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Sudanna

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About Sudanna

  • Birthday 05/08/1994

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Understated Ur-Drakon

Understated Ur-Drakon (15/17)

  1. The point is not to extrapolate all mechanics into the setting, it is to opt to reconcile them when one has the option. For starters, it makes for a more interesting world than the alternative. Control has not been a relevant mechanic for me in Mutagen. I put a bunch of points into essence, I make as many very high-level creations as possible, and it's fine.
  2. It is best to find synchronicity between the game mechanics and the narrative, rather than deliberately separate them.
  3. As is typical of Spiderweb games, bathrooms are actually fairly common. What else do you think all those slimy bucket rooms are? Regardless, most of those are specifically brought up by the text, very intentionally brought in as parts of the world by Jeff. They're not inconvenient or uninteresting mundanities.
  4. I think you're both frustratingly ignoring important things, and that it makes the conversation ultimately futile. The single-method model for Shaping that you're both working with utterly fails to explain several very obvious questions of the world, like "Why are they growing all these creations in vats instead of just making them?" "What's all this machinery even for?" "What exactly are we powering with these massive radioactive power crystals?" "How can all these NPCs have so many more creations than me even when I'm objectively better than them at Shaping?" "Why can other people train creations to act without direct Shaper control but I can't?" "Why does my essence come back for free on resting but not while just hanging around?" "Why can't I use essence that's not literally a part of my body to Shape things?" "Why don't my drayks talk to me?" "Why hasn't one senile Shaper just decided to continually Shape wingbolts forever and killed everybody?" "Why do these Spawners not spend all of their time Shaping as fast as when I'm fighting them and kill everybody?" and of course "Why does nobody seem to care very much about essence pools as an important tool when they're so useful to me?" These questions are important and have an answer available. Instead of viewing them as authorial oversights and so ignoring them, consider a solution that wraps them all up into one answer in-universe: there is more than one way of Shaping and controlling creations.
  5. Bottom line, I just do not buy that essence pools are as bad or important as you say they are. There's no acknowledgement of that in-universe. Especially the "put it behind a locked door and fill out these forms first" kind of criticism. Who are you afraid is going to get to the thing? If a hostile person capable of Shaping is in your lab, you already have bigger problems than their access to an essence pool. You are probably already being killed by a player character. If a hostile person capable of Shaping exists at all, you already have bigger problems than whether or not they have an essence pool. I also don't think that creating a level of Shapers with even more power, specifically over other Shapers, is going to solve any problems. Then that just becomes the safe place for criminals, or provides a target for who to manipulate to get away with things. That's just gonna be the place that Rawal ends up in charge of, and then he's even worse. The flat, self-policing hierarchy of the Shaper order itself is, I think, one of its major virtues. As it stands, every Shaper has a communal duty to uphold their laws and traditions among their own kind, and they all seem to take it pretty seriously.
  6. I don't think most of those points contradict anything I said about methods of Shaping. Yes, essence production is some kind of necessary labor. Yes, Shaping and controlling creations are not the same thing. Yes, Shapers can control creations they didn't make themselves. Yes, they can use specialized equipment to do so. The guy who can control many creations at once is just an example of more formal training and using specialized equipment. I would say the instances where people are making a lot of creations very quickly mostly seem to be instances where they're being sent into battle(and killed) right away, so limits don't come up in the same way. It's clear that other Shapers aren't playing by the same mechanics as the PC when they Shape and control creations, but I think it's a mistake to completely ignore the way things work for the PC. We also need to justify all that big expensive Shaper machinery when they're sometimes shown Shaping without it. The dual-method interpretation of Shaping(which I didn't come up with, it's been on these forums for a while) does that. We already have examples of something using essence from essence pools to make a lot of rogue creations. That's what a Spawner is. Spawners are very bad and dangerous, but clearly not insurmountable. Also, essence pools aren't infinite. They run out and dry up and die and need maintenance, just on a scale that doesn't show up from the player using them. I don't think they're really ever said to be all that complicated to construct, either. They're in a lot of places. Most Shapers probably know how to make one, just because it's a very basic and useful tool. I would suspect that "controlling" them is kind of impossible just because they're so normal that any Shaper that's had any training at all can figure them out.
