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rangifer’s diary: pt. cvi

The STR–DEX–LUK continuum

There’s something strange about MapleStory stats. Well… actually, there are a lot of strange things, but here I want to focus on just one (1) aspect.

Common conceptions

In particular, there are four “main” stats that PCs can have: STR, DEX, INT, & LUK. Classifying the “main” stats in this way notably excludes both MAXHP & MAXMP, despite the fact that AP can be spent on all six of the aforementioned stats. Still, we can easily separate MAXHP & MAXMP from the rest by observing that:

Partitioning {MAXHP, MAXMP} from {STR, DEX, INT, LUK}
  • Spending AP in MAX(H/M)P operates fundamentally differently from spending AP in other stats. For example, spending 1 AP in MAXHP generally does not increase the PC’s MAXHP by 1, and indeed, the exact increase has a complicated relationship to the number of AP spent. This is opposed to the non-MAX(H/M)P stats, which are extremely straightforward.
  • Spending AP in MAX(H/M)P never directly increases the damage that the PC deals, whereas spending AP in the other stats often does.
  • MapleStory players often use the term “stats” loosely to refer to {STR, DEX, INT, LUK}.

With this in mind, the way in which MapleStory players nearly always conceptualise their main stats is quite simple:

💡 I put all of my AP into my primary stat, excepting the smallest possible amount into my secondary stat that is sufficient to allow me to wear my equipment (or, in the case of a warrior, that allows me to “MISS” my enemies with sufficiently small probability).

For clarity, we ignore (H/M)P washing, as such AP allocations are fraudulent; the player does not genuinely wish to permanently increase the stats into which they are allocating.[1]

When I say that “[t]here’s something strange about MapleStory stats”, what I mean to say is that the above conceptualisation “⁠💡⁠” hides almost all of the actually-existing nuance of MapleStory’s character stats system, and indeed, hides it so well that the vast majority of players are simply unaware of many of the fundamental game mechanics of the game that they’re playing. Thus, from the perspective of the typical MapleStory player, MapleStory stats are very strange indeed.

Unravelling the “main” stats

The main thrust of “⁠💡⁠” is that it one-dimensionalises the main stats: the only relevant metric is the absolute magnitude of the primary stat. This works well, & is very efficient; after all, at first blush, the main stats appear four-dimensional: there are four of them, and they don’t obviously bear any particular relation to one another. In order to disentangle how it’s even possible to efficiently one-dimensionalise main stats, and to know what “primary” and “secondary” stats even are, it’s worth looking at what the four main stats actually do, in detail:

The four main stats, in detail
  • STR:[2]
    • Primary damage stat for:
      • Swords.
      • Axes.
      • Blunt weapons.
      • Wands.
      • Staves.
      • Spears.
      • Polearms.
      • Daggers (when the PC is not a thief).
      • Knuckles[3].
    • Secondary damage stat for:
      • Daggers (when the PC is a thief).
      • Claws[4].
      • Bows.
      • Crossbows.
      • Guns.
    • Primary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
    • Secondary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
    • Minor effects:
      • Reduces incoming physical damage.
      • Reduces incoming magical damage.
  • DEX:
    • Primary damage stat for:
      • Bows.
      • Crossbows.
      • Guns.
    • Secondary damage stat for:
      • Swords.
      • Axes.
      • Blunt weapons.
      • Wands.
      • Staves.
      • Spears.
      • Polearms.
      • Daggers.
      • Claws[4].
      • Knuckles[3].
    • Primary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
      • Physical-attacking summons.
    • Secondary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
      • Venom.
    • Major effects:
      • Increases WACC (0.8 for most, 0.9 for brawlers/marauders/buccs, 0.6 for archers/thieves/other pirates).
      • Increases AVOID (0.25 for most, 1.5[5] for brawlers/marauders/buccs).
    • Minor effects:
      • Increases AVOID (0.125 for gunslingers/outlaws/corsairs).
      • Reduces incoming physical damage.
      • Reduces incoming magical damage.
  • INT:
    • Primary damage stat for:
    • Primary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
    • Major effects:
      • Increases MACC (by the same amount that LUK does).
      • Reduces incoming magical damage.[7]
      • Increases Heal’s healing.[6]
      • Increases MAXMP gain on levelup.[8]
    • Minor effects:
      • Reduces incoming physical damage.
  • LUK:
    • Primary damage stat for:
      • Daggers (when the PC is a thief).
      • Claws[4].
    • Primary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
    • Secondary ✨special✨ damage stat for:
      • Heal.
    • Major effects:
      • Increases AVOID (0.5).
      • Increases WACC (0.5 for most, 0.3 for archers/thieves/pirates).
      • Increases MACC (by the same amount that INT does).
    • Minor effects:
      • Reduces incoming physical damage.
      • Reduces incoming magical damage.

