Plot Summary(Moved to separate page)
Plot AnalysisHmmm... hmmm... it took a while to gel. I mean, it wasn't a bad plot, but it was rather scatter-brained. I needed better connective tissue other than 'this would be neat!' 'NO WAIT I WANT THIS' 'Huh, look what's going on here?' or even 'WOW, THAT WAS BAD LONG AGO, LET'S AVENGE IT!' I am left a little disappointed that nothing really connected well.
But the pieces in an episodic manner are alright. Better than most, although perhaps not as good as CONFRONTATION. Without a united goal, it becomes kind of... meandering everywhere without a real plan or idea. Every session is a new episodic look into the waaaaaaacky world of Xavier & Friendz, but it's not really one where I can say there's some overall moral or thought other than, "Hey, we have a weird space ship and we do adventures together!"
That's not... BAD... but I mean, it leaves me wondering whether anything truly matters. One moment everyone is hyped up on Alsa, the next, the Time Cops, then suddenly it's about Garrick, no wait, it's about Sloan, no wait, now it's about Celians, Dweezil... I mean really, there is no obvious main threat. Sloan is just a convenient target. And even then, he's not really... he doesn't feel like he was even meant to be the main target of this Arc. But he became it by accident because it'd be too early to kill off a major Time Cop threat, so he fits... awkwardly.
And let's not forget Sloan's plot is mostly offscreen and then he appears on screen mostly to die. That's not the worst, I mean, he was over-exposed in the past and over-hyped. He was never meant to be the threat profile he got. And so it's altogether fitting that a hyped up villain just dies within the first couple of minutes against an actual credibly equipped and trained Quester force.
But to really dig into it, we have various threads as always. The ones worth recounting here are about the following: Erastia (lightly touched on), the Celians who now run Erastia (also only hinted at), Opus and Onta'vis (portrayals of how corrupt and inept Time Cops are at running the universe), Alsa (mostly a giant middle finger to the Alsan Questers with an extended CinemaSins / Evil Overlord List-esque takedown of why things that happened back then were bad), KitRedgrave's tribe (a story of undoing the damage to Alsa and moving on after the overly long dunk-reel), Illian and the Solarians (A tale of how hatred and vengeance destroyed them all), Xavier's Bad Reputation (Partially deserved based on how horrible his distractions and behavior can be, but over-hyped) and of course, Sloan -- a similarly overhyped person, but one that is justifiably considered evil. Oh, and there's also as a sub-plot of Alsa, how Borne regrets what he did and how his GUN devolved into psychotic madness without him. Although his own behavior kinda... made that happen...
The foil as it were. Sloan is the evil Xavier, with his own evil group of people, who were bumbling about just as randomly as the Questers. It's just Sloan decided to kill people without mercy and ultimately became the successor to the Alsan Questers. He learned the wrong lesson from dealing with them--"WOW, I CAN BE THE HERO BY JUST BEING A VIOLENT WACKY SOCIOPATH. GOOD!" And the universe wasn't gonna stop him, sooo... well, you get what you see: a lunatic in wildly clashing outfits, playing with All Cheats Enabled in Perfect Dark, shooting people with insta-kill weapons and wearing an infini-forcefield in an attempt to ignore all consequences of his actions.
Nonna, an outsider to the group, helped center things a bit. Her secret mission to kill Sloan was what really snapped people out of their weird, 'Yeah the Alsan Questers were dumb' reverie. Why? Well, unlike Xavier's wandering solipsism-induced feelings that the group should just do whatever is 'fun' or 'interesting' or 'vengeful', Nonna had an actual goal. So for once, the group had a goal other than wanderlust, and went and finally took out Sloan. And it immediately paid off, revealing that all the wandering hadn't been for nothing. But it also showed how the group had wasted too much time wandering: Sloan had been mostly unopposed and had taken over Onta'vis while the group was distracting the Time Cops.
