Bruce Banner has just returned from his lab, where his latest experiment came out really well. He should go straight to bed, because it's six in the morning, but he can't seem to become the right kind of tired, probably also because it's six in the morning. So instead he's watching the sun rise out the window of his cozy (tiny) grad-dorm single room.
LVL: 1 (0%)
BOD: 11 (+)
LST: 15 (+)
SED: 5 (+)
FUK: 8 (+)
PRV: 13 (+)
ERO: 10 (+)
Status Effects: 'Innocent' Virgin
Description: Bruce Banner is an MIT graduate student in biology, doing a thesis on an obscure piece of biochemistry whose theoretical intricacies and potential practical applications he will happily tell you all about. He would like to remedy his complete lack of sexual and romantic experience, but keeps finding more important (less terrifying) things to do instead. This is the sort of problem best solved by the Erogame.
Erogamer's Body (Lvl MAX): The biological ability to live your life as an erogame. Venereal disease doesn't exist for you, or pregnancies or refractory periods. Arbitrarily large appendages can fit inside any of your orifices. You heal from all marks with a good night's sleep, ready for the next day's adventures. Other aspects of this skill depend on the BOD stat.
Erogamer's Mind (Lvl MAX): The mental flexibility to live your life as an erogame. You're more able to accept the realities of your new world. You'll also bounce back from painful, upsetting and bizarre sexual experiences with relative ease. Rape can be anything from a recoverable trauma to a Tuesday afternoon, but it won't ruin your life. Other aspects of this skill depend on the FUK, SED, LST, and PRV stats.
Erogamer's World (Lvl MAX): The consent of reality to live your life as an erogame. People are never too preoccupied to consider sex or romance, not while you're around. Bystanders won't ignore what you do, but they're unlikely to actually stop you. Those who do decide to involve themselves are drawn into the logic of the Erogame. If you go far enough that an authority sees no choice but to intervene… they won't treat you as a simple criminal. Other aspects of this skill depend on the ERO stat.
To Mine Own Me Be True (Lvl MAX): Even at the center of the Erogame, you are not just an erogame character, but a human being possessed of his own free will. Your family will always be safe from you, and little children everywhere.
But He Was Such A Good Student: If this were a different game, you'd be starting with a high INT stat. Throughout your scholastic career, your grades continue to reflect your actual knowledge of the course material, and you have no unusual difficulties mastering that material. Even if you miss classes or assignments for, uh, reasons.
Info // Status Effects// 'Innocent' Virgin
Merely existing in the age of the Internet has already raised your PRV stat above 10. Still, until you choose to lose your virginity, the Erogame will not force you to give it up.
Info // Character Stats // Level:
At LVL 1, and 0% progress toward the next level, you'll never be this weak again. You can increase your level by completing the quests the Erogame offers you, or by causing romantic and sexual events to happen to you or around you. The more difficult the challenge, the greater the rewards.
Info // Character Stats // Body:
With the average being 10, and perfect 10s being 40, your BOD of 11 makes you nerdy-cute, beloved of anyone whose porn collection includes more than one picture with a guy wearing tweed.
You can increase this stat through exhibitionism, and other acts that invoke the pure beauty and power of your physical form.
Info // Character Stats // Lust:
At a LST of 15, you're a pretty typical frustrated young male grad student.
You gain in this stat while experiencing sexual urges that are unusually intense or that go on unusually long.
Info // Character Stats // Seduction:
Your SED of 5 reflects the fact that seducing people usually requires talking to them. In unfamiliar ways, even.
You can increase this stat by arousing the romantic interest or sexual desire of others, and successfully pursuing them or being caught.
Info // Character Stats // Fucking:
Your FUK of 8 shows that, while being thoughtful and considerate counts, and a strong grasp of the relative theory counts, there's only so far you can get without hands-on experience.
How do you increase this stat? Take a guess.
Info // Character Stats // Perversion:
Your PRV of 13 shows that you have looked for porn upon the Internet, and managed not to completely avoid the dubious products of Rule 34. But you're still not quite sure what you like yet.
You can increase this stat by being a little less close-minded, and acting accordingly.
Info // Character Stats // Erogame Logic:
At an ERO of 10, your life has become an erogame taking place in a mostly realistic setting. What happens to you might seem unlikely to others, but it won't break their belief in a sane universe… yet. Witnesses will reach for explanations other than the Erogame, but they'll still notice the unusual events.
If you keep pushing probability to its limits, then probability will learn to be a bit more flexible down there, relax and take it in and not protest so much.
Info // Character Stats // Dominant and Submissive Energy:
If this were a different game, you'd have mana and hit points, and they'd refill from you sitting on your ass.
There's a purple text box all over his field of view. What the fuck??
His first hypothesis is that he's gone so far off the deep end he's about to encounter an anglerfish, but if his perceptions are totally decoupled from reality there's nothing he can really do about it. His second hypothesis is that he's a guinea pig in some sort of bizzare alien science experiment. On sex. Which sounds potentially fascinatig but doesn't make any sense. Also it seems to have read both his mind and his browser history, and is offering him academic assistance to compensate for, uh, spending a lot of time trying to have sex and date.
In case anybody is listening and willing to talk, he says "Explain this, please."
At 'explain perks', the purple box dissolves and is replaced with:
(Ir)rational: Up to once per level you may toggle whether or not Erogame Logic suppresses scientific curiosity. While this suppression is off, appropriately minded individuals can recognize you as a total falsification of how they thought the world worked and may prioritize the larger implications. While this suppression is on, people will still experience shock and wonder about specifics, but evince no great curiosity about fundamental issues, nor ambitions of global change. 2 fragments.
Animal Whisperer: Choose an animal family. You are extraordinarily skilled at handling (non-sapient) members of this family, and will experience yourself as being able to communicate nearly intelligently with up to (ERO / 10) chosen familiars. At ERO 40 you may grant your chosen familiars greater intelligence and other powers through the Familiar subskill of Bestow Ability. 1 point. Available at 30 ERO, refunded at 60 ERO
Childe of the Night: Stuff happens, you get turned into a vampire, more stuff happens. These vampires are nothing like Anne Rice vampires, and no characters resembling anyone from her novels will appear at any point. Available at 50 ERO, refunded at 80 ERO.
Cinnamon Roll: Triple all positive effects on others of having sex with you. 1 point.
Edgelord: You always know how close to orgasm others are and never make someone come by accident. 1 point. Refunded at 70 FUK.
Erogame Logic, whatever that is, needs to not be suppressing scientific curiosity. His own curiosity currently feels more "maxed out" than "suppressed" but still, yikes. Those other ones all sound like interesting benefits. At least this thing is offering generous pay, of a sort, for playing along. He especially wants Cinnamon Roll, though he isn't sure what the positive effects of having sex with him are supposed to be. He also doesn't know enough about Anne Rice vampires to know if he wants to be one . Animal Whisperer sounds pretty neat, as long as he's careful not to pick anything he might ever want to use as a lab animal--it would almost certainly mess up his results. Making someone orgasm by accident isn't really relevant given that he's never made someone (other than himself) orgasm on purpose.
Erogame What Erogame: You forget that the Erogame exists. The game automatically levels up, distributes stat points, selects perks, accepts quests, and invokes skills in whichever way it thinks will make your sex life the most interesting. 2 fragments.
Everything Is Better With Ero: On every quest and every path you walk, taking the option that turns you on more will never lead to worse results in the long run than taking the option that seems safe, sensible, and practical. This perk does not operate by reducing the rewards of safe, sensible, practical-seeming paths. 2 points.
Everywhere Erogenous: There is no area of your body that cannot be used to stimulate you to orgasm, though this may still take time and work to do through your elbow. 2 points. Refundable at 40 LST.
Fairytale Painslut: Your masochism is strong enough to embrace any intensity of sexually charged torture, with zero warmup. 1 point. Refundable at 50 LST.
Go Out With A Bang: A doctor diagnoses you with a fatal disease, giving you three months left to live---maybe two, maybe four. Your remaining lifetime is uncertain, but it won't be long now. Your occasional hospital stays are brief and painless, leaving you looking wan, sad, and beautiful in your hospital bed. Sometimes you get a piece of medical good news, giving you a little more time in which to say goodbye and experience all the things you never had a chance to do. No matter how long this continues, no one ever notices that the doctor always gives you around one more month of lifespan per month. You may at will have a remission or relapse of your Terminal Moe. 1 point, refundable at 70 ERO.
The aliens or whatever that are fucking with him can (claim they can) erase memories. He could be getting dictionary-attacked right now. He dives for his computer, confirms that the date and time is what he thought it was, realizes that as soon as he's looking away from the screen he can't be sure he correctly remembers what was on it, and screams very quietly into his pillow for a bit. This is way worse than when he realized he was probably crazy, because if this is real then it could happen to anybody.
It takes him a while to pull himself together enough to read any other "Perks". Go Out With A Bang is just silly and weird, why would he do that? Everywhere Erogenous and Fairytale Painslut are scientifically fascinating and maybe sometime in a million years he would find the guts to take them. Everything is Better With Ero sounds benevolent but has terrifying implications for how much control this game claims to have over the world around him.
Goodbye: You may enter any one fictional continuum at the place and time of your choice, arriving in your current form and with your Erogamer powers. You cannot displace an existing character unless you choose to arrive at the time of an extrauniversal summoning, such as by Louise the Zero. You arrive without your metafictional knowledge of the continuum, and able to speak and write the local language. You cannot ever return to the real world. Even if the fictional continuum includes a 'real world' to return to, you will only return to the 'real world' of that fiction. In the true real world, nobody will ever know what happened to you, and any quests that would have depended on you will fail. 1 point.
Hyperhypnoslut: You can drop faster than your panties when being voluntarily hypnotized. You can be hypnotized without your wanting to be hypnotized, if you are forced or tricked into listening to the hypnotist's voice. A hypnotist can force you to do things you don't want to do, up to your current PRV + 8. You can be given temporary false memories or amnesia. Your ultimate trigger phrase is 'floral ticklish cowboy rabies' and anyone using it gets root access on your soul. This includes permanent memory editing, personality editing, sexuality editing, belief editing, emotional editing, and absolute obedience. You cannot be hypnotized or drugged into giving up this trigger phrase or revealing its existence. You cannot hypnotize yourself using this trigger phrase, even by leaving yourself a recording. Think very carefully before giving this trigger phrase to anyone, or writing it down, or speaking it aloud when you think you are alone in your bedroom. 1 point + 2 fragments.
I See You: You are able to perceive, remember, and have sex with anything that would ordinarily be undetectable by you, be misperceived by you, or slip out of your memory. 1 point.
It's Like Saying Hello In Japan: No negative consequence of any kind will occur to you, including to reputation or personal friendships, from forcing yourself on a person of primarily Japanese descent. Any person who has voluntarily watched more than 200 hours of anime is considered Japanese for purposes of applying this perk. 1 point. Available at 30 ERO, refunded at 70 ERO.
