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rangifer’s diary: pt. cv

Hello, Anglophone!

I write my diary in the English language. If you’re reading this, you’re probably either fluent in English, or you’re some kind of computer program. If you’re reading this and English is an L2 for you, & you’re not quite fluent in it yet, hello! Fancy meeting you here. I apologise for my diary being a bit difficult to read sometimes, but maybe English Wiktionary and a machine translator can help…

MapleStory’s relation to the Occident

However, my diary is also about MapleStory. Mostly. Sort of. And I think that MapleStory was destined to be a highly multilingual game from the start. Although strictly speaking, MapleStory was developed by our beloved Wizet (위젯; ⟨Wijet⟩; /wi.t͡ɕet/; Gyeonggi dialect [ɥi.t͡ɕe̞t̚]; English */wɪˈzɛt/?), it would eventually — after not too long — become the child of the reviled Nekksawn. Looking at Necksyn’s own earlier MMORPG effort, Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds (바람의 나라; ⟨Baramui Nara⟩; /pɐ.ɾɐm.ɰi nɐ.ɾɐ/; lit. “The Wind’s Kingdom”)[1], we see a game that is Korean through & through: designed in a manhwa (만화; /mɐn.hwɐ/) style, taking place within the Three Kingdoms period of Korean history, and drawing heavily upon Korean mythology. This contrasts starkly with MapleStory, which was released roughly seven years later.

MapleStory’s æsthetic very clearly & intentionally evokes the Occident, albeit in a way that is frequently non-specific. The ways in which it does this are numerous & multifarious, so I won’t attempt to produce an exhaustive list, nor anything of the sort. Nevertheless, here are a few small examples to give an idea of what I mean:

Non-Korean, non-Occidental sources

I point out the connections to Occidental stuff because we’re talking about English’s relation to the game, and English is a West Germanic language that originates in Western Europe. Of course, in reality, this bias is unwarranted. MapleStory draws from plenty of non-Korean sources that are also not well-described as “Occidental”.

The easy examples here are perhaps a bit more obvious than the Occidental ones, but I’ll list just a few anyways:

In any event, the relation between the “text” — broadly construed to include not just literal text, but also visual imagery, music, etc. — of the game, and its out-of-game sources & inspirations can be obscured by any number of things. The game’s style is decidedly cartoonish; references are sometimes accidentally garbled; references are sometimes intentionally garbled, in order to preserve some of the game’s æsthetic coherence; some elements of RPGs in general can be difficult to disentangle from their Occidental origins, those origins being within just the past three (3) decades at the time of MapleStory’s creation[4]; and so on.

Localisation

Because of this rather eclectic mishmash approach to the game’s cultural bases, unified by its cartoony art style, goofy dialogue, everpresent elements of fantasy, etc., the game inevitably has the potential for broad cultural appeal as a videogame of worldwide popular culture. So that’s exactly how Neccsaan did it: they localised the game for many disparate regions of the world. In this context, the original game is “KMS”, meaning Korea MapleStory. MapleStory’s localisations include:

region common name(s) UI language(s) script(s) launched shut down
South Korea KMS Korean Hangeul 2003-04-29
Japan JMS Japanese Japanese 2003-12-03
mainland China CMS Standard Mandarin[5] Simplified Chinese 2004-07-23
Taiwan TMS, TWMS, TwMS Standard Mandarin[5] Traditional Chinese 2005-06-01
global[6] GMS, MapleGlobal English Latin (ASCII) 2005-05-11
Southeast Asia MapleSEA English Latin (ASCII) 2005-06-23
Thailand ThMS, THMS English[7], Thai Thai, Latin (ASCII) 2005-08-16, 2017-10-31 2012-06-29, 2020-04-01
Europe EMS English, Dutch, Spanish, High German, French[8] Latin (Windows-1252) 2007-04-12 2016-06-08[9]
Brazil BMS Brazilian Portuguese Latin (Portuguese) 2008 2011-10-22
Vietnam VMS Vietnamese, English Latin (VIQR, Vietnamese)[10] 2008-03-10 2010-09-14

As you can see, that’s… very many regions. And quite a few languages & scripts, as well! Moreover, just because a language isn’t listed within the above table most certainly does not mean that no one in that server spoke/speaks it in-game.

Language in MapleLegends & MapleStory in general

How does a private server like MapleLegends fit into all of that, though? Well, MapleLegends is based on GMS — version 62, to be precise — and so its native language is English. In particular, every user-facing part of the game itself is presented in English.

When players are speaking amongst themselves, however, it’s a different story. My discussion of MapleStory’s æsthetic & literary choices was intended to point away from the Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds model of “Korean game made for Korean people”, and towards “Korean game made for no one in particular”; thus, the inevitably high degree of multilingualism that developed when the game became a commercial success. A private server like MapleLegends, then, as a result of not being an official localisation of the game, and thus not being particularly geographically-targeted, evinces this multilingualism all at once.

This is the intent of this section: to write down a few of the observations that I’ve made in my experience playing MapleLegends, and to give some useful practical notes that might help someone who’s coming from an English-speaking perspective.

NOTE: The way in which I’ve organised the languages below doesn’t necessarily put two entities with the same level of linguistic organisation on the same level. For example, I have “Indo-European” on the same level as “Sinitic”, in spite of the correct comparison to Indo-European being Sino-Tibetian. I do this because Sinitic languages are the only Sino-Tibetian languages that we care about, which allows me to collapse a level of unnecessary nesting.

Hebrew

Hebrew (⁧עִבְרִית⁩; ⟨ˁibriyt⟩; /ivˈʁit/) is a Semitic language, making it related to, most notably, Arabic. Biblical Hebrew is, of course, the language of the Hebrew Bible, but Modern Hebrew is very different, as you’d expect. Hebrew was — somewhat miraculously — revived starting in the late 19th century and going into the 20th century, bringing it from a dead language to a very healthy language with many speakers, both native and non-native.

Almost all Hebrew speakers are Israeli, so thanks to the great success of MapleStory within Israel, there are plenty of Hebrew speakers on MapleLegends.

Writing

Like Arabic, Hebrew is written using an abjad: the Hebrew script. This means that, fundamentally, Hebrew text does not particularly mark vowels, instead representing just consonants. Vowels can be made explicit via the use of diacritics called niqqud (although niqqud can be used for some other purposes as well), but this only done in special cases. When marking vowels is necessary, modern Hebrew writing is more likely to use the script as a kind of alphabet, using certain consonant letters to represent vowels. This has led to the Hebrew script sometimes being classified as an “impure abjad”, as the essential thing separating an abjad from a full alphabet is the lack of vowel letters.

Also like Arabic, Hebrew is written right-to-left, top-to-bottom; thus, when mixing it with any left-to-right, top-to-bottom script such as English, special care must be taken to handle the bidirectionality properly.

Hebrew speakers will also be familiar with the Romanisation of Hebrew, and will be able to read & write text this way, using more or less just the basic Latin alphabet. This style of Romanisation is informal, and differs from the formal standard (viz. ISO 259-3; which is, by the way, only one of several formal standards) that I choose to use in my diary. For example, ⟨ˁibriyt⟩ would instead be ⟨ivrit⟩. This style of Romanisation is a bit more faithful to modern Israeli pronunciation than it is to the written form (niqqud or not). In any case, given MapleLegends’s not-so-technologically-advanced basis in ASCII and extended ASCII, this is the form that Hebrew will naturally take on in-game for 7-bit encoding.

For 8-bit “extended ASCII” encoding (which should be supported by MapleLegends as well), Windows-1255 is available.

English for the Hebrew speaker

Although there are many Israeli players of MapleStory, Nexx0n never made anything like an Israeli/Hebrew localisation of the game, so they will instead have played EMS and/or GMS. This is unfortunate for the Hebrew speaker, but still works out decently enough due to the presence of English & French within Israel. Hebrew is the sole official language of Israel, but English enjoys the status of almost a de facto second official language. There are historical reasons for this, as well as modern reasons like close economic cooperation with Anglophone countries like the United States. Moreover, a surprisingly large minority of the Israeli population speaks French, one of the officially-supported languages of former EMS.

In any case, this means that the large majority of Israelis speak English at least decently well, and very many are fluent. You’re unlikely to be able to tell that a native Hebrew speaker isn’t a native English speaker just by speaking English with them, unless you happen to be in voice chat and pick out their accent. In some cases, though, Hebrew speakers’ English may be subpar or nearly nonexistent; in my experience, however, this is very rare.

Hebrew for the English speaker

This relationship is, of course, very asymmetrical: the Anglophone will not understand a single word of Hebrew. Worse, a machine translator such as Google Translate is unlikely to be of assistance if you’re dealing with Romanised text, as you’d need to first convert into actual Hebrew text.

It’s still worth noting, however, that one aspect of Hebrew is not so difficult for the English speaker: phonology. Hebrew’s consonant inventory is not too different from that of English. The only slightly tricky bits are:

And the vowel inventory is much simpler: just /a, e, i, o, u/ [ä, e̞, i, o̞, u].

Hebrew has also lost distinctive vowel length and consonant gemination. The loss of these features has meant that stress is now sometimes lexical in Hebrew, just like in English: English /ˈɪn.saɪ̯t/ “insight” vs. /ɪnˈsaɪ̯t/ “incite”, Hebrew /ˈbo̞.ke̞ʁ/ “morning” vs. /bo̞ˈke̞ʁ/ “cowboy”, etc.

With all of this in mind, the informal Romanisation used by Israelis is pretty indicative of the actual pronunciation.

When embedding Hebrew text into LTR text, I recommend prefixing it with U+2067 “RIGHT-TO-LEFT ISOLATE” and suffixing it with U+2069 “POP DIRECTIONAL ISOLATE”. This should handle the bidi issues for you. When doing things the other way around (embedding LTR into RTL), replace U+2067 with U+2066.

Indo-European

Germanic

Dutch

Dutch (Nederlands; /ˈneː.dərˌlɑnts/) is a West Germanic language, like English and German.

Like speakers of the Frisian languages — which are more closely related to English — most Dutch speakers live in the Netherlands. Yet others are in neighbouring Belgium (particularly Flanders), as well as a few in former Dutch colonial possessions like e.g. Suriname. In MapleStory, guessing the Netherlands is a safe bet, although I have encountered the very occasional Dutch speaker from elsewhere.

Dutch was one of the five officially-supported languages of former EMS, and a particularly important one given the relative success of the game in the Netherlands.

Writing

Dutch orthography is largely similar to that of English, down to the alphabet being virtually identical (with the slight exception that the digraphIJ, ij⟩ is a letter in its own right). Dutch does, however, use acute accents to mark stress, but casual usage is unlikely to need them. The diaeresis is used on sequences of vowels to avoid them being interpreted as digraphs. This convention is also used in English: ⟨coöperate⟩ to denote co + operation, and not *coop + *eration. This use of the diaeresis is now rare in English, with ⟨cooperate⟩ or ⟨co-operate⟩ being more likely.

In any case, these are minor differences; Dutch is just about as comfortable in an ASCII-only environment as English is.

English for the Dutch speaker

A very large majority of the population of the Netherlands speaks English.

English & Dutch are fairly closely related, leading to broad similarities in phonology, grammar, & basic vocabulary. The two languages share many cognates (although a few are false friends…), and even borrow from one another.

This, combined with the Netherlands’ educational focus on multilingualism, means that the Dutch speaker will at least be able to converse in English. Many are effectively indistinguishable from native English speakers, and others may be more-or-less fluent, but sometimes make mistakes that native speakers do not. Note that this is not the same as making mistakes in general; native speakers make mistakes all the time, but only certain kinds of mistakes.

Dutch for the English speaker

Because the Dutch speaker already speaks English, the Anglophone is unlikely to need to know much about Dutch. Furthermore, because Dutch is written very similarly to English, and because the languages are closely related in general, machine translation can even take you a long way towards understanding a bit of Dutch text.

Still, it’s worth noting a few of the broad differences:

English

English is, like Dutch, a West Germanic language. However, it has lost much of its inflections, making it unusually analytic (also somewhat similarly to Dutch, or even more like Afrikaans). Moreover, an enormous share of its vocabulary is, unexpectedly, not Germanic; much of this vocabulary is Italic in origin (e.g. from Old French, Anglo-Norman, etc.), and the rest is from an eclectic mess of sources, from Greek, to Arabic, and so on.

Because I’m assuming that you know enough English to read this, you probably don’t need to know more…

English for the non-English-speaker

English is the language of the game UI for GMS- and/or MapleSEA-based servers — not to mention EMS[8]. The non-English-speaker will have to learn enough of the game’s vocabulary to be capable of navigating this UI, and this vocabulary will come in handy when communicating with other players.

Some game vocabulary is not explicitly put forward by the game’s UI itself. Some is generated conventionally by the playerbase. Consider just a few examples:

All of the above, and many more, are English in origin. Equipped with this game vocabulary and a handful of English words & phrases (like a phrase book!), the non-English-speaker can still navigate the game and their social encounters with English speakers, albeit somewhat awkwardly. A foreign language is always difficult, and English’s nonsensical spelling conventions don’t really help.

In cases where clear & highly time-sensitive communication is necessary, they may not be able to play alongside English speakers. Explanations are also difficult to give over this kind of language barrier. Networking (via guilds, buddy list, Discord™, etc.) with other players who share their language(s) is thus a huge boon.

Other Germanic languages

Germanic languages aside from English & Dutch are certainly present in MapleStory.

High German is notable for being the 2nd largest Germanic language by number of native speakers, and for being one of the five officially supported languages of EMS[8]. It’s rare that I see anyone actually speaking it, though…

If you look closely, you will find some Swedish speakers, a handful of Danish and Norwegian speakers, and if you’re really lucky, a Frisian or Icelandic speaker.

All of these Germanic languages, however, tend to be dominated by English — and, by number of speakers, Dutch as well — so you are more likely to just see English in your chatlog.

Romance

French

French (français; /fʁɑ̃sɛ/) is a Romance language — more specifically, a langue d’oïl — with million speakers all over the globe. In MapleStory, however, most Francophones whom you meet will be from Québec or, to a lesser extent, will be former EMS players from France or Belgium. French was an officially supported language of EMS[8], but otherwise has no special status in MapleStory implementations; in particular, it was never supported by VMS nor GMS.

Québécois French and Metropolitan French have some differences in pronunciation & grammar, but mostly differ in vocabulary, idioms, & cultural bases. The two are much closer when in their more formal registers, and are easily mutually intelligible when brought into contact.

Writing

French is written using the same alphabet as English. However, unlike Dutch, & very unlike English, French makes fairly extensive use of diacritics. It also makes use of the ligatures ⟨œ⟩ and ⟨æ⟩, but these are easily replaced by the digraphs ⟨oe⟩ and ⟨ae⟩, respectively. The diacritics are the main obstacle to using French in a 7-bit ASCII-only environment, but they can usually be simply omitted, & inferred from context if necessary.

French also uses guillemets for quotation marks, « like this », instead of “like this”. It also uses so-called “French spacing”. The spacing is not super important — and may vary depending on the typist, just like in English — but I mention it because you may see Francophones put spaces around ⟨!⟩, ⟨?⟩, ⟨:⟩, & quotation marks. These should be non-breaking spaces to avoid, for example, the ⟨!⟩ at the end of a sentence from ending up on its own line. I typically use U+202f “NARROW NO-BREAK SPACE” (more common in Canadian French), but U+00a0 “NO-BREAK SPACE” is also acceptable.

Like English, French has a complicated relationship between spelling & pronunciation. Sorry about that.

English for the French speaker

English & French are not closely related. Nevertheless, they are related — both being Indo-European — and share a fairly large number of cognates thanks to English inheriting a huge chunk of its vocabulary from Anglo-Norman, directly from Old French, etc.

Francophones will vary considerably in their mastery of English, if they have any at all. If you meet a Québécois speaker, do not assume that they speak English just because they’re from Canada. Something like half of the population of Québec speaks English, and they may be part of either half. Nevertheless, given the dominance of English over French in MapleStory generally, they likely have at least a decent enough grasp to talk about the game. Still others may be fluent in both languages.

French for the English speaker

Knowing something about Romance languages may help slightly when conversing with Francophones, as they will tend to make the same kinds of mistakes as other Romance speakers, thanks to the Romance languages sharing similar grammatical structure & basic vocabulary. Here’s a much too brief overview:

And here are the main differences in phonology between French & English:

Portuguese

ℹ️ NOTE: Brazilian Portuguese is used for pronunciations/phonetics here.


Portuguese (português; /poʁ.tuˈges/) is a Romance language — more specifically, a West Iberian language — spoken primarily in Brazil, as well as in Angola, Mozambique, Portugal, & various other countries around the world. In MapleStory, however, just about every Lusophone whom you meet will be from Brazil, acquainted with GMS and possibly also BMS — the latter of which was unfortunately not around for very long. BMS was the only MapleStory implementation to have ever officially supported Portuguese.

Thanks to the success of MapleStory in Brazil, you will find plenty of Lusophones in MapleStory. The population size is comparable to that of Hispanophones, and is considerably larger than that of Francophones.

Brazilian Portuguese is its own set of varieties which are quite divergent from European Portuguese. Brazilian varieties differ from one another in pronunciation, and have some regional vocabulary differences, but are all mutually intelligible. European Portuguese, however, will sound alien to — and, in extreme cases, very difficult to understand for — the Brazilian speaker. When writing rather than speaking, many of these differences can be washed away, leaving mostly just a few differences in vocabulary. Even in writing, as usual, greater informality can decrease mutual intelligibility by diverging further from the standard.

Writing

Portuguese’s basic alphabet is the same as English’s. However, somewhat similarly to French, diacritics are an important part of the orthography. For example, a tilde is placed over a vowel to indicate nasalisation. Acute accents and circumflex accents can indicate vowel quality & syllabic stress. Other uses are more easily replaced; for example, ⟨ç⟩ can be replaced with the homophonic ⟨s⟩, or the cedilla can simply be omitted to obtain ⟨c⟩ when context makes the cedilla obvious.

English for the Portuguese speaker

Lusophones will vary considerably in their mastery of English. Portuguese thoroughly dominates all other languages in Brazil, so the presence of English & knowledge of English is limited to:

Thus, Lusophones run the gamut from fluency in English to virtually no knowledge of English whatsoever.

Portuguese & English are not closely related, and lack the historical relationship that French & English have. As a result, the Lusophone will struggle with English unless they already have an education in it, and vice versa for the Anglophone with no particular knowledge of Portuguese (nor of its cousin, Spanish). Nevertheless, both languages have a huge number of speakers, are related by their IE roots, and are both written in a Latin script; thus, phrase books[11], machine translators, dictionaries, & similar can be of some assistance.

Portuguese for the English Speaker

Portuguese, like French, is a Romance language. Thus, much of the overview of Romance languages in the “French for the English speaker” section above applies to Portuguese as well. Here are a few additional notable features specific to Brazilian Portuguese, or Portuguese in general:

Spanish

Spanish (español; /e̞s.päˈɲo̞l/) — sometimes also Castilian (castellano; /käs.te̞ˈʝä.no̞/) — is, like Portuguese, a West Iberian language. With nearly half a billion native speakers, Spanish is the second most widely natively-spoken language in the world, after Standard Mandarin. In MapleStory, almost all Hispanophones — like almost all Lusophones — will be from Latin America[12]. However, Spanish was one of the five officially-supported languages of former EMS[8], and you will find some European speakers (generally from Spain, as you’d expect) here & there. Like Lusophones, you will find plenty of Hispanophones in MapleStory.

The various Spanish varieties found throughout Latin America have some differences in pronunciation & grammar, but the most relevant differences here are those of vocabulary; different countries & regions will have their own idiomatic usages of certain terms & phrases, different preferred terms for a given meaning, as well as their own commonly-used slang terminology.

Writing

Like French & Portuguese, Spanish makes significant use of diacritics in writing. Acute accents are used to denote syllabic stress (which is contrastive in Spanish, like in English & Portuguese), as well as to distinguish homophones (e.g. si vs. ). ⟨ñ⟩ is used to denote /ɲ/, homologously to French ⟨gn⟩ and Portuguese ⟨nh⟩. And ⟨ü⟩ is used to denote /w/ in cases where it would otherwise be //. However, most of these usages can be inferred from context, and so the diacritics are frequently dropped in favour of their ASCII equivalents in an environment like MapleStory’s in-game chat.

Punctuation is very similar to English, with only two notable exceptions. Quotation marks are usually identical to English’s in Latin American writing, but may alternatively be «guillemets». And Spanish is nearly unique in its usage of ⟨¡⟩ and ⟨¿⟩, which are used alongside the corresponding ⟨!⟩ and ⟨?⟩ in a manner similar to parentheses. The segment of the text that is an exclamation begins with ⟨¡⟩ and is terminated with ⟨!⟩, and likewise for questions. For example: Si no está allí, ¿donde está? “If it’s not there, then where is it?”. Notice how only part of the sentence is the question segment. In an environment like MapleStory’s in-game chat, usage may sometimes be abbreviated, e.g. ⟨si no esta alli, donde esta¿?⟩, ⟨si no esta alli, donde esta?⟩, or even ⟨si no esta alli, donde esta¿⟩.

English for the Spanish speaker

Like Lusophones, Hispanophones may vary considerably in their mastery of English. Depending on their country of origin and on the educational system that they’ve gone through, they may or may not have had English-learning instruction at some point.

Nevertheless, thanks to Latinate cognates between the languages, borrowings from English into Spanish (& vice versa), and some vague similarities in grammar (more than you might expect), English will not be especially difficult for the Hispanophone — although it will still be a lot of work.

Thankfully, one of the main barriers to speaking English is mostly removed when writing: phonology. English phonology is quite irregular, varies significantly from speaker to speaker even on the phonemic level, and has its fair share of nasty surprises like gnarly consonant clusters, way too many monophthongs, etc. By comparison, Spanish is a breath of fresh air: its phonology is quite regular, has a modest consonant inventory, and just five monophthongs: /i, u, e, o, a/ [i, u, e̞, o̞, ä].

