The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    Um...pretty sure Zorian has explicitly ruled out that as a Bad Idea since there is psychological bleed from any such transformation.

    Maybe if it becomes his only way to survive, but at that point he'll have had to completely give up being able to truly go home.
    We can straightforwardly rule that out as a way to get home, I think. Only the three ways, so far as we know.

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    1. Be the original controller. Not sure how Zorian could do that, since he definitely isn't right now.
    2. Impersonate the original controller. Seems to be how Red Robe got out. This seems like the kind of thing that works exactly once, due to the limitations on 1.
    3. Make a tunnel out through the primordial that's essentially running the simulation. This may be challenging. Still, shapeshifting is probably not the right tool for dealing with this kind of challenge.


    I think it's safe to say that the first exit attempt they make won't work. Rules of drama means it'll probably come down to the wire one way or another.

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    Thus, everyone facing a hard reset as the sixth end approaches is going to be pretty traumatic.

    Also, maintaining stealth/secrecy is going to suck a lot now. I don't think QI can use the crown on himself(he has no marker, and thus cannot activate it), but he probably will find out about the time loop, and is certainly not above kidnapping and torture. Perhaps he coerces folks into joining the time loop?
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  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
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    Thus, everyone facing a hard reset as the sixth end approaches is going to be pretty traumatic.

    Also, maintaining stealth/secrecy is going to suck a lot now. I don't think QI can use the crown on himself(he has no marker, and thus cannot activate it), but he probably will find out about the time loop, and is certainly not above kidnapping and torture. Perhaps he coerces folks into joining the time loop?
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    QI used his soul magic to initially get Zorian into the loop without using the Crown. Stealing a temporary mark for himself appears to be within his capability.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Leewei View Post
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    QI used his soul magic to initially get Zorian into the loop without using the Crown. Stealing a temporary mark for himself appears to be within his capability.
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    That appears to have been blind luck as a result of soul scrambling/the nature of the cycle. ZZ have studied it fairly well, and it doesn't appear to be something that is repeatable, and if it was, it'd require Zach be handy, since you need the original.

    Granted, the fact that he had the crown may have been what allowed that in the first place. Crown + Zach + Soul Magic = pretty close to using the device as intended. QI definitely appears to be the primary threat at this point. Nobody else in the loop is really all that big of a deal.

    I do look forward to the inevitable insanity after leaving, though.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Bit of a slow chapter compared to the last few, reminded me a bit of the early story. Gives a real "final calm before the inevitable downhill sprint to the finale" vibe.

    ...Really hope they don't pick fight with QI and get Kirielle soul scrambled or something.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Now I have another thing to keep up with..

    Dammit all with being so good.
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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    A new one is up!

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    Hail Hydra!

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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

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    I am continuously fascinated by the world building in this book. I desperately want to see more once this is over so I can keep stealing all the ideas for my D&D game.
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Another update!

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    Five restarts pass -- getting the co-conspirators' memories preserved somehow is looking very urgent.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    New update, and it's a doozy.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Any further thoughts on who Red Robe might be?

    My thoughts in spoiler tags:

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    We have three potential main villains with any real characterisation who could fit the bill:
    - QI
    - Sudomir
    - Veyers

    For various reasons, I'm tempted to suspect it isn't any of them but instead some evil clone of Zach; not a simulacrum, some kind of dark copy with a soul and mind of its own. Maybe even created deliberately by the primordial to spite Zach, maybe created by him stumbling on something like the mirror of opposition on his travels. Veyers being cut out of the loop could therefore simply be explained by darkzach finding him infuriating.

    My previous favourite theory had been Sudomir, because he was a fleshed out villain who might be tempted by the primordial offering the impossible (his wife back), and who might have known enough soul magic to do something that inadvertently spliced him into the loop, just as Zorian was inadvertently spliced in by QI. He's also physically strong enough to fit RR's feats of strength. But I'm not convinced he fits the bill physically; there's a point where Zorian reckons red robe to be only the size of an adolescent like himself, not an adult.