Library of Sodom: You automatically know any detail of abstract knowledge that you want or need about any sexual activity that has been described in public writing. For example, directions for how to tie a shibari knot, or that one ought to avoid striking the kidneys with a flogger. This knowledge does not convey skill. 1 point, refunded at 40 FUK.
Bruce reads "Goodbye" and realizes that oh, of course, the universe is a simulation. That explains everything. Whether he grew up in the real world and was instantiated as a simulation just now, or has always been in one, is unclear. Whether everyone around him is unthinking bots is also unclear, but if he's conscious there's no reason everyone else shouldn't be too. Which means It's Like Saying Hello In Japan is still morally horrifying. Maybe this is an experiment on whether people will do morally horrifying things if convinced the rest of humanity and the world is fake. Well, he isn't going to.
Library of Sodom is sort of like "I know Kung Fu" but for sex, which fits pretty well with the Matrix-related train of thought he's having. I See You is, again, cool with terrifying implications. Hyperhypnoslut is terrifying with cool implications, which he will not think about because that is a terrible idea. Even if he found someone he could trust with that sort of power (and who was willing to use it; his cousin Jennifer would be too weirded out), it's still too dangerous. Just because he could maybe hack it for eidetic memory and unlimited willpower does not make it a good idea, why is he even thinking about this.
Like Uber For Costumes: If you can find any manufactured fetish clothing (not a one-off creation, and you must not have been involved in inspiring it) that corresponds to a profession, you can act with the full skill of that profession while wearing that clothing. For example, using firearms while dressed as a sexy soldier. Available at 60 ERO. 1 point + 1 fragment.
Mad Inventor: You can create devices whose functions correspond to many Erogame skills and effects. These devices cannot be mass-manufactured, but can be loaned to others. You must wear steampunk goggles while wielding this perk. Available at 30 ERO, refunded at 70 ERO. 1 point.
Mad Scientist: Your powers give you the ability to test hypotheses about sexuality that conventional science cannot or will not investigate. Use all skills at double their base level whenever you are primarily seeking general knowledge. (Extracting the location of an enemy base does not count as 'general knowledge'.) You must wear a sexy lab coat while invoking this perk. 1 point.
Marshmallow Test: Receive two additional perk points, for a net of one more perk than you would've had otherwise. This perk can only be taken after reaching LVL 7 and only if it is the first perk you have chosen. (Your starting perk does not count, likewise any perks automatically awarded by the system.) 1 point.
Mesmer Inoculant: Guarantee that the Erogame itself will not apply mind control, mind modification, mind replacement, or any other similar effects on any nonconsenting subjects. Effects in this category were either already happening, or are enacted by or on the Erogamer, who is assumed to be consenting to all mind alteration effects that they bring upon themselves by changing their stats, using skills, or taking perks. Anything that looks at first pass like the Erogame mind-controlling someone will in fact merely be probability manipulation; for example, taking the Yousexual perk only guarantees that the people you meet happen to already have been people who would otherwise have been attracted to you, without actually modifying any existing persons' preferences. Taking this perk will render some perks inaccessible and cause other perks to have significantly smaller effects. 2 points.
That last one sounds like other people are in fact still conscious, and also like the game at least understands the concept of being morally horrified. He's definitely going to take that perk, because if it's telling the truth it'll stop him from accidentally mind controlling anyone and if it's lying it probably still does at worst nothing.
The first three on this page are also frankly amazing and he wants them, but obviously he's going to pass the Marshmallow Test first, because that's what you do with tests, is you pass them.
Mom/Dad: Your horrible parent is replaced by a helpful, loyal parent who will not interfere with your Erogame business. You may opt to keep your memories of the old parent, or simply remember a happier childhood, in which case you will gain a small, unimportant additional perk and not remember that this true perk exists or that you selected it. You may also opt to retain the ability to tell this new parent about the Erogame. If you have an additional absentee parent or awful step-parent, they are replaced by a corresponding kindly parent who is dead due to a random accident. This operation leaves your family's finances unchanged. 2 fragments.
More Competitive Than You: For any activity whose primary purpose is competition (e.g. chess, drag racing, or martial arts; but not stock trading, or literary authorship) your skill level adjusts to match your love interests and/or romantic rivals. Your skill level is such as to make you just barely worse than your love interest, or just barely better than your romantic rivals, whichever is higher, if you try your best. 1 point.
Perfect Sadist: Inflicting pain on others, no matter how severe, never causes any permanent damage you did not intend. 1 point, refundable at 40 FUK.
Perfect Subbing: You can at will perceive subtitles in your native language for all speakers whose voice you can hear, and subtitled translation for all foreign-language texts. This does not enable you to speak or write other languages. 2 fragments, refundable at 60 ERO or 80 SED.
Pretty Smart: The conventional attractiveness of people you meet now strongly correlates with their intelligence, conscientiousness, corruptibility, or other mental attributes you might find attractive on a... deeper... examination. (Making people smarter using technology or spells available at higher ERO will automatically increase their physical attractiveness as well.) 1 point, refundable at 70 ERO.
His parents aren't the best parents, but he's not going to erase them from reality and replace them with fakes who are proud of him, that would be immoral and also totally missing the point of wanting your parents to be proud of you.
More Competitive Than You is another gateway to fabulous knowledge and skills, except it requires someone to either fall for him or be legitimately romantically jealous of him, so that's not really exploitable the way those others were. Similarly, Perfect Sadist is only any use if someone wants him to hurt them, so forget that.
Perfect Subbing is just straightforwardly cool. Pretty Smart is also cool, but has weird social implications and might turn out to be more trouble than it's worth. Even if he himself is exempt, does he really want to know that much about everyone he passes on the street?
Real Scientist: Your unusual experiences have given you insight into open questions in human sexuality, leading you to form new testable hypotheses. You instinctively understand experimental methodology and statistics. So long as you report your outcomes honestly, other scientists will discuss your results seriously; and overlook your lack of credentials along with any questions about the morality or possibility of your experiments. You can write proficiently in LaTeX if you are wearing latex. If you simultaneously hold the perks Mad Inventor, Mad Scientist, and Real Scientist, you become able to develop reproducible technology, including the experimental apparatus required for others to further investigate and extend your discoveries. An actual PhD in a scientific field, acquired the hard way, can substitute for the Real Scientist perk in this trinity. 1 point, available at 30 ERO.
Seduce Contain Protect: You are a magnet for any person or sapient entity with a significant chance of producing global catastrophe. They will inevitably cross paths with you and find you highly attractive. 1 point.
Sin Of: You may take this perk only once. Choose:
- Envy: Take over another person's life. Everyone in the world now believes unshakably that you are they. The displaced person no longer exists.
- Gluttony: You never get tired, bored, or over-satiated during any pleasurable act, no matter how long it continues. You may accumulate unlimited DOM and SUB from such acts.
- Greed: You find a winning lottery ticket with the lump-sum cash payout option selected. After all taxes are paid, your after-tax winnings are a bit over $100,000,000.
- Lust: At will, you may temporarily increase your LST and/or PRV to any higher level you wish, for as long as you wish, up to a maximum of 100.
- Pride: All stats and skills increase faster.
- Sloth: Removes all time limits for acceptance or completion of quests. Negates or softens all other visible deadlines for accomplishing anything within the Erogame or your life.
- Wrath: Instantly kill anyone you choose. Bypassing quest challenges in this way will reduce their rewards. You may invoke this perk an unlimited number of times.
The Eye of Yandere: If you are romantically attracted to someone, you are always alerted when they are romantically or sexually attracted to someone else or when someone else is romantically or sexually attracted to them. You do not know the strength of this attraction, just that it exists. 1 point.
To Boldly Come Where No One Has Come Before: You somehow get your hands on a starship, enabling you to visit nearby star systems and meet the many interesting and nubile life forms to be found there. 1 point + 1 fragment. Available at ERO 55, refundable at ERO 80.
He's going to get perk synergy from finishing his degree, that is so great. He might also take the perk at some point after that, for the other nifty benefits.
Seduce Contain Protect is either the dumbest idea ever, or absolutely necessary to minimize the odds of global catastrophe. Probably that first one.
Pride is a diamond in a dunghill; he might want that one first after the marshmallow one. Eye of Yandere is just stupid. And immoral. And stupid.
To Boldly Come is a Star Trek reference, which is weirdly comforting. It may also be the simulation-runners wanting to fuck him in addition to fucking with him. Either way, he really really wants to meet aliens, especially if they have interestingly different minds and aren't just green-skinned humans. Fucking them . . . he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Oops, that's what she said.
True Love Conquers All: If you love someone enough, nothing can ever permanently separate them from you. The only exception is their wishing to leave you---deliberately, voluntarily, and based on correct information. This applies to any type of love, not just romantic love. If you would undergo hardship and sacrifice to protect someone, if losing them would leave a scar on your heart that never fully heals, then in time you will always be reunited. This perk retroactively includes everyone you have previously lost, but still love. If somebody you love is already dead (e.g. a beloved parent or grandparent), taking this perk automatically begins the Heaven's Feel quest to revive them after your ERO reaches 50. 1 point + 2 fragments.
Trust: Whenever somebody honestly tells you that they love you, or like you, or admire something about you, or shows trust in you by confessing a truth to you that they would not tell others, you know that they mean it. Taking this perk renders you ineligible for a significant number of Erogame quests and reduces the rewards of many others, but it's here if you need it. 1 point.
Truth: Regardless of any other Erogame perks taken and any other powers affecting you, you regain your memories of who you really are, what really happened, and what reality was like before. No further such effects can deceive you. Think hard before taking this perk. 1 point.
Utility Monster: Your experiences are a trillion times more important than the experiences of those around you. 1 point.
You Fools Can't Stop Me: Your schemes can only be thwarted by those near or above your own intelligence level, and only by their having been cleverer than you. 1 point.
Zombie Sexpocalypse: An extremely contagious virus turns 99.99% of the human population into sex-maddened creatures bent on fucking anything within reach. You, and everyone you personally like, are among those naturally immune to the disease. While most of the infected die quickly, some retain sufficient intelligence to become hominid animals living off the wilds or on food stores. Defending against their rapes and thefts is an ongoing problem requiring the survivors to band together. Some partially-immune survivors have greatly increased LST and PRV. Use this perk if you're tired of living in a complicated technological civilization. Think carefully before taking this perk. 1 point. Available at 30 ERO, refundable at 80 ERO.
True Love Conquers All sounds great. Jennifer would be safe. He could raise the dead, if he manages to fall in love with them. Kind of an obvious implication of the world being a simulation in hindsight, but still, wow.
Trust is . . . weird. Also possibly kind of mind-reading. He can't see what the problem is with Truth and the fact that the game doesn't want him to take it kind of makes him want to take it.
Utility Monster sounds like it's threatening to make everyone else chatbots. How about NOPE. Zombie Sexpocalypse is even more NOPE, what in the star-spangled void.
