Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
You decide to follow them, just for a bit. The way things have been going with you lately, nobody will be surprised if you say you got lost.

You catch some snippets of conversation, but none of it is all that different from what you heard before. The group walks towards a door you remember as leading to the docks. They're probably taking him on the barge.

Which means you can't really follow them any further, unless you want to sneak on board. And that would get you in considerably more trouble than being a few minutes late to training.

You suppose you may as well head back. You aren't sure what you were hoping to find, but you probably didn't use this time very well.

Just as you turn around, though, you find yourself facing the other knight from the lounge yesterday. He seems annoyed with you, or perhaps just annoyed in general.

"Don't you have training?" he asks accusingly. "I don't recall any of the training rooms being near here."

"Ah, well, I got a little lost..."

He grabs your arm.

"Where are you training? I'll take you there myself."

"Combat," you say meekly as he pulls you along. "Er, if I may ask, you seemed upset with that Mark Conchway fellow in the lounge yesterday?"

"I can't see how that's any of your business."

"Just, um, just wondering what's going on. And, well, I'll be training with him, so if there's anything I should know..."

"He's a fool."

He doesn't say anything more, and stops abruptly when you reach the training room.

"This is the place. Don't make a habit of being late."

He leaves before you can even thank him, however insincerely. You decide to just slip in and apologize to the sergeant for being late.

"It's Mary you need to apologize to," Sergeant Greenwoods says. "I've got light duties while I'm on training, so I can be a little flexible. But the other trainees have had their schedules adjusted, and that means if you're late, making up for it means Mary has less free time. Keep that in mind, Marshall - you're part of a team, and that means you have to start thinking about your teammates."

"It's all right," Mary says, tossing a ball from one hand to the other. "I got some warm-up time in while we were waiting. And I didn't have anything planned for today anyhow."

She puts the ball down.

"So, let's get started. Toss me your skyslicer. Throw it like you mean it."

You do, and she catches it promptly.

"You've got the basic technique, but against an experienced catcher, you've got no chance. At most you might distract them. But if you've only got one thing to throw, it's a problem if you don't get it back, isn't it?"

"So, I should carry a spare?"

"That helps, but it's even more useful if you don't get your slicer caught in the first place. Now, in fairness, you're not that likely to face someone with Northwinds, but a well-trained catcher doesn't even need the gloves."

"So, what should I be doing differently?"

"For starters, don't look where you're throwing. Half the trick to a good catch is predicting where the throw will go, so you can't go giving that away." She hands you the slicer and steps back again. "Now try again, but look somewhere else."

You look up at the ceiling and throw. You then hear a loud knocking sound, and look to see the Skyslicer hitting the wall.

"Sorry," you say sheepishly. "I don't think I threw that very well."

"Well, yeah. It's hard to judge a throw you can't see. But it's also hard to catch. Unless you're skilled enough to throw blind, you want to look in the general direction, just not directly at your target. It's a matter of learning to use your peripheral vision to work out your throws. So we're going to practice that now."

You spend the rest of the session - including the overtime from being late - learning to do that. By the time you finish, you've managed to hit Mary once without her catching the slicer. You've also hit the wall four times and Sergeant Greenwoods twice.

"Perhaps I should stand outside the room next session," the sergeant chuckles as she leads you to the next room. "Mary seems to have the teaching side of things down, anyhow. Now, your next lesson for the day is..."
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RE: Swamped
Navigation class, a very important class since it is so easy to get lost in the swamp.

Where's that training room again??????
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RE: Swamped
Lessons in Not Being Seen, a key survival technique against sight-reliant creatures

Bonus Rounds:
Swamp Law
Entomology
Swamp Rats: Advanced Rules
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RE: Swamped
Oh my god. You're such a good writer!
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RE: Swamped
"Navigation. Something you could probably use a little help with. Mostly this is about learning the lay of the land, so we'll actually be venturing outside. We can't use the barge, so we won't be venturing very far, but it's important that you learn to tell where you are and how to get back to base. Riley will be your partner for this one."

You follow the sergeant outside, where Riley is already waiting. They seem to be whittling something.

"Right, you're here. How far should we go?" Riley asks.

"This is Marshall's first session, so no more than a five minute walk. Should be good enough. Marshall, your task is to follow Riley and then lead the way back. If you get too lost, Riley can set you back on track. They know their way around the swamp fairly well already."

"Keep your eyes open on the way there," Riley says. "Beyond that, well, we'll see if anything gives you trouble when we return."

You follow Riley, and try to keep track of the path. But you cross several intersections, and so many of the trees look alike. When Riley finally stops walking, you're not that confident you can retrace your steps.

