For this installment of our newest feature:The GM interview, we have interviewed Kagamine who is best known for her RP Glomp which was mentioned previously for being a year old and quite an accomplishment. Kagamine also Gm's Data Spell and runs a shop. She was gracious enough to take the time to answer these questions to give us all further insight into the art of GMing so take a peek and see what insights this successful GM has to offer.
We are actively looking for GM's to interview so if you know of one you'd love to see interviewed please PM their name to Lillian Thorne.
- What inspired you to make the move from player to GM?
Well really I hopped into GMing very soon after joining the site. I was in a couple of RP's at the time, I think, but they were all pretty slow/dying, and I couldn't find any replacement RP's that fit my interests. One day, an idea came to me- Pokemon coming to life. All our characters are big Pokemon fans... yes, yes... and then one day they all find that their favorite Pokemon has become real and become their partner. And then- VIOLA! Interest check posted very shortly after I had the idea. Things moved along very quickly at first, but, alas, the IC was only active for a few days before everything sort of ceased all at once... But aw well. That's trial and error. But yeah, that's basically what inspires me to make every thread I GM. An idea. Something comes to me, and then once I have some time to flesh it out in my mind, I eagerly put it into action. And also, I wouldn't exactly call it a "move from player to GM"... there are threads I'm in that I don't GM. I'll join something if I like it. I don't stick to one or the other- instead I find it fun to do both.
- What do you feel is your most successful RP?
Ahhhhh easy question! That is undoubtedly my Glomp! roleplay- a mega crossover about a bunch of characters from a multitude of different animes all suddenly appearing in the real world for mysterious reasons, and are found by a group of otaku girls who fangirl over them try to help them and figure out why they're here, as an evil group called OA tries to hunt down and kill every last one of them. The thread has been around for about a year and two-and-a-half months now and is 255 pages long, which is far longer than any of my other RP's have lasted. I personally thought it was a fantastic crossover filled with some amazing plot and just great crossovers in general, and I wanted other anime fans to read it since I thought they would like it, buuuuuuut the first 50-100 pages of Glomp! consist mainly of myself and a few other top players acting pretty newbish with our writing, and to be honest it's kinda embarrassing! But since I still thought people would like the story, I wrote a fanfiction based off of it- keeping the majority of the events in the fic as close to the thread as possible, only much better written. Truthfully I haven't updated it in a bit, but currently it covers up to about page 50 in the thread.
- What do you see as the reason for its success?
Glomp!'s success can be largely credited to two key factors:
1) A dedicated cast whom we know will never leave us. At first, the thread consisted of a good number of people, about 7-8 I'd say. However, it started off very character-based (meaning, circling around a group of characters and what they're doing) and very fast-paced for a casual thread. However the most active and most influential members on the thread were myself, Cheetay and Animegal, and we eventually became the only three people around at all, as everyone else either felt the thread was moving too fast or simply lost interest- and dropped out (and the thread was afterwords soon closed to new members due to the story becoming too complicated). However, it is fully understood that the three of us (and OverlordRoo, our fourth player who joined under special circumstances around page 100) would never quit Glomp!, and while the thread can get pretty slow sometimes due to real life, we still post when we get the chance.
2) A very important part of roleplay- plot. Crossover threads like this are abundant, but it seems that not so many of them are successful. What Roo has pointed out to me is that the problem with most crossovers is that they don't know where to go after crossing over. There isn't enough plot development. Glomp! was the same way, originally, when the story went no further than the anime characters appearing and the otakus finding them, and then things started to slow down... and then, luckily, I had the idea of adding an actual antagonist around page 20- OA, short for Operation Anime, the group solely dedicated to capturing and 'exterminating' all the anime characters that appear- so that they can't cause problems in the real world. The addition of this group brought not just plot but also some real depth, action, drama, and overall just made Glomp!, previously a thread for fangirl fantasies, so much more interesting. (Oh and not to mention the magic purple flying cat added around page 70, but that's another story.)
- How clearly do you plot your RP, do you go so far as to plan for an end or do you leave it open?
Well on Glomp! we have a very vague ending planned, but we do plan to have it come to an end eventually, probably when we're done with our current arch (which has just started). One reason for this is because all good stories have to come to an end, and if they don't then they'll just drag on and on forever until they're not nearly as good anymore (*COUGHBLEACHCOUGH*). And another reason is because we've planned that, sometime after the first thread is over, a sequel should be made, which will probably be set a few years in the future, and will give us the opportunity to invite a few new members to roleplay long with our usual Glomp! crew. However, this is still far off into the future, judging by the pace things are moving at, so our plans may change between now and then.
- How much control of the story do you allow your players?
In Glomp! as well as other threads, I like to let the players come up with whatever ideas they want, which has proven to be very beneficial considering a few great ideas and plot advances in Glomp! were not of my own. However, I also love collaborating with players and coming up with my own plots, and it seems sometimes my plans overshadow someone else's just cuz I'm GM. However, that usually just happens cuz we don't share our ideas with one another 100% of the time (which is understandable, if you want something to surprise someone) and then one plan will mess with another and prevent it from happening, and this is something we on Glomp! have experienced plenty after Roo joined. Now I'm not blaming Roo, but when it was just Cheetay, Gabby and I we pretty much shared all our ideas with each other and moved forward doing whatever we wanted, and then Roo joined and had plenty of plot ideas, which were good ideas, but it didn't feel like sharing any of them, so quite often our plans messed with it's our it's plans messed with ours... I commonly referred to that as the plans clashing, which was a fairly accurate way of putting it. It was a bit of a burden at first, but with the whole thread made a lot more complex with a fourth member, it is something we have come to expect. We just have to make sure we communicate a bit better so that we don't crush anyone's hopes of something happening. (This idea stays true on other threads I GM, as well, as I like to give players creative control, but I also have plans, and if I don't know what theirs are...)