You Fools Can't Stop Me would either make all his endeavors succeed or fill his environment with smart people, so that's nice.
Quest available: Rules of the Erogame
Increase FUK, SED, LST, PRV, BOD, and ERO by 1 each without using stat points; learn your first skill; level up. (You do not have to do this in the same action. Using your stat points now will not cause you to fail your quest.)
Success: +1000 xp
Failure: The Erogame will handhold you through more of your adventures. Maybe you'll stumble across a rulebook.
Apparently he's being encouraged to experiment, which is a good sign. He cleans himself up, accepts the quest by poking the little "yes" button, then puts three points in SED and the last one in FUK again. Now, how to raise those stats in other ways? Might as well start at the top; BOD runs on exhibitionism. He tries heading out into the dorm's common area, wearing just his shorts and a blush of oh geez people are going to judge me for being shirtless while ugly. Being told by a text prompt that he is "nerdy-cute" is not really as concrete as the obvious-to-him fact that he's pale as a sheet and mostly composed of gangling elbows.
This is fine, this is fine, he's been shirtless at the beach ever and nothing bad happened except sunburn.
Someone in this room thinks he's cute. Or the game is lying to mess with him, that's always an option.
He looks at the girl with the laptop. Is she looking away because she doesn't want to look at him? Or because she does want to look at him? The first seems more plausible but the second is pretty relateable. Maybe if he talks to her he can find out and also get SED? He should do that. He will do that.
After he ducks back into his room and grabs his shirt.
Okay, now he'll talk to her. Or at least he'll sit at the same table and blush some more, that's sort of like talking, right?
The textbox throws him off a bit (and he doesn't know she thinks he's cute, just that the game is asserting it), but he manages to say, "I-I will, yeah." And now he has an excuse to talk to her again, as soon as he's read the book. Which makes him realize he's actually enjoying this conversation. So of course he has no idea where to take it next. "So, what are you studying? I mean, what's your subject?" Ugh, real smooth there dude.
Oh, what a good way to phrase that. He grins. "Then I'll pretend you asked me how I know anything I do to the mice is relevant to humans, and the reason is . . ." he happily burbles on about immune systems and genetic similarities and feedback loops for a solid two minutes.
Sadly, the author of this thread is not capable of discussing mathematical modeling, but Sarah can, and she has many opinions about it!
The Erogame wishes to draw Bruce's attention to the fact that Sarah has breasts of the sort a video game developer would look at and go "that's a bit unrealistic."
The Erogame can, in fact, draw Bruce's attention thusly. He appreciates this fact quite a bit, even. She doesn't just make excellent models, she would probably make an excellent model.
Oops, now he feels like a jerk; her eyes are up there dammit. He ends up alternating between eye contact (yikes), boob-staring (double yikes), and looking down at the table (sigh). At least she hasn't called him out on it; maybe she hasn't noticed.
Ugh, probably. Better stare at the table some more and keep asking intelligent questions. She's a fellow scientist, damn it, not a pair of tits.
Soon he finds himself failing to totally fight off a massive yawn, and blushes again. "I'm sorry. Your research is fascinating, but I'm on forty hours of sleep-dep. I should really crash before I have to go back to the lab again." Also, sleep might cure him of the hallucination that this erogame thing probably still is.
When he wakes up, the Erogame is still there, which is probably bad news but he finds himself glad of it anyway. It's just so interesting.
Now that his head is clearer it's full of experiments. Does his statblock emit light that can illuminate other objects? Does it show up in reflective surfaces or on his phone camera? What happens if he sticks his hand in it? He promises he will get back to work on that quest sooner rather than later, but this interface is frankly too fascinating not to mess with.
Ooh, he can chase it around with his hand, that's cool. Does it produce an afterimage like one would expect of a bright pink thing? What if he shuts one eye at a time or adjusts his focal depth, does it behave as if it's at a specific distance and being seen by both his eyes at slightly different angles? What if he blindfolds himself with a scarf but keeps his eyes open underneath?
That's pretty neat! Okay, back to questing. He's already raised BOD and SED; the easiest-looking next ones to try are LST and PRV. And the obvious place to start is with weird porn. He gets on the internet in incognito mode and searches for . . . Hmmm, how about "alien mind control erotica", that seems appropriate.
His life: continues to be bizzare. But hey, well-written pornography! He's pretty surprised by how turned on he gets reading about people getting beamed up into flying saucers and subjected to invasively sexual "science experiments". Which is not an invitation to do that to him in "real life". Probably.
Sure it will, the reward is he gets to find out how the story ends. Hmm, how to raise LST, FUK, and ERO?
FUK is likely to be the hardest, since it requires finding someone else willing to interact with him in a sexual context. Maybe if he finds someone with really low standards?
Well, now that he puts it that way, the solution is obvious. People with really low standards, looking for sex, with a minimum of risk? Chatroulette. Even with his distinctly mediocre FUK, he can probably make someone's webcam jerkoff session better than a string of people ignoring them and wishing they'd go away.
Hopefully the game isn't expecting him to enjoy it much, though, since he's straight and the vast majority of people jerking off on chatroulette are guys. No, wait, his life is ridiculous now, maybe he'll immediately get a hot woman. Only one way to find out, though, and he's already got this incognito window.
He should help, somehow, be an active participant. He can't quite bring himself to take his own dick out, but he can at least be encouraging. People who do this probably like attention and compliments and stuff. "You look really sexy, I bet you always get appreciative audiences," he tries. It's not super honest but not exactly a lie, either.
Bruce doesn't know that guy's name and will never see him again and doesn't super approve of his life choices, but his disapproval still makes Bruce want to crawl into a hole. He signs off Chatroulette.
Also he feels kind of gross and wants a shower, but isn't sure if the Erogame will try to make him do sex things in the dorm showers and more sex things with people he doesn't like in that way is the last thing he wants right now. So instead of showering he pirates Shards of Honor and starts reading it while curled up in bed.
Lev looking less pervasively miserable is great! Cognitive decline is kind of an inherently miserable subject but Bruce enjoys hearing Lev's opinions on it more than enough to cancel that out.
"Those are some good ideas! You know a lot of cognitive science for a biochem guy, I'm impressed." Bruce has suggestions for incorporating said ideas into their next round of experiments!
"Pretty sure you are. We should write this stuff down before I forget it all, though. Come into my room? I have paper." He steps backwards out of his doorway.
His room has a bed and a desk and a chair and a dresser and a bookshelf that looks about to collapse under its burden, and about two square feet of open floorspace left over.
Bruce finishes pointing at the thing and moves away a bit, though given the amount of space they have it's not much. "Oh, while I'm thinking about it--I'm going to be on campus over Thanksgiving, but it would be good to have at least one other person around for the stuff that needs doing every twelve hours. What's your schedule look like over the break?"
Lev's smiles are so excellent! He should make Lev smile more. Lev is smart and thoughtful and creative and Bruce really respects him as a colleague.
What he says is, "Great! I love having excuses to cook for people." Also his previous plan had been to Skype his cousin before she went to Thanksgiving at her girlfriend's house and then spend the break in his room rereading Arthur C. Clarke between trips to the lab, so.
"Man, it would suck if we could photosynthesize, then we'd probably be morally obligated to do that all the time instead of eating."
Now that he is done making that remark he is pretty sure it made no sense, but if he doesn't point that out maybe he can get away with it.
Suddenly all of Lev's earlier tiny smiles seem totally insufficient without having become any less objectively good in themselves. There's no way he's going to say "but agriculture contributes to global warming" while Lev is smiling like that. Also if the universe is a simulation they probably won't get wiped out by global warming after all.
"We could! And it would be convenient on long car trips."
Why is he now imagining Lev shirtless. Probably this is the sex aliens' fault somehow. And/or Bruce is just very distractable.
"I bet if everyone could photosynthesize public shirtlessness would just be totally acceptable all the time. But I guess you'd still get people, like, ogling you or whatever and it would make sense to want to avoid that." Imagining is not the same as ogling but it's probably still rude and Bruce should really stop.
Yeah, any attempt to mix rodents and Ero would be seriously objectionable.
"What? What? Oh come on, that's just not fair, you know all my buttons." He accepts the Mystery Quest, because how can he not. This is clearly a bad idea but slowly dissolving of curiosity is also a bad idea, so.
Science accomplished, he decides to go for a walk around campus. Maybe he'll encounter a clue to the "???????", or have an idea for how to raise his Ero.
"Probably you thought I was a grad student," Asher says, "because I spent the last seven years as a member of the New York City Ballet. --I was going to do math, but I took an econ class and fell in love, and also figured it was probably a good idea not to choose a second discipline you're only good at before you're thirty."
He flips off the branch and looks like he's about to land on his face and at the very last moment twists into a crouch.
Bruce flinches when it looks like Asher's about to faceplant, then says, "I don't actually know anything about the New York City Ballet but I am nonetheless extremely impressed. And picking a major because you took one class and fell in love is awesome. Except if I did that I'd also still be an undergrad with six majors and no hope of graduating."
This sex game seems to be trying to get him into men. Which as premises for an alien experiment on human sexuality go is pretty plausible. He's never been religious, but right now, "trust the incomprehensible entities in whose hands I have found myself" seems like the best option on a list of one. It seems to have been kind to him so far.
All of that goes through his brain after his mouth has already said "Sure."
He is glad he already knows what to expect from the popups when there's something in his face (in this instance, another face). He stares really hard at the "yes" option and tries clicking it with his mind. It's not like he isn't being constantly mindread, he should be allowed to use it as a UI so he can dedicate his hands to slowly, tentatively making their way onto Asher's back.
Bruce permits himself to be tugged!
"I think if you were any more in shape it would break my already stretched suspension of disbelief." Shit, did that make any sense without the context Asher doesn't have? It at least sounded complimentary even if it wasn't coherent.
Oh hey, they're going to Fifth East. Bruce is not super aware of undergrad dorm stereotypes but even he knows Fifth East has a lot of people with . . . exotic sexual tastes. Not making assumptions, not making assumptions, just rolling with it and trusting the Erogame--to do what, he isn't sure.
"Oh dear, infinite regress. Um, how about we both get naked and make out some more until we think of something?" He is now somewhat embarrassed by their unbalanced state of undress, but also somewhat embarrassed by the thought of revealing his significantly scrawnier torso, so while he makes the suggestion he doesn't actually manage to start disrobing.
Oh, he's beholding, alright.
Any attempt to express Bruce's inner monologue here would involve mostly keymashing, and not even on the letter keys. Suffice it to say he is having an excellent time.
He probably won't be able to keep having this excellent of a time for very long, but the fact that he already came once today is helping.
Did the Erogame steal Asher's condoms. Is that a thing that just happened. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so juvenile.
"Well, I'm too much of a virgin to give you anything, and neither of us is at much risk from oral, but what are you comfortable with?" Somehow he suspects that the pharmacy is out of stock.
