76 Time to Shine, Asshole
"Dungeon! Yes! Let's go!" I say, all enthusiasm. I Sprint to the Dungeon entrance faster than my Party's eyes can see, then I turn expectantly. "Geez, c'mon, Nightfury, what're you waiting for?"
Nightfury looks like he might actually stab me.
I wink at him and pull up my Status Window. "How do I make myself a Party Leader on purpose this time?"
"Wait, we never resolved that, did we?" Nanuk objects.
"You kinda resolved it for us," Taliesin tells him.
Nanuk frowns, confused. "What? When?"
"About the time you screamed because you realized Erebus is not only the best player here, but likely the best player in the entire game," Lialas reminds him.
"Oh," Nanuk says. "That time."
Without another word about it, he helps me figure out the system for creating a Dungeon Party and shows me how to make myself Party Leader.
Wow, real leader-types are so helpful.
I feel like I owe it to a guy this chill to explain why I really want to be Party Leader, especially since I'll need full Party approval to set myself as the recipient of ALL dungeon drops.
"Obviously, I'm super awesome, so Party Leader's a great choice for me," I say. Nightfury pretends to vomit. "But there's another reason I need to be in charge today."
Taliesin looks intrigued. "Ooh, like what?"
I run a hand through my hair, thinking how best to explain: "Due to some...circumstances, I currently have a 100% loot drop rate for all, uh, 'special' monsters."
Suddenly, everyone's reminded of the THREE Hidden Bosses that just so happened to appear last time I ran a dungeon.
"Any time we end up fighting a creature not originally part of the dungeon design, or when we stumble across a secret tunnel or room or whatever, as long as I'm designated to receive the goodies, the goodies will appear with a 100% drop rate."
"Holy Loot Rate, Batman!" Lialas speaks for everyone, stars in his eyes.
"It only lasts the next 36 hours," I warn before they get too excited. "So, just today."
Nanuk's suspicious, since it's clear I left out pertinent details, but it's not like he's accidentally made an epic dragon appear, so what can he say?
There's no real arguing against a perfect drop rate perk.
In a surprise twist, Nightfury actually helps the most. When Nanuk asks if he thinks I'll be fair and honest with the loot, Nightfury nods without even thinking.
"Yes. For sure. He's an ass, but he doesn't dick over his teammates."
My immediate reaction is to give him shit for getting all sentimental, but I also kinda don't want to ruin it.
I haven't had teammates in a really long time.
Nanuk still looks healthily skeptical, so Nightfury adds, "He even kept Shadeslayer alive all the way to the Final Boss."
"Wow," Nanuk replies, looking at me with newfound respect.
"I'm fine with Erebus gaining all the loot," Kara says, "but I'm not admitting he's the best player here before I've even seen him perform in-game. Dungeon raids and Coliseum battles are different skillsets."
So yes, I'm pretty sure I'm madly in love with this woman, and I may be all warm and fuzzy from Nightfury calling me his teammate...
...but no way in Hades I'm not taking advantage of this situation Kara has so graciously dropped in my lap.
My tattoos ripple as a predatory grin stretches across my face.
Lialas and Nightfury both shiver in recognition.
"How about we set EXP to Contribution?" I suggest, faux-innocently. "Then at the end of the raid, we'll divvy the loot all at once, in order of the final Contribution stats."
"So whoever has the highest Contribution gets first dibs on the treasure, and so on?" Nanuk clarifies.
My eyes gleam. "Precisely."
"I like it," Kara agrees, immediately up for the challenge.
Gods, I could kiss her right now.
"This is a trap," Nightfury warns. "He's gonna end up with all the best shit and the EXP."
I make myself look shocked. "Whatever could you mean? Are you saying none of you fellow beta testers are good enough to keep up with my awesome DPS?"
Nanuk's face hardens, and I realize he has a competitive streak of his own. "Not even. I like this plan; it's fair. Whoever contributes the most should get to choose the best rewards." He crosses his arms and stares me down. "Just don't be surprised when you lose your Number One spot."
Nightfury mutters under his breath, but I can't hear the words over my excited laughter.
This is going to be great.
As everyone accepts the Dungeon Contribution Terms, Lialas sighs.
"Well, sounds like my cue to hang up and finish my solo quests," he says forlornly.
"I'll save you some sweet loot," I promise. "Since I'll be first in the ranks every time, I'll have plenty of chances to score great stuff," I can't help adding with a cocky wink.
Nanuk grinds his teeth, Kara grips her spear, and Taliesin draws Excalibur.
Nightfury just covers his face with his pink hat and groans.
Like I'd hoped, Lialas perks up; the leaves on his head rustle happily, and a few flowers spontaneously bloom. "I'll make it worth your while! By the time we meet up for the Quest this afternoon, I'll be the best Support Player you could ask for! And next time, I'll be able to help you clear all the crazy death dungeons!"
