DIPLOMACY IN REAL TIME
Previously: Meddling Fool
Themesong: Just Dance by Lady Gaga
I think I might have pissed the Banker off. Either that or he’s just fucking with me. I have literally never even heard of the next world. I’ve been to jumps where I knew almost nothing going in… but I actually do know nothing at all about whatever “Divinity: Dragon Commander” is.
I read the intro blurb “With great machines of war, the old Emperor bound together a fractured realm. The Emperor married and sired many children. He even had a love-child with mysterious Aura, an ancient dragon in a woman’s guise. Once united, peace was declared in Rivellon and bloodshed soon forgotten. This peace was shattered when the Emperor’s sons and daughters rose against him. Desperate to safeguard the Emperor’s legacy, the wizard Maxos sought the help of the one child that never betrayed their father. They would be the one to save the empire from ruin and, to aid him in his quest, Maxos delivered unto them the Imperial Command Ship known as “The Raven”. This is your story, Dragon Commander!”
Great. I see from the footage that there are airships and stuff. Dragons and Airships, wizards and emperors and asshole siblings. I was 23… and had to choose between Human (Politics), Elf (Nature), Dwarf (Business), Lizard (Military), Imp (Technical), Undead (Luck), and Drop-In (bugger all). The canonical MC was a human male… well… half-human, half-dragon male. But it was clear that whatever I picked would be the half that wasn’t dragon… that was new… must be a video game jump. Only Video Game Jumps (and not all of them) placed me into the role of MC instead of being added to the canon. Human or Lizard were both tempting. I’d come back to this. Either one would cost me 300 CP for their racial perk.
But before that, I got Dragon Form and Political Marriage as freebies. The first gave me a dragon form that I could slip into and out of at will. While in that form I’d gain considerable passive health regen while not in combat (huh… wonder how that would stack), the ability to shoot fireballs (from my mouth, I assumed) and (obviously) flight. While in other forms I’d lose the regen and flight, but could keep my Dragon Skills… and as a Dragon Knight my lifespan would be much longer than it would be otherwise.Not sure how useful any of that would be aside from the whole being a fire-breathing giant lizard, but that wasn’t nothing.
The Political Marriage was just lovely. I was, apparently, going to have to marry in order to bind together the peoples of my empire. Whether princesses or princes, I’d have an option from each of the 6 civilized races. I could choose to take my new spouse as a companion… or I could import a companion as one of my prospective spouses, giving them a race of your choice and history for free. It was, in a word, a disastrously bad and nearly pointless perk. It offered nothing besides an insider in in-world politics… while at the same time creating a potential rift in my companion group’s internal politics. I didn’t need precog to already be able to hear the squabbling over who was going to get that coveted slot.
Zane would demand (half jokingly, half seriously) that he’d make the best possible ally and that the marriage would be political, not sexual or emotional. AJ would want in simply out of fanatical loyalty to me. Francy would want in because of the dresses, she was the biggest clothes horse in our group aside from Bao. RayRay would object to anyone besides her being picked as Dragon Princess… if she woke up. Uriel and Bao were two shades of politician; both were almost certain to toss their hats into the ring to defend their claim on the post of second in command in Imperial Politics. Cirno would be a pain just because she was one… and she wouldn’t give up because seeing logic wasn’t her just not her strong point, it wasn’t in the same universe as her.
And all that before my actual lovers got into the debate. Decades are a long time and we were a close knit group, but relationships are fluid, changing and evolving and convoluting. We were family, most of us, Kagetane notwithstanding. Yoiko and Ryoga were as competitive about me as only siblings can be. Velma seemed to view our relationship, never super serious, as a challenge, constantly coming up with ways to surprise me, though of course I wasn’t the only one, since she did the same with Kendra and even Cirno from time to time. Mini & Franky… well… outside of the military’s rules… don’t ask and I won’t tell. Yes, this perk was going to be sooo much fun. I needed a place to hide before I was forced to take sides. That wouldn’t go well.
Aside from the racial perks (one each), and the freebies, there were two general perks, one for recruitment, one for production. But instead of an item list, there were dragon form upgrades. Oddly enough, I wasn’t particularly thrilled by any of the drawbacks… and with nations at my beck and call, I didn’t exactly feel like upping the challenge by, say, making myself a drunk, a coward, a snob, a straw feminist, or a demonic thrall, nor did I feel like inflicting saboteurs, mercenaries, or bad luck upon my forces. That left “Phantom Limb” which would merely deprive me of a limb and give me frequent, intense, and incredibly unpleasant surges of pain. A decade of pain, fighting a massive war… I’d consider if the 300 CP was worth it after I looked through the Dragon Form upgrades.
There were three different Draconic Forms; Sabre, Mountain, Zephyr. Sabres were versatile, Mountains were powerful, and Zephyrs were magical. I went with Zephyr, Proud and highly gifted, hands off and supportive. The Zephyr form came with Purifying Flames (Your dragonfire turns blue and can be used to heal you and your allies.) and Friends with Benefits (A shield you can cast on an ally, reducing all damage they take by 50%. Any hit inflicted on this shield also heals you for 100% of the damage done.). Zephyrs also got a discount on Ray of Power (You may choose an ally within 2,000 meters of you. This ally will become roughly 75% more powerful in both physical and ability strength.), Mass Restoration (You fully heal a friendly target and all friendly units within a 500 meter radius around it. 30 second cooldown.), and Charm (You can charm an enemy unit so that it temporarily fights for your side. After 150 seconds, it becomes an enemy again. 30 second cooldown.). All that cost me 500 CP, and it was kinda nice to see concrete numbers for once… even if they apparently offered no room for growth.