    What do the rest of you think?
    Last edited by paddyfool; 2019-02-17 at 04:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

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    So the angels are surprisingly reasonable, within the bounds of what they are allowed they seem to be interested in genuinely helping. Iím still kind of interested in finding out what the heck happened to the Gods now. If anything Iím more interested. Iím also a bit curious about how the Litch has said nothing this entire conversation. Iím starting to wonder if the endgame of all this might not involve talking him into backing off from the plan. Iím not he knows about the uhhhh scorched earth policy the gods put in place and he is nothing of not pragmatic. Also Red Robes is even more dangerous and insane then I thought, and you really canít trust people like him to NOT set off those bombs first chance he gets either so. Wait... itís literally in the contract that Zach isnít allowed to topple governments. I have to wonder if that didnít play a part in the way all of that fell apart between them. And finally! They have seen your Divine Super Hydra and raised you a BADASS DRAGON MAGE! Things are gearing up for a massive climactic fight at the end here.
    Last edited by Dragonus45; 2019-02-17 at 11:22 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
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    So the angels are surprisingly reasonable, within the bounds of what they are allowed they seem to be interested in genuinely helping. Iím still kind of interested in finding out what the heck happened to the Gods now. If anything Iím more interested. Iím also a bit curious about how the Litch has said nothing this entire conversation. Iím starting to wonder if the endgame of all this might not involve talking him into backing off from the plan. Iím not he knows about the uhhhh scorched earth policy the gods put in place and he is nothing of not pragmatic. Also Red Robes is even more dangerous and insane then I thought, and you really canít trust people like him to NOT set off those bombs first chance he gets either so. Wait... itís literally in the contract that Zach isnít allowed to topple governments. I have to wonder if that didnít play a part in the way all of that fell apart between them. And finally! They have seen your Divine Super Hydra and raised you a BADASS DRAGON MAGE! Things are gearing up for a massive climactic fight at the end here.
    Yes to all of the above.

    Also, all my speculation on who RR might be only shows me up for an idiot.

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    I particularly agree on the need to turn QI to ZZ's side. The cube that the angel gave them might just be the means as well.

    Also wondering if they might just be able to recruit the wasp people too for the final battle. They're already clearly on the side of the angels, after all. And there has been lots of buildup to potentially turning the ironbeaks as well...
    Last edited by paddyfool; 2019-02-18 at 02:44 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Nice to finally know who RR is.

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    As far as RR's soul mark goes, I suspect he's also the beneficiary of an angel. His motives are very ethical, even if his means are horrific.

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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Leewei View Post
    Nice to finally know who RR is.

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    As far as RR's soul mark goes, I suspect he's also the beneficiary of an angel. His motives are very ethical, even if his means are horrific.
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    I find that unlikely, the angels seem to have a single very specific and high priority goal I mind with stopping the primordials. Also they seemed to generally disapprove of government toppling and I would also assume the kind of totalitarian violence he would need to achieve those goals. Plus the angels were incapable of interacting with anything inside the loop. My guess is that they had a very very long time to work out a solution, the loop lasted for a fairly massive amount of time. As the angel pointed out in this chapter, dark near anything is possible in there.


    [QUOTE=paddyfool;23715926]Yes to all of the above.

    Also, all my speculation on who RR might be only shows me up for an idiot.


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    Hardly. My assumption was always that it would be someone we knew of if only for the sake of conserving plot details. But given the nature of the soul marker stuff evil alternate Zach was also a real possibility.
    Last edited by Dragonus45; 2019-02-18 at 03:18 PM.

  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Leewei View Post
    Nice to finally know who RR is.

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    As far as RR's soul mark goes, I suspect he's also the beneficiary of an angel. His motives are very ethical, even if his means are horrific.
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    I have to wonder if he didn't find a way to use his cult connections to get close enough to the Primordial for that to loop him for a while. Practically nothing else in the loop would plausibly have that kind of capability. And maybe the primordial's influence is one of the reasons that Red Robe's a little off the deep end.

