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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:06 pm 
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Because feeling good is overrated.

Recommended reading: A Mouthful of Venom
Word count: About 5500
Location: The Haven, Fisecaric (new plane)

Warnings


just a statistic


extras

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Last edited by Huey Nomure on Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:16 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:22 pm 
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So, Kalit can fly now? And inject poison into multiple targets at once from a distance? Frankly, I thought Kalit had too much going one in his intro story, and now he has more.

Okay, I need to be brutally honest about Kalit here. I don't like him as a character. Any one element you've given him would probably make an interesting character. The poison blood thing is a neat idea, and I like the sword you gave him that basically lets him drain it into his blade. If that was Kalit's shtick, I'd be all about him, because that's a fun, unique ability and would come with an important balancing aid. The more he uses it, the more he bleeds out, meaning that he has to be careful, and judicious, or risk bleeding to death. But instead of balance, you gave him the ability to regenerate every time he kills someone...which his poison blood makes easy. So you've given him two separate abilities, each interesting with potential drawbacks, but they each negate the drawback of the other. Add to that the fact that he has no qualms about killing anyone he considers even somewhat morally suspect, and now you have a guy who could probably, realistically, kill armies. He poisons one soldier, regenerates, kills two more, and so forth and so on. He also has shadow magic in case he's too far from a target, can summon shadow creatures in case he can't reach them, and can use blasts of pure mana in case things are incorporeal or something.

In short, Kalit strikes me as a character that was designed to kill practically anything, to the point where the process seems to have been "Well, how would Kalit kill X? Well, he can do this. Then how would he kill Y? Okay, he can do this, too."

There are characters that should be crazy-powerful, and there are characters that should not be. We all have over-powered characters (Well, Orcish has done a good job of avoiding that trap, but the rest of us...) and there are purposes those characters can serve. Elphimas, I admit, I'm coming around to. In general, and in this story specifically, Elphimas feels like a character who should be very powerful. Kalit does not. It got to the point for me in this story that I was actively annoyed when Kalit was "on-screen," and I was looking forward to the scene shift to Elphimas.

On that note, let me talk about the things I really DID like about this story. I think your overall approach and characterization of Elphimas was excellent, especially the way you described how they dealt with the reality-altering. I remember that was my biggest concern about Elphimas when you first created the character, and this story does a lot to help allay some of my concerns, because it genuinely feels like it's dangerous and extremely taxing for them to use it.

I also loved how you explored Elphimas's scholarly detachment from everything that was going on, as they asked themself whether they were just as bad as Kalit. That was a great little moment of moral exploration, and it was interesting to see it painted against the cold-blooded murder Kalit engages in. I love when Kalit kills Maarak, and Elphimas's reaction is just "That was unnecessary." They don't even seem upset. Just stating fact. "That could have not happened, and the story would have been just fine."

Regarding the pronouns for Elphimas, there were two little hiccups I noticed as I was reading. Firstly, I believe the reflexive form of the pronoun "they" when used as a gender-neutral pronoun should be "themself" rather than "themselves," because "themselves" implies a plural. Now, I know Elphimas has some multiple personality stuff going on, especially in this story, so you may have been saying more than I thought you intended, but I would go with "themself," personally. Similarly, at the beginning of the penultimate section, the constant shifts between male, female, and gender neutral was confusing and VERY hard to follow. I suspect this was completely intentional on your part, seeing as you were consistent with the "they" throughout the rest of the story, but I personally found that part less appealing.

I was a little confused when Xant was trying to puzzle out what race Elphimas was, when you had stated earlier that Vedalken existed on Fisecaric. I would have thought he would have known.

Similarly, I found it a bit off-putting how Elphimas seemed to almost instantly know everything about the plane, including long histories thereof, just from a short interrogation of Maarak.

There were a couple of typos I noticed but did not write down, as well as a broken paragraph tag at the beginning of the section starting: "the pain stop this please"

The Church of the Twin Gods, huh? I can think of a couple of twin "gods."

Thanks for posting.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:33 pm 
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Thank you very much for reading and for the very in-depth comment!

I think your overall approach and characterization of Elphimas was excellent, especially the way you described how they dealt with the reality-altering. I remember that was my biggest concern about Elphimas when you first created the character, and this story does a lot to help allay some of my concerns, because it genuinely feels like it's dangerous and extremely taxing for them to use it.

In fact I was especially careful when portraying the first example of rewriting because it showcases how the spell is something Elphimas really tries to avoid, and for good reason. The Unmaker instance is messier on the effect/backlash scale because the powerstone acted as a mana battery AND absorbed most of the backlash (many of the revived citizens of Fisecaric will miss a memory or two), and it still was devastating for Elphimas; if you remember the dossier, when Elphimas tried to erase the life of a single planeswalker (post-Mending, so it's not like they were trying to unmake a god) the recoil was so powerful their mind was nearly erased and the spell didn't even work properly. I'm happy the result seems balanced and justified.

Quote:
Regarding the pronouns for Elphimas, there were two little hiccups I noticed as I was reading. Firstly, I believe the reflexive form of the pronoun "they" when used as a gender-neutral pronoun should be "themself" rather than "themselves," because "themselves" implies a plural. Now, I know Elphimas has some multiple personality stuff going on, especially in this story, so you may have been saying more than I thought you intended, but I would go with "themself," personally.

I remember making a quick research and finding "themselves" as the correct version, but I may be dead wrong; since you're blatantly more qualified than me on this subject I will edit the relevant parts soon :)

About multiple personalities: the short answer is "no", the long answer... is complicated. To make it simple, the Storyteller and the Collector have the same "soul", but the Collector's has been mangled so hard by the "rewriting" spell that it's hard to recognize. So no, no multiple personality, I hope that makes it a bit clearer.

Quote:
Similarly, at the beginning of the penultimate section, the constant shifts between male, female, and gender neutral was confusing and VERY hard to follow. I suspect this was completely intentional on your part, seeing as you were consistent with the "they" throughout the rest of the story, but I personally found that part less appealing.

Yes, it was deliberate; I was afraid it could be jarring, but I couldn't think of another quick way to portray the violent turmoil in Elphimas' head. They had just stopped to be a composite entity made of thousands of souls, and the sudden disappearance left behind a whole lot of "soul afterimages", if you will. It gets darker if you know that their lack of gender is one of the very few things Elphimas is certain about themself... (also, "themself" is marked as a mistake by most automatic grammar correctors, like the one on this site)

This is also the reason why they lose their sight for a moment: only Elphimas is able to properly use their "eyes", and that soul flickers in and out of control among all those "mental ghosts".

