Jack woke up with a monster of a headache that made him wonder how much he’d had to drink the night before. He couldn’t wait to tell the boys at the shop about his crazy dream-turned-dark nightmare. He reached for his water and aspirin, his usual morning after ritual. Instead of finding the nightstand next to his bed, his hand touched soft grass.
“What the . . .” he croaked, cracking an eyelid open to bright sunlight and a stream of blinking notifications. Sitting up, he looked around a grassy meadow and a fallen tree came into focus. That must have been a heck of a party! Not remembering much about the night before, he closed his eyes, partially to pull himself together, partially to appease the God of Mining who was taking a mattock to his head.
Just sitting there enjoying the refreshing breeze, he tried in vain for a for a while to remember the night before with no more success than his first attempt. The breeze picked up a bit while he contemplated, realizing now that he was becoming quite cold. With a horrid realization, he felt the breeze much too uniformly across his entire body. He cracked his eyes open and braved a look down. If Mr. Peanut was any indication, it was cold out here. How much exactly did I drink last night? I have no memory of going streaking! Yes indeed, Jack was wearing nothing but his slightly-oversized birthday suit.
With sudden realization, he jumped to his feet and spun around and was met with the sight of a portal, the portal. Nope, not a dream. His horrific death came back to him suddenly. He ran his hand over where the goblin had plunged his dagger into his stomach over and over again. All he felt was smooth skin, free of any cuts or gashes. Oh, and yep, I really am naked. I should’ve taken the blue pill.
Now fully alert, he achieved full confirmation of his situation when he recognized the telltale sign of notification in the corner of his vision. Sighing loudly, then cringing, he knew he would have to view these to fill in the gaps in his memory from the night before.
The first set was from his initial battle with the goblins; he read through those quickly, enough to know that he had killed the first goblin with a bleed effect before being knocked out by the second goblin. The other combat notifications were from his last battle with Dingesklys where he was brutally stabbed to death. Jack brought his hand up to the place on his stomach where he had been stabbed repeatedly, expecting to feel a large gash or scab but instead feeling only smooth skin. Eerie. He brought up the next set of notifications.
You have died. Your survival token has been exchanged for a respawn. You will be revived at your last bind point. Since you did not set a bind point, you will be returned to the portal where you entered Rigara. The basic survival token allows only the person to be brought back and revived; all equipment is left behind. You have lost all experience gained past level 2.
So that’s what the survival token does. This was starting to feel like a bad version of the ever-classic PC game Wizardry. Wait? Did the notification say he was level two? He continued reading through the notifications.
You have . Effect: -5 to all attributes, -5 to all skills. Your max health is reduced to half. Duration: 4 hours. Obtaining better-quality survival tokens can reduce these penalties in the future.
“Thanks a lot for the helpful safety tip, Alexa!” Jack exclaimed tiredly, not having the energy to be angry with Alexa who was only doing her job. “Information like that could have been brought to my attention yesterday.” Apparently, Alexa followed a strictly “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Well, that explained his general feeling of crappitude. This world could be so cryptic at times; he hadn’t even realized what the survival token was, let alone that there were different versions. Live and learn. . He wondered if the same could be said about Liam. He needed to finish his notification so he could help his new friend. He moved on to his final set of notifications, only partially successful at not dwelling on his own mortality.
You killed a level 2 goblin. You receive 61 experience points.
Congratulations, you have attained level 2 in the Rogue class. You gain 6 health, 6 stamina, and 1 spell point. You have 2 attribute points to assign, 2 skill points to assign, and must choose a class perk.
You gain two points in Stealth and one point in Small Blades, Dual Wield, and Light Armor.
You have learned the Unarmed Combat skill. You have gained +16 bonus to this skill based on prior experience.
You have obtained beginner rank in Unarmed Combat and may choose one of the following perks:
Fists of Stone 1: The bones in your fists become dense as stone, reducing chance to break the bones in your hands by 100%. Damage of punches from your fists increases by 50%.
Grappler 1: Your ability to initiate a grapple and escape a grapple is improved by 50%.
Unarmed Riposte 1: You are able to make an immediate counter-attack when you successfully dodge an unarmed attack.
