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Pinkgothic // author
Mimosa // category
newsletter // #478 to #543 // (07 JUN to 09 APR)
2013-04-09 22:37:59 // time
[1] overview
[2] new players and characters
[3] plotline // camp tumbling milestone
[4] plotline // icarus
[5] plotline // razor
[6] plotline // cotyledon
[7] plotline // mimosa
[8] plotline // other
[9] closing words

[1] overview

Ancient lore speaks of these long forgotten scrolls. Do you remember them? Do you remember what newsletters were like? The knowledge of how to craft them has not yet been completely lost to the sands of time, but... it took much effort to reconstruct the exact ritual.

I hope you're all sufficiently reverent of this mythological feat.

Furthermore, let it be known: I am not apologising for the delay, you cretins; not this time! Not this time. Possibly not ever again. *misplaced but no less hearty cackle*

[2] new players and characters

As you can imagine, there are a few undiscovered gems to be found in this section.

Shockingly, we have new players! Didn't see that one coming, did you?

Lethargy hasn't stuck around, so I'm just mentioning the join and their character Youko Fujioka a/k/a Shizu that was played exactly no times.

Psycostar expressed interest in Wildcard in February and signed up for the website, but hasn't submitted a character yet.

And then there's Zed. If you don't know her yet, you've been living under a rock, because she's been playing with us for the past few months. She has two characters: Akihiko Kuroki a/k/a Linus and Kayode Devlin a/k/a Nanabozho. Yes, two! Kayode is exactly two days old, you'll be completely forgiven for being oblivious to him.

As far as new characters go, the following have shown up:

Andrew Peterson a/k/a Penelope by Chamomile has also been played exactly zero times and that presumably won't change, since Chamomile is regrettably absent.

Hatsune Miku is a Vocaloid Puppet that visited Melody's birthday party - unfortunately, I have a sneaking suspicion Kor has forgotten about her new character, as she was played exactly once. ;)

[3] plotline // camp tumbling milestone

Stuff happened.

...a serious trouble with newsletters is that they're intensely difficult to write if I'm not actually the gamemaster of the sim in question, at least if the reactions to "so what's been happening the past two weeks?" is something like "um... IDK?". Arguably I could just trample all over the setting and decide things, but that's just not my style. So have a few half-hearted log summaries with practically zero padding:

The monster existing in Camp Tumbling Milestone's generous lake [#478,#494] proved to have absolutely nothing to do with the sim plot, but was entertaining to poke at when people weren't busy trying to actually partake in the canonical Psychic Summer Camp [#483]... some against all odds. It seemed Frederick was actually stubbornly trying his luck at the whole thing despite all his prior unbidden experiences with a psychic [#479]. At least that was true for a while - until desperate plans such as 'let's see how far we can walk before invisible walls stop us' ended up being made [#482], if fortunately never executed (or, if so, to such meagre result that no one noticed).

Paul tried to find out a little more about Apolline, but it turned out that she's not very straight-forward about herself [#489].

In the meanwhile, Lucy's identity ended up being revealed, causing exactly no fuss, much to her confusion, but of course not complaint [#481,#506]. Her psychic ability in the sim also turned out to be unmistakably useful - a healing touch, something she ended up offering to Adrethyrian, default avatar badly hurt at the end of Pandiamonium as it was [#486,#493].

Predictably, Frederick - being Frederick - did a bunch more stupid things, such as poking at himself with a knife more or less just to know what it's like ("I guess I'm looking for a point of reference.") [#484]. On top of that, Jouka had some more guilt issues, this time about the end of Pandiamonium and the application of morality to the worlds travelled to, something he discussed at length with Adrethyrian [#485].

As the local time finally progressed a little and the sun crept across the sky little by little, doing slow rounds based on triggered events, the Citizens encountered a group of what they initially assumed to be four Puppets [#487]: Edd, Lars, Marise and Thaddius. It turned out later that Edd and Marise were actually Citizens that had been in the sim for a while... and proved quite curious little conspiracy theorists [#495].

As people continued with their 'psychic training', a few excelled as if endowed with a natural talent (such as Adrethyrian) while a few of the Citizens ended up hitting a snag; Sirena, Sethiss and Frederick especially so.

In an effort to help Sethiss with hers, Paul accompanies her into the pocket simulation representing her psyche and ends up regrettably trapped with her... and revealing things he neither should have, nor is capable of being objective about: His nationality [#488].

