Darkpuppy: Gah, nWoD. I'd forgotten. I haven't played it yet: I enjoy the old setting a bit too much to.
Do they cut the throats of pigs where you live? 'Cause that's a lot of blood wasted that usually goes into sausages, and that's a pig that thrashes and can seriously hurt the throat-cutter. They usually use a stiletto-type thing where I live, and rupture the heart in one strike. Failing that, a gun.
A little critique for your newest piece: unless Finlay has some weird power, a chair is not going to save him at that distance. Believe me. I do some shooting, and even a rubber-bullet traumatic gun goes through centimeters of wood at that distance. A regular lead bullet makes a nice hole in the chair and the guy behind it as well.
Besides that point, I like the whole "who judges the self-appointed judges" thing. Once again, I'd love to get Morgana into that whole story of yours. An ovate-turned-Kiasyd is something that would work well, I gather, if they could keep from killing each other.
For the automata: nice! A bit more faery than elven, but can't say that stopped me from enjoying it.
For my own piece: Subtle? Not precisely what I'd choose to call the piece. Why subtle? Because of all the mythological and alchemical references? And what can you say about the characters, if anything?
And have you anything to say for the Jailin and Cypher stories?
Lord Gareth: Oooh. I now read the setting. I like it. A lot. I'd like to read more on it, and maybe to play it. And I liked the discussion on nature and how elves might relate to it in steampunk, so I wrote this little piece. I took the liberty of making some assumptions for Dreavarrian clerics and druids. If you have anything official written on them, I'd enjoy reading it!
Critique for your own piece: yeah, the familial relations between your elf's parents are kind of weird, if you ask me. They seem more human than anything. Take away the ages, and you get a human rogue. What makes her and her family an elf? I'd like to see the "connection to the city" angle emphasized. Then again, that's not the rogue's strong point, probably.
My own piece for your challenge:
Nature versus nurture,
Hey, this is a Victorian view too. I simply stole and adapted it.
So, young apprentice, you think you are ready to know my secret? How we live in a large house and not the gutter? The reason we have wine on these tables and not cheap beer? The reason we wear clothes of clean linen and silk, even though our work is no cleaner than the work of our kith and kin?
Mayhap you are.
By the way, I told you to take that leather off. At least where it touches bare skin. Put a layer or two underneath. I don't care if it was a gift from your dear ol' ma. It heats instantly: today we go to the large foundries, you will be burned at the furnaces, and healing salves are not easy to come by. Once you do, I'll let you in on a dirty little secret.
There we are. Now listen well.
Nature is better than tech.
An unpopular view to hold in our society. In a world where nature had failed us. In a world where metal and smog won out, and the dwarves had defeated us, if not in battle, by building their mountain dungeons up into the air, where our forests once had been, long ago.
I? I live long, young one, but not so long as to remember. Mine is only a little past a gross, and all of this happened millenia ago. And I have come to my views not through tradition - how I used to disdain it! how I still care not for those books which lament the days of old! - but through experimentation and tinkering.
I am not an inventor for nothing, you know. I have spent years upon years studying the ways of metal and oil. I make a better living than most of our people, for I service those who had been crippled in ways we do not yet understand, and they can walk, run, use the fork and knife, and enjoy the other fine things in life.
But my earliest inventions were horrible. Worse than horrible; useless. And it is only when I took the time to study our own selves, our living bodies, that I understood that fundamental truth I told you earlier.
Nature is better.
And the second dirty little secret - it is still here. The cities are a jungle. The mess we make is no more than other creatures make. Come, I will show you something I procured from the black market.
See this? It is what is called a termite nest. A living one, no less, from lands far away. Long ago, I'd paid much of the money I had been saving up for wholly other purposes for it. I never once regretted it, for it has taught me much.
See those little insects, crawling in and out? Does this not remind you of something?
We are no better than flies, truly.
When we grew too many, nature has deemed fit to place us together, into cities. To change us. That itself is the hallmark of the living world: adaptation.
The only weakness of nature is that it takes time to adapt. But adapt it always does. Look at us: so many died, yet so many live, and we have bonded with the new forms that nature has taken. The city itself is a living being made of living beings. That is how we know it so well.