Thus the underlined statement behind this Arc: these Questers were better than the previous ones, but needed to work out a better plan ahead of time. Until they did that, all they ultimately did was wander about, scavenging for parts like hobos. Not to disparage homeless people, mind -- indeed, the mental state of the Questers as being homeless here makes sense. They were searching for a home base and couldn't find it. Traumatized by constant damage, they were logically acting out the PTSD they got from surviving CONFRONTATION.
So it wasn't solely that the group were useless at their job. It was a reflection of their relative powerlessness in the universe: having to do the equivalent of foraging in garbage cans to keep their slowly sinking ship afloat. They got somewhere and rebuilt, yes, but it was a very hectic, rambling, crazy path they had to take. Along the way, they saw just how messed up the universe was. I think a lot of the themes here related to how this was in 2014-2015, when I'd only recently ended my own experiences of pseudo-homelessness (living in dorm rooms with nowhere else to go back to) and so flavored a lot of these logs with that feeling. So as I IRL handled those and slowly found my place in the universe, so did the group here.
Which leaves some questions. Could it have been done better? Definitely. Was it done well enough? More or less. Does it need to be revisited or redone like some of the past things in SSQ? Nope! It's flawed, but it's not really the worst. It's better than most classic stuff, it just can't meet lightning in a bottle like CONFRONTATION. Although -- I am glad it did away with the hostile players and Garrick stuff. I think that stuff was a drain on my ability to write intelligently, and it shows how much better it gets when there aren't players actively messing with my plot.
Well, other than that one 40K blip we had with Santigue, but that was short lived. It didn't really damage anything because I didn't let it. Not that I'd let anything like it happen again. Let's just be honest -- SSQ these days is better not involving any other universes other than the ones inside it. Outside ones that don't play by its rules are always going to be a mess, and aren't worth the hassle... oh well.
Of course I look back at CONFRONTATION and see several of these flaws are related to what happened there. Just now I condensed the faction count to a manageable amount. Thus the remaining problem is the meandering plot, rather than an overload of 'filler'--no, most of the plot in here all goes somewhere, barring one or two early installment issues. The issue is they don't line up very well. Transitions between areas needed to be improved, and, though the amount of blathering about the past has gone down, it probably should have been turned down another notch. We have the logs for the whole past thing -- and unlike CONFRONTATION, the issue of the hostile players is in the rear view mirror, so while it's fun to think about for a minute, it can safely be thrown into the bin now.
It also makes me think of how time passes so much. To be chased by entities of Time itself... is the feeling one gets, seeing time pass and everything change. What will become of us? Who is to really say...
Oh, and one final addendum, since I got some more thoughts lookin' at the cast. The cast speaks to another sort of analysis: this game's world is filled with almost nothing but soldiers and merchants. It suggests a world that's been overrun by toxic variants of Capitalism: one where innovation is not at the forefront, unless it can be chopped into slices and sold on the market. It also shows the handful of people who opted out of a purely commerce-based existence have a far better time of things. E.G. The Mushroom Republic and Ivan / Nintendus have done well for themselves. While both still have a great deal of 'commerce'... it's not the only thing they do. Similarly, KitRedgrave's Tribe's refusal to get into the same funk everyone else had as well as the Rendarians with Anthon Tark just simply staying out of it worked well for them.
Thus the worst fates are for those who went along with it. Solarians were destroyed by their resource wars. Erastians made hubristically insane places that were then destroyed. Time Cops got so obsessed with controlling Opus and Onta'vis they ended up neglecting their own factional cohesion. And Sloan's obsession with the shiniest guns made him weak to people who couldn't be bought. So in the end, there is a hidden undertone to this season--that beneath the gold plated exterior, anything that's been corrupted too far by pure commercial interest is actually quite weak and open to being disrupted by people who have no interest in shiny things.
