Skill Aptitudes are strange things. You won’t ever see the system acknowledge them even if you hire a [Diviner] and have them use a Perfect Appraisal spell. However, they most certainly exist.
A Skill which you have an Aptitude for will level far faster than your other Skills. It will level from even the most minimal effort and continue to level far into your life. Finding these Aptitudes are important, because everyone and everything has some.
Yes, that includes monsters as well. Ever wonder why Blink Toads are so good at jumping even though they teleport more than they hop? Every species has its Aptitudes and their Skills in those areas will be high even if they were born the day before.
-an excerpt from, “How to Survive: a companion to the Adventurer Training Guide” by S-rank adventurer Dre the Massacre
Aside from the fact that I was an inch from death, I found it was rather easy to survive as a toad now that I didn’t have my instincts driving me to attack monster lizards. Food? There are bugs everywhere. Water? I don’t need clean water like a human would. Shelter? Ha! I built my house in a few hours because I am so tiny that I can use a shrub for a roof and some muddy sticks for walls! Plus, I was able to dig out a bedroom in a few minutes!
Admittedly, my easy survival involves me eating bugs, drinking dirty water, and living in a hole in the ground under a bush.
Those same instincts that had driven me to fight were also the same ones that had allowed me to feel relatively ok about my current situation, and now they were mostly silent. Sitting in my little den, I was finally hit by a wave of horror and disgust. Every time I had to eat an insect I very nearly threw up and I had become paranoid about parasites in the water.
I did start trying to meditate in the hopes of maybe gaining some more self control in the future, and I even got a Skill out of it! However, it was very difficult to keep my focus on my meditation. I wanted to use meditation to improve my focus, but I couldn’t focus enough on my meditation to improve my focus…
It was maddening!
Each day, I recovered a single point of health and gained a single point of experience. Each day, my instincts came back a little more. By the time ten days had passed, I was struggling not to try and wander and explore. After fourteen days, I was hopping around my home in laps while trying to meditate at the same time. At sixteen days, I only managed to hold myself back because I was so close to Level five, and eighteen days later, my experience ticked up from forty nine to fifty.
“[Congratulations! You have reached Level 5!]
[You have gained +1 Strength, +1 Endurance, and +1 Vitality!]
[You have reached the limit for your current Species and Growth stage! You may Evolve!]
[Would you like to see your available Evolutions now? Warning: deciding not to choose an Evolution will result in the System choosing for you.]”
Well I definitely wanted to choose for myself rather than let the System choose for me, so I acknowledged that I wanted to see the possibilities. I was somewhat excited, actually, I wondered what kind of options I would get?
A new screen popped up, one that looked more like my Character Menu and less like the general notifications.
Young Boreal Toad: (Common) The Young Boreal Toad has survived the difficult competition of a Boreal Spawning and is stronger for it. These large toad monsters are highly aggressive and known for actively seeking prey even when their hunger is sated. +15 to all Stats, +1.2 to Str, End, Vit, Agi, and Dex per level, [Torpor](racial), [Salutivore](racial).
Unlocked by: Being a Hatchling Boreal Toad.
Young Horned Toad: (Common) Aggressive, poisonous, and generally unpleasant, the Young Horned Toad does not actually have horns. Instead, it is covered with sharp spines that secrete toxins and it has a penchant for ramming itself into its enemies to impale them. +25 to End, +5 to all other Stats, +2 Str, End, and Vit per level, +1 Agi and Dex per level.
Unlocked by: Killing an enemy with repeated slams by your body, having the Skill Charge, purposely trying to use your skin’s poison in a fight.
Young Kalif Toad: (Common) A slightly less aggressive cousin of the Boreal Toad, the Young Kalif Toad is better suited to dry environments. The Kalif Toad is more agile than the Boreal Toad, but correspondingly less durable. +15 to all Stats, +2 to Agi and Dex per level, +.8 to Str, End and Vit per level, [Torpor](racial), [Water Retention](racial).
