Sunday, September 8, 2013

SUETHULU: Oh, and Yog-Sothoth's Dead.

This bit's a little weird.

People have asked what happened to make the Scions useless; somehow I forgot to put that in the last post, so here we are.

They were always simply a way to offload exposition onto me; Marty had said that when we were putting this together, and I thought it was a sensible idea, all things considered. It wears thin fast, but having a way to point the players in the direction of the plot is handy if they're as prone to straying as we are. Unfortunately, Marty intended for me to ping Yog-Sothoth actively, and had implied that I had a modicum of control over the information I was receiving. None of it was ever useful, but I could hold something and expect at least part of the vision to be tangentially related to it. The Eye didn't help, having one of the dragons sitting on my head didn't help, and holding my head in my hands did nothing -- while, of course, Marty was constantly assuring me that I could get useful data if only I held a relevant item. Constantly. I receive no directions, just vagueness and the constant assurance that it's really easy as long as I find something relevant to the plot, and I was feeling really cranky that day. So I got smart and held some spare katanas with a hard copy of Twilight, because hey, I know a vampire otaku is coming.

He was not happy.

Yog-Sothoth shuns me, but in unrelated blather is either crippled or outright dead anyway, so I can't do anything about it. He's never clear on that. Apparently I am now anathema among the Scions for my petulance and irreverance before the majesty of an Elder God in this time of crisis. Instead, I get a message from who-knows-who, explaining a bunch of variously cassandraic bull about a great army coming to fight the war to end all wars -- and we were being watched. Filling our role would be rewarded with benevolence on the part of our future emperor; interference would likewise be punished. You can see why I never even mentioned this; no way am I passing this on, even indirectly, and ruining the game for everyone, especially when our role is never defined. I get to see Star Destroyers glassing Chicago, and it occurs to me: these things are moving through hyperspace to reach CT Earth, right?. Hyperspace doesn't exist in CT, but maybe the astral plane is a close enough equivalent or something. I ask if we can magic some kind of astral barrier into place, since I can see their flight path fairly clearly. Hey, maybe 'cleansing the astral fibre of the space' will act as an interdiction field, since presumably clean astral fibres don't have warships in them-- and if we can get enough mages to astral project on a watch rotation, maybe we can see them coming!

He was not happy at all.

Apparently "Traveler technology works regardless of universe, and it works according to its own rules. They aren't using hyperdrives anyway; they're using bistromathic stardrives. No fuel, no drive trail for you to technobabble your way into tracing. They work on numbers alone, because that is the superior technology." They aren't using continuity anyway; they're using retcons, because that is the superior storytelling technique. He kept babbling on for a long, long time about how they were untraceable, un-trackable, won't show up on any sensor we have, won't show up on any sensor anybody has, are totally invincible to our puny weapons, and the very physics of the multiverse were built around enabling his conquest. That last one was implied. To this day, I don't fully understand what I was doing to so unsettle him. Other people planned; other people called him on parts of his more blatant butchery of science. Somehow, I took the brunt of his more immediate fear/wrath, and I got a lot of the more desperate quibbling and rapid-fire lying. Admittedly, I did have a habit of quoting him whenever I had a data trail to prove his contradictions -- and was therefore exposed to Marty's most intense rhetoric. See, I'm used to arguing over something material, where the chief aim is to reach an agreement. It usually happens when I DM; someone tries something outside the rules, I come up with an ad hoc mechanic for it, and there's usually a brief haggle over skills and modifiers but ultimately we both want to see the roll made and the game keep moving. By my standards, the best argument is the shortest one everyone can live with -- and most of the real-world ones end by figuring out the quickest set of experiments to determine who's right. Heck, even in debate, I don't like wasting time. Marty, on the other hand, argues for fun, and usually over nothing that matters very much at all. He just wants to be right, whether by agreement or by forfeit. He can't use facts. If he argues on facts, they have to be accurate facts, or someone will probably call him on it. Instead, he just speaks and keeps speaking, raising too many points for anyone to reasonably counter. He will belabor the point so much it needs midwives.

