
So that’s a no, then?
And then Lily, being from a swords n’ sorcery world, asks what the heck the Federation is…and Marty EXPOSITS THE SETTING AGAIN, albeit this time with more quibbling over terms. “A book, or a series of words on pages…” Yes, folks, the Emperor of Reality is sitting drinking tea and failing to concisely explain what a book is. Then he starts using their world as an example, which means he needs to explain what a roleplaying game is…and he doesn’t abstract this out. “Games of pretend” my ass…pretend to be a better speaker, Marty. Pretend to know not to read the “what’s an RPG” section of the DMG to your players. For a while I thought he’d dig out dice and go meta, but no. He just blathers on about how his oh-so-amazing game works…in his game. Achievement Unlocked: Marty Nirvana.
And then the plot stumbles drunkenly onward! Somehow!
The rest of Rick’s personnel start popping in, just ahead of the lava. Apparently the entire island is sinking because “isn’t that always the way, ha ha? Have a ticking clock?” Then he goes on to reveal he set everything up, including the dragons, specifically for the benefit of the party.
The entire campaign has been busywork.
At least everyone survived, even the relevant NPCs. Then we get this:
“It’s time we end this. Before, you were not worth killing.”
“Your mistake. You don’t fight a Krieger and not kill him.”
“Quite…which is why I set up this test. Defeating the dragons means you are at least enough of a threat to be worth killing. And while I will regret killing you […] I will at least not feel that I have killed you unfairly.”
Oh, yes, this is totally fair. On the one hand, the invincible god-baby of hundreds of universes…and on the other a guy with a sword who’s exhausted from slaying dragons. And why do we care what Marty feels? Why include that? He’s the villain; no one gives a crap.
Rick asks for a wall between them and the innocents as they take their starting places; accordingly a transparisteel wall pops up. Apparently the escape of everyone else is completely guaranteed, no matter what happens. This is now Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves, although one of them is going to have a hell of a time carving through the wall. Incidentally, welcome to the Jedi Problem; Lily is totally out of the fight. This is a personal vendetta while half the party sits useless. What a way to end the campaign.
They roll for initiative. One guess who wins.
Marty charges forward “incredibly quickly”; he’s so fast normal humans can’t see him move, parallax be damned. Rick blocks, and apparently his arms almost buckle under the force...and Marty isn’t done. He squeezes three attacks out of one round, somehow, and shreds the outer layer of his armor.
Naturally, he dodges lasers by sight…
(And at this point, still operating under significant time lag, I actually walked into the room and asked, directly, if this was some sort of parody, if he was playing devil’s advocate, or anything that would let me believe he was not…this.
“While nearly impossible to pull off, it is not incorrect.”
Okay then.)
…and all things slower. He’s unhittable.
He’s also arrogant as hell, as he stops dodging to note how the sword “hardly seems sporting”, and is evidence of a lack of preparation. Bear in mind, this is Rick’s singular piece of gear and one of Lily’s best works; both the players’ jaws drop in unison.
Then he throws him a lightsaber analogue, albeit with a metal blade to keep it balanced, and keeps denigrating Winterflame. “A fine sword it is, though it doesn’t actually harm me. Hardly sporting.”
Yeah. Best sword ever, chucked like an old rag. I still have no idea why. What did it matter? Why couldn’t he just be vulnerable to Winterflame, when he’s too fast to hit anyway? What is there possibly to be gained by pissing on the party’s efforts like this?
When did numbers start to matter more than players?
The rest of the fight is exactly what you’d expect. Marty runs roughshod over him with stupidly long sequences of attacks; Rick, dying by inches, blocks as many as possible and attacks with everything on him. Marty’s smugly immune to electricity. Who knew, right?
GM!Marty keeps reminding Rick how much he keeps revising the sword up to do more damage and give more pluses in hopes of finally damaging him, because numbers. He finally wounds him…Marty has fast healing.
Lily sits down at the table, while they’re waiting. Woohoo, the party is all doing something.
This is the most boring final fight I’ve ever seen.
Marty is also immune to poison, hur hur.
He’s also immune to piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning. “As a shapeshifter, he’s immune to having his form altered mechanically.”
Too stupid. I don’t care.
Rick dies.
As expected. And GM!Marty’s reaction: 
“Oh hey, it’s 6:30. We can still catch dinner.”
Rick’s last thought is to want to die with his weapon in his hand. Fitting. Totally lost on Marty, IC and OOC.
His personnel leave; the epilogue has them living quiet lives “of no importance.” Lily recovers his body and goes off to parts unknown. Marty, of course, just leaves.
Incidentally, one last kick in the teeth: as he’d later mention, that wasn’t Marty. It was a completely disposable clone; Marty “owed it to his people not to expose himself to even negligible risk”. Even if Rick had won, it wouldn’t have mattered.
And that was the prequel campaign.