Meanwhile, Linus found himself trapped online [#496], something Nechku was relatively quick to notice, stealing him aside for a half concerned, half callous conversation about his digitalised fate [#497,#510]. Linus' relation to Nechku - and even that an unusual conversation had ever occurred - was never revealed to the others, however.

Lucy, having found a friend in Frederick, accompanied him into his mindscape that he needn't face it alone... and something genuinely unexpected approached them - one thing significantly more alive and well than Dread... a simulacrum of Frederick himself, presented with pure merciless venom that he well knew himself to have if prompted [#498]. Unsurprisingly, with how the whole thing shook both of them up, Frederick checked up on Lucy later, also to reveal details that had been invisible to her at the time [#499]. Additionally, Frederick shared a summary and collection of insights on the matter with Joukahainen... managing to deeply unsettle him in the process [#500]. Unbeknownst to Frederick, Joukahainen suffered a nightmarish rendition of his worst fears soon after, wherein Frederick took the revelations as an invitation to do away with all his reservations and moral qualms [#501].

However, the more Frederick thought about his 'mindscape' experience, the steadier he felt; and in a bold move, tried to win back even more ground [interlude: Catharsis]. Having sold the idea of a new him to himself, at least, he began to try and convince others of his nature and how to turn it into something useful - but that much honesty is not well-received [#502]. Other attempts at honesty also don't really work out for him, but at least some friendships strengthen for it [#504,#505].

Catching Joukahainen utterly off guard was a different dream entirely, however: A vivid nightmare about Natternholz, the Pandiamonium Blood Moon Guardian, and an alternate rendition of reality, in which he'd never escaped Pandiamonium with his friends, but had simply passed out from the pain and had to be 'saved' by Natternholz and nursed back to health [#503]. It presented itself in such an overwhelmingly convincing fashion that he was not sure he'd woken when he had... and no one could really help him solve that dilemma, not even Frederick and Adrethyrian [#513].

Frederick also accompanied Sirena into her mindscape pocket world, where they encountered an arachnid version of her sister that they proceeded to ennui into submission, not in the least pandering to the trembling and crying she was hoping to invoke with her mere presence. It counts as a 'win' [#507].

Paul attempted to smooth things over with Sethiss again - and at least it was unmistakably determined that they're hardly enemies over their singular spat [#508,#511].

Ultimately, it's Paul, Frederick and Sirena that discovered evidence leading them to Coach Mufasa's underground lair, at first revealing nothing of note. The party split up in an effort to sneak up on some Puppets to find out what was going on, but unfortunately, it was exactly that part of the plan to ran itself into the ground, resulting in Paul once more trapped. Frederick and Sirena were thankfully more fortunate, making a discovery that granted them new alliances [#509]. It takes a later rescue mission to pry Paul back out - for everyone's sake, fortunately merely suspended and not mistreated (again) [#512].

The psitanium core granting Mufasa most of his power was discovered and destroyed and one of his greatest lucid allies brought down. Unsurprisingly, Mufasa was not pleased by all that meddling - and with the backing of a few temporarily mindless drones (such as the two Puppets Thaddius and Lars, allies as they had otherwise been, but powerless to stop their puppeteer) attempts his flavour of scolding. He's mopped up and tossed aside - prompting a surreal exit to the sim, wherein a pristine copy of his avatar appears to congratulate them for standing up against evil.

Then the world fades from view, spilling everyone into Icarus [#514].

[4] plotline // icarus
This portion of the newsletter (except for #527, which I weaselled in there myself) is brought to you by MorgrimTM; your refreshing Australian snack. Buy it now.

The group tumble out of the chaotic battle at the end of Psychosim and find themselves in a dark windy cavern, with Edd and Marise added to their number. Of more concern to some Citizens is that everyone is in human avatar and their pendants no longer seem to be functioning - much to the distress of Gunther, Lucy and Jess. Exploring their new environment leads them to a Puppet who tries to flee in panic and when cornered begs not to be eaten. After babbling about various deities and being convinced that they do not consider him food the Puppet alarms the party by jumping off a sheer cliff, before revealing that the locals all use canvas and stick 'wingcloaks' to fly through the local sinkholes [still #514!].

Having revealed they arrived in forbidden territory the locals - calling themselves Icarii - use a series of sails and hot air balloons to slowly transport the group to the main Icarii settlement. This area of the sim is revealed as a series of cliffs, sink holes and tunnels strung together vertically with the natives living in caves and platforms in the uppermost segments.