Quote:
I was a little confused when Xant was trying to puzzle out what race Elphimas was, when you had stated earlier that Vedalken existed on Fisecaric. I would have thought he would have known.

That was a huge, gross and horrible blunder on my part :blush: I'll edit this too as soon as I have the required mental energy.

Quote:
Similarly, I found it a bit off-putting how Elphimas seemed to almost instantly know everything about the plane, including long histories thereof, just from a short interrogation of Maarak.

Elphimas arrives on the plane knowing its name and basic racial dynamics; it's safe to say the Storyteller visited the plane relatively recently (probably when the Sacred Spear was just a minor cult), and Elphimas merely needed to catch up with the most recent events, information which I think they could acquire from a, say, 15 minutes of interrogation.

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There were a couple of typos I noticed but did not write down, as well as a broken paragraph tag at the beginning of the section starting: "the pain stop this please"

I'll make sure to make another close reading before putting this up to vote.

Quote:
The Church of the Twin Gods, huh? I can think of a couple of twin "gods."

Admittedly I never thought about them in relation to Kalit and Thamirelk, but unless they went really out of their way to cover their tracks, the Twin Gods are not an alias for another (in)famous pair of twins:
The Twin Gods
The cult of the Twin Gods is the most common in Ikarist; the names of the couple are Lios and Kere.
Lios (UW) is the god of sunlight, clarity, wisdom, loyalty and peace. Symbols: wheat, mirror, fire, scroll, agricultural tools as sickle and thresh, scale. Protector of farmers, scribes, entertainers, scholars, diplomats, judges and “hot craftsmanship” (craftsmen that require fire as smiths and bakers).
Kere (BR) is the goddess of moonlight, courage, instinct, cunning and martial prowess. Symbols: bow, spear, shield, net, compass, horn. Protector of warriors, guards, hunters, fishermen, brewers, travelers, artists and “cold craftsmanship” (as masons and furriers).


Now let's get to the hard part. I'll explain the mechanics I have in mind behind what Kalit is able to do on screen, and say what may just be an error of scale and what in my opinion is justified given the premises.

First thing first. Kalit has a bunch of characteristic traits: poison blood, necromantic mana harvest, shadow magic and creepy weird package (can't raise voice above whisper, completely clad in black, scary assassins skills); while it's arguable whether they are too much Uniqueness(TM) in a single character on a meta level, they are part of a single chain of events that made Kalit what he is.
rough timeline


Quote:
So, Kalit can fly now? And inject poison into multiple targets at once from a distance? Frankly, I thought Kalit had too much going one in his intro story, and now he has more.

Yes, but "now" as in "after harvesting mana from thousands of deaths".

Short answer: Kalit doesn't have any of the spells you mentioned except in extreme cases, and even then they're not as good as they seem because he's not a skilled mage.

Long answer: I never say how big the actual ritual circle is because that's one thing Elphimas can't reliably know just looking at a small portion of it, but in the first draft it was clear the ritual had killed the entire plane; even if this may not be true in this version, the powerstone allows Xant to create a major league archangel then four Serra-like angels from scratch in a matter of seconds, and that power comes from both land mana and ripped souls. Kalit's magic gets stronger for every single death, so how powerful is he just before the showdown with Xant?

What I'm trying to say is: when the ritual is completed Kalit has just harvested a ridiculous amount of mana, so much that he's basically a walking ball of magic ready to be unleashed. So when he improvises a spell (relative to elements he's very used to: shadows and poison) that he thinks would be cool, odds are it will probably work. (maybe this an inaccurate way to consider Magic, though? Tell me if you think that's the case) But still they don't work as well as they would if, say, Zhiran was casting them: yes, he has shadow wings, but he climbs helping himself with the wings rather than just flying to the top floor. Yes, he basically casts a poison-themed, enhanced Echoing Decay, but it only works against newborn angels (and Xant is not exactly an expert at creating angels either) and when he tries it on Xant ("also going against the well-known trope that the same trick rarely works twice in a row in a duel," Elphimas would add) it's easily countered and Kalit pays dearly, as he forfeits the initiative to Xant and gets curbstomped shortly thereafter.

The problem is, when Kalit fights in both A Mouthful and here, he is not at his base-level power. If you pitted him against Sharaka during ADAF without a significant kill count the match would be somewhat even, and she's merely a 17 y.o. with above-average fighting skills and unresolved anger issues. But I can't show you that, because even if Kalit is not particularly cunning he knows that he's more likely to succeed when his magic has been fed with, say, a dozen deaths. Which brings me to your next point.

Quote:
The poison blood thing is a neat idea, and I like the sword you gave him that basically lets him drain it into his blade. If that was Kalit's shtick, I'd be all about him, because that's a fun, unique ability and would come with an important balancing aid. The more he uses it, the more he bleeds out, meaning that he has to be careful, and judicious, or risk bleeding to death. But instead of balance, you gave him the ability to regenerate every time he kills someone...which his poison blood makes easy. So you've given him two separate abilities, each interesting with potential drawbacks, but they each negate the drawback of the other.

Saying that he restores all the blood he uses to kill the angels was probably a mistake: not because it's completely outside of what I consider possible (powerful creatures give more power than mere humans, and killing four angels would grant him a significant amount of mana), but because it gives the idea that he can do that in a loop: he can't, unless someone gave him orderly sets of four (or more) high-powered AND low-resistance targets. For the things I said earlier, he couldn't even try such a spell unless he was overcharged with mana. I will edit the combat POV to make clear he's basically throwing mana at problems until they die.

Quote:
Add to that the fact that he has no qualms about killing anyone he considers even somewhat morally suspect, and now you have a guy who could probably, realistically, kill armies.

He indeed can, potentially. He did exactly that once, even before his Ascension, but that's not the point by itself. (the army was not exactly ready to fight back, he wasn't alone at the beginning of the "fight"... there were peculiar circumstances to consider)

The thing is, to face an army toe to toe Kalit would need to have already killed another one, so that's just impossible under normal conditions.

Quote:
There are characters that should be crazy-powerful, and there are characters that should not be. We all have over-powered characters and there are purposes those characters can serve. Elphimas, I admit, I'm coming around to. In general, and in this story specifically, Elphimas feels like a character who should be very powerful. Kalit does not. It got to the point for me in this story that I was actively annoyed when Kalit was "on-screen," and I was looking forward to the scene shift to Elphimas.