Bruce had been refraining out of a vague sense that it's wrong to touch people's hair without permission and it's also wrong to ask permission to touch a Black person's hair, but his sense of touch is very much not vague right now and he is definitely petting Asher's hair. It's so soft and fluffy and excellent. Bruce is making incoherent little happy sounds about all of this.
You no longer have the status effect "'Innocent' Virgin."
A skill has been created by a special action! Cuddling Asher has created the skill 'Cuddle.'
Cuddle. Lvl 1. Active. 1 D|S / use.
When this skill is active, you will instinctively know the best ways to hold someone to make them feel warm, safe, protected, and comfortable. Your limbs will not fall asleep no matter what position you are in. More advanced cuddle skills will be unlocked at higher levels.
Mmm, kisses. What an excellent reward for his current total lack of brain-to-mouth filter. Still, better make sure his mouth stays occupied. He disengages from Asher's mouth after a bit and kisses his chest instead.
"You have the pecs of a Greek statue." Whoops, apparently that was not sufficiently mouth-occupying.
"Thank you." He smiles a little smile up at Asher and scoots farther down the bed. Hmm, how to approach this? If the Erogame lets him unhinge his jaw like a snake it hasn't been super clear on the details. He'll start by licking the head, that seems pretty safe on all fronts.
Spontaneous knowledge! That he can use to make someone feel good! And that someone is awesome and makes noises! If this is a tutorial level it's the best one.
He follows his instincts, repeats anything that seems to have a positive result, wraps a hand around the base of Asher's cock for better fine control.
Bruce makes a happy humming noise at the praise and keeps going. Keeping his mouth open this wide for this long at the dentist used to be unpleasant but now he finds he can do it no problem. Hmm, experiment time: how much cock can he fit in his mouth before he gags or stops being able to breathe properly?
He's gonna fit this entire appendage in his orifice, then! Possibly if he was less full of hormones he would be able to figure out whether this was being accomplished through space distortion or changes to his anatomy or instinctive skills allowing him to push the limits of the technically humanly possible, but right now, on nom cock.
Quest completed: Easy as Pie
'Afterglow' status effect
Afterglow: For the duration of this effect, your LST is halved and your Cuddle skill is treated as if two levels higher. Also, it feels nice.
You have leveled up!
You have leveled up!
You have leveled up!
A skill has been created by a special action! Having Asher finish in your mouth has created the skill The Nectar.
You gain benefits from consuming sexual fluids you have personally extracted from others. (With the Mad Inventor perk: sexual fluids extracted via machines of your own creation that you personally operate.) Every person's precious bodily fluids convey different potencies, hinted at by tastes and sensations you may learn to identify. Mixing synergetic sexual fluids yields greater results, but the fluids must be mixed in situ.
1) You're the center of attention in any crowd (12 hours).
2) You understand and appreciate the subtleties of classical ballet (24 hours).
3) You won't fail at anything (2 minutes 39 seconds).
Bruce has several thoughts all sort of piled on top of each other.
* Success! With totally awesome moaning.
* Asher is super great.
* Asher's come tastes way better than his own did that one time. Kinda pumpkin-flavored.
* He should totally be cuddling Asher right now. (This one is actionable, and gets implemented.)
* Wow, three level-ups in a row. It's like the early levels of Pokémon. Which is a horrible Skinner box, but he'll worry about that later.
* Better not go near a crowd for twelve hours.
* Oh neat, ballet knowledge! He has no use for this at present, and forgetting it in a day is going to feel weird and wrong, but it's still neat.
* Holy SHIT, he can't fail at anything for the next two minutes 39 seconds? Okay, if he tries something impossible it'll probably just take him more time than that and then he'll fail, but he should definitely start coming up with good experiment ideas right now and succeed at doing so. Because that's an ambitious useful thing he can do while still cuddling Asher.
"It's fine, get as maudlin as you want." Bruce is still using his cuddle powers. Also Bruce should really clairfy at some point whether this was a one-off hookup or the first in a potential string of hookups or a very sudden start to an attempt at boyfriendhood or what, but he can't come up with a phrasing that doesn't sound stupid and his no-failures power has worn off. He did at least get some good science ideas out of it, though.
The ideas Bruce writes in his lab notebook are arguably ero by proxy, since he got them from a semen-fueled brainstorming session, and one of them tangentially relates to reproduction by way of heritable epigenetics, but they are otherwise as normal as the rest of the lab.
It's almost a disappointment, in a weird way. He wants to do science to the weirdness overtaking his reality, and possibly exploit said weirdness for awesome world-changing applications, and his science setup is apparently the only thing that's immune. Still, it's a damn sight better than having the Erogame biasing the results of his unrelated work.
That was the most intense flow state he's ever been in. Possibly the effects of "But he was such a good student", or possibly the slightly more mundane effects of having gotten laid. The sensation is pretty great, though his episodic memory of the past three hours could be a lot better. Maybe if he sleeps with so many people he forgets who they are he'll get an eidetic memory.
A skill has been created by a special action! Lab work has created the skill Biochemistry.
A skill has been created by a special action! Combining single micrograms of liquid and staring at them with a microscope that costs more than a car has created the skill Fiddly Lab Work.
A skill has been created by a special action! Using Good Student's less well-documented advantages has created the skill Beauty With Brains.
Biochemistry. Active. Lvl 1. 1 D|S / use.
You have an intuitive knowledge of the chemical processes within and related to biological organisms. You have a chance, scaled according to the skill's level, your ERO, and the difficulty of the problem, of knowing the answer to any biochemistry question you pose.
Info/Skills/Fiddly Lab Work
Fiddly Lab Work. Passive. Lvl 1.
You don't drop the beaker onto your foot. It is easy to squeeze out precisely the amount of the chemicals that you intended to use. Machines no longer require mystic incantations or propitiary gifts to work properly, although for best results you should get fucked in your lab on a regular basis.
Info/Skills/Beauty With Brains
Beauty With Brains. Active. Lvl 1. 2 D|S / use.
The game doesn't have an INT stat, but there are times when the hot guy with glasses will be called upon to have an opinion about quantum mechanics. When using this skill on a specific question of general knowledge, you have a BOD% chance of knowing the correct answer. Beauty With Brains cannot provide insight into problems or give you information that you would not be able to find in a diligent search of Wikipedia.
Being able to pull biochem information from thin air at higher ERO is the best thing. Fiddly Lab Work is also the best thing in a different way, namely that he will absolutely have sex in the lab if it means the electron microscope will stop giving everyone "Sensor Adjustment Error" and "Stacker Pusher Movement Error" at the worst possible moments.
Quest available: Better Than That Ponce
You know what's not ero? Aging is not ero. Disease is not ero. People having bodies other than the ones they feel most comfortable and happy in is definitely not ero. Fortunately for you, you can fuck your way to a cure.
Accepting this quest unlocks the Come With Me If You Want Everyone To Live quest tree.
Quest available: Uplift
Successfully uplift, and then have sex with, a member of a commonly eaten food species, allowing it to advocate for itsef and leading to the development of cultured meat and an end to animal consumption.
Quest available: Fuck Your Arbitrary Standards
Cause the definition of a kilogram to be changed.
Success: ???, +2 science, +? XP
Failure: continue to live in a world in which a kilogram is defined as the mass of a particular metal rod in a sealed dungeon in Paris.
Quest available: Never Forget a Fuck
Personally administer orgasms to 250 strangers.
Success: Eidectic memory.
Quest available: Optimize The World With Friendship and Ero
If people are wondering where their next meal is coming from, they're going to have trouble having multiple orgasms and a fulfilling sex life. Fuck your way to a post-scarcity society.
Your ERO is too low to begin this quest.
He is not at all sure what "Ponce" he is supposed to be "Better Than" but if it gets him a cure for aging he'll figure it out. Or ??? trying, apparently. Accept!
Uplift an animal to sapience and fuck them: surprisingly appealing! He is learning all sorts of things about himself. Such as the fact that when he asked himself "which species" his brain answered "octopuses are considered food in some countries". He wonders if he'll end up doing this quest with or without ero things other people won't be able to replicate, and which way would be better given that other people might try it with variously benign and nefarious motives. Anyway, accept.
It appears the, let's say the GM, agrees with him on the obnoxiousness of the standard kilogram. And . . . he thinks he might be getting a sense of how this game works, and especially how it does wordplay . . . Do they want him to put the standard kilogram up his ass? Does he want to put the standard kilogram up his own ass? Even if that's not what the quest meant he'd probably get away with it now, both medically and in terms of not ending up in a French prison. But does that mean he should do it just because the entities running the universe dared him to? And offered him whatever tempting thing "+2 Science" is? Whoops he just hit the accept button before he could second-guess himself anymore. It's not like anything will change if he fails, he can wimp out at any time.
Oh look, it took him up on the weird dumb idea. He's not sure he's actually psychologically capable of sex with 250 strangers, but his levels of lust and comfort with sexual things are now raisable stats, and there's no time limit or failure penalty, and eidetic memory would be really great . . . Accept but not in a committing-to-do-anything way, he just wants to keep the option open.
"Optimize the world" . . . yeah, he really needs to raise his ERO stat. Which reminds him, he's still got that quest to raise all his stats by one point. Hmm, how to deliberately increase the weirdness of his life? His mind goes to a certain xkcd that seems appropriate. He pulls out his phone, generates some "random numbers" (aka whatever numbers the game wants him to get) and puts them into Maps. Hopefully it will lead somewhere reachable by public transit, since he doesn't have a car and barely remembers how to drive one.
Nice, he finished a quest on purpose! And now he can spend his level-up stat points on things. He can probably get Lev to not immediately write him off as bonkers if he spends a bunch on BOD while Lev is watching and possibly filming. Then Lev could know about the Erogame and they could investigate it together and that would be super great, because Lev is an excellent scientist.
But first: he has a quest to set Lev up with somebody, and here's Lev and someone he knows to be cool hanging out in a coffee shop the game sent him to. He can take a hint. He orders a small coffee with sugar and no milk, mostly to have something to do with his hands but also because caffeine, and then makes his way toward Sarah's table.
No, Erogame, he is not getting naked in a coffee shop. Arguably it's less crazy than putting the standard kilogram in his ass, but that he can at least theoretically do without getting caught. Also it's intruiging on an appel du vide level. Public nudity is just rude.
"We're a morbid pair, aren't we? Both have a good chance of getting killed by our fields of study."
Hypocrites get what they deserve, he supposes. He'll have to apologise to Lev later. "Ah well, no book review for us," he says to Sarah. "Too bad, you should meet him sometime. He's brilliant. Anyway. Do you enjoy a little risk when you're not at work too?" Shit, was that an accidental innuendo or is he just expecting to see them everywhere because of the game?
Maybe this is the Erogame's way of saying Lev wouldn't mind talking to him. It seems like sort of thing the Erogame would do in that circumstance. On the other hand, P(A|B) is not P(B|A); this might also be the Erogame wanting him to do something obnoxious. But there's only one way to find out. He gets up, brings his coffee over to Lev's table, and smiles nervously. "Mind if I sit here?" he asks, flashing back to more real and fictional First Days Of School than anyone should have to put up with.