Still, the vocabulary is a lot to acquire, and English’s spelling conventions don’t help. Moreover, Spanish lacks much of the Celtic influence that Portuguese has, and perhaps as a result, its word order & sentence structure tend to be quite rigid; this will make several English constructions difficult to acquire.

Otherwise, many of the comments from the “English for the Portuguese speaker” section above apply here as well.

Particularly relevant to MapleStory is the adapted borrowing of English game jargon into Spanish, which also appears to occur with Portuguese as well. Consider a few examples:

Spanish for the English speaker

As mentioned above, English’s many Latinate words will tend to have cognates in Spanish, although not always meaning the exact same thing — and again, watch out for false friends. Also, Spanish’s comparatively simple phonology will prove easy to acquire for the English speaker; perhaps the only sticking points will be the distinction between /r/ and /ɾ/, as well as the use of /ɲ/ (although this is similar enough to [nj] that the English speaker will figure it out eventually).

Still, the overview of Romance languages from the “French for the English speaker” section above applies to Spanish as well. Spanish is much more inflected than English, and the English speaker will have a hard time acquiring all those inflections. The inflections commonly lead to pro-drop behaviour, so the subject is to be elided in many — but certainly not all — particular situations. Moreover, Spanish uses its tense–aspect–mood system very differently from whatever such system English might have (or… sort of have). And of course, some cognates will only take the English speaker so far; there is still a lot of vocabulary.

It’s worth noting that, like Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish is characterised as a syllable-timed language. English & European Portuguese stand in contrast to this by being generally stress-timed, which causes them to exhibit vowel reduction and even vowel loss. Still, even Brazilian Portuguese undergoes syncope for particularly frequent cases, the paradigmatic example being para /pä.ɾɐ/ → pra /pɾä/ (or, less commonly, → pa //). Compare this to Spanish para /ˈpä.ɾä/, which may colloquially become pa’ //, but this is far less widespread than Portuguese pra, infrequently spelled this way in writing, and does not create a consonant cluster in the process. Spanish’s timing, then, is perhaps more regularly syllable-timed than any other Indo-European language discussed here (with the possible exception of French).

Japanese

Japanese (()(ほん)(); ⟨nihongo⟩; /ni.ho̞N.ɡo̞/; [ɲi.ho̞ŋ.ɡo̞]) is a language spoken almost exclusively in Japan. Japanese is very nearly a language isolate, being the only Japonic language that isn’t seriously endangered; thus, it is completely unrelated to all other languages considered here. Nevertheless, Japanese is an important language for MapleStory, being the language of JMS (the second-oldest official MapleStory localisation after the original KMS, and still actively running to this day), and the language of Japan itself, the spiritual source of a large chunk of in-game content. Moreover, for historical, economic, & geographical reasons, Koreans bear a special relationship towards Japan & its language, with many Korean schools offering their students Japanese-language-learning education.

Somewhat surprisingly, you are actually relatively unlikely to find Japanese speakers in a server like MapleLegends. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but I suspect that it’s a combination of:

Writing

Japanese’s writing system is extraordinarily complex. Putting aside any use of Latin characters mixed in with Japanese text, Japanese still has three essentially distinct writing systems that are used in tandem:

Kanji & hiragana collectively form the absolute core of the modern Japanese writing system; virtually any Japanese text of any significant length will contain some of both. Katakana is also very commonly used.

In general, the Japanese writing system is essentially a fullwidth (or “wide”) system, meaning that each grapheme — when represented as a glyph — is intended to take up something like ≈twice as much width as a typical Latin letter. In Japanese, explicit spacing is not used, and a line break may occur at any position. Many of the same punctuation marks that the Anglophone is familiar with — full stops, commas, round brackets, question marks, etc. — are used in Japanese, but in their fullwidth forms that take up the same amount of space as a single kanji or hiragana character.

Because the Japanese writing system does not make use of Latin characters, there are various Romanisation schemes, of which Hepburn is the most common. Hepburn is based around English spelling & pronunciation, as Hepburn himself was American. Romanisation is mostly used by Japanese language learners who are already familiar with a Latin script, although it may occasionally be used by Japanese speakers as an input method, when hiragana input is not available to them for some reason.

Given the uniqueness & complexity of the Japanese writing system, special attention has to be given to character encoding. For older MapleStory clients, my understanding is that the user must have the proper Japanese locale installed (including the necessary fonts) & configured, and their game client may then be able to encode & decode EUC-JP (I think? Or maybe Shift JIS?? 😵‍💫). Unfortunately, this is pre-Unicode, so it’s all very confusing. See: mojibake. In any case, this requires the chat system in the MapleStory implementation to be, at the very least, 8-bit clean — something that cannot be taken for granted in a GMS-based or MapleSEA-based server, but that I believe to nevertheless be true of MapleLegends.

In Unicode, hiragana & katakana all have their own dedicated codepoints, as you’d expect. Kanji, on the other hand, are subject to Han unification.

In environments where using actual Japanese text is difficult or impossible, the Japanese speaker likely has enough command over Romanisation to communicate that way. Even when restricted to printable 7-bit ASCII characters, Hepburn can be used, replacing a vowel that would have a macron by simply two instances of that vowel: ⟨ō⟩ → ⟨oo⟩. In cases where this causes ambiguity, an apostrophe ('; U+0027) can be used: ⟨oo⟩ → ⟨o'o⟩, ⟨ōo⟩ → ⟨oo'o⟩, ⟨oō⟩ → ⟨o'oo⟩, etc. Other schemes are also possible, e.g. omitting macrons entirely. Still, Romanisation is simply awkward and unidiomatic for Japanese text.

English for the Japanese speaker

In recent years (as of 2023, the time of this writing), the Japanese education system has begun to seriously teach English at all levels of education, even as a mandatory subject. However, this should not be construed as an indication that the Japanese speakers whom you meet will have some mastery over English. English & Japanese are entirely unrelated, differ in nearly all linguistic aspects, and a person living in Japan has no particular need for any language besides Japanese, excepting some specialised purposes. As a result, fluency in English should only be expected of those who moved to Japan from an Anglophone country, Japanese-speaking Hawaiʻians (something like ≈5% of the population of Hawaiʻi), or similar.

Japanese has, however, absorbed a significant number of loanwords ((がい)(らい)(); ⟨gairaigo⟩) from English and various other European languages. In the case of English, there are also pseudo-Anglicisms (()(せい)(えい)(); ⟨wasei eigo⟩), which are distinct in that they are English-derived (or perhaps, English-inspired), but invented by Japanese speakers; wasei eigo do not correspond to phrases that are actually used by English speakers.

Japanese for the English speaker

As mentioned above, English & Japanese are two totally different languages, and Japanese’s baroque writing system isn’t exactly inviting for the English speaker, who only knows of 26 letters.

Still, thanks to the influence of Japanese popular culture on the Occident, some English speakers may know a handful of Japanese words & phrases, may be familiar with some elements of the writing system (particularly hiragana & katakana, thanks to the unnecessity of memorising thousands of kanji), and in some cases may even have a grasp of the grammar as well. English has picked up a handful of loanwords from Japanese that are widely understood (emoji, haiku, tsunami, etc.), and Anglophones familiar with Japanese pop culture may incorporate select Japanese phrases as a kind of slang; consider, for example, the use of Nani? ((なに)?) in place of What?, Huh?, Come again?, etc.

Korean

Korean (한국어; ⟨Hangugeo⟩; /hɐn.kuk.ʌ̹/) is the native language of MapleStory.

Like Japanese, Korean is effectively a language isolate, being the only Koreanic language that is not seriously endangered; thus, it is completely & totally unrelated to all other languages considered here. Korean speakers are mostly located within Korea — which politically includes both North Korea and, more relevantly, South Korea — but some speakers can nevertheless be found elsewhere, in the Korean diaspora, especially in countries like the United States, the PRC, Japan, & Canada.

Korean has several dialects. However, these dialects will be essentially irrelevant for our purposes, as Korean has not only undergone substantial dialect levelling in the past, but is also dominated in the 21st century by standard Korean, which is based on the Gyeonggi dialect. Moreover, because we’re dealing mostly with written Korean, most pronunciation differences will not appear.

Although KMS is still very much active, you will nevertheless find quite a few Korean speakers in MapleLegends.

Writing

Korean is written in the Hangeul (한글; /hɐn.kɯɭ/; formerly Romanised as *⟨Hangul⟩) writing system. Hangeul is an alphabet consisting of 24 basic letters called jamo (자모; /t͡ɕɐ.mo/), which may be combined to make up to 27 additional complex jamo; for example, ⟨ㅈ⟩ (⟨j⟩; /t͡ɕ/) can be doubled to produce ⟨ㅉ⟩ (⟨jj⟩; /t͈͡ɕ/). These jamo are arranged into syllabic blocks each containing two or three jamo, giving Hangeul the superficial appearance of a syllabary.

Hangeul is unique to Korean, and has been used to write Korean since the 15th century. Hangeul was invented by King Sejong the Great to be a featural alphabet, meaning that the shape of each jamo is not arbitrary, but rather, carries information about how the phoneme that it represents is articulated. Moreover, it was designed specifically to reflect the phonology & morphophonology of Korean. Hangeul is astonishingly rationalised, and is frequently used as an example of how good an alphabet can be when done well.

Still, the history of Korean writing is related to that of Japanese writing in that both systems adopted the use of Chinese characters at some point, long before the invention of Hangeul. In Korean, these are known as Hanja (()(); /hɐn.t͡ɕɐ/). The use of Hangeul was initially rejected by educated elites, and did not seriously take hold in official documents until some time around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, meaning that Hanja continued to be used for quite some time. As the 20th century went on, however, Hangeul came to dominate, and nowadays, even Sino-Korean vocabulary tends to be written in Hangeul. Some hundreds of Hanja are still taught in schools, but modern Korean speakers are unlikely to use them — or even to be literate in any but the most common of them. Perhaps their most useful application is the disambiguation of Sino-Korean homophones, which cannot distinguished by Hangeul alone (due to Hangeul being a phonetic writing system).

Thus, the modern Korean speaker typically only ever needs to use Hangeul. Computer input is easy for Hangeul, as it only has 24 basic jamo — fewer than even the English alphabet. The other 27 complex jamo — only some of which are frequently used — can be thought of as virtually the Hangeul equivalent of digraphs. The commonly-used complex jamo may be entered via the use of the ⇧ Shift key, as Hangeul is unicameral anyways.

Unlike in Japanese or in Sinitic languages, the writing system of Korean is not generally a fullwidth scheme: spaces (U+0020) are used to separate words just like in English, and Korean punctuation is very similar to that of English. Nevertheless, Korean writing allows linebreaks at any position.

Because the Korean writing system does not make use of Latin letters, it may be Romanised for the benefit of those illiterate in Hangeul, or for situations where use of the Latin script is systematically necessary. For this purpose, Revised Romanisation (RR) is used. RR has been the official Romanisation system of South Korea since 2000, and revises the older McCune–Reischauer system by eliminating the phonetic use of diacritics and apostrophes. Thus, the entirety of RR is easily encoded even in 7-bit ASCII.

However, unlike the usual Romanisation system for Japanese (viz. Hepburn), RR bears no close relation to English orthography. This is largely for phonetic reasons that are briefly discussed below. As a result, an English speaker — or really, anyone with no particular knowledge of Korean — who attempts to pronounce RR text based on their intuitions will usually end up with something pretty garbled.

In a MapleStory implementation like MapleLegends, the Korean speaker’s locale will be appropriately set so that they may encode & decode EUC-KR. Those who also have EUC-KR set as their encoding will see beautiful Hangeul text in their chatlogs, and others will see garbage.

English for the Korean speaker

Korean speakers of the Korean diaspora living in the United States or Canada will almost certainly be fluent in English.

As for the majority, who are living in South Korea, the history of English-language education in South Korea is somewhat complicated. In the past decades, much effort & economic resources have been poured into English-language education in South Korea, and the exact educational strategies have varied widely. Some may have been educated in the pursuit of high scores on the TOEFL, and others may have been immersed in English-language environments ranging from classes taught in Korea with English as the language of instruction, to immersion abroad in Anglophone countries like the U.S., Canada, & Australia for varying lengths of time.

Results have been historically mixed, albeit improving in recent years. As a result, the English skills of the Korean speakers whom you meet in MapleStory will be mixed as well. Some may be reasonably fluent and perfectly capable of holding a conversation, whilst still producing some unidiomatic phrases and making mistakes that are not possible for native speakers. Still others may know precious little English whatsoever. Regrettably, there’s not much that you can do about this, unless you’re at least somewhat literate in Korean & Hangeul.

Korean for the English speaker

The good news is that, although Korean does have its own writing system, it’s quite rationalised, and is an alphabet much like the English alphabet. The bad news is that pretty much every other aspect of Korean is going to be completely alien to the Anglophone:

Still, similarly to what I pointed out in the “Japanese for the English speaker” section above, South Korean popular culture has been influential in Anglophone countries in recent years. K-pop in particular became popular in Singapore, the U.S., Canada, etc., especially from the 2010s onward. More generally, the Korean Wave (한류; ⟨Hallyu⟩; ⫽han.ɾju⫽; /hɐɭ.ɭju/; [hɐʎːju]) has brought Korean popular culture worldwide, including not just music, but films, TV shows, comic books, etc. And so, some knowledge — albeit certainly fragmentary — of the Korean language has spread as a result.

Singlish & Manglish

Singlish and Manglish are English-based creole languages spoken in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia, respectively. A creole is very different from a pidgin (although the former usually develops from the latter), being a fully stable language that is spoken as the native tongue of many people, that has an entire grammatical system in its own right, & that also has a full vocabulary just like any other language.

Many MapleStory players are Singaporean or Malaysian, with MapleSEA targeting this audience specifically. As a result, you will hear plenty of Singlish & Manglish, as these are native languages of most Singaporeans, and of many Malaysians as well. However, the situation is complicated:

The main differences between Singlish and Manglish are of vocabulary, with Manglish leaning towards Malay-derived words, and Singlish towards Sinitic-derived words.

Writing

Singlish & Manglish are written much like English, as you’d expect. The main differences here are in spelling, as some words may be respelled to more closely match pronunciation. For example:

Moreover, in informal online contexts like MapleStory, you may see some abbreviations that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere:

English for the Singlish–Manglish speaker

The Singlish speaker already speaks English natively, and can easily code-switch into standard English whenever they choose.

The Manglish speaker may or may not be fluent in standard English. Malaysia is more linguistically diverse, and so Malaysians may range from those who have a poor grasp of the acrolectal side of the continuum, all the way to full-blown native English speakers.

Keep in mind that Manglish and English are two entirely different languages, so it’s not uncommon for someone to be fluent in Manglish, but not in MyE. Nevertheless, even a Manglish speaker only fluent on one side of the continuum comes in contact with enough English speech/text, and knows enough vocabulary from Manglish, that they can communicate with non-Manglish-speaking Anglophones with some effort.

Singlish–Manglish for the English speaker

If you speak neither Singlish nor Manglish, the Singlish–Manglish speaker will notice this very quickly, and will code-switch to standard English if possible. Still, you will hear plenty of Singlish–Manglish, both from those fluent in English, and from those not so fluent. Thus, it’s worth noting some of the contrasts. But first, a disclaimer.


⚠️NOTE:⚠️ Singlish–Manglish is sometimes seen by English speakers (sometimes even those in, for example, Singapore) as “bad” English; “corrupted” English; etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. Singlish–Manglish gives off this impression because it was lexified by BrE, and thus the large majority of its vocabulary is English. Looking beyond the superficial aspects, however, Singlish & Manglish are languages in their own right, with unique grammatical constructions & use of vocabulary that allow expressing the same things as English (or as any other language, for that matter), albeit in different ways. Many of these constructions & meanings are opaque to the Anglophone, and will thus look like a vaguely English-looking word salad.


A full description of Singlish–Manglish is obviously out of the scope of what I can even possibly write, and more like an entire book in its own right. The English Wikipedia article on Singlish, for example, does a decent job with some things. Still, I’ll list a few features that are hopefully somewhat illustrative:

Sinitic languages

And here we have the big one: the Sinitic languages.

Informally, the Sinitic languages are frequently referred to as simply “Chinese”. However, I will reserve the linguistic use of this term for written Chinese. This is because, in reality, the various Sinitic languages tend to be highly mutually unintelligible, meaning that even speakers of somewhat closely-related Sinitic lects may be incapable of communicating with one another. Thus, if we take mutual intelligibility even slightly seriously as a criterion for distinguishing lects, then there must be many distinct Sinitic languages, and no such thing as “the Chinese language”.

What makes the Sinitic languages particularly perplexing is that, although they tend to form dialect continua, they also tend to be united by a more-or-less unified writing system: Chinese characters. Unlike the writing system of another classic example of dialect continua — namely, the Romance languages — Chinese characters are logograms, existing at the word or morpheme level, rather than a much lower level like that of the phoneme. This means that many — although certainly not all — very real differences between the various Sinitic languages are not, or cannot be, expressed in ordinary writing. If we consider the various Romance languages to be distinct languages from one another, then so too must the Sinitic languages be distinct.

Even so, the notion of “a language” does not have — and indeed, cannot have, even in principle — a definition, relying instead on political, social, ethnic, etc. factors to even be a concept at all. In modern times, the various Sinitic languages have come to be dominated by a politico-ethno-linguistic complex that purposefully conflates the entire Sinitic language family, the “Han” ethnicity[13], and the geographical regions collectively controlled by the modern PRC and ROC, into a single overloaded amorphous blob. Moreover, this complex comes with its own linguistic imperialism that seeks to replace — and in many cases, succeeds in replacing — so-called “““uncivilised dialects””” with Standard Beijing Mandarin.

Thus, I think that the most useful way to approach this language family is to go over the things that are relevant to the entire family (similarly to what I did in the “French” section above), and then to cover specific geographical regions individually. In the process, we’ll see various members of the Sinitic language family crop up naturally. The focus on geography cuts to the core relevant feature: MapleStory — or specifically MapleLegends, or some other implementation — will be popular (or unpopular) in some particular region, and as a result, we care about the languages spoken by the people in that region. Moreover, official implementations themselves are region-specific (with the arguable exception of GMS).

Writing

The vast majority of Sinitic languages tend to be written with Chinese characters. Chinese characters are the single oldest continually-used writing system in the world, being attested in their earliest forms as oracle bone script. They have been adapted for use in unrelated languages like Japanese — and historically, Korean and Vietnamese as well. The characters are logographic, and thus there are thousands — maybe ten thousand or a hundred thousand, depending on how you count — of distinct characters, each associated with its own word or morpheme. An actual person only reads & writes maybe three or four thousand characters, perhaps six at absolute best. However, this does not mean that each character is totally atomic; each character can be decomposed into one or more radicals, which are graphical elements of the character that each usually have a semantic or phonological association. There’s no unique way to enumerate all radicals that exist, but the de facto standard is the 214 Kangxi radicals.

Although Chinese characters are certainly logographic, in the context of Sinitic languages specifically, they are also effectively a syllabary of sorts. There is almost — ignoring homographs & homophones — a one-to-one-to-one relationship between a character, a morpheme, & a syllable, as a result of morphemes being monosyllabic. This has to do with some of the shared features of Sinitic languages, as outlined in the “Typically shared features” section below.

Modern Chinese characters have been given a simplified form: simplified Chinese characters. These contrast with traditional Chinese characters. For example: 樂 → 乐. Occasionally, mappings between simplified and traditional forms are not one-to-one. Some characters were not simplified, in which case the simplified & traditional forms are one & the same. Both character sets continue to be commonly used, and their usage depends on the geography, customs, language, education, intent, etc. of the writer & audience.

As you’d expect, not all Chinese characters are used with equal frequency. Some are common; others less so; others may be specific to a particular Sinitic language; others may simply be variants of other characters; & yet others may be obscure, rare, or obsolete.

Like with Japanese writing, Chinese characters adhere to a fullwidth scheme, and line breaks may be inserted at any position.

Romanisation

A Romanisation system is called 拼音; in Hanyu Pinyin, ⟨pīnyīn⟩. The word pīnyīn, or simply pinyin, is often used to refer specifically to Hanyu Pinyin, but many Romanisation schemes exist, and Romanisation of any Sinitic language is a difficult process.

Hanyu Pinyin is designed specifically around Standard Beijing Mandarin, and should not be used unthinkingly for other Sinitic languages. Here’s a list of just a handful of notable Romanisation schemes:

Bopomofo

Also worth noting is the (ㄓㄨˋ)(ㄧㄣ)(ㄈㄨˊ)(ㄏㄠˋ) (⟨zhùyīn fúhào⟩; often simply Zhuyin) writing system, often referred to by its first four letters: Bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ). Bopomofo directly represents all possible syllables in Mandarin by encoding each onset & each medial/rime into its own character, as well as adding a separate letter for each tone.

Because Bopomofo is based specifically on Standard Mandarin, Bopomofo and Hanyu Pinyin can be put in a one-to-one correspondence. However, Bopomofo has also been extended for use with Taiwanese Hokkien.

Although it’s not used much elsewhere, Bopomofo is commonly used in Taiwan. Taiwanese speakers of Taiwanese Mandarin & Hokkien will be much more familiar with this system, as opposed to Hanyu Pinyin — or, in the case of Taiwanese Hokkien, as opposed to Tâi-lô. As such, when putting traditional Chinese characters into my diary, I often annotate them with Bopomofo if a Mandarin or Hokkien reading is appropriate.