Before I can even respond, he hypes himself up with a cheer, enthusiastically waves at everyone, and hangs up.
'D'awww. Adorable ambitions. So pure,' all of us beta players think.
"I'll save him some good stuff, too," Nightfury says gruffly.
"He wants to be a Healer, right?" Nanuk asks. "I'll teach him a few tricks during our Quest."
"I have a +3 INT butterfly clip that would look really cute in his flowery hair," Kara adds.
"I'll film our raids, so he can watch later and not feel left out!" Taliesin says in his most adorably enthusiastic voice.
"And I'll—Wait, can you do that?" I ask the Pu'ca, distracted.
He grins. "Yeah! The in-Dungeon video feature appeared after the Update. It was supposed to automatically appear as soon as the first Nightmare Mode Dungeon was cleared, but the devs didn't think that would happen for a while yet, so they weren't ready."
Hehe. Poor devs.
"As an apology, they actually released an announcement telling everyone upfront that after the second Nightmare Dungeon's cleared, the Live Stream option will also open up."
Huh, I'd missed that. Interesting.
"Ooh yay, that's his thinking up a crazy idea face," Taliesin whispers to Kara.
I don't bother responding because I am, in fact, thinking furiously.
Unconsciously, I unsheathe Zen'aku and smoothly glide through my sword forms, mind racing with plots and plans.
No one else speaks, they just move out of the way to give my brain space.
Finally, I have it.
"Oh balls, that's his 'We're 'bout to stir up some shit' face," Nightfury whispers to Nanuk.
"You know it," I agree. Then I tell everyone my brilliant plan.
Essentially, Raid Live Streams can be serious moneymakers, but only once you've made enough of a name for yourself people are willing to buy in to watch. No one will take us seriously if we just come out of nowhere and offer the first Live Stream.
But what if we caught their attention first?
I propose the following plan:
We make a video right now, telling the world we're about to take down Nightmare Mode Dungeon #2, and we post it to the forums.
Most people will think we're full of shit, of course, but we'll still get their attention. Then we have Taliesin use his vid skills to make a montage of cool moments inside the Dungeon—
(can't give them the whole raid for free; snippets of badass footage only, so they'll be drooling at the chance to see a full Raid)
—and then once the World Announcement goes out about a First Clear, we'll post the montage proof video.
Then we'll set the time for our Live Stream of the next Dungeon. Live Streams are cool because people outside the game can pay real-world money to watch (though with the time dilation, the "live" raid actually ends when IRL people are only one-third of the way through.)
In-game, we can let Players buy in with game coins, real-world money, or with items.
The best part is, since we're beating these so far ahead of schedule, most Players are going to want to buy in to see what tricks or cheats we're using. Sucks to be them, of course, since it's all good, old-fashioned talent.
(And Legendary-tier weapons. But they don't need to know that.)
When I finish explaining my plan, Taliesin and Kara look pumped, Nightfury has his usual constipated expression, and Nanuk clearly thinks I'm insane.
"Okay, if no else is going to be the voice of reason, I guess I will," he says. "Shouldn't we make sure we can actually beat this dungeon first, before we go making all these insane claims? We've never even been a party together before!"
"So?" I ask.
"This Dungeon took us twenty tries to beat just on Hard Mode back in the beta. I'm all for trying the Nightmare run and scoring some loot along the way, but I never honestly expected us to clear it, you know?"
"Huh. Weird," I say. Nanuk splutters incomprehensibly. I shrug. "Good thing I'm Party Leader after all. Buckle up, buttercup, we have two Dungeon Clears ahead of us this morning."
"All righty," Taliesin says, already way ahead of me, "who's gonna do the talking in this first vid? I have a great angle from over here."
To my surprise, and I think everyone's, Nightfury is the one to suggest that I be the lead.
"What? Why?" Nanuk asks. Poor dude looks so confused and out of his league.
He'll get on our level eventually.
"Think about this way," Nightfury says seriously. "We want to get a ton of viewers. There are a few main ways to make people watch a game vid and react to it.
You can have a solid character/persona people want to interact with, but that takes time to develop. You can show off skills that are insanely good (or so remarkably bad they're almost good again), but this is supposed to just be an informational video.
And then there's the way we can pull off without even trying:
Piss people off.
Make them log in because they want to see us fail.
No one can do that like Erebus can.
Let him shine as the Ultimate Pompous Arse in this vid, then we'll focus the montage sequences on him, too. And let him keep up his stream of assholery.
It helps that he can also pull off insane moves that no one else can come close to copying. He makes you root for him at the same time you're always hoping in the back of your mind that he gets eaten and stomped on and utterly destroyed."
"Speaking from experience there, buddy?" I ask.
He looks me dead in the eyes. "Yes."
"Hahaha, brilliant." I clap and rub my hands together. "Let's do this."