And also that those who balance their commercial interest with other ones fare far better. After all, Ivan isn't purely anti-capitalistic; no, he just happens to reserve it for matters other than crucial defenses. Whereas others made even that something up for bid, and a constant currency conversion factor. Thus, Onta'vis is a planet beset by the world at large. Even Alsa does better at defending itself, because even though GUN imploded, it didn't have as much interest in selling itself. So it was a much easier lift to fix than Onta'vis, which you will see again... and again and again in next Seasons/Games.
Thus, a bit of a political take added on top of the rest. But what a surprise! A lot of the 'hostile' players of the past valued wealth and corrupted things around them with it, so it's not too surprising to see it seen as an excess or burden that must be destroyed...
Word Map (Made with Wordle)
Another of the new summaries. As usual, it does well at speaking for itself, but some highlights I found -- mostly, it mentions Time Cops, and of course, the main Questers: Nonna, Kit, Gelato, Xavier, Illian, Borne, Valron, even Walther, also Santigue in the distant background, also Solarians, coins, diamond, planet, and of course, Sloan is right there in the center of things. Nintendus, Alsa, not many other planets are readily visible, showing clearly what is in the focus right now. Not a lot else to mention other than GUN, Vring, and an emphasis on magic, remembering, runes, cars, Erastians, and a lot of focus on group work as well as a distant emphasis on Mad Man stuff. Oh, and Garrick is kinda hiding there near the gigantic 'ship' word. Really it is easy to get lost staring into this abyss of words, when you think about it-- it looks a lot like a world-ship in a bottle.
Needless to say, there are most of the main concepts of this Season, well represented. I get a strong feeling of the identity of all that happened just from looking at this, so anyone who has trouble staring into this text and going "I know this Season!" can at least look at this image to do that. A final note is that, as noted before, I should probably make these for previous seasons. There's so much more you can get out of these than the old, 300-word version. *Squints into the image of Garrok and Dauntless in the distance* ...uncanny what things it can just hide in the gaps between words. I just wish some day to be able to make these into a proper, interact-able context, as these really do have a lot going on... being able to click on a word might be helpful. I dunno. Anyways, that's enough about this, since it's pretty good at speaking for itself... mostly.
Top 10% Logs of this SeasonWell, thanks to my new chapter algorithm, we have ourselves two logs to pick from. But which two logs are the best? Well in my (heavily biased) opinion...
Number 1: Chapter 13: Stupid "Survivors"
In a log that parodies and deconstructs the idiocy of shows based around 'Survivors' that must 'do anything they can to survive', we also see Xavier running over a giant ill-placed cake and related party with his limo. We also see how said survivors' insanity does nothing to help them, and if anything impairs their already terrible situation. Along the way we get to see all of Xavier's craziness and yet, at the same time, how he is capable of still doing things despite it. In a way, it is a gigantic "Zany Wackiness > Edgelord Survivalism" sign. An important thing as far as the game goes, as this is a major strike against how Alsa (and some former players from that era) had rendered this RPG, one that was meant to have at least some degree of zaniness, an overly "Walking Dead"-like disaster game at one point. (And I disliked that the same as I disliked any attempt to shoehorn 40K or Kingdom Hearts or whatever the hell else is getting top sales in the era I'm GMing a thing.)
Which, as time has gone on, is something I've come to dislike more and more, so to see it taken to pieces is somewhat cathartic to me. Still, I will note one downside of this Arc is that there are relatively few interesting 'setpiece' missions, so I'm reduced more to looking for themes than individual "AWESOME" moments. Sure, I don't have as many comments about this log as the next one, but that is somewhat to its benefit: I find it speaks for itself and doesn't overstay its welcome. Which is more than I can say for...
Number 2: Chapter 19: Death of a Wackyman
This would be #1, except there is only really two things going on in it. The first is where you see Xavier chewing the scenery. Despite my bias towards scenes with him, it kinda lasts a bit longer than necessary. The initial part with the shopkeeper is pretty genius, but then it could have used shortening. ANYWAYS.