With computers
Encoding

Nowadays, we have Unicode. In a process called Han unification, the Chinese characters used for writing various Sinitic languages (including their simplified & traditional forms distinctly), as well as those used for writing other languages, have been unified into a coherent set of codepoints. And of course, the various other codepoints necessary for Bopomofo (and its extensions), the various Romanisation systems, etc. are all part of Unicode as well.

Pre-Unicode, it gets somewhat confusing. For traditional characters, Big5 is the only pre-Unicode standard that I know of… although it has many extensions, the most important of which is probably Microsoft™’s code page 950. For simplified characters, there’s EUC-CN — an encoding of the GB 2312 character set. The GB 2312 character set would later be extended to the GBK character set. However, this was later superseded by GB 18030, which encodes Unicode’s character set instead, amongst specifying many other things. This makes GB 18030 really a full UTF (albeit not one that makes sense to use, given that UTF-8 exists…), and GB 18030 allows trailing bytes that are in the ASCII range 0x000x7f. As a result, GBK sits somewhere in between EUC-CN and GB 18030.

I suspect that old MapleStory clients probably just used EUC-CN for simplified characters, or possibly GBK.

Input

With thousands of logograms, inputting Chinese characters into a computer system is non-trivial. As a result, there are numerous input methods (IMEs) out there.

The Four-Corner Method was probably the first “input method” (although it predates actual IMEs) that didn’t just require a giant keyboard. It associates each of the numbers from 0 to 9 with a very basic shape (a horizontal line, a box, a dot, etc.), and a given character is encoded by looking at its four corners from left-to-right, top-to-bottom. A fifth number may be added when necessary, by looking at the middle-right (the fifth “corner”, so to speak). This method is no longer commonly used, but can be occasionally useful, e.g. for someone not quite literate in Chinese who needs to look up a character based on its general shape.

The Cangjie input method was introduced fairly early on, and is still in common use today. It’s typically used with a U.S. QWERTY keyboard layout. It is radical-based, entering characters based on the radicals that they are composed of. However, these are not the Kangxi radicals; instead, the Cangjie input method uses its own set of just 24 basic shapes, and a total of 76 auxiliary shapes that are essentially altered forms of the basic shapes. The typist must then understand the rules that govern Cangjie character decomposition in order to give the correct input for the desired character.

The strengths of the Cangjie input method are its lack of reliance on phonetics, and the speed at which skilled typists can write with it. The lack of phonetic components means that, in principle, anyone literate in Chinese characters can use it, regardless of what language(s) they speak. This makes it popular amongst, for example, Cantonese speakers, who are unlikely to be familiar with the mostly Mandarin-based phonetic systems like Hanyu Pinyin or Bopomofo that could be used for IMEs. On the other hand, proficiency in the Cangjie method requires memorising the “radicals” and having a firmly established understanding of the decomposition rules; this can make it difficult to learn. Moreover, the typist must already know almost exactly how to write the character that they wish to input — something that’s not true of phonetic methods. Nowadays, Simplified Cangjie is popular, as it eases the learning curve & error-prone nature of the original method by accepting partial input, and then giving the typist a disambiguation list of characters to choose from.

Several other methods exist that are similar to the Cangjie input method (or to the Four-Corner Method, for that matter) in that they are shape-based: Wubi, Dayi, etc.

On the other hand, phonetic methods are easy to learn, & can even be used by typists who are not quite literate (e.g. children). The drawbacks are generally slower typing speeds, a requirement that the typist is already literate in a particular phonetic system, and there are concerns that it may hinder the development of writing skills, or even lead to loss of writing skills. For Taiwanese typists, Bopomofo (see the “Bopomofo” section above) is the natural choice of script for a phonetic IME. For others, Romanisation systems are used.

This leads us to pinyin input methods. These work as you’d expect: the user inputs pinyin text, and the IME offers them a list of possible characters. In the case of Hanyu Pinyin, tones are generally omitted, and other information is used to narrow down & rank the list of possibilities for the user. Nevertheless, some implementations may allow tones to be input directly. Hanyu Pinyin also uses ⟨ü⟩, so the v key is used for this purpose, as ⟨v⟩ is not used in Hanyu Pinyin. IMEs for other Romanisation systems exist as well, e.g. using Jyutping for Cantonese.

Many different enhancements of the basic pinyin input methods exist. Some are simply word prediction technology, as any mobile phone typist is already familiar with. Also, abbreviation strategies can shorten fixed phrases composed of multiple characters by using only the initial letter of the pinyin spelling of each character. And double pinyin (双拼; (ㄕㄨㄤ)(ㄆㄧㄣ); ⟨shuāngpīn⟩) can shorten inputs in general, by assigning each initial to a single character, and assigning each final to a single character. This is possible because, at any given point during the input, the structure of Hanyu Pinyin ensures that only certain letters can be entered next. For example, a vowel sequence may be input by pressing just a single consonant key.

In some cases, the typist may — in the middle of otherwise normal Chinese character input — wish to enter Latin letters literally, rather than having them interpreted as pinyin. Methods that enable this vary, but one common method is to interpret uppercase input literally or as its lowercase counterpart; for example, juqingjiBOSSdeng might produce ⟨剧情及BOSS等⟩, or ⟨剧情及boss等⟩.

ASCII

Thanks to the widespread use of some of the Romanisation schemes listed in the “Romanisation” section above, a Sinophone literate in one such scheme may still be able to communicate even in an ASCII-only environment. Naturally, there are still many caveats:

Still, you will sometimes see people communicate this way in MapleLegends:

caber & kkkkkkkkk writing in pīnyīn

Transcription of the above image

caber: wo zhege shi naima zhiye, zhatou wandian na ye meishi

Dextrous: I like your french

caber: it’s not french
but you can regard it is

Dextrous: is it chinese?

In the above example, caber is speaking to kkkkkkkkk using effectively the same text as would be input into a Hanyu Pinyin IME. Although you can’t see it in the above image, there’s particular evidence of this with words like ⟨nv⟩, the IME equivalent of ⟨nü⟩, which may be intended as either ⟨⟩ (女), or possibly ⟨⟩.

One can also sometimes see evidence of the use, with IMEs, of uppercase letters for literal text:

Juley: neng qu zuo JULIET ma

original neng qu zuo JULIET ma
Hanyu Pinyin néng zuò (N/A) ma
Chinese (simp.) Juliet
pronunciation[14] nəŋ˧˥ t͡ɕʰu˥˨ t͡swo˥˨ (N/A) ma
gloss can leave.for do Juliet INT
translation Can we go do Juliet [i.e. Alcadno side]?

Notice how, in the example with caber, the syllables are only selectively separated by spaces. There’s never anything wrong with consistently separating each syllable with a space; doing so does, at the very least, reflect the original writing system (viz. Chinese characters). However, using a Romanisation like Hanyu Pinyin gives the writer the opportunity to make explicit the morphology of each sentence by not separating syllables that are part of the same compound word.

Thus, in some sense, the selective use of spaces is more ad hoc than it is in a language (e.g. English) that natively uses spacing to separate words, but also… not really. All Sinitic languages share the common feature of having many compound words, and in this particular way, they are not so different from English. Reflecting this structure in Romanised writing is thus perfectly natural. Moreover, consider the case of English: compound words are frequently written inconsistently, even in standard English writing. Some are written using only letters, some use hyphens, some use spaces, and in some cases, which of these methods is used can depend on the writer’s choice. Is it ⟨co-operate⟩, or is it ⟨cooperate⟩? Is it ⟨video game⟩, or is it ⟨videogame⟩? Is it ⟨brain cell⟩, or is it ⟨braincell⟩? Is it ⟨lot of⟩, or is it ⟨lotta⟩…?

Typically shared features

By definition, all Sinitic languages ultimately descend from Old Chinese, which was spoken some two, three, or more millennia ago. As a result, they share some common features. Moreover, many Sinitic languages descend from Middle Chinese, which was spoken roughly from the 4th to 12th centuries. However, not all Sinitic languages descend from Middle Chinese, with the following families splitting off from Old Chinese directly:

That said, here are a few of the broad similarities between the members of the Sinitic family:

The combination of the first two items in the above list have, historically, led some non-Sinophones to believe that Sinitic languages generally “have no grammar” (whatever that might mean). Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is the strategic use of particles, word order, etc. fundamental to any Sinitic language, but many of the largest differences that separate the various Sinitic languages from one another are differences of grammar.

Even more differences are found phonologically. Besides simply saying “they all have tones”, I don’t have any useful generalisations to give about the phonology of the Sinitic languages.

And of course, vocabulary is another source of many differences. Words & root words borrowed from other languages account for some of these differences. Many other differences are simply due to differing sense evolution of words that are ultimately Sinitic in origin. Highly standardised & prestigious written forms can sometimes minimise these differences, especially by also exploiting the logographic nature of the form; for example, when both written in a highly formal way, a Cantonese text & a Standard Mandarin text can look only mildly different.

Chinese mainland

The PRC politically controls the Chinese mainland, which is a region that importantly excludes Hong Kong, Macau, & Taiwan — and includes Hainan, despite it not geographically being part of the mainland. Standard Mandarin is the official language of the PRC, although many other languages are spoken within its borders, some of which are officially recognised. Only part of the mainland — particularly the coastal and central regions — is actually predominantly Sinophonic, so that’s the part that we’re considering here.

Standard Mandarin is based on the Mandarin spoken in Beijing, and so I use the term “Standard Beijing Mandarin” when the finer details of pronunciation are relevant, or when contrasting with other varieties of Standard Mandarin. It is the language of the education system & of other official concerns, and so natives of the Sinophone mainland will speak it, at the very least as a lingua franca. Furthermore, literacy starts with learning Hanyu Pinyin and then moving on to simplified Chinese characters, so literacy in Hanyu Pinyin is extremely widespread as well. This accounts for the popularity of Hanyu Pinyin IMEs in this region, although other IMEs are certainly used as well (see the “Input” section above).

However, many other Sinitic languages are also spoken in this region. Bilingualism (or trilingualism, etc.) is thus not at all uncommon, with many in the region speaking a Sinitic language native to their home, in addition to speaking a lect that is sufficiently close to Standard Mandarin. Some notable Sinitic languages & subfamilies spoken in this region that aren’t Standard Mandarin include:

The official MapleStory implementation that serves this region is CMS, and as a result, CMS is written in Standard Mandarin using simplified characters.

Outside of official implementations, Sinophone private servers are not uncommon, and of these servers, most tend to be based in the Chinese mainland. Moreover, even a private server like MapleLegends that is not Sinophone (insofar as English is the dominant language, & the language of the game itself, being based on GMS), you will still meet a considerable number of people from the mainland. For example, caber and kkkkkkkkk — who feature in one of the examples in the “ASCII” section above — are from Zhejiang and Hunan, respectively.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is politically part of the PRC, but is excluded from the usual definition of “Chinese mainland” due to its status as a special administrative region (SAR) that is effectively self-governed.

The languages of Hong Kong are Cantonese (specifically Hong Kong Cantonese), English, & Standard Mandarin. Cantonese is the defining language, and is spoken by most of the population. English & Standard Mandarin are present due to the influence of Hong Kong’s former status as a British colony, & the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC in 1997, respectively. According to the 2021 census, about 58.7% of the population speaks English, and 54.2% for Standard Mandarin, although most are native Cantonese speakers who speak these languages as L2s. A few other Sinitic languages besides Cantonese & Standard Mandarin are also spoken in Hong Kong, but none have nearly as many speakers.

Although Cantonese certainly dominates, English & Standard Mandarin are used to some degree even in day-to-day life, with English being the more common of the two. Bilingual speakers of Cantonese & English are likely to mix some English into their Cantonese. If you meet a Hongkonger in a server like MapleLegends, they are likely to be fluent in English.

Unlike those of the mainland, Hongkongers write Sinitic languages with traditional Chinese characters.

Hong Kong is somewhat of a cultural powerhouse, and is thus responsible for considerable influence of the Cantonese language. Hong Kong’s TV entertainment programmes have large audiences throughout the Sinosphere; Hong Kong cuisine (which is, naturally, based in Cantonese cuisine, as well as a variety of other influences) continues to be influential on surrounding regions and even overseas; Hong Kong cinema is a major independent source of Sinophone films; and Cantopop (sometimes HK-pop) is responsible for the popularity of Cantonese in pop music.

Officially, Hong Kong is served by the TMS implementation, partly due to its use of traditional characters.

Macau

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a SAR of the PRC. Also like Hong Kong, Cantonese — written in traditional characters — is the language of Macau.

However, Macau is a much smaller city, at just about a tenth of the population size of Hong Kong. Macau is also a former Portuguese colony, rather than a British one. Still, a 2016 census recorded that only roughly ≈2.3% of the population speaks Portuguese (see the “Portuguese” section above), thus not accounting for a significant portion of the worldwide Lusophone population.

Officially, Macau is served by the TMS implementation.

Malaysia

Standard Malay is the official language and most widely-spoken language of Malaysia. English is also officially recognised, is commonly used in business settings, and serves as the lexifier of the English-based creole language Manglish — see the “Singlish & Manglish” section above.

However, ethnic Chinese citizens of Malaysia make up a substantial 20%〜25% of the population. This group tends to use Malaysian Mandarin as a lingua franca, although the history of Sinitic languages in Malaysia is complicated, and many very different Sinitic languages are spoken by similarly large numbers of Malaysian citizens. Malaysian Mandarin is distinct from Standard Beijing Mandarin due to phonological differences and the influence of other languages in the region (English, Malay, Cantonese, etc.). Still, Sinophonic educational instruction — which is available at all levels of the education system — is given in Standard Mandarin, of which Malaysian Mandarin is merely a dialect.

Chinese Malaysians are overwhelmingly multilingual, generally speaking Standard Malay in addition to one or two Sinitic lects, and generally English and/or Manglish as well. If you meet an ethnic Chinese Malaysian in MapleStory, they will most likely speak Manglish, but their mastery of the acrolectal extreme of that post-creole continuum — viz. Malaysian Standard English — can vary considerably.

Thanks largely to the influence of Hong Kong’s cultural exports (see the “Hong Kong” section above), Cantonese is also frequently well-understood by the Malaysian Sinophone population.

MapleSEA is the main official MapleStory implementation that serves Malaysia, and its implementation language is English. Malaysian players may also be found in GMS to a lesser extent, and they make up a considerable chunk of the playerbase of MapleSEA- and/or GMS-based private servers.

Sinophones in Malaysia write using simplified Chinese characters.

Singapore

Although Singapore is, in many ways, an Anglophone country (see the “Singlish & Manglish” section above), Standard Mandarin is one of its official languages as well. The majority of Singaporeans are ethnically Chinese, making Sinitic the dominant language family aside from English & Singlish.

Like in Malaysia, Singapore has its own variety of Standard Mandarin: Standard Singaporean Mandarin. Singaporean Mandarin also comes with its own colloquial form, Singdarin, which mixes in words & phrases from English, Singlish, non-Mandarinic Sinitic languages, Malay, etc. Code-switching between Singdarin and Standard Singaporean Mandarin occurs in a similar way to code-switching between Singlish and Singaporean Standard English.

Other Sinitic languages — particularly Cantonese, Teochew, & Hokkien — are also spoken as native languages in Singapore. However, their speaking populations are increasingly eroded by Singaporean Mandarin & English. As a result, many — if not most — Singaporeans will be effectively trilingual: English, Singlish, & Standard Mandarin.

MapleSEA is the main official MapleStory implementation that serves Singapore, and similar comments from the “Malaysia” section above apply.

Sinophones in Singapore, like those of Malaysia, write using simplified Chinese characters.

Taiwan

Taiwan is the primary target region of the official MapleStory implementation TMS. The native language of the majority of the Taiwanese population is Taiwanese Hokkien, also known as simply “Taiwanese”, in addition to various other names. The majority of the Taiwanese population also speaks Taiwanese Mandarin, which is essentially a variety of Standard Mandarin. Taiwanese Hokkien is a Southern Min language, and as such, it is only very distantly related to Standard Mandarin; the majority of the population of Taiwan, then, is bilingual at the very least.

Being a variety of Standard Mandarin, Taiwanese Mandarin — in its standard form — is highly mutually intelligible with Standard Beijing Mandarin, despite having some phonological & vocabulary differences. The difference in this case is thus comparable to, say, the difference between standard Australian English and RP. However, it’s worth noting that Taiwanese Mandarin is more commonly spoken in colloquial registers that are somewhat more divergent, and incorporate heavier influence from local languages like e.g. Taiwanese Hokkien.

Traditional characters are used for writing in Taiwan, hence their use in TMS. Also unlike mainland Chinese Sinophones, Taiwanese folx generally have little need for Romanisation, instead using Bopomofo for phonetic purposes; see the “Bopomofo” section above.

Although Taiwanese players are, for obvious reasons, more likely to be found in Sinophone MapleStory servers, they can also be found in significant numbers in servers like MapleLegends. Their grasp of English will vary somewhat, with some able to hold a conversation decently well, but rarely any being fluent.

It’s also worth noting that Taiwan is generally understood to be the Urheimat of the Austronesian languages, which notably includes both Malay & Tagalog, amongst many other languages. However, the languages indigenous to Taiwan have been displaced over many centuries by Sinitic languages, leaving them mostly either dead or seriously endangered.

United States & Canada

The United States & Canada are primarily Anglophone, with a handful of notable exceptions, e.g. Québec (as discussed in the “French” section above). Nevertheless, both of these countries are known for their impressively large immigrant populations, many of whom emigrated from Sinophone regions. Moreover, yet other citizens of these countries may not be immigrants at all, and yet still may trace their families & ethnicities back to Sinophone regions of the world.

As a result, the United States & Canada are home to a combined total of some four or five million Sinitic language speakers. Considering the success of GMS & GMS-based MapleStory servers within these countries, Americans & Canadians may actually make up a not-insignificant portion of the Sinitic-speaking population of servers like MapleLegends.

Still, although this population may be Sinitic-speaking, they generally also speak English as their native language — or, at least, fluently. You are thus unlikely to see anything even remotely resembling a Sinitic language from these players in your chatlog.

Nevertheless, these players are not totally invisible, and if you are very lucky, you might even get to hear from them a bit of speech in voice chat in a Sinitic language like e.g. Cantonese. Thus, it’s worth giving a brief overview of the Sinitic languages spoken within these countries.

Accounting for the various Sinitic languages separately is difficult, as respondents to questions & surveys are likely to give answers like “Chinese” when asked what languages they speak, as the actual language is thought to be mostly irrelevant — after all, every Sinitic language is equally unrelated to English. Moreover, some surveys & censuses may, regrettably (🙄), explicitly list “Chinese” as a language.

Historically, up until about the mid-20th century, certain Yue languages — specifically, Cantonese & Taishanese — have been the dominant languages and the lingue franche of Chinatowns in the U.S. & Canada. Note that, although they are both Yue languages, Cantonese & Taishanese are not very mutually intelligible.

In more recent decades, immigration from mainland China has caused Standard Mandarin to displace these Yue languages somewhat, especially with its use as a lingua franca. Also, a significant number of Sinitic language speakers in this region trace their family back to Taiwan, and so generally speak Hokkien (see the “Taiwan” section above). Representatives of other languages & branches of the Sinitic language family are also present, albeit to a much lesser degree.

As you’d expect, traditional characters are more likely to be used by the older generations, whereas newer immigrants from mainland China will bring the use of simplified characters with them. Some Sinitic language speakers in this region may be functionally illiterate in Chinese characters generally, as a result of only using their Sinitic language as a spoken language at home.

Sinitic languages for the English speaker

Like any of the other languages discussed here that are not Indo-European, the Sinitic languages are unrelated to English. Moreover, the system of Chinese characters (traditional, or simplified) used to write these languages is radically different from the Latin script used to write English. There are still some broad similarities; see the “Typically shared features” section above.

Nevertheless, even if you’re an English speaker who does not speak any Sinitic languages, you’re still capable of recognising some of the hallmarks of certain Sinitic languages & their associated cultures. For example, a name that otherwise looks like gibberish may look perfectly coherent if you have some knowledge of Hanyu Pinyin. And speaking of MapleStory IGNs, much of the verbal content of things like IGNs, & of cross-linguistic vocabulary sharing/mixing, I find are often from one of two common categories:

The influence of Cantonese on the MapleLegends population is clear from names like charsiubao (叉燒包; ⟨caa1 siu1 baau1⟩; /t͡sʰaː˥ siːu̯˥ paːu̯˥/), hamsup/hamsuploh (鹹濕(佬); ⟨haam4 sap1 (lou2)⟩; /haːm˨˩ sɐp̚˥ (lou̯˧˥)/; “perverted/lecherous (guy)”; lit. “salty wet (man)”), HamSoiGok (鹹水角; ⟨haam4 seoi2 gok3⟩; /haːm˨˩ sɵy̯˧˥ kɔːk̚˧/), the guild name YumCha (飲茶; ⟨jam2 caa4⟩; /jɐm˧˥ t͡sʰaː˨˩/), etc. The popular Singlish–Manglish phrase walao (or Walao eh! as a full-sentence exclamation) is from a Standard Mandarin reading of 哇老(诶) (⟨wà láo (ei)⟩; Standard Beijing Mandarin /wa˥˩ lau̯˧˥ (ei̯)/), which itself is a borrowing of a phrase of Southern Min origin, probably 我老(的) (⟨guá lāu(--ê)⟩; Singaporean Hokkien /wa˨˦[15] la͡u˨˨ (e)/).

You know — the fun bits. Knowing how to say “mountain” just isn’t as fun as knowing how to say “pervert”, or the name of a delicious meal.

Thai

Thai (ภาษาไทย; ⟨phāsā thai⟩; /pʰäː˧.säː˩˩˦ tʰäj˧/), particularly Central Thai, is a Kra–Dai language that is the sole official language of Thailand, as well as the language spoken by the majority of the population of Thailand. Central Thai forms one region of a dialect continuum known as the Southwestern Tai languages, which notably also includes Lao. Thai is thus unrelated to all other languages considered here.

