Mr. Familiar

by

EO Tenkey

Quest 13: Mr. Familiar Yaks It Up

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When Lucy was done torturing me, she headed back out. Evidently the quest for the war hammer was a multi-part thing, because we were now on our way to look for something called the "ever-burning flame". I guess the blacksmith NPC's normal flames weren't sufficient to craft a hammer? Or maybe he just liked fleecing naïve low-level adventurers. I dunno. I was honestly a little surprised there was a melee-weapon oriented quest of this complexity in the Sprite-born starting town in the first place. It had been a while since I cared enough to play through the crafting-related quests in any of the starting towns, but I vaguely recalled only ever getting quests for things like wands and robes when playing as a Sprite-born.

Thankfully, the dungeon that supposedly housed the magic blacksmithing whatsit was nearby and Lucy had decided to give it a try before signing off, so I still had some time to poke around in my interface.

In particular, I had an urgent need to explore the Messages section. I was super curious about who was sending me messages in the first place, and secondly if I could use that feature to communicate with Lucy then that would open up a lot of freedom for me. Given how disappointing the stats had been—diddle it, I was still sore about plushitude—I wasn't holding my breath or anything, but I lit on Lucy's shoulder as soon as I could and swiped open my interface.

Aaaah, yeah actually being able to do that was super satisfying. Now let's see what Messages has in store for me!

From: Maker Sent: May 3
From: Maker Sent: May 1

"Maker"? That was a surprise. I was expecting maybe some sort of system announcement or something. Also, dates! I took a quick gander, and it turned out there was actually a date available when my interface was open, hiding up just outside my normal vision to the upper right. I had to kind of shift my eyes up that direction and it faded into view. Looked like it was the ninth of May. Huh. I'd seen Lucy log in, what, maybe five or six times now? And I got my first message the first play session after I hatched, so that was a little more than once every other day. Eh, not that it mattered to me.

I tapped the most recent message. Had to start somewhere.

hey hey hey there, owlman! you doing good? I didnt get any reply to my last message, so let me know how things are hanging!

—Maker

Uh, what? Wow. So that was phenomenally useless. I had the sneaking suspicion this was a message from that "god" who landed me in this mess. I backed out to the inbox and hit the earlier message.

yo, my main...owl-thing! howsit? You liking the new digs (and dugs, amiright)? anyhoo I got caught up in something yesterday, but wanted to check in now I have the chance.

so pretty sure youre the only souled NPC atm, although with quantum you never rly know whats coming down the pipe. Very quantum, srsly. anyway thought youd like the experience of learning a whole new set of skills and stats! Brave new world, man!

enjoy the new life!

—Maker

Well, that clinched it. The cream about "quantum" meant this was definitely that useless god. Oh, looked like there was a little bit more. As my eyes reached the end of the message, the text helpful scrolled upwards for me. Neat.

p.s. oh, by the way, you need to make sure LucyLips has lots of fun, because if she closes her account youll cease to exist. Shouldnt be a problem for mr shut-in gamer, tho! I got faith!

WHAT?!

I slapped my wing on the reply button, and an empty interface panel opened up. Scribble, there was no keyboard! I know I'd watched Lucy compose messages, but it always seemed like she was what, sub-vocalizing? Kind of half-saying the words she wanted, and the system just picked up on it. Okay. Okay, I could do this. I stared at the screen and thought really hard.

What the flick, Maker?! What do you mean cease to exist?! Get me out of this udder-flicking, scribble excuse for an afterlife right now!

Words appeared; it was working! It was…wait a minute.

Cheep cheep! Cheep cheep. Cheeeeeep-cheep-cheep cheep cheep.

Aaaaaargh! I wildly wind-milled my arms through my interface in frustration. What. The. Flick. Is. Wrong. With. This. Oh, whoops, I guess I must have brushed the "Send" button on accident, because there it went.

"Whoa, Fluff-kins, knock it off!"

And I might have whapped Lucy upside the head a few times, as well.

But seriously, this was total bull-scribble! I dismissed my interface completely and scrunched down on Lucy's shoulder to glare at the world, my fuzzy body fluffing out even more around me.

Time to review. My stats were bizarre, and Lucy appeared dead-set on min-maxing the stupidest of the lot. I had access to the messages function, but couldn't actually send anything other than variations on the onomatopoeia "cheep". Oh, and I would cease to exist if Lucy lost interest in the game.

Yeah. Yeah, I was hammered.


Lucy merrily murdered her way through a low-level dungeon. I sat and brooded.

Lucy returned to the blacksmith with some sort of mystical jewel that glowed a fiery orange. I sat and brooded.

Lucy discovered that although she had fulfilled all the necessary quest requirements to obtain her war hammer, she actually didn't have the money to pay for it. I sat and brooded.

