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Jun 26, 2022 10:09 AM
The Titanium Tyrant goes to Roses of Villarosa
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"Interesting." He considers. "Then the evil laugh would also be redundant."

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... Actually wait - 

"Will I have my present powers in the next universe?"

He'd been assuming 'no' but if the answer is yes -

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"Almost certainly not, but I might be able to guess better if I knew what your current powers were."

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"Hyperanalysis," he says. "The ability to tell how puzzle pieces fit together, better than any human alive. And how metals alloy. And what people will say, or do, or think."

He had built the first powered armor that ran on the laws of physics. He had been sixteen and he had rusting car parts and stolen mechanic's tools and he named it the Durendal. (He hadn't thought he'd done anything impressive; one of the first heroes to die in Normandy had worn his prototype and the only challenge had been reconstructing how he had to have done it.) He had clock-fought Psion with a hand laser that couldn't scratch his skin and shaped every blow of the fight to follow his visions.

And he'd been shot, by an ordinary assassin, because he hadn't checked his backup systems.

(Pride goeth before the fall, Sandor.)

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"That sounds like the sort of thing that's unusually likely to show up in some kind of lesser form in a new incarnation, but I wouldn't give better than one in three odds of that in any particular case," she says. "It depends on the whims of the implementation teams. I suppose you could increase your chances by suggesting worldbuilding that makes that type of power likely, but you'd have no way to guarantee that you in particular ended up with it."

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"Understood." Then he'll need to cope without it. He's done that, in prison. He's survived.

"Then it sounds like I'm going to have an Elaborate haircut."

(He in fact expects the curtain to go up at this point, though he has sufficient self-control that he doesn't show it.)

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She makes a note on the form in pencil and proceeds to the next question. "Hair colours have mild personality effects but they're generally trivial to compensate for if you don't like them," she says. "Your choices are: blonde, with no effect; red, increasing passion and aggression along with physical strength; silver, increasing intelligence and creativity; brown or black, granting you the ability to successfully pass as belonging to a lower social class, at the cost of agency and assertiveness; or any hair colour not found in nature, which will increase the tendency of the setting to run on anime tropes."

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He considers getting a complete dossier on 'anime tropes', before immediately concluding - "Silver, thank you."

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Little pencil note. "Well, some people might not like that it can reduce your physical strength slightly," she suggests, "but as I said, those downsides are generally trivial to overcome. And there's a persistent rumour that blondes have more fun but as far as I can tell it's only true in that the people who are determined to have fun and hear the rumour pick blonde."

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Ah, self-fulfilling prophecies. Of course.

... Being physically weaker will suck but he can always build a powered exoskeleton if he needs to. "Understood, thank you. I'd prefer more detailed descriptions to less, wherever possible, unless our preparation time here has relevant limits." Which might of course be true - his source isn't telling him everything but yelling at her won't help - if he tries to focus his powers on her does he get anything useful?

(It's difficult to focus his powers on her, because mostly they are just explaining in exquisite detail that THEI IS DEAD. They're only doing a little suggesting plans for getting her back, even now that those actually have a chance of working.)

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"The limit on our preparation time here," she says seriously, "is that if you spend long enough in this place that your human mind surpasses its operating limits and ceases to function, I'm authorized to make my best guess as to what you would have wanted and then send you on to your reincarnation, with your memories appropriately blurred so that you won't become catatonic on arrival. I think last time that happened it took at least a few million years, maybe much more than that. The applicant was very intent on not proceeding to the next stage."

The angel has One top priority, which is presenting her applicant with his choices in such a way that he chooses among them as he genuinely prefers, with no tricks and no misinformation, to ultimately construct the Villarosa that is right for him personally. She is also kind of concerned about him on a personal level, but he doesn't seem receptive to that sort of interaction so she's keeping it to herself.

"I'd meant to give you the overview first and then go into more detail afterward," she adds, "but we can go straight into full depth if you prefer."

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He's glad to hear that the angel's priorities are in common with his. (And he is not receptive to that sort of interaction; there are four people he could ever have gone to about that and two of them are dead.)

"Good. I have every intention of proceeding to the next stage, in as effective a manner as I can manage," he says. "But I always prefer to have as much information as I can bear." Really?