Thai has some broad similarities with the Sinitic languages (see the “Typically shared features” section above), including:

But, being unrelated to the Sinitic languages, it has plenty of distinguishing features as well:

In any case, I mention Thai here because it was, naturally, the language of ThMS. Unfortunately, ThMS’s existence was fraught: it was shut down for a little over five years, before being re-launched by a new local publisher… and then shut down again. Perhaps worse, it was never actually fully localised into Thai![7] The Thai text that did exist in-game — which was… well, mostly chat messages sent by players, but also some of the game’s text as well — likely just used TIS-620 for encoding purposes.

Besides ThMS, however, there is little to say about Thai for our purposes. Its writing system is fundamentally unrelated to all other writing systems considered here, and its speakers likely do not speak English — nor any of the other non-Kra–Dai languages considered here, for that matter. To make matters worse, Thai is Romanised extremely inconsistently, and in ways that generally either do not reflect pronunciation, or that attempt to reflect pronunciation whilst simultaneously failing to make numerous phonemic distinctions. Thus, I suspect that there are no, or virtually no, Thai speakers in a server like MapleLegends. If they do exist, I hope they stop by and say “hi”. Or, you know, “หวัดดี”.

Vietnamese

Vietnamese (tiếng Việt; Hà Nội dialect /tiə̯ŋ˧˥ viə̯t̚˧˨ˀ/) is an Austroasiatic language widely spoken in Vietnam, & the sole official language of Vietnam. The largest Austroasiatic languages besides Vietnamese are Khmer & Santali, spoken in Cambodia & east–northeast India, respectively; however, they are not closely related to Vietnamese (& perhaps surprisingly, Vietnamese is the only tonal language amongst them), and Vietnamese has many more speakers than the entire rest of the Austroasiatic family combined.

Vietnamese has broadly similar grammatical principles to Thai (see the “Thai” section above) and to the Sinitic languages (see the “Typically shared features” section above)[16], and also like both, is tonal. However, Vietnamese is unrelated to both Thai and to the Sinitic languages, and its linguistic relatives are often non-tonal.

Vietnamese can be classified into several dialects, of which I use the Hà Nội dialect as a reference. However, these dialects are mutually intelligible, so we can plainly speak of the “Vietnamese language”.

Vietnamese was the official language of VMS, and many Vietnamese speakers continue to play MapleStory on MapleSEA, GMS, & private servers based upon them.

Writing

Vietnamese is written in a Latin script known as the Vietnamese alphabet (chữ Quốc ngữ; Hà Nội dialect /cɨ˧ˀ˥ kok̚˧˥ ŋɨ˧ˀ˥/). However, the Vietnamese writing system makes very extensive use of diacritics & additional letters such as ⟨Đ, đ⟩ for important phonological purposes. When inputting text into a computer system, the Vietnamese speaker will use an IME based on, for example, Telex, to allow Vietnamese text to be input via an ordinary English keyboard layout such as U.S. QWERTY. For example, with Telex, ⟨đ⟩ may be input as dd, ⟨ư⟩ may be input as uw or simply w, and ⟨ền⟩ may be input as eenf.

Obviously UTF-8 is used nowadays, but in the past, Windows-1258 has been the most widely-used extended ASCII encoding for Vietnamese — although there were at least two or three others. Importantly, however, Vietnamese Quoted-Readable (VIQR) has been used for writing Vietnamese text in a 7-bit ASCII environment — and as an IME, as well.

Even the official VMS localisation itself used VIQR conventions for basically any Vietnamese textual elements that weren’t either able to be directly encoded into ASCII, or were bitmap images anyways. However, the informal use of VIQR conventions within in-game text, and within players’ chat messages for that matter, was not consistent.[10] In cases where the reader is expected to understand the correct spelling & pronunciation from context, non-alphabetic VIQR elements such as the ⟨^⟩ (U+005e) and/or ⟨'⟩ (U+0027) in ⟨e^'⟩ (representing ⟨ế⟩; U+1ebf) may be selectively omitted.

You can expect to see this kind of semi-VIQR text from players chatting in Vietnamese in a server like MapleLegends.

It’s worth noting that, historically, Vietnamese has been similar to Korean & Japanese in that it borrowed Chinese characters for use as its writing system[16], known as chữ Nôm (字喃; Hà Nội dialect /t͡ɕɨ˧ˀ˥ nom˧˧/). However, from the 20th century onwards, the Vietnamese alphabet replaced the use of chữ Nôm, and chữ Nôm are now merely historical.

English for the Vietnamese speaker

For historical reasons, French has been the main Indo-European language of Vietnam. In recent years, however, the teaching of French as a second language in the education system has been displaced to some degree by the teaching of English. Students of the Vietnamese education system will thus be obliged to take courses in French, English, or both.

Still, English proficiency naturally varies. Bilingual/multilingual Vietnamese speakers may speak any number of languages, as Vietnam is fairly linguistically diverse aside from its use of Vietnamese. In MapleStory, the Vietnamese speaker will, at bare minimum, speak enough English to navigate the game in an English-only GMS-based server.

The United States & Canada are also home to some ≈1.6 million or so Vietnamese speakers, and these will naturally also be fluent in English.

Vietnamese for the English speaker

Because Vietnamese is spoken almost exclusively in Vietnam, the native Anglophone is unlikely to know any Vietnamese. Moreover, borrowing between the two languages is largely asymmetrical: modern Vietnamese — especially in its informal/slang registers — borrows and/or transliterates a decent number of English words & phrases, whereas borrowing from Vietnamese into English is almost entirely limited to food (e.g. phở; /fəː˧˩˧/) & toponyms (e.g. Hồ Chí Minh City; Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh; Hà Nội dialect /tʰɛŋ˨˩ fo˧˥ ho˨˩ t͡ɕi˧˥ miŋ˧˧/).

Final thoughts

MapleStory is, in my opinion, blessed by its multilingualism & geographic diversity. Any player of MapleStory on a server that isn’t already region-specific will encounter other players who speak foreign languages & who live in far-flung lands, and this element of the game should never be taken for granted.

Interacting with other people across language barriers is always difficult. However, if you try to do it anyways, you will frequently find yourself rewarded. By opening yourself up to other languages & by taking them seriously, you not only open yourself up to interaction with more people, but you also gain insight into what it means to communicate verbally, why people communicate in the ways that they do, & even gain insight into the structure of the language(s) that you already speak. Moreover, you’re given the opportunity to benefit from differing cultural perspectives, broadening your understanding of the world generally.

Footnotes for “Hello, Anglophone!”

  1. [↑] See the “MMORPGs as we know them: The big five” section of pt. xcv of this diary.

  2. [↑] Apologies for the inconsistent use of ISO 843 vs. ALA-LC. Normally I only use ALA-LC, but the ISO 843 Romanisation happened to be more illustrative in one particular case.

  3. [↑] See also: Symbols of Islam.

  4. [↑] See the “But first, a little history…” section of pt. xcv of this diary.

  5. [↑] Taiwanese Mandarin is a variety of Standard Mandarin. Taiwanese Mandarin has its fair share of differences from Standard Beijing Mandarin, but for the purpose of most game implementation details, the standard written form paves over said differences. See the “Taiwan” section.

  6. [↑] Global MapleStory is operated by Neckson North America, and its primary target audience is in Canada & the United States. Nevertheless, true to its name, it is global, and has players from all over the world.

  7. [↑] It might seem strange that most (albeit not all) game elements of ThMS were written in English, given that its playerbase spoke… virtually no English at all. This was the result of being essentially based on MapleSEA, combined with the fact that localisation is a lot of work. Necksawn would have to, you know, actually hire people to do it, and that costs too much money. The same reasons can also be used to justify e.g. the shutdown of VMS, the merger of EMS (a quinquelingual server[8]) into GMS, etc. Moreover, the translators would need to be capable of translating from some language already used (English, Korean, whatever) into specifically Thai, which probably made them a bit difficult to find.

    Similar comments apply to VMS, although VMS was at least somewhat more well-localised, and at least most Vietnamese folx learn English in school nowadays.

  8. [↑] Europe MapleStory allowed players to select their language, and then designated channels (not worlds) according to language: the first three channels (chs 1〜3) were language-agnostic, and each of the other channels was limited to one of the five official languages. Note that plenty of speakers of other languages (Finnish, Swedish, etc., etc.) also played.

  9. [↑] Merged with GMS.

  10. [↑] Although some parts of the game did indeed use Vietnamese text (chữ Quốc ngữ; Hà Nội dialect /cɨ˧ˀ˥ kok̚˧˥ ŋɨ˧ˀ˥/), much of the game settled for a 7-bit ASCII approximation inspired by Vietnamese Quoted-Readable (VIQR). In VIQR-inspired text, diacritics were frequently omitted, and those that remained were approximated in VIQR style, e.g. ⟨a`⟩ (U+0061, U+0060) instead of ⟨à⟩ (U+00e0).

    See also: [7]

  11. [↑] It is here that I must mention O novo guia da conversação em portuguez e inglez, commonly known as English As She Is Spoke, which is certainly… one of the phrase books of all time.

  12. [↑] Note that Québec is almost always excluded from the definition of “Latin America”.

  13. [↑] See footnote #1 of the “Lunational” section of pt. xcix of this diary.

  14. [↑] Broad transcription. Standard Beijing Mandarin specifically.

  15. [↑] /gu͡a˥˨/ (before sandhi) in many other Hokkien dialects, including Taiwanese.

  16. [↑] See also: Vietnam under Chinese rule.

In which MapleLegends is swallowed up by an arcade cabinet

It’s here! It’s here! MapleLegends’s 2023 anniversary event is here, albeit a bit late — the actual anniversary is on the first of April. No matter, what’s important is that the Maplers rejoice in their belovèd Mapleversary festivities.

Logging in

Before even logging into the game, however, something is already awry. What happened to our classic MapleStory theme music?

Well, it certainly sounds pretty, but I don’t remember the theme music being 8-bit-sounding tracker music!

Terms like 8-bit or chiptune are perhaps mildly misleading here; we can clearly hear delay, and even reverb, that both sound pretty “modern” compared to what you’d expect from classic 8-bit audio chips. But this is pretty typical; the direct signal from a classic chip is quite grating on the ears due to the lack of… actual acoustics, and due to the generally impoverished dynamic range & gamut of dynamic levels. So a little reverberation goes a long way!

Chiptune is primarily associated with the 1980s — and, for that matter, trackers are primarily associated with the 1990s — so maybe we’re going for a kind of “retro” æsthetic here. I guess that vaguely makes sense insofar as this is the anniversary event, so we’re celebrating the very beginning. Of course, in this case, the “beginning” is in 2015, when MapleLegends was first launched. Or, at best, maybe 2002, when beta versions of MapleStory were first made available.

Even 2002 is pretty “late” in this context. Sure, chiptune in one form or another enjoys some continued popularity to this day (I personally love recommending an0va’s The Teaching Machine and Ego Depletion, both of which were released in the 2010s), and sure, plenty of good tracker technology & art has been released in 2002 & onwards (e.g. Renoise was also released in 2002), but explicitly hammering on these æsthetics clearly harks back to an earlier time. More to the point, I don’t think I’ve ever been reminded of chiptune by playing MapleStory! It’s just not part of MapleStory’s æsthetic palette.

The arcade cabinet

So, after enjoying a bit of 16-bit music, I pushed past the login screen to enter the world of MapleLegends again, as my Vicloc dagger spearwoman d34r. It was here on Victoria Island, in Henesys, that I found the 8-bit culprit:

d34r finds an arcade cabinet in Henesys…

Oh, my. That is most certainly a pixelated arcade cabinet! Oh, the mixed pixel sizes… Unsettling!

I tried hitting the cabinet with my dagger, but to no avail; the cabinet only continued to stare right back at me, tempting me with video games (toys of the devil!!), if only I would insert one coin to begin. I allowed the devil to win this time, assenting when asked if I wanted to go to “Retro World”.

And just like that, d34r was whisked away from Victoria Island, into the clutches of the devil Retro World — particularly, a town by the name of Balina.

Retro World: Balina

If I thought that the mixed pixel sizes were bad earlier, I was now learning that it would only get worse.

Still, Balina proved to be a beautiful place, built up with vaguely European-looking architecture, and flush with its own pixelated varieties of flora. This would have to suffice as consolation, as what the Retro World Arcade Cabinet offered was no simple “minigame”: Retro World was to serve as the sole setting for the MapleLegends 2023 anniversary event, swallowing whole the rest of the game, on the promise that it would spit the rest of the game back up once the event had run its course. Thus, not so much “leaving Victoria Island”, d34r had merely been swept up in the collective fever dream known as the “Retro World”.

Unsure what to make of the town of Balina, I spoke with the town chief: Emeric. Emeric told me that a certain Demon King — a diabolical fellow, judging by the name — had taken up residence in a giant ugly tower located rather inconveniently within this very town. Understandably upset by this, the people of Balina searched far & wide for anyone powerful enough to vanquish the Demon King and rid Balina of him for good.

Emeric: We searched everywhere and found the best magician and the best mercenary we could, and brought them here to town to help us. But what we didn’t know is that they’re both claustrophobic and acrophobic! They can’t enter the tower! Do you have any idea how much money we wasted?!

Hmm… Well, that is quite vexing. Who knew that all it takes to defeat the most powerful claustrophobe and acrophobe in all the land was a tall, labyrinthine tower?

Photios: It’s embarrassing, but ever since, I just can’t bear the thought of leaving solid ground. I can’t even jump rope…

Of course, d34r was no acrophobe. She had gladly fallen from the great heights of the Sleepy Dungeon to quickly get to The forest of Golem countless times, and had the bruises to show for it. So, thinking myself a hero, I agreed to do my best to drive away the Demon King, or to slay him once & for all.

In order to do that, though, I would need to shape up. Emeric, and the mercenaries Gunnolf & Photios, told me that the Demon King’s Tower would pose threats unlike any other, and so they offered me special training to prepare for it.

Training

Jump training

The first order of business was simple: jump training. Balina contained a large pond, and by turning myself into a small flat stone, I could skip myself across it. Wait, no. The pond was full of flat stones, and I could hop upon those to skip myself across it.

d34r skipping across the pond

In order to do this, though, I needed a special 0th-job skill called Long Jump. Gunnolf taught me this funny skill, and I found it to be quite similar to Flash Jump indeed, albeit with no visual animation. Interestingly, unlike most JQ maps, the pond does not “field-limit” one’s SPEED & JUMP to 100% & 100%, respectively; instead, it locks them to 140% & 123%, respectively, i.e. the maximum (non-mounted) values.

Because this was the first Retro World activity that I experienced, I was initially confused by the coins that you can loot along the way. The coins — e.g. the gold one in the image above, which has its edge facing the camera — are very large, being as tall as myself, and I didn’t immediately recognise them as items on the ground that I could loot. So you can see that I already failed to loot that coin in the image above, although I did certainly try attacking it with my dagger!

I’m no JQ professional, so the pond proved to be quite the challenge at first. Nevertheless, I hadn’t terribly much trouble clearing the pond within the 90-second time limit once I figured out One Weird Trick™: virtually every jump across the pond can be categorised as either “short” or “long”. Short jumps can be executed normally, by simply running towards the right and jumping at the edge of the platform. Long jumps can be executed by jumping in place (that is, directly upwards), and then Long Jumping at roughly the apex of the jump.

Once I figured out the pond’s secrets — and admired the visuals for a bit — I arrived back at Gunnolf, eager to inform him of my success. For that, I was awarded the Retro World Champion Jumper Pendant:

Retro World Champion Jumper Pendant

Transcription of the above image

Retro World Champion Jumper Pendant

One of a kind Item, Untradeable

  • Available until
  • Category: pendant [NX]
  • HP: +100
  • MP: +100
  • SPEED: +15

Very neato!! The SPEED in particular is very welcome, and this thing is even good for my non-area-restricted characters as well, thanks to it being an NX pendant that can be equipped simultaneously with an ordinary pendant.

Dodge training

That’s not the only training that d34r would be getting, though. Photios offered “dodge training”, where d34r would be dodging all manner of little magical apparitions attempting to stop her on her way to break open chests that spawned randomly around the map. This training comes in three stages. The first stage has flying bits of flame that cause those who touch them to be Slowed for some time. These travel along axes either vertical or horizontal, and can be dodged by moving out of the way, jumping over them, or even ducking underneath them in some cases. Nevertheless, getting hit by one is by no means fatal; it’s annoying and slows you down a bit, but that’s mostly it. Each stage does have a time limit, so it’s possible for this slowing down to be fatal, but the first stage is just a gentle introduction.

The second stage ramps up the difficulty a bit. This stage is also populated by flying flame-coloured apparitions; but this time, they’re 🦇spoopy scawwy bats🦇!! These bats fly circles around the map, and bumping into one causes Confusion (reversing input directions/orientations) for a few seconds.

d34r in dodge training: stage 2

Luckily for me, countless EPQ and NMM runs have made me somewhat accustomed to Confusion, so I passed this stage without much issue.

The third & final stage is where the real pain lies. No more flying apparitions, this stage instead has brief yellow–orange explosions that pop up frequently all over the map, and getting caught in such an explosion leaves one Stunned for some time.

d34r in dodge training: stage 3

d34r in stage 3 of dodge training. Notice how the coins popping out of the chest — amongst many other things — breaks the apparent pixelation of the coin sprites; the coins are supposedly aligned to a 4×4 pixel grid, but the MapleStory client’s algorithm for rotating sprites operates within the “actual” 1×1 pixel grid.

Ouf. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself stuck for some time in a loop of getting stunned just as soon as you’re unstunned! Perhaps the most annoying thing about this stage — for me personally, at least — is that each chest drops three coins, and if those coins fall back down where the chest was (rather than landing on a platform immediately above), it can almost completely visually obscure the next chest that spawns in that location. This sometimes leaves me wondering when & where the next chest is going to spawn, when in actuality, the chest has already spawned… The essential problem is that the explosions often occur in the same positions as the chests, making looting the three coins an endeavour that risks getting “unnecessarily” stunned.

Nevertheless, I was able to surmount this third stage, and claim yet another pendant: the Retro World Champion Dodger Pendant.

Retro World Champion Dodger Pendant

Transcription of the above image

Retro World Champion Dodger Pendant

One of a kind Item, Untradeable

  • Available until
  • Category: pendant [NX]
  • HP: +100
  • MP: +100
  • JUMP: +15

As you can see, it’s nearly identical to the Retro World Champion Jumper Pendant, but giving JUMP instead of SPEED. So, although at most one of the two pendants can be equipped at any given time, it might still be useful to switch between them depending on one’s needs.

RRPQ

Having passed both training courses, I was now able to flesh out the rest of my Retro World skillset, adding to Long Jump the additional 0th-job skill of Axe Throw:

The Axe Throw & Long Jump skills

It’s worth noting that although Long Jump is certainly a cool skill, the pond map that you see in the “d34r skipping across the pond” image above is the only map in the entire game where it can possibly be used. I’d have hoped that the dodge training would allow its use, and perhaps also that it could be used in Balina itself, but alas, nay.

Which brings us to Axe Throw — by far the dominant skill of the two. The skill works as advertised, lobbing a single pixelated axe through the air in an arc, and damaging the first monster that it strikes for exactly 8 (the 2023 anniversary being the 8th anniversary of MapleLegends) damage. This makes it a kind of ranged attack, although its arc’d trajectory is somewhat idiosyncratic. That being said, there is at least one other skill in the game that operates somewhat similarly: Grenade. Axe Throw can be used in several maps, which brings me to the Retro Reach Party Quest (RRPQ).

RRPQ (or, perhaps more likely, simply axe spam PQ; axe PQ) is simple: a party of exactly three adventurers enters the Retro Reach, populated by a single gang of pixelated monsters that must be defeated before the allotted 180 seconds elapses. Like the pond of the jump training, RRPQ is set within gorgeous pixelated outdoor scenery:

d34r, inject, & Taima take on Retro Reach PQ

Naturally, the only tool capable of damaging these monsters is Axe Throw, so the PQ consists almost entirely of just holding the Axe Throw button:

RRPQ is thus best described as “mind-numbing”, or as Harlez (VigiI, Murhata) put it, “receiving negative stimulation”.

That being said, there are some slight nuances to the PQ. The basic goal is to sink as many axes into live monsters (as opposed to throwing axes that deal no damage, or not throwing them at all) as possible, as quickly as possible. Because the monsters spawned at the beginning of the PQ are always the same set of monsters, and because an axe always deals exactly 8 damage, the number of axes that must be sunk into them, over the course of the PQ, is constant. Thus, the goal is ultimately to spend as little time walking/jumping/repositioning as possible, so that you can spend that time throwing axes instead.

When a monster is slain, it spawns a brand new monster in its place, and the species of the new monster depends on the species of the dead monster that it’s replacing. The order is as follows, where each species spawns the immediately following species when it dies:

  1. Purple-&-gold chest.
  2. *Purple fly guy.
  3. Green goblin archer.
  4. *Flaming fly guy.
  5. Dark brick golem.

(Note that I just made these names up; I’ve no idea what the actual species names are, if there are any.)

Thus, the purple-&-gold chests can only be spawned when the PQ first begins, as no species can “turn into” a purple-&-gold chest when it dies. Conversely, dark brick golems are the final form; when a dark brick golem dies, it’s dead for good.

