Spectator - Chapter 14: Rustic Inn.
1% Experience or 1% Sensitivity.
Whatever you like to call it.
The sensitivity level dictates how the game is played. Almost to the extent that it feels like a completely different game at different sensitivity levels.
One of the main parts of the combat system of [New Century] is the concept of vital points; if you were to attack at the vital point of your enemy, you would either deal additional damage or have a secondary effect associated with it, such as slows or bleeds.
And with 1% sensitivity, Vital points become irrelevant. How and why? I don’t know. Currently, for me, combat is as simple as ‘Just go and hit.’
Funny how this virtual reality game almost feels like a turn based RPG right now.
But I still had to think about the stats.
The Basic stats.
As in, increase in strength, speed of recovery and the limit of items I could carry. Apart from that, there is something called ‘Blood Power’. A secondary resource that needs to be spent to cast skills related to the warrior class.
Blood power has a ratio of 10 blood power per 1 stat point.
Similarly, there was the Energy level. It was associated with skills that revolve around movement and attack speed. Higher energy level normally meant more agility, thus being a must for the thief class since most of them rely on positioning and agility in combat.
The ratio of energy was 10 energy per 1 stat point.
The last is Wisdom. While Blood power and energy level play a pivotal role in combat, Wisdom has many applications, both in and out of battle.
To read and decipher books and manuscripts, a certain level of wisdom is required. This allows wizards who raise their wisdom level to read books that are otherwise unreadable by Warriors and Thieves.
In battle, wisdom is linked to mana, thus being a necessity for magic skills.
Its ratio, however, is a bit lower than the other two.
A mere 5 wisdom per 1 stat point.
So at the first glance, it might appear as if investing points in wisdom in a bad idea. But there’s a catch.
Increasing one’s wisdom also increases another aspect of one’s character, that being ‘Dignity’.
Dignity is by all means a peculiar stat. It increases by 1 per 15 wisdom points.
With dignity, one can command the respect of NPC’s around them. If one has high enough dignity, they are treated like a noble or an aristocrat.
Players with extremely high dignity can persuade animals, monsters or local people to do their bidding, turning them into puppets.
Excluding these primary stats, there are quite a few that can only be obtained by doing certain tasks and quests. One of them being ‘Focus’, which can be obtained through meditation.
There were a few more ‘Hidden Stats’ that are not made public and only a few high rankers know how to obtain them.
When levelling up, the additional points were always 10.
One has complete freedom over how they want to divide these points and apply them to the stats that they desire.
At the initial stages, the point allotment doesn’t make much of a difference. But later one as the points stack up, subtle difference soon leads to diversity among players
I decided to go with the most practical ones. I won’t get my hands on any manuscripts this early in the game. So I skipped wisdom and concentrated on strength and agility.
“Apply 5 points in both strength and agility”
As I finished, the dry voice of the helper echoed again.
[There is no concept of an empty stomach. Money earned from doing various jobs need not be spent on food.]
‘-Ah… I knew that too…’
[New Century] had no ‘hunger’. If a player eats, it’s either to recover health or get rid of fatigue. Sometimes for other additional stats.
[Keep in mind that you are a traveller in the world of the New Century. Languages and behaviours that do not fit the worldview are taken as insults by locals. Z&F does not compensate for any damage caused by it. Finally, keep in mind the message window. You will be notified by a message before all actions regarding mission selection, mission achievement, violation of the national law, etc. Immediate action will be taken after the first notification, and the player is to be held responsible for this.]
“Ok Fine. Thank you.”
[I wish you a pleasant trip.]
I picked up a rag from the floor and tied my right palm. Hopefully, it would keep the tattoo hidden.
I took a deep breath and opened the door.
On the other side was a shabby in, bustling with players. Random players screaming and bumping into each other. Some looked for party members while others were eating.
“Party needed to complete quests! Anyone interested?”
“I need help to bring the injured to the hospital” Said an NPC handing over quests.
“Fuck. I put the points in the wrong stats..”
I avoided all the chaos and walked up to the Innkeeper. He was an old man with silver hair. He was in the midst of a heated argument with a red-haired man. I wanted to talk to the Innkeeper, but it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
I looked around, disappointed. That’s when I saw a woman looking at me with a smirk on her face. I recoiled back and checked my palm. I feared that my tattoo was revealed. A quick glance eased my worries.
The rag still covered it sufficiently to avoid detection.
I ignored her for the time being.
It would seem that all players start with the same peasant-ish grey clothes. This was sharply contrasted by the clothes the NPC wore, which were more ‘Fantasy-like’. Their name and title appeared above their head, the text glided like a phantom.
A local citizen. The advanced Ai made him feel less like an NPC and more like an actual Inn owner who had to deal with a troublesome customer.
“I have never seen such a disrespectful and stubborn man in my entire life! Get out of my Inn this instant!”
Then, as the man tried to lunge at the old man, two muscular men appeared out of nowhere and grabbed the man by his arms. They proceed to drag him out the front door while he struggled to get out of their grasp, shouting out profanities at everyone.
