When I look around, I see Grumpy looking at me. He shakes his head, “I don’t want to know.”
Laughing at him, “Oh yes, yes you do, but it can wait. Have you picked from the vault?”
“No,” he replies.
“That’s fine. Take your time. I want to spend an hour here, then have a quick strategy meeting.”
“Fine, I’ll keep watch until Gilden is finished. Generally, we should be fine here for a while.” He turns back to Nate’s grave and continues being the lookout again.
Sitting back against the gravestone, I start whispering to myself. “ARC, show me a map of the graveyard. Now, highlight any graves for people connected to the Star Wars franchise, and filter to those who worked on movies 1 – 6 by release date.” Smiling widely, “ARC, you are already everything I hoped you would be. I can’t get distracted, though. I need to put Idle to work. “ARC, create a table; the first column will be named ‘Rank,’ with values from 1 to 21 sequentially. The next column will be ‘Benefit,’ and each cell will be the rank value for that row multiplied by eighty-four. The next column will be ‘Seconds,’ and it will start at 42 at rank one and double at each rank after that. The next column will be a running total of ‘Seconds’ – name it ‘Cumulative.’ The following columns will be ‘Minutes, Hours, Days, Months and Years’ and will divide the cumulative value accordingly. Please display the table.
Maybe I can buy ranks beyond 21 with something other than time? Something for later – stop getting distracted!
Character Sheet…Idle Assignments.” Nice that it has its own tab for interfacing. Let’s see what I can assign to him…
Blue items are assignable. Hmm. Nirvana, you’re quite clever. I can rank all my options up to rank 11 in 42 days or to rank 12 in 84 days. Rank 12 gives me 1008, one of those numbers that Hinduism thinks is auspicious; many people follow Hinduism, which has considerable cultural significance in the east. Greed vs. Need – it seems like it is always the same fight. Getting most of these values over the middle rank will significantly increase my survivability and, in some cases, make me a decent sidekick, if not a superhero. Ok, I have an hour, so I can get ten abilities to rank three or six abilities to rank four, or mix and match. Let’s get four abilities to rank four, and four more to rank three, then mana recovery while we head to the next gravestone and mana pool once we get there. That’s the plan. Ok, the first four will be Stamina Pool Size and Recovery, then I’ll do Health Pool Size and Recovery. After that, then increase the time between balance disruptions and also reduce Hand-Eye coordination disruptions – those are some nasty tricks on us, Nirvana. For the last two, I’ll raise my chance of highlighting Concealed and also Hidden.
I assign Idle to Stamina Pool Size. “ARC, set a timer for ten minutes and twenty-five seconds.”
— * ~ * —
The last timer has expired, and I switch Idle to Mana Pool Recovery. Then get up, and see that everybody is quietly waiting on me. “Sorry to keep you waiting – that was very important to me.”
Grumpy says, “We want to know why Nirvana visited you again.”
“So, is any of your loot from the vault soul-bound?”
“Solomon is,” Mason says. “No,” says Grumpy. “Not yet,” says Gilden. “If I get the other two parts, all three will be soul-bound.” We all look at him, and he flourishes Oddjob’s hat.
“Nice, I always liked Oddjob as a villain. Well, the ARC Contacts are not only soul-bound; they integrate into my HUD. They also connect to Nirvana and give me Net access and a bunch of other abilities – one that required Nirvana to unlock. Nirvana and I made a bargain, and in addition to unlocking the feature, Nirvana gave me what I came here for. She would have had to visit me when I found it, and I was going to find it, so she saved herself a trip and maybe nerfed – sorry, reduced its function – a little bit.
Mason said, “We know what nerfed means.” I put a mental bookmark on that.
Huffing, Grumpy says, “Fine, so what’s your plan now? We have about four hours of daylight left; then this place is going to become a lot more dangerous!”
“Do you agree that I have given you a huge secret – worth a ton of money and other things?”
All three nod their heads, and Gilden says, “Yeah, in fact, it is so valuable that we all have agreed that your paranoia is more than justified.”
“Great. Then this is what I want. I want you to pay me for the secret, and you can do whatever you want with it – and here’s what I want for the secret:
One, If you sell or auction off things from the graveyard, you deposit 10% of what you earn at the Church of Money in my name. This lasts until the secret is out and others are looting the graveyard.
Two, You help me recover up to six more items today if they are in the respective vaults. If we don’t find them, then you are off the hook for them. If we do, then you decide who may have to give up their pick from that vault.
I also guarantee that you, as a group, will have the chance to collect magical knowledge If I do. Additionally, one of the vaults I want to access may have a pet that can guide you to other vaults – if it does, you get the pet.”
They look at each other, nod once, and Grumpy speaks. “We agree with one further condition. That you help us each get something from the Star Wars vault. I heard you search for it, and we all know there will be power there.”
“Actually, I searched for it as a test, and there isn’t anything on my list of six items I want from that vault. So you can all get something from it. I’ll have to think about something I want from it. It’s the closest; ARC plot a course to the ‘Star Wars’ grave located earlier.”
— * ~ * —
Ninety minutes later, we’re at the grave of somebody I’ve never heard of, ‘Brandon Alinger’ who died in 2072. “I’ll watch while you three get what you want from the vault.” As they remove the gravestone, I switch Idler to Mana Pool Size.
As soon as it’s out of the way, Grumpy goes first. Putting his hand to the sensor, we hear the electronic voice of the vault. “You accessed the Alinger Family Movie Prop Collection. This vault accesses hundreds of other vaults for the items that appeared in the collection before it was lost in the California earthquake in 2173. Removing items from this vault will make them unavailable all vaults. Your party is the first party to access this vault. As a reward, each member of your party may claim an item from this vault.”