You’ll notice that the asterisked (*) species are both “fly guys”. Because these species are not ground-bound, they can be lured from one platform to another once aggro’d. Because the RRPQ map is basically divided into three giant flat platforms, and moving from one platform up to the one immediately above it takes quite some time, this is a useful property that can be used to concentrate the monsters onto the bottom floor for easy access. Usually, at the start of the PQ, I rush up to the top platform and start taking out the archers (and the single golem) up there. Once all of the archers (and the golem) are dead, I try to make sure that I have the aggro of the flaming fly guys, and then jump down to the bottom where everyone else is. Aggro can be a tricky thing — especially since MapleLegends’s numerous aggro overhauls that have caused it to be somewhat unpredictable — but it usually works. The flaming fly guys (indeed, basically all monster species in RRPQ) have auto-aggro anyways, and I try to make sure that I get in one or two (ideally two) hits on each fly guy before luring them. This last part can be difficult, because the fly guys often huddle together, thus shielding each other from axes.

A typical fast run takes around ≈150 of the allotted 180 seconds. As far as I know, something like ≈130 seconds is about the best that you can possibly do. Slower runs may take almost all 180 seconds.

But okay, what’s the point of this mind-numbing nonsense? More NX pendants?? Nope. Each RRPQ completion randomly awards either 20 coins, or 2 coupons. Like many past events in MapleLegends, the 2023 anniversary event has two event currencies, and in this case, they cannot be converted from one to the other, nor vice versa. Coupons (a.k.a. tickets) are “the ones you actually want”, and coins (a.k.a. points) are “the ones you don’t really care about”. So, naturally, RRPQ almost always awards the 20 coins. Given that RRPQ is generally not considered to be “fun” in any of the usual senses, this makes it somewhat unpopular, although we’ll see later why people (myself included…) still do it anyways.

P. Diddy

But RRPQ isn’t the only place where Axe Throw can be used. Like many past anniversary events in MapleLegends, this event features everyone’s favourite outsized pastry father: Big Puff Daddy (a.k.a. P. Diddy, Sizeable Strudel Sire, Ponderous Pastry Parent, etc.). But this is no ordinary Puff Dad; the town of Balina bakes this one themselves, meaning that Puff Dad is looking a little pixelated this year, and goes by the name of Bit Puff Daddy. Little pieces of the 8-bit bread begetter drop from monsters all over the Maple World, and once enough pieces have been turned in, the pâtisserie padre is baked.

But the pixelated profiterole progenitor is a baking aberration that threatens to crush the buildings of Balina under its elephantine heft, so it must be subdued… with axes.

Many, many “8”s later, and the copious cake creator explodes in a cloud of floury goodness, bestowing coupons upon the brave adventurers who fought to take it down. The reward for defeating Dough Daddy was originally quite pitiful, but was later buffed to make it worth the effort and the pastries: two coupons, ≈50 coins or so, and a random equipment box… but we’ll get to that last part later.

Demon King’s Tower

Still, RRPQ and Bit Puff Dad are not the only places to throw some axes. This brings us to the main attraction: the Demon King’s Tower. If RRPQ is too masochistic, and Bit Puff Dad only spawns every once in a while, what’s left is the tower. After all, we did come to Balina to save the town from the newly-arrived Demon King, right?

So I set foot into the forbidding fortress:

d34r takes on the Demon King’s Tower for the first time

The Demon King’s Tower is kind of like… a JQ. Like many classic MapleStory JQs, the tower proceeds in a series of stages, in each of which the player must carefully run, jump, & duck around perilous platforms & obstacles, being careful not to fall, lest they be forced to start over. Moreover, the obstacles along the way are similar to those in many other JQs: metal spikes on the ends of wooden shafts that mechanically pop in & out, flying blades, flames that periodically shoot out of the walls & floors,e and various annoying monsters of both the crawling & flying varieties.

Watch out! Sawblades!!

But there’s a catch: although the PC cannot die per se in these maps (as they are made immune to damage), the PC’s ordinary HP is really just replaced by a few hearts, which you can see above my head in the image above. These hearts can be as many as three (❤️❤️❤️), as few as one (❤️), and once you lose your final heart, that’s game over. Any source of damage, including from obstacles, monster attacks (touch or ranged), or even fall damage, removes a heart. Falling off of the map removes all hearts, even if you still had all three remaining.

So you can perhaps imagine my trepidation when I first came across an archer spamming arrows at me…:

An archer appears!

Indeed, the Demon King’s Tower is no joke. In its entirety, the tower has 20 floors (plus an extra chamber at the top, but we’ll get to that later).

Not every floor is a perilous combat-JQ, however; floors 5, 10, 15, & 20 are checkpoints that serve to save the player’s progress, allowing them to resume the tower at that floor, should they die and choose to re-enter. Checkpoints also award coupons when unlocked: one coupon for unlocking floor 5, two for unlocking floor 10, three for unlocking floor 15, and four for unlocking floor 20.

Nevertheless, although the checkpoints are typically necessary, they are little succour for those who seek to complete the tower in its entirety. Getting to floor 5 is generally not too difficult, although the path to floor 5 has given me a few near-death experiences on occasion… And getting from floor 5 to floor 10 is quite doable, as well. It’s somewhere around floor ≈8 that the player starts to become aware of the role of RNG in the Demon King’s Tower: the movements of monsters, and the spawn points of flying monsters, are quite random. Remember the purple fly guys and flame fly guys from RRPQ? Well, the Demon King’s Tower will put the fear of fly guys in you.

But that’s not all; getting to floor 10 might seem doable, but that’s only halfway up the tower! Getting from floor 10 to floor 15 is more difficult still, and quite frankly I’m not sure whether it’s even possible to get past floor 13 without taking at least one or two hits. Worse still, the road from floor 10 to floor 20 is paved with several monsters that you can’t even detect the presence of until it’s already too late.

So… how do you even do that shit? That brings us to another aspect of the Demon King’s Tower: partying. You see, the tower is actually a PQ, meaning that a party of 1〜6 PCs can enter the tower on any floor that all party members have unlocked, and take on the challenges together. One advantage is obvious: if someone else kills a monster, that monster is dead. You didn’t necessarily even have to do anything; it’s just gone now. Furthermore, the total number of hearts that you can possibly expend is now multiplied by your party size; if you can’t take a hit, then maybe someone else can.

Moreover, some tricky bits can be much more consistent when done with teamwork. An obvious example of this is this section of floor 16, where a spring pad launches you up onto a platform that has a dark brick golem on it:

d33r in a floor 15 group

The issue is that the platform is so high up that you have no chance of seeing it, nor the golem. So, if you just give it a go, there’s pretty much like a 50% chance that you’re just toast, and the other 50% of the time you might only take 0〜1 hits. If you have someone stay at a scouting position further back in the floor (positioned higher and more rightwards than the spring pad), they can alert you when the golem is on the right-hand side of the platform, and then you can use the spring pad. This makes it much more likely that there’s enough distance between you and the golem to safely dispatch it. Moreover, if you have two or more PCs use the spring pad at once, they can chew through the golem’s HP that many times more quickly.

Even still, the tower can be brutally punishing. The image that you see above was pretty much a result of d33r (my Vicloc clericlet) getting her ass absolutely carried from floor 10 to floor 15 by popopopop2. I then continued on from floor 15, also with a party, having never so much as seen floor 16 with my own eyes before. Needless to say, I made a fool of myself.

In a later mid-event update, healing orbs were added to a select few chests found throughout the tower:

Healing orb in the Demon King’s Tower

Previously, these chests only dropped coins. As you can see, the addition of healing orbs was a quick ad hoc addition to alleviate some of the excessive difficulty of the tower; the orbs aren’t even pixelated!

As mentioned previously, RNG can have a big impact on how difficult each floor of the tower is. One time, when soloing the tower on my retired swashbuckler hydropotina, I got to my usual stopping point of floor 10, but decided to keep going just for goofs. Typically, this results in utter defeat, but for some reason, hydro is a JQ genius, and managed to solo straight from floor 1 to floor 15 all in one go!:

hydropotina soloed Demon King’s Tower floors 1 → 15!!

Oh, but actually, it was even better than that. Since I had made it this far, I decided to keep going, for even more goofs. And so I made it directly from floor 1 to floor 19 all in one go. Literally what? Huh?? How did I even do that‽‽‽ To this day, I’ve no clue. Of course, I died at the beginning of floor 19 because that part is simply impossible to solo, I swear to god.

I did a little bit of partying, as seen in d33r’s image above. But, for the most part, I did the tower solo, because I was not really keen to embarrass myself and slow other people down. However, on one day, after Aufing with a crew including Narelion, Maccha, Confessor, Danger, & Pinaka (see the “Gazing back into the eye of the beholder” section below), we decided to do some towering as a party. After helping me get from floor 10 to floor 15 on rusa, we took on the path from floor 15 to floor 20 together. After some number of times hearing “Oh. deer died.” in voice chat, my ass was eventually fully swaddled and carried directly through the finish line:

rusa gets to floor 20!!

Well… not quite the “finish line”. You see, although the Demon King’s Tower does have just 20 floors, getting to the 20th is not sufficient to clear the tower entirely and vanquish the Demon King. You still have to do the vanquishing part — the 20 floors of combat-JQ hell was just to get to the king! Thankfully, as mentioned previously, floor 20 is a checkpoint, meaning that if you try to fight the Demon King and fail, you can simply start the fight over again immediately.

That being said, I had really no idea what to expect from this fight. I knew it was going to be a boss fight, and that it would probably involve a lot of axe-lobbing, but that was pretty much it.

Yep! The Demon King is pretty much a floating gold-lined cloak with two metallic armoured hands, and a similarly metallic four-horned helmet. He wields some kind of silver wand with a golden-orange gem at the end, which he uses to play nasty magical tricks. You can see two such tricks in the video above; first, the oversized ball of flame cruising over my head (phewf!), and then the part where he kinda… produces these vertical magenta bars that stretch across the entire map, damaging anyone who is too close to them when they explode.

The Demon King can walk (or rather, float) around, and also has the ability to summon fly guys. It’s not an easy fight; but it’s doable, especially with the checkpoint, and especially with more party members throwing more axes at him. One frustrating aspect is that the position of the vertical bars that he casts is random enough that they can sometimes line up quite closely, so that all three bars are contiguous (i.e. there’s no space in between them where you wouldn’t take damage), and if you just so happen to be within this triple-bar formation when it’s cast, you just… have to take the damage. Sorry! Luckily, it doesn’t seem to happen too often, although I did once die as a result of getting triple-barred twice in quick succession… I take that as a personal attack! Leave me alone!!

Eventually, however, we all made it through the fight:

rusa defeats the Demon King!!!

Wowzers. It was then, however, that I discovered the real story behind this whole “Demon King’s Tower” business:

Demon King: You’re not here because the townspeople named you their ‘Hero’, right? They just got scared because I sent some of my guys to set things straight with the Goddess Avaracia.

rusa: (Wait… what?)

Demon King: Do the townspeople not know? I bought this tower fair and square from the Goddess Avaracia and moved right in. That’s all!

I’ve been scammed!!!

rusa: Uh…

Demon King: I’ve lived most of my life in a dark basement, so I was determined to find a warm, quiet, peaceful place to retire to. Unfortunately, this home isn’t south-facing, and the nearby town gets very loud!

rusa: I think there’s been a misunderstanding…

Demon King: Seriously… All the work I put into the interior design for this home, all wasted. I’m so angry I could destroy the world!

rusa: Woah woah woah! There’s no need for that! Maybe we can talk this out?

Just a… misunderstood demonic baron, I guess…… Unfortunately, before we could talk it out, the Demon King expelled me from his house. I went back to Emeric, who told me simply to not listen to the Demon King. Emeric also, however, was quite pleased with my deeds done in service of the town & people of Balina, and so awarded me a fancy chair called Avaracia’s Blessing:

rusa sitting in Avaracia’s Blessing

Very impressive. It’s even got a little animation where Retro World Coins pop out! I do, however, wonder what it is with MapleStory and its obsession with stone statues of wingèd goddesses…

In any case, defeating the Demon King awards another 5 coupons, bringing the total for a full clear of the Demon King’s Tower up to 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15 coupons. That’s a lot of coupons! Fortunately for the expert Demon King’s Towerer, clearing the tower simply resets all checkpoints, as if you’d never set foot in the tower before. This means that it’s possible to, for example, just clear the tower once again for another 15 coupons.

Speaking of clearing the tower once again, that’s actually exactly what Emeric asked me to do. In fact, in order to complete the questline in its entirety, you must fully clear the tower four (4) times!! Holy moly!!! At the end of the questline awaits the Retro Hero pendant. I don’t have a screenshot of this one because I’m rubbish at the game, but I’ve been told that it’s another temporary NX pendant that grants +2 WATK, +10 MATK, +500 MAXHP, & +500 MAXMP. That is a very strong pendant indeed, but four clears to get this pendant — which is just going to expire in some weeks anyways — on just one (1) character is a bit much for me, and I imagine the same is true for a lot of other players as well. Keep in mind that although I may be rubbish at the game, I’m really not so bad at it in the grand scheme of things. I ran into some players who couldn’t even make it past the pond-skipping jump training!

Reward structure

It’s here that it’s worth looking at the reward structure of this event, and also appreciating its art & gameplay.

Currencies

As mentioned, the two event currencies are coupons & coins. Coupons are capped at a maximum of 30 per-week-per-PC, & coins at a maximum of 1 000 per-week-per-PC. This limitation can be “circumvented”, in some sense, by simply playing multiple PCs, but is otherwise a hard restriction.[1] Coupons can be spent like so:

reward coupons
event APR 1
raffle entry 1
Pixel Bloom of Lucid 30
Pixel First Maple Tree 30

“Event” APRs are special in that they cannot be put into one’s Cash Shop inventory, so they are truly untradeable. The raffle is basically what you expect: you put in a coupon, and get out some garbage, like 10 potions or something. There’s a small chance that you get something of value, and it’s worth noting that it can give event chairs (Pixel Bloom of Lucid, Pixel First Maple Tree), as well as Maple equipment boxes; these same items are available via other means. For example, the chairs can simply be bought for 30 coupons each.

Coins can be spent like so:

reward coins
Retro World Purple Potion [+20 WATK] 25
Retro World Orange Potion [+30 MATK] 25
Retro World Red Potion [+25 AVOID & +25 WACC] 25
[various cosmetic items] >0

All Retro World potions last for 5 minutes each, and are untradeable. The Retro World Purple Potion is equivalent to just a Cider, but the others are considerable.

Maple equipment boxes

A staple of any anniversary event in any MapleStory implementation that I know of, official server or private, is Maple equipment — and this event is no exception. Unlike some past anniversary events in MapleLegends, however, there is no Maple equipment crafting (normally done via Cassandra). Instead, we have four varieties of Maple equipment boxes (all untradeable), and whatever you get from opening a box is… what you get. The boxes are as follows:

name nominal level contents
Retro Orange Mushroom Box 0 level 0 equipment
Retro Slime Box 35 level 35 weapons
Retro Yeti Box 43 level 43 weapons
Retro Pink Bean Box 64 level 64 weapons & shields

I haven’t opened up many of these bad boys yet, so I’ll come back and fill in what equips are actually in them later. See the next diary entry.

Activities

This event consists of the following six activities:

activity minutes to clear coupons⧸clear coins⧸clear other rewards spammable? soloable? Retro World?
Jump Training ≈1 40 *Retro World Champion Jumper Pendant
Dodge Training ≈2 ≈60 *Retro World Champion Dodger Pendant
Demon King’s Tower 20〜∞ 15.0 some *Avaracia’s Blessing, *Retro Hero 🤷🏽‍♀️
Retro Reach PQ 2〜3 ≈0.3 ≈17
Bit Puff Daddy [2]4〜40 2.0 ≈45 [random Maple equipment box]
ordinary PQs 5〜30 ?〜60 ≈[level-appropriate Maple equipment box] ×¼

Asterisked (*) rewards are OoaK.

The value of “≈60” coins for a Dodge Training clear is under the assumption that you loot all coins that drop, which is not entirely trivial to do, particularly in the third & final stage.

The number of coins obtained from the Demon King’s Tower varies significantly depending on how many coins you actually produce (by breaking chests) and also loot. Because coins are, by far, not the point of doing the Demon King’s Tower at all, I’ve interpreted this as simply “some” coins. I have the soloability as “🤷🏽‍♀️” rather than picking one of “✅” or “❌” for two reasons:

The coupons⧸clear and coins⧸clear values for RRPQ are rough mean values based on my experience with the PQ. It has been rebalanced at least once or twice now, however.

Bit Puff Daddy generally does not take that long to defeat once it’s been spawned, so you can expect the actual “minutes to clear” value to be more like 4〜7. Nevertheless, this assumes a full room of people — that is, 50 people — fighting it. This is why the in-game timer actually allows up to 45 minutes. Some runs really can take a long time, if the room fails to fill.

“Ordinary PQs” includes HPQ, KPQ, LPQ, EPQ, OPQ, PPQ, & MPQ. The “×¼” is based on my experience with OPQ & MPQ.

My jumbled thoughts

This event’s activities begin with Jump Training. I was quite impressed at first; the maxed SPEED & JUMP in a JQ map, the fancy Long Jump skill, the beautiful visuals… But I later realised that there’s no real incentive to do Jump Training more than once, so it’s effectively a total of ≈90 seconds or so of actual gameplay content. Moreover, the entire Long Jump skill exists solely for this JQ. It’s really cool, but might feel like a waste of potential.

Dodge Training is similar. There’s usually no reason to do it more than once (unless farming just for coins, of course), and it doesn’t even allow the use of skills at all, Long Jump or otherwise.

Once training is completed, I’m confronted with the breadth of the event. As can be seen in the table in the “Activities” section above, the activities skew towards party play, as well as towards play inside of Retro World itself. This is neat insofar as party play is nice — MapleStory is an MMORPG, after all — and insofar as Retro World is a pretty ✨snazzy✨ place. That being said, it would be nicer to see more of a balance between solo and party content, and I say that as someone who is usually all about the party stuff[3]. Some habitually play the game solo, even if they habitually play in parties as well. When you’re too tired to play with other people, or your buddy list already went to sleep by now, it’s nice to still be able to participate in a limited-time event.

More to the point, skewing heavily towards activities that take place in Retro World itself has a clear consequence: MapleLegends has been swallowed up by an arcade cabinet, so we’re collectively pausing, or mostly pausing, Actual MapleStory Gameplay™ whilst we wait for it to be spit back up. In its place are minigames… although, perhaps the Demon King’s Tower is more extensive than the typical “mini”game. In any case, this is not literally true as I’ve stated it: of course MapleLegends also continues to operate normally, and I’ve been doing plenty of stuff outside of Retro World. But as an event, this MapleStory (viz. MapleLegends) event feels like an entirely different game that just so happens to be implemented within MapleStory.

Is that bad? Not necessarily. If it’s anything, it’s impressive. The technical and artistic work is nothing short of astounding, and the rollout of the event has been mostly smooth sailing. Moreover, the Demon King’s Tower has been a lot of fun for a lot of people, and that’s what it’s about. Videogames are for fun. And they’re the toys of the devil!!!

On the other hand, from my perspective, I come to MapleLegends to play MapleStory. So when a big event rolls out and sweeps everyone up, and that event apparently isn’t MapleStory, I’m left to scratch my head and wonder “why?”. I’ve enjoyed the event plenty, but that still doesn’t answer my question!

Looking again at the table in the “Activities” section above, we see that in the overwhelming majority of cases, we’re going to be doing some combination of the Demon King’s Tower, RRPQ, Bit Puff Daddy, & ordinary PQs. Bit Puff Daddy hardly counts for anything, because it accounts for roughly ≈5 minutes of actual gameplay, and only if you manage to be online to catch one — and don’t happen to be in a PQ, a boss, taking a bathroom break, etc. at the time! Once P. Diddy hits 60% and the global announcement rolls out, it hits 100% roughly instantly. Even if you’re online all damn day, you’re lucky to participate in one.

And RRPQ is definitely… something. But I don’t think anyone really likes that “something”. It’s clear that RRPQ is just there for people like me who are too shite at JQs to competently participate in the main content of the event. With that in mind, it seems that MapleLegends players are quite good at JQs, or most are simply not farming coupons, or RRPQ really is sufficiently boring & unrewarding to simply drive people away. ’Cause I am out here struggling to find two (2) other people to form an RRPQ party with me, and regrettably, I think the reason is more the latter two, and less the “MapleLegends players are quite good at JQs” bit (although of course, many are indeed quite good).

So we have the Tower, and we have the ordinary PQs.

Naturally, I’m a big fan of the PQs.[3] PQs need a bit more love than they actually get (especially certain PQs in particular…), and more to the point, it’s actual MapleStory gameplay. Unfortunately, however, if you’re level >100 (which is likely), or really even level >85, PQs aren’t really an option for you. Can you still spam HPQ (a level 10〜200 PQ)? Erm… I guess so……? 🤢

And the Demon King’s Tower… Well, it’s not MapleStory, that’s for sure. And I’ve never been much good at JQs, nor at anything resembling a JQ, really. That being said, based on my limited experience with the Tower and games like it, it seems to be well-executed. For those who are classic videogamers at heart, spamming the Tower for the duration of the event, and speedrunning it (yes, there’s even an in-game leaderboard), is probably enough. For everyone else… tough shit, I guess.

Thus, my feelings on the event are somewhat mixed. Nevertheless, for what it is, I think we can give it a solid thumbs-up. I do, however, look forward to the arcade cabinet spitting MapleStory back up.


Also where are the Sweet Fork Cakes??? I know Axe Throw replaces its functionality, but come on!! Let us buy them for 200 coins, or 2 coupons, or something!!! Boooooooooo

How I’ve been playing it

For the most part, my participation in the event has been in three forms:

In a future diary entry, I will be going through all of my coupons & coins at once, and recording the results. So if you’re the kind of sick freak person who’s into that kinda thing, stay tuned…

Footnotes for “In which MapleLegends is swallowed up by an arcade cabinet”

  1. [↑] I’m not entirely sure, but I think that the sole exception is Bit Puff Daddy. Defeating it awards coins, and if I understand correctly, these particular coins ignore the 1 000-coin cap.
  2. [↑] Not counting the time spent merely waiting for Bit Puff Daddy to spawn.
  3. [↑] Seriously, do you even know how many PQs I’ve done on this server? Exactly. You don’t wanna know. The number is so large as to make one wonder if MapleLegends has even been around long enough for one (1) person to do that many PQs.