My brain is starting to fizzle; I'll tackle this another time. For now I'll say that I'm glad Elphimas "sounded" right; I'm aiming at the "hella knowledgeable brainiac weak as a kitten". Kinda. I'll expand on this in the future, as I said brain's lagging.

Quote:
(Well, Orcish has done a good job of avoiding that trap, but the rest of us...)

I insist on the thing I said before about Orcish's heart size :D

I'm sorry if portions of the post don't make sense, it's 4:30 am for me as I write this and I started writing... what, 3 hours ago? Oh Saint Joker on the Batpod.

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Last edited by Huey Nomure on Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:23 am 
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So, to address the last part:
Quote:
he has no qualms about killing anyone he considers even somewhat morally suspect[...]

There are characters that should be crazy-powerful, and there are characters that should not be. We all have over-powered characters and there are purposes those characters can serve. Elphimas, I admit, I'm coming around to. In general, and in this story specifically, Elphimas feels like a character who should be very powerful. Kalit does not. It got to the point for me in this story that I was actively annoyed when Kalit was "on-screen," and I was looking forward to the scene shift to Elphimas.

In a sense, this is the other keystone of the problem. (the first is "too much going on") So, what role is Kalit going to have?

Short answer: he's a mad dog, but half of the times he starts a massacre he leaves the plane in a better state. The Shifter would greatly appreciate his work (and maybe he even manipulated Kalit a couple of times in the past), but that's another matter.

In his mind he's an avenger, a pragmatic fighter of oppression and tyranny, but that's just rationalization: he lives for the feeling of death, harvesting a soul gives him physical pleasure and getting overcharged by the death of a plane is the closest thing to an orgasm he's ever had. So yes, he just wants an excuse to spread blood, but this doesn't mean he wanders the planes murdering people just to get high: he knows what an oppressed or frightened population looks like, after some months spent wandering the plane to make sure he has not missed anything he will leave, say, twenty people dead because of his "enthusiastic" methods of interrogation and random "incidents" and move on to the next plane. If Xant was just an "arrogant bastard" without plans of slaughter Kalit would have tied and interrogated the priest, killed him afterwards, repeated the process with two other clerics to make sure he wasn't lied to, traveled to the other four populations, rinse and repeat, then planeswalked away making a mental note of visiting again in a few years (to monitor the situation) he would probably forget about. Let's say he'd make 25 murders in 4 months; that's not so terrible as a body count, as far as magical murderous psychopaths go.

When he identifies someone as a tyrant, he considers each guard and ally of them an accomplish, so they have no problems killing them to build more power to face "the final boss"; to make another ballpark estimate, every time he goes on a true killing spree his body count reaches on average 100 kills. Let's say 75% of the times he chooses a target that individual is actually responsible for some nasty stuff, as mass executions of political rivals, systematic oppression of some portions of the population, this kind of thing; sometimes the guards have been the ones carrying out those directives, so whether they deserve to die or not is basically Nuremberg all over again. In Velak's case, each vampire she employed as guards has at least 100 deaths on their fangs and it's not like they're going to stop, so their "execution" is easily justified on a very pragmatic POV; in Xant's case, not so much.

The question he wanted Elphimas to answer is basically this: "Is this ritual sacrifice some part of a larger scheme (so I can go ballistic on the leader of the organization responsible for it) or just a freak event (so I can move on to the next population)?" But his people skills are nonexistent, as you can clearly read.

Quote:
Elphimas, I admit, I'm coming around to. In general, and in this story specifically, Elphimas feels like a character who should be very powerful.

I don't know how I should interpret this sentence.
A. Elphimas feels like a character who on a meta level deserves the power they have.
B. It would be alright to increase their power a couple of notches, because they feel less powerful than they should be.
My point of view is: Elphimas has never been a character focused on raw power, but they are (were, more like: this sentence is more accurate for the Storyteller) nearly unrivaled in knowledge and magical finesse. The Storyteller would have been eventually overwhelmed by Zhiran in a magical duel to the death, but they'd have some chance of victory if the goal of the competition was "bestow a Rednose charm on your opponent before they do the same on you" or something along those lines. The Collector, on the other hand, is remarkably unable to aggressively approach a problem and needs someone else to do the heavy work for him, but can make the recon and investigation work of other more physical characters ridiculously easy (as they do in this piece); they are made to work in group, but they're hopelessly alone.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 2:29 pm 
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Elphimas, I admit, I'm coming around to. In general, and in this story specifically, Elphimas feels like a character who should be very powerful.

I don't know how I should interpret this sentence.
A. Elphimas feels like a character who on a meta level deserves the power they have.
B. It would be alright to increase their power a couple of notches, because they feel less powerful than they should be.
My point of view is: Elphimas has never been a character focused on raw power, but they are (were, more like: this sentence is more accurate for the Storyteller) nearly unrivaled in knowledge and magical finesse. The Storyteller would have been eventually overwhelmed by Zhiran in a magical duel to the death, but they'd have some chance of victory if the goal of the competition was "bestow a Rednose charm on your opponent before they do the same on you" or something along those lines. The Collector, on the other hand, is remarkably unable to aggressively approach a problem and needs someone else to do the heavy work for him, but can make the recon and investigation work of other more physical characters ridiculously easy (as they do in this piece); they are made to work in group, but they're hopelessly alone.

I have a ton of grading to do, so it might be a day or two before I'm able to respond to the bulk of what you have said, but for the sake of transparency, in this case, I meant "A." I consider Elphimas as you have created them to be very powerful, and that power-level made sense for the Elphimas that appears in this story.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:30 am 
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I edited the Kalit-Xant fight describing the assassin's sensations and wasted mana more accurately, caught a typo, corrected the considerations Xant makes when he sees Elphimas. It should look a bit better now.

Does Xant sound too hammy? Is the Elphimas tangent about the mechanics of the ritual convincing?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:35 pm 
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Now let's get to the hard part. I'll explain the mechanics I have in mind behind what Kalit is able to do on screen, and say what may just be an error of scale and what in my opinion is justified given the premises.

First thing first. Kalit has a bunch of characteristic traits: poison blood, necromantic mana harvest, shadow magic and creepy weird package (can't raise voice above whisper, completely clad in black, scary assassins skills); while it's arguable whether they are too much Uniqueness(TM) in a single character on a meta level, they are part of a single chain of events that made Kalit what he is.

