8 Fate Launch
3 . . .
2 . . .
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Viren's Refuge Launch Initiated!
I pass through what I think of as the shiny warp-drive tunnel, until suddenly I'm stationary, floating in the center of a supernova. Brilliant multi-hued stardust swirls around me, and through breaks in the clouds, I see infinite blackness, punctuated by dazzling stars.
Three breathtakingly beautiful women appear in front of me. Shining silver thread spools around and between them, drifting without tangling. Behind them, the thread disappears into the nova, as if the black sky is the loom, and the nova is the latest design of a celestial weaving.
"Welcome, Player, to the Universe Tapestry. We are the Wyrd Sisters," the middle sister welcomes me. Real stars twinkle in her wavy dark hair, and she holds the most thread loosely entwined in her hands.
The Fates. Weavers of Destiny.
The white-haired sister wearing a flowy white dress "reads" the Universe Tapestry to recognize my biometric scan. "Player Eric Lieu, before you embark on your destined journey, you may choose from several options designed to help you succeed in becoming the Savior of the Realms."
"Choose wisely," the third sister says, her voice low for a girl's, menacing. Her wild red hair looks like flames curling around her face. Her dark bronze skin is covered with smoky tattoos, as if scorched by her hair. Her torso is almost completely bare, but for the leather bands barely containing her glorious tits.
I fucking love video games.
She holds large gold scissors in her hand and the silver thread passes threateningly near the blades as she explains there are no opportunities to go back and re-select a major decision or create "alt accounts" in Viren's Refuge; once you've committed to a character, the only way to change your mind is by completely deleting your account and starting from scratch. But doing so comes at a cost even greater than losing your data: any player in the initial 50,000 who restarts their account before the conclusion of the Nine Mythic Realms conquest will lose their Vir-Tech stock.
Of course, she uses a ton of mystic language in her explanation, but that's the gist.
The three ethereal beauties rise above me, silver thread glistening all around them. They speak quickly, one after another, voices blending in harmony.
"The fate of the world is at stake."
"The choices you make today may determine the future course of the world."
"Are you ready to take the first step on the rocky, untamed path of your Hero's Journey?"
And then all at the same time, they ask, "Are you prepared to choose?"
My face is a picture of fierce determination streaked with unconstrained excitement. Visions of glory light my eyes like streaks of lightning in gray stormclouds.
The starry night-haired Fate waves her thread-twined hands, and colorful clouds of stardust coalesce into ten humanoid shapes that circle around me.
Avatar race options!
The figures are faceless, but otherwise distinct from each other. Although they all have human characteristics, only one is purely human.
Surprised, I slowly spin to take in as many details as possible. We were only given the human option during the beta. Clearly, the devs (game developers) were holding out! They must have focused on in-house testing for the demihumans.
Though I'm caught off-guard, mostly I'm intrigued. Over half the demihumans are races I've never seen in any video game, and none are gender-locked. The racial perks add a ton of factors that might influence game play, plus all these base avatars look insanely cool.
All the options make me excited as a two-dicked dog in a fire hydrant factory.
The Fates take turns explaining the various races. The descriptions are bare-boned, nothing more than names and racial perks, so I expect the game will provide opportunities for discovering race-based backstories and lore. I quickly realize each of the nine demihuman races must have a corresponding Mythic Realm, so I pay extra attention to glean info that may help with main storyline quests.