"Yeah but-- he keeps going 'priming might sound weird but the weight of the scientific evidence is so strong that there is no option but believing it's true' and, no, the weight of the scientific evidence wasn't that strong, in fact it turns out that priming effects exist only for the most obvious things like word-stem completion tests and, no, it is not true that if you are primed with elderly people you walk slower. And that would be fine if he'd said that the evidence was weak and he was uncertain, science moves on, but he's so overconfident and it's really really annoying."
(Lev has never been this passionate about anything related to biochemistry.)
"Yeah, I think the lesson of Thinking Fast and Slow is that academic social psychology can't yet outperform just thinking about what people you know are like and drawing conclusions about what humans are like from that, which is terrible. I mean, you don't even get to know that many people? But the studies are all conducted on MTurkers or undergraduates who are even less representative than the people you'd meet in your day-to-day life, people barely ever do cross-cultural studies and when they do it turns out people from the Anglosphere are strange--"
He's wearing a necklace with a rose and a ring with a cubic zirconia diamond on it. If Bruce is observant enough, he'd notice that Lev is also wearing foundation, eyeshadow the color of his skin tone, and a tinted lip balm, and his fingernails are painted with clear polish.
"Man, now I want to gather some objective data about how good I am at even noticing what people I know are like, I might be even worse than academic psychology. Analyzing bad tools with different bad tools."
He doesn't notice the makeup, but does notice the jewelry and that Lev is very nice to look at today. He tries to think of a way to compliment him that doesn't sound any of weird, douchey, or lame.
"Well, I mean, I could ask you about studies and you could guess whether you'd think they'd replicate and then that would tell you if your intuition could outperform Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman."
Facial expressions! A thing Lev generally does not particularly have most of the time! And in general he seems much more relaxed and much happier.
"To be fair, I could have inferred that one from your earlier comments. Hmmm, now we run into the thing where I'm bad at people . . . I couldn't do that with tennis players, but it seems like the sort of thing normal people could. I'm gonna say that one replicated."
"Before I heard that one study found that, I would have guessed it made it worse. But one study is still evidence, if weak evidence. Man, this one really sounds like the sort of thing that would work awesomely for some people and not others, if I was checking it I'd want an absolutely massive sample. Gonna guess it failed to replicate but my probability is very close to point five."
"Lemme estimate how many we'd need to do to get decent statistical power." He whips his phone out of his pants. "Swear I'm not looking up answers," he jokes. (He is in fact doing math and not looking up answers.) After a minute he comes up with a number that won't take too long to do but which will meaningfully compare him to Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.
Bruce comes up with answers, sometimes immediately, sometimes after a bunch of closing his eyes and going "hmmm". He's not right every time, but he's quite good.
"You're not even looking these up in the book, are you, you just have all this stuff memorized, that's so impressive."
+1 SED for successfully seducing someone with the replication crisis!
+1 SED for eliciting one of ???'s deepest and most shameful secrets.
Quest available: Deep and Dark
Learn all of ??? Aaron's deepest and most shameful secrets.
Success: +7,500 xp, 'Good Listener' status effect, +1 LST, +2 PRV, ?????
Failure: +2 ERO, reduced relations with ???
Bruce has just enough time to make a sympathetic face before the popups appear and set his mind racing.
If, as seems likely, all those question marks are pointers to Lev, Lev has a secret extra name (like a superhero secret identity?) and the game wants him to find it. And also to pry into Lev's business generally. And also apparently Lev is into him now, and now that he thinks about it that's definitely reciprocated, but that's so not the important thing here.
Bruce does want to get to know Lev better, but more than that he wants to keep him safe from the game. He needs to get Lev alone and tell him the full truth as soon as possible, and if he's lucky he'll end up in a mental institution if and only if he is in fact having a psychotic break. He's not clicking either yes or no on that quest any time soon.
He wrenches his train of thought back to the conversation at hand, after a pause that's surely way too long. "Can you tell me why you can't? If, if it isn't a secret or something?"
That newspaper thing was weird and having someone sane to talk to about this shit is going to be such a relief.
"I feel like, maybe, if you try something risky it might suck, but if you commit to something you hate it will definitely suck. But it's your life. Listen, do you want to come back to my dorm? There's something I want to show you."
Oh, did Lev-or-whatever-his-name-is just agree to make out with him? Thank you, Erogame, for pointing that out, he would have totally missed it and that would have been mega awkward. Now he will instead get to make out with Lev! If Lev doesn't decide he's insane, and if he's still interested after learning about the Erogame, both of which are pretty big ifs. Still, he smiles and stands up from the table.
"Thanks! So are you, I've been admiring your taste in jewelry. . . . But I need to explain some stuff before we do anything else. And before I lose my nerve."
Bruce bites his lip, trying to figure out what order to say stuff in. Possibly he is also trying to remember where he put his nerve.
"I guarantee you mine is weirder. I promise I have evidence of what I'm about to say, please don't write me off as insane and run away before I can show you."
"Magic exists, in the form of, my life has turned into, somesortofvirtualrealitysexgame." He gets more mumblesome over the course of that sentence but stays mostly intelligible.
"Yeah, my mind also went straight to aliens. It actually fits the data better than you'd think--I've got these, these text boxes, that only I can see, that tell me the game rules and give me quests to do things. Actually I should see if you can see them now that you know." He pulls up his stat screen, careful not to disturb the "Find out all Lev's secrets" quest from the corner of his vision where it's tucked itself away awaiting an answer. "Does this," he gestures at the relevant chunk of air, "look like anything?"
"Mine is the only one I can change for now, but some of the quests I've gotten are seriously epic. I've gotten a quest to end death, and another one to turn an animal into a person, I just bet there's a way to get other people shapeshifting powers if the aliens or whatever cooperate. They didn't stop me from telling you, so that's probably a good sign."
"Oh. Okay, um, sorry for misreading your signals. The game was trying really hard to convince me you were into me but thinking back it could have been telling technical truths and I was just wishful thinking. Sorry." He really wants that eidetic memory right now, so he could look back at all those pop-ups and see how much the game was misleading him and how much was his crush on Lev deluding him even before he was aware of it.
"So, uh, I'm fine with that but you should know that I have a crush on you and sex will probably not help me get rid of it and also the game wants me to find out all your secrets for some reason, I haven't told it yes but I haven't told it no either but I assume you want me to?"
Quest available: Deep and Dark. Learn all of question mark question mark question mark Aaron's deepest and most shameful secrets. Success, +7,500 xp, 'Good Listener' status effect, +1 lust, +2 perv,'--those are stats I have, I can explain those next--and some more question marks. Then 'Failure: +2 ero, reduced relations with question mark question mark question mark.' I don't know why your name is question marks, my best guess is that you're secretly a superhero or something and the game wants me to find your other identity because it has no manners. . . . If you are secretly a superhero I promise to give you alibis and not tell anyone."
"And I'll stay out of your business. Sorry. Right, stats, I was gonna explain stats." He says No to Deep and Dark and pulls up his stat screen. BOD is my physical appearance as defined by I don't know what metric, so far I haven't had any disagreements with its idea of hotness. LST is, like, my average level of horniness? PRV is basically Openness to Experience but specifically sex-focused because this thing is weirdly obsessed with sex. SED is basically charisma, FUK is how good I am in bed, and ERO is a measure of how little sense my life makes." He gets pinker and pinker as he explains, but it's still better than talking about how the game wants him to mess with Lev.
"Well, that's definitely something we can find out!" Bruce says in a rush of mostly-scientific excitement. Then he realizes what he just said, turns absolutely crimson and stares at the space over Aarons' shoulder. He does not, however, do anything that might constitute taking it back.
Bruce likes the idea of having some stat points on hand just on case, but if he was going to allocate them all at once then FUK and ERO are clearly the best skills and the idea of having a really high FUK makes him a lot less nervous than the idea of having a really high ERO.
Does Lev have any objections to Bruce putting a hand on his shirt hem? Maybe with some of the fingers being technically under the shirt hem rather than on it?
Those are very good non-gendered body parts to be touching.
He briefly wonders if the FUK skill will direct Bruce automatically away from his gendered body parts, decides this line of thought is too close to thinking about how disgusting he is to make for a good sexual experience, and returns to concentrating very hard on the idea that he is a girl and Bruce loves him.
Lev is completely hairless-- her his chest and stomach and back are very smooth. SHe has pink lines on his chest that, if Bruce had more experience, he might recognize as the sort of marks made by an ill-fitting bra.
Bruce has never removed a bra, ill-fitting or otherwise. He does notice that Lev shaves, and worries that that might mean Lev finds him unpleasantly hairy. There isn't anything obviously doable about that right now, though, not as his current level of shapeshifting finesse. He takes advantage of the lack of hair to try licking a nipple.
The pants-and-underwear removal is very conspicuous! Bruce is now highly aware that this person he has basically promised a blowjob is now not wearing pants or underwear! And that's awesome, because he's pretty excited about giving that blowjob. He hastily shifts his attention dickwards, shuffles along the bed a bit, takes a moment to consider his approach, and starts by licking a line from the base of said dick to the head.
"Oh. Okay." That's sad but maybe it will still work for the Nectar if Lev masturbates while Bruce is licking his nipples that is so not the priority right now. "We can, go back to what we were doing before? I liked that." He still selfishly wants to make Lev come, both for science and because he wants to see it, but if that isn't happening it isn't happening.
"Um. Don't get me wrong, that sounds awesome, but also I want to make this good for you too? If you aren't having fun we should. Not." Bruce is definitely not an ethics expert but he knows that if someone doesn't want to have sex then you shouldn't have sex with them.
All Levs are good, but happy whimpery Lev is so much better than awkward sad Lev. Also Bruce is super horny now. Maybe he can grind against Lev's thigh without touching his dick? He moves partway there and then decides not to risk it, stops with barely an inch of air between them. He can feel Lev's radiating body heat and it's almost like being able to see in infrared.
1) You can sense magnetism. (6h)
2) You can tell whether anyone in the world is impersonating you (12h)
3) You can explain any one ero-related topic to one person-- such as the location of the clitoris, that polyamory is different from cheating, or how to tie a shibari knot-- and they will understand it. Use of this ability requires one sentence of minimally competent explanation. (10 minutes)
"Only if you actually want to. Science is important but it's not more important than you." Oh shit, that was what he meant but not what he meant to say. "I mean, we gotta have scientific ethics."
"Maybe, I could hold you while you jerk off? Would that be better? Or we can just skip it, it's fine."
"That'd be nice," he says, and arranges himself so Bruce is holding him, and selects the fantasy where he's pregnant with his husband's baby and he's loved and they are going to spend the rest of their lives together, and moves his hand in a quick and businesslike fashion, and finishes.