  7. I think there's a degree of misunderstanding going on with at least one aspect of the discussion here. JDubkins is not saying that Shapers deserve to be treated as gods. JDubkins is saying that the serviles of Sucia, in three distinct ways that line up at least somewhat with typical human treatments of religion, treat them as gods. Either as benevolent absent creators, powerful equals to bargain with, or despicable arbitrary tyrants. Something I think it's worthwhile to consider is how the serviles with immediately present creators function and differ even from the Obeyers. Even better-treated, more independent, more valuable serviles such as skilled gem-cutters or other specialized labor are markedly different from Obeyers, to say nothing of more expendable laborers. Do they have pseudo-theological ideas about their creators? Sometimes, sort of, but not nearly so intricate as the Sucians. Mostly, they don't have to, because immediate fear and obedience are quite sufficient. Personally, I think it's self-evident that a freer knowledge of Shaping entails a greater risk of mishaps, criminality, and leaks. Electronics seem a poor comparison to Shaping, at least until we have nanomachine plagues and armies of killer robots. There's no evidence of nepotistic corruption among the Shapers, and plenty of indirect evidence that they are in fact as meritocratic in their selection of new pupils. This isn't really how it works. I don't remember if it's ever specifically stated, but we the fans have typically interpreted things like this: A Shaper can produce creations quickly(or, with exceptional training, almost instantly) and without additional tools from the essence stored within their own body. These creations are easily controlled by mental commands, but cannot travel too far from their Shaper without going completely rogue. Furthermore, this essence is limited, and cannot be replenished while in use, placing a hard limit on the number of active creations that can be active at one time. Essence pools are a great convenience for this variety of Shaping, and can allow a Shaper to produce creations continuously, but only up to the limit of their essence. This is the only way the player Shapes things, the mechanics should be familiar. More formally-trained Shapers might be able to create more creations than the player, or control them from somewhat further away, but the principle remains the same. Shapers can also, however, create more permanent and independent creations not tied to their personal essence by slowly growing them in vats, or something similar. This requires additional equipment, such as the vats themselves, tools for manipulating essence, power sources and conduits, Servant Minds to monitor things, and all the other stuff we find in Shaper facilities. These creations can be produced from "free" essence, essence not tied to any particular Shaper, and so there is no insurmountable limit on how many can be made, just limits on available equipment, growth rate and throughput, essence production, safety, and control ability. They are less susceptible(not immune) to immediate mental commands from Shapers, but can be readily imprinted and trained to function semi-independently or under the command of people other than their immediate creator. Essence pools are nothing more than a certain amount of essence for this variety of Shaping. This is a less convenient, but ultimately more powerful variety of Shaping, the sort that most of the Shaper's armies are made with. Also, Shapers know how to make essence, it's just sort of boring and smelly alchemical work they prefer to leave to outsiders. Pods and pools are conveniences, not necessities.
  8. The most obvious elf/nephil connection is that they tend to live in the wilderness. But I agree that there's really not much there.
  9. Unless you have very high Leadership, you will have to kill Ellrah to join the Takers. Randomizer's right about the Sholai at the bridge not mattering yet.
  10. Rotghroths are the way they are because they aren't fully immune to their own caustic secretions. They're just tough enough to be able to survive with most of their surface constantly melting off, and the really important parts(like eyes and internal organs) are presumably more protected. Really sucks to be a rotghroth. Though I think they're, by necessity, also made immune to most pain? They're like giant acidic lepers, or something.