After all of that, we also see the meat and potatoes of this: A huge grudge match. The evil Sloan, the man who's been taunting everyone by telling them they couldn't do things, or didn't deserve them, or weren't WACKILY EVIL enough... gets his just desserts. And literally almost everyone he wronged is in one place to dismantle him. It'd be more ghoulish if Sloan himself hadn't already sold half his soul to the evil (now defunct) Sinova via Mad Man energy. It also ties up the old plot with Valron, and the new plot with Nonna and Anthon Tark vs. Sloan, and even Illian (who Sloan wanted to kill)... and Xavier (who Sloan wanted to kill)... ...Sloan wanted to kill everyone but himself, didn't he?
Borne also gets his punches in, as well as a lone Deathguard. So in a nutshell we see a family reunion of everyone who was ever attacked by Alsa (that is still around as of this session), beating the crap out of one of the most Alsa-y enemies ever to be found in SSQ. Sure, you could argue Jack had more 'history' with Alsa, and that Mad Molly, Borne, or the Time Cops were truly Alsan in nature, but no. Sloan was the one who was 100% jerk moves, done cheaply and annoyingly. He was that guy who was always there to remind you that for every positive wacky thing, there was a negative one.
But like the "Stupid Survivors", this was another piece of Alsan depression-logic talking. There was no logical reason a lunatic with fancy (stupid) looking equipment stolen from Perfect Dark & other random N64 games should somehow be able to always prevail. After all, even with stolen Stargate and other tech, he was ultimately not even combat ready. He had to steal every single thing he used to survive. And it showed. In a battle where he should have been hiding out, turning invisible and sniping people while sampling some strange burnt cookies from before, he was foolishly blathering on about how he always came out of these situations rosy as ever.
He believed his own hype, much like those 'Survivors' did. However, this is still second, because in the whole scheme of things, Sloan never deserves to be #1. Not even his destruction. Furthermore, the log itself was over-loaded with 'waaackiness' ... it could have used a bit less. A balance like the other log would have been best.
Cast (In Order of Appearance)This should be interesting... who's still around this late in the game? And what new people do we have to describe today? Although I'm switching to quoting them now, as that can often be... more interesting than making random wacky notes.
Xavier Ridgecrest - Leader of the Time Questers - "Hey you! Stupid people in space ships! We're coming to get you! WITH STRAWBERRY ICING!!!"
Gelato - Time Quester - 'w'
Valron - Time Quester - "I'm Valron. Nice to meet you and all that. Hope you don't mind our... general peculiarities too badly. This is... normal for us, to be honest."
Commander Borne - Time... Quester??? / GUN Commander??? - "I wish it wasn't too obvious, otherwise I'd say get an Antimatter core, then we could use the Anti-Reality device on him. Then it really wouldn't matter whatever he did. It would just... dematerialize him. Out here it's expensive to fire though. You need as much contained antimatter as what you're going to kill. And so, obviously, if he sees us purchasing that he'll never come close to us until he's certain he's had another agent rid us of it. He knows me too well. Partially why I didn't want to contaminate your brainstorming."
Omnus - New Time Cops' Leader - "That universe could have been easily rebuilt... we have destroyed entire worlds for less."
Illian MacGregor - Time Quester??? - "I polished my armor in order to capture the glory of the sun."
Smash Dex - Quester Tool - "At one time, Mario would constantly try to gain the most points. Now he doesn't seem to care about them anymore."
Executor Deck - Space Mercenary - "You have such strange slang... clearly you have been marooned from civilization for decades."
Nonna - Time Quester / Rendarian Nobility - "What is a country without its people?"
KitRedgrave - Time Quester - "Why'd I have to go jump universes /before/ I was to start learning how to mess with souls."
Time Cop Officer 1 - Time Cop - "Greetings, unknown space ship. You are violating Treaty 32.5D: That no sub-world will enter the metaverse. Turn back or be destroyed."
