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Thread: The Grail Works Mission Dossier (Discussion & Ideas)

  1. #6861
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Preferably while putting him up against some other evil mastermind, so I can enjoy the schadenfreude as everything goes wrong—or at least, weird—around him, the Wizard Marshall thought grumpily.

    That sounded like a win-win situation to him . . .

    . . . So, while things may be a bit delayed this week owing to RB's hard drive crash, and my work schedule, I thought I'd see if anyone had ideas/suggestions for which "evil mastermind" I could throw Frid up against. I admit, I've been looking into Umineko: When They Cry, of all things (I blame Higurashi); it is (unnecessarily) tragic, 20 billion yen of gold would be a lure for Rin, at least, and Frid's meta-nature would serve as a counter to some of the shenanigans) - but it gives me a godawful HEADACHE to contemplate . . .

    If anyone has a slightly less absurd idea (or more absurd, but less migraine-inducing), I'm all ears.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  2. #6862
    吸血鬼 Vampire
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    I don't really have any good ideas, unfortunately. You need a threatening enough mastermind that the Exaltation doesn't just stomp all over the plot, but I'm not sure which of those would be actually interesting. You also seemingly need some supernatural elements, which rules out mostly-mundane settings. I can definitely agree with Umineko being a huge headache. The conflict between Zelretch needing a big threat and something being at the scale that the Works can handle is difficult to resolve.

    A variety of isekai settings (Konosuba, Cautious Hero, etc) have been somewhat explored before, and while they mostly fit the bill, I'm not sure I'd suggest them. Persona always has some sufficiently large-scale confrontation that you can fit in sacrifices easily, but would also be a pretty heavy commitment.
    You might be able to resolve this incidentally by using the Dark Powers, potentially during the Servant-verse excursion? Something like gradually corrupting Godafrid by tainting the Exaltation would be a good reason to give it up. The issue, of course, is doing that without threatening the rest of the setting, and obviously Zelretch would rather avoid the Dark Powers entirely, so it wouldn't be his doing.
    You might get something out of Doctor Heartless from Case Files, but I'm not sure if you want to delve into that particular cross-over. The Ainsworths fall into the same bucket.

  3. #6863
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    I don't really have any good ideas, unfortunately. You need a threatening enough mastermind that the Exaltation doesn't just stomp all over the plot, but I'm not sure which of those would be actually interesting. You also seemingly need some supernatural elements, which rules out mostly-mundane settings. I can definitely agree with Umineko being a huge headache. The conflict between Zelretch needing a big threat and something being at the scale that the Works can handle is difficult to resolve.
    That is the problem . . .

    Generally speaking, my SIs are meant to have two advantages in any given situation/setting. The first and foremost is meta-knowledge; the second is whatever suite of supernatural or otherwise superhuman talents he has to hand - and in theory, the second is the less impressive portion of his arsenal. This requires, of course, that whatever he's up against be appropriately scaled - in the Trinity series, it was the fact that he started as a child, in the deathtrap of illogic that can be J.K. Rowling's writing. In Crisis of Fayth, he was an epic-level druid - but up against a kaiju, and an entire country's worth of enemies. Here, it's a Grail War, with all that that implies - plus the added madness that is letting my and RB's muses out to play.

    (Seriously, we've collectively argued for weeks, over the course of this fic, trying to rein each other IN; for a while, as an example, there was a genuine possibility of Altrouge and Primate Murder showing up to smack Ymir around . . .).

    . . . In any case, removing his meta-knowledge, as in the Higurashi scenario, can balance things out to a degree (though the circumstances both there and in Umineko are potentially staggering . . .). It at least would make the "mystery" portion of things more engaging, I'd hope. (And really, Zelretch just wants to throw Frid at an evil mastermind so that he can pull a Loki when seeing what happens to their schemes. )



    A variety of isekai settings (Konosuba, Cautious Hero, etc) have been somewhat explored before, and while they mostly fit the bill, I'm not sure I'd suggest them.
    Not quite, no - if only because most of those types are settings where the "evil mastermind" is the hero (wittingly or otherwise), or in general already power fantasies, or parodies of such. It's not quite the sort of thing that meets the criteria.




    Persona always has some sufficiently large-scale confrontation that you can fit in sacrifices easily, but would also be a pretty heavy commitment.
    At least a year, in-fic - although I admit, I've been toying with a plausible way to have Frid take Morgana's place . . .