"Right. Here's where we turn back. Now, remember, what matters isn't that you take the exact route back, but that you get back to base. Though obviously, it's best to stay out of the muck. If you need any help, just ask me, I'll lead you as far as you want. Of course, the more you can do on your own, the better."

You turn around. You can still see the base in the distance, so at least you can't get too lost. You start walking back, following the path as best as you can remember. When in doubt, you look to where the base is.

Then you feel a crack beneath your feet, and soon after you trip, landing face-first on the walkway.

"Best not to go this way," Riley says, looking down. "Lots of rotten planks that haven't been replaced yet. Took a real beating in the last storm, I should probably pass along a note to the repair squad. Of course, they've got their hands full as it is, but this walk's too close to base to overlook. Wouldn't have been a bad route otherwise, but in this swamp, you always have to watch your surroundings."

Riley helps you up, and you head back to the last intersection. Unfortunately, your little turn has left you completely lost. So you take stock of your surroundings.

There are paths to the north, south, and west, as well as the path to the east you came from. The base is to the east, but you've already ruled out that most direct path.

You've already forgotten how you approached this intersection the first time, or if you even did. Will you pick a direction, or will you ask Riley for help?
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RE: Swamped
Fuck it, go west
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RE: Swamped
Ask Riley for help!
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RE: Swamped
We can do this!
Let's go West, then North, North again, West, South, East, South, East, East agai---oh wait, we're back at the rotted section somehow.
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RE: Swamped
You decide to head west - it may take you further away at first, but it will probably lead to another path. Perhaps one you can see more clearly from.

From there, you make a few turns only to find your foot slipping as you find a gap in the path. A gap that looks disturbingly familiar when you look more closely.

"Maybe you ought to pay a bit more attention to where you're walking," Riley suggests. "Do you want me to lead you back now?"

"Er. Yes, I think that would work best."

Riley leads you back west, then south and east and before long you're back at base. You feel a bit sheepish.

"Really, you got pretty close. Probably would've managed it if not for those rotted boards. Solid effort for your first attempt, but you've got to be more aware of your surroundings. The base is relatively safe, but get out into the wilder areas and a wrong turn might mean a run-in with something large and hungry."

"Sounds like it went reasonably well," Sergeant Greenwoods says, smiling. "I know this can all seem like a bit much at first, Marshall, but so far you're holding up well for a newcomer. Anyhow, that's your last session for today; you're free to go now."

Well, what are you going to do with your free time?
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RE: Swamped
Hang out with Lisa Black again and play more swamprats
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RE: Swamped
Let's get out of the base and take in the scenery for a bit. Probably want to tag along with someone else rather than going out on your own, though.
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RE: Swamped
Spot the awake tree closest to the base and climb it, to see if you can
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RE: Swamped
You recall that you arrived at the lounge rather late after training yesterday, what with one thing and another, so if you head straight there you may arrive at the start of Lisa's break.

But when you arrive, you don't see her, Mark, or the other knight whose name you never caught. Their shifts must be different today.

You do see a familiar face among the five or so sitting around, though. It's Jackson. Well, you're going to be training with him, so it might be good to talk.

"Well, if it isn't the new face!" He smiles. "How's the training coming along?"

"It has its ups and downs," you say, smiling awkwardly back. "I got a little lost."

"Inside, or out? Or both? I used to have the hardest time finding my way around here, but it's gotten better."

"Both," you say, not wanting to admit to your little ruse. Even if you didn't really find out anything interesting, you don't think anyone needs to know you were eavesdropping.

"Well, tell you what. Let me show you a few important spots inside and outside the base. They probably won't cover them in training because they assume you'll figure it out on your own, but I know I needed some help there."

"Sounds good," you say.

You follow him out and he asks you about a number of places. You feel confident in your ability to find your room, the lounge, the mess hall, the medic's office, the showers, the laundry room, and the docks. (Also the holding cells, but you're not likely to go there regularly.) You're less sure about the various training rooms (or rather, you say you are to cover your tracks) or whatever else might be around.

"Seems you've got most of the essentials. There's the armory, but you won't have to worry about that until training's over. Aside from that, there's the archives, and the Captain's office, and those aren't the sort of places you go regularly unless you get assigned some work there. Oh, and the auditorium, but we're generally too busy to hold assemblies or perform plays. Still, it's where we do headcount during the rain, so I suppose it's best you know where it is."

He guides you to the auditorium. It's large and empty, with a number of chairs piled up in the corners.

"I hear there's occasional talk among the officers of finding another way to use the space, but it never goes anywhere. So anyhow, if it's raining or there's some other emergency, you come here to get counted so everyone knows you're safe."

