Friday, September 22, 2017

By Any Other Name: Prelude

It’s fluff week, everybody! *waits for groans to subside.* So a few mini-musings, followed by a brief word on the continuing Collodi misadventures, and then I’d like to submit the beginnings of a short-story I was writing for the first round of the Storied Soundtracks competition (before running out of time. Whoops.)

“Wow!” you say, “I love fluff short stories. How can I read more like this?” Well, glad you asked. Enforcer level patrons on our Patreon (you’ve heard of our Patreon, right?) will get access to a shared Dropbox folder wherein I’ll be dropping off files for things I write that are related to Wyrd. I’ve updated Shadows and Void since last time I posted about it in here, and that’ll be going in there for patrons only along with versions of my Through the Breach modules published in Wyrd Chronicles. That level of support is just $3 a month. $3? That’s nothing! You spend more than that on Starbucks! And Starbucks doesn’t give you Malifaux related fiction and RPG content.

What I’m saying is, screw Starbucks. Give me your money instead.

Mini-Musings

-Everybody say hey to Wyrd’s new designer, Matt Carter! Welcome to the Wyrdness and Wyrditude.

-Malifaux has commissioned the creation of an official app! Nathan has updated later in the thread to reveal that their target release date is February. There are some preview images in the thread that seem to indicate you’ll be able to track your models owned and painted, have access to full stat cards, build encounters and, of course, create your Malifaux crews in it. Bummer for the guy that does Crewfaux (although there could maybe still be space for a free app if/when this ends up costing) but it looks pretty good.

How Not To Collodi pt. 2: The Double Deuce

               Started a second game with Collodi that I’m not going to actually write a full post on, as I’m pretty disgusted with myself for how it went. A lot of this is because I got on tilt pretty early when I realized that all the things my crew was built to do were just not going to work this game, but I think I also realized that the mistake I’m making right now with Collodi is trying to take ok to bad models and use Collodi’s Fated bubble to make them good, when I should be using good models and using Collodi to make them awesome. Beckoners are ok, and in a circumstance where I’m playing headhunter or the like I’ll want to use one to pull a model in for murderin', but otherwise they’re not that good even with free focus. And if I unchain her from Collodi and have her go do her own job, she’s just a regular old Beckoner that few people use. Marionnettes are good cheap activations, but they don’t do stuff. I’ve not been overly happy with their performance rather than what I could get out of a Primordial Magic. Plus, I don’t think there’s nearly as much of a focus on activation control in and having higher and higher model counts coming in GG2018 versus what we all saw in 2017. Ours! can be done just as well with high soulstone models as with low, there just isn’t as much flexibility in how granular you can get when dividing your crew among table quarters. And, finally, I need to understand how my models work before I put them on the table. Hinamatsu has a surprising amount of complexity to her, especially when you’re trying to run her in a Fated crew and gain buffs from the Puppet Master. He doesn’t block you from using My Will on your own models within her bubble like I thought, which helps, but I ended up totally misplaying her in the game and basically wasted her points. This, paired with my not realizing just how much a crew of Mei Feng, Fuhatsu, and a Katanaka Crime Boss was going to just flat out block my crew’s design and intent to use Lure and Snatch to pull enemy models out of position and block their ability to score the strategy led to a very frustrating game for me, and I’m annoyed that I let it get to me the way it did. I’m not giving up on Hinamatsu yet, but she’s basically in the same “high ss beater” slot that Nekima occupies, and a large part of the potential synergy between her and Collodi is blocked by “Without a Master.” Maybe it would be a different story in a crew where I could pull things to her, but right now it doesn’t feel like a good trade-off.

***


By Any Other Name



I would rather be almost anywhere than here, Charles Hoffman mused as he watched the snow drift down around his carriage. He wasn’t in any danger, as far as he knew. The hordes of gibbering fish-monsters had been driven from the city months ago, apart from the occasional discovery of nests hiding in the sewers. He didn’t have pressing business elsewhere, though as head of a Guild of Mercantilers Special Forces unit, busy work could always be found if one was properly motivated. He didn’t even resent coming back through the Breach to Earth, though he bitterly missed the intense feeling of connection to the machines around him to which he had grown accustomed since his arrival in Malifaux. He tried, out of habit, to force the harness strapped around his frail, weak frame to move on its own with a touch of his mind, but was again disappointed to find it unresponsive. He had hoped the change was permanent and that someday he could return to Earth and keep the new degree of autonomy he’d found, but this trip had refuted that completely. The manual controls he’d cobbled together before his journey were nowhere near as agile or refined as those to which he’d become accustomed, and he had cursed their clumsiness since the first minute of his arrival and the near-fall he’d experienced trying to disembark a train’s passenger car.