    You might be able to resolve this incidentally by using the Dark Powers, potentially during the Servant-verse excursion? Something like gradually corrupting Godafrid by tainting the Exaltation would be a good reason to give it up. The issue, of course, is doing that without threatening the rest of the setting, and obviously Zelretch would rather avoid the Dark Powers entirely, so it wouldn't be his doing.
    Quite - though giving Strahd the runaround would fit the bill, kind of.



    You might get something out of Doctor Heartless from Case Files, but I'm not sure if you want to delve into that particular cross-over. The Ainsworths fall into the same bucket.
    Honestly, I've been toying with doing my own take on the Fate/strange fake concept - essentially, that someone has (sort of) copied the Grail War Ritual, going off intel gathered at the Third War, but not precisely. It would allow for certain Case Files characters to be used (Flat being the canon one, of course, but I could actually see Luvia funding the whole thing, just to one-up the Tohsakas), and possibly wind up in a position to join - and if nothing else, the Works still needs a functional Grail - but it's still very much in the conceptual stage
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  4. #6864
    吸血鬼 Vampire
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Generally speaking, my SIs are meant to have two advantages in any given situation/setting. The first and foremost is meta-knowledge; the second is whatever suite of supernatural or otherwise superhuman talents he has to hand - and in theory, the second is the less impressive portion of his arsenal. This requires, of course, that whatever he's up against be appropriately scaled - in the Trinity series, it was the fact that he started as a child, in the deathtrap of illogic that can be J.K. Rowling's writing. In Crisis of Fayth, he was an epic-level druid - but up against a kaiju, and an entire country's worth of enemies.
    Personally I consider Crisis of Fayth as your weakest work for that reason. The power scale of an epic-level druid meant a LOT of things were solved with pat applications of druid spellcasting, and while Sin was still too strong for direct confrontation, the raw convenience and versatility of epic level 3.x characters trivialized almost everything else in the setting. The advantages of knowing the plot were there, but mostly exploited by brute force.
    In Anarchy, Godafrid is nearly-mundane for most of the story, and even when his nature is revealed, that isn't terribly meaningful with how far things have escalated, so he's in a much more supportive role. Blending in and subterfuge definitely pair well with meta-knowledge.
    Here, it's a Grail War, with all that that implies - plus the added madness that is letting my and RB's muses out to play.
    (Seriously, we've collectively argued for weeks, over the course of this fic, trying to rein each other IN; for a while, as an example, there was a genuine possibility of Altrouge and Primate Murder showing up to smack Ymir around . . .).
    Is this the foushadowing payoff? Yeah, that might have been a bit excessive.
    You're definitely not kidding about "letting the muses out to play". I enjoy Anarchy as the blended mess of story elements it is, but even the title doesn't take itself seriously.
    . . . In any case, removing his meta-knowledge, as in the Higurashi scenario, can balance things out to a degree (though the circumstances both there and in Umineko are potentially staggering . . .). It at least would make the "mystery" portion of things more engaging, I'd hope. (And really, Zelretch just wants to throw Frid at an evil mastermind so that he can pull a Loki when seeing what happens to their schemes. )
    That is a very good way to stop the Exaltation from letting him immediately confront the antagonist. Since I also have not read Umineko (or finished Higurashi) the potential for mixing foreshadowing while retaining a mystery for readers sounds quite fun. Those stories are already quite complex though, so I can still definitely see headaches from needing to understand the original story, backtrack to a place of ignorance to play your SI, work out the consequences of his actions, and integrate that back into some semblance of the original plot.
    Not quite, no - if only because most of those types are settings where the "evil mastermind" is the hero (wittingly or otherwise), or in general already power fantasies, or parodies of such. It's not quite the sort of thing that meets the criteria.
    I was mostly going for "what has supernatural elements and sufficiently dangerous/destructive confrontations to threaten an Exalt" there, which leads itself to power fantasy, unsurprisingly. It definitely didn't feel right, since both would heavily de-emphasize the value of knowledge.
    At least a year, in-fic - although I admit, I've been toying with a plausible way to have Frid take Morgana's place . . .
    That definitely seems like an interesting idea. Morgana starts the story with a lot of unexplained knowledge, has amnesia... seems easy enough to fit in role-wise, the plot justification might be murkier. Avoiding the protagonist position offers a lot of fun opportunities for more subtle manipulations, and takes a few steps back from directly needing to drive the plot, plus avoids feeling too power-fantasy-y
    Quite - though giving Strahd the runaround would fit the bill, kind of.
    Well, Strahd isn't the Dark Powers, but as far as Zelretch's motivations, yeah. I'm tempted to wonder if you can have Darklord Godafrid from another Kaleidoscope facet, since Ravenloft is acting as a timeless area common between universes, like the Far Realm. That might be a bit too... self-indulgent? Not sure. Also might be leaning too hard into temporal paradoxes, we've already done silly things with those.
    Honestly, I've been toying with doing my own take on the Fate/strange fake concept - essentially, that someone has (sort of) copied the Grail War Ritual, going off intel gathered at the Third War, but not precisely. It would allow for certain Case Files characters to be used (Flat being the canon one, of course, but I could actually see Luvia funding the whole thing, just to one-up the Tohsakas), and possibly wind up in a position to join - and if nothing else, the Works still needs a functional Grail - but it's still very much in the conceptual stage
    I can see why you'd need to let that percolate a bit more, though it does sound interesting. Lots of original plotting to do.