  11. Spoilers for later games, mostly G2, throughout. Shaper arrogance is their most visible flaw. Projecting omnipotence to outsiders and creations is one thing; Shapers rule, and don't owe their subjects humility. The danger is when they pretend to themselves. To each other, but moreso internally. Some Shapers are very weak in this regard, and others less so. I must point out, though, that they have unmatched, unprecedented, unaccountable power, and their track record with it is really very good, on the whole. Better than anybody else who ever gets it. A real-world parallel is nuclear power: it's a complex technology with great and necessary potential, but it has risks. And there's no nullifying all risk. If you use nuclear power, there will be some accidents, someday. The correct response is not to avoid it: everything has costs, including non-nuclear power generation. Accidents can be predicted, managed, contained, minimized. The rebels, with their Unbound and their shredbugs, are Soviet Chernobyl. The Shapers are Japanese Fukushima(which did really very little damage and was effectively responded to). Nothing's stopping the Shapers from coming back! It's not that long of a boat ride. They can afford it. If they wanted to purge the place, they would have done it a century ago. The notes left by researchers on the island talk about clearing up this whole "The Council Barred us" business and resuming their work. There is, notably, no real discussion of destroying the creations. It wasn't proposed, it wasn't on the table, it wasn't something people were talking about. It's not something they were worried about because it's not something they generally like to do, and not something they expected to happen! With the addition of the entire concept of the "inutile" in this game, the Shapers of the period seem to do very little in the way of massacre. The Shapers are not much motivated by compassion. They're an elite class with absolute power: most of them experience compassion as a niggling little doubt, a sick little feeling inside, rather than as a passionate drive. But they do mostly have that, and it seems to help a lot! They don't undergo terraforming projects for fun, or for personal need. They could extract everything they wanted from a much more desperate populace, if they wanted. They are humans, and are motivated, in flawed human ways, to do some good. They hold the power of life and death over all of their creations, and they aren't very hasty in exercising either, at least until they're in a war for their very survival. Why? They are valuable beyond measure. I don't know about you, but I would very much like to become a god! If someone found a way to do it that had significant drawbacks, I would not want it destroyed, I would want to fix it! Forget that: if someone in our real world found a way to effectively modify a living adult human's genome in discrete, beneficial, and flexible ways, I would want that technology pursued at all costs! The potential is enormous. Beyond the human(or creation) cost of anything to do with Sucia. I would count it greater than the cost of all five games combined! Much like being insufficiently genocidal re: Sucia, this is actually an instance of the Shapers not going far enough. It sounds like Drayks were, mostly, not slaughtered when they became Barred. They just stopped making them. Those remaining were left to live out their lives: you meet several on Sucia who tell you as much. Which is another instance of Shaper soft-heartedness coming back to almost kill everything! Who are the most evil, unstable, dangerous, tyrannical players on the stage, at the end of the series? The Drakons! The self-modified Drayks! If only we'd killed them all right away! Says who? All the Shapers who were there for it are dead. And, again: it seems like they just stopped making them. Ah, but not all of them! Not even most! Zakary and Barzahl preserved as many of the creations as they could, enough to populate the whole dang Drypeak Valley with three full non-Shaper factions, because those creations would be instrumental in their study of Sucia's secrets. That Zakary and Barzahl did this at all puts the lie to your earlier assertion that the creations of Sucia knew nothing and were safe to keep around. The Awakened in G2 have the most extensive magic/Shaping infrastructure and are in the midst of making a giant army of flying Drakons! The Takers have built a second Geneforge and are effectively fighting Barzahl, perhaps the most dangerous faction in G2! In this remake, we even find (I think this next part might be spoilers for you, have you met at least two of the Ascended? Sessina and the next guy?) It's not, fundamentally, their fault, but the creations of Sucia are a real risk. They have been since they touched the Sucia project. Some of the Minds were privy to much, and held greater power than you seem to recognize. The Mind in the Shaper school early in G1 Shapes you! It has the power to deploy the effects of a canister just with its own internal knowledge and magic, like only very powerful characters do later in the series. Serviles operated and fixed machinery, kept records and libraries, and above all else saw things. Just telling a Shaper that genes exist to be looked for is momentous, let alone some specifics of the machinery used! Understand what it means that the Shapers were unwilling to destroy them. It is arrogance, in part, an unwillingness to admit that creations can be a threat. But it's more than that, too. That the Shapers have laws that do in fact recognize creations as threats says as much. The (failed) purge of Sucia is the reaction of a Shaper Council that has just learned about the events of G1. What? Previously unknown outsiders came across the ocean, stole many of our secret powers that we use to rule the world, almost claimed godhood, and intended to destroy us all? They allied with an entire faction of