Crown jewellery

In the “PGC” section of the previous entry in this diary, I talked about selling my 8 WATK, 4 slot (“8⧸4”) PGC that I made a while back. That section ended with:

Now my pCoin piggy bank feels quite heavy indeed! Someone please sell me a 12⧸0… Please……

A few things have complicated my initial plans to trade — or, as it effectively turned out, sell & re-buy — up from 8⧸4 to 11⧸0, 12⧸0, or similar.

I’ve also had my eyes on upgrading my shield for a while. My current shield is a 15 WATK, 8 STR Stolen Fence, so in order to best this with another shield wearable by my shield bucc tarandus and various other characters that I use shields on, my only real option is the level 20 Maple Shield. I was thus waiting for an anniversary event to provide the necessary Maple Shields, but alas, that event never came. …Actually, it did come — see the “In which MapleLegends is swallowed up by an arcade cabinet” section above — but over two months late, and I had already settled on selling my cape by then!

Moreover, I have my eyes on other upgrades in the future. These are potentially very many, but just to give one example, consider the Green Christmas Socks that I’ve been using since the last CNY event (see the “Lunational” section of pt. xcix of this diary). Oh, right. We didn’t have a Xmas event, so the sox showed up during CNY. Anyways, the point is that those (specifically the green ones) expire. Of course, I have my own Navy Christmas Sock that I scrolled and have been using on many (really, most) of my characters for a while now. It’s not too shabby: 2 STR & 9 DEX. Respectable, but it’s no Green Christmas Sock. I had some vague plans to try upgrading — maybe a similar socc, but with 10 DEX? 11, even?? Of course, scrolling shoes is kind of a pain in the ass because the 30%s give thrice as much DEX as the 60%s. But still, I wanted to motivate myself to make a new one at some point — ideally, before my current batch of Green Christmas Socks expires.

Then I found this beauty:

The Socc™

Transcription of the above image

Navy Christmas Sock (+5)

  • Req lev: 10
  • Category: shoes
  • STR: +7
  • DEX: +11
  • Weapon def.: 16
  • Magic def.: 5
  • Speed: +1
  • Jump: +25
  • Number of upgrades available: 0

Oh lord. This thing puts even a good Green Christmas Sock to shame. 11 DEX and 7 whole STR?? My darksterity knight rusa is gonna love this one…

Of course, I was not the incredibly lucky soul who Chaos Scrolled this thing. I obtained this for a price that I can only describe as “a steal” given how much it would cost to make myself. And boy, am I glad to have it… I never have to think about sox again!!

Which brings me to another part of the body that also comes in pairs: not the feet, but the eyes. I suppose the analogue of a single socc would be a monocle, but I’m pretty sure MapleStory only has cosmetic monocles. Sorry. However, MapleStory does have non-cosmetic — yet stylish — bright red goggles known as Spectrum Goggles (typically simply specs or spex):

The Spex™

Transcription of the above image

Spectrum Goggles (+2)

  • Req lev: 70
  • Category: eye accessory
  • STR: +8
  • DEX: +1
  • Number of upgrades available: 0

Strange eyewear that allows vision in multiple dimensions. A short inscription states: “Who says the goggles do nothing?”

Did I buy yet another wildly-Chaos-Scrolled item from that same person for yet another steal of a price? Yes. Yes, I did. And guess what? I never have to think about spex ever again. Look at all that STR… Delicious. ✨🤤✨

Oup… well… there goes a chunk of my piggy bank, innit? Here’s hoping that the event lines my coffers…

Siȝe eyot

Hello, and welcome to the island known only as Victoria. You’ve probably never heard of it, but it’s this little islet off the coast of Maple Island. Or something like that. Anyways, you’ll get used to it. Come on in.

As usual, I did even more filthy GM events on my Vicloc clericlet d33r. And these were some pretty fun ones, too. Sort of. We’ll see.

Here I am, in stage two of the classic crowd favourite, the Physical Fitness Challenge:

d33r @ stage 2 of the Physical Fitness Challenge

Never gets old, does it? Is it the cute monkeys throwing bananas everywhere? The fact that it’s set in Sleepywood? The firm, but fair, difficulty of the JQ itself? Or perhaps the name lures us into thinking — if only for a second — that doing a 10-minute JQ in MapleStory really could improve our physical fitness. Whatever it is, I’m down for it as long as I get a SoS at the end…

But that’s not all. Yet another thrilling GM event was coming down the pipe. And by “pipe”, I specifically mean one of the pipe bomb variety, because this was a game of Bomberwoman:

Bomberwoman

On the one hand, Bomberwoman promises an explosive, action-packed game of frenzied movement, and of poor Maplers blown to bits & subsequently crushed by the invincible Muscle Stones below. On the other hand, in actual reality, I do spend almost the entire time either waiting for the game to start, or being dead. But, you know. SoS acquired.

It wasn’t all fun & GM games, though. There were also GM buffs, so I took my Vicloc dagger spearwoman d34r to her favourite place: TfoG. And hit level 95!!!:

d34r hits level 95!!!

😍

Take that, Grog! Looks like you’re no higher level than I anymore!!

Hand over fist

I know it probably feels like I continue to promise more Questin’ With tara™ (starring yr grrl tarandus the pugilist) in the future, and then… disappointingly fail to deliver. The people demand their Questin’ With tara™ (I assume), and here I am, merely taunting them. Well, I am here to disappoint once again.

Boooooo… Get outta here!!” I know, I know. But before you start throwing tomatoes at me, I promise (and that is a tarandus Guarantee™, or your money back!) that we are getting there. We really are, and I can prove it:

tarandus hits level 134~!

That’s right. One fateful GM buff was enough to propel our belovèd tara just far enough to finish up level 133 and move on to 134. I actually did this entire GM buff totally solo at the 7th floor of the Sutra Depository, and pleasantly, the EPH was decent! Obviously not as good as, you know, having a partner, activated HS, & all that shit. But something like ≈13M EPH, which is better than I’d be getting solo at Himes, so I take that as a win! [:

Speaking of Himes, on yet another GM buff, I did some duo Hime grind with dagger sader (and soon to be dagger hero!!) inject (inhale, Tetrin, vvvv, insist, eject):

tara & inject duoing Himes on GM buffs

135 when????? 😉

Gazing back into the eye of the beholder

Ah, but subduing the Demon King (see the “In which MapleLegends is swallowed up by an arcade cabinet” section above) is not the only “bossing” that I did on my darksterity knight rusa.

I also joined a Funky Fresh™ HT run with the Funk guild! Here we are during the first prehead, being taunted with exclusively weapon-cancels:

HT’s first prehead is only capable of weapon cancelling

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

NightLordFL: if you didnt say anything i wouldve just thought it only wc

NightLordFL was new to HT, so they were understandably given the wrong impression by all the WCs leading to the prehead still having ≈20% HP after 15 minutes of fighting!! Sheesh.

But we were eventually okay, once HT decided to start cancelling normally. During the main body fight, however, I was going to have to take special care of NightLordFL, who was a bit squishy and needed my HB/IW. Whilst legs were still alive, we stood up top to attack the heads (especially the left, but I cleave through the middle, as well):

rusa & NightLordFL during legs

This is typical formation for myself when I’m not sed target, but unusual for a ranged attacker like NightLordFL. The ranged attackers will generally be attacking legs here, but for NightLordFL, the possibility of taking damage from legs — including its ranged attacks — is too lethal.

In any case, we all made it through the run safe & sound. 😌

Speaking of “lethal”, though, how about something a little ☠️deadlier☠️… Aufheben[1], mayhaps…?

I was invited to Auf with corsair Danger, hero Confessor, F/P archmage Narelion, I/L archmage Maccha, & shadower Harlez (VigiI, Murhata). These runs were intended to serve as an introduction to Auf for our archmages, as well as a way to test the waters of the new Aufheben.

“New Aufheben”? You betcha. In the “⁧روسا⁩” section of pt. ci of this diary, I said this:

Pretty much, Auf is just not good. The way that the fight is designed pretty much purposely excludes a lot of the level 175+ population of MapleLegends, and no amount of skill, nor planning, nor strategy can change that. That’s just what it is.

Since then, Auf’s orb attack — which she likes to spam, and which generally hits the entire bottom half of the map — has been rebalanced to no longer dispel those who are struck by it. This is a huge change, because it means that the whole fight isn’t just a dispel-fest where we collectively live somewhere around The No-Buffs Zone™. This, in turn, makes it more possible to truly benefit from defensive buffs such as Magic Guard, Holy Shield (HSh), Meso Guard, Invincible, etc., and importantly: HB. HB is important because it’s the buff that I have… Just kidding. Really, it’s because it’s usually the limiting factor preventing those who would otherwise want to Auf from actually doing so.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine & rainbows. Besides the fact that you still have to deal with dispel rather frequently — as main body has global dispel with a 90-second cooldown, and the 2nd clone wave dispels as well, concurrently with main body — there are other changes to the orb attack, to compensate for its lost dispelling capability:

With all of this in mind, it was time for some fresh faces to conjure up the courage to confront the comely countenance of Aufheben herself.

Remember how I said that “most serious deaths in Aufheben runs occur at the extremal vertices (‘corner cases’) in the space of what is possible”? Well…

Big ouf. The truly unfortunate coincidence of almost everyone getting stunned just three or four seconds before Smokescreen ran out, immediately followed by Auf deciding to take a brisk rightward walk… That is just plain rude. You can see Danger taking a fat 19 599-damage touch attack as a result, which was, naturally, responsible for sending him to an early grave.

We gave it another go, though. Harlez had to leave, so we found a DK by the name of Pinaka to take her place. Unfortunately, that one didn’t go so well, either:

Narelion, Pinaka, Maccha, Confessor, & Danger are dead…

Yeah… In the end, I was the only one of the six of us who was not sent to the grave.

That’s okay, though! We gave it a good shot, we learned a lot of stuff, and now that we did two Auf attempts in a day, we can’t do a third! So we did some much more casual CBPQing, instead:

Let’s just Core, instead

All in a day’s work.

Although my Auf attempt with Pinaka was unsuccessful, I did learn one very important thing from him: HotB isn’t useless! Huh?? I was always told that, even at max level (i.e. level 25), the only serious benefit of HotB was the +25 WACC buff. Naturally, being pure DEX, +25 WACC is a drop in the ocean for rusa. So I did the reasonable thing, and left HotB at level 0, using the SP for other skills instead.

As it turns out, this received wisdom is true… but only if you completely ignore the defensive buffs. Of course, I had no way of knowing this, because the skill’s description gives no indication of the actual buff values, unlike every other buff skill in the game. In actual reality, the buffs granted by max-level HotB are as follows:

Uhh… excuse me? You mean to tell me I’ve been walking around with shitty DEF & AVOID for no damn reason‽ I mean, +50 AVOID is huge! Do you know how many Victoria’s Amorian Baskets (& similar) rusa has chewed up just to get AVOID that’s even worse than the AVOID from this virtually passive, undispellable skill? Unbelievable. And the DEF is no joke, either! I’ve been consistently casting IW & IB on myself this whole time, instead of using this skill that literally gives the same DEF buffs as GM Bless!!

Alright, 25 fourth-job SPRs later (don’t worry, I have plenty of NX on rusa’s account), and HotB is mine now:

Typical buff bar with HotB active

As you can see, I typically have exactly four HotB buffs active, because one of the five (viz. the WATK one) is overridden by the superior Cider (or something even stronger). I no longer have any use for IB. IW is useful for some of my party members, but I no longer get to see a buff timer on my end.

However, this did come at a cost. I had to take SP out of a few of my other skills, particularly AotB. So my AotB is down to just level 9 now. This does lower my DPM output somewhat, because AotB is a skill for dealing damage[2]. However, I do still have some AotB, I’ll be putting 3 SP into it each time that I level, and quite frankly, it’s an acceptable loss for the benefit that I get in return. Although AotB is a damaging skill, its DPM only depends on the DPM that I take (from my enemies), and thus is unrelated to the damage that I actually purposely deal with my weapon. I also prefer to simply be “MISS”ed by attacks, and obviously that makes AotB deal a whole lot of zero (0) DPM, regardless of skill level…

Footnotes for “Gazing back into the eye of the beholder”

  1. [↑] Also labelled *Auf Haven in some English-language MapleStory localisations. For both names, see the 「未来トウキョウ第二部」 section of pt. xc of this diary, as well as footnote #10 of the “rusasasasasasa” section of pt. c.
  2. [↑] MapleLegends is the only MapleStory implementation (as far as I know) where this is true. It was also a somewhat recent change. See the “DK rev. 3” section of pt. xcix of this diary.

For the Goddess

In the “axs” section of the previous entry in this diary, I continued to follow with great interest the journey of a peculiar LUK warrior by the name of axisaxis. In that instalment, we saw axisaxis do very, very many EPQs, ultimately emerge disappointed & mentally defeated, try OPQ for the first time, and help out many of the citizens of Orbis, the El Nath Mountains, & the Aqua Road with their troubles & scientific investigations.

axis continued in her role as scientific assistant, collecting Poopa Eggs for Hughes the Fuse’s next experiment. In the process, she made somewhat of a scientific discovery of her own: the Jr. Seals appeared to be afflicted by a kind of distemper that caused them to produce a strange emulsion that spontaneously took on a cubic lattice structure.

axis finds a strange puff of Jr. Seal…

Perplexed, axis carefully collected samples of the emulsion in question, noting that the substance was roughly the same colour as the Jr. Seals themselves. At first, axis contained the impulse to taste the emulsion, but later caved to her instincts and put some in her mouth, prospecting for an interesting flavour. Much to her delightful surprise, the emulsion strongly reminded her of a pâte à choux that she had one time, although she couldn’t shake the uncanniness of the crunch resulting from the square crystals.

In any event, axis also had one more DNA sample to collect for Kenta’s research concerning the effect of a recent disturbance on the fauna of the Upper Aqua Road: Pooper’s [sic] DNA Sample.

Pooper’s DNA Sample get!

For allowing Kenta to complete their research, axis was fairly compensated, including ten Dolphin Taxi Coupons, amongst other things. axis was pleased to have the Dolphin Taxi Coupons, as they would allow her to enjoy VIP first-class Dolphin Taxi service at no cost out of her own pocket. Although she had no particular need for the taxi service, she enjoyed the convenience, and thought that the dolphins were adorable.

Whilst she was talking with Kenta about their research, axis made sure to mention the Jr. Seal emulsion that she’d collected samples of earlier. Confused, Kenta asked to see one of the samples. As soon as Kenta laid eyes on the emulsion, they knowingly nodded, patiently explaining to axis that the distemper of the Jr. Seals that she’d observed was actually not unique to Jr. Seals at all. Indeed, almost all fauna of the known Maple world had been producing these strange emulsions, and this bizarre pandemic had been linked to the appearance of alien machines in towns across the Maple world.

When Kenta mentioned the exotic machines, they gestured down the hall, where one of these very machines was located. Immediately filled with curiosity, axis already started down the hall, but not before Kenta could issue a warning to her: although some had been swallowed up by the machine and come back to tell the tale, Kenta had seen others swallowed up whom Kenta hadn’t heard from since.

A machine’s spell, woven pel by pel

axis was cautious in approaching the machine. Although it wasn’t intimidatingly large, it was still about twice axis’s height, and its shape exhibited the same eerily square crystalline structure of the emulsions that she’d collected from the Jr. Seals. However, as she arrived at the machine, she was tempted by its offer: to play a game.

axis loved games, so she required precious little convincing to press the big red button on the panel in front of her. In so pressing the button, axis was nigh instantly transported to another realm — nay, another dimension entirely.

At first, axis was perturbed by this new space. She was dazzled by the colours, puzzled by the geometry, and hypnotised by the dry, metallic humming & whirring of the strange music filling her ears.

Once she could finally orient herself, axis started investigating. In particular, she noticed someone just above her, flapping their large wings just quickly enough to remain afloat. These wings were a beautiful pair that reminded axis of the statue of the Goddess Minerva at The Unknown Tower in Orbis; the very same statue that axis had herself restored. The wings were even clearly asymmetrical, just like Minerva’s, with the left wing all black, & the right pure white:

Unidentified wingèd figure

The wingèd person noticed axis ogling, and slowed their wings to come to a graceful descent, meeting axis at just above eye level.

And who might you be?

The voice was fantastical, like a thousand shale laminæ sliding past one another, shattering as they went, but booming as the voice of god. axis started, simultaneously struck with terror by the voice of this alar individual, and overcome by embarrassment for having been caught staring. Stammering, axis gave her name.

axis thought that she saw the face of the angelic creature soften ever so slightly, but it was hard to read a face so boxy. They replied in kind, with their own name: the Goddess Avaracia.

axis blushed, honoured to have personally met not one, but two goddesses — and in such a short timespan. The goddess knowingly observed the marionette strings ascending from axis’s frame. Before axis could muster a question, or really any response at all, the goddess continued:

So you’re the toy warrioꝛ of the Fates, then? I’ve heard your name befoꝛe.

A look almost like pity briefly washed over Avaracia’s face. axis sputtered, unsure how to respond. “T—toy…?”

The goddess’s eyes fell slightly.

Oh, axis, axis… I know moꝛe about you than you’ll ever know about yourſelf. Your kiſmet was carved out in the ſtars long ago. The irony is abſurd, iſn’t it?

A sudden gust of wind spun axis’s pinwheel.

Minerva made it known to me when you reſtoꝛed her ſtatue at the baſe of the Tower. It ſeems that I’ll be the one to tell you that the pixies are moꝛe perſiſtently pernicious than that. The Tower of Goddeſs Minerva will need to be ſaved many moꝛe times if the Goddeſs’s legacy is to be pꝛeſerved.

The hiſtoꝛy of the gods repeats itſelf, ſtutters, lurches, & repeats itſelf again. It is your lot to make this happen in the ſervice of Minerva. Foꝛ now, ſhe is your patroneſs, & her exiſtence ſubſumes yours.

axis was dumbfounded. She swallowed hard, and accepted her wyrd, as she always did.

But you will be rewarded handſomely. I ſhall perſonally make ſure of that.

Good luck. You won’t need it…

With that, axis graciously thanked Avaracia, not knowing what else to say. She needed to find her way back to Orbis, and to the Tower of Goddess, and so retraced her steps as quickly as she could.

La tour inconnue

Arriving once again at The Unknown Tower, axis set out to assemble yet another crack team of adventurers to further the restoration of the Statue. It was in this way that axis made her way through the Tower many times over.

axis sneezes

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: ⟨Party⟩ axisaxis has reached Lv.58.

39daph: congrats

MistHerm: gzz

Ompiloop: gz!!

SpiderOPQ: gz

axisaxis: oop
ty!!
i sneezed and it leveled me up

39daph: sometimes that’s all it takes

Very many times over.

It seemed that every time that axis went into the storage room of the Tower, there were yet more cat-unicorn creatures inexplicably popping into existence upon apparently random shelves. This befuddled axis:

axis in Storage

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

axisaxis: MYSTERY CATS
WhERE DO THEY COME FROM
WERE [sic] DO THEY GO

axis was reminded of the many, many EPQs that she did; like the BBRG before, Papa Pixie was thoroughly unremitting. Every time that the fay father fell, he re-formed, taunting axis to stick around the Tower to play clean-up once again.

Evangelical, 39daph, FirstLove, WhiteRust, ImSdoo, & axisaxis vs. Father Pixel

axis found that her fellow Statue-rebuilders benefited from her ability to Threaten her enemies, swiping at them with her fearsome pinwheel, and putting on her meanest face. Even Papa Pixie himself continued to fear axis’s very presence, knowing that it spelled defeat. Papa Pixie attempted to cower, sending out his pixie minions to do the fighting for him, but to no avail — his tiny wings weren’t even long enough to allow him to cover his face.

In particular, axis found that terrorising her enemies enabled even her more… scholarly squad members to participate in combat:

Blunderbuss loves Threaten

Transcription of the above image

Blunderbuss: I LOVE THREATEN

axis: :3

Although Minerva may be the patron & namesake of the Tower of Goddess, the official overseer of the “Unknown Tower” is none other than Wonky the Fairy. Certainly no pixie, this plump fairy had a distinctly boyish visage & demeanour that made axis wonder why Wonky, of all people, was elected for such a position. Clearly, Wonky had neither the competence nor the disposition to serve as guardsman (or rather, guardsboy…), and yet axis had to politely ask Wonky for permission to enter the Tower each & every time that it needed saving again.

However, axis later discovered that Wonky had a few tricks up his sleeve. Taking notice of axis once again entering the Tower to re-restore the Statue, and admiring the strength & well-roundedness of her party, Wonky decided to bless axis & her comrades with a little something special:

Blessing from Wonky the Fairy

In her many adventures through the Tower, axis met very many new faces — and a few old faces — who bravely fought alongside her, through thick & thin. Sometimes, the “thin” was the thinness of her party itself; here she is with renowned bandit Dextrous, taking on “The Way Up” as a party of just three:

Dextrous & axis @ the Way Up

Funny letters

Although she’d never been there herself, axis was aware of a far-off land known as Herb Town, a land of herbal remedies & the most ambrosial teas in the Maple world. At the time, Herb Town was coming to be known less for its teas, & more for its issues with seafaring pirates, captained by an enigmatic figure known only as “Lord Pirate”. In any case, it seemed that Dextrous had also never been to Herb Town, as they didn’t even recognise the language:

caber & kkkkkkkkk writing in pīnyīn

Transcription of the above image

caber: wo zhege shi naima zhiye, zhatou wandian na ye meishi

Dextrous: I like your french

caber: it’s not french
but you can regard it is

Dextrous: is it chinese?

caber, herself a kindly woman of the cloth, had been speaking with hermit kkkkkkkkk. axis had initially supposed that kkkkkkkkk was a Lusophone of sorts — or perhaps a Korean speaker (ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ) — understanding his name as a kind of laughter. But she was swiftly proven wrong about that.

