“Thank you for completing the running test, traveler,” Myst said, producing a small device that looked like a phone. “Please wait for a moment while I calibrate your results.” Myst waved the device toward Xavier, who felt strength flooding through his body. Within a few seconds, his body felt revitalized and full of energy! Oblivious to Xavier’s curious stare, Myst input some numbers into her pad and then escorted him over to a large pile of stones that had appeared in the middle of the giant room.
“Traveler, this next test is to determine the upper limit of your strength. Please select a rock and move it to the ring on the ground over there. You may repeat this action as many times as you want within sixty seconds.”
Nodding to himself, Xavier stretched his arms a bit and looked at the ring that was about four steps away from the pile. A regular person might have trouble moving even one of the large boulders that sat in the pile, especially considering that what would take Xavier four steps would take them twelve at the least. Xavier rested a hand on a particularly large stone, looking at Myst, who had pulled a stopwatch out of thin air.
“You may begin, traveler,” said Myst with a smile.
Taking a deep breath, Xavier squared his body up with the rock, bent his knees and lifted, promptly falling over.
‘What the…’ laying on his back on the ground Xavier stared at the large stone in his hands, wondering if it was made of styrofoam or something like that. He had braced himself to pick it up but the stone was so light that he had put way more strength into pulling it up than he needed, losing his balance and falling over!
“Um, Myst?” Xavier said, holding the rock with one hand as he pushed himself to his feet. “There is something wrong with your rocks.”
“Traveler, would you like to abort the current test?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.” Xavier tossed the rock to the ground, watching in total confusion as it landed with an earth-shaking thump. The large stone acted like it was heavy while it was on the ground, but as soon as Xavier applied any force to it, the stone seemed to float! Testing an even larger stone, Xavier found the same to be true. No matter how big the object and how heavy it appeared to be, Xavier could lift it with absolute ease. “Myst, what is going on?”
Myst paused for a moment before shivering, almost as if she reset.
Then another moment passed as Myst shivered again. Waving her device once more, she stared intently at it and then frowned. The frown came and went so fast that Xavier almost thought he imagined it as the now happy Myst pushed some buttons on the device and waved a hand.
“Traveler, it seems that your strength currently exceeds the traditional metric, making it impossible to categorize. As a result, the anti-burden feature of Nova Terra activates every time you lift an object. Please wait while we re-calibrate the test.”
The rocks began to disappear one by one, and a series of massive logs appeared in their place. The logs, unlike the stones before them, were all the same size, but each had its weight written on the side.
“Please attempt to lift each log, traveler.” Myst pointed to the lightest log which read 100 kg.
If a kilogram was 2.20462 pounds, 100 kilograms would come out to 220.462 pounds, a weight that Xavier would not have any trouble with, even in the real world. His limit was closer to 230 kilograms or just over 500 pounds.
Approaching the first log, Xavier grabbed the two handles set in the middle of the log and heaved it up. Like the rocks he lifted, Xavier could barely feel the weight at all. Apart from brief feedback when he first began to move the object that indicated it had weight to it, there was nothing. It was like lifting a piece of paper.
“How strange, it is almost like the game is compensating for the weight once I prove I can pick it up,” thought Xavier.
The next few logs were the same, and Xavier soon came to the 200 kg log. This was close to his lifting limit in the real world, but so far, he had not felt even the slightest amount of weight from the logs he had been lifting. Planting his feet, Xavier grasped the handles of the 200 kg log and lifted up. Unlike the rest of the logs, this one felt heavier, though by no means was it heavy. Tossing it to the ground, Xavier’s brow furrowed. Despite being heavier, the 200 kg log still felt like it was only a couple pounds in his hands.
‘I can’t be that strong.’ he thought to himself.
“Traveler,” Myst interrupted Xavier’s thoughts, “please lift the log at the very end.”
Looking down the line of logs, Xavier saw the log she was pointing to. It looked no different than the other logs apart from the 5000 kilogram weight written on the side. Quick mental math put it at 11,023.11 pounds, over five and a half tons! Xavier’s first reaction was to laugh. Who in their right mind would try to lift that much weight? If the log rolled on him it would crush him! But then the strange reality he was experiencing settled on him, and he began to wonder.
So far none of the weights he had lifted were a challenge in any way. Maybe the 5000 kg log was the same? Now curious, Xavier walked over to the log and rested his hand on it.
“Only one way to find out, I guess,” Xavier thought, squaring up with the log. Placing his hands on the log’s handles, Xavier took a deep breath, his massive fingers curling around them. Immediately, Xavier could feel the difference. The massive weight resisted his pull the way he expected it to and already he could feel himself fighting gravity.
With a low roar, Xavier yanked upwards, his massive legs sinking down into the dirt. It was heavy. Probably, the heaviest thing Xavier had ever lifted! For the briefest moment Xavier was unsure if he could lift the log more than an inch or two off the ground but then his competitive spirit burst to life in his chest and the rest of his body engaged, straining upwards.
A massive burst of strength suffused his muscles, and Xavier pulled the log up to his waist. He had seen bodybuilders lift large weights up over their head in a smooth motion using technique, but Xavier had no idea how to do that. Still, through brute force, he curled the log up from his waist to his chin, his arms and legs beginning to quiver. Panting, Xavier gritted his teeth and powered through, shoving the log up in the air over his head and holding it for a moment before jumping backward, letting go.
With a tremendous bang, the five-ton log smashed into the ground, leaving a large dent where it landed. Xavier clenched his fist in victory, a surge of satisfaction running through him. That was five full tons! After taking a brief moment to savor his accomplishment, he turned to look at Myst, who was staring at him, her eyes wide in complete shock.