And see, this is a big part of the problem for me. It's relatively easy to explain away basically anything in-world, especially when you're dealing with a universe (or multiverse, as it were) that has magic on such a scale that virtually anything can seem possible. Being able to give a backstory for a character does not make it a good character. Let's take Achilles from Greek Mythology. His body was invulnerable because when he was an infant, his mother dipped him in the river Styx, granting him that invulnerability. His downside is that the heel from which she held him was kept out of the water, and was thus vulnerable. It would be easy to say that at some point afterward, Achilles went to Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, and asked for and received an indestructible boot which could permanently cover his one vulnerable spot. And then, just in case someone slipped a scorpion into his boot when he was bathing or something, you could say he made a deal with Hades that he would be immune to poison or something. All of that could be easily explainable in a world where gods can twist and manipulate natural laws, but that doesn't make that Achilles a good character. His weakness in his heel, in my opinion, does, because it plays around with people's admiration of great strength and toughness by illustrating that they are not as indestructible as they seem.

This is exactly why I dislike the idea of Superman. He's a being whose only real weakness is a substance that, realistically, should not even be available on this planet. So any time someone needs to be a threat to Superman physically, the writers have to jump through all these hoops to make it in any way believable, and even then, it requires more-than-ordinary suspension of disbelief from the audience. The caveat to this, though, is that Superman does have non-physical weaknesses, most notably his refusal to sacrifice innocent lives. But still, villains can only use that exploit so many times before it becomes cliché, which, let's face it, it has.

Born with the ability to harvest mana and get stronger and tougher whenever a creature dies nearby, especially if he is the killer: this is the "gift" of a very powerful and interested party with long-term plans in mind. You may be able to guess who this party is, I've already mentioned them, but that's beside the point.

I am more or less fine with this, with one major caveat that I will mention in a moment.

-The Church notices his potential as a human weapon, they train him as an assassin and they discover the kid sucks at most forms of magic; shadow magic is the one at which he sucks less. Example: in A Mouthful of Venom he kills more than four vampires (and maybe an unknown number of humans) and still can't do more than shadow tricks and slightly slow Velak until he's able to exploit one of her mythological weaknesses. Now consider that Kalit is basically a vampire's (and Velak's in particular) nemesis, being impossible to suck dry and almost immune to blood magic...

This makes me wonder why you feel he needs shadow magic in the first place. It does not seem pivotal in any way to his character, you've admitted he's not good at it, and he's got plenty of other qualities that he can use in its place. So the real question is: what does obtenebration do for Kalit the character. If it's just there because you think the ability is cool, which admittedly, it is, then I think it should be cut. There's no problem with giving your characters abilities because you think they're cool, but there IS a problem with overloading your character with "cool" things that pull him in too many different directions.

-To make him even more deadly and keep him under control, they turned his blood into venom, a ritual they periodically bestow on their best assassin: this warps his appearance (hence the covering black clothes) and makes him dependent on a certain serum. Another initiation ritual had already taken care of his throat. He's also given a set of weapons crafted exclusively for the people with venom blood.
-He reverse-engineers the formula of the serum and rebels against the Church, but gets screwed and almost dies; he ascends, carrying only his sword because it was the only weapon he had when it happened.

How did he reverse-engineer the serum? Is he an alchemist, too? And is he still dependent on the serum post-ascension?

Also, for the record, I may have simply missed it, but I don't remember hearing anything about his throat before now. I'm sure it's in there, but I don't remember it.

Quote:
So, Kalit can fly now? And inject poison into multiple targets at once from a distance? Frankly, I thought Kalit had too much going one in his intro story, and now he has more.

Yes, but "now" as in "after harvesting mana from thousands of deaths".

Okay, so here's my problem with this. It seems like you are essentially "doubling" the energy of souls here, because their energy is being harvested BOTH by Kalit's innate ability AND by Xant's Powerstone. So, is Kalit's incidental harvesting of soul energy inadvertently weakening the Powerstone?

Short answer: Kalit doesn't have any of the spells you mentioned except in extreme cases, and even then they're not as good as they seem because he's not a skilled mage.

I'm really getting the sense that, on a meta-level, this character doesn't want to be a mage at all.

Long answer: I never say how big the actual ritual circle is because that's one thing Elphimas can't reliably know just looking at a small portion of it, but in the first draft it was clear the ritual had killed the entire plane; even if this may not be true in this version, the powerstone allows Xant to create a major league archangel then four Serra-like angels from scratch in a matter of seconds, and that power comes from both land mana and ripped souls. Kalit's magic gets stronger for every single death, so how powerful is he just before the showdown with Xant?

What I'm trying to say is: when the ritual is completed Kalit has just harvested a ridiculous amount of mana, so much that he's basically a walking ball of magic ready to be unleashed. So when he improvises a spell (relative to elements he's very used to: shadows and poison) that he thinks would be cool, odds are it will probably work. (maybe this an inaccurate way to consider Magic, though? Tell me if you think that's the case) But still they don't work as well as they would if, say, Zhiran was casting them: yes, he has shadow wings, but he climbs helping himself with the wings rather than just flying to the top floor. Yes, he basically casts a poison-themed, enhanced Echoing Decay, but it only works against newborn angels (and Xant is not exactly an expert at creating angels either) and when he tries it on Xant ("also going against the well-known trope that the same trick rarely works twice in a row in a duel," Elphimas would add) it's easily countered and Kalit pays dearly, as he forfeits the initiative to Xant and gets curbstomped shortly thereafter.

So, I think this might be one shortcoming of the story, because while you mention in the story that this ritual effects the whole plane, the story itself felt pretty small to me. I got the sense that the people who died were those gathered out in the square. At worst, the city. Maybe this sense of smallness comes from the tight focus on Elphimas and Kalit, and the fact that neither one of them seem to care much about the people dying. Maybe it comes from the fact that we, as readers, stumble onto the plot JUST as it's coming to fruition, and Kalit's interrogation happens to take place within running distance of the end boss, but whatever the cause was, this did not feel like a plane-wide event to me.

The problem is, when Kalit fights in both A Mouthful and here, he is not at his base-level power. If you pitted him against Sharaka during ADAF without a significant kill count the match would be somewhat even, and she's merely a 17 y.o. with above-average fighting skills and unresolved anger issues. But I can't show you that, because even if Kalit is not particularly cunning he knows that he's more likely to succeed when his magic has been fed with, say, a dozen deaths.