“Not exactly what I was expecting. Get your Star Wars stuff if you can; I’ll look for something on my list from another movie.”
Moments later, Grunge is holding a lightsaber – blade off. “There are five others; I have Luke’s first one.” Soon, Mason and Gilden each have a lightsaber too.
Gilden says, “I wanted Ezra’s, but since it was a cartoon, there was never a prop. Instead, I have Vader’s red blade!”
“Well, I have Obi-Wan Kenobi’s from when he fought Darth Maul,” taunted Mason.
“Those will bring you trouble as soon as you turn them on where somebody can see. My turn. I hope this saves me a trip!” Just like the other vault, thousands of items are here, but instead, it’s organized by movie name. I quickly scroll through the list, and I start smiling. The movie I want is on the list! I select “TRON: Legacy” and scroll through the props – and there are two of them! The red highlighted war games suit only has dual light disks, but the white highlighted suit has the light cycle handlebar and a light disk – and it’s functional! I take it! “Let’s reassemble the headstone; this saved us a trip. The others are close by, and we’re running out of time.”
Mason asks, “What did you get?”
“A ‘TRON: Legacy’ war game suite, attack, defense, and mobility all in one. And, just like your lightsabers, I won’t be able to use it until the secret is out. I just stuffed it into inventory; I’ll play with it later! ARC, next waypoint – Jason Bulmahn, 1976 – 2066
We had to avoid some zombies to get here; we didn’t want to waste time killing them. While Gilden and Grumpy are removing the gravestone, I tell them what they can expect here.
Whispering so we don’t attract the attention of any zombies, “This was the founder of one of the most popular tabletop RPGs when I was alive. The sourcebooks are going to have spells in them. I recommend that you get the Player’s Guides. There should be at least two versions. I’m going to grab an archive of the Net if it’s available. If not, I’ll grab a special sourcebook. If I don’t take it, then one of you can grab it – the book is called ‘Ultimate Magic,’ and it could be a game changer or a dud. Not sure what Nirvana will do.” They nod at me. I place my hand on the sensor, and the vault speaks. “You have accessed the Tabletop RPG Vault. You are the first party to do so. As a reward, each party member may select an item from the vault.” Crap! We forgot about the vault voice! I can hear them getting ready for the fight – I dive into the menu.
In seconds I can see what I want is here; the OGN site and its gaming databases are here. It looks like the archive was made in 2025, but it doesn’t cover why. That’s fine; it has what I want in it and more! I select it and exit the interface.
It couldn’t have been much more than a minute, but the explorers have already killed the two zombies, though it looks like Gilden’s hurt. Grumpy says, “He drank a potion, and he’ll be fine. Mason can go while Gilden heals. Did you get the archive or the book?”
“I got the archive. I’ll take a look at it in a moment. Just so you know, I have everything I need; there’s more I want – but let’s leave once you all get your rewards.”
Gilden says, “As long as you are satisfied, and the deal stands.”
“The deal stands. Being greedy might mean we lose it all.”
Grumpy nods and I examine the archive.
|You are holding an item with the historical artifact tag that can be|
integrated into your HUD. Doing so will place the item in a soul-bound
inventory space while you use it. You may remove it from inventory
and give it to another at any time.
|You are holding an item with the historical artifact tag that can |
combine with another item you have that also has the historical artifact
tag. If you combine the items, they will not be able to be separated in
the future. The resulting item, ARC Contacts, will retain all of its
current properties and gain the properties of ‘OGN Archive.’
|[Integrate artifact with HUD?]|
|[Combine ARC Contacts and OGN Archive?]|
“Combine ARC Contacts and OGN Archive.”
Loudly, “Jebediah, you have set a new record! Nobody else has ‘Caught My Eye’ four times in a 24hr period – I’m giving you credit for the shortcut earlier,” says Nirvana.
Jumping back, “Nirvana! You do that on purpose, don’t you?”
Laughing at me, “Of course I do! Please tell me what you are going to try and do with the OGN Archive.”
“Pathfinder had a little used magic system called ‘Words of Power’ that I want to leverage immediately. Then there are the spells and powers from the other systems that I want to use for reference to solidify my mastery of magic and assure my ability to be independent and follow the story.”
“What about the suit,” she asked.
She starts laughing and laughs so hard that she falls to the ground and has a little fit. “Oh my, please tell me you have thought about this. In a TRON war suit, the great and powerful Jeb, a siamese cat beastkin, astride his light cycle, on top of a mountain, proclaiming his power with lightning and thunder in the background!” She starts laughing again, “The only thing you are missing is a giant sword and shouting out, ‘Thundercats, Thundercats, Thundercats HO!'”
I laugh a little too, then chuckle some more. “You’re right – that’s a funny picture – and cheesy heroic at the same time, just like the cartoon!”
Getting up, she smiles, “I like it so much that I’m going to make it easy for you and the children to pursue it. Declare a class as per the rules – you will be limited to the associated words. The levels indicated in the rules will equate to tiers, with each tier costing one hundred mana and level zero being considered an advanced cantrip costing ten mana. Your caster level will be your mana pool divided by fifty, rounded down. So 900 mana means your level would be eighteen, and the highest tier you could cast would be nine. Learn the rest as you go.” Pointing at the ‘Ultimate Magic’ book Mason is holding, “Be careful, anybody who touches that book and declares a class will become a Wordcaster. Jebediah will be able to apprentice others as Wordcasters without the book. Jebediah, you’re starting out pretty OP, but it may not last. The ripples of your stone are going to make some waves!” She vanishes while waving goodbye.