First up are the definitions. Every word in the disputed statement must be defined; dictionaries are useless for this purpose, because they must be redefined "for our purposes." This process continues recursively, because we have to redefine the terms used in the definitions of the terms. Eventually, we have the unabridged English-Martian dictionary ready, and then we have to define our standards for rightness in this endless epistemological grey area. No, no, when I say "accurate" I mean "generally a more believable approximation of the unknown value than a hypothetical subset of random numbers" or something equally neurotic. Once that's over, we have to pick through the trivial cases, and reiterate them as verbosely as possible. Then we have to limit the scope of the argument by listing all the cases not covered by the statement, which is like listing all the books you haven't read. Any new terms introduced in this process need to be defined, as above. If possible, multiple definitions must exist, purely to confuse and obfuscate. All this is done, by the way, at a rapid-fire babble approaching 250 words per minuteeee, but punctuated by these whiny little paaauses, as though the nonsense machine gun needs to change baaaaarels, so you're alternately overwhelmed and annoyed at random intervaaaaals by this jarring hybrid of auctioneer and valley girl. Ultimately, he'd finish with "so basically I'm right"...and if you object, well, clearly we didn't define a term correctly somewhere, so let's go back over them all again. This will go on as long as you let it, and no one else actually needs to speak for this process to take place. Usually, this can be stopped, at which point he's off babbling and starts saying moronic things. On a few topics, however, he is totally unassailable. The nature of Marty, the logistics of the conquest of the multiverse, inadequacies in the SUE system...his speaking rate rises and his content rate plummets, until no one can interrupt but he's not actually making a point anyway.

Eventually I just walked away from Skype, made some tea, and coded until the new message notifications stopped coming in. Nothing new in all of it, although toward the end he mentioned that the guided vision ritual thing wouldn't work anymore, and by the way Cael's lost vision in one eye from the backlash. Here, I could finally have some input; I asked if it could be the right one, and this was acceptable. It was also totally incurable, even by magic, and I lost of point of Wis for some silly reason relating to physical wholeness. I didn't really care; I had better things to worry about.

So there you go. Cael was filibustered at so hard he went half-blind, and that was the end of my ability to have any agency with the Scions.


  1. It's no fun and games until someone loses an eye?

  2. His filibustering would have made him a good candidate for public office if he were capable of being human long enough to run in an election.

    Thankfully his inhuman nature disqualifies him from a majority of public offices. Which Roman emperor put a horse in office again?

    1. It was Caligula IIRC, but I like to believe he did so not because he was insane but as a scathing commentary on the merits of everyone else who wanted the seat.

    2. I thought it more as scathing commentary on the merits of everyone else who held similar seats.

    3. Well, now I'm wondering if Marty wasn't really Donald Trump the whole time.

    4. Will the timeline's wrong, unless we come to the conclusion that both GM!Marty and Trump are clones sent back in time to our world by Vampire!Marty.

  3. "Traveler technology works regardless of universe, and it works according to its own rules. They aren't using hyperdrives anyway; they're using bistromathic stardrives. No fuel, no drive trail for you to technobabble your way into tracing. They work on numbers alone, because that is the superior technology."

    Uh...hang on, really? Surely even Marty must realize that Douglas Adams wasn't ACTUALLY proposing a faster-than-light engine that works on restaurant bills, right?

    Not to mention, if I'd been there my immediate response would have been "And I know this how, exactly?" [purple]"You don't know In Character, I'm telling you Out Of Character."[/purple] "Well in that case, Marty, mind telling me out-of-character what it was you were expecting us to do this session?"

    1. I've actually read a really cool story in an Asimov collection (collected by him, not written by) where a scientist made machines that literally ran on math. It was never really explained, but from what I gathered it worked by simply adjusting equations that make up reality.

      Realistic? Nah. But pretty cool. Whereas Sueing your villain so hard that nothing can possibly stop them is distinctly not cool. I'm all for players facing overwhelming challenge, but as the GM, it's your job to make sure they can succeed, or at the very least let them try. Saying "No you can't" to every plan is just plain not fun.

  4. "he just speaks and keeps speaking, raising too many points for anyone to reasonably counter"

    Ah, the Gish Gallop, exactly what I want to see from my DM