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"I'll keep that in mind," she says. "So! The next choice is your character's Race, which may be either Human or Elf. In short, humans are the baseline default species of your new world, and elves are a similar but distinct type of people that are in some way, and usually in many ways, better than humans. Stronger, smarter, taller, and prettier are some of the more common elf attributes. You can suggest to the worldbuilding team as many design considerations for the distinction between humans and elves as you like, including deciding that the humans of Villarosa should by default be stronger, smarter, taller, and prettier than humans in your previous world, or deciding that the 'humans' of Villarosa should be radially symmetrical flesh orbs with sixteen tentacles if that's what you prefer; also, if you choose Human, you may at your discretion omit the concept and implementation of elves from your Villarosa entirely. If you do choose Elf, you must take an extra flaw later on to compensate."

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"I understand," he says. "The question of Elfhood will be dominated by the costs of the flaws, then; would it make sense to put this off until I see which ones are affordable?"

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"That would be entirely reasonable!" She leaves this entry blank and flips to the next page of the form.

"The next choice is the Tech Level of your Villarosa. In brief, each of the options is as follows: Faux Medieval is a reimagining of the medieval period into a cleaner, more pleasant shape with better plumbing and more literacy; Actual Pre-Modern is the true-to-life version of that time period, or of an earlier one should you so choose, and you can gain a free perk of your choice later on by taking it but frankly that is a decision I have never seen someone not regret. Early Modern covers the beginning of globalization and the establishment of the scientific method; Marvelous is an extrapolation from Early Modern science fiction, into laws of physics different from your own because Early Modern science fiction was very optimistic and imaginative. Industrial picks up more or less where Early Modern left off, and covers a range from the invention and popularization of the steam engine up until—it says 'your First World War' here but I don't know if your world had one, I've mostly worked with applicants from Earths without superpowers before and I'm less familiar with yours, and goodness knows these forms aren't updated half as often as they should be. Anyway, Steampunk is another extrapolation, into a world where clockwork and steam power become vastly more advanced but no one ever invents electronics. Contemporary covers the age of electronics and the Internet, and on average will lead to the most egalitarian societies though the details you suggest to the worldbuilding team can influence that outcome heavily. Cyberpunk is an extrapolation where electronics and the Internet become dominant technological forces while space travel and many other forms of technological progress stagnate; and finally, Space Opera covers the range of tech levels in which space travel has become commonplace, usually but not always through the invention of some form of faster-than-light travel, and human civilization is at least multiplanetary and often interstellar."

She hasn't seemed noticeably out of breath as she was speaking, but she definitely inhales after finishing that little speech.

"Are there any options you would like more specifics about, would you like me to go through all of them to give you further detail, or would you prefer to make a preliminary selection and move on for now?"

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"We had a first world war," he says heavily.

Minerva would take Marvelous. He does not even think she would wait to hear about Space Opera; she might, she's grown a great deal, but she would take it. She already tried it once. The power to shape a perfect, ideal future, without the limits of entropy - Minerva would take that, and step into her ideal world with a smile on her face.

(Minerva is dead, and so is Thei he.)

"I am not interested in Actual Pre-Modern," he says, subdelegating that decision to the individual with extensive experience and benevolent goals, "but I would like to hear more about all the other options, particularly Faux Medieval, Marvelous, and Space Opera."

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"The full description of Faux Medieval is," she clears her throat and reads directly off the form, somewhat self-consciously,

Our default option. Knights and ladies and lady knights! Adventurers taking jobs at the Guild and drinking their hard earned gold away in taverns! Maybe even having real stats and levels, if you want!

This has all the flavor of a medieval setting with almost none of the misery or inconvenience. Literacy is common, the castle has hot and cold running water, the local healer is just as effective as a modern hospital, food is varied and fresh all year round, and somehow modern elastic undergarments exist too. This doesn't have to be strictly medieval, either. You can flavor your setting with anything from Ancient Egypt to the Renaissance, though this won't really change the tech level, just the aesthetics.


For Marvelous, she reads,

Similarly to how the Space Opera and Cyberpunk tech levels resemble the science fiction of your era, the Marvelous tech level resembles the science fiction of the Early Modern era. In a Marvelous world, the early progress of technological advancement went in directions more comprehensible to its pioneers. Think Mary Shelley or Jules Verne, if you're familiar with those names. Things might be a little fantastical by your standards, but the world will consider itself a mundane one unless you add magic separately. The actual level of technological advancement might fall anywhere between the start of Early Modern and the end of Industrial.