serviles dedicated to ritually hating and overthrowing us? Those serviles learned to use magic? Both a master Shaper and a neophyte apprentice washed up on the island and promptly used canisters to Shape themselves into very powerful and dangerous beings, possibly intending to use the Geneforge to overthrow us themselves? If I were them, I would sink that island into the sea, if I could. That it happens to be Zakary and Barzahl doing the cleanup, probably the most irresponsible Shapers in the entire series, is either really awful luck or a sign of a terrible flaw in the Shaper order, but I'm not sure exactly what that flaw would be, except that it's still possible for there to be bad Shapers. "The Shapers" as an organization intended to destroy Sucia, creations and research both. Zakary and Barzahl are criminals that willfully neglected to do either. They went against the wishes of their order to pursue forbidden knowledge. Barzahl may have intended to become a traitor from the start, or he might have been lost to canister madness later on, but Zakary just wanted to be a cooler Shaper. I would make a larger critique of the Shapers from this, except we see almost nothing like it in the rest of the series. I am inclined to think it's just very bad luck that lean and hungry Barzahl got the job, and that Zakary was weak enough to be dragged along(weakness is as terrible a sin as Barzahl's megalomania). It can be argued that the creations were a greater risk than the research. After all, it's not the Barzites who stick around and fight a whole dang war, it's the Takers. I do need to be clear, here: The Shapers are not good. I am attempting to defend them on the points that I think it is fair to do so, without losing sight of the fact that they're an elitist society of technocratic slaver overlords. In a dialectical sense, the war and the Rebels were inevitable and necessary: what comes out the other side has the potential(via Greta or Astoria; I prefer Astoria) to be better than what came in, in a way that was never going to happen otherwise. All the suffering therein is fundamentally the product of their sins, and they deserve that suffering in a way that even their worst creations don't, so much. But much of what the Shapers are is necessary, or even commendable in their circumstance; rare is the Shaper that is actually, truly evil, even in extremis. Even Rawal, perhaps the worst of them all. One cannot say the same of the Drakons. The Shapers rule with a light hand, use their power competently, and monitor themselves strictly. G1 is maybe the game where the Takers are most defensible, most sympathetic. For all that the game reiterates their motive of hate, it's easier to support their war when it's confined to an ending slideshow, before you come to see what it really means in the later games. Their cause is necessary and just, in a way that I can't and don't argue. Don't let that blind you to their flaws or the Shaper's virtues.
  12. There's a reason G1 looms so large over the rest of the series. Sucia is the central great failure of the Shapers, from which the other four games of misery and war spring. But it's easy to criticize, and harder to improve. The only way to really improve Sucia's aftermath would be to eradicate every creation on the island. You can't rehome the creations of Sucia like dogs. The ambitious will hunt them down and piece it all back together, in secret. Later games show that. You can't just wipe out the research and repurpose the place - the entire island is devoted to it, it's everywhere, and a lot of it's not easy to remove. Scraps would survive to be found. Why didn't the Shapers just harden their hearts and burn Sucia and every living thing on it into ash? Shapers don't generally like wiping out their creations - they are consistently shown as arrogant, absolute, and dominating, but not sadistic or wicked or callous beyond measure. It's not quite on the level that humans don't like eradicating entire populations of their own people, but it's there. They are also persistently dedicated to the advancement of their science. If they weren't, they'd be all Guardians and Agents - it's the entire raison d'être for the Shaper branch of their order. I hope these traits are recognized as virtues, however paltry, and not flaws! The Shapers abandon and Bar Sucia rather than utterly purge it because they don't want to massacre their loyal creations, and they don't want to obliterate progress. Someday they might come back for the Geneforge, someday they might use what they learned here in a better way, but they're not ready for it yet. What apex-predator human organizations do you know of capable of executing the same choice? It's to be noted that the serviles of Sucia, despite their ideological divisions and rocky beginnings, existed in peace and progress before the unforeseeable Sholai came. There was trade and peace between the villages, the rogues were under control, and things went about as well as they can go in a primitive agrarian society without magic. Is it good that the Shapers left them this way? No, but what were the other options, really? The universe where the unchallenged world-ruling wizard cabal spontaneously frees their (obedient, loyal!) inhuman slaves and welcomes them into the project of governance doesn't exist. Sucia managed, in their absence. The Sholai, their breaking of the Bar, and their grasping for power are what spoils all this. Sucia highlights the contradictory drives of the Shapers. Humanity, security, and progress. You can plausibly change the outcome of Sucia, but only by further sacrificing one or more of them.
  13. Some of us have reached an even more exclusive level of status, that of having had a title in the past but graduated out of that state. Don't you guys know that displaying your status is gauche? Some of us are secure enough not to need it.
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