So what does this have to do with prosthetics, you must wonder? For those whom the servants of the gods simply cannot heal, for the strange injuries that people of all races sometimes present?
What is an elf but a machine that repairs itself? We are each a bustling city of creatures, all servicing our mind, all defending our body from illness. So complex a city that our own compound seems like a child's toy houses and carriages. I have been studying the materials of our bodies and their mechanics: how the blood and bile flows and how waste is taken out. It is a machine as much as any forge-creature. It is just that most do not understand this simple, dirty fact. My aprons are stained with oil; doctors' are stained with blood, and there is no real difference.
No, you do not have little tinkerer-elves inside you, not literally. Have you been paying attention at all? The span of the mind of youths boggles me, and you are better than most our kin, too...
I have been watching, apprentice, for all my life I have been watching. It has made me the best, the one to whom all of the rich come when in trouble. It will make me - and you, if you have the wisdom to finish your training! - even better yet. Once I finish my study of the elven body, I will set myself to studying the city. It will not only make my prosthetics better - when I have learned, I will make the city itself better, more comfortable, cleaner and perfect.
Did you know that I have already been able to spin silk better than the silkworm itself?
We will all wear clean linen and silks before my day is out.
Lord Raziere: Your work made me like it besides the mistakes, which is a feat. You do great work in the details. The Partsintools bag is a nice touch, as are the "It'll do" clothes.
I don't have a problem with someone "missing" nature - you always get the mainstream and the reaction, it's a classic part of culture.
What I didn't like is the fact that she thought to look for a weapon out of logic, not out of intuition. In combat, order of the day is survive first, think about scrounging something else later. Seriously, if she'd felt there was a weapon through her connection, it would have been loads more believable.
I like the way she uses her connection to fix the cannon, though. And I love elves in camouflage. I even drew a picture of one once, and that should tell you just how hard I find it to get out of my head.
As for problems in the text - I think your problems come mostly from the wording. It's clumsy in places, and there are little typos and mistakes that make it difficult to concentrate. No apostrophe in "because" when shortened to "'cause", an "a" where a "the" would be appropriate, a "had" where a "has" should be, "being" instead of "begin". That sort of thing. The worst are the mistakes that can be fixed two ways and you have to stop, separate yourself from the story, and think what the author must have meant. This interrupts the flow. A lot. Be more attentive, and you should be fine.
And I translated another snippet for Lindbergh. Hopefully, it's also very Tremere.
No, the Tremere don't train all their apprentices this way. The Chantry just hates this one in particular. He isn't being too smart, either.
To Lindbergh it seemed as if his voice rang with power. Yet red-haired Louis merely smiled and said, "Go drown in the Seine, you simpleminded dupe."
"Or better yet, in a dump well."
Louis gave a moment's thought. "I shall ask the Prince Beatrice the very best dumping wells for you. I heard they had sent you to clean them while you were hers? I was so glad that I could send you there!"
And Lindbergh came to, held up in the air at a hand's length from the chantry's First Apprentice. Louis smiled charmingly, releasing him, and the former mage crashed to the floor. He did not want to come to: even though the Beast had been silenced by magic, the stone cell and two vampires in it did not become any more pleasant.
"You are trying my patience." Ethan sighed from somewhere behind. "We're going to run out of nails soon enough."
"True enough." Louis added. "The whole chantry has been enchanting these damn nails so someone could learn at least the basics of Dominate. How.."
Lindbergh raised his head and gave such a glare that Ethan exclaimed, "Hey, careful! Let me get another nail first!"
"Got it?" Asked Louis in a few seconds' time. "Then let us continue. The whole chantry toils at these thrice-damned nails so that the someone sitting like a stupid oaf on the floor right now could learn the beginnings of Dominate without breaking our furniture. Hey, apprentice of the second circle? What's the problem? I thought you had studied mental magic in life?"
"First apprentice..." Lindbergh finally found the strength to speak. "The Prince and her dumpwells have wanted to see you. You should..."
The mental command was, as always, deafening. The voice went through his mind like lightning, discharging all words from his mind. Even when Lindbergh had sparred with the experienced mages of his former House, House Tytalus, he had never felt anything like this. Of course, the famous masters of the Sphere of Mind rarely used a cudgel when they could use the tiny hammer of a skilled silversmith. But as the former mage already understood, thaumaturges had nothing but cudgels remaining to them.