  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

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    ENTHUSIATIC SEAKER OF NOVELTY IS BACK! Anyways Mr Lich isnít the factory in board with Emperor Red Robe, even if he isnít looking to abandon his plans in the face of potential angelic retribution. Which makes sense, he probably has a better knowledge of what they can do then anyone alive. Still, I canít help but feel like there is a real risk he might pull out in the end at an inopportune time and leave Jornak twisting in the wind if the guy keeps annoying him. Actually, I think Jornak might be the one to ruin that first if he gets paranoid enough about Skelly Boyís secret meeting on the rooftop. If nothing else The Undead Monstrosity continues to be just the right kind of pragmatic and respectful evil that make you want to like him regardless of the planned gennocides he has going. Iím extra curious what the plan is for the super illusion. Iím thinking it might be part of a plot to save the Zach but Iím not sure.
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  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
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    ENTHUSIATIC SEAKER OF NOVELTY IS BACK! Anyways Mr Lich isnít the factory in board with Emperor Red Robe, even if he isnít looking to abandon his plans in the face of potential angelic retribution. Which makes sense, he probably has a better knowledge of what they can do then anyone alive. Still, I canít help but feel like there is a real risk he might pull out in the end at an inopportune time and leave Jornak twisting in the wind if the guy keeps annoying him. Actually, I think Jornak might be the one to ruin that first if he gets paranoid enough about Skelly Boyís secret meeting on the rooftop. If nothing else The Undead Monstrosity continues to be just the right kind of pragmatic and respectful evil that make you want to like him regardless of the planned gennocides he has going. Iím extra curious what the plan is for the super illusion. Iím thinking it might be part of a plot to save the Zach but Iím not sure.
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    Zorian has noted that the contract's requirements are based on Zach's perceptions, and he's also been secretly working on a way to bypass (not remove or dispel) a Mind Blank. My guess is that he plans to present Zach with a mind-magic illusionary world, with Zach believing it's not possible for him to be affected by mind magic because he's got a Mind Blank up, and in that illusion show Zorian dying and whatever else is necessary to satisfy the contract. Then, after the contract ends itself, drop the illusion and tell Zach about it.

    This entire plan must necessarily be developed and carried out in complete secrecy from Zach. Keeping Zach from getting suspicious may require that they also pursue, or at least appear to pursue, other potential solutions that Zach does know about.
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
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    Zorian has noted that the contract's requirements are based on Zach's perceptions, and he's also been secretly working on a way to bypass (not remove or dispel) a Mind Blank. My guess is that he plans to present Zach with a mind-magic illusionary world, with Zach believing it's not possible for him to be affected by mind magic because he's got a Mind Blank up, and in that illusion show Zorian dying and whatever else is necessary to satisfy the contract. Then, after the contract ends itself, drop the illusion and tell Zach about it.

    This entire plan must necessarily be developed and carried out in complete secrecy from Zach. Keeping Zach from getting suspicious may require that they also pursue, or at least appear to pursue, other potential solutions that Zach does know about.
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    I was about to say that it would seem odd if the divine forces didnít try to make sure enforcement happened regardless but then I remembered that the angels have been startlingly reasonable and willing to bend compared to what you get in a lot of fiction.
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  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
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    I was about to say that it would seem odd if the divine forces didnít try to make sure enforcement happened regardless but then I remembered that the angels have been startlingly reasonable and willing to bend compared to what you get in a lot of fiction.
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    The angel they summoned and talked with just last chapter specifically said that, provided that Panaxeth does remain sealed, they would be willing to overlook it if they somehow evade the contract's terms. If Panaxeth is released, the angels will intervene in strength and make sure the contract is enforced in full in addition to stopping the Primordial. If Panaxeth remains sealed, they'll accept whatever happens with the contract as a reasonable outcome given the circumstances.
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    Man, this contract sucks for Zach. If he wins, his divine power boost goes away. If he loses, he's dead.

    The added skill and power those iterations gave him are nice, but they come at a horrific cost. Zach will be isolated for the rest of his life by these same perks, not to mention the added isolation of not being able to share his experiences with others in a meaningful way.

    Zorian's meddling is pretty much Zach's only hope of anything resembling a happy life when the dust finally settles.

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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Leewei View Post
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    Man, this contract sucks for Zach. If he wins, his divine power boost goes away. If he loses, he's dead.

    The added skill and power those iterations gave him are nice, but they come at a horrific cost. Zach will be isolated for the rest of his life by these same perks, not to mention the added isolation of not being able to share his experiences with others in a meaningful way.

    Zorian's meddling is pretty much Zach's only hope of anything resembling a happy life when the dust finally settles.
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    My understanding is that, on completion of the contract's terms, the contract will go away but the divine power boost will stay.
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  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    [spoilers] Yea, the mana enhancement is what he gets out of the bargain as a divine boon.[/spoiler]
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
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    ENTHUSIATIC SEAKER OF NOVELTY IS BACK! Anyways Mr Lich isnít the factory in board with Emperor Red Robe, even if he isnít looking to abandon his plans in the face of potential angelic retribution. Which makes sense, he probably has a better knowledge of what they can do then anyone alive. Still, I canít help but feel like there is a real risk he might pull out in the end at an inopportune time and leave Jornak twisting in the wind if the guy keeps annoying him. Actually, I think Jornak might be the one to ruin that first if he gets paranoid enough about Skelly Boyís secret meeting on the rooftop. If nothing else The Undead Monstrosity continues to be just the right kind of pragmatic and respectful evil that make you want to like him regardless of the planned gennocides he has going. Iím extra curious what the plan is for the super illusion. Iím thinking it might be part of a plot to save the Zach but Iím not sure.
    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one super stoked that

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    NOVELTY IS BACK! WOOT!