- How have you handled the inevitable player dropouts?
In many of the threads I'm in currently, like Data Spell, dropouts can quickly cripple a thread if it was someone with a lot of characters, as now we have plenty of characters tied up with nothing to do. What I try to do in these situations is, if I know someone has dropped out, see if we can think of something vague for what happened to the character they were interacting with, and then they can go on their way as a free character. And the character who dropped out, if it is still early in the thread and they have made no major contributions, usually just vanishes, as the rest of the thread pretty much forgets about them and it's as if they were never around in the first place (which rings exceptionally true in Glomp!, as our early dropouts were completely omitted from the fanfiction).
Now Glomp! has some interesting stories to tell about dropouts- as mentioned, all our early dropouts really left because the thread was so fast, and they pretty much vanished from the scene without being missed. No player has ever had to write off/kill their character because they were leaving, which is ironic considering all the character death the thread has. Other than that, our main problem is not permanent dropping out but rather hiatuses due to real life. Someone disappears for a prolonged period of time and then all our characters are tied up. Once, this was solved by bringing in a new player to the thread, since we could not continue with only two people (enter Roo) and then Cheetay (the one who disappeared) re-joined the fray once she had her Internet back. But for the time being, we pretty much just continued without them and let them re-join when they were ready. More often, however, we've been doing something that has been a lot more effective. When someone is gone, and we know they will be gone for a while, we request permission for the rest of us to divide up their characters and temporarily play them until they return. This has happened when I had to be gone for a bit (everyone claimed to be having a great time without me... =.=') and is still going on with the disappearance of Animegal, who has yet to return and whose characters we are still borrowing. Sure it's one less mind adding ideas with this technique, but at least we don't lose any characters.
For another interesting story on dropping out, read the bottom section...
- What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
As far as a thread goes, this. I really liked the idea and I suppose it made a nice work of fiction, but it was not well set-up to be a successful roleplay. Not only did I give the players no idea where to go or what to do after discovering their dragons (I was trying to allow for the players to come up with their own ideas...) but also all eight dragons were GMPC's. This was mainly due to the fact that I knew the dragon's personalities and stages of awakening the best because I was the GM, however the problem was that there was almost no room for players to interact with each other, as they really only interacted with their dragon, played by me. (And it made me pretty busy, too, since I had to play eight extremely important characters right off the bat... ><)
All in all it just wasn't fit to be a roleplay. I have considered trying to re-make this idea many times, but was never really sure how to make it work. I really liked the idea, though, and I thought that maybe if I let people play their human and dragon (almost in a Glomp!-esque way with the fangirl and anime character) then perhaps I will get better results...
- Do you take a hands on or hands off approach to GMing? i.e. do you have characters you run that are a little bit more than NPC's
A lot of times (Stone Dragons excluded) I think of myself as another player in the game, just with more authority. I do typically have GMPC's, like in Glomp! I have Miku, the magic purple cat who is bringing characters into this world in the first place, but I also play Alyssa, the fangirl, who is basically myself, Kaito from Vocaloid, Sealand from Hetalia, Rin and Kuro from Blue Exorcist, Sebastian and Snake from Kuroshitsuji, Lord Ghirahim from Zelda Skyward Sword, and likely many more later, so in that sense I'm like another player on the thread!
I really don't see why a GM would want to stay so hands-off because A) an active thread is a strong thread. A GM should provide one extra player to ensure things keep running, and because B) it's their thread! They came up with the idea and put it into action because they liked it, so they should get a chance to experience it, too!
- What would be the best bit of advice you would give a new GM about how to run a successful RP?
First off make sure it is something you like. It's sad to see a thread die because the GM themselves has lost interest, and that actually has happened to me before. So try to avoid getting other people to spend time making CS's and putting all sorts of effort into a thread you won't want to continue.
Secondly SPREAD THE WORD! Make sure you tell your friends about it and see if you're interested, and hopefully you can conjure up a team of dedicated players before the thread even starts! I remember when I started Data Spell, I told my friends on every thread I was on about it before I even got the OOC up, therefore when it finally was up it was flooded with members right away! And I wound up with 20-something accepted characters before the IC was up.
And lastly put as much effort as you can into the concept and plot, otherwise people won't know what to do and the thread will crumble (see Stone Dragons). Also, if you can arrange plenty of information and detail about a concept in a very professional-looking way, well, it'll certainly impress people and make them think you really know what you're doing (see Data Spell).
Oh and uh... be smart when you're looking over CS's. I tend to be too lenient with accepting characters, which is something I need to work on, but basically make sure that the character fits the thread. Also if you're GMing a higher-up level like casual or advanced, then you can use the CS as a quick literacy test to see if the person joining is up to standards.
- Anything else you want to add?
For those of you dropping out of a thread, I've got an interesting story to tell about a certain Player who had been a member a total of three times on Glomp!. The first time it was pretty much with everyone else, except instead of from speed-posting, it was a problem with being frozen, as instead of playing both a fangirl and an anime character she only played a fangirl, and had someone else be a character. And the person playing the character dropped out and left her with nothing to do. (Lesson here: if the GM makes a suggestion, it is usually for a reason.) And we probably could've found a way for her to get out of that situation and re-join the rest of the group, but instead she quit without a word.