Speaking of strange symbols, axis wondered what the meaning was of the «ΧΛΟΥΔ» that she was seeing around the Tower:

axis on the Walkway

axis’s Greek was not very good, so she took a trip to the Helios Tower Library to ask Wiz the Librarian about it. Wiz transliterated the textual fragment for axis, to demonstrate its origin:

“Greek” text ΧΛΟΥΔ
Romanised CHLOUD
*Greek pronunciation */xʎuð/
English reconstruction cloud
English pronunciation /klaʊ̯d/

axis’s brow furrowed. Why would they write “cloud” in funny letters? Wiz took the time to patiently explain it to axis, as the Helios Tower Library hadn’t seen much traffic as of late. Wiz said that although the dominant lects of the Victorian Archipelago and of Ossyria appeared largely similar at first blush, this was actually the result of some amount of linguistic convergence caused by increasingly extensive language contact, as the development of airships allowed for more vigorous migration between the two continents.

Long ago, the Archipelago and the continent of Ossyria were unified as part of a single supercontinent accounting for just about the entire land area of the Maple world. As a result of intense geological activity (claimed by some to be the result of magical forces, although this theory is hotly contested), the Maple supercontinent was shattered, and some of the underlying plate tectonics of the planet were exposed. It was not long before this had linguistic effects, with the lects spoken in disconnected parts of the world diverging from one another, each identifiable lect conservatively retaining some language features, and innovating or shedding others. Moreover, even the Maple supercontinent had local variations in language, and the newly-fractured landscape intensified some of these distinctions.

As the lects spoken in the Archipelago innovated, so too did its speakers innovate their writing system, adapting it based on handwritten forms, and on the phonological features of their spoken lects.

With increased migration due to the innovation of airships, the spoken forms of these lects began to reconverge in many ways. Because they were closely related to begin with — ultimately descending from a single proto-language — no relexification, nor anything of the sort, occurred. Instead, an undercurrent of standardisation emerged — although regional variations of course still exist.

For writing purposes, the result has been a kind of digraphia (or trigraphia), where the independently-developed scripts are used in ways that ultimately all correspond to a single underlying dialect continuum. The use of a particular script may imply regional differences in vocabulary & pronunciation, and even native speakers may be illiterate in all but one such script. When speaking, however, differences in script vanish, and the lects are found to be largely mutually intelligible (albeit to varying degrees).

axis was fascinated by this story, and hoped that one day, she would be able to read the funny letters, too. Wiz gave her a small booklet to carry around in her pocket, should she ever need to transliterate again.

On the way around the hypercube

Keeping the booklet safe, axis headed back to Orbis, to protect the Tower of Goddess yet again. On The Way Up this time, a member of axis’s party by the name of rogerhuuub (rogerhub, rogerhuub) brought with him an ingenious plan:

rogerhuuub solos the switches

Transcription of the above image

rogerhuuub: ill solo the switches
leader ready?

axisaxis: ya

[system message]: You have gained experience (+28350)

Venom: lmfao
nice

rogerhuuub: 8⧸32

axisaxis: ur using grey [sic] codes?
Gray codes?

rogerhuuub: yes!

axisaxis: never actually seen someone do that
i always told ppl its possible but “no one does it”
LOL

rogerhuuub: i only just found out that they were called gray codes
someone else told me lol

axisaxis: hahah

rogerhuuub: i made a simulator
and was trying different techniques

axisaxis: oohh

rogerhuuub: it’s on snailshed.com/onthewayup

axisaxis: nice LOOL

rogerhuuub handed axis a short monograph on the subject (archived), which was thankfully not written in funny letters. In the monograph, he points out that the common — nigh universal — method of “four or five people haphazardly hitting the switches at the top whilst the leader checks combinations as quickly as possible” has its shortcomings:

  • Chamberlain Eak can be clicked to check the combination every 1.5 seconds, but party members can flip a switch much faster (about 0.6 to 0.8 seconds depending on weapon speed). If a switch is flipped twice before the combination is checked again, the switch will be in its original position, stalling progress.
  • Party members do not receive any indication that an incorrect combination has been attempted.

Flipping switches as fast as possible is a terrible strategy because it increases the likelihood of attempting combinations that have already been attempted. […]

The common wisdom for this stage is to “hit slowly” which, if done correctly, can be a successful strategy. However, slow hitting is vulnerable to accidental synchronization where multiple players flip their switches at the exact same slow rate. This can also stall progress. Consider the search space of possible combinations to be a five-dimensional hypercube where one of the 32 vertices represents the correct combination. Flipping a switch would be equivalent to traversing an edge of the cube. When two players synchronize their switches, half of the search space becomes unreachable.

Because there are five switches, each possible combination of switch states can be represented as a binary number of exactly five digits: ⟨0⟩ for a switch that is down, and ⟨1⟩ for a switch that is up. rogerhuuub geometrises the problem by associating each possible combination with its own unique vertex, and then connecting two vertices with an edge iff the two combinations can be moved between via the toggling of just one switch (read: they are separated by a Hamming distance of exactly 1). This gets the above-mentioned 5-cube (“five-dimensional hypercube”). Really, we can reduce this to just its graph, because we only care about which pairs of vertices are connected.

In any case, you can see where the hypercube structure comes from: going up from an 𝑛-cube to an (𝑛+1)-cube essentially means duplicating the 𝑛-cube, and then connecting — with an edge — each pair of vertices that “used to be” the same vertex. This causes each vertex in the original 𝑛-cube to gain exactly one additional incident edge. Thus, each vertex of a 0-cube (i.e. a single point) has exactly 0 incident edges, each vertex of a 1-cube (i.e. a line segment) has exactly 1, each vertex of a 2-cube (i.e. a square) has exactly 2, each vertex of a 3-cube (i.e. an ordinary cube) has exactly 3, each vertex of a 4-cube (i.e. a tesseract) has exactly 4, and so on. Analogously, a binary number of 𝑛 digits has exactly 𝑛 other binary numbers that it can be turned into via the flipping (viz. either ⟨0⟩ → ⟨1⟩, or ⟨1⟩ → ⟨0⟩) of just one of its digits… because it has 𝑛 digits that can each possibly be flipped!

Even relatively sophisticated versions of the naïve solution can fail to adequately search this 5-cube: “When two players synchronize their switches, half of the search space becomes unreachable”. This is because, for any pair of switches, there are 22 = 4 possible states that they can be in: ⟨00⟩, ⟨11⟩, ⟨01⟩, and ⟨10⟩. When two switches synchronise, they are stuck in either {⟨00⟩, ⟨11⟩} or {⟨01⟩, ⟨10⟩},[1] either of which is 2 (i.e. half) of the 4 possible states.

axis had always thought of this issue in terms of probability & information theory. The essential issue that the naïve strategy attempts to evade is fundamentally one of communication. As rogerhuuub says: “Any practical strategy must not require such precise synchronization from 5 different players”. Thus, if we assume absolutely no communication whatsoever between party members, and we assume that all party members participate by each hitting their own switch (or in rarer cases, their own pair of switches), then we need each switch-hitter to — completely independentlydistribute their switch-hits across time in a way that minimises the expected value of how long it takes to guess the correct combination.

Because we’re implicitly assuming that the correct combination is uniformly distributed, we might consider a different problem: minimising the expected value of how long it takes to guess every combination. Note that this is not necessarily the same problem; indeed, it’s plausible that both problems might have different answers, even with the shared assumption of correct combos being uniform. If (big “if”) they do differ, then it seems like solving the latter problem would result in a strategy that is more consistent, but possibly slightly worse on average. In any case, solving either problem (or ideally, both) is already sufficient for practical wisdom.

Unfortunately, axis did not know how to solve either problem. But she did have some ideas. For example, it seemed to axis like the problem of getting “stuck” in certain strict subsets of the full 32 vertices of the 5-cube indicated a lack of entropy; that is, the way in which some or all switch-hitters were switch-hitting was too predictable. This led axis to develop two practical strategies that made the naïve approach much more effective, without having to train her party members to do anything different or unusual:

In theory, however, axis had different — but related — ideas. Intuitively, it seemed like guessing the vertices in a uniform way — that is, each guess selecting each vertex with probability 1⁄32 — was perhaps ideal under these assumptions. Of course, the serious flaw is obvious: you’ve some chance of guessing a vertex that has already been guessed, and worse yet, the probability of duplicate guesses increases each time that you guess a vertex for the first time. In the extreme case, after having guessed 31 distinct vertices (that is, all of the incorrect vertices), you only have a 1⁄32 probability, per guess, of not making a duplicate guess!

But because each switch-hitter operates independently — effectively stranded alone in their own map, with no way to chat with their party members, kept company by nothing other than a single mechanical switch — it seems obvious that duplicate guesses cannot be avoided in general. With this in mind, perfectly uniform guessing doesn’t seem so bad anymore. The question, then, is: how do you do that? Furthermore, what is the result, exactly?

The obvious way to guess uniformly is to agree — crucially, beforehand — on a switch-hitting frequency, e.g. rogerhuuub suggests 5⁄9⁢ Hz (a period of 1.8⁢ s). Then, each switch-hitter maintains their own metronome at that frequency, and flips a fair coin on each metronome click, flipping the switch if the coin comes up heads, and not doing anything if the coin comes up tails. Notice that no communication is required; each switch-hitter uses their own coin, their own metronome, and they may start their metronomes at different times. Even the accuracy of the metronome can drift somewhat without seriously compromising this scheme.

Another way of guessing (somewhat?) uniformly is closely related, but superficially appears distinct. Consider increasing the frequency of the metronome, and simultaneously decreasing — by the same proportion — the probability of flipping the switch on each click. In (or “near”) the limit, we get switch-hitting behaviours that are no longer rhythmic. Ultimately, each switch-hitter distributes their switch-hits over time as a Poisson point process, and the time between one switch-hit and the very next switch-hit (again, looking at just an individual switch) is thus exponentially distributed[2]:

𝑓 ( 𝑡 ) = 𝜈 𝖾 𝜈 𝑡

…Where 𝑓(𝑡) is the PDF of the time 𝑡 between one switch-hit and the next, and 𝜈 is a previously agreed frequency. Of course, in reality, there’s some dead time where the switch-hitter’s attack animation hasn’t yet elapsed, so they can’t hit the switch again yet. This can be adjusted for by either ignoring impossible switch-hits, or by not starting the exponential distribution until the instant that the switch becomes hittable again (in which case, the dead time can be subtracted out of the “period” 1𝜈).

So, if we really could guess the vertices uniformly without requiring any communication between the four or five switch-hitters, then how many guesses would it take to guess correctly? And how many would it take in the worst case, i.e. to guess all 32 vertices? The expected number of guesses is simple: 32. This is the expected value of the geometric distribution where 𝑝132, which is the distribution that describes this kind of scenario. The “worst case” is slightly trickier, but is a problem with its own name: the coupon collector’s problem (see also: konpu gacha [コンプガチャ]).[3] The expected number of guesses to guess all 32 vertices at least once each is:

𝑛 𝖧 𝑛 Θ ( 𝑛 𝗅𝗈𝗀 𝑛 )

…Where 𝑛32 is the number of vertices, and 𝖧𝑛 is the 𝑛th harmonic number. For 𝑛32, the expected number of guesses is ≈129.9.

In the end, rogerhuuub’s solution is much more clever & practical: by relaxing the assumption that all party members participate, we can centralise the coordination into a single designated party member who can rhythmically time their switch-hits based on a reasonably tight upper bound on the amount of time in between guesses. rogerhuuub gives this upper bound as ≈1.5 seconds, based on the fastest rate that Chamberlain Eak will accept guesses. rogerhuuub seems to have independently reinvented Gray codes on accident, which is impressive in its own right; axis just so happened to know that there was a special name for an ordering of binary numbers so that any pair of adjacent numbers differs in exactly one digit.

The determinism of rogerhuuub’s method ensures that it is guaranteed to finish quickly (not much more than 32 guesses at worst), and it takes just about 16 guesses on average, which is clearly optimal. axis hoped that she would see more Gray coders in the future, and even considered giving it a go herself.

La tour méconnue

However, that wasn’t all. axis also met other legendary figures in her many runs through the Tower, including one 130Bishop — a.k.a. Bishop CXXX — 130th of his name!!

130Bishop

Transcription of the above image

axisaxis: is this
ur 130th bishop

blud: wow
thats a lot of bishops

axisaxis: sheesh

blud: are you farming on 130 clients?

axisaxis: holy

blud: now THATS

130Bishop: yeah it’s efficient

blud: efficient

axisaxis: thats what we like to see here

axis came to enjoy the Tower of Goddess, its many chambers, and running through it again & again in order to preserve Minerva’s legacy. However, there were also other things that were keeping her going: the Goddess Avaracia had personally promised handsome rewards, & true to her word, axis received from Avaracia a very special gift for each few times that she cleaned up the tower. Although Avaracia was certainly not personally delivering the gifts to axis, axis was certain that they were from Avaracia based on their distinctive colours & geometry. Each one was a pink box of sorts, itself made of many smaller boxes, with a deep black outer rim that was sharp to the touch. axis could feel an unparalleled energy emanating from the boxes, and so she covetously collected them in colossal stacks, hoping to somehow use them for her own benefit.

The fate of Minerva

Additionally, when she took a trip to see Wiz the Librarian about the funny letters, axis mentioned that she saw the funny letters on the Walkway of the Tower of Goddess. This got Wiz’s attention, as he had a personal history with studying Minerva’s legacy himself. Wiz explained that, in the past, he had launched a research programme into the Goddess Minerva, but records of her history were too scant; only just enough to assert her historicity, at best. This led to Wiz’s passionate research being shunned, as it was viewed as futile. But Wiz nevertheless believed two things: that Minerva had built the Tower herself, and that she kept a diary, just like her mortal counterparts. If that diary could be found somewhere in the Tower, it would be enough recorded material to substantiate his theories & research.

Of course, with the pixies besieging the Tower seemingly in perpetuity — not to mention Wonky standing in the way of anyone who might wish to enter the Tower legitimately — Wiz was not exactly equipped to go presumptuously urbexing the Tower. Plus, he had a library to attend to, in any case. axis, on the other hand, was a seasoned professional of Tower exploration, and her only experience with libraries was stealing books from them. If axis could steal a very special book from the Tower, Wiz would ensure that she was rewarded.

At first, axis was unsure of where such a diary might be laying in wait. She had explored a great many rooms of the Tower, and never seen so much as a single page of writing. Then, one of her party members claimed to have found an old raggèd piece of parchment lying around in an extremely poorly-lit room that he could only assume was some kind of storage. axis thought about the sheer height of the storage room with the mystery cats, and wondered how much storage space this old tower really needed. Once she was shown where the entrance to this dark storage room was, however, axis was somewhat taken aback by how well-concealed it was; whatever was stored in here must have been important.

axis was pleased to learn that many pages of Minerva’s diary could be found in this obscure storage room. However, it wouldn’t be so easy to recover the diary as simply waltzing into the concealed room and scooping the thing up. The room really was pitch black, with nothing so much as resembling a window or a light source, so axis & her companions would have to carry their own torches. Moreover, the room was quite similar to the mystery cat storage room in some ways, being very tall, and full of fantastical felines — small ones, this time — brandishing dangerous horns on their foreheads. axis swung at the cats with her torch, attempting to deter or at least startle them, but to no avail; the cats paid no heed whatsoever, gallivanting about as if they owned the place.

Eventually, however, after quite a bit of fumbling & stumbling around in the dark, and a bit of cursing aloud at the annoyingly sharp horns of the creatures inexplicably inhabiting the cheerless room, axis managed to gather up ten pages of Minerva’s diary. Not much of a bookbinder herself, axis asked Wonky to carefully bind the pages up for her. Thankful for the work that axis had done to restore the Tower, Wonky obliged, oblivious to the fact that the pages were Minerva’s…:

Diary of the Goddess

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: You have lost an item (Diary : 1st Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 2nd Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 3rd Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 4th Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 5th Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 6th Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 7th Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 8th Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 9th Page)
You have lost an item (Diary : 10th Page)
You have gained an item (Diary of the Goddess)

As axis was travelling back to the Helios Tower Library, excited to give the diary to Wiz, she couldn’t help but feel tempted by curiosity to read the diary. At first, axis thought of it as rude; certainly, poring over the personal diary of someone else — even if it were someone whom she knew quite well, which it wasn’t — was a serious breach of privacy. Right?[4] Then again, she did go to the trouble of finding the pages of this diary so that they could be read — particularly, by Wiz. So she allowed her curiosity to prevail.

Before taking a serious look at the diary, axis was half expecting it to be written in yet more funny letters. As it turned out, however, her half-expectation was half correct: the letters were half funny. It took axis some time to get used to the funny letterforms, and some funny replacements of one letter with another, or two letters with a single letter, but she was able to read it. Mostly. axis thought that maybe Minerva wrote in an old script, perhaps even as old as the Maple supercontinent.

In the diary, Minerva remarked on the difficulty of writing a diary entry every day. She also wrote things that proved Wiz wrong: Minerva was not herself responsible for the design & construction of the Tower, nor of the Statue, of Goddess. Instead, Minerva reflects on how impressed she is with the huge tower & the statue of her likeness that the humans have, apparently out of spontaneous devotion, built for her.

Minerva writes about how Papa Pixie came to her seeking the Water of Life, and how she had to turn Papa Pixie down every time, as the Water of Life was neither for sale nor negotiation. Only the next day, Minerva arrived back at her tower to find that her statue had been smashed. Papa Pixie came by, asking once again to buy the Water of Life, and also offering to fix the statue — although Minerva hadn’t seen Papa anywhere near the statue, so she was unsure how Papa even knew that it was broken to begin with…

Although she accepts Papa’s offer to restore the statue, Minerva is irritated when she later finds Papa dawdling in the garden, nowhere near the statue that he’s supposed to be fixing whilst he’s in the Tower. Chamberlain Eak warns Minerva, saying that Papa Pixie is up to no good, but Minerva finds Eak annoyingly chatty, and so tears Eak’s clouds to pieces in an attempt to shut them up. axis thought that this was perhaps… excessively rancorous of Minerva, and wondered if Minerva treated everyone this way.

In any case, Papa Pixie arrives back at the tower once again with a new plan: rather than attempting to restore the smashed statue bit by bit, the statue is in need of replacement. In order to replace it, however, Papa Pixie needs a model to reference when sketching up the design of the new statue. So, he tells Minerva that all she’ll need to do is stand on the statue, and Papa can use his magic pixie powers to sketch up the new design.

Although the diary stopped there, axis knew what happened next: this was how Papa Pixie sealed the Goddess inside of her statue, extracting from her the desired Water of Life in the process. axis thought that Minerva was awfully easily fooled for someone who was supposedly the goddess of wisdom.

And with that, axis had arrived at the library, and gave the diary to Wiz so that he might read the same story as well:

axis gives the diary to Wiz

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: You have gained experience (+39000)
You have lost an item (Diary of the Goddess)
You have gained an item (Scroll for Cape for LUK 10%)

The enchanted parchment that Wiz gave her in return was certainly… enchanted, but axis still felt somewhat underwhelmed by the thanks that she received in return for completing Wiz’s life’s work.

Still, it was worth the trouble to set the record straight once & for all. axis headed back to the Tower once again for the usual housekeeping, but no longer felt quite so bad when she intimidated Papa Pixie into submission…

Tylus’s manifold trials & teachings

All of this effort that axis had poured into the Tower — along with some of the other deeds that she’d done for the people of Ossyria — had not gone unnoticed. axis received a letter from a courier that had come up the Orbis Tower from El Nath. Thinking that the letter was probably from a local resident reaching out for help, axis was surprised to see that the letter was from none other than Tylus, the resident martial expert of El Nath.

axis had met Tylus before, when she passed through El Nath on the way to the Dead Mine & beyond (see the “A most auspicious star, whose influence if now I court not, but omit, my fortunes will ever after droop” section of pt. ciii of this diary), but only briefly. In fact, initially, axis didn’t even realise that the letter that she was reading was from Tylus, as he signed his name in yet another kind of funny letters:

― Тылус

Thankfully, axis still had the transliteration booklet that she’d gotten from Wiz.

At any rate, in the body of the letter, Tylus explained that he’d been observing axis’s progress ever since Dances with Balrog told him about her. He was impressed with axis’s diligence in defending the Tower of Goddess, & with the tall tales that he’d heard of axis’s daunting presence on the battlefield. Tylus knew that axis’s fighting style was highly unorthodox & poorly understood, and he claimed to never have trained anyone like axis before. Nonetheless, Tylus knew a few techniques & methods that he thought might still prove valuable for someone such as axis, and in any case, her future looked promising as it was.

