Before I launch into the further adventures of a Sentient Submarine, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I have my computer back and better than ever. With a new video card (one that is technically more powerful than anything it ought to be able to handle) and max RAM installed, it can do some pretty awesome graphics. The first thing I did after installing the card was played Star Trek Online and I was awed by how much better everything in the game looked! However, the awesomeness does not seem to transfer to my 3D work with DAZ Studio. Apparently, the limiting factor is the processor itself, and I don’t think it’ll be cost effective to replace it. I will explore other options for continuing Dragon Hunt, but for the moment, it remains on hiatus indefinitely.
As for the titular adventures: last time I told you I would be playing a sentient submarine in a steam-punk RPG run by a friend at work. The submarine was named Final Spark, in honor of League of Legends’ champion, Lux, whose combination of military brilliance and childish innocence inspired this character. It was built by the rebels for use in sinking their oppressor’s shipping and was designed with an android disguise form (called Sieran Fin, which is “final spark” backwards in Latin). To protect against telepaths (fairly common in the game setting), Sieran was designed with a mental block which kept her from remembering she was secretly a rebel submarine and from transforming at will. She wore a bracer which, if removed, would trigger a transformation, but she believed that it would somehow cause her to lose control of her magic in a powerfully dangerous way. The two forms were optimized for their roles. Final Spark was built as a tank with enormously heavy armor, regenerative abilities, endurance, and (naturally) stealth. She also had the ability to crawl out of the water and even along vertical or upside down surfaces on crab-like mechanical legs. She could build bombs and turn them into naval mines, she could fire torpedoes or unleash ramming attacks…she was basically designed as a highly versatile fighting machine. Sieran Fin, on the other hand, was totally inept at combat, but was gifted in talking her way out of a situation, had an enchantment for just about everything, and had the rare ability to teleport herself or others out of a situation in a pinch (in fact, she could pull of up to seven successive teleports and even had one enchanted on her mana pendant to send her home in case she ever fell in battle–and then a revive spell to bring her back to life far from danger). Sieran was designed specifically to always be able to get out of situations that could not be solved through fighting. These specialties came back to haunt me in the opening sessions of the campaign.
We started with my character in Sieran form, since that made the most since (she could be recruited by a press-gang, if she decided not to make a scene–whereas Final Spark would be killed on sight–supposing she didn’t kill the press-gang instead). For the first few sessions, Sieran was mostly useless due to her total lack of combat abilities. However, after a couple sessions, the other players and their characters figured out that Sieran could be made more powerful by removing that bracer–though they didn’t know what “more powerful” would mean. Then, came the day of a boss fight we were totally unprepared for. The GM, in all fairness, had done everything in his power to warn us against fighting this particular villain, who was legendary enough to merit mention in the “lore of the world” section of the rule book. He gave us every opportunity to avoid the fateful encounter when we did incur his wrath. The players then present, though, decided to engage the villain’s significantly more powerful ship anyway (I was late to this particular session, and by the time I arrived we were already fighting). The battle was very one-sided, but suddenly, the enemy ship withdrew. A moment later, there was the sound of a hole being ripped in the bottom of the ship, followed by screams, rushing water, the clash of battle, and then silence. On the next deck up, we again heard screams, the sound of combat, and then silence. We were on the very next deck and we discovered that we’d been boarded by the legendary boss himself–alone–and he’d just killed most of the crew. The party responded quickly, but our best fighters were cut down in less than a round. I waited anxiously for my turn, when I would use Sieran’s teleport to get as many of us as possible away from what was obviously a hopeless battle. But the player whose turn was just before mine made the decision that now would be a great time to find out what that bracer did. *Pop!* Sieran becomes a submarine. Cue my screams of self-defeated frustration, for the submarine cannot teleport and stands no chance against Mr. TPK himself. Fortunately, I was able to crawl out ahead of the boss by skipping decks (crawling up on the ceiling, bashing my way through, and going up to the next deck). I took one hit, which was not enough to kill something so tough as Final Spark, and I managed to grab one character on my way and save them…but every other player character died. Fortunately, I grabbed the cleric, so we were able to revive everyone afterwards.
My character did manage to redeem herself. It turns out that campaigns that involve a lot of travel allow an explosives expert (who builds so many bombs per hour of idle time automatically), to accumulate a truly staggering amount of explosives. I wound up bundling the bombs (which did 1d10 damage a piece, the most of anything in the game, and additionally ignored the usual dodge stat that characters use to avoid incoming damage–though they could be evaded by another, less popular stat) into groups of five to make overpowered naval mines (one mine packed enough damage to kill the average player instantly, and all of them had area of effect). Due to some foreshadowing, we knew that our final battle would be a massive clash of armies over our objective. In accordance, I had about 60 of my mines enchanted with teleport spells and fire spells to set them off on teleporting. I could point at a target, say a command word, and BAM somebody get’s a mine to the face! When the battle commenced, I did that pretty much all the time and was responsible for fully 7 of the 11 kills (of major characters) that occurred in that battle. In the end, I still had plenty of mines left!
Speaking of sentient ships with explosive weapons, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the Astrea Alexandra project lately. It will probably be my next original fiction project as soon as I finish The Sword of the Princess. I’m within five chapters of the climax of The Sword of the Princess and I expect to have a complete draft by summer at the latest. I’m very grateful to my beta readers for their tips and critiques and encourage anyone who would like to help me out by joining their ranks to get in touch with me. Thanks for reading!