    I made very unmanly squeeing noises when I reached the end of that chapter.
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Is anyone else worried that Zorian is getting too locked down in personal details to play the big game? To my mind, he needs to be recruiting archmages and armies to win the battle ahead, not building miniature combat golems.

    Speculation as to the pokeball: he may be planning to weaponise the grey hunter as a mage killer. He'd have to be careful to release it a long way from any friendlies, mind you.

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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    He's already got all the archmages that he knows he can convince quickly. Trying to recruit more would be an uncertain and slow task, hindered by the fact that he doesn't even know about any except Silverlake (who can't be trusted), and better left to someone with established credentials with such people. Xvim may be trying to recruit more archmages, and it may be worth his time, but Zorian isn't the right person for that task.

    Zorian is playing to his strengths - he and Zach both focused on developing their own personal power and skills in the time loop, with friends and allies an incidental side thing. Unlike Jornack, he doesn't have a giant collection of people he's learned through trial and error how to recruit quickly.

    And yeah, that pokeball is definitely for the grey hunter. Not sure how he's planning to use it, but apparently it involves a live capture.
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
    And yeah, that pokeball is definitely for the grey hunter. Not sure how he's planning to use it, but apparently it involves a live capture.
    Spoiler: I can think of a few uses
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    1. He can get real world Silverlake solidly into their camp, remove any leverage the other team might have over her, and make sure she matches her rejuvenated mirror self by giving her an egg.

    2. Unleashing the Grey Hunter amid the enemy mages would annihilate them.

    3. Crossing the Godzilla threshold, here, but the situation pretty much calls for it. Rather than simply unleashing the Grey Hunter, Zorian uses spirit magic to meld with it into an ungodly werebeast. Zorian's mind is powerful enough, his understanding of arachnid psychology and senses is complete enough, and his understanding of soul magic advanced enough that he can do this.

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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Leewei View Post
    Spoiler: I can think of a few uses
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    3. Crossing the Godzilla threshold, here, but the situation pretty much calls for it. Rather than simply unleashing the Grey Hunter, Zorian uses spirit magic to meld with it into an ungodly werebeast. Zorian's mind is powerful enough, his understanding of arachnid psychology and senses is complete enough, and his understanding of soul magic advanced enough that he can do this.
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    Iíve sort of been assuming that that was being set up for a while now.
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  28. - Top - End - #58
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    London, UK

    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Regarding his issues with vulnerable people like Taiven kicking around... obviously he's planning to move her against her wishes before the final fight, but is anyone else expecting Zorian to also be busy / have a simulacrum busy forging potent items of magical protection for some of his friends that he can dress up as gifts, similarly to the toy golem?

    Also, not at all surprised by the recruitment of the Iron Beaks and the wasp people; both of these were clearly foreshadowed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonus45 View Post
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    Iíve sort of been assuming that that was being set up for a while now.
    It doesn't seem all that unlikely, although it does seem horrible.

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    Also, transforming himself into an arachnabomination in this way would doubtless have negative consequences. Besides how it might affect his personality, even Zorian's closest allies might well develop quite reasonable trust issues
    Last edited by paddyfool; 2019-05-19 at 03:45 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #59
    Troll in the Playground
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    May 2007
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

    Quote Originally Posted by paddyfool View Post
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    Also, transforming himself into an arachnabomination in this way would doubtless have negative consequences. Besides how it might affect his personality, even Zorian's closest allies might well develop quite reasonable trust issues
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    You're not wrong in the slightest. Zorian is a very secretive type, however, and the stakes are enormous. He'll want the power, and would work to minimize the downsides through misdirection and discretion.
    Last edited by Leewei; 2019-05-20 at 12:05 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #60
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Dragonus45's Avatar

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    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville Tennessee
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    Default Re: Our Time Loop is Different: The Awesomeness that is "Mother of Learning"

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    my theory for the longest time was that one of the various bits of self hacking he had been doing for a while was being setup as a potential bad end for him, where he damages himself or dies otherwise achieving a golden ending type deal. But the more I think about the idea of splicing some Grey Hunter into his soul and how well suited he would be for it the more I think it could actually work out for him and help put him over the edge into being a real threat on Zackís level
    Thanks to Linklele for my new avatar!
    If i had superpowers. I would go to conventions dressed as myself, and see if i got complimented on my authenticity.

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