Jack’s time spent in the Tae-Kwan-Do studio was paying dividends. He selected Fists of Stone 1, mainly because he couldn’t imagine having broken hands and not being able to play the lute. He continued with his notifications.
You have learned the Rope Use skill. You gained a +11 bonus to this skill based on prior experience.
You have obtained beginner rank in Rope Use and may choose one of the following perks:
Inescapable Knots 1: You are able to tie more knots that are hard to deconstruct. +25% effectiveness when using knots to tie up a creature.
Lasso 1: You can tie the rope into a lasso and use it to snag creatures or objects. +25% chance of hitting the target you are aiming for.
The first goblin he attacked must have bled out and died, accounting for the experience gained and him eking out a level. The strike on the goblin’s junk was exceedingly lucky; his high-ranked luck stat coming into play? He also noticed that while he saw the full detail of his attack modifiers, he was just given the total amount when creatures damaged him. Mentally shrugging, he moved on.
He decided to assign his points and take stock before making his next move. He confirmed that by gaining another level in Rogue, his hit points and stamina had increased by six and his spell points had increased by one. Vitality was his only below average stat, and he sank both attribute points into it, bringing it up to average rank. He noticed the two points also gave him a corresponding two-point bump in both health and stamina. He saved his skill points, unsure of where to spend them. He pulled up his last notification, finding a list of level two Rogue perks to choose from. There were perks that allowed him to quickly draw his weapons, dodge more effectively, learn a secret thieves language, and reduce falling damage. He decided against those and reviewed the rest.
Thrust: Dash up to 10 feet forward and make a piercing attack with increased chance of hitting. Can be used every 15 seconds. Stamina cost: 5.
Dance of Blades: When dual-wielding two melee weapons, can go into a blade dance, causing opponents to make an intimidation check or be cowed, significantly decreasing their ability to block or parry for 30 seconds. Also looks very cool. Can only be used once per battle. Stamina cost: 12.
Pausing a moment to imagine himself dancing bladed death to his enemies, he wondered what kind of dance it would be. Slow dancing was probably out of the question and the lambada would be a better choice, but a little too close quarters for his taste. Finally, he decided to himself that the fullest expression of sword fighting through dance would be breakdancing. Imagining himself windmilling and head spinning his way to victory, he eventually returned to finish checking out the rest of the list.
Sense Danger: Passive skill granting the ability to sense an incoming attack.This skill greatly reduces the chance of backstab or other Stealth attacks working on you. Stamina cost when activated: 5.
Linguistics: Special. Your natural aptitude for learning via Knows No Shame allows you to access the Linguistics perk. This perk gives you the ability to learn the basics of any language very quickly.
Jack mentally reviewed the list which, like most of his skills, included further upgrades branching off most of the perks. Thanks for the wall of text, Alexa!
Alexa was quick to respond. “You’re welcome, Jack!”
Hmm, not so literal, Alexa! We’re going to have to work on that. He would have a chat with her later.
Each of the perks seemed like a great choice. He could see Linguistics as being incredibly useful; he eventually wanted to create alliances and friendships with the natives of this world, and speaking their language would be a must. Based on the rough goblin language he’d heard, not everyone would speak a version of English.
He also needed to be more effective in combat, at least until he was able to bring his friends into this world. Several perks would be helpful in that regard. He decided to choose Sense Danger. Having that perk earlier could have potentially saved his life. Besides, he liked the idea of having a spidey sense that alerted him to unseen dangers.
Reviewing his character sheet, he was pleased with his progress. By his reckoning, he had only been on Rigara for a couple of days and, besides dying a horrible death, he’d made some great strides. Although, I guess dying is a huge caveat. His hand went unbidden to his stomach, again reliving the unhappy memory of being stabbed repeatedly. He mentally asked Alexa to hide the Heritage and Background bonuses; he didn’t need to see that every time he wanted to check his progress. It was getting cold, evidenced by his boys, Leonardo and Donatello, shyly tucking into their half-shells. Speaking of which, now he would be facing that murderous dagger-wielding goblin with his dangly-bits flapping about! He shuddered involuntarily and ultimately realized it probably couldn’t be avoided. He began his journey back toward the goblin cave.