  5. #6865
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    Personally I consider Crisis of Fayth as your weakest work for that reason. The power scale of an epic-level druid meant a LOT of things were solved with pat applications of druid spellcasting, and while Sin was still too strong for direct confrontation, the raw convenience and versatility of epic level 3.x characters trivialized almost everything else in the setting. The advantages of knowing the plot were there, but mostly exploited by brute force.
    Fair enough. That is one of the reasons I decided to cut down on his power level . . .


    In Anarchy, Godafrid is nearly-mundane for most of the story, and even when his nature is revealed, that isn't terribly meaningful with how far things have escalated, so he's in a much more supportive role. Blending in and subterfuge definitely pair well with meta-knowledge.
    Which is a really good reason to keep his power-set "as is."


    Is this the foushadowing payoff? Yeah, that might have been a bit excessive.
    You're definitely not kidding about "letting the muses out to play". I enjoy Anarchy as the blended mess of story elements it is, but even the title doesn't take itself seriously.
    We may have gone a LITTLE overboard, yes . . . And the arguments to go (or not to go) one way or another have, on occasion, lasted for days . . .


    That is a very good way to stop the Exaltation from letting him immediately confront the antagonist.
    That's my thought, yes.


    Since I also have not read Umineko (or finished Higurashi) the potential for mixing foreshadowing while retaining a mystery for readers sounds quite fun. Those stories are already quite complex though, so I can still definitely see headaches from needing to understand the original story, backtrack to a place of ignorance to play your SI, work out the consequences of his actions, and integrate that back into some semblance of the original plot.
    Absolutely - and the investment needed, particularly in regards to Umineko . . . I can spend $370 to get a 26-episode anime (which is incomplete, and apparently considered on par with the Tsukihime one by the series' fans), about that much to get the complete series of manga, which can run up to 624 pages in length, or about $60 on the actual games, with the understanding that at least 100 hours of my life is forfeit.

    It's honestly not an easy call.

    And then there's the question of what, exactly, to do with the story; if I choose to try an integrate the setting, like the Higurashi snippets implied, well . . . The TYPE-MOON world is dangerous, but the concepts that these series involve could be cataclysmic on the scale of a Grail War . . .


    I was mostly going for "what has supernatural elements and sufficiently dangerous/destructive confrontations to threaten an Exalt" there, which leads itself to power fantasy, unsurprisingly. It definitely didn't feel right, since both would heavily de-emphasize the value of knowledge.
    Understandable.


    That definitely seems like an interesting idea. Morgana starts the story with a lot of unexplained knowledge, has amnesia... seems easy enough to fit in role-wise, the plot justification might be murkier. Avoiding the protagonist position offers a lot of fun opportunities for more subtle manipulations, and takes a few steps back from directly needing to drive the plot, plus avoids feeling too power-fantasy-y
    *Nods* And again, I can do it plausibly, thanks to Third Edition rules (I am so pleased with these - why couldn't Scion's new edition have turned out this well . . .?)


    Well, Strahd isn't the Dark Powers, but as far as Zelretch's motivations, yeah. I'm tempted to wonder if you can have Darklord Godafrid from another Kaleidoscope facet, since Ravenloft is acting as a timeless area common between universes, like the Far Realm. That might be a bit too... self-indulgent? Not sure. Also might be leaning too hard into temporal paradoxes, we've already done silly things with those.
    Honestly, yes - I'm trying to tie up some of the dangling plot threads here, not fray loose a few more . . .