I later managed to contact her, though, and told her she could try coming back into the thread with a different set of characters, so she'd have a chance to start over. This time, she did play both characters as suggested, but instead of picking a character she liked, she picked one she couldn't stand, and was an absolute pedophile (Dren from Tokyo Mew Mew, if you cared). It became quite a nuisance to watch Dren constantly sexually harass the Player's fangirl character, especially when our characters were trying to do other things. Really it was like she was just begging for attention. (Lesson here: do not try these types of things just for attention, especially if the thread is clearly headed in other directions. That'll get people annoyed.) At any rate, she was around for a bit but then eventually faded away like the rest of our drop-puts, the rest of us not particularly noticing at first or caring.
However I managed to get a hold of her a third time. I asked her where she went, and she claimed that, while she never directly contacted me on the subject, she did tell my co-GM, Cheetay, who must've just forgotten to relay the information to me. Being understanding of this, I mistakenly let her back in once more...
This time, she didn't play any anime character at all, and worse yet wasn't even playing a character who was into anime, which made her fit into the thread so well... [/sarcasm] I remember rejecting the character at first but she did fight me on it a bit, and for some reason I felt lenient enough to let them in. (Lesson here: make characters that fit the roleplay...)
This character stayed around the least amount of time. We had a bit of fun scaring the crap out of her at one point with all our anime characters, but she quickly disappeared very shortly after that. I contacted her, and asked where she went. The player claimed that she specifically stated she was leaving and that she got an acknowledgement from me. I remembered no such thing. I finally came to my senses then, though, that I had no idea why I kept urging her to return, anyway. All she ever did was cause problems for the thread and make dumb decisions, so I should've kept her out.
(Lesson here (to GM's): If a player who was a problem to you wants to leave, LET THEM.)
And lastly, I was looking over the IC once, and came across something that left me absolutely infuriated- the player's very last post on the Glomp! IC;
Try to imagine the frustration I felt when I realized what had been done here. That was her saying goodbye, and because my character did not try to stop her, she took it as an ok.((Kaito should want her to stay ))
Bella flinches as Kaito grabs her arm. He tells her she never seems to stick around long enough for people to tell her what's going on. He tells her that if she's going to stay with them she shouldn't be oblivious to what's going on. He then tells her what operation anime is. "I'm sorry to hear that." she whispers to his comment about his friends and family being dead. "I don't think I'm wanted here though." she laughs a little and shrugs her shoulders. "I think I may leave." she whispers.
(Lesson here: That is not how you drop out of a roleplay!! DX)
So uhh... yeah, that concludes the long rambling that I wrote throughout the course of several hours in one sitting... I hope this gave you plenty of insight, and I hope to see you guys out there GMing!
Title:The Trial of 50 Predicaments
For a time, peace and balance flourished in all dimensions, until a strange happening occured and the boundaries that supported each and every dimension collapsed. A last brink of hope to restore everything was given as the remnants and remains of every dimension pieced together with a dimension, New Gaia, and was now known as the only claimed dimension to be left standing.
Our group of people who are willing to face against the "Trial of 50 Predicaments" took the risk of their lives for finding the very truth of this dilemma. Meanwhile, they find a mysterious girl named Msua, who is suffering memory loss, and they have to find all of her Tears of Light to regain her memories. Now, the group goes off to conquer ever single predicament and restoring everything to how it was.
Title: Hateshinai Jiki, Sensō no Geijutsu - A Naruto Based Roleplay
As history is written by the victor, the records of the events were quite biased. No one truly knew how many wars had gone on, as the most brutal of conflicts were conveniently left from the history books. This left many scars on the world, scars with no 'known' cause. Before any of these scars could heal, new ones would be made, or old wounds opened by the trials of war. This created an environment where war had evolved into an art form as much of a way of life - and those who failed to practice it to a high enough standard were consumed by the very scars they hoped to heal.
A “Season Unending”, the name given to the conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of innocents for the greed and glory of the five nations. The years ticked on and the skirmishes continued, lighting the skies with the glint of war like the Northern Lights, fervent hues of crimson painting the sky and the ground alike, fanning the flames across a trail seen only by the souls of the departed. As the skies’ hues darkened with the enmity openly embraced, so did the ground with the same enmity spilled: The blood of the people that the wars were supposed to hold the ideals of collecting in the sky to rain its havoc upon the world once more; stirring the blinding passion within the minds of those who yet lived without being ravaged. This righteousness, the curse of holding the self aloof from one’s kin, caused the season of eternal War to repeat like a cycle. The constant clash of steel resounded through the lands like a macabre heartbeat, like a pulse for the entity gripping the land with its routine. There was little to be done about such an entity, of course, for it existed not in the world of reality, but within the minds of the Kage that had declared the ending of the season of peace...
Immortality, ironically, also had its end. From the flames of war the ashes of the departed rose up in protest and reclaimed what they had lost; peace. The ashes became just that: Ashes, never to reclaim again. And with their departing the season said to never end halted.
Riverneld is a small river-side settlement, located in the kingdom of Tyrneld. Riverneld was once a happy, flourishing place – back when the rivers were still open, and merchants were allowed to travel up and down the river system, selling their goods in the village – bringing in a huge amount of revenue for the town. But, seventy-five years ago, King Genn came into power, stopping all trade along the rivers, ordering the merchants to travel overland to their destinations instead, and pay their gold at his toll booths. As a result, Riverneld fell into poverty, many of the people who had lived in the once-flourishing settlement packing up and moving away. The district of Riverneld, and the surrounding hamlets and farmsteads, were placed under the jurisdiction of Sheriff James Sidorov a few years later. Since then, the villagers have lived in fear, oppressed by the man who was meant to protect them. The story is about the villager’s day-to-day lives, and how they are oppressed by this hypocrite of a man, until one day, when something happens, that causes them to snap and stand up for what is right..