Unlocked by: Have the Skill Jumping above Level 3
Young Toxic Frog: (Uncommon) Young Toxic Frogs can be just as dangerous as the Adults of their Species. While their toxin is not yet fully developed, it is more than enough to kill anyone without a high amount of Endurance and Vitality or access to healing magic or alchemy. While not particularly aggressive, they are extremely territorial and will often attempt to Ambush any creature that trespasses. +40 Agi and Dex, +3 Agi and Dex per level, +.4 to all other Stats per level, [Intense Toxin: Toxic Frog](racial)
Unlocked by: Having the Skill Stealth above level 1, having the Skill Ambush, purposely trying to use your skin’s poison in a fight.
Young Burrowing Frog: (Rare) Burrowing frogs are ambush predators and are known for digging holes and then waiting at the bottom of the pit for prey to fall in, whereupon they eat them. They rarely move, preferring to spend their days in [Torpor] as they wait for their next meal. +20 to all Stats except Agi, +1.4 to all Stats except Agi and Per per level, +.2 to Agi and Per per level, [Torpor](racial), [Fast Riser](racial), [Salutivore](racial).
Unlocked by: Having the Skill Trap Making and using traps multiple times, having the Skill Ambush, having the Skill Stealth, staying within a 1m square area for at least two weeks.
Hatchling Kalif Newt: (Uncommon) The bright orange Hatchling Kalif Newt is considered quite pretty to look at, but the color is a warning that any monster or adventurer would be wise to heed. Although not particularly aggressive, merely touching a Kalif Newt is enough to paralyze a man’s hand. Prolonged exposure quickly leads to death if the adventurer does not have [Poison Resistance] or a very high Endurance and Vitality. +3 to all Stats, +1 Agi, Dex, and Mgc per level, [Intense Toxin: Kalif Newt](racial), [Regeneration: Minor](lesser)(racial).
Unlocked by: Having the Skill Taunt, purposely trying to use your skin’s poison in a fight.
Hatchling Witch’s Newt: (Rare) The Witch’s Newt is a rare, but highly prized, magical monster. While useful for its alchemical components, the Witch’s Newt is often preferred as a young magic users first familiar. Relatively docile, they are known for their many toxins that have multiple effects. +3 to all Stats, +1 to Wil and Mgc per level, +.4 to Cha and Agi per level, +.2 Dex per level, [Toxin Control: Minor](racial), [Regeneration: Minor](lesser)(racial).
Unlocked by: Having a magic Skill.
Hatchling Hunter Newt: (Very Rare) Hunter Newts are extremely aggressive predators that are more than capable of killing new adventurers with ease. They are known for their tendency to prefer eating human children and have been hunted to near extinction as a result. Very few are born naturally with most resulting from evolution. +1 to all Stats, +8 to Str, End, and Vit per level, +1 to all other Stats per level, [Regeneration: Minor](lesser)(racial), [Salutivore](racial).
Unlocked by: Killing an opponent at least one evolution stage higher than you, killing more than you can eat, killing without the intention of eating.
Note: Horizontal Evolution (Evolution into a new species but not into a higher Evolution stage) will not reset level experience costs. You will retain all Racial Abilities you currently have after Evolution.
Huh, well those are some choices. Considering that some of the unlocks are from Skills, it is probably likely that I missed a lot of them, but then how was I supposed to know that? It isn’t like I have ever been given a tutorial for any of the worlds I have landed in. My complaints can wait though, for now I have to think this through. The question is, what do I need?
I would love to be more durable, and a few of the toad and frog Evolutions seemed to be head and shoulders above the others in that regard. The Horned Toad and the Burrowing Frog would make me strong, but the Horned Toad was described as aggressive and the Burrowing Frog as basically a lazy jack in the box murderer.
Considering how I was and am being dragged around by the nature of the Boreal Toad body I am inhabiting, I take the statements about their behaviour seriously. What I would really like is Willpower, but only a few Evolutions gained Willpower per level - or even have it as a bonus.
But do I actually need to worry about Willpower and durability if I don’t ever need to fight directly?
The Toxic Frog and the Witch’s Newt both seemed to be able to use their poisons to do their fighting for them. However, neither were particularly durable and the newt was a Hatchling stage evolution, so I wouldn’t get a large immediate bonus for evolving into it. Although the newt does have a [Regeneration] Ability.