Bruce cuddles him, and fantasizes with much less conscious planning about the counterfactual where Lev wants to date him and they can swap in-jokes across the lab and recommend each other books and introduce each other as "my boyfriend".
And then he gets to find out what Lev tastes like! (He was vaguely lime-flavored.)
Lev tastes like cotton candy.
1. You have an instinct for explaining things to people in a way that they will grasp. You are particularly talented at explaining things to children. (2 hours)
2. Scientific studies that have failed to replicate or which have poor methodology or falsified data will appear in blue. This power will not give you knowledge you could not have in theory learned through reading the literature carefully. (24 hours)
3. No one finds it at all odd if you wear female clothing in public. The same applies to unusual clothing which happens to be intended for women: for example, no one will notice anything strange about you wearing full goth female regalia to your office job, a microminiskirt, or nothing but panties. (permanent)
Lev's fingers get thoroughly licked before Bruce turns his attention to the text box.
"Oooh, yours is really good, get this--" he reads it off, sounding especially excited about part 2 and neutral on part 3. "Sometime in the next 24 hours we should go to the library and look at a bunch of journals." And it should count as a date.
Hairpets are the best. Bruce reciprocates and wishes the Erogame would give him the ability to purr.
But eventually, library. Extremely pretty library.
Wow, something like seventy percent of this nutrition textbook is blue. (The intro psych textbook is also a sea of blue.)
If Bruce taps one of the blues, a popup appears that says "study conducted on two hundred undergraduates" or "poorly controlled observational study" or "did not replicate" or "IN RATS."
"Yes, to both of those." And yes to handholding under the table. "Apparently raising my ERO requires," quick check of his stat screen, "quote, 'pushing probability to its limits'. Which I think means doing things that have very different expected results given the existence of the game."
"That last one sounds nice," he says, aiming for a tone that works whether Lev was joking or not but failing and instead making it clear that he's hoping Lev wasn't joking. "And, hm, I wonder if the women's clothing thing means I could walk into a makeup store and get a makeover instead of getting laughed at."
Ooh, a lapful of Lev. Oh crap, this is having a not at all surprising effect on his anatomy and Lev is right where he's definitely going to notice. Maybe he'll pretend he didn't notice. Maybe he won't pretend he didn't notice.
"Would you, ah, would you like to come too? To the makeup store? We can see if the game affects you too."
OMG he meant it, this is awesome, except, "We're gonna get caught--no, wait, weird game shit, I bet we can totally get away with this." He might only be saying that because he wants to get blown in a library, but it's also probably true because he wants to get blown in a library, so.
Part of him feels like he should explain to the random hot guy that, in fact, Lev is completely straight and is having gay sex for complicated paraphilia-related reasons, but probably the Erogame would not run him into someone who would mind, and also Asher is making out with him with Bruce's dick in between them and this is pretty distracting.
+1 ERO for getting a blowjob in public, getting caught, and having the other guy join in.
+1 ERO for enthusiastic attempts to, as it were, grind ERO.
A skill has been created by a special action! Sex in public has created the skill Convenient Censoring.
Convenient Censoring. Lvl 1. Passive.
When you are naked, masturbating, or having sex in public, your naughty bits or behavior will be conveniently obscured by objects, people, or your clothes. You may at will modify this skill for complete, partial, or no obscuration. By default, the parameters of this skill are determined by PRV, ERO, and social context. People may still notice and respond to sounds and facial expressions you make.
Fourteen ERO, wicked. And conveniently obscured from what angle, just from anyone looking? What happens if he stands in an open space surrounded by people, sets it to full obscuration, and gets nude? Maybe "the parameters of this skill" means it won't work in that case. Maybe he's performing for an audience of aliens right now and the censoring objects are placed relative to the camera. That thought should not be as hot as it is. Anyway, none of this is as important as the problem that he can tell Lev and Asher are making out down there and the angle is all wrong for him to watch. Maybe if he leans sideways and twists his head like he's trying to drink out of a faucet? Yeah, that works.
--girl, she's a girl and she's sucking her boyfriend off and making out with a hot guy at the same time and maybe later they're both going to take turns fucking her, something happened and it turned a bunch of guys into girls, hot horny girls, and now it's okay to have sex in public because--
It occurs to her that, given the Erogame, something could happen that turns a bunch of guys including herself into hot horny girls, and then she makes a whimpering noise and almost swallows her tongue.
Well, that's a novel and extremely pleasant sensation! Also now that they're out of each other's way he can pet both of their hair at the same time! He only manages not to come embarassingly quickly because he already came once today, or possibly because he put all those points in FUK.
A skill has been unlocked by a special action! Hiding your sex noises has created the skill Muffled Moans.
Muffled Moans: Lvl 1. Active. 1 SUB / 40 seconds.
So long as you are trying hard to keep quiet, any moans that escape you anyway will fail to alert anyone in the next room over, however thin the walls. (Provided they are not actively listening, sexually aroused, romantically entangled, or otherwise interested in participation.) Louder cries will travel to other rooms in the same living unit, but not other living units in the same structure, or neighboring houses.
Quest available: Come Out And Level Up
Raise ERO to 20 within the next 48 hours.
Success: +1 SED, +1 FUK, +10,000 XP
Failure: Shame and dishonor.
Huh, cool skill. Though these library stacks don't really divide nicely into rooms and he's not in a living unit,so right now it just highlights his questionable life choices. Which he's about to make a whole bunch more of, because he just got dared to get six points of ERO in 48 hours, and while he has got ten unspent stat points his sense of fair play isn't going to be satisfied that easily. He'll give the quest an honest try and only use those points if it gets down to the wire. And he doesn't think he'll need them if he can get Asher's help.
He takes a few deep breaths and slides himself under the table while putting his dick away. "Asher," he mutters, "I owe you a blowjob but also I owe you a piece of information. It's going to sound crazy but I'm not crazy, Aarons can back me up."
Definitely not the worst response!
"My life . . . is some kind of weird sex game. I have stats and levels and it gives me quests and I got a stat bonus for the public sex just now. And . . . I think whatever runs the game mighthavebeenmakingyourunintomeabunchsorry."
He hopes Asher isn't annoyed about the, whatever this is. Sexually harrassive coincidence management? Accessory to being a pawn of destiny? He seems to have been enjoying the results but that doesn't necessarily make it not shitty.
Thank goodness. Unless Asher was mind-controlled into feeling that way, in which case fuck you, bastard aliens. At least Bruce wasn't mind-controlled into not thinking of the possibility? But now he's thinking of arguments against it . . . Agh, that way lies having an actual psychotic break, if his brain has nothing useful to say it should at least shut up.
"So. Yeah. Um, do you have questions, you probably have questions, possibly I have answers, possibly we should be having this conversation not under a table."
"I think they want me to have a lot of sex and possibly also romantic relationships? Right now they want me to grind the 'how implausible my life is' stat, that's not me being funny I actually just got a quest about it. They asked me to find out Aarons' darkest secrets but I told them to fuck off and they haven't asked again."
Bruce would feel super guilty and apologize if Aarons objected, but he is pretty sure everyone has secrets, actually. He had several even before the Erogame, like how he's not nearly as good at his classes as his grades seem to indicate and how he's forgotten the name of nearly everyone in his dorm and now it's too late to ask again, and apparently also that he's bi. Having secrets isn't a secret.
Bruce reads off his stat screen and his current quests. He doesn't mention the plan to go to the makeup store, because he wants that to be just him and Aarons. Asher joining in and being excessively handsome already would make it too intimidating for the two of them.
No Regrets: If, all things considered, a person would regret having sex with you, they will not be sexually attracted to you, no matter how high your SED is or what other in-game effects there are affecting their decision-making. This does not affect mind control or hypnosis. One point and one fragment. Available at SED 40.
Along the way, his eye might be caught by:
Milliways: Sometimes, when you open a door, it will open to an interdimensional bar which connects you to other worlds. While you are in Milliways, time stops, and you hear all languages as your native language. You may meet alternate versions of your friends, harem members, or nemeses. First drink is free. Watch out on Valentine's Day. 1 point. Available at ERO 20.
"Yup, you're right. There's one here for making nobody be into me if it would be a bad idea for them." With a sketchy note about mind control, but he can patch that with Mesmer Inoculant. "Also, there's a perk for accessing parallel universes! Possibly with alternate versions of us!"
"Hm, yeah, now that you mention it I don't want to meet more of me in particular either." Any alternate Bruces would be either better, which would be shameful for him and awful for the other one, or worse, which would be shameful for the other one and awful for him. One who was better in some ways and worse in others so it came out about even would be alright, he guesses. And if he met alternate Levs he would be sad that they didn't like him. "But maybe we could meet Newton or people from the future or something, that would be cool."
"Well, if they're lame, that would suck, and if they're cool they'll think I'm lame and that would suck too. Dunno if Lev has the same objection or a different one." Also what if there was a him who was, like, an 1800s slaveowner or some shit, that would be a totally different flavor of awful and the fact that he's even thinking about it is one of those aforementioned dark secrets, because good people probably don't have that worry.
"Well, maybe we'll get lucky and Milliways--that's the interdimensional zone--will just have an orgy of Ashers in it."
Right now, though, he wants to find some way to politely ditch this Asher so he and Lev can go to a makeup store without anyone they know seeing them. "I just realized you were probably in this library for some reason other than walking in on us."
"I mean, it's up to you, I'm not gonna tell you what to prioritize." His Good Student perk is probably cheating but it's also so so important. Also, why did the game pick him instead of Asher anyway, Asher seems like a much more natural choice. "We can meet back up in a couple hours and talk magic sex game strategy?" And probably do a lot more than talk, let's be real here.
"Sure, but not, like, lots of it? If you'd rather do something else improbable we could, uh, what's improbably sexual but not actually rude?" His first thought is "make a porn vid of ourselves and try to get it to go viral", but that's scary in that it might actually work.
"--Actually, I am going to replicate Clark and Hatfield's groundbreaking 1989 study about human sexual strategies."
He writes something on a piece of paper, looks around and finds a reasonably pretty girl a few stacks away.
"Hello. I've been noticing you around campus. I find you to be very attractive. Would you like to have sex with me?"
Wow, Aarons has balls of steel, metaphorically. Bruce finds this extremely attractive. Also he should clearly take this as a challenge and do the same thing but first he is going to stare at Aarons for a bit. Partly out of curiosity whether it will work and partly because of his latest attack of heart eyes.
Okay, if he got an ERO point just for watching someone else do that, clearly he can manage to do it for himself. And he can't just be dead weight and let Aarons do all the work. He has to try this.
He picks a girl who is definitely pretty but not, like, intimidatingly pretty, just sort of low-effort jeans-and-t-shirt pretty, makes solid eye intact with the air to the left of her head, and says, "H-hello. I find you to be very attractive. My friend and I are throwing an orgy later, want to come?"