Featured Interest Checks
Title: Against the Jade Empire
Thousands of years ago The Jade Empire took control of the Eastern Continent and the original inhabitants fled leaving behind the one, most powerful tool known to them. The Crystal Throne.
They took with them six small pieces of the throne however. One attached to a necklace which stayed with the Nethlim (the original natives that how'd the Eastern Continent)
One was worked into a ring which was given to the King of Calendore and passed down to the sister of the throne. She acted as the kings body guard.
One was worked into the hilt of a ceremonial dagger left with the Order of Light. The dagger stays in the possession of each High Priest, the orders main focus is in spreading the word of peace from village to city.
The fourth piece of Dream Crystal was worked into the cross guard of a sword. The sword originally belonged to Lord Halgrin of the Sacred Knights. The Knights started as the personal guard of a small kingdom in the south of Iligesia but has since grown into a highly skilled and valued mercenary group.
The fifth crystal belongs to Jade, passed down from mother to daughter she wears her crystal on a leather cord around her neck at all times and has never been parted from it. (NPC that I will be controlling)
The sixth was set into the back of an armored right hand gauntlet. This item has been lost over the milennia.
Iligesia is the worlds western most continent and currently split into motherboard and southern halves, divided by the Spine of the World a massive mountain range running from East to West across the continent.
After three thousand years the Emperor of the Jade Empire wants the crystals back and he has launched an Armada larger than any nation has ever seen to conquer and destroy until the crystals are found.
Need five players obviously. The crystals and items they're attached to will be in the possession of each character at the start with the exception of the gauntlet, it will be acquired in the first few posts by one of the players marking the beginning of the battle against the Empire. There's quite a bit of backstory that will be revealed in bits and pieces by Jade to your characters as we go along.
The crystals themselves are of a dark blue color like a saphire. Those capable of using the dream crystals as a focus for magic emit a sky blue colored energy whenever they tap into the energy of the Dreaming.
I have a tendency to run the rule of power has its price like its the only rule in existence. Therefore weapons of power, battalion magical abilities or anything like that should have a counter, a detrimental effect of some kind.
The Dream Shapers ability to utilize Dream energy is the prime example in this rp. Using Dream Energy is highly addictive and also has a tendency to have physical effects on the user after a long enough exposure. Like a drug addiction the only way to lower the effects of dream buildup is to abstain from its use. Depending on your actions in game I will inform each player through PM how far along their addiction is progressing.
I will be using Jade as my main example of what happens when addiction grows to too high a level.
So lemme know what you guys think, I'll be filling in more details as we go along here and if I get enough players I will post a cs and I'll put up Jade as my example for how the sheet should look.
Title: Surviving: The End (zombie survival)
I know zombie survivals are a bit rampant at the moment, so I wanna try a few different things. This will be rated R. There will be violence, swearing, adult situations and maybe some titties. I also posted in casual, so I'm hoping I get more bites in one place or another and not mixed.
Story line: You look around you cell and sigh. Not much of a cell to be honest, it had damn near all of the accommodations you would expect from most hotels; private bathroom, kitchenette, full bed, tv (although the cable access is extremely limited to shows that show no current events/news). But it was a cell that in you were not allowed out. Life for the last 2 months has been this cell.
The only problem is that no one has come for over 4 days and food was starting to get low. To some degree, at this point you know the facility was lost and that the zombies had made their way in. But you did find a slight comfort in the fact that it was outside, and in here, all was safe. As you spend time eating, staring at the door, you wondered to yourself if there was some way to open the door and if there was, was it WORTH opening?
What had happened to the world in the 2 months you'd been locked in here? The world was already in bad shape when you were put in here; last you heard, there were small conflicts as when the first dead started to rise, a handful of countries started to point the finger at countries that were pointing their fingers elsewhere. Pakistan sent a small tactical nuclear weapon at India. Iran fired a nuke at Israel that failed to make it through.
That was 3 months prior to you getting stuck in here. Now, what to do?
-There are 2 reasons you are locked away. 1. You are immune to every form of the virus, regardless of delivery method. If you get bit and live, you're ok. 2. You have a talent. It can be killing, computer knowledge, you could be a doctor, an airplane mechanic...or the family member of some wealthy family member who pulled strings to get you inside and safe.
-You are connected to another survivor. Before we start RPing, we will get together and figure out who, either randomly or by choice, then we'll has out relationships individually. This is because I don't want this to just be a "kill zombies and survive" story. I want to focus on individuals and how they adapt. How they change and how others view them.
-Your family and friends are dead. By all means, they could have been alive when you were taken or you volunteered to be isolated, but now, they are dead. You can look for them, if the group will go, or not. Up to you. But rest assured they are dead.
-There ARE other survivors. Most are immune like you. There is a 10-15% immunity rate in humans. The immunity rate in most animals is 80-90%. Yes, there may be a zombie hippo.
-When the dead started to rise, any body dead up to 5 days, whose brain was still intact, rose. The "infection" is spread by bite and takes 6-20 hours to turn. In that 6-20 hour incubation period, the virus is transmitted easiest, sexually, airborne, contact with orifices.
-The facility you start in is a well stocked CDC post. You could most likely live some time there, although there may be a few undead who made their way in, or died while you were locked up and turned.
-Zombies die of old age. When a dead body is reanimated, they will "live" for the approximate age the dead would have lived to based solely on age. Meaning if the guy was 20, and had cancer and would die in a week, he'll now live to somewhere between 80-90. Zombies eat flesh. They'll eat brains, skin, chicken, bologna, whatever. It can be fresh, frozen or rotten.