“Well done, traveler,” stammered Myst after she recovered. “You have set a new world strength record! The previous world record of greatest weight was held by Paul Edward Anderson who lifted 2,850 kilograms in a back lift. You have beaten his record by 175%. Would you like to record your name so future generations know what you have done?”
“Hmm? Record my name? Is that like a leaderboard or something?”
“Yes, traveler. We record the names of those who complete monumental tasks so that all might know of their might and glory.”
“Oh.” Xavier thought for a moment before shaking his head. “Nah, I’d rather not. I’m playing this game to get out of the spotlight, not in it. The last thing I need is my name on a public list.”
“Very well, traveler, I’ll keep your name anonymous when we enter the new record.”
“Thanks. Now, can you explain what is going on with these weights? Why are some so light compared to others? It feels like the weight disappears when I lift them up off the floor. Well, except for that one.” Xavier said, his eyes resting on the various logs he had lifted.
“That is a great question, traveler.” Myst took a deep breath. “To understand the specifics of how strength and weight work in Nova Terra we must first examine the way strength and weight work in the real world. After all, Nova Terra is designed to mirror the real world without some of the inconveniences that exist in reality. This interaction can be understood with a simple example. Imagine we have two individuals. Both individuals are adults of average physical ability.
“The first person is equipped with metal armor, a sword, shield, and a pack of supplies. The gear he is currently wearing weighs approximately 25 kilograms. The second person is wearing light clothing. Each person begins to walk around a track. Given the extra weight that the first person is carrying, they will expend twice the amount of energy as the second, unencumbered person.
“Consider what would happen if they walk for two hours. Both will be tired, but the individual who has worn the armor will be more fatigued than his companion. Now, imagine that at the end of the two hours of walking, you asked them to each complete an obstacle course and participate in a life-threatening fight. It is obvious that the second individual will perform better than the first because they have more energy.
“During the early test of Nova Terra, players reported that even walking to task locations with all the equipment they needed to complete those tasks was too tiring. This resulted in an abysmal completion rate. The solution that we came up with was to implement the anti-burden feature. Nova Terra measures your weight and strength and drastically reduces the weight of items that fall below a specific threshold. This allows an average individual to carry approximately four times the normal amount of weight they could carry in the real world without experiencing the burden and fatigue that they normally would.
“Additionally, the weight of any items above that threshold are adjusted based on the strength of the individual and the amount of mastery they show in a particular area. Otherwise, there would be no way for a small or slight person to wield a greatsword or draw a non-composite bow. Since Nova Terra boasts the freedom to play as you want, we wanted smaller races not to be disadvantaged in this area.”
“Huh, that makes sense, I guess,” Xavier mused. “It would be a drag to carry tons of weight around all the time. But, there is no way I would be able to pick up a ton outside of this game. Aren’t you artificially boosting my strength? I thought the game didn’t do that?”
“That is a great question, traveler. Actually, I’m still processing why you are able to lift so much weight. While there are races that boost the strength of the player, no racial bonuses have been applied to you at this moment. Your strength is an approximation of reality based on physics, your size, quality and quantity of muscles, strength of tendons, bone density, and a number of other factors. All of which were entered via scan when you first entered.” Looking as puzzled as Xavier, Myst clicked around her pad for a couple minutes before shaking her head.
“I see no anomalies in your scan. According to the data we have compiled, this is your approximate strength in a situation where your body has no prior damage. It is worth noting that your bones in the real world have millions of fractures and would not be able to support anywhere near this level of weight without shattering. But should you ever find yourself healthy, you would be able to exhibit this level of strength without issue.”
For a moment, silence reigned as Xavier tried to get his mind around what Myst was saying. So, if he was healthy in the real world, he would be able to lift five and a half tons? Did that mean that after he got out of the pod, he would have that level of strength? Unable to believe it, Xavier shook his head. Regardless, he wasn’t even close to healthy, so it didn’t matter one bit.
“Please browse the list of races available in Nova Terra while your scan is being completed,” Myst said, breaking Xavier out of his thoughts.
“Aren't there more tests for me to do?” Asked Xavier.
“I do not have any additional tests that would present you with a reasonable challenge, traveler. Your physical state is too far outside the anticipated values for any of the tests we have ready to be effective. Thus I am giving you the option to browse the races while we wait for your scores to be compiled.”
A large window filled with different races opened up in front of Xavier. Seeing that the six basic races were there as well as a button to scroll down, he started browsing all of the options. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Beastkin, and Demonkin made up the basic six races that occupied the world. Each had a racial advantage in the form of a proclivity to a subset of skills as well as a unique starting area. Further down the list were a number of Half races that would allow him to combine the various main races for a price. There were also new races like Seafolk, Feyfolk, Undead and many other fantasy creatures.
Each race came with various strengths and weaknesses, though in all cases, they were small adjustments on the player’s natural abilities. If you were a strong, fit person in real life, you might be slightly stronger by choosing a dwarf or slightly weaker if you chose an elf. But if you were overweight in real life, that would be reflected in your character in the game. That is why people were encouraged to work on themselves outside the game with regularity. After all, any advantage a person possessed in real life could be carried over to the game.
And this was true for everything, not just level of fitness. Influence could be brought into the game through the recruitment of other players, money could be brought in through the massive cash shop and the city of Fantasia, and knowledge was applicable due to how closely the game resembled reality. As Xavier scanned the races, he began to realize that choosing a race was a key part in developing a character who could take advantage of the myriad possibilities the game presented, by leveraging the one thing that all players brought to the game equally - their individual playing style.
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Bio: My name is Seth Ring and I am a writer. I create worlds and tell the stories of those who inhabit them. I love exploring these new worlds with other people. I post a chapter every Friday around 12 pm EST. To get advanced access to chapters you can support me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/SethRing.