But no, all this he could have dealt with, if he had not known where he was going, the purpose of this visit. He held the envelope in his left hand, the cream colored paper wrinkled and dog-eared on the corners from its numerous openings. He swiped his thumb over the writing on the return address, “Ms. Tessa Beamont, 138 Vinton St., London, UK” as if trying to erase them. Tess, he thought, Who would have ever believed you’d be sending a letter to me?

***

There was a time when the girl wouldn't have spared him a glance. He was, after all, just the crippled kid brother of the true object of her desire, Charles’s brother Ryle. Those two… he mused, Well, there are poems written about love affairs like that. Ryle had never had trouble meeting girls, of course. Possessing an attractive, tall, broad shouldered frame, having your own fortune established, and being a brilliant scientist on top of it certainly had that effect. But despite the availability and relative ease he had with them, the fairer sex had never been a priority for Ryle. Between taking care of Charles, completing their educations, and constructing ever more elaborate and ingenious machines, there had never been a lot of time on his plate for romance, and not much interest on his part to seek it out.

But there was something different about he and Tess. Charles couldn’t remember when they’d met, though he didn’t think there’d been any sort of dramatic first encounter like you’d find from a novel. It seemed like their relationship fell from the sky, like it had always been meant to be and the world had been waiting to get the two of them together and make it happen. It was so natural, and it was the only time Charles had ever felt like he had come second in Ryle’s eyes.

Naturally, he and Tess had disliked each other from the start.

Whatever warmth shown in her blue eyes when she looked at his brother would melt away like the snowflakes on Charles’ carriage window when she looked at him. In a way it was a refreshing break from the detached pity he received from the majority of people he knew in daily life, but Charles had always quietly resented whenever Ryle had left to meet her at a café for a quick afternoon tea that, inevitably, ended in his staggering back home in the middle of the night, cheerful, drunk, and not understanding the scowls Charles would flash at him from his bed. Charles wasn’t sure he’d ever been angrier with anyone than when, after one of these excursions, Ryle had showed him the tattoo he’d gotten in some dingy, back-alley shop of Tess’s name curled around the stem of a rose. It was an incredible cliché, but one that confirmed what Charles had dreaded this whole time: that he was losing his brother, his protector, the only person upon whom he could rely, to this woman. He told himself it was because he needed Ryle, that he couldn't survive without him. He tried not to admit that it was because he hated how happy she made him, how carefree, and that seeing Ryle in such a state only served as a reminder that, without Charles, Ryle could have that all the time. 

“What about our studies?” Charles had raged, citing Ryle’s marks which, after meeting Tessa, had slipped from exceptional to merely above-average. “What would mother say if she could see that?” he’d accused, pointing at the fresh artwork on Ryle’s bicep, which was already beginning to show a red ring of inflammation flaring around it. The argument had gone into the night, with neither side willing to admit what was really at stake. Charles Hoffman didn’t want to be alone, and Ryle Hoffman was, for the first time in his life, considering a world that wasn’t dominated by caring for his broken brother. Finally, Ryle had stormed out, throwing an overcoat over the offending body illustration and driving across town to Tess’s flat to stay the night. He’d stayed away a week that time, longer than the two had ever separated, and Charles had finally started to admit to himself that Ryle might really be gone.

***

That was before the telegram, Hoffman thought with a regretful smile. He'd gotten by well enough on his own, which should have been an indication that he was more ready for independence than he'd previously admitted. Instead, it fueled his resentment to the point that, when he heard Ryle's keys in the door, he'd turned his wheelchair away and pushed himself back to his work bench without sparing his brother a glance.

When his Ryle returned, Charles had expected him to box up his things and move out for good rather than the whirlwind of activity that had blown through their door that morning. Ryle had heard from Doctor Victor Ramos, a preeminent machinist the brothers had studied for years. He had offered to work his technological magic to try and restore some mobility and quality of life to Charles. It was like their dreams ever since childhood had been answered: a remedy for Charles’ paralysis and a mentor to take Ryle’s prowess beyond the limited resources of the University. All they had to do was pack up their lives and come join his workshop in Malifaux.

Malifaux. It was like a fairy tale land back them, something from fiction rather than a real place. He knew too much now to see anything besides the transparency of the Guild's propaganda, but when Ryle told them about their coming journey to the Breach in America and then to a magical world far beyond the earth, Charles had felt like one of the old pioneers crossing the Atlantic to explore the new world.

The two brothers had packed up almost immediately, closing up their affairs and buying their steamer tickets before Charles had even thought to ask what had happened with his brother and Tess. Ryle had paused a moment, barely a heartbeat, before stating that it had been fun while it lasted, but it was over now. Charles was so caught up in the turn of events he had ignored the obvious lie and the flash of hurt on his brother’s face at the mention of her name.