Before Tylus was willing to teach axis these advanced techniques, however, she would need to pass tests of Tylus’s own devising. For the first test, axis would have to find an otherworldly Door of Dimension tucked away in the Ant Tunnel of the Sleepywood Dungeon. axis still knew her way around the Ant Tunnel, having previously hunted thousands of the Tunnel’s creatures at the behest of The Rememberer (see the “A. axis” section of pt. cii of this diary), and soon found the Door of Dimension at the easternmost side of the Ant Tunnel Park:

axis finds the Door of Dimension

The Door of Dimension hypnotised axis with its enchantingly swirly appearance, and the uncannily black — almost more black than darkness itself — centre. As she approached the portal closely, she could feel it gently tugging on her body from a distance, as if threatening to swallow her whole. Bracing herself & closing her eyes, she acquiesced to the door’s traction, allowing the ultradarkness to envelop her corporeal form.

axis thought that she must have lost consciousness for a second… or a minute. Maybe an hour. When she came to, she was no longer in the Ant Tunnel; no longer in the Sleepywood Dungeon; no longer in Victoria at all. The cave that she found herself in had mineral & rock formations reminiscent of the Ant Tunnel, but of a distorted colour, every rock a greenish cyan. The walls, the ceilings, the floors, & the cave shelves were infested with unnaturally sharp, unnaturally blue-green crystals that shone with brilliance. But axis didn’t need to know any of this to know that she was in another world; she could feel it in her bones.

axis @ the Path of Glittering Crystal

Tylus had told axis that this would be a test of martial prowess, but she didn’t yet know what she was going to be up against. She carefully walked down the paved pathway set in front of her, remaining alert, and occasionally swiping at the torch-wielding gargoyles with her pinwheel, just in case one came to life and assailed her.

After getting to the end of the pathway without seeing any gargoyles move even one bit, axis had arrived at the entrance to an inner area of the cave, somewhat lower in elevation, and paved along its floor. axis climbed through the opening, and as she did so, she heard a whooshing noise, like someone rapidly swinging a giant fan a single time. The noise startled axis, as the cave was otherwise fairly placid. Quickly, however, axis’s startlement magnified, as she noticed that the whooshing noise was accompanied by the materialisation of a humanoid figure. The figure calmly approached axis’s location, brandishing a six-tipped green axe, an elliptical wooden shield, & a large, distinctive headdress of carefully-dyed feathers. axis quickly recognised the figure as none other than her old instructor, Dances with Balrog.

axis initially hesitated, unsure of what Dances with Balrog was doing here, in this subcave, in an otherworldly dimension. But Dances with Balrog’s presence seemed to affect axis in the same way that the cave itself did when she first arrived; she could feel in her bones that, although the figure may’ve looked like someone whom she knew, something was not quite right. The figure, identical as it may’ve been to Dances with Balrog, was alien.

axis slowly readied her pinwheel as the estranged twin approached her, her hand wavering just slightly. The simulacrum, however, was unwavering; it continued to calmly approach axis, a dead expression on its face.

Meeting one another face to face, axis & the facsimile fought at length, sparring & exchanging blows. The counterfeit Dances with Balrog was wordless & expressionless, but the course of the fight still felt to axis like the sparring that she’d once done when training with the real Dances with Balrog — albeit with more force, this time. The ersatz had a few dirty tricks up its sleeve, however; it summoned Tauromacis as backup, and so axis had to deal with those, as well:

axis sustained several heavy blows throughout the fight, but ultimately subdued the replica. No victory, however, was proclaimed; the simulacrum was simply swallowed up by the void, leaving behind nothing more than a blackened parchment with a pentagram emblazoned upon it. axis took the parchment with her, hoping to use it to prove that she’d passed Tylus’s test.

Now that axis was in this strange other world, however, she wasn’t quite sure how to get back to the real world. One of the blue-green crystals in the subcave was conspicuously larger & more translucent than the others, so axis got closer to it for inspection, and when she did so, she felt the same tugging at her frame that she felt when nearing the Door of Dimension. Less afraid of it this time, axis drew closer to the crystal, touching it with her hands. Relaxing her body, she soon found herself waking up back on Victoria Island.

Naturally, this was not the only test that Tylus had prepared for her. This time, rather than sending axis into the Ant Tunnel, he sent her back up into the El Nath Mountains — the same mountains that axis had climbed when Tylus & herself first met (see the “A most auspicious star, whose influence if now I court not, but omit, my fortunes will ever after droop” section of pt. ciii of this diary). Rather than going the entire way up, axis’s quest this time around was to seek a holy land; a secluded recess in the snowy mountain cliffs, home to a very special Holy Stone.

On the shelf of a sharp cliff, axis noticed a small — barely taller than herself — set of wooden double doors. So far, this was the only indication of the place that Tylus had described to her, so she attempted to go through the doors. Unfortunately for axis, the doors were… a bit stuck. The perpetually snowy weather had not seriously compromised the doors’ strength — partly thanks to the steel bracing — but the moisture had seeped into the wood, and the steel was protected by little more than a layer of its own rust. With the moisture in the wood freezing, partially thawing, & refreezing again, the water’s expansion had gradually distended the wood, trapping the doors within their own frame.

axis thought that perhaps she was in the wrong place; after all, clearly no one had used these doors even well-nigh recently. But then, axis thought that perhaps this was part of the test. Moreover, axis thought that she heard something on the other side of the doors. Perhaps it was just her imagination, but there was an eerie humming that could be heard, muffled by the wooden doors; axis was reminded of a pipe organ, droning continuously, only one or two stops pulled out, filling the air with pure tones.

Regrettably, axis was not exactly full of strength. It was unlikely — really, physically implausible — that she would be able to wrest the doors from their frame with her rather slight figure.

But axis had another, perhaps even more ill-advised, idea: to simply break the doors down by slamming her body against them repeatedly. Dances with Balrog had taught axis how to use her body as a rikishi [(りき)()] of Zipangu [ジパング] would, thus turning her body into a weapon in its own right. Her opponents were frequently astonished by how much of an impact she was capable of producing with such an undersized body. So, axis braced herself and started slamming.

After flinging herself at the doors no small number of times, and likely losing no small number of braincells in the process, axis had compromised one region of the wood so severely that she was able to carefully pry it apart and crawl through.

Emerging from the other side of the doorway, axis looked down. Below her, past the jagged cliffsides & the irregularly-positioned trees, she saw the source of the humming: a grand & immaculately-cut obsidian obelisk, sitting upon its own obsidian dais, and surrounded by yet more meticulously-carved rocks sticking out of the snow like the scales of a Drake. If this wasn’t the “Holy Stone”, nothing was.

axis @ the Holy Ground at the Snowfield

Once she’d climbed all the way down to the Holy Stone’s level, axis noticed something even more peculiar about the stone: on one of its faces was an intricate inscription that glow’d brilliantly with yellowish-white light. axis moved closer to this face of the stone, craning her head to inspect the inscription more closely. In doing so, she observed that the glowing appeared not to be an inscription at all. Indeed, this face of the obsidian obelisk seemed as perfectly smooth & flat as any of the others. axis tried touching the glowing words with her fingers, but felt nothing to the touch; her fingers simply went through them and touched the face of the Holy Stone.

When she touched the face of the Holy Stone, however, the stone ceased its humming instantly. axis staggered back, worried that she’d disturbed the monument. The magical text mangled itself before her eyes, rearranging into something that she could now read:

1. Though veg’table in form,
I am animal in nature.

Attempt to harvest me,
& your flesh wounds will be major.

Who am I?

axis was dumbstruck. She’d never seen anything like this stone before — not even in Grendel’s magic library in Ellinia. Still, she now understood what this test of Tylus’s was about.

4. Though my name suggests canine origin,
I live & die by the banana “tree”.

Come to Ellinia[5] or Florina,
& specimens of my kind you may see.

Who am I?

axis considered each question carefully, and each time that she answered, the luminous text once again contorted itself, forming yet another question.

9. Though I’m a letter of the alphabet,
I am not for reading.

Put me on a shaft’s end,
& your enemies will be left bleeding.

Who am I?

The riddles seemed endless, and axis’s head was beginning to spin.

12. I am all toys, fun, & games —
until which time as I am not.

Your kind attempts to rid me
of the undead, but all for nought.

If you’re to siege my basement,
a full party I hope you’ve brought.

Who am I?

One final question, and the riddles would be over.

15. My death is astounding,
thrillingly going down in flame.

But prove to me your worth,
& mayhaps I am yours to tame.

Rising from the ashes,
your enemies’ lives I shall claim.

Who am I?

After answering the 15th riddle, the phosphorescent words lazily swirled together, becoming an illegible mass. axis heard a muffled thump as something dropped onto the ground just behind her. She recoiled & spun around, only to find a necklace of a deep purple crystal lodged halfway into the snow. Turning back around to look at the Holy Stone, it appeared the same as it did when she first saw it, the magical inscription now stationary once again. axis picked up the necklace and hurried back the way she’d come, as the sun wasn’t going to be out for much longer.

Arriving back at the town of El Nath, axis finally returned to the Chief’s Residence to meet Tylus in person. She presented the scorched parchment and the purple crystal necklace, eagerly awaiting Tylus’s response.

Looking over the items, Tylus failed to suppress a smile.

Ај нју ју кӯд ду ит — энд ит сімз иц эз ђі Фејц ўӯд хэв ит, ту. Ај шэл бі анърд ту бі ђі ўан ту тіч ју ђіз мэгнифъсънт маршъл мэџиқ.[6]


I knew you could do it — and it seems it’s as the Fates would have it, too. I shall be honoured to be the one to teach you these magnificent martial magicks.

Tylus went on to explain the history behind the martial artistry that he was about to teach axis. These modes of combat are from the old times, before the “magician” & the “warrior” were two. The art was nearly lost, until it was revived by the legendary Sayram, the only warrior to master all martial arts. Few know of, let alone master, these skills.

Tylus instructed axis in the ways of the elements: fire, ice, & lightning — ordinarily the domain of the mage or the alchemist. He demonstrated how to weaken her enemies’ bulwarks against magic. And so, learn axis did:

[3rd Job] Congratulations to axisaxis on becoming a White Knight!

The first time that axis tried the fire magic in anger, she was briefly enveloped by a pillar of shining flame. This startled axis, who was worried that her dress might catch fire. Instead, however, she noticed that her pinwheel glow’d like a campfire, pulsating with flickering illumination. Gingerly giving a test swing of the pinwheel, the air in front of her combusted as the pinwheel moved through it. Eyes wide, axis thanked Tylus profusely, and promised to put her newfound powers to good use.

One last time

Heading back to The Unknown Tower to deliver it from Papa Pixie’s grasp for the final few times, axis found that her companions continued to be confused about her fighting style. Some thought that a warrior brandishing nothing but a pinwheel must be weak:

i dont understand

Transcription of the above image

blud: ok ur insane

axisaxis: LOL
ahaha

blud: 300pc glasses
still getting whited by osslocker
sadge

axisaxis: its ok

blud: hehe
its ok youll have 30k hp
and ill have like
9k
LOL

axisaxis: rofl
ya well
most of my ap is in LUK

blud: for avoid?

axisaxis: yeah

blud: i dont understand
th[a]t

axisaxis: and the accuracy yhelps [sic] a lot

blud: does it not go out when you reset it out?

axisaxis: no im not resetting it

blud: oh
youre a luk warrior

axisaxis: yes [:

blud: thats gotta be illegal

axisaxis: LOOOL

blud: theres no way thats good right

axisaxis: it’s a lot of fun

blud: bossing?

axisaxis: we’ll see hahah

blud: very interesting

axisaxis: im just questing and pqing

Yet others were impressed by axis’s combat prowess, dazzled by the fiery blasts produced by her mighty pinwheel.

As for herself, axis felt very strong indeed. She effortlessly took on the centre of the Tower all by her lonesome, rooting out the magical cat-unicorns, and using her flaming pinwheel as a torch to illuminate the pitch dark room in the central basement:

axis soloing the Lounge

Minerva & Avaracia were very pleased. So pleased, in fact, that they had something even bigger in mind for axis. Something even more treacherous, in an even more far-flung land, that would test axis’s every strength & every virtue. And so, the stars realigned, as foretold.

Footnotes for “For the Goddess”

  1. [↑] That is, ⟨00⟩ and ⟨11⟩ are the bitwise negations (read: both switches simultaneously flipped) of one another, and likewise for ⟨01⟩ and ⟨10⟩.

  2. [↑] The discrete analogue is the geometric distribution.

  3. [↑] This is not the only place, even in OPQ alone, where the coupon collector’s problem shows up.

    For example, collecting all ten diary pages is effectively the same problem. Assuming that you kill all monsters in the map (“clear the map”) every time that you enter it, and assuming that the drop-rates of the ten pages are adjusted relative to one another to make them effectively “uniform” in the sense that each diary page that drops when the map is cleared is equally likely to be any one of the ten pages, the expected number of diary page drops necessary to complete a single set from scratch is:

    𝑛 𝖧 𝑛 10 2.92897 29.3

    Of course, as I’ve just stipulated, this assumes a kind of “fairness” in the implementation. This fairness isn’t trivial to produce, because of how the diary pages are actually allocated:

    species spawn count diary pages fair drop-rate
    Jr. Cellion in Tower of Goddess 9 1st, 2nd, 3rd 5𝑝9
    Jr. Lioner in Tower of Goddess 5 4th, 5th, 6th 𝑝
    Jr. Grupin in Tower of Goddess 5 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th 𝑝

    You’ll notice two uneven aspects of the allocation: there are more (9 > 5) Jr. Cellions than there are either of the other two species, & the Jr. Grupins have four distinct diary pages in their droptable, rather than three.

    Each drop-rate is a probability that is assigned to each of the diary pages (that is, each of the item IDs) listed in the table cell immediately to its left. And 𝑝(0,1].

    My values for “fair drop-rates” are given under the assumption that each distinct item ID in a monster’s droptable is subject to a single Bernoulli trial when the monster dies, with success meaning that the item drops, failure that it fails to drop, & with the parameter 𝑝 of the distribution being the corresponding drop-rate. That is, I assume that each item is dropped completely independently of any other items — and indeed, of any other in-game events. This would imply that, for example, slaying a single Jr. Grupin in Tower of Goddess causes some quantity of diary pages to drop, and that quantity is distributed as (4,𝑝); for Jr. Cellion in Tower of Goddess, the distribution is instead (3,5𝑝9); and so on, where ℬ is the binomial distribution.

    Under this assumption, the fact that the Jr. Grupins have a larger number of distinct diary pages in their droptable does not impact the fair drop-rate of each such item ID. This contrasts with, for example, an item-dropping scheme where a larger number of entries in a dying monster’s droptable impacts the ultimate probability that any given item ID in the droptable actually drops, effectively “diluting” drop-rates; for example, the monster dropping an item from one droptable entry might decrease (or increase, for that matter) the probability that the next entry in the droptable drops its item as well. However, I doubt that a serious MapleStory implementation would implement monster drops in such an absurd & unintuitive way, so the assumption probably holds.

    The notion of “fairness” here relies merely on expected values, and the actual distribution for how the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd diary pages are dropped does differ from that of the other pages. For example, the variance differs. Nevertheless, I consider this to be “good enough” because the LLN is couched in terms of the expected value, and of course the “𝑛𝖧𝑛” formula above is an expected value as well.

  4. [↑] ಠ_ಠ

  5. [↑] Four syllables: ⫽ɛ(l).lɪ.ni.ɐ⫽.

  6. [↑] Ever heard of Cyrillisch (not to be confused with the Dutch word meaning “Cyrillic”)? Fun, right? (Please say “yes”…) This alphabet sees no practical usage IRL as far as I know; it’s something that hobbyist Niño Eduardo Evan Fernandez came up with. This is a similar situation to almost all conlangs (a conscript, if you will…) — if you ignore the fact that all scripts are constructed, unlike languages, which are usually natural. Note that other Cyrillisation schemes for English also exist.

    Cyrillisch is based on the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, and is a phonetic writing system that does not reflect etymology. Strangely, Cyrillisch was devised to write three quite distinct languages: English (as I use it here), German, & Japanese. Perhaps partly as a result of this, it may be phonemically underspecified for any given language. This is true for English (not that English’s native writing system fares any better……), which is why I made the following adjustments:

    • Ӯ, ӯ⟩ is not a Cyrillisch letter, but is used in the Tajik Cyrillic alphabet (Tajik not being Slavic, by the way) for /ɵ/, so I use it for the similar English /ʊ/. In all standard English varieties that I know of, the /uʉ/ of fool contrasts with the /ʊɵ/ of full. In unmodified Cyrillisch, the vowels of both fool and full are unified as ⟨У, у⟩, which nominally represents /u/.

    • Similarly, I add the use of ⟨І, і⟩ for /i/, reserving the unmodified Cyrillisch ⟨И, и⟩ for /ɪ/. A minimal pair is eat, it; ⟨іт⟩, ⟨ит⟩. This same thing is done in, for example, the Ukrainian and Belarusian alphabets. Note that, in English, the distinction is complicated in certain environments by the presence — or lack thereof — of happy tensing. Moreover, some Malaysian English and Singapore English speakers may have the mittmeet merger, merging the distinction into a single phoneme /i/.

    • I use ⟨Ъ, ъ⟩ for /əɜʌ/, based on the Bulgarian alphabet’s use of this letter for /ʌ̝/. Slavic languages frequently don’t have a phonemic mid-central or mid-central-ish unrounded vowel, but English loves the damn things. In order to avoid complicating it too much, I’m merging these “mid-central-ish unrounded vowels” into a single letter, despite the fact that some varieties of English phonemically distinguish them.

      Another good option would have been ⟨Ә, ә⟩, which is used in Dungan & in the Kurdish Cyrillic alphabet (neither of which are Slavic languages) for similarly mid-central-ish unrounded vowels.

    • Unmodified Cyrillisch uses ⟨Х, х⟩ for /h/, but I also use it for /xχ/ when it’s phonemic (which is unusual, by the way; /x/ is marginal in English, and does not exist in many varieties). I make this letter perform double-duty because ⟨Х, х⟩ is normally used for /x〜χ/ anyways.

    I also write words as if they were pronounced rhotically — regardless of whether or not they actually are, for any given speaker — because that’s how standard English orthography generally does it, and because it’s usually morphophonologically accurate.

    Resources for this little transliteration scheme are scant, so I’ll just reproduce the whole thing here, including my modifications:

    Cyrillisch (deer’s version), consonants
    labial dental alveolar post-alveolar palatal velar glottal
    nasal ⟨М, м⟩ /m/ ⟨Н, н⟩ /n/ ⟨Ң, ң⟩ /ŋ/
    plosive/affricate voiceless ⟨П, п⟩ /p/ ⟨Т, т⟩ /t/;
    ⟨Ц, ц⟩ /t͜s/;
    ⟨Қ, қ⟩ /ks/
    ⟨Ч, ч⟩ /t͡ʃ/ ⟨К, к⟩ /k/
    voiced ⟨Б, б⟩ /b/ ⟨Д, д⟩ /d/ ⟨Џ, џ⟩ /d͡ʒ/ ⟨Г, г⟩ /g/
    fricative voiceless ⟨Ф, ф⟩ /f/ ⟨Ћ, ћ⟩ /θ/ ⟨С, с⟩ /s/ ⟨Ш, ш⟩ /ʃ/ (⟨Х, х⟩ /x/) ⟨Х, х⟩ /h/
    voiced ⟨В, в⟩ /v/ ⟨Ђ, ђ⟩ /ð/ ⟨З, з⟩ /z/ ⟨Ж, ж⟩ /ʒ/ (⟨Хў, хў⟩ /ʍ/)
    approximant ⟨Л, л⟩ /l/ ⟨Р, р⟩ /ɹ/ ⟨Ј, ј⟩ /j/ ⟨Ў, ў⟩ /w/

    Syllabic consonants are prepended with ⟨Ъ, ъ⟩, e.g. ⟨ъл⟩; /əl/; [l̩].

    • /ks/ is pretty much never analysed as an affricate, as far as I know — it’s just an ordinary cluster. I really don’t know why Cyrillisch includes a dedicated letter for this — nor why that letter is ⟨Қ, қ⟩, which is normally /q/… — but hey, whatever.
    • /ʍ/ is also transcribed as /hw/, /hʷ/, /w̥/, /xʷ/, or even /xw/. An example is whine /ʍaɪ̯n/. Many English dialects have the winewhine merger, in which /ʍ/ and /w/ have merged into simply /w/. See: Pronunciation of English ⟨wh⟩.
    Cyrillisch (deer’s version), monophthongs
    front near-front central near-back back
    close ⟨І, і⟩ /i/ ⟨У, у⟩ /uʉ/
    near-close ⟨И, и⟩ /ɪ/ ⟨Ӯ, ӯ⟩ /ʊɵ/
    mid ⟨Е, е⟩ /eɛ/ ⟨Ъ, ъ⟩ /əɜʌ/ ⟨О, о⟩ /oɔɒ/
    near-open ⟨Э, э⟩ /æa/
    open ⟨А, а⟩ /ɑä/

    Did you know that vowels in English are a fucking mess? This is why we can’t have nice things writing systems.

    Note that in the above table, roundedness is not given explicitly, despite the fact that roundedness plays a key role in vowel quality in English. Instead, the transcriptions within forward slashes (/⋯/) indicate roundedness or lack thereof.

    Cyrillisch (unmodified), diphthongs
    /-ɪ̯/ /-ʊ̯/
    /a-/ ⟨Ај, ај⟩ /aɪ̯/ ⟨Аў, аў⟩ /aʊ̯/
    /e-/ ⟨Еј, еј⟩ /eɪ̯/
    /o〜ɔ-/ ⟨Ој, ој⟩ /ɔɪ̯/ ⟨Оў, оў⟩ /oʊ̯/

(…cnvpstdf…)

cnvpstdf

[Victoria guild notice]: wow ur a viclocker *blushes* thats so slutty

axisaxis: is the plural of pizza pizzas or is it pizzazz

myswamp: bro this is my swamp

The Nath™

Transcription of the above image

rusa: ok omw to The Nath

misandrist: HOW THE FUCK
DID U DO[ ]A TM
OMG

rusa: LMAO

The Long Suffering™

Transcription of the above image

FirstLove: the long suffering

WhiteRust: It’s not too bad nowadays
Primarily because T4 hat is pretty solid and doesn’t require
100 runs

axisaxis: ppq is penance for the original sin of maplekind

Camazotz: before we die who wants to admit they have a crush on me

happily

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

Harlez: youre married to my cat

rusa: fr
happily