In my head, I create a list and fill in what I can remember from my own research:
Norse – Valkyrie – (Choosers of the Fallen)
Warriors in Odin's Ragnanival army who choose who deserves a hero's death in battle and then carry each warrior's soul to Valhalla
Racial Perks: high base strength; non-restricted berserk skill; eventual flight ability; increased attack speed with bladed weapons
Celtic – Pu`ca – (Shapeshifter Spirit)
Trickster spirit fae who helps or hinders humans; harbinger of both good and bad fortunes, depending on the situation
Racial Perks: high base intelligence; shapeshift into horned cat, goat-demon, and dire wolf; each shift comes with specialized stats and abilities, and each shift can acquire shift-specific upgradeable skills
Chinese – Draegkyn – (Dragon Kin)
Humans granted the power of nature dragons, in accordance to Chinese dragon lore
Racial Perks: high base intelligence; swimming racial skill; attack buff in water fights & on boats; increased damage with water magic
Greek – Meliae – (Ash Dryads)
Nymphs of the mountain ash tree, born of Gaia (the Earth) and the blood of castrated Ouranos (the Sky)
Racial Perks: high base vitality; since the World Tree is ash, passive race skill draws power from World Tree to regen HP at a faster rate; increased stealth in forests; increased potions-making success rate; increased chance for crit (critical) hit when using wooden bow
Egyptian – Anubis Death Warrior – (God of the Underworld's Mortal Forces)
Warriors granted powers by Anubis, God of the Underworld
Racial Perks: high base strength; high base defense; increased damage to dead/undead enemies; increased chance for crit hit with any weapon; high heat resistance
Japanese – D'Raven – (Karasu Tengu)
Karasu = Crow/Raven; Tengu = half-bird, half-man yokai (spirit/demon) that acts as a trickster minor god who lives in mountain forests; most strange or mysterious events can be attributed to them, and they enjoy luring humans with music or by appearing as will-o'-the-wisps. Later tengu are more powerful and darker; they are skilled with swords, martial arts, and magic and often use their powers to sway Buddhist priests away from Enlightenment
Racial Perks: high base agility; eventual flight ability; increased stealth in shadows; can create will-o'-the-wisp lights to confuse/distract enemies; when skill proficiency rate hits 95% with any blade or martial arts attack skill, deals double damage
Mayan – Camazotz – (Death Bat)
Cave-dwelling Mesoamerican Bat-Man hybrid Vampire
Racial Perks – high base agility; eventual bat shapeshift ability; base Search skill (echolocation); base Life Steal skill (when activated, will steal HP from any attacker who lands a hit)
Inuit – Angakoq Shaman – (Spiritual Leader)
Intellectual and spiritual leader with powers of divination, healing, and other various abilities granted by a spirit guide/animal spirit familiar
Racial Perks: high base intelligence; high cold resistance; eventual ice bear shapeshift ability; at 90% skill proficiency, healing skills work more effectively (replenish more HP than base skill allows)
Hindu – Rakshasa – (Man-Eater)
lit. trans: "Help Me!" (words Brahma yelled when being eaten alive by Rakshasa after he created them) Demons who feeds on human flesh, banished to earth because of their insatiable bloodlust; in-game they look like horned tiger-faced demons with fangs
Racial Perks: high base strength; high base defense; deal extra damage when fighting humans (Man-Eater Bonus); bloodlust berserk state skill
Variable - Human
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Quote from Sister Scissors: "As the mortal protector of the Realms, humans are a highly adaptable, highly intelligent race that uses numbers and tactics to outwit stronger forces. Though short-lived, they burn bright and fast, accomplishing as much—or more—in one fleeting lifespan than many immortals undertake in an eternity."
Racial Perks: high base vitality; granted 2x EXP for all non-human kills; base Swift-Swap skill for changing weapons; unlimited human potential means not class-locked, can change classes at Level 80; group defense buff applied any time 6+ humans form a party or team (Zerg Bonus)
By the time the final race is explained, I am practically drooling. All these racial perks are incredible. The actual effects of each perk are randomly generated within a hidden set range, but it's impossible to tell at this point what the ranges might be. It won't be clear until enough players have chosen their avatars and posted their results online.
I mull over my choices for a long time.
One might be so bold as to say an embarrassingly long time.
In fact, the fiery Fate literally is that bold: "For the love of mother Nyx, we all know what you're going to choose, so could you get on with it?"
And with that, she snips the thread connected to the Human, and the figure disappears in a burst of starlight.
I blink in surprise.
Wtf? Are they allowed to do that? What kind of AI NPC algorithm is this?
The dark daughter of Night (Nyx) chides, "Hush now, Atropos, you know we must provide the illusion of free will."
"Otherwise he may engage in a futile struggle against his destiny," the white-haired Fate adds. "You know how obstinate Chosen Ones can be."
"Fine," fiery Atropos snaps. "Get back to overthinking then, Hero."
We're moving on like nothing happened?
I blink again.
For lack of a better idea, I take the Fate's advice: I overthink.
Maybe…okay, maybe the neural input reader saw that I had already dismissed Human in my mind, so it triggered this preset sequence to make the log in process more interesting?
Yep. Gonna go with that.
I decide to take Atropos's first advice as well and hurry up my selection; these Wyrd Sisters are more than a little unnerving (i.e., They're freaking me the fuck out.)
In truth, one of the demihuman races had spoken to me from the beginning. Not only did it feature my ideal aesthetic—mysterious, dark, and broody—but its racial perks were the most dependent upon individual skill, especially blade and martial arts, my specialties.
The golden scissors move before I finish speaking, snip-snipping every avatar away into nothingness except–
"–the D'Raven!" I yell quickly, before she can get too scissor-happy and disintegrate my actual choice. My heart's pounding, but when all the exploding stardust clears, a single figure remains.