Lincoln - Opus Ship Repairman - "I have some parts I bought in the teenies that I've been waitin' to sell since Magaret Monrowe was the Prime Chancellor... Heck, I even invested in this garbage just to watch for potential customers..."
Invision Guard - Invision Corp Employee - *Sigh* "This is why I didn't want the late shift..."
Man - Random Opus Bystander - "Bwa?"
iGuard - Invision Corp Employee - "What the f@#k?"
Kazuro - Invision Corp Employee - "...you shouldn't have let the lever window fall off, because we need to burn the records without anyone noticing..."
Hazan - Ex-Time Cop / Invision Corp Employee - "As much as your help would be appreciated, Ed, I don't want any more strange things to occur today."
Walther Pierce - Time Quester - "What do you think sounds better, vaguely written-on strawberry or month-old pepperoni?"
Computer - Quester Tool - "RADIATION LEAK IN ENGINEERING."
Tails - Quester "Ally" - "Wait... ...you're actually here... this isn't just another nightmare..."
Garrok - Quester Ally - "You know... I once had this idea... that I'd be the big damn hero who saved the world... maybe replaced Garrick and undid what he did... ...I just build portals for people to talk to my former creator."
Jane - GUN "Survivor" - "Talk to me! Why do you just run away every time? You... can't es..." *She sighs.* "Damn you!"
Peach - Ambassador of the Mushroom Republic - "Yes... we used to have a monarchy and it was... ...bad..."
Merlon - Quester Ally - "Even the Stars cannot restore your destroyer of continuity, metal being."
Time Device - Quester Tool - "ERROR: LOCAL DISTANCE MALFUNCTION."
Deathguard - Borne's GUN Soldier - "I have little choice, but I will do whatever I must to ensure the Will of Borne is fulfilled."
Asgard - Ancient Vring Machine - *Clicks and pieces of words that don't fully make a sentence*
The Arbiter - Time Cop Enforcer - "...you think you can match MY power? You are the ones with the God complex!"
Autumnus - Leader of the Old Time Cops - "Enjoy your life... while you still can." *Click.*
Insight - Ancient Erastian AI - "Primary specialization: Midnight lava golfing."
Santigue - Time Quester? / Empire of Man Mechanic? - "Then you are aligned with Dark Mechanicus, which is heretical as well."
Commander Blaine - Dead Erastian Commander - "This... is... the last... Erastian..."
SolGhost - Horrible Ghost Monstrosity - "You can have your Pretzel... stand?"
Hologram - Solarian Tool - "You have reached Eritea, the Heretic Paradise destroyed in the name of Solaria."
Solis - Ancient Solarian - "...We never did figure out how to make superweapons that didn't blow up the universe, did we."
Toadsworth - Peach's Butler - "My my my... I knew we should have listened to Merlon! He kept going on about 'ominous crows will land on your cake party'... I thought it was birds..."
Joe - GUN "Survivor" - "You can't possibly kill me before I can hit the button!"
Soldier - GUN "Survivor" - "No tangos, I repeat, no tangos anywhere. Only homeless people."
Soldier2 - GUN "Survivor" - "Dammit, we can't even get to base with all of this going on..."
Ivan - Nintendian Scientist Leader - "By the way, this place is nowhere near as deadly as you kept telling me it was."
Fenris - KitRedgrave Tribe Guard - "The planet had been cursed. Evil befell everyone on its surface, not just us."
Sinova - AI Scourge of Alsa - "I am the combined might of SIMBER and Nova, given domain over an entire planet of sentient beings, whose despair gives me even greater power. And you, a mortal, would suggest a path for me?"
Toad Soldier - Nintendian Soldier - "Uh, I heard you speaking of what was going on here, did I not? I didn't want to interrupt, but the soldiers found something strange just outside the airport..."
AE-70S - Sloan Weapon - "ENEMY OF SLOAN. MUST BE DESTROYED."
David Hale - President of GUN - "I must again thank you for ending that... weirdness Sloan caused."