I considered that, if I took drunk I could get another 100 and swap it all for a second racial perk… but I wasn’t feeling it, and a mass charm, mass heal combo wasn’t anything to sneer at.
That left me with just a race to pick. The Lizardman’s Tactical Genius was incredible… it really was. “Your plans are so brilliant, elegant, and complex that even history’s greatest tacticians could never understand them in full.” But it had two counter indicators. Lizardmen in this world were fugly… (as were the Imps)… though attractive in an alien sort of way. I wouldn’t have a problem looking at one across the table… but I certainly didn’t want to look at one in the mirror. The other problem was the limited scope. Tactics are battlefield level. Strategy is campaign level. If it covered both, I’d be all over it… But I couldn’t tell if it did, and the battlefield was too small a context to take it over the Human’s “Politician” which said “You are the consummate politician, capable of gaining and keeping support of even the most ornery and diametrically opposed parties. As well as clear judgement, this requires charisma, which you have in spades. You are a master manipulator, capable of always having the perfect line, tone, or expression to best facilitate getting what you want.” A charisma boost fit with my general theme. One that came with clear judgement and a manipulation booster, especially when getting opposed forces to work together… that was almost cheating! And so that’s what I took… plus, I like having human ears, Elfin ears keep catching on things.
My last 200 went into Mass Production “Factories and other areas of manufacturing under your control are strangely efficient. There are no accidents, they produce little waste, often work under cost, and produce things very quickly.” Couldn’t pass that up.
As it turned out… Cirno won the battle for Dragon Princess. Never play poker against an idiot fairy apparently. Luck, huh… though I can’t tell if that’s her good luck or my bad… especially since she picked Imp because “They’re soooo kyoooot!” I can’t believe I’m not getting CP back for this.
Ahab went Undead, picking Mountain Dragon as his dragon form, and Joy completed the trifecta with Sabre Dragon, in her case Elfin. The Mountain Dragon had Acid Blaze (highly corrosive, sticky, acidic fireballs.) and Rejuvenation (improved regen in both dragon and normal forms). Sabre Dragons had “Advance!” (all allies within 1600 meters more 60% faster for 10 seconds, 1 minute cooldown) and Soar (50% faster flight speed.).
What made me laugh was who’d ended up winning the lotto to be their respective Ducal consorts. Zane was paired with Joy (only he and AJ had signed up for it), and Toph was paired with Ahab (Petra was sulking a bit at that). Zane had picked Dwarf for the beer… and Toph had chosen Lizard simply to complete the six-pack. All it got them was a history, friends & connections in this world, and a new alt-form… but it was better than being a nobody.
I appeared on the bridge of a massive armored airship, being talked to by a dude with glowing eyes. He was rambling on about great generals and how I’d have to reclaim the empire from my brothers and sisters and I held up a hand. “Whoa, dude. Chill. Ain’t gonna happen.”
“Look, I have approximately Zero interest in ruling an Empire right now. I have… things… I need to work out. It’s nice that you think I’m all that, but really, my qualifications to be Emperor, as far as you can see, are… One… My daddy was Crownhead and Two… I didn’t betray him. These are not good qualifications to choose a leader. Granted,” I said, forestalling the old guy’s sputtering protest, “My idiot siblings have even less good qualifications, seeing as how they did betray dear old dad and shatter the empire into feuding fiefdoms. But we’re not going to repeat a cycle of civil wars every time the Emperor gets old. No. We’re doing this up right. Head towards my nearest sibling.”
“But… the enemy fleet is in the way.”
“Heh. Right. Sure they are.”
Collecting my erstwhile siblings took a month. Fuck a duck dad had a lot of kids. They were, to a man and woman, not pleased at how me and my crack squad of miscreants had disabled every airship we’d come across. They also were less than pleased that my command ship, The Raven”, had impenetrable shielding (thanks Star Trek… if Romulans are having a hard time getting through it… ain’t noooo way Steampunk Elves are.)
“You assholes are assholes,” I said as I entered the very comfortable council-room slash prison cell I’d locked them all in. “I can’t trust any of you, and the people would have to be insane to trust any of us after the bullshit you just pulled. Which is why each and every one of you morons and patricides are going to help me turn the Empire into a Republic.” They all looked confused and outraged. I explained my plan. They looked more confused and outraged. I explained that each of them was free to challenge me to single combat anywhere, any time. Then I applied fists to faces as they tried dogpiling me. I think Dad might have been a carrier for some neurological problems.
Three weeks of much the same nonsense later, I’d finished giving each of the sociopathic heirs of empire so much needed Psychosurgery. Might not have been entirely ethical, but good god… these people were assholes!
Putting out the fires they’d started took a couple of years, but then again, teaching the subjects of the Empire about Republican Government took pretty much the entire decade. Yeah, I could have spent it gloriously at war, crushing all who stood in my way… but where’s the challenge? At least this way I got to wear a silly hat, pound a desk with Mjolnir, and yell “No! You’re out of Order!” a lot.
Being Emperor is hard work. Being Prime Minister? Now that’s fun! Also, the sex is better when you’re not trying to establish a dynasty.
Egg hasn’t so much as twitched. Dunno if I should be doing something about it.
Next: World 46 – Killing Me Softly
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