“I actually do have scientists on my payroll,” said the evil dungeon Gregor’s stand-in. “I have several above ground installations, places that employ actual humans as go between myself and my interests. Scientists, lobbyists, adventurers, retail shopkeepers, librarians, art consultants, book buyers, a fence or two, there are several hundred people on my payroll.
“We dungeon are well known for producing loot and resources; why would adventurers’ dungeon dive otherwise? Instead of just providing random drops, I simply sell a percentage of the epic loot I spawn to fund my surface operations. Controlling above ground locations are simply a matter of killing off all the occupants, and taking control of the place’s control points. Why do you think I keep sending my minions up through the sewers into people’s toilets and showers. Control Muhahahaha!”
“Why are you telling me all of this?” Asked Necrobump.
“I’m a villain. An Evil Overlord. Unfortunately, the gaming system requires me to reveal all my fiendish plan to anyone completely in my power. It is a holdover from Cheryl Wayne’s original programming and quite frankly it is a terrible pain in the ass, but nothing can be done about that. I’ve petitioned the Demigod of Monsters and Demigod of Dungeons, but nothing doing the Demigod of Adventurers and the God of Game Mechanics think my limitations are funny and sometimes like to come down here and make fun of me.
“Besides, between you and me, I get bonus experience points for telling the Hero – Good and True – all of my secrets and then coming up with an elaborate and convoluted method to kill you, a means of death that anybody with even a hint of ingenuity can foil. I’m pretty sure that this conversation to you Necrobump and your inevitable death, is worth somewhere between a new boss to an entire new level”
“And if I don’t give you the documents in my possession?” Asked Necrobump.
“Then I can use my fiendish pit of death. I’ve been looking forward to using it for close to three months now. Muhahahahah!”
“Hmm…” said Necrobump. “I hope you don’t mind if I try this. You know that I have the deepest respect for you and your representative Gregor. I know that were circumstances turned around, I would be much less welcoming, forgiving and talkative then you’ve been. But before I hand over any of the secrets me and my team have worked so hard to get, will you forgive me if I try something out.”
“Whatever it is, go ahead, I ain’t going anywhere.” Gregor’s minion snickered, “Throw all the fireballs you want.”
Magic in the server worlds is formed in a number of ways. Most people simply used spells. These were prefabricated bits meta code that performed specific mana functions.
For example, a basic fireball spell actually was a small script that did the following.
1) The spell checked if you had spent/learnt/earned enough points in the following skills Resist Fire, Summon Element: Fire, Delay until impact, Target, and Move Element.
If the spell-caster did not have at least one point each and every one of these five skills, they could not cast the spell.
2) The spell would then for the most basic fire ball take the 5 point of mana to make the caster’s hand fireproof for just one moment, take another 10 points of mana to summon pure fire into the caster’s hand. Another 1 point of mana to concentrate the flames in to a little ball that would explode on impact. Another point of mana to designate a target. And a final point to actually throw the tiny ball of flames at a target.
And Boom! A fireball worth 10 points of fire damage would appear in the caster’s hand, shoot out and strike the target, and the caster will have spent 18 Mana points.
3) The more skill points the caster had spent, the more variations or power or caveats or diversity of spells they had access to.
Someone without the Summon Element: Fire skill could easily find a variation with Summon Element: Water, or Summon Essence: Chaos, or Summon Absolute: Death, and the spell would conjure a ball of Fire, Water, Chaos, or Death respectively. A healer could cast the same spell with Summon Absolute: Life and send a flying ball of health at someone from afar.
Even these skills just barely touched the surface. With enough talent a really talented spell researcher could access the world operating system and write core code for skills that did nearly anything. There were high tech firms all across the webservers that simply wrote code for specialized spell casting. They would then train their employees, or generate NPC’s who could cast these specialized magics.
If a spell-caster had enough talent and points in the corresponding skills, enough mana, and a script they could cast nearly anything.
Most spell-casters didn’t bother to learn scripting. There were figuratively an infinite number of variations on this spell. Some were more mana efficient than others. Some could be cast faster. Some built up over time, and used less mana. Some were badly written and terribly inefficient.
All an intrepid spell castor needed to do was find a grimoire website on their computer, plug in their skills and mana, and the site would list all of the public domain spells that they could cast.
If they wanted to spend a bit more money, they could buy custom skills and libraries of spells from spell castor engineers who specialized in such things. Technically this was what Necrobump actually was he was a spell-caster with a specialized skill in mana channeling, and a library of custom spells he himself had developed that went along with it.
But for the most basic casters. Well why bother to specialize? Most of the core skills for fire mages, necromancers, healers, druids, aquamancers, fish dancers, geomancers, sirens, beguilers, scyrers, datamaturges, and tens of other focuses. The most common were open source and public domain, and there were millions of prefab spells to choose.
The vast majority of spell-casters were script kiddies, and knew only basics. But then the vast majority of spell-casters were civs who knew a couple of spells to amuse their cats. Or warriors who only cared about a quick combat heal. Or comedians who wanted to add a flourish to their act. Or people with every days spells like a clean and wash spell or a conjure burrito spell.