Which begs the question of when will Kalit EVER be at his base-level power? If the only interesting stories you feel you can tell with Kalit are when he's reaching far beyond his "base-level," then is it really fair to call that his base-level? From a narrative standpoint, his "base-level" is what we see him as, which is someone who can breeze through vampire hordes and murder huge crowds of cultists. To me, that's a little like saying that Superman's base-level is when he's on Krypton.

Saying that he restores all the blood he uses to kill the angels was probably a mistake: not because it's completely outside of what I consider possible (powerful creatures give more power than mere humans, and killing four angels would grant him a significant amount of mana), but because it gives the idea that he can do that in a loop: he can't, unless someone gave him orderly sets of four (or more) high-powered AND low-resistance targets. For the things I said earlier, he couldn't even try such a spell unless he was overcharged with mana. I will edit the combat POV to make clear he's basically throwing mana at problems until they die.

I was thinking more about when he runs from the interrogation to the crowd, kills someone, and feels refreshed. The whole thing very much did strike me as a loop, because the only time it seemed to lapse was when he was fighting Xant alone, and there was nobody left to kill. It sort of reminded me of Maraxus of Keld, who drew more and more power the more people were around him. Take away the people, though...

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Add to that the fact that he has no qualms about killing anyone he considers even somewhat morally suspect, and now you have a guy who could probably, realistically, kill armies.

He indeed can, potentially. He did exactly that once, even before his Ascension, but that's not the point by itself. (the army was not exactly ready to fight back, he wasn't alone at the beginning of the "fight"... there were peculiar circumstances to consider)

I wish we had a smilie that was just a red flag.

The thing is, to face an army toe to toe Kalit would need to have already killed another one, so that's just impossible under normal conditions.

Of course, as an assassin, he never WOULD go toe-to-toe with an army, and as a planeswalker, he would never have to.

Short answer: he's a mad dog, but half of the times he starts a massacre he leaves the plane in a better state. The Shifter would greatly appreciate his work (and maybe he even manipulated Kalit a couple of times in the past), but that's another matter.

This reminds me of the Simpsons episode where the parents have to go into Shelbyville to get their kids, and the Shelbyvillians heckle the parents saying, "Sounds like Springfield's got a discipline problem. Maybe that's why we beat them in football nearly half the time." In other words, if he leaves planes better off half of the time, he leaves it at least as bad if not worse the other half of the time, and if they are all predicated on massacres, that's a pretty horrible win rate in my book. Of course, nobody said Kalit was a hero, so I guess you can't blame him for justifying.

When he identifies someone as a tyrant, he considers each guard and ally of them an accomplish, so they have no problems killing them to build more power to face "the final boss"; to make another ballpark estimate, every time he goes on a true killing spree his body count reaches on average 100 kills. Let's say 75% of the times he chooses a target that individual is actually responsible for some nasty stuff, as mass executions of political rivals, systematic oppression of some portions of the population, this kind of thing; sometimes the guards have been the ones carrying out those directives, so whether they deserve to die or not is basically Nuremberg all over again. In Velak's case, each vampire she employed as guards has at least 100 deaths on their fangs and it's not like they're going to stop, so their "execution" is easily justified on a very pragmatic POV; in Xant's case, not so much.

It will be interesting to see what his criteria for tyranny is. I wonder, for instance, what his take on Kaladesh would be.

The question he wanted Elphimas to answer is basically this: "Is this ritual sacrifice some part of a larger scheme (so I can go ballistic on the leader of the organization responsible for it) or just a freak event (so I can move on to the next population)?" But his people skills are nonexistent, as you can clearly read.

Based on this and what you've told us about Kalit, I find it somewhat odd he would bother calling Elphimas at all. If anything, it seems he would not want to risk Elphimas saying it was a one-time thing.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:58 pm 
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Thank you for your patience, I know I'm not the easiest person to discuss with; once I get a certain picture in my mind, it takes a bit for me to adapt. I also know that when I first posted Sharaka's dossier she had the same problem, with me wanting her to have Ghostfire because Rule of Cool. I'll reply to the most "superficial" points now, tomorrow I should be able to address the "core" issues of Kalit.

And see, this is a big part of the problem for me. It's relatively easy to explain away basically anything in-world, especially when you're dealing with a universe (or multiverse, as it were) that has magic on such a scale that virtually anything can seem possible.

Yeah, in hindsight that was a pretty crappy "you just don't understand my cool OC" explanation, I was just being childish. Sorry.

Quote:
Also, for the record, I may have simply missed it, but I don't remember hearing anything about his throat before now. I'm sure it's in there, but I don't remember it.

Well, fudge :huh: Kalit doesn't want to think about his condition, while Elphimas discovered what he wanted to know while studying him in A Mouthful, so neither of them makes a point of it. Maybe it was off-handedly mentioned as Kalit is surprised by Elphimas not questioning his unusual clothes and voice, my memory is not the best. I'm really getting the feeling I have still work to do with A Mouthful of Venom regardless of how much I want to rework Kalit, though...

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It seems like you are essentially "doubling" the energy of souls here, because their energy is being harvested BOTH by Kalit's innate ability AND by Xant's Powerstone. So, is Kalit's incidental harvesting of soul energy inadvertently weakening the Powerstone?

I don't think so. Kalit's Mark extracts mana from death itself, not from the soul; the ability was specifically designed to keep the souls intact, thought something weird might happen around demons. The ritual rips the souls out of the body to use them like a battery: the soulless creatures die in the process, but in a sense that's just a byproduct.

From a (simplified) card standpoint, though, I'd say it's like Kalit had "whenever another creature dies, add :b: to your reserve" and the powerstone was "As this enters the battlefield, sacrifice X creatures. :t: : Add X mana of any color combination to your reserve."

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So, I think this might be one shortcoming of the story, because while you mention in the story that this ritual effects the whole plane, the story itself felt pretty small to me. I got the sense that the people who died were those gathered out in the square. At worst, the city. Maybe this sense of smallness comes from the tight focus on Elphimas and Kalit, and the fact that neither one of them seem to care much about the people dying. Maybe it comes from the fact that we, as readers, stumble onto the plot JUST as it's coming to fruition, and Kalit's interrogation happens to take place within running distance of the end boss, but whatever the cause was, this did not feel like a plane-wide event to me.