-There will be a few zombie types, but nothing crazy. Some may be faster, or somewhat smarter. That will be added later.
-This is (hopefully) Season 1. I want to start and stop somewhere, then maybe take on new people, or have us RP new characters. If you can make a character willing to die at some point, awesome. I know I will. Because of this, I will allow 2 characters per person if you so desire.
Let me know if you're interested. I don't plan on starting this ASAP because I want us to be on the same page and have quality people and back stories and the such.
Hope to hear something back.
Title: Running the Gauntlet
Hosted By: Rilla
“Yeah, it was hell in there. No reprieve, except for when the doctor was patching us up. There was no magic either, just some straight out, modern medicine and bone setting. A broken leg pretty much guaranteed you were fucked for the coming fights. Only way to survive was to take them out quick as they come. If you couldn’t do that, back in my day, you weren’t making it through the rest of the night with a win. Even I couldn’t do it, and I’m damn good at this shit.
But don’t listen to the babbling of an old challenger, you gotta make your own way now. I don’t think much has changed, except the type of rabble they allow in here. What are you anyway? An Elf? Weren’t none of your kind allowed in when I was around.”
Interesting discussions are always going on, come join in and chat about our mutual hobby
Tempest wonders how long everyone on here on RPG has been roleplaying for, and also what level of roleplaying that you prefer to stick to. Free, casual or advanced.
RPG has a lovely Gallery section that doesn’t see enough encouragement and attention. If you have some scribbles lying around or some art you’d like to share start up a gallery and show people what you can do outside of an RP! While you are there take a moment to offer some encouragement and insight in another user's gallery, maybe they will return the favor. If you'd like your gallery to be featured be sure to send a PM to either Lillian Thorne or Guru.
Art Gallery: My name is Sophi (on the internet)
Sophistikit has a lovely gallery up with some adorable and interesting plushies as well as some more traditional art. Go scope it out and see the wide range of things she can do!
Writing Gallery: Gallery of Darkness
Char who likes to work with the themes of Love and tragedy has a gallery up that holds a few works they would like critiqued. Also in the gallery is a series of photos from what looks to have been a lovely day. Stop by and offer your insight if you have the time.
Official ContestsDon’t forget about RPG’s Official Monthly contests Artists of the Month and Writer of the Month, the prize is a nifty colored user title. The contestants work really hard and put out some outstanding work. Stop by and check it out and while you are there don’t forget to Vote and Comment on the Contest entries, the more votes and comments, the more satisfying the victory is! We could always use more people. If you want to get involved and send in an entry, please see the Contest section of the site. Remember the more, the merrier!
This Month's AOTM, Beauty and the Beast, is still Voting until March 31st. Casual - Advanced
This month's WOTM, Machine is accepting Entries until tomorrow, March 24th.
Make sure to check out the changes to WOTM. You may read them here and discuss them here.
February's AOTM’s Advanced Winner, StarcallerFebruary's AOTM’s Casual Winner, Love That PandaLast Month's WOTM Advanced Winner, HeroguyThe wind was calm, the ocean calmer.
The captain gazed down at the immaculate body of water thousands of feet below him approvingly. While his ships might not sail upon the waters anymore, he found that a restless ocean led to restless winds, which would be unfortunate for his fleet. But fair winds meant fast sailing, which of course was essential for a good pirate. Getting in and out was the most important part of pillaging, not the pillaging itself.
"Cap'n?" The captain stiffened momentarily as he heard the voice behind him, then relaxed. The captain wasn't used to having his thoughts interrupted on the deck of his flagship; any problems the fleet had usually could be handled by the first mates. The only thing that required his explicit attention was something that affected the entire fleet.
The captain turned around. "Whaddaya want, crewmen?"
The pirate held out an ornate scroll. "Letter for ya, cap'n."
The boy that stood before the captain was little more then a teenager. He'd obviously recently been promoted from deck-boy or cannon-monkey; his pirate's sneer wasn't very well-developed. He didn't even have a guttural growl.
The captain glared at the boy, and he flinched. Swiping the scroll out of the crewman's hands, he examined it.
The other pirate started uneasily. "Are... are ya gonna-"
The captain snarled at the upstart crewman. "Bugger off, ya shitheaded wench's bitch!" As the pirate retreated, the captain planted his captain's boot into the man's backside, sending him sprawling.
Grunting in disgust at the now-crawling pirate, the captain returned to his letter. With just a hint of apprehension, he unraveled the scroll.
The scroll was painted with narrow black lines, some vertical, some horizontal, others in between. The lines formed a series of symbols, each with it's own beauty and meaning.
"Hail, swarthy son-of-pigs! Your wooden abominations continue to mar the skyline with their hulking forms. We have seen fit to bring out the Imperial fleet to sink your ragtag flotilla of childrens' rafts, once and for all! I, Shinjo Hijiko, challenge the pirates to honorable (if you even know the meaning of that word, pig-filth) combat, for mastery of the skies! ~The Ninjas."
The captain's worst fears were confirmed. The ninjas had declared an end to the threadbare peace that had been placed between their armies several years ago, and were arming for a confrontation.
The captain bellowed an order, and a deck-boy rushed out of the ship's cabin nearby, throwing a hasty salute. "Yes sir?"
The captain tossed the scroll to the boy. "Gather me first mates. We hav' ah war tah plan."