A brightly coloured native introduces themselves as Gliss and talks a little about the culture, native wildlife and how the seasons are dominated by the planet's ring system [#515]. The Puppet the group originally started, Dyad, is assigned as their semi-permanent guide as punishment for trespassing where he shouldn't and attempts to keep the group occupied while the Icarii tailors fit them for wingcloaks of their own, explaining that moving around without them will be nearly impossible and that according the local custom everyone deserves to fly [#517].

After some false starts and painful lessons in being thrown off cliffs getting airborne [#519] everyone eventually manages to earn the right to fly and move around unchaperoned, at least in some locations. Meanwhile Frederick and Lucy bond over shared experiences and wonder if it is possible for Citizens to go without sleeping in the same way they can go without eating, eventually deciding to postpone any experiment until a sim where the consequences of tired distraction are less severe than plummeting to ones death [#518].

Dyad and his friend Mesoe recruit some of the Citizens for crafting supplies and reveal more about the local mythology as well as Gliss' unusual position within it as Ecstatican [#521]. Gliss takes the time to explain the coming Ringsweep, when the shadow of the rings passes directly overhead; more specifically how the first few days are marked by tropical storms and that everyone will be confined inside. Noticing Joukahainen's distress Gliss offers to visit and trade local mythology for tales of their travels [#520].

After several days of storms a soaked and injured Gliss arrives to make good on their promise, and reveals that the Icarii believe themselves descendants of a moon and star deity that eloped, prompting ring deity Otoeh who leads the pantheon to order their destruction. The predatory shrishkin are considered children of Shigatt, the god tasked to carry out the sentence, explaining why Dyad initially acted with terror [#522].

Before Gliss can leave the group's transformative pendants from Pandiamonium begin working again, much to Gliss' confusion and concern [#525]. Two days later the storms fade and people are allowed outside again, but movements for the next three weeks are limited by the constant twilight caused by the rings eclipsing the sun and resultant poor weather. The newly restored shapeshifting ability of some of the party greatly alarms their hosts who cannot decide if the forms some of the Citizens take is a good omen (Hakumele, Sirena, Israel, Lucy and Jess) or a potent of destruction (Frederick, Adrethyrian, Paul and anyone else overly toothy). Lucy of course immediately embraces the opportunity; and celebrates the matter with a suitably reptilian bask in the sun with her best friend forever [#527].

Things come to a head one night when the rings appear to be falling in a constant meteor shower. Thinking this is either a sign of Otoeh's fury or that someone is trying to overthrow the pantheon many Icarii decide that the presence of the party is responsible or a threat, and Dyad and Mesoe are forced to gather everyone and flee before they can be lynched [#524].

Several days are spent hiding while Gliss shouts sense into people before sending someone to fetch the group back to civilisation. There they learn that an expedition to the Shrine of Otoeh, located somewhere on the plains, is being planned. Joukahainen overhears a pair of Icarii practising ritual incantations meant to protect them from shrishkin and realises it's a language and corrects their poor pronounciation. The stunned Icarii send him to Gliss to help the expedition [#523].

There he is introduced to Atrixen who is revealed as a disciple of Otoeh and who mistakes Jouka's gift as a sign of favour from Shigatt, leaving Gliss to explain that an affinity for languages is a mark of their gods and Trix wasn't intending insult [#526]. It is decided that the Citizens shall accompany the expedition as they are more familiar with flat ground, combat, and are suspected of being linked to the phenomena.

Two days of eastward travel bring the party to the cliffs marking the edge of the plains. After several hours creeping through tall grass they encounter a pack of shrishkin who are astonished that Jouka, a human, is capable of speaking to them. The shrishkin leader, Horncling, reveals that Otoeh is not merely the ring and sky deity but also the god of death and that more Icarii refuse to set foot in his shrine out of fear, which the shrishkin find insulting [#528].

Eventually the predators agree to accompany the expedition to the shrine under the condition that everyone enters and state they will execute anyone that refuses. Many of the Icarii in particular are unhappy with this and there is debate about slipping away from their shrishkin guards and fleeing back to the cliffs. When they are confronted Leonard Spigots panics and injures one of the Icarii before attempting to flee, thinking the shrishkin would go for the easy prey first. As the pack attack Lenny instead Horncling explains to the others that the shrishkin are children of the god of JUSTICE and by his actions the Puppet has insulted them twice over.

The shrine of Otoeh is a maw of giant black stone teeth ringed around an altar swirling with mist. Touching the altar proves deeply uncomfortable for everyone except Atrixen and a shrishkin named Sharpshard, both of whom worship Otoeh. It is discovered that as long as both are touching the altar they can communicate in a language neither of their fellows can comprehend; neither had realised because in the past any shrishkin present would have been harassing the Icarii lingering outside the shrine rather than entering themselves.