And for Space Opera, even more self-consciously,

Pick this one and our world design teams will be working overtime, because Villarosa will become the Star Kingdom of Villarosa, stretching across five solar systems. Faster then light starships, laser guns, maybe giant robots. This will technically (no pun intended) have much more advanced technology than any other option, but somehow the average person's life will still look a lot like your world, if with a higher standard of living. Our world designers really love their space feudalism, also, so the social structure will look more like an earlier period. But you'll easily be able to snag a private space yacht, which I think makes this a pretty awesome option.


"The precise number of five solar systems is not strictly required," she clarifies, with a slightly weary edge in her voice. "The angel who wrote that description just wasn't very imaginative. Shall I read you the rest of them too?"
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"Yes, thank you," he says.

(It's going to be space opera. He is basically confident. He is still not going to surrender valuable resources just because they are not very valuable; he has learned patience.)

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Then on she goes through Early Modern,

This is a pretty exciting era! The scientific method is becoming established, and technological progress is just starting to accelerate. Firearms and cannon are introduced, but aren't yet fully dominant on the battlefield. The world is coming together into a global civilization for the first time. Of course, this doesn't always go well for everyone involved, but the world of Villarosa may have a gentler and kinder transition than your world did, if you want. This basically covers any technological level from your Renaissance through the invention of the steam locomotive. You may optionally add some higher- tech conveniences as with Faux Medieval.


and Industrial,

Factories, railroads, and steamships. Firearms are now the primary weapon of war, and technological progress really takes off, the world changing rapidly with each generation. This again covers a pretty broad range of influences, but basically hits anything where real mass industry exists, up until about the level of your First World War. Classic picks from your world are Victorian England or Meiji Japan. You can still optionally have a smattering of added conveniences, but by this point there's not quite as big a gap to fill.


and Steampunk, into which she inserts an audible pair of scarequotes at the end,

This is an alternative technological route that your world lacked. Ingenious gears and intricate mechanisms allow steam to power incredibly complex and advanced machines. Clockwork golems, steam-powered battle tanks, and huge analog computers. Daily life has a technological level anywhere up to your current day, just through a different route than your world achieved it. Though society and politics still tends to resemble something from your Industrial period, 'for whatever reason'.


and Contemporary,

This will make the world of Villarosa a lot like the world you're leaving behind. Digital computers, automobiles, and skyscrapers. You can choose anywhere from the mid-to-late Twentieth Century to slightly in the future of your world to set the exact tech level. This is the only choice that potentially gives you access to an Internet you'd recognize, which seems surprisingly important to our reincarnators. This is also probably the most egalitarian option, socially, if that matters to you.


and finally Cyberpunk:

This is one possible future of your world. The gap between the haves and have nots becomes a gaping chasm. Vast mega-corporations wield immense influence. Noble titles mean less, and wealth means more, but the two will go hand in hand in this Villarosa, with noble ranks corresponding to ownership shares in Villarosa's native mega-corp. Computer technology is generations in advance of your own, and virtual reality may be just as important as the physical one. Space travel will be more advanced than your world, but still limited to small colonies and habitats in one solar system. Cybernetics are common, and highly advanced technology has reshaped the way ordinary people live their lives in thousands of ways.


She clears her throat and mutters under her breath, "The angel in charge of the Steampunk worldbuilding team is a hack."
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"I will take that under consideration," he says drily. "My preliminary decision is 'space opera'. I have a question, though; does the statement about the internet in 'contemporary' mean that there can be no space opera with an internet, or simply that whatever widely-linked network of computers they have will have different content and organization than ours?"

(This is not actually of vital importance to him but the knowledge that his future won't have an internet affects things enough so that he's pretty sure this justifies asking.)

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"There can certainly be widely-linked networks of computers in a Space Opera setting, but they will have different content and organization than you are used to, and in particular it is often the case that computer network information exchange is limited by lightspeed where travel is not," she explains. "Which means that by default, in a Space Opera setting, each planet will have its own global network which exchanges information with other planetary networks on a significant time delay, via intrasystem sublight communication methods or interstellar mail carriers."

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"Fascinating!" he says. "Space opera, then, certainly. And the next?"

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"The next question is Magic Level, for which the options in brief are None—obvious details, free perk, I have seen this one go unregretted as many as a handful of times—Low, which makes magic rare enough that you are unlikely to meet more than one person who knows how to use it; Medium, which makes magic-users common enough that you're likely to meet a handful of them; or High, which makes magic common enough that it's almost unthinkably rare not to have any, and accordingly gives you the Magic-User perk for free. Would you like full descriptions for some or all of those?"

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MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC

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"Yes."

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