  1. -There was a miscomunication with me where I thought he had to be beaten for our escape so I was annoyed at rick till I realized afterwords that we were free to go anyway, although if I had known that I would have given him the ring of targeted antimagic (artifact) we were supposed to use on him.
    -I was seething over the complete dismissal of my sword, and I believe at some point during the tedious battle where i did nothing had to leave to vent...
    -to be fair apparently the antimagic ring would have negated his super-immune to everything thing, but due to miscommunications that ended poorly. So yeah the fight was basically designed to require the 2 artifacts we had to win, which we didn't end up using due to 1.not wanting to piss off his pet empire and 2. stupid miscommunications, which I had tried to clarify several times, given that both Rick and the GM were on the same page I will assume that it was discussed at some other point (like the time before I went through)
    -as a sidenote: the antimagic ring artifact was also the superlich's phylactery, which when taken through the realities let him do so and be immune to marty? (directly?)
    -Actually given that he promised he would allow us to go 'home' I assumed he used cheat powers to do so, my character was not from a setting he was using therefore Lily took Rick's body preserved in a card, with his sword and blaster off to parts unknown outside the multiverse, with the ring I guess ... so uh may be some awkwardness if he thinks he is re-spawning in the same multiverse

  2. I don't understand. After an ending that lame, how could there have been a SECOND game? Why didn't everyone involved (except your idiot GM) set fire to their character sheets and flee rather that deal with more of this stupidity?

    1. They had no where else to go.

    2. This game didn't end till well into the other game. He had 2 games simultaneously.

    3. Still doesn't explain why someone else (like ZeRoller, for example) couldn't be DM for a chance.

    4. DM is hard work if you are doing it right, ZeRoller was GMing another campaign, but we were very busy in college.

      I have gotten over some of my bad experiences I've had as a GM and started GMing again so that is something.

  3. I... I just...

    Ok. This "GM" (and I'm using the term quite wrongly) evidently doesn't understand any of the underlying principles of storytelling. ANY OF THEM!

    He... I just... AAGH!

  4. What what exactly is the Jedi Problem?

    1. I think Spoony explains it best here:

  5. I knew this ending was what was going to happen. I could see it happening in my head. And then when it happened, it still made me legitimately angry all the same.

    I applaud you, and everyone else who participated in this campaign, for your restraint. Had I been a player in this asinine and absurd exercise in futility and ego-stroking anti-logic, this would have ended with a funeral and prison time.

    And yet, at the same time, I find it hard to pity you, because you actually stayed there and put up with it, instead of kicking every one of his teeth out of his smug grin and walking away, never to return, after the first few sessions. You sat there and took it, voluntarily.

    Its a question of who is worse, the smug idiot commanding the monkeys to dance as he whips them, or the monkeys, who sit there and dance even though they are free to scurry away at any time?

    Frankly everything this guy did was beyond simple bad GMing, it was downright insulting to his players. He routinely abused you all, and I, for the life of me, cannot understand why on earth you put up with it. A lot of people say "There was no one else to play with". I guess my only answer to that is, "don't play at all then," because frankly, playing nothing sounds better than playing this offensive mess.

    1. Victim-blaming for the win. /sarcasm

      Have you ever read a bad book all the way through, hoping it's going to get better? Or, let's say you love horror games, and you play one that's just bad, but due to some kind of error in your system it's the only one you can play. Are you saying you wouldn't play it?

      In hindsight, they should have bailed, but hindsight is 20/20. At the time, I'm sure they thought it was a good idea, and considering in an earlier post ZeRoller talked about how bad the general atmosphere of their university was, they probably didn't have their decision-making at 100%.

      tl;dr-The players made a bad decision in hindsight, but that's no reason to blame them. DM is the one at fault.

    2. Who's the greater fool, the fool or the fool who follows him? /jedi

  6. Okay wow, i don't know where to begin, i spose firstly commending all 3 of you for putting up with marty for as long as you did.

    throughout reading all of this i have only been monumentally impressed by Rick (holy shit dude, killed vadar, was willing to give marty a thermonuclear bear hug qctually HIT him in that fight), Lily's swords seems awesome, and Zeroller damn dude i can't not remember ever laughing as hard as i did when i read your first mission, solved it like a boss.

    I unfortunately can relate to hanging out with someone you hate, but guys, please oh please oh PLEASE leave this game, this marty guy has to have some sort of mental disability and playing this game is only toxic for you guys.

    Even better though, play your own game. My lord this system is stuipd, but fuck me is there potential for fun.

    Honestly guys, there is not going to be beating marty, im willing to bed hes immune to sunlight now, if u were to jump to the men in black world and nap a nurelizer, he'd be "immune cos im in god mode", your best bet, if any, would be to go back in time and sick another marty on him, but of course they would just work together.

    Damn this post is from august 2013 but i hope u guys read this, legit, you are playing again a guy who literally only loses if he chooses to, but you guys haver performed SO well despite this. You guys are playing with a multiverse against you, but far out parts of this story have been really entertaining. YOU. GUYS. ROCK

    1. Loyalty to people who I have become friends with is one of my virtues and probably character flaws. I attributed a lot of his mistakes to over-enthusiasm and the extreme stress we were all under.
      I don't hate the GM who was Marty
      But I hate Marty the character with an ice cold passion, I wasn't trying to win in a combat sense, I wanted to survive (I grew up playing AD&D 1-2e, so brutal loss was something I was not entirely unfamiliar with) although technically I view that ending as a victory, since I tricked him and escaped since he said Lilah took a portal to her home world and forgotten realms was stated to not be one of the 7200 realities, and had Rick's body preserved in ice and magically sealed with her.

  7. Seeing as That Guy oh so loves his stupid fanfic universes, here's a little quote of how reading all this made me feel

  8. Wow. Marty is Nicolae Carpathia from Left Behind. Or TurboJesus from Left Behind, there isn't much difference.