Shortly afterwards the mist turned blue and revealed itself as an exit link depositing the party into the link hub Razor.

[5] plotline // razor

Razor, of course, was familiar to quite a few travellers. They'd eschewed all the link spheres strung along the black stone tower suspended in the void during their first visit and climbed all the way down, hoping that the bottom-most link, vibrant light that it was, might be special enough to lead them to freedom outside the network. That hadn't been the case - it had taken them to Darkscape, CR-3X's hub world.

However, what was to say the other end of the tower couldn't still hold the same hope for them? And so they began to climb, an arduous trek given that 'up' is not a direction the crude, roughly stair-like platforms along the tower were really designed for.

Naturally, though, reaching the top - much as it brought them to another vibrant light as had been apparent from a distance - did not let them escape the network, either. Instead, it cast the group into Cotyledon, Stacksmash's hub world [#529].

[6] plotline // cotyledon

Cotyledon turned out to be the inside of a stone sphere so massive that they had a significant stretch of subjectively flat ground to walk along. The links it presented to the Citizens, however, all hovered in mid-air, out of reach from all of those without the inherent power of flight [#529].

A few days of trying to solve the dilemma yielded nothing; until a balancing act on the largest avatars - Adrethyrian and Frederick, unceremoniously stacked on top of each other - resulted in someone scratching themselves. As the hint of blood touched the ground, an abstraction flowered up from it like a giant sapling, albeit not by itself high enough to elevate them to one of the links. With that clue given, however, it was easy enough to guide the world to give them a stairway up to the nearest link - between Adrethyrian and Frederick, the subject was unflinchingly covered.

[7] plotline // mimosa

And then... nothing.

Death is usually something reserved for the ends of worlds when a quest has failed, as Mer so crudely revealed to the Citizens. In Mimosa, death is the beginning.

Once more, the virtual world has split the group into two camps - each complete in their respective numbers, each very much alive, although the nature of their resurrection differed greatly. Where half were simply snatched from that jaws of death at what amounts to the last possible moment, the others were resurrected in the truest sense of the word.

Rather than being returned to their mangled bodies, latter group has found themselves transferred from their prior (simulated) biological existence into a Qusp - a quantum singleton processor. In short, in an homage to their true state on the network, they've been digitalised - by a culture long since accustomed to that mode of existence, as the only viable way of reconstructing their selves from the wreckage.

Former group were simply physically carved from the same and nursed back to health - a process that's left them out of the loop for a time ranging from six to nine days.

None of that, of course, answers the question where everyone is, or what the purpose of the sim is. And while former is clear (it seems to be a universe roughly as vast and populated as Planetshine, though the individual worlds are distressingly difficult to reach, given that the universal speed limit seems to be very much respected by the sim), latter has been significantly more difficult to grasp.

The most obvious feature of the universe they've been dropped into is a brilliant, glowing sphere of otherverse called 'novo-vacuum' in the Puppets' terminology. Both sides are adequately briefed that it's someone's pet physics experiment gone wrong and has been expanding at half the speed of light for a while now - almost six hundred years. That makes its dimensions a known quantity, of course, at a radius of nearly three hundred light years and climbing.

Worlds have been lost, but no one panicking, or even consider the encroaching abstract monstrosity some unsolvable problem: The Milky Way galaxy will last mankind plenty more centuries before they need to have found a way to bridge the gap to other galaxies to escape the expanding bubble's grasp.

Unfortunately, it's quite a few lightyears away from our heroes, making it a wholly unreachable obstacle.

Or is it?

While the QuspCitizens have been told that there are people working on the issue of the novo-vacuum, the saviours of the other group (a few travellers from 23rd century Earth that spent several of the past millennia in cryostasis in eager anticipation of mankind's future that they are now exploring) are a little less passively inclined about the threat. No specific plans have been revealed just yet - the visitors are still having their trustworthiness assessed (they did, after all, more or less appear out of thin air), though they are free to move around as they wish and are treated cordially - even Gunther in his furred form, who was the first to wake [#541].

Aside from the split-up, which is being actively conspired against by both sides sending out beacon signals announcing the Citizens' presence, the world has had some good effects as well.