The captain stood at the prow of his flagship, wheel in hand. His greatcoat fluttered about him in the ship's turbulence; the ship was going almost full speed through the sky, breaking the feeling of stillness he had experienced earlier.
The pirate captain was an impressive sight. His coat reached down to his ankles; it was made of black-blue leather and reinforced by hidden chainmail. A 'gift' from a Royal Admiral. Looped through numerous holsters on and inside his coat were pistols; all told, almost twenty. Each was loaded and ready to fire. At his belt were two cutlasses and a long, ornate rapier.
The captain himself was aging; his hair and beard were long and black, with streaks of gray. His one good eye smoldered in its socket, constantly analyzing and reanalyzing his surroundings. His entire face was overshadowed by his captain's hat.
Quite possibly the largest ship ever to grace the skies, the Whiplash, his flagship was in full battle mode; all of its cannons were out and ready to fire, every one of its sails were at full mast, and every man in its crew on alert.
Following the Whiplash were a flotilla of powerful ships, nearly four dozen in all. Every one was headed by a first mate, hand-picked by the captain. These ships were of all different sizes; some were nearly as big as the Whiplash, some hardly the size of caravels. Each ship was crawling with activity, as final battle preparations were made. Pirates grabbed their weapons, hoisted sails, loaded cannons, and prepared their gunpowder.
The captain felt a surge of power and pride in his chest, as he did every time he saw his fleet prepare for war. He had raised this fleet from nothing, from scattered ships and shitsplat coastal towns. The captain was the legendary Pirate Admiral, the cruel master of the seas.
A pirate lackey stepped up to the captain, saluted rather smartly, and delivered a report. "The ninja armada has been sighted, captain. Straight ahead." The captain nodded, dismissing the crewman, and rubbed his palms together in gleeful anticipation, watching the horizon eagerly for the fleet. Soon, it would be close enough to be seen with the ordinary eye, not just a telescope.
A smudge appeared on the horizon. It might have been a cloud, but the captain knew better. He turned around and signaled to the men behind him, each ready to relay orders. "Decelerate and turn about! Train your broadsides on the ninjas!" Immediately they scattered, taking orders to the far reaches of the armada.
The captain took hold of the wheel of the Whiplash and rolled it, turning the ship in a ninety-degree angle. Behind him, the other ships of the fleet trained the sides of their ships on the approaching smudge. His enormous ship now turned and ready to fire, the captain yanked out two pistols, watching the cloudy smudge warily. It now appeared to be a horde of smudges; some brown, some black, some white, all zooming in at full speed.
The captain's runners were back and ready to relay more orders. "Prepare tah fire! All troops, train yer weapons! Fire on me mark!" The crewmen scattered once more.
As the captain watched, the smudges turned into recognizable shapes. In the middle stood the enormous ninja flagship, the Kōgi no Arashi, whose size rivaled the Whiplash. The rest of the ships were much less impressive but infinitely more numerous; hundreds of small ships floats
about the Kōgi no Arashi, each holding its own payload of ninja fury.
The captain aimed one of his pistols. His target, a ninja on one of the frontal small boats, stood at the prow, sword in hand. The range was much too great for any pistol to hit at that range, but the captain fired anyways. A loud boom! sounded as the gunpowder in his pistol ignited, launching a lead pellet at the ninja fleet.
Upon hearing the gun fire, the cannon monkeys below deck immediately began firing the cannons. Before the sound of the captain's pistol had faded completely, cannons on the Whiplash were blasting away.
The sound of cannons fired was enough to alert the entire fleet. Soon, the air was thick with cannonballs.
The captain had timed the attack well. The ships were just within reasonable range of the cannons when they fired. The captain watched as the ninja ships burst into flame and sank, taking their crews with them to the depths.
All along the pirate line, thousands of pirates fired their own weapons over the side of the ship. Their arsenal was as motley as they were; some wielded full-on muskets, others pistols, more with bows, crossbows, and deck cannons. Still more were equipped with nothing more then a smile and two flaming bottles of precious rotgut. The captain himself fired each of his pistols, one after another, at the approaching ninja fleet. Every shot slew a ninja.
Dozens of enemy ships fell, yet the ninja charge was not to be denied. More found ways around, over, under, and through the barrage. The first of the ninja ships drew close to the pirate fleet, and the ninja offloaded.
Those ninjas with the skill to do so ninja-ported, appearing behind the pirates. Those who did not jumped aboard, either above-deck or sneaking their way in from below. The sounds of steel clashing echoed up and down the fleet, as katana and cutlass met again and again.
The ninjas were elite, but few in number and often uncoordinated. Lone wolves, ninjas rarely executed effective group tactics. The captain's hand-picked first mates, however, knew just how to bring the pirates' overwhelming majority in numbers to bear, overwhelming lone ninja and picking them off with barrages of musket fire and arrows.
The captain's own Whiplash was under assault, as well. Two boarding parties were already aboard, wrecking havoc. The captain fired into the mess of combat on his deck, picking off ninjas too busy to block bullets.
A crewman stuck his head out of a nearby staircase. "Cap'n! The ninjas are trying to sink your ship from the inside out!" The pirate had barely gotten his warning out before a stray kunai impaled him in the chest.
The captain was outraged. "Sink MY ship!? Yer goin' tah pay fer that, ninja scum!" Stepping over the dead pirate, he charged below-decks.
It was chaos. Pirates and ninjas sparred in the enclosed below-decks, while cannon monkeys still scurried around the artillery, unable to do anything else without weapons. The pirates and ninjas were of equal numbers, which meant the pirates were hopelessly outclassed. With a roar, the captain charged into battle.