I could stretch the timing and the distances and make Elphimas phase in the vedalken nation looking for one of the amplification circles that set the size of the ritual; it would justify the edited comments Xant makes about Elphimas' body, add details to the plane and give a wider scope to the POV, I think. Would that help?

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It will be interesting to see what his criteria for tyranny is. I wonder, for instance, what his take on Kaladesh would be.

I confess I'm not exactly up to date with the MtG lore...

Quote:
The question he wanted Elphimas to answer is basically this: "Is this ritual sacrifice some part of a larger scheme (so I can go ballistic on the leader of the organization responsible for it) or just a freak event (so I can move on to the next population)?" But his people skills are nonexistent, as you can clearly read.

Based on this and what you've told us about Kalit, I find it somewhat odd he would bother calling Elphimas at all. If anything, it seems he would not want to risk Elphimas saying it was a one-time thing.

Either Kalit read Elphimas' need for companionship bordering on servility or didn't thought much of them and went "let's see if that idiot can actually be useful"; maybe a bit or both. Kalit also has no idea of what Elphimas' abilities actually are, so he may just have "called" to hear "I can't help you with this, my skills are actually X and Y", insult them a bit and return to the investigation; in any case, Kalit had a low opinion of Elphimas, so the "one-time thing" doesn't really worry him.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:44 pm 
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Thank you for your patience, I know I'm not the easiest person to discuss with; once I get a certain picture in my mind, it takes a bit for me to adapt. I also know that when I first posted Sharaka's dossier she had the same problem, with me wanting her to have Ghostfire because Rule of Cool. I'll reply to the most "superficial" points now, tomorrow I should be able to address the "core" issues of Kalit.

Oh, you're no problem. We all have traits in our characters that are not strictly necessary, and we would all argue for those traits, because that's the character to us. Also, as always, keep in mind that just because we disagree doesn't mean I'm right. When other people get to this story, they might very well have a differing opinion from me. My goal is to just express to you why I disagree and hopefully the reasons behind my opinion.

And see, this is a big part of the problem for me. It's relatively easy to explain away basically anything in-world, especially when you're dealing with a universe (or multiverse, as it were) that has magic on such a scale that virtually anything can seem possible.

Yeah, in hindsight that was a pretty crappy "you just don't understand my cool OC" explanation, I was just being childish. Sorry.

Again, you have nothing to apologize for. Hopefully, you see my point, though as always, whether you agree with it or not is up to you.

I teach writing. Not creative writing (as much as I would love to), but still, writing. And one of the most difficult things to do is to get the students to take a step back and look at what the words they've written are actually doing for their paper. It's a very hard skill to learn, to look at a piece on a meta-level, but it is very valuable.

Quote:
Also, for the record, I may have simply missed it, but I don't remember hearing anything about his throat before now. I'm sure it's in there, but I don't remember it.

Well, fudge :huh: Kalit doesn't want to think about his condition, while Elphimas discovered what he wanted to know while studying him in A Mouthful, so neither of them makes a point of it. Maybe it was off-handedly mentioned as Kalit is surprised by Elphimas not questioning his unusual clothes and voice, my memory is not the best. I'm really getting the feeling I have still work to do with A Mouthful of Venom regardless of how much I want to rework Kalit, though...

It could very easily be me. Maybe describing the sound of his voice from the narrator's perspective from time to time might help?

Quote:
It seems like you are essentially "doubling" the energy of souls here, because their energy is being harvested BOTH by Kalit's innate ability AND by Xant's Powerstone. So, is Kalit's incidental harvesting of soul energy inadvertently weakening the Powerstone?

I don't think so. Kalit's Mark extracts mana from death itself, not from the soul; the ability was specifically designed to keep the souls intact, thought something weird might happen around demons. The ritual rips the souls out of the body to use them like a battery: the soulless creatures die in the process, but in a sense that's just a byproduct.

From a (simplified) card standpoint, though, I'd say it's like Kalit had "whenever another creature dies, add :b: to your reserve" and the powerstone was "As this enters the battlefield, sacrifice X creatures. :t: : Add X mana of any color combination to your reserve."

Hmm. From a game mechanic standpoint, I see where you're coming from.

Quote:
So, I think this might be one shortcoming of the story, because while you mention in the story that this ritual effects the whole plane, the story itself felt pretty small to me. I got the sense that the people who died were those gathered out in the square. At worst, the city. Maybe this sense of smallness comes from the tight focus on Elphimas and Kalit, and the fact that neither one of them seem to care much about the people dying. Maybe it comes from the fact that we, as readers, stumble onto the plot JUST as it's coming to fruition, and Kalit's interrogation happens to take place within running distance of the end boss, but whatever the cause was, this did not feel like a plane-wide event to me.

I could stretch the timing and the distances and make Elphimas phase in the vedalken nation looking for one of the amplification circles that set the size of the ritual; it would justify the edited comments Xant makes about Elphimas' body, add details to the plane and give a wider scope to the POV, I think. Would that help?

If you do that, I would also recommend having Elphimas think about those vedalken, at least briefly, when he senses everyone die. I also think you could perhaps draw out that scene when Elphimas is "reading" the ritual to see what it will do by having a strong reaction from Kalit, perhaps one of denial. Like, "No, that can't be possible. That many people..." You know, something to hint at the unbelievable scope of the whole thing.

Quote:
It will be interesting to see what his criteria for tyranny is. I wonder, for instance, what his take on Kaladesh would be.

I confess I'm not exactly up to date with the MtG lore...

That's alright. I'm not overly fond of Kaladesh, personally.

Quote:
The question he wanted Elphimas to answer is basically this: "Is this ritual sacrifice some part of a larger scheme (so I can go ballistic on the leader of the organization responsible for it) or just a freak event (so I can move on to the next population)?" But his people skills are nonexistent, as you can clearly read.

Based on this and what you've told us about Kalit, I find it somewhat odd he would bother calling Elphimas at all. If anything, it seems he would not want to risk Elphimas saying it was a one-time thing.

Either Kalit read Elphimas' need for companionship bordering on servility or didn't thought much of them and went "let's see if that idiot can actually be useful"; maybe a bit or both. Kalit also has no idea of what Elphimas' abilities actually are, so he may just have "called" to hear "I can't help you with this, my skills are actually X and Y", insult them a bit and return to the investigation; in any case, Kalit had a low opinion of Elphimas, so the "one-time thing" doesn't really worry him.