And that cudgel kept slipping his hands.
"Apprentice of the Second Circle, you are indeed a cretin." Louis crossed his hands in amusement. "How could you not understand such elementary things as the fact that insulting higher-ups is not advisable?"
"Listen, Louie." Ethan spoke suddenly. "Maybe we could just forbid him insults?"
"And not get the educational effect?" Louis seemed to enjoy the sound of his own voice and swayed from heel to toe, trembling with expectation. "Besides, I am made so happy by the simple fact that this fool will be doing soon the dirtiest work reserved for servants! You have no idea how happy, Ethan..."
For this evening alone, Lindbergh had indeed earned a month of the simplest and most unpleasant punishments. Louis would have earned no less, however - for in theory, the Tremere Oath demanded respect of all magi to all other magi, even with the caveat that the younger magi would recieve "the respect they earn." But Louis had crossed even the line that applied equally to novice and regent alike multiple times during the evening. De Lion had made it known that should Lindbergh remember to call to the Oath for justice, justice he would have, and both magi would be punished equally for their deeds. Yet the former mage would not invoke the Oath.
And the First Apprentice knew this.
"And we should think of something for now. For the educational effect. While we wait for your nail to wear off." Louis gave a thoughtful sniff, then clapped his hands at the approach of an idea. "Ah! I think we should find out what of your mortal life so inhibits you in learning! So tell us of how you learned... What was it? Ars Mentis?"
Lindbergh was quickly silenced by a command, for he had instead begun listing the unsavory roots of Louis' genealogical tree.
"Tell us in all detail how you studied mind magic!"
But Lindbergh had already bought time and braced himself for this kind of Domination. The former mage had always had great memory.
"At the beginning, my mentor, who had always worn a black suit of the best and thinnest wool-cloth of England, dyed with a black dye of the finest hues, the secret of which is kept - or so they think - locked within one Florentine family..."
"Enough!" Louis interrupted him. Strangely enough, the First Apprentice did not seem angry, even though he had just fallen into a child's mistake by Lindbergh's reckoning. "Good trick. Tell us of the training procedures alone."
Lindbergh shook his head. The command had missed its mark. "This is difficult to put into words. Especially the first bits of training. I cannot."
"You must have had some exercises. Those same commands which
you cannot seem to master, despite them being the simplest of all actions."
"That is not so."
"What is not so, dupe?" Barked Louis. "You had no exercises?"
"Of course we had them." It was Lindbergh who was laughing now, explaining the obvious. "But for your information, First Apprentice, a command is an elementary act, meaning simple, meaning indivisible, only for those who cannot do anything more subtle. As the old adage goes, brawn instead of brain."
He seemed to get to Louis, but the shadow of doubt passed momentarily.
"But he who has no power could not give a command." Guessed Louis correctly. "So that was the problem. You've never had such power in your hands before. But that is fine. Even the weakest runt will bite when kicked."
"Yet I had already had power over that which you have difficulty with still." Lindbergh responded calmly.
Lindbergh looked the First Apprentice in the eye, and smiled mercilessly.
"It was easy for me to breed simple panic." The First Apprentice listened attentively, having not recognized their first meeting, Lindbergh's capture at the price of three dead vampires. So the former mage continued: "Alone. And you needed six on the street for tha..."
Louis roared! The Beast overtook his mind, and Lindbergh would have been crippled, if not killed outright, if not for the always-calm alchemist.
The First Apprentice sagged to the floor, his Beast as sealed as Lindbergh's own.
Ethan groaned and rubbed his left hand, pierced by yet another nail, then spread both hands, showing off the wounds. "Knowing you two, I shall need not be righteous to earn money begging by the Notre Dame cathedral, showing off stigmata." The alchemist said wearily. "Having your aid, I shall soon feed the entire Chantry with bought blood. Let us get to work, colleagues, the night is not getting any younger."
"To wor-rk, yes." Said Louis angrily, getting up from the floor. "Come on, apprentice of the second circle. Do it right at least once, dimwit, and we shall leave this place."
"Don't you worry about me." The perspective of cleaning the ritual room of blood while hungry no longer seemed so bad to Lindbergh as it did minutes ago. "Better yet... Come here."