Deflecting several thrown weapons, he impaled a careless ninja upon his rapier and hacked at another his his cutlass. Dropping the rapier, he drew another cutlass, bring both down at once upon a ninja. The ninja attempted to block, but he wasn't strong enough, and the ninja fell with his head split in two places. Blood splashed onto the planks.
Shit, that's going to take days to mop up. Ah well, they certainly had enough cabin boys for the job.
The captain hacked and slashed, stabbed and swung, not counting his kills and not caring. Ninja after ninja, unable to stand against his brute strength, collapsed under his blades.
Eventually, the ninjas were forced to retreat. The captain was too powerful; he could not be defeated by mere peons. All the same, ninjas weren't ones for retreating so quickly. What had they come down here for?
As the captain reloaded a few of his pistols, a crewman pounded down the stairs. "Cap'n! The enemy flagship is here!"
The captain frowned. "Whaddaya mean?" Surely they hadn't gotten this close...?
The captain followed the crewman above-decks, and saw that, indeed, they had. The ship had drawn right beside the Whiplash. Pirates and ninja clashed on both decks.
Ah, that's why they attacked my cannons. They were sabotaging them so I couldn't fire at point-blank range. The captain watched the battle closely, not yet participating. If the enemy flagship was here... then HE must be here.
Suddenly the captain saw one of his crewman fall for no apparent reason. Another pirate beside him was slain immediatly afterwards; his throat was slit, but no dagger could be seen.
The captain braced himself, concentrated, then yanked out a pistol and fired it at a specific spot in the crowd.
The bullet ricocheted, seemingly off thin air. A moment later, a dark form appeared. He had not been invisible... not in the usual sense. He was simply so seasoned of a ninja that no eye could follow him. In each hand he held a long ninja blade, one of which had just been used to deflect a bullet.
The ninja slowly went into a battle stance. “Ah, the captain of this filthy mob has finally come to the party!” Shinjo grinned, but his eyes shimmered with rage. He was a handsome, Japanese man, cloaked in black ninja armor. The armor was made of pieces of light metal and leather, and inlaid with ornate silver.
The rest of the pirates and ninjas stopped fighting, each cowed by the presence of their respective masters. They formed a silent ring around
the two soon-to-be combatants.
The captain laughed. “Shut yer trap, Shinjo. I been here th' whole time, killin' yer precious assassins.”
Shinjo's face no longer looked amused. He was obviously just barely holding back his rage. “You will pay, pirate, for slaughtering my men.” He raised his blades.
The captain raised his own rapier. “Yer th' one who started dis nonsense, ninja. Th' live o' yer men are on yer own head.”
The ninja stopped. A moment passed. “What did you say?”
The captain was puzzled, but he responded, angry now. “Yer th' one who broke th' peace-treaty, cowardly ninja! Challeng'n me fleet to 'honorable combat'.” The pirate snorted.
Shinjo glared. “It was not I that initiated this conflict, pirate! YOU were the one who broke the oath!”
The captain's eyebrows raised. “Yew sent me a challenge, didn'cha?”
The ninja master sniffed, offended. “I would never stoop to such idiocy. If I wanted to kill you, I would do so in the cover of night. That is the ninja way. YOU were the one who challenged ME.”
The captain and the master faced each other. Another couple of moments passed. Both faces stared to go white.
“We... we were tricked?!” They both spoke simultaneously.
A roaring sound suddenly blasted out of nowhere. Both leaders spun around, dumbfounded, as a figure blasted out of nowhere and landed on the deck.
Old-fashioned boots landed squarely on the planks. The boots were made of some leather hide or another; spurs adorned the heels of the boots. Slowly, the man stepped forward, his brown leather jacket fluttering in a sudden breeze, his hands on his hips. Below each hand, on his waist, were two holsters, each boasting a steel six-shooter. The man's hat overshadowed his face; all one could see was the man's roughly-shaved chin and his mischievous smile. Above that, his eyes shined with vitality. On his back was a streamlined device, with boosters and gasoline tanks. A jetpack.
The cowboy spoke. “Well, howdy there, ya pack o' damn fools!” The cowboy grinned like a madman. “Betcha didn't expect ol' Cowboy Bill tah be here, didja?” The cowboy spit over the edge of the ship.
The captain spoke, dumbfounded. “Yew did this! Yew started th' war!”
The cowboy chuckled. “'Course I did. How else wuz I supposed tah take yew both out?” The cowboy's hands fluttered over his revolvers. “I done been hired by the Royals tah ice th' both y'all. The head ninja and th' boss pirate. Figgered I could get 'em both together, take 'em out at the same time, ya know? Yew two are so easy tah manipulate. Took ten minutes and two letters to break yer 'peace treaty'. Who'd ya think ya were foolin' with that, anyhow? Pirates an' ninjas will always be fightin' each other.” The cowboy grinned even wider. “I jus' broke what was gonna be broken eventually anyhow.”
Blood roared in the captain's ear. “Th' deaths o' me crew... it be YOUR fault!” The captain yanked out his cutlasses, spitting in the cowboy's direction. “Ah'll spike yer fool 'ead on th' end o' me ship fer this treachery!”
Shinjo raised his own katanas. “You will die this day, cowboy. The souls of my fallen men ride with me into battle.” Behind them, pirates and ninjas alike trained their weapons on the vigilante cowboy.
Cowboy Bill just smiled and snapped his fingers.
The roar of engines cut into the silence, as two dozen flying motorbikes blasted out of nowhere, crashing into the ranks of the combines Ninja-Pirate force. Cowboys dismounted, howling battle cries and slinging about six-shooters. Both the captain and the master charged at Bill, blades whirling.