He leads you out of the room.

"So that covers the big things inside. I might be forgetting something, but for now, let's head out so I can show you what you need to know there."

When you're outside, Jackson leads you down the walkway a bit and then points at a large rock sticking out of the muck. It looks almost like it has a face.

"We call this the Rock. Creative, I know. Mostly it's a landmark, so if you're patrolling you might be told to check from the Rock to the east walkway, say. Or, if you're sneaking off with your friends to do some mischief, which technically you're not supposed to do, you might agree to meet at the Rock."

"So there's more of these notable points, I take it."

"Yes, but most of them don't stick around for as long as the Rock does. The Snag, for instance, washed away three months ago. I still sometimes forget and use it for giving directions."

"I see."

You glance around and notice a tree. You remember that you have a lesson in climbing coming up.

"I want to get some climbing practice in," you say. "Think you could help me out?"

"Right. Let me just check the tree first," Jackson says. He gives it a quick glance, then nods. "Looking good, no bark-lizards." He turns to face up and scowls. "Can't tell if there's leaf vipers or not, though. So don't climb too high."

"Are those real things?" you ask skeptically.

"There may be some knights willing to tease the new recruits with tales of dangerous beasts that don't exist, but I don't see the point when there's enough risk in this swamp already. Anyhow, leaf vipers aren't that bad - well, by comparison anyways. Their fangs can't pierce your armor, and their venom isn't that strong."

You feel a little nervous, but you do have someone right here if something goes wrong, so you climb up a bit. You manage to make it about halfway up the trunk before deciding not to risk the leaf vipers.

You're about to start climbing back down when you think you spot something in the swamp waters below. What is that?
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RE: Swamped
It's a shiny necklace! Did someone drop it?
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RE: Swamped
A ring. Real fancy and real old.
OR
Watchful eyes, and a mouth full of sharp, pointy teeth.
OR
A deck of cards
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RE: Swamped
Mysterious goop.
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RE: Swamped
Some of the muck looks discolored, even by the swamp's standards. Looking a bit closer, you think you see a necklace in there; some of the metal seems to be peeling off and dissolving, causing the odd patch.

You climb down and point it out to Jackson.

"I think I can grab it from here," he says, pulling out a length of rope. "Going to need some sort of hook, though."

You look around, but the best option you can find is a twig. You hand it to him.

"Maybe you can snag it on this?" you ask with a shrug.

"Worth a shot, at least." He ties it to the end and flings the rope into the swamp. The twig catches the necklace, and Jackson starts pulling it up.

He doesn't get far before something leaps out from the muck and bites off the end of the rope.

"Well! I guess that whoever lost that necklace isn't getting it back."

Jackson notices you shaking.

"Oh, you needn't be so afraid. Muckdivers may look fierce, but they only eat plants. Otherwise, you leave them alone and they leave you alone."

"Those were awfully sharp teeth for a herbivore!"

"They just use them for fighting back. Their bodies are built for swimming, if it weren't for the teeth they'd have no defenses at all. Anyhow, I suppose we should report this, on the offchance that necklace belonged to one of us."

"What about that?" you ask, pointing at the oddly-colored patch where the necklace lay.

"I'll mention it too, but there's not much we can do about it. Probably nothing serious, anyhow. Let's get back, my break doesn't last much longer."

You head back, thank Jackson for his time, and return to the lounge. Maybe Lisa's free now.

When you arrive, you find that Lisa is there. You also see Mark and the other knight who doesn't like him, still pointedly staying away from each other.

But you also see someone else. Who is that?
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RE: Swamped
Sergeant Greenwoods is here!
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RE: Swamped
John Medic! He's taking a rare moment of relaxation and reading an old magazine.
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RE: Swamped
Some chump from another squad. They just got back from some kind of swamp-mission and are currently losing to Lisa in some kind of rapid draw card game.
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RE: Swamped
The unfamiliar knight and Lisa are frantically grabbing cards and placing them in front of them on the table. You can't even tell what they're doing, though you suspect this isn't a Swamprats variant.

Finally, Lisa puts down a Scholar of Blades, a triumphant smile on her face.

"That's the game," she says, picking up the cards. "You move fast, Grey, but not fast enough for me."

"Grey" gets up, shaking his head.

"You can't be this good at every game, Black. There's no way."

"That sounds like you think I'm cheating. Would you like a look at my deck, so you can see for itself it's not marked or whatever else you think I might be doing?"

"At this point, I don't think it's cheating, I think it's supernatural. Did you make a deal with a fiend to win at cards, is that it?"

"Very funny. You want to try me at another game tomorrow, or have you had enough losing for the week?"