Okay, maybe he shouldn't've borrowed legitimacy by inviting himself to Aarons' three-way, but there'll be plenty of time later to fork the project, as it were, if he turns out not to be welcome. And he's about to get turned down anyway, so what does it matter, really.
"Maybe there's an app for it." Wait, did she just say yes? He's pretty sure she just said yes. Okay, apparently he has to go to an orgy now on the off chance she shows up. Ooh, and if people do show up maybe he can make progress towards fucking strangers for an eidetic memory. Too bad "stranger" isn't clearly defined so he doesn't know if he needs to e.g. avoid learning this woman's name.
"What an excellent name for an app." Aarons is so clever, both for coming up with that on the fly and for the awesome name. "I'm going to download it." He pulls out his phone. Come on, Erogame, you know you want this to be a thing, there's nothing in any of our experience that contradicts it being a thing, it could totally have been there the whole time. He feels a bit like if Wile. E. Coyote had decided to run off a cliff on purpose.
Ahahaha this is fine, the ground of reality is quicksand but at least he gets useful apps out of it! Just gonna make an account and not worry about how he can't be confident of the existence of anything he isn't looking straight at, or really anything he is looking straight at, oh wait the reason it's ten seconds old is probably because time travel isn't Turing computable, isn't that neat SHUT UP BRAIN.
He does manage to get what exists of the orgy so far configured in the app mid-existential-crisis, because smartphone use is basically a spinal reflex.
(Across Boston, thousands of people suddenly get the impulse to take out their phones and see whether anyone has ever made an app to help find other people to have orgies with.)
The #1 app for inviting people to and organizing orgies is very well-designed! Bruce can easily enter in the people who are currently invited. There's an option to search for those who are socially incompatible with the current invitees and block them from seeing the orgy. He can put down his preferred safer sex practices for the orgy. He may also enter his preferences for the orgy: genders and orientations and ages, body types like "bears" or "twinks" or "fat" or "big boobs" or "petite" or "pregnant," special interest groups such as "geek" or "leather" or "HIV-positive," and a mind-boggling array of kinks many of which Bruce has never heard of. (Sneezing! Fireplay! Figging! Feeding! Kigurumi! Balloons!) If he fills out the form for his orgy and marks it as public, he will get suggestions of people whom he might want to invite.
There is also a space to share his most recent STI test results. It says that he has been confirmed by Doctor So-and-so to be completely free of all STIs.
Bruce starts filling out the form because that's what you do with forms, then reconsiders this policy, then keeps filling out the form but with more self-awareness.
Not having socially incompatible people sounds good, and while he's thinking about it he should invite Asher. He doesn't have any body type preferences, at least none he endorses enough to admit to in a web form, but geeks are excellent. His preferred safer sex practices are slightly on the conservative side, since his STI immunity doesn't extend to other orgy participants having sex with each other. (He makes a note to hit the Mass Ave CVS for condoms, and also to try to convince the Erogame that surely two people who have just fucked him without infecting him clearly couldn't infect each other either.)
He has a bit of a moral dilemma about the test results section. On the one hand, he is in fact a negligible STI risk. On the other hand, that doctor is super fake or at least didn't test him. Is it lying to give someone a justified true belief by providing untrue information, if they'll forget the untrue part and remember the true part? Eventually he decides that the doctor's name is sort of a pseudonym for the entities running the Erogame, who are pretty clearly qualified to declare him disease-free, and that if someone told him an equivalent fib he wouldn't hold it against them. He puts in the results.
A skill has been created by a special action! Deciding to use condoms in your orgy has created the skill Dr. Jenner Has Nothing On Me.
Info/Skills/Dr. Jenner Has Nothing On Me
Dr. Jenner Has Nothing On Me. Passive. Lvl 1.
When you're having sex with multiple people at once, no participant will pass on STIs, and conception will only occur if both biological parents are enthusiastic about the prospect and the child will have at least two people willing to raise it. This skill applies to orgies, sex parties, play parties, gangbangs, reverse gangbangs, mecha powerup sequences, blood doll parties, attempts to abuse the Nectar skill, [your ERO is too low to see this item], [your FUK is too low to see this item], [your PRV is too low to see this item], [your PRV is too low to see this item], and any other situation in which you are present in group sex, even if you are not at that moment participating.
Ooh, he got a skill just from thinking about it again. Good thing everyone in the room is staring at their phones so he has plenty of time to read it.
First of all, this is awesome. Not as awesome as the invention of vaccines, whatever the rather embarrassingly arrogant skill name says about it, but there's plenty of room below "vaccines" on the awesomeness scale.
Secondly, so much burning curiosity. What sort of mecha powerup sequence involves acts with a risk of conception or STI transmission, and how does he get in on that, it sounds potentially extremely cool? Why do gangbangs come in default and reverse? What are all those secret list items??? And what is a blood doll party? Okay, Google can actually help with that last one, apparently it's when someone feeds a bunch of vampires, he can see how that would be a disease risk wait shit do vampires exist now, no wait that's a perk option, never mind, he probably doesn't need to deal with vampires existing right now.
"Huh," she says. "Weird. My dad's a witch, so that makes sense. All sorts of people have random magic powers."
A skill has been created by a special action! Explaining ludicrous truths has created the skill Just Follow The Fucking Rabbit.
Info // Skills // Just Follow the Fucking Rabbit:
Just Follow the Fucking Rabbit: Lvl 1. Active. DOM / Special.
Convince 1 other person to go along with 1 instance of Erogame Logic. This skill cannot of itself cause someone to act contrary to their interests or desires, but helps convince them that the event is not hallucinatory, that it's fine not to use protection this time, or that the victim won't go to the police. Costs DOM equal to the ERO corresponding to the minimum improbability threshold for the ongoing event. Just Follow The Fucking Rabbit only works on statements that are, to the best of your knowledge, true.
Dressing as a sexy bunny reduces the cost of this skill by 50%.
Telling someone you're a reality bender has increased ERO by 1!
"Apparently what happens is I get an ERO point and a new skill, because you are a genius and make excellent suggestions!" Then Bruce turns back to the woman whose name he probably already found out and then forgot.
His first instinct is to disbelieve the claim that her dad is a witch, then he realizes how utterly fucking hypocritical that would be, not to mention how much of a potential missed opportunity. Why should the aliens or whatever restrict themselves to messing with only one person? Possibly it would be messing with their experiment or whatever this is if he went around seeking out other potential weirdness sources, but this one, if it's legit, got dropped like a plot hook. "That's really cool. Can I get his contact information? I want to ask him about magic at some point."
Okay, not a plot hook then. Probably for the best; it'd be pretty weird to have an orgy with a woman and then try to talk magical shop with her dad. He sighs and sticks the contact info in his Unimportant Objects Pocket (back left) rather than his Important Objects Pocket (front left) or his Garbage Pocket (back right).
"So, Aarons, where are we hosting this thing? I need a location for the form and, uh, you've seen my dorm room, if we want to have an orgy in there we need to get on inventing a shrink ray." If this joke results in the appearance of a shrink ray he's gonna . . . hmm, he doesn't actually know what he's gonna. Host a miniature orgy, he supposes. It probably won't anyway, that feels too blatant for 16 ERO.
"Yeah, you probably don't want your dorm room full of randos even if they'll all fit. I can book us a hotel room." A large hotel room in Cambridge is going to cost a nontrivial fraction of all the money he has, but he can pick up tutoring hours or something if he's going to run out. (This reminds him to hurriedly mark himself incompatible with all his recitation students on Orgynization.)
"On what grounds, free advertising? I guess I can try asking the game for a free hotel room, sure." Too bad that's going to involve making a phone call to a human being who didn't ask to be in the middle of this nonsense. But hay, maybe he'll get someone who wants to come to the orgy.
He dials the hotel in Kendall Square, chickens out in the middle of "por Espanol oprima dos" and almost hangs up, looks at Aarons looking at him and manages not to.
Okay, he might have just wussed out enough to trigger easy mode on this particular activity. "Oh, my thing is actually a sex-positivity event. In the form of. Uh. It's actually an orgy. Doesthatqualifyforthescholarship?"
That was the most embarrassing scholarship application he has ever done. He hadn't thought anything would top the one where he had to explain his passion for medical research without sounding like a transhumanist weirdo, but here he is.
"All bodies, genders, and sexualities are welcome, and I'll be modeling and monitoring for good consent practices." Stealing language from student group pamphlets: way less embarrassing than assembling his own sentences. And that last was a welcome reminder, actually; it's his orgy and that means he needs to be responsible for keeping order and throwing out anyone acting like a scumbag. Which sounds like an extremely uncomfortable job, so hopefully the Erogame won't direct the invite to a bunch of scumbags.
"So on the one hand every idea you've had so far has been brilliant and I should listen to you, but on the other hand I would really rather not have an adversarial relationship with the entities that may or may not have total control of our reality?" He says this very fast and at an uncharacteristically high pitch.
"Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense." It's not that he's not down to rage against the heavens, if that ever turns out to be the thing that needs doing, but so far things have been pretty chill for how insane they've been and he'd like to keep it that way.
". . . Now I'm curious what blackmail material you're thinking of."
"Well, if I were trying to blackmail the Erogame, I would buy a plane ticket to Iceland, block your emails and your phone number, and never speak to you again. But you have better options, you can just commit to-- no, you don't want to commit to celibacy, people kink on that-- you want to commit to masturbating once a day to softcore porn with extremely vanilla fantasies. --Although there's an obvious failure mode."
"It sounds like a really unpleasant thing to be into, but maybe that's the typical mind fallacy and the people who are into it are fine with being into it." Shrug. "On a related note, I'm going to deputize Asher to help keep order tonight."
Hey Asher! I hope you're as excited for tonight as I am (and less nervous).
"I think most of the people who are into it only like it in imagination," Lev says, "and not in real life. I was just guessing that probably the Erogame could fuck with your brain so that rape is not traumatizing, if you'd be into it. --Honestly it's a common enough kink that it might do that anyway, if you get your PRV high enough."
Bruce reads the Erogamer's Mind description again and says, "I'm not actually sure it didn't already fuck with my brain on that axis, it says I could find it 'anything from a recoverable trauma to a Tuesday afternoon'. I'll take 'things I'd rather not test empirically' for 300, Alex."
Can I ask you to help out with the job of making sure everyone is behaving acceptably and throwing out anyone who doesn't understand that consent is still important at an orgy? It would be nice if the game gave me magical immunity to inviting douchebags but it hasn't said as much.
"I'm curious too, I didn't feel anything change when the game started but maybe if I was better at introspection I would have." He reads off the full Erogamer's Mind description.
If the game does handle that, so much the better, but it explicitly told me it was handling STD risk and didn't say anything about screening people so I don't want to rely on that entirely.
"Yeah, if I thought you were going to do that I would be super jumpy around everyone you could plausibly have picked and most people you couldn't."
"I guess one thing I can say," and he addresses this about 90% to Lev and 10% to the ceiling, "is that if there is a rapist at the orgy, better that they go after me than someone who doesn't have that protection. Hypothetically speaking."