The woman from before laughed along with the rest of the Inn at this fairly hilarious scene.
She then slammed her empty glass on the wooden table and walked up to me.
I tried to calm my nerves. This was normal interaction, overthinking would do me no good.
“What is your name?”
“I am Scarlet. Are you heading out?”
Her name projected over her for a split second before disappearing.
“Probably. I haven’t picked a quest yet.”
“Is it so? You can talk to Jim if you have any questions…Just try not to be rude with him.”
“Haha. I see. Thank You for the advice.”
I laughed as she smiled back. I was about to ask her if she was going on a quest but we were interrupted by another man barging in.
“Mr Jim! I can’t find a wooden sword. How am I supposed to complete my quests without it?”
To leave the Inn I had to pick a quest. There were many NPCs handing out beginner level quests like ‘Get Rabbit’s Foot for potions’ or ‘Bring the sick to the hospital’ or just random errands.
Right then, Mr Jim’s name changed colour. It was a sign that he had a quest ready to be handed out. I looked at Scarlet but it would seem that she hadn’t noticed it yet. Seeing the opportunity, I went over to Mr Jim.
I politely greeted the old man to the best of my ability.
His angry face relaxed a bit.
“What is it young man?”
Again, the 1% sensitivity played its part. Because of it everything I said would either sound extremely polite or extremely rude to the NPCs. This was however a double edged sword as I could easily offend someone if I didn’t speak with clear intent.
I spoke again.
“It looks like you are troubled by something Sir. Would you kindly tell me what it might be?”
He laughed. Finally, he had returned to his passive state.
“Oh it’s nothing. I just needed someone to deliver a parcel to a friend in Marter.”
“What a coincidence! I plan on heading to Marter myself. If you wish I can deliver it for you.”
“That would be splendid!”
A window popped up.
[Basic Quest : ‘To the Hunter in Marter.’]
‘-Well,that was different…’
Normally quests are handed as soon as you talk to an NPC who has one available. But this one seems to be available to only those who plan on heading to Marter.
It was strange but I had to head out anyways. So better get going now. I looked back to see if scarlet was there but she had vanished.
‘-Why am I even looking for her..?’
Perhaps interacting with someone of the opposite gender after such a long time had..ahm… excited me. Maybe this young body is to blame for it too.
“Good luck young man!”
I heard Me Jim say as I opened the door to exit the Inn.
As I got out of the in, I saw a rural village in front of me. I stood on a dirt road and the village exit was in view. Right outside was a dense forest.
Another window popped up as soon as I took a step forward.
[You can use your Map to avoid getting Lost.]
Great. Thoughtful of the helper to let me know that I can use the map to find my way to Marter but it would be better if it would mention how to access the map.
After opening the menu multiple times, I finally found it in the top left corner.
When I opened the map I saw two points. One was my current location and another was supposedly Mater. The map was almost completely black, the dark areas being labelled as ‘Unrevealed Area’.
The distance between me and the other point was approximately 70m.
‘-So I need to walk through this forest.’
As I walked towards the forest, things that Taejin used to say prior to the regression came to mind.
“Infinite degree of freedom comes from initial settings.”
I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time. I had more pressing concerns regarding my job and family. I only visited him to relax, yes. I was selfish around him too.
But now, I realised what he meant.
It was natural for people in this early phase of the game to play at max sensitivity. The excitement to experience VR for the first time made them do so.
But by doing that they had made the game considerably harder. Even the interaction with the NPCs was something they had to be careful about. Or else even getting quests would become a grueling task.
However, it was also very rewarding. Those who could keep up with the difficulty without lowering the Sensitivity ended up as rankers.
Most people gave up in about two weeks though.
I think the high sensitivity craze lasted till the in-game influenza pandemic happened. Players, if came in contact with infected NPCs, would contract the disease, causing their health to deplete slowly if they don’t rest and wait for the ‘fever’ debuff to run out.
Since high sensitivity players would feel the symptoms more profoundly. An amount of cash was offered to whoever caught the disease while playing in a high sensitivity option.
Since people wanted the cash, they tried to deliberately get infected but were unsuccessful. Since they had to make prolonged contact with an infected NPC, most high sensitivity players ended up annoying the NPCs. Thus causing the NPCs to avoid them altogether.
As time went on most players slowly switched to a lower sensitivity after being disheartened.
‘-The degree of sensitivity is the degree of freedom.’
The fact that the first step to infinite degrees of freedom is the degree of sensitivity.
A high risk, high reward bargain. It was really a double-edged sword. Some quests are only available if one grows close to an NPC or deals with an issue that needs more than just binary responses. In such cases, high sensitivity triumphs over low sensitivity.
It’s important to understand that in this world, players are just travelers.
As I pondered while trekking through the forest, a sudden bright light appeared once again.
I shielded my eyes with my arms as the light almost blinded me.
When it finally died out, I squinted my eyes open.
A window popped up soon after.
[Welcome to Marter]