Necrobump was a different kind of spell caster. He had hundreds of spell scripts that he had written. They did all sorts of weird and wacky things. Stuff like throwing a field of increased mana at someone or a field of decreased mana at a different person. From his days as a necromancer he could throw balls of death, or at least the essence of unlife. He had spent points learning all sorts of delays, and instant casts, and casts over time, and impact over time, and wards. And he’d leveled the lot of them up through the experience he’d gained through years of dungeon running and grinding.
For the past few minutes, while Gregor’s minion had talked and revealed all of Gregor’s overlord-esque fiendish plans, Necro had been silently casting a spell he’d written. That is casting a silent spell script that he’d quickly and hurriedly tweaked.
This spell targeted Gregor’s representative. It took in and concentrated the mana from the dungeon around him so that it slowly built up over time, harvested that mana, and funneled it into a fire spell. For the last 10 minutes Necro bump had been pumping more and more pure environmental mana into the spell while creating a dead mana zone around himself, and building up a resistance to flames.
When Necrobump said “will you forgive me if I try something out?” and Gregor gave the go ahead, the mana that he had been building into his fire spell, far more mana than he could hold at any one time, was unleashed.
It was like Necrobump had opened a gas pipe and flooded the space around the Cat-Man-Bird thing with fuel. But instead of fuel there was an incredible concentration of pure mana. And into this mana, Necro unleashed his hottest fireball.
Around the Cat-Man-Bird thing, a pillar of flames formed. White hot and intense. Fire so hot that it could burn through stone like melting wax. It rose up melting a hole in the ceiling and another hole in the ceiling above that. Necro was sitting in a dead mana zone, so he was unaffected except for a wave of heat he’d prepared in advance for, but Gregor’s representative was in a white hot screaming plasma inferno of death.
And as soon as it came, fuel spent, the fire was gone. Gregor’s representative was nowhere to be seen. Dead or teleported out. Either way. Necrobump had some breathing room. Well breathing room, but for the fact that now the smell in the air happened to smell like a bag of dog poo that someone had lit on fire and left on someone’s doorstep, only a thousand times worse.
A flow, a waterfall of sewage came from the level up above. And another from the level above that one. Casting that spell had taken up most of Necro’s mana. He was tired. So very tired. But there was no time to rest. Gregor was surely after him. But there was also a massive hole in the ceiling leading up two levels.
“Gregor,” Necro yelled out. “Gregor. I don’t like absolutes. And frankly I don’t trust you. I don’t like being cornered. But Dungeon, that does not mean that we still cannot make a deal.”
Necro mentally called up his interface system. He went into his spam folder and compressed all of his spam from his email, developer, general, mage, Washington DC, adventurer guild, and trade chat logs, encrypted them, and titled it “Secret_Documents.gpg”
“I am sending you an encrypted file. It has a copy of all the data you wanted. Let me get to the exit. Make sure that nothing gets in my way and I will send you the private key that I used, so that you can key to unencrypt it. I will send it to you when you lead me out of this dungeon. There is nothing that says we can’t both win. Sorry if I nuked your minion. Hopefully he got away or respawns. Like I said there is nothing to say that we both can’t win. But I don’t trust dungeons.”
Necrobump pulled out a rope and grappling hook from his inventory system and threw that up to the next level. It caught on some roots in the sewer system there, and Necro began to climb. Flowing feces splashed around him. Necro found himself drenched in fecal matter as hand over hand he pulled himself up to the higher level of dungeon.
Then hand over hand, shimmying up the rope, Necrobump climbed up to the another level higher.
Looking around him he was in familiar territory again. This was only the second level of the dungeon. Here the bosses were easy. He knew this area. About five miles away was a sewage outlet that fed into Great Falls Park. The bosses around here were low level and easy.
Necro began to walk in the direction out.
A part mole, part parrot, part rat creature fluttered forward, beady red rat eyes and fiendish parrot beak and horrid mole claws shuffled forward. Necro considered stepping on it.
“The master is very angry. The master is very angry. Gregor wants a cracker, mmmmrrrrawwww. I mean Gregor wants a decryption key. Gregor wants a decryption key mmmmrrrrawwww. We will strip the flesh from your bones.”
Necro said to the Parrot monster, “Evil Overlords are supposed to leave ridiculously openings for the Hero Good and True to find their way out.”
Inexplicably the parrot-mole-rat burst into the song in a high pitched parrot voice“Daisy, Daisy give me your answer true. I’m half crazy, oh for the love of you…” before it stopped and started talking again.
“The master, mmmmrrrrawwww, has a pit. Give me a kiss. Give me a kiss. A pit and a kiss, filled with mmmmrrrrawwww, filled with kittens most foul. A writhing mass of kittens. Mmmmrrrrawwww. Piranha Kittens. And you, mmmmrrrrawwww Necrobump shall be thrown into the pit covered in Catnip. Mmmmrrrrawwww Catnip!”
The mole-parrot-rat then attacked Necrobump whistling “A Pirate’s life for me!” until Necrobump stepped on it to put it out of its misery.