Rel Tavis - Solarian Mercenary Captain - "I'm a mercenary. You're free to figure out the disposition of the lunatics."
Jackamillion - Mad Man/Dyne/Fake Solarian Homonculus - "Then today is your stupid day... of pain!"
A.C. - Mushroom Republic Air Traffic Controller - "After the cake incident, we have reclassified this as a strictly vehicle flying and takeoff zone."
Barkeep - Onta'visian Bartender - "Powerful artifact person, huh. There's a million of those."
Attendant - Onta'visian Hotel Attendant - "I must tell you that unconverted coins are taken at a premium rate, if you wish to save money you get it converted first, but at the premium rate I will take 1 coin at a rate of 2 Cronikos per coin... rounding where appropriate."
Convertor - Onta'visian Currency Converter - "Ah... gold coins... fine vintage, these are. We never see these, you know."
Anthon Tark - Leader of Rendar (and Nonna's Grandfather) - "They... seem different now, if only because it is the first time I've received reports back from Alsa that... the Questers didn't massacre people for disagreeing with their political beliefs, for once."
Merchandiser - Lord Trevel's Shop of Wealthe Manager - "Most people don't seem to like see-through walls, although we occasionally make some on request. Something about privacy... also the sun going through it every time it sets and rises..."
Coordinator - Onta'visian Shipment Clerk - "The deal is complete, and in case you worry, there's a public registry of these deals."
Bank Teller - Onta'visian Banker - "10% Repatriation fee. Cronikos cross-planet are generally a little untrustworthy, so we have to take a portion of all transactions to subsidize dealing with the fraud in about 1-in-10 transactions between planets. It can get up to 20 or 30% if you have one of the infamous 'un-marked' Cronikos. We don't really like to deal in potentially illicitly traded ones. ...Also a 5% charge if you have Cronikos with somebody else's DNA-persona embedded on them. Thieves or even people who got them legitimately... one in twenty of those tend to require an investigation."
Kuja Hologram - Illian Photon Puppet - "OH NO DEATHGUISE AND I AM DEAD."
Jack Hologram - Illian Photon Puppet - "DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE."
Charley - Shifty Onta'visian Shopkeep - "...Look, buddy, they changed that law after the infamous Murder-Shop epidemic of '06... ... ...what do you even use to pay people again?"
Chief - Onta'visian Police Chief - "I am NOT paid enough to deal with this!"
Sloan Soldier - Sloan Soldier - "This is Sloan's problem now. Go home, little man."
Sloan Commander - Sloan Commander - "DANGER! ANTHON TARK AGENTS ARE IN THE FIELD! ANTHON TARK AGENTS ARE IN THE FIELD!"
Sloan - Sloan Leader - "The others are either children, robots, or dead people. And I REALLY wanted to kill that meddling tinman and his annoying... animal friends... ...But you caused them to be far away, which makes me REALLY MAD."
LLL - Sloan AI - "I am the Loser Lowering Legaltron, or LLL for short. And you... are making a mistake."
ConclusionWell, that was quite a lovely assortment of characters. Perhaps almost too many, but I guess it worked out in the end. I'm glad I used the quotes anyways -- with there being fewer Questers (and even fewer people who were around then reading this) instead of giving cutesy names to everything, the quotes make it more of a generalized idea of the personality of each of the characters involved.
Ah, some discussion about the future, that's what you're probably wondering about? Alright, uh... I don't really know per se. I do sessions and run games and do these summaries and the world ticks over another year, and the cycle continues until eventually I'm not interested or able to or something else. I used to think I knew what the future would hold, but then the future just was longer than expected. No big parade and fireworks THE END, even as many people wander away or wander back. Nope. It's just the eternity that is. And this campaign that I've summarized is just another one for the record books. But a better one than many that preceded it.
In any case, be safe, and hopefully we'll be seeing ourselves another summary after this one, same place, same channel, same ol' same ol'... different content of course. It never truly stays the same.