Joukahainen's transition to his digital existence [#530,#531,#532,#533,#534,#535,#536] has put him quite at ease with his identity as a Puppet amongst the Citizens, and even granted him something of a boyfriend in the form of Davin, one of the Qusphuman hosts of that half of the group. Frederick's mental reassembly, while at first catching on a hitch (and him refusing to budge in the pocket world to 'collect' more 'memories') ended up progressing smoothly after some help from Jouka, in turn, outright granting Frederick something of a new perspective on his past given the bundled nature of all that insight. Arguably, the two that have had it worst of that half of the group are Sethiss (burnt by CR-3X about the digitalisation process and deeply wary about any form of 'resurrection' due to Sirena as she is [#538,#539,#542]) and Elizabeth (who is the only of that group who's not been transferred into a Qusp and instead had her draconic avatar repaired, but is still skittish about the accident [#537,#540]).

On the other side, meanwhile, Sirena feels a little cheated out of closure, what with her subjective perception of being a little more digital than everyone else making the notion of a digital existence in a biological body as the Qusp culture permits tantalising - but no less fictional, of course, thus considered something of a scorn [#543].

A few facts in brief:

1) The exact delineation of the groups can be found in the encyclopaedia - it's deliberately still work in progress (and, in fact, welcomes revision where revision is still possible), hence the lack of duplicating it here.

2) The link-in was into a ship called The Swan. There are a few Puppet survivors of the accident that followed the link-in, as well, but they're few in numbers. The accident itself is wholly unexplained and presumably will continue to be unexplained: At least so far, by the looks of things, the network simply violated the very premise of the world, which is physical accuracy. As such, no Puppet taking the rules of their world as parameters to reconstruct the event will be successful.

3) The QuspCitizen group's hosts that have introduced themselves so far are Tapha and Davin - they're certainly the only corporeals around, though. Tapha has some funky white hair that's grown into ram-like horns and seems to own the space station they're on, but she tends to just look at people oddly if they point out that this is unexpected or stare at her. Davin is a self-proclaimed janitor (and engineer); his most notable feature would be that he doesn't seem entirely capable of staying strictly serious. They've been very forthcoming about all the technological and cultural quirks - to prevent inflating this newsletter artificially, that information can be found in the encyclopaedia as well: Qusps, Mediators, Exoselves, interstellar travel and whatever else you may want to know.

4) The RegularJoeCitizen group's hosts have only the vaguest hint of a hierarchy going amongst themselves, but one character going by the name of Selman seems to be the closest thing to unanimously acknowledged authority on the ship (The Crane). The worst of the mistrust toward the Citizens was instilled by Gunther being the first to wake from his coma [#541], but the second person to return to consciousness cleared up the worst of the misconceptions.

5) All Citizens are in humanoid avatars (i.e. human avatars unless their default avatar registers as human), except for Gunther and Elizabeth.

6) As a footnote and as another contrast to Planetshine, you should know that mankind is the only known sapient, space-faring species in this setting.

Mostly, the Citizens will be getting used to to their new surroundings. Those of the RegularJoeCitizen group have been conscious for anything between a week and a week and a half, while those of the QuspHuman group now have the benefit of two full weeks of consciousness.

[8] plotline // other

Francisco Ahlgren made an appearance in November, half interviewing and half giving an interview to NewsHound, who's progress as an artificial intelligence he's proving to be quite interested in [#516]. Generally, the AI plots keep slowly but surely rolling in the outside world - amongst other things, Melody's birthday party had a few reveals, heavily focussing on Jaenelle's views on AI rights... and some of her own identity [#480].

Additionally, some late uploads made it to the site:

From Chimera, a Thylis/Jouka session wherein the two speak about the nature of the Citizens, from Thylis' perspective people more mindful of their interactions with Puppets than he's strictly used to [#490].

From Pandiamonium, a Jess/Frederick/Adrethyrian session from the time that Frederick was literally tied up in Veranar's lair, and it wasn't entirely sure whether the Cinder Moon could be prevented in time [#491].

From offline, Dark Arcadia, a Rebecca/Francisco session that begins as a conversation about the deceased psychic flatmate of Rebecca's and transitions to a casual discussion about the fate of the nation in its political framework (or lack thereof) [#492].

[9] closing words

I have no idea if I've managed to cover all of what happened that would be relevant to read - it's been nearly a whole year since the last newsletter. The chances that I've missed something pivotal are non-zero. As such, if anything's amiss, let me know and I'll try to fix it in a follow-up mini-newsletter.

The encyclopaedia will hopefully be updated tomorrow to contain references to this newsletter and all the sessions covered.