"I will beat you one day, Black. You mark my words."

He marches off, and Lisa finally takes notice of you.

"Oh, hello again. Come for more cards, or did you just want to talk?"

"Well, now I'm wondering about that fellow who just left."

"That's Grey. He's on the pest control squad, but he keeps challenging me to games and I keep winning. Sometimes I wonder if he's trying to lose just to make a show of the whole thing."

"Pest control?"

"You're surely aware of the beasts in this swamp. Even the smaller ones can be serious problems, sometimes even deadly if left unchecked. So pest control tries to keep them out of our territory."

"Oh, I see."

"And since pests sometimes crawl into little holes leading into the base, that means the pest control and repair squads work together fairly often. That's how I met him. Ever since I beat the whole pest control squad in a game of Swamprats, he's been swearing up and down that he'll beat me at cards one of these days."

"Did you play him yesterday, too?"

Lisa shakes her head.

"No. Day before I did, though. What happened was, for the first few months he kept challenging me to Swamprats, then when I kept winning he gave up on that and started challenging me to other games. And I kept winning at those, too. I've learned some interesting games in the process, but Swamprats is still my favorite. But nobody's ever willing to play me at it, because Grey keeps telling them I'm too good."

"Are you really that good?"

She shrugs.

"I can't recall losing a game, but that has as much to do with luck as it does skill. So, do you care for another game that I'll probably win, or would you just like to talk?"

Well, you're talking either way, you suppose. If you can think of what to talk about, that is.
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RE: Swamped
>Ask her if she'd like Mark to play with the two of you, a game that Mark likes better
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RE: Swamped
Ask if she's lucky in all sorts of games, or just card games.
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While you're mulling over whether to take her up on the offer of a game, you recall something.

"Hold on a moment, would you?"

You step away and tap Mark Conchway on the shoulder.

"I remember you said something this morning about having better taste in games than Lisa over there. So how about you show us?"

Mark seems upset, probably due to the presence of his rival, but after a moment he pulls a game board and some tiny colored towers out of a satchel.

"This is Turrets," he says. He puts a blue tower and a red tower down on opposite ends of the board. "The rules are straightforward enough: on your turn, you can place a tower in a space adjacent to one you already have. That includes diagonals." He then puts another red tower down in the middle, then puts two blues to its up and right. "When you have two towers adjacent to an enemy tower, you can attack it. If you build a tower and it lets you attack, you can make one right away; otherwise, you need to use your turn to do it. But, when a tower is downed by an attack, then it can't be built on by either side right away - whoever wants to build has to spend a turn clearing the rubble." He turns the red tower on its side. "That's how we mark it. The goal is to get to the other side's command tower and take it out, or to cover more than half the map with your towers."

"Seems that whoever attacks first has a big advantage," Lisa chimes in. "They get more control of the board, which is hard to recover from.

"Oh, that's right, I forgot a rule." He puts another red tower next to one of the blue ones. "Remember that you need two towers to attack an enemy? Well, you can count a downed tower as one of them. So I can do this." He drops the blue one. "So attacking carries risk - you may lose one of your towers, and then you can't extend from it."

"But you can't attack from two downed towers, I take it?"

"No. And when one side opts to clear a downed tower, the other side can't do anything with that space until it goes up. Of course, if you rebuild one of your own, the enemy can attack it right away, so it's a bit of a silly move unless you've cleared out one of the attackers."

"It seems to me it would be easy to do that if the enemy clears one of your fallen towers too, if you're set up for it. How would you breach the defensive line?"

"Well, the main way is using traps... oh, right, I wasn't going to talk about those until after we'd played a round to make the basic idea clear."

"Traps, you say. Why don't you tell us more about them."

"We need a referee. Are you volunteering?"

"Maybe. What would I need to do?"

"Well, before the game starts, each of the players picks out five spots on their half of the field - well, on this board it's five, on a bigger board you get more. We mark those spots on a piece of paper and hand that to you. Then, if one of us tries to build a tower on a square the other player laid a trap on, it fails and that turn is wasted."

"So it's a guessing game?"

"Somewhat, I suppose. More of that you need to plan around the possibility of hitting a trap. So, do you want to referee that version?"

Lisa smirks.

"Actually, I'd rather play it. Marshall can referee."

"And here I thought you were just the card game expert."

Lisa shrugs.

"Haven't played a lot of other games, but on the other hand, I've never lost at them either. It's always interesting to see if my luck will hold. What do you say, Marshall? Would you like to watch me at work, or would you rather play it for yourself?"

SpoilerShow
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RE: Swamped
Let's be the ref for this round!
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