    I can see why you'd need to let that percolate a bit more, though it does sound interesting. Lots of original plotting to do.
    Exactly. Thus far, I've figured that it's too dangerous for Shirou, Saber, Sakura or Rider - well, too dangerous for anybody, but given that Arturia or Medousa could end up getting used to power the other Grail if defeated . . . (though as hidden trumps, they might prove useful).

    . . . Actually, that's really true of Rider; since this is (theoretically) a "pure" Grail, the addition of an Anti-Hero would probably be BAD. Which would make some of the really fun Servants ineligible, anyways . . .

    That's a shame, really; I was kind of looking forward to Frid's pulling a prank on Rin where he gave her a catalyst that would allow her to finally summon a Saber - and getting the appropriately-Crimson Heroine, Brave Eli-chan.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  6. #6866
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    Fair enough. That is one of the reasons I decided to cut down on his power level . . .
    That did seem obvious from how Kurai became Godafrid, yes. Sorry, I figured it was a place where that criticism contextually made sense. My view is also somewhat coloured by having spent YEARS reading about 3.5 character optimization, so I will note that I appreciated Kurai being both not severely optimized, and having a fairly well laid-out backstory for why (it has been a few years and I may be conflating it with information about Kieran Holt's backstory in Trinity). But ninth level spells just tend to sweep away most problems that aren't "kill a god", and having the full spell list known offers a similarly terrifying level of versatility, especially when given time to plan.
    I have said, and will continue to say, that Trinity is superlatively good self-insert fiction, and I really enjoy seeing the level of thought that goes into balancing your story concepts and narratives.

    Which is a really good reason to keep his power-set "as is."
    The trick, I suppose, is that it works best if he actually needs to employ subterfuge. Lacking information, or just not being in the protagonist's shoes, are both good ways to accomplish that.

    Absolutely - and the investment needed, particularly in regards to Umineko . . . I can spend $370 to get a 26-episode anime (which is incomplete, and apparently considered on par with the Tsukihime one by the series' fans), about that much to get the complete series of manga, which can run up to 624 pages in length, or about $60 on the actual games, with the understanding that at least 100 hours of my life is forfeit.
    Amuses me how the VN is longer than the manga and anime, but that tends to be the case. Tsukihime-tier anime... yikes.

    Honestly, yes - I'm trying to tie up some of the dangling plot threads here, not fray loose a few more . . .
    I am cursed with asking "what could be possible" and I must stretch the bounds of what seems vaguely thematically connected as far as I can. I'm optimizing for that half-second of "huh, that could be interesting" before the reality of all the tradeoffs made to get there are examined.
    Kurai and Godafrid have always been more unambiguously good than Galen was, so especially with the involvement of the Dark Powers, exploring some variety of "what are Godafrid's moral failings" seemed interesting, and I had to jump straight to "as a Dreadlord, what sort of horribly ironic curse would the Dark Powers lay on him?"

    . . . Actually, that's really true of Rider; since this is (theoretically) a "pure" Grail, the addition of an Anti-Hero would probably be BAD. Which would make some of the really fun Servants ineligible, anyways . . .
    I suddenly wonder what would have happened had the Fuyuki grail been corrupted by a Moon Cancer or Foreigner instead. Presumably things would have become very silly, or very weird.

    That's a shame, really; I was kind of looking forward to Frid's pulling a prank on Rin where he gave her a catalyst that would allow her to finally summon a Saber - and getting the appropriately-Crimson Heroine, Brave Eli-chan.
    This is absolutely awful. And you did set him up with that catalyst too, so this is totally plausible. I've seen enough CCC to know how that interaction goes, and it is nowhere good.

  7. #6867
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    That did seem obvious from how Kurai became Godafrid, yes. Sorry, I figured it was a place where that criticism contextually made sense.
    And it was, so no worries.



    My view is also somewhat coloured by having spent YEARS reading about 3.5 character optimization, so I will note that I appreciated Kurai being both not severely optimized, and having a fairly well laid-out backstory for why (it has been a few years and I may be conflating it with information about Kieran Holt's backstory in Trinity).
    *Nods* Unlike a lot of characters nowadays, the campaign that created him focussed on story; and it was long-running enough to be a fairly detailed one. It's part of why he was still my favourite character to play. And as only my second D&D character at the time, "optimisation" wasn't even a consideration - I didn't know the system well enough at the time to consider what that might mean. And, of course, a lot of what he had were reactions to things in-story.