"Secret beings that are running reality," Lev announces, "I can make Bruce's life significantly less ero and you know it and you can read my mind so you know I will, so you have to give me that one thing, and you have to make sure that Bruce and I are both happy afterward, and you have to explain yourself at some point."
"And don't you dare tell me that Bruce is not going to get an ERO for this just because I did it," Lev says, "I don't care if I'm an NPC in Bruce's game, if you're communicating with the secret beings who run reality via coincidental Post-It you get an ERO for it and if you didn't want it to be this way then you shouldn't have had him meet me."
"Okay, I just got +1 ERO that's rightfully yours for and I quote 'ballsiness', and also I have been informed that a string of question marks has been unlocked by a special action, questions marks has created the question marks question marks."
"Game, I activate the question mark question mark question mark question mark question mark question mark question mark I just unlocked. Let's see if that does anything." Perhaps if he is already doomed he can at least be interestingly mystery doomed. Probably it won't kick in until some convenient or inconvenient time in the future when its inputs are available.
Huh. Disrobing in the coffee shop didn't get garbage collected. It can be a memento of roads not streaked on.
"Okay, I can't find the question marks but if I ever do I'll let you know. Thank you for threatening the universe for me. It was sweet. And scary, but mostly sweet."
Hang on, didn't the quests and skills used to not have checkboxen? "Wait a minute, there is something different now. Stuff has checkboxes on it. I'm going to check the box for the one with the standard kilogram." He pokes the checkbox.
Lev having supernatural cuddling skills does sound nice. So does Lev having supernatural fucking skills.
"I think I can share stats too, yeah. --I don't know if I can unshare things, though, do you want me to see if I can flip the quest off and on in case it turns out you have higher stats than me or something and taking mine makes things worse?"
"Okay, looks like there's no backsies, or at least not via this menu. Bearing in mind that your stats might or might not change as mine change, which if any do you still want? Feel free to take a while to think about it, or take one and see what happens when mine goes up, or something."
It's weird that the game gave Lev such a low starting BOD when he's already cute, but Bruce isn't complaining because this way Lev gets more total shapeshifting scope to play with. "Cooool. I'm just gonna keep poking this until I run out of points or you tell me to stop." Poke poke poke etc.
Lev doesn't stop Bruce until he's at a BOD of 17.
His hair is longer than shoulder-length now, and he doesn't have any stubble; his body is thin. His facial features are delicate: thin eyebrows, big wide eyes, full cheeks, a pointed chin. He looks feminine; if you squint a bit he could be a girl. His smile, however, is the same.
"How do I look?"
"It's pretty great! Also I'm glad it doesn't look like it's changing us in the same direction, if we converged on some alien's idea of the perfect human that would be kind of messed up."
Not that he wouldn't fuck an identical duplicate of himself, especially if it was an actual fork so he could be in two places at once, especially especially if he could experience both perspectives of the fuck at the same time. Just saying, here in the nonprivacy of his own head.
He still looks pretty uncomfortable.
"Yeah... uh, probably I want SED and FUK and Cuddle and Beauty With Brains... I don't really have any use for Biochemistry but it's really painful to turn down knowledge... can you offer me things besides skills and quests and stats?"
"I see no reason why anyone would turn down even irrelevant knowledge skills. Brace yourself, it's a rush." He drops all the requested skills on Aarons one after the other. "Also there's an, uh, Harem Members menu? I did not name it that that's what it's called." What's even in there, is it just a list of everyone he's done ero things with.
"So far it's all been good shit, but yeah, that's super valid."
"Hmm, I still need three more ERO this weekend. Want to try going to a makeup place and see if people's cognitive biases make them think you're a girl? Or we can make out on a roof, there's a roof I know how to get onto."
"Hah, sure, I bet there's at least one Uber driver in town who's down to fuck and we'll inevitably get that one." He summons an Uber.
"While we wait, I can fit arbitrary appendages in any of my orifices, and I want to experiment with that while I'm not distracted by anything else. One sec." He turns politely away from the curb and attempts to stuff his entire arm down his throat like some kind of messed-up sword swallower.
It's not supposed to be sexy, he just want to figure out if he can move his arm such that his proprioception asserts that his hand should be outside of his body. He can't explain this quite yet, for obvious reasons.
Also he might have to pop inside and wash his arm off real quick.
He gets his experimental result (he can do the thing, and it feels super weird), washes his arm off, and beats the Uber back to where Lev is waiting.
"Sorry you had to see that; I tried to give you a less gross angle but I probably should have done it in the bathroom. Just wanted to get it out of the way before I forgot again."
"I wanted to see if I could angle my arm such that my hand ought to be sticking out my back. Turns out I can, and there's probably some way to exploit that for infinite energy or FTL travel or something but if there is I can't see it." Also he was hoping he'd get an ERO point for it, but mostly he wanted info and he did get that.
"Oh, hey, I did get a point! Nice." Does that mean Lev is into weird biology stuff, or that he's into vaguely scientific speculation? Probably the latter. Also the car is here. Does Lev want shotgun or want him to be shotgun or want them both to be in the back? He's not super clear how two people seducing an Uber driver is supposed to work, spatially speaking.
Bruce is thinking about not crashing the car! Once the driver and the drive both finish, he also starts thinking about stats. ERO, BOD, and FUK are clearly the important ones. If getting a makeover doesn't help with BOD then maybe a wardrobe upgrade will, but he isn't super clear how one acquires clothes that don't have pictures of spaceships and/or puns on them.
Yay but also oh no! Should he offer to let Lev go first? Should he avoid drawing attention to Lev in any way? Has putting points in SED generalized to normal human social skills at all, a normal person would be able to figure out what Lev needs from him here. A normal person wouldn't be standing here awkwardly failing to answer the salesperson. Shit. He gives Lev what he hopes is a sympathetic and encouraging look and goes where he was told.
The salesperson does not appear to find anything weird about putting makeup on a male-appearing person!
(Bruce might think this is the Erogame but actually Sephora is just like that.)
She asks him what sort of look he's going for then walks him through a variety of products that make his skin look more evenly toned and his eyes look larger.
He's blushing like a fire hydrant that just confessed something dreadfully embarrassing under fire hydrant social norms. "Do you want . . . ?" Not being able to reciprocate kind of sucks, and so does not being able to form full sentences about it, but he can't think of any other situation he'd rather be in.
Did Aarons just say what Bruce thinks he said or was he just imagining it. Probably it was real. Bruce is full of warm happy glowing feelings either way. He has an armful of beautiful amazing brilliant human being and everything is just so great, what a great day to be alive. He intends to snuggle about it. He bets he can make snuggles comfortable even in this random brick-walled alley.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa wave of post-orgasm shame and guilt and horror and self-hatred whyyyyyyy is he wearing makeup why did he let Bruce know all of this why did he say "love you" why did the Erogame let him say "love you" the inevitable consequences of this are not ero
maybe if he just pretends it didn't happen it will go away
Bruce is not aware of any of that! He's too busy holding favorite person and wondering if he missed the moment to say "I love you too," what if he has and saying it now will make it sound fake, what if it is fake, isn't loving someone supposed to come with absolute certainty that you love them, Bruce is pretty sure he's constitutionally incapable of absolute certainty about anything, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
But also he really wants Aarons to know he loves him.
"Love you," he says (well, whispers), without the "too", as if it was a side remark apropos of nothing and therefore cannot have been awkwardly timed. Because that's totally how human communication works.
+1 FUK for getting someone off without touching their genitals.
+1 LST for getting off without anyone touching your genitals.
+1 BOD for having sex in a place where people totally could have just walked up to you. (You're welcome.)
Quest available: Even Educated Fleas Do It
Convince ??? Aarons he loves you.
Success: +2 SED, life satisfaction, +20,000 XP
Failure: 'Loneliness' status effect, loss of ??????
Points points awesome points oh no Aarons doesn't actually believe he loves him. The level of crushing disappointment that produces is some evidence that he genuinely loves Aarons, but apparently his own potential lyingness wasn't what he needed to worry about. Maybe Aarons is just also unsure and wasn't, like, actively lying to mess with him. He has no idea how to accept a quest conditional on the truth of a statement, so he just lets the pop-up hang and tries to hide how much worse he's suddenly feeling.
Bruce notes in the back of his mind that this is not the behavior of someone who was callously manipulating him a minute ago, but that's really not important compared to oh no Aarons is crying.
Hug? Slow cautious hug in case that's not what he wants. He can't honestly say "It's okay" when he doesn't know what it is or whether he can fix it, but he can say, "Hey, I'm here, what do you need?"
"It's. Okay. If you don't love me back. We haven't been together for all that long even. It's kind of ridiculous for me to love you already, you're being the sensible one here really. Um. In my defense you are very good."
Bruce's words sure are at odds with how much he looks like a kicked puppy.
"Uh." Aarons was honest and Bruce should be honest too. "It did give me a quest. Asking me to convince you you love me. But I don't want you to believe you love me if you don't, that would be awful."
And then his brain catches up to what he just heard. Aarons wants to love him! Aarons maybe sort of consents to be mind-controlled into loving him! That is arguably even more intimate and beautiful than an actual declaration of love and he needs to hug him about it. Fortunately he is already hugging.
"Possibly it has a definition of love by which you already love me and wants me to convince you to use that one? Possibly we should talk about our definitions of love at some point."
Possibly that should be when they aren't sitting in an alley covered in slowly drying semen.
"Oh, come on," he says to the sky. "Just because I would enjoy watching him walk around naked is no reason to be bogus about it." Then to Aarons, "Maybe the Victoria's Secret sells, like, workout shorts or something?" He hasn't seen women's underwear since he stopped sharing a washing machine with his mom.
"Yeah that I have no clue how to fix. . . . Possibly, and I am not even a little bit blaming you for this because an omnipotent sex game ought to be better about consent, it thinks you're consenting to it because you want to be a girl? And if you make your preferences really clear it will get its shit together?"
Bruce scratches his head. "I mean, guys do also do that sometimes, but if you didn't start being into guys until you acquired a being a girl kink then I guess it could be causal?" Psychology is definitely the most confusing part of bio but that's part of its charm, really.
"I guess? I'm not sure I'd know if I was. I managed to miss both being bisexual and having a massive crush on you. Maybe I'm super kinky and just clueless about it. Also I'm afraid I've lost the plot a bit, what's this got to do with why you're pissed about the Erogame pushing you to buy a dress?"
"So, like, you think of dresses as sexy, and therefore wearing a dress in public is like not wearing enough clothes? That makes sense. If you get magically turned into a girl at some point would that make it better or worse?" Aarons being trapped indoors by his (her?) own sense of modesty would be so not ero.
"It doesn't seem all that gross or perverted to me? I mean, someone being female is involved in more than half of all sex acts and also half of all walking around in public. Also, do you think I'm being awful walking around naked? Not a gotcha, genuine question, if it squicks you out I won't do it."