Cowboy Bill just chuckled. He flicked a switch, and his jetpack roared into life, lifting him effortlessly into the air. Fast as lightning, the bounty hunter whipped out both revolvers and fired them both. The captain and the ninja master blocked, but they were launched back by the sheer force. Both rolled to the side as more bullets pierced the planks. “Yee-hawww! Take this, ya outdated fuckfaces!” Cowboy Bill laughed maniacally, blasting away at the captain and the ninja.
The two combatants barely got away in time, hiding inside a cabin. They stood face to face once more, listening to the sounds of combat outside.
Shinjo and the captain glared at each other. A katana tickled the captain's beard, and a pistol aimed at Shinjo's forehead.
The captain spoke first. “Th' truce is back on, ninja. Neither o' us meant this tah be. We're both dead, an' our allies captain-less, if'n we don't team up.”
Silence reigned for a moment. The ninja lowered his blade, and the captain his gun. “Very well, pirate. We do this together.” The ninja raised his blade warningly. “This is only a one-time thing, though, pirate! Don't go getting any ideas.”
The captain continued to grin, his guns ready and waiting. “Yeah. Le's go kill us a cowboy.”
In tandem, the two charged around the corner, straight for Bill.
Cowboy Bill was ready for them. Each gun focused on one combatant, firing away at the two of them. Shinjo teleported repeatedly, continuing to dash at the flying cowboy. The captain sidestepped and raised his pistols, firing at Bill, who was forced to dodge. Blades struck at Bill from nowhere, but the cowboy's steel revolvers blocked the sneak attack.
Bill sneered. “Yer sneak-attack and ancient pistols ain't gonna do shit to us Western badasses!” Bill booted the ninja away with one shoe and concentrated fire on the captain, who was forced to take cover behind a barrel
The captain waited as Bill fired again. Beside him, Shinjo materialized. “Aight. On three, ninja.” Shinjo nodded. Bullets flew overhead. “One...”
Bill laughed. “Gettin' behind cover, huh? not about tah save ya!” More bullets whizzed around and into the barrel. It was only a matter of time before some came through.
The pirate dropped his pistols and drew his cutlasses. “Two...”
The dry click-clicking sound of empty chambers echoed from Bill's guns. “Three.”
Shinjo teleported, and the captain leapt over the barrel, charging straight for Bill. The cowboy reloaded fast as lightning, but a sudden shadow flashed, and the guns were knocked away. “Shit! Fucking ninja!” The captain snarled and jumped as high as he could. A grin twisted his lips as he plunged his blades into the cowboy's chest.
The combined weight of Bill and the captain sent the jetpack tumbling over the sides, towards the ocean. Bill stared into the captain's eyes. “You... bastard...”
The captain snorted and slit the man's throat. “Las' words, wasted onna insult. Cl'ssy.” With a swipe of his cutlasses, Bill fell away from his jetpack and tumbled toward the ocean, his cowboy's hat fluttering on the wind. The captain viciously stabbed it in mid-air with his cutlass, impaling it on his blade.
The captain flew back up, worried about what he might see on the deck. Did that slippery ninja ambush my men, just when I wasn't expecting it?
But his men weren't fighting; they were partying. The other cowboys had taken off after the death of their leader, and the combined pirate and ninja army was ready to celebrate, both to victory and new-found peace. It was only just getting started, but already the pirates had procured booze and wenches from nowhere. The ninjas joined in with surprising abandon, glad to see the battle over... and overeager to prove they could hold their liquor just as well as the pirates could.
The crew cheered as the captain landed on the deck of the Whiplash. The captain raised his blade, with the bloody cowboy hat impaled on it, and the crew went wild.
As he tossed away the jetpack, Shinjo appeared beside him. He looked troubled. “This peace will not last. The others did not.”
The captain grabbed a bottle of grog and took a hearty swig. He grinned at the ninja master, eyes glittering. He was drunk on victory “Yeah?”
The ninja nodded gravely. “Yes. It is as Cowboy Bill said. We are ninjas, you are pirates. Natural enemies. This peace simply cannot and will not continue long.”
The captain drank that in, turning it over in his mind. Eventually he spoke. “Doesn't matter, does it? We're at peace, fer now. Tha's all. An'...” The pirate watched as one of his first mates arm-wrestled an elite ninja, while the crowd cheered. “An' I think this peace will las' as long as we wan' it tah. If''n we play our cards right, mebbe we can cheat fate.” The pirate raised his bottle. “Tah peace.”
The ninja was impassive a moment, then raised a flask of sake “To peace.”
The captain and the ninja drank to peace... but their eyes never left the other's weapons. True peace would be a long time in coming. If it came at all.Last Month’s WOTM Casual Winner, wXwThe carpentress's husband
In the sea of thorns
.shivers his ship
..of bread made, and jam,
...to the empty Ocean's void.
The butchered wolf looks at me
-How long will this agony last?
.Why am I not dead?- asks he.
Oh dear, so I wished too, long past.
Larger than any
.sharper than many
..harder than most,
.falls onto the planks
..of his broken ship.
.They break, they breach,
and howling screech.
The butchered wolf looks at me
-Please! Please make it end!
.I bear it no more!- says he.
Oh dear, so I wished too, my friend.
Many a hole I carve
.in the broken hull,
..and drowning in such delight
.his skin I savor and bite.
...Ah! What a taste!
..What a power!
.What a waste!
The butchered wolf looks at me
-You win! You win, I lose!- says he.
-I win, I win, and you die!- say I.
Bloodily crippled, he starts to cry.
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Next Guild News: April, 6th 2012