    Nowadays, if I redesigned him, it would be to be rules-compliant, and he would be very different; still powerful, but nowhere near as "sweep away all who stand against me."



    But ninth level spells just tend to sweep away most problems that aren't "kill a god", and having the full spell list known offers a similarly terrifying level of versatility, especially when given time to plan.
    Very true. And the other major issue with the druid was that modern-day Earth and all equivalents thereof (without even getting into the nuances of TYPE-MOON Earth, specifically) are a druid's idea of a Hell World - so between the two factors, it was easier to just let the template go.



    I have said, and will continue to say, that Trinity is superlatively good self-insert fiction, and I really enjoy seeing the level of thought that goes into balancing your story concepts and narratives.
    Thank you.




    The trick, I suppose, is that it works best if he actually needs to employ subterfuge. Lacking information, or just not being in the protagonist's shoes, are both good ways to accomplish that.
    And it's kind of intended to be his role by design; the Works is meant to operate subtly, so I'm aiming to render him an intelligence/infiltration type - with really weird luck, of course . . .

    Which, naturally, leads back to the issues with partnering him: he essentially fills the role of a Caster or Assassin by himself, and since I'm operating under the idea that the Works can support six Servants (because seven might trigger a Grail War), one per Class, that means (theoretically) that up to four Classes are unusable. Or six, if you count Frid as "Foreigner," and Ilya as "Ruler" - seven if you disallow the Avenger class (which, with a "pure" Grail, we probably should . . .)

    It doesn't leave me with much to work with, overall. Especially if I go with the "Strange/fake" idea, and disallow Anti-Heroes, as well.



    Amuses me how the VN is longer than the manga and anime, but that tends to be the case.
    It does help that the full story comprises eight of them - I'm just not sure if it's meant to be 100 hours overall, per arc, or per novel . . .


    Tsukihime-tier anime... yikes.
    So I am given to understand, at least; and it notes that it doesn't cover all the arcs, regardless of its actual quality. Which makes it really unsuitable, but also the fastest and most immersive (since I'll get to see how characters look, sound, and move) way to get into the details of the story.

    . . . The really frustrating part is, as migraine-inducing as the plot is, Umineko also seems like a setting that really needs the Works' intervention, and ideal for Godafrid in particular: an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery where the entire plot appears to be to actually determine whether or not the murders were supernatural in nature, characters whose backstories and outlooks make Kohaku and Sakura seem like Pollyanna by comparison (more than one character describes themselves as "furniture" - at least Kohaku kept herself humanoid as a "doll"), something akin to the Second Magic, and a level of meta that has to be seen to be believed (like a "self-insert" character already being present in the setting).

    . . . And amusingly, I found an "Exalted vs. Umineko antagonists" discussion elsewhere; while five of the six pages devolved into rules arguments (which I understand is common for "Exalted vs." discussions), one opinion stated that the best chance of victory an Exalt had against them was to break out the social Charms and seduce them.



    I am cursed with asking "what could be possible" and I must stretch the bounds of what seems vaguely thematically connected as far as I can. I'm optimizing for that half-second of "huh, that could be interesting" before the reality of all the tradeoffs made to get there are examined.
    That's a pretty accurate description of my own muse, too.



    Kurai and Godafrid have always been more unambiguously good than Galen was,
    If only because they're actually living out their fantasy life, and making an actual difference in people's lives - it's a lot easier to be positive under those circumstances.



    so especially with the involvement of the Dark Powers, exploring some variety of "what are Godafrid's moral failings" seemed interesting, and I had to jump straight to "as a Dreadlord, what sort of horribly ironic curse would the Dark Powers lay on him?"
    My life, probably.



    I suddenly wonder what would have happened had the Fuyuki grail been corrupted by a Moon Cancer or Foreigner instead. Presumably things would have become very silly, or very weird.
    I have often pondered that, myself - but "Moon Cancer" is hard to justify, in the non-digital environment, and "Foreigner" would probably mean me . . .



    This is absolutely awful. And you did set him up with that catalyst too, so this is totally plausible. I've seen enough CCC to know how that interaction goes, and it is nowhere good.
    Well, Brave Elizabeth Bathory is Chaotic Good, and actually trying to match that alignment, so she's not so bad - but the rest . . .
    Last edited by Kieran; June 11th, 2021 at 10:22 AM.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

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