Fair enough. Far be it for me to criticize narrative convenience anyway, seeing as how I do it ALL THE TIME. Seriously, how DID Daneera, Denner, Penelophine, Kahr, Lukas, and Antine all wind up on that beach at the same time?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:19 am 
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Quote:
Also, for the record, I may have simply missed it, but I don't remember hearing anything about his throat before now. I'm sure it's in there, but I don't remember it.

Well, fudge :huh: Kalit doesn't want to think about his condition, while Elphimas discovered what he wanted to know while studying him in A Mouthful, so neither of them makes a point of it. Maybe it was off-handedly mentioned as Kalit is surprised by Elphimas not questioning his unusual clothes and voice, my memory is not the best. I'm really getting the feeling I have still work to do with A Mouthful of Venom regardless of how much I want to rework Kalit, though...

It could very easily be me. Maybe describing the sound of his voice from the narrator's perspective from time to time might help?

Will do. I was so scared of tiring the reader with swarms of "Kalit whispered" that I didn't even mentioned it once, something like that :D

I could stretch the timing and the distances and make Elphimas phase in the vedalken nation looking for one of the amplification circles that set the size of the ritual; it would justify the edited comments Xant makes about Elphimas' body, add details to the plane and give a wider scope to the POV, I think. Would that help?

If you do that, I would also recommend having Elphimas think about those vedalken, at least briefly, when he senses everyone die. I also think you could perhaps draw out that scene when Elphimas is "reading" the ritual to see what it will do by having a strong reaction from Kalit, perhaps one of denial. Like, "No, that can't be possible. That many people..." You know, something to hint at the unbelievable scope of the whole thing.[/quote]
You may not have noticed, but Kalit uses as few words as possible, (implied) reason being speaking makes his throat itchy as hell. I get the message, though; while Elphimas and explicit denial don't agree very well, they could go something like "This kind of ritual in Fisecaric? What kind of deranged planeswalker brought it here?" too. *Ungar chuckles in the distance*

About Kalit's current state:

Quote:
-He reverse-engineers the formula of the serum and rebels against the Church, but gets screwed and almost dies; he ascends, carrying only his sword because it was the only weapon he had when it happened.

How did he reverse-engineer the serum? Is he an alchemist, too? And is he still dependent on the serum post-ascension?

Details are still fuzzy, but in his youth he was taught basic botany and herbalism; after he was subjected to the poisonous blood he sneaked in the high clerics' private libraries, one after the other, to find hints about the formula, trying to replicate the serum for years and using himself as a guinea pig. He rebelled after he found the correct formula; he is still dependent on the serum, and if he doesn't drink a dose every... week? (time period is still WIP) Basically his body starts to get slowly poisoned by his own blood.

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The problem is, when Kalit fights in both A Mouthful and here, he is not at his base-level power. If you pitted him against Sharaka during ADAF without a significant kill count the match would be somewhat even, and she's merely a 17 y.o. with above-average fighting skills and unresolved anger issues. But I can't show you that, because even if Kalit is not particularly cunning he knows that he's more likely to succeed when his magic has been fed with, say, a dozen deaths.

Which begs the question of when will Kalit EVER be at his base-level power? If the only interesting stories you feel you can tell with Kalit are when he's reaching far beyond his "base-level," then is it really fair to call that his base-level? From a narrative standpoint, his "base-level" is what we see him as, which is someone who can breeze through vampire hordes and murder huge crowds of cultists. To me, that's a little like saying that Superman's base-level is when he's on Krypton.

To keep the comparison between the same characters, if the Kalit about to duel Velak was pitted against an adult Sharaka (let's say around 25 y.o.) Kalit would be in big trouble; he loses mana (and with it power) whenever his regeneration is triggered, so the viashino's superior speed and pyromancy would swiftly drain him of power until he reached the "baseline", at which point Kalit would be curbstomped in seconds. When Elphimas frees Kalit from the Uber Lightspear he's very near to baseline power, and that's the reason why he is unable to hit the old and tired Xant while the vedalken is doing their thing with the trapped souls. (That, and the fact he's regrowing his intestines, and that stuff hurts.)
Basically, his power baseline exists as a rock bottom for his capabilities when a fight starts going very bad or he's ambushed.

To make a quick list of Kalit's current weaknesses:
-He dies if confined for too much time in a plane where he can't find the (pretty rare) plants he needs for the serum (he carries a stash, of course, but not many doses, and if physically restrained he obviously can't access it);
-He's psychologically dependent to the feeling of death, so he can become somewhat predictable on the long run;
-He's not an experienced planeswalker and apart from a naturally keen hearing he hasn't remarkable senses (there's no instances of him sensing mana other than his own as of now), so it's relatively easy to track him across Dominia and ambush him when not excessively empowered;
-He's a trained assassin, but not a cunning duelist (he never thought once about knocking the powerstone from Xant's hands, for example, because he was hellbent on killing him directly) and not very strategic at all once he thinks he has the winning hand;
-His magic is weak compared to the mana he wastes for it, and can be easily countered/avoided by capable mages and fast opponents;
-Whenever he regenerates he loses power proportionate to the damage taken, and the regeneration is not instantaneous;
-Vulnerable to mind magic, as long as it doesn't leverage on positive feelings like love and marvel, and illusions;
-His Mark doesn't enhance his speed, so naturally quick fighters (like most angels) and fighters with speed enhancements have an edge over him in close combat.

Quote:
So the real question is: what does obtenebration do for Kalit the character. If it's just there because you think the ability is cool, which admittedly, it is, then I think it should be cut. There's no problem with giving your characters abilities because you think they're cool, but there IS a problem with overloading your character with "cool" things that pull him in too many different directions.

(hehe, I sometimes forget you know the VtM setting too)

I'll start from scratch:

The basic concept for Kalit was "a human weapon who can potentially become a plane-threatening menace".
I'm already grooming Ungar as a planar threat, so I want Kalit to have a completely different feel: Ungar is insignificant-looking, focused entirely on weird magic and eldritch alien powers, and his power is somewhat constant, so Kalit is an assassin who can't help looking like a shady individual, very physical in his approach, with powers tied to very iconic and down-to-earth things (death, poison, darkness), and whose power grows as long as he's free to kill. Also, while both justify their atrocities Kalit's presence in Dominia is actually somewhat positive, on average and from a very pragmatic perspective. Interestingly, the idea of Kalit was born before Ungar's.