What the hell does [Regeneration: Minor](lesser) even mean? Analysis isn’t working on this menu, so all I have to go on is the words. So it is a lesser version of minor regeneration? Would a “greater” [Regeneration: Minor] be equal or beneath just plain regular [Regeneration]?
For that matter what is [Salutivore]? I hadn’t even thought about the fact that my menu is in English, but it is. My opinion is that if there is going to be bullshit magical fuckery it should keep itself consistent, why have some random latin in my options? I haven’t thought about latin for decades.
The “vore” suffix means eating, so if I can figure out what “saluti” means I can probably guess what the word is supposed to mean. It is probably the origin of the word salute, but while I know what a salute is, I am not sure what the word means. Language is a pain, especially when I haven’t used it for so long! Wait, it is probably the root word for “salutation,” which is essentially a positive greeting, hoping some is well? So… Health? Maybe?
“Health Eating” does seem to make sense in the context of this world, but I have no real idea what it would mean to be “Health Eating.” Perhaps it means to regain health by eating, which would be damn useful.
No, no, this is my low Willpower fucking me over again. I need to focus, what do I definitely not want? I don’t want anything aggressive, so that takes out the Boreal Toad, the Horned Toad, and the Hunting Salamander. Aggression isn’t my only danger though, I don’t want any Species with any kind of extreme behavior. So that takes out the Toxic Frog for its territoriality and the Burrowing Frog because I don’t want to sleep all day and do nothing.
This leaves me with three choices: the Young Kalif Toad, the Hatchling Kalif Newt, and the Hatchling Witch’s Newt.
The Kalif Toad is not very interesting, but it isn’t a bad choice. The fifteen bonus Stats exceed the total value of the Stats I would get from leveling either of the newts. However, both newts have [Regeneration] and enhanced poison, which makes them very attractive. It would be hard to choose, but there is one deciding factor between the Kalif Toad and the newts: I don’t want to be a fucking toad!
A newt isn’t much better, but it is better! So should I choose the Kalif or Witch’s Newt? There really isn’t a question, is there? The Witch’s Newt can gain Willpower, so choosing that one is a no brainer. Plus, it probably has some interesting Evolutions I would think.
With the decision made, I chose to Evolve into the Hatchling Witch’s Newt and I began to feel very sleepy. A wave of the purest exhaustion hit me and before I knew it, I had settled down to sleep in my little hole.
I woke up at night and stretched. I immediately felt the difference in my body and tried to get a good look at myself. I wasn’t able to, so I would have to wait until morning to see my reflection, but more importantly I felt healthy!
Name: - Species: Hatchling Witch’s Newt Level: 0/5 Experience: 00/60
Class: -locked- Health: 57/57 Mana: 2/2 Stamina: 100/100
Str: 20 End: 19 Vit: 19 Agi: 12 Dex: 8
Per: 18 Acy: 23 Wil: 6 Cha: 15 Mgc: 4
[Breathes through her Skin](racial) [Toxic Skin](racial) [Toxin Control: Minor](racial)
[Regeneration: Minor](lesser)(racial) [Better First Impression] [Healthy Thoughts] [First Words] [Killing Blow]
Ambush: 1 Analysis: 1 Charge: 2 Crafting: 1 Digging: 5 Dodge: 2
Jumping: 4 Meditation: 1 Swimming: 2 Stealth: 2 Taunt: 1 Throwing: 1
Trap Making: 1
I had healed! Was it from Evolving or from my [Regeneration]? Probably from Evolving, I wouldn’t think my [Regeneration] would have been working until I had finished. I feel great! My head is clearer, my senses are sharper, I am stronger, and I am faster and that was only with a mere plus three to all my Stats!
Presumably I feel so much better because - compared to my former Stats - even an increase of as small as three is a large amount. Plus, my health is full for the first time in a long time. I have spent more of this life hurt than whole, so this is just excellent!
I moved out of my little burrow, noting that I was larger now than I was and that I would have to expand Toadhome. Newthome? No, I will keep calling it Toadhome. Wait, why the hell did my pool look like it was boiling!?
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