Lucy logged out, and I didn't have to brood anymore for a while.


As Lucy faded into existence, I swiped open my interface for a second and checked the date. Looked like it had only been a day since her last session.

Unfortunately, Mr. RayBanz joined her in short order, and they ended up working through another low-level dungeon in South Yorba, leaving me with little to do other than dart in and plump my size up a little whenever their backs were turned.

After the equivalent of sleeping on things, I had to admit that brooding was getting me nowhere. I was still extremely unhappy about my situation, to say the least, but raging out wasn't going to accomplish anything. Hinterlands, it didn't even make me feel particularly better.

Okay. So, my situation was not great, but what was I going to do about that?

Hm. Short-term, the most important thing was obviously figuring out what I could do to ensure that Lucy was having a fun time. That was a big, scary topic, though, so I'd give that some thought shortly.

Longer-term, all of my problems basically boiled down to being unable to communicate. Could I improve on that? Now I thought about it…definitely. Communication appeared to be boiled into the cosmetic companion animal stats system—after all, one of my stats was "Expressiveness"—which suggested that there might be game-sanctioned ways in which I could communicate with Lucy. Additionally, I'd already determined that I could influence Lucy's actions to some extent, and she was getting better at reading my body language. That gave me something to work with, even if the system-provided options turned out to be useless, stupid, udder-flicking nonsense like my piece of scribble messages screen…

I wandered around and kicked a few pebbles about until I felt better.

Right, back on track. So improving my ability to communicate with Lucy seemed doable, and was a goal I needed to accomplish in order to ensure that I could encourage her to enjoy the game, assuming I could figure out some goals for that.

I also needed to decide on a leveling strategy. Given how my life was going, I wasn't going to count on being able to spend any of my stat points unless I got lucky and Lucy was distracted when she next leveled up, which meant I needed to try and prioritize my behavior points. I swiped open my interface and took a gander at my stat screen.

Cuteness sounded useless, and my actions to date had barely leveled it. Wait a minute, though, were there tooltips in this game? I swiped a wing gently at the Cuteness stat.

Cuteness: a measure of the companion's physical appeal

Hooray for tooltips! But yeah, forget that one.

I was going to go out on a limb and guess that my high Flexibility was what allowed me to open my interface. Given that I'd gotten the bulk of my behavior points through flying, I suspected higher Flexibility would unlock greater flying ability, which was going to be key for interacting with the world around me. I tapped it to verify.

Flexibility: a measure of the companion's physical capabilities

Looked like I was right. I'd have to continue to try new things in the air whenever possible to increase that stat. I suspected higher values would also improve my abilities to grip and manipulate tools. Maybe not with my arms, though given that I could curve the ends of them somewhat now high levels of Flexibility might open some options there eventually. But I had paid woefully little attention to my talons to date. That needed to change, especially since given sufficient skill I might just be able to scratch a message into the dirt or something, which could blow my communication problem wide open.

On the topic of communication, Expressiveness! I tapped it.

Expressiveness: a measure of the companion's communication capabilities

Yep, that was definitely something I'd try to grind up. I still wasn't sure how skills functioned for cosmetic companions, but if they were anything like the standard game there would be stat requirements for them, and even if all I got was an emoting skill or something similarly dumb, that would still broaden my options when it came to communicating with Lucy. Emoting in games often allowed character to perform physical acts they would otherwise be incapable of achieving. Plus it was possible the name of the emote might be visible or something to Lucy. Worth trying if it unlocked.

I'd try to avoid increasing Plushitude, since I didn't know what it meant and had no desire to find out. I almost skipped it outright, but…

Plushitude: a measure of the companion's plushness and cuddliness

Yeaaaaah, no. I was pretty sure Lucy would try to pump my stat points into there if I gave her the chance, anyway, so odds are it would take care of itself.

I was feeling a bit better now. I had a couple things I wanted to work on, had a plan for how to spend stat points if I got the chance after our next level-up, and had some hope of improving my situation through the powers of body language.

Time to address the elephant in the room, then.

What the flick made playing this game fun for Lucy?

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A note from EO Tenkey

Whoohoo! All of the major constraints governing Mr. Familiar's existence have finally been made explicit! I've admittedly been waiting for this for a while, because I won't lie: my favorite characters aren't the over-powered ones who solve everything by beating it with whatever magical insta-win stick they've got close to hand. I like the schemers. Folks who run headfirst into the stuff constraining them, and then apply creative problem solving in order to get around it.

Mr. Familiar is admittedly often a "run head-first into stuff" kind of bird, but I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with to try and work his way through his predicament! How would you handle the problems he's run up against, given what you now know?


About the author

EO Tenkey

Bio: Read all the things. Write all the things. Sleep? What's that? Does it taste good with chips?

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