So the Mark is Kalit's first trademark trait; I wanted it to leave weaknesses, and according to MtG lore :B: enhancements doesn't focus on speed boosts, but in raw power and sometimes regeneration. The fact his power decreases significantly when wounded kinda balances him and also helps the "all or nothing" feeling: either he overwhelms his opponents at full power or he has to waste power in a drawn-out fight where his chances constantly get slimmer with every hit he takes. The pleasure generated from death was also a reason to turn him into a monster from a somewhat innocent nature.

The poisonous blood was thought to amp the "human weapon" concept to eleven: even his blood is deadly, and even hurting him can result in injury. Such a deep change of his metabolism is bound to have side effects, so his appearance is twisted (no hair of any kind, green-grey skin and eyes...) and his body odor somewhat foul; this would make him a reject among humans, and Kalit wasn't supposed to be a ritualist or a powerful mage, so his past as an assassin-slave started to form, along with his unique weapon.

The voice thing was another way for his masters to alienate assassins from normal people, and played well with the fact that the highest echelon of the Ikaristan Moon Goddess' clergy is called the Silent Conclave. The fact that both the Mark and his blood were imposed on him underlines his pre-Ascension status as a weapon, forged and enhanced and used without him being able to choose freely.

On a symbolic level Kalit could be already finished; on a mechanical level, though, a fighter so narrowly focused on close combat would have critical problems defeating "bosses" with almost any magical ability. Some form of ranged magic would give both Kalit and the writer tools to make more interesting fights, in my opinion. Some kind of venom magic was out of question: his masters wouldn't allow their assassins to tamper with the blood ritual. Animist necromancy (the ability of rip souls and maybe interact with ghosts) could be more fitting with his Mark (just to be explicit, it was bestowed by a demon), but it strikes me like a more complex magic that wouldn't be appropriate for a blunt and inexperienced mage as Kalit. Shadow magic was both fitting with classic themes of assassins and rather versatile in its applications; furthermore, I admit I like this spell a lot. Are there alternatives that would make his themes feel less "crowded"?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:15 am 
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Are there alternatives that would make his themes feel less "crowded"?

Well, I have to caveat all my thoughts by noting that I'm coming to this discussion late in the day, and so I'm still sort of playing catch-up on the thread so far. But my initial inclination would be to try to double-down on Kalit's blood, in one form or another?

Similarly to Raven, that's the aspect of Kalit's character which speaks the most to me. I love the idea that his own toxic blood is sort of his greatest weapon, and the device of the sword which cuts him deliberately is -- to me, anyway -- a *fabulous* hook which really feels like it wants to be expanded on. So, to the extent that he's going to have a magical arsenal, I'd love to see it revolve around blood. I'd even love to see you run with the blood in non-magical fashion. I mean, if the main concern is that Kalit needs some ranged skills to go along with his melee, prowess, I'd almost love to see him opening a vein with a throwing dagger, as much as I'd love to see him casting a spell.

Also, too, I guess I'd want to push back against the notion that Kalit necessarily needs more arrows in his quiver to make him dangerous as a planar-level threat. Again, my instinct here is to try to double-down on his main traits, rather than trying to augment them. If his primary skillset is as an assassin, then I'd almost want to see him own that -- after all, I could see just as credible a planar calamity stemming from one well-placed strike of a blade as from the ability to kill entire armies. Maybe that's a direction you could take Kalit in?

But, as that last sentence implies, the critical thing here is that Kalit is your character, and you have to write him in the way that speaks to you -- otherwise, what's the point? So don't be afraid to make him who you think he needs to be, Huey!

Doubling-back to some of Raven's concerns, though, I think this story is colored by the fact that we still have so little in-story insight into who Kalit is. Your responses to Raven's questions told me way more about Kalit than I've been able to pick up about him from the two stories he has been in, and I feel like -- maybe -- that gets at the root of the issue? Leaving questions of power-level aside, I think that, from the stories in-and-of themselves, it's just really hard to get a grasp on who Kalit is, or -- more crucially -- why he's doing the things he does. I know way more about his abilities than I do about his motivations. And I feel like that's starting to become a little upside-down at this point -- for me to find a way to empathize with him as more than a killer, I need to get more of a window into his own justifications for why he does the things he does, and how they make sense inside his own head.

Now, with all that being said, I also want to be sure to mention that I enjoyed this story, Huey -- thank you for sharing!

To again second Raven (he always makes all the good points before I can get to them!), I really love the depiction of how Elphimas sort of alters reality in this piece -- I love the way you describe that process. It's really neat writing! And Elphimas's bizarre sort of passive-aggressive argument with Kalit as the latter carved his way through the tower guards also worked really well, too.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:05 am 
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Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully!

Quote:
Doubling-back to some of Raven's concerns, though, I think this story is colored by the fact that we still have so little in-story insight into who Kalit is. Your responses to Raven's questions told me way more about Kalit than I've been able to pick up about him from the two stories he has been in, and I feel like -- maybe -- that gets at the root of the issue? Leaving questions of power-level aside, I think that, from the stories in-and-of themselves, it's just really hard to get a grasp on who Kalit is, or -- more crucially -- why he's doing the things he does. I know way more about his abilities than I do about his motivations. And I feel like that's starting to become a little upside-down at this point -- for me to find a way to empathize with him as more than a killer, I need to get more of a window into his own justifications for why he does the things he does, and how they make sense inside his own head.

I understand. I hoped to enter these pieces in the Archive to continue Elphimas' and Sharaka's next story as I worked on Kalit's origin, but it seems I'll need to work in chronological order.

Well, I have to caveat all my thoughts by noting that I'm coming to this discussion late in the day, and so I'm still sort of playing catch-up on the thread so far. But my initial inclination would be to try to double-down on Kalit's blood, in one form or another?

Similarly to Raven, that's the aspect of Kalit's character which speaks the most to me. I love the idea that his own toxic blood is sort of his greatest weapon, and the device of the sword which cuts him deliberately is -- to me, anyway -- a *fabulous* hook which really feels like it wants to be expanded on. So, to the extent that he's going to have a magical arsenal, I'd love to see it revolve around blood. I'd even love to see you run with the blood in non-magical fashion. I mean, if the main concern is that Kalit needs some ranged skills to go along with his melee, prowess, I'd almost love to see him opening a vein with a throwing dagger, as much as I'd love to see him casting a spell.

Turns out I forgot of a very obvious technique: once his sword is coated in blood, Kalit can spray some venom on his opponents just by swinging the blade fast enough; and I have an idea to justify the "blood magic" Kalit uses when in Death Overdrive.

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