In general, primary damage stats contribute more to the expected damage of an attack than secondary damage stats do[4], and they do so according to a multiplicative combination of PSM & mastery. Thus, the pathway to efficient one-dimensionalisation is relatively simple:

  1. The player chooses a throughclass[9].
  2. The player assumes non-odd-jobbedness, and thus their throughclass implies their weapon type[10] — or, in the case of a warrior, narrows it down to two similar choices with identical primary–secondary stat pairs.
  3. The player’s weapon type[10] implies their primary damage stat.
  4. The player again assumes non-odd-jobbedness, and so stats other than the primary damage stat can* be effectively discarded (“⁠💡⁠”).
  5. All other effects of the PC’s main stats (including of their primary damage stat) are thus conceptually no more than incidental.

*The reader is encouraged to notice that step (4.) is not strictly necessary, even when assuming non-odd-jobbedness (see the “So what?” section below).

Stat personalities

Because these “other effects” (including, to give just one example, damage increases due to their secondary damage stats) are no more than incidental, the player either…:

However, if we take the four main stats seriously & on their own terms, we see that each one has its own attitude; its own personality. This personality naturally varies somewhat — & in some cases, considerably — based on factors that often have to do with the PC’s class, including the class itself, as well as what skills they have access to, etc. Nevertheless, the stats’ personalities can be painted out in broad strokes; moreover, doing this painting illuminates some of the most basic game design of MapleStory in its earliest stages — and even in its womb.

This array of personalities contributes to the nuances of some character builds; for example, gishes exploit the twofold nature of LUK in the simultaneous pursuit of both physical & magical damage.

The STR–DEX–LUK complex

Above, I call DEX “the hybrid physical damage stat”, noting that it’s similar to STR in many ways, but with less overall damage; and, in exchange, it’s unlike STR in that it has additional utility by granting WACC & AVOID. In this way, DEX can be thought of, broadly, as a kind of compromise — sacrificing one thing for another. Somewhat similarly, LUK — “the wild card stat” — can be thought of within this framework as well.

I mentioned gishes above, in the context of LUK. Not all mages are magical attackers, and some character builds — including not just gishes, but also e.g. claw-using magelets, etc. — are only opportunistic magical attackers. Because neither STR nor DEX factor into the damage of any magical attacks, and because INT — the primary stat[6] of all magical attacks — doesn’t factor into the damage of any physical attacks, I’m going to exclude the following from consideration: INT, magical attackers, & opportunistic magical attackers who happen to be attacking magically at the moment.

Excluding INT — “the simplest of the bunch” — from consideration simplifies things almost entirely to physical attacks, and leaves us with just {STR, DEX, LUK}. By taking a middle path in between the four-dimensional analysis outlined in the “Stat personalities” section above (or that suggested by the naïve Mapler who simply sees “four main stats that don’t bear any particular relation to one another”), and the one-dimensional analysis suggested by “⁠💡⁠”, we can obtain a kind of three-dimensional analysis: the STR–DEX–LUK complex.

Sacrifices

Taking this middle path sacrifices some of the dimensional efficiency of the one-dimensional analysis; three dimensions is clearly more than one. Furthermore, it lacks some of the internal coherence of the one-dimensional analysis — which is trivially coherent due to having only one dimension — and even of the four-dimensional analysis — which is also trivially coherent due to simply making each stat orthogonal to every other stat.

As mentioned above, the STR–DEX–LUK complex purposefully doesn’t attempt to account for magical attacks.

Boons

In exchange, the STR–DEX–LUK complex captures overwhelmingly more nuance than the one-dimensional analysis, and moreover, it does so in a way that is unifying (unlike both other analyses). It is also, of course, more dimensionally efficient than the four-dimensional analysis.

The unifying nature of the STR–DEX–LUK complex is what produces the lack of coherence mentioned in the “Sacrifices” section above. Because the STR–DEX–LUK complex attempts to generally unify three things that are, ultimately, distinct entities, some things can be difficult to connect together. This is in part due to the purposeful exclusion of INT, which bears relation to LUK due to LUK’s magical affinities.

Bridging the continuum

So far, I’ve been using the term “STR–DEX–LUK complex”; and yet, the title of this essay is “The STR–DEX–LUK continuum”. The reason for this discrepancy is that going from a complex to a continuum is non-trivial in this case. Furthermore, the term “continuum” may be mildly misleading; the term is sometimes used specifically for one-dimensional continua, which is obviously not what we’re dealing with here.

The most basic idea is simply to ✨spiritually✨ treat STR, DEX, & LUK as like three vectors, and then to ask ourselves what the linear span of the three looks like; this is the “continuum”. The problem, of course, is that if we suppose that we have three vectors, then we must ask what vector space they exist within.

One possible vector space is trivial: the space suggested by the naïve four-dimensional analysis, which simply treats the stats as they are per se. Because we’re considering three stats here, the result would basically be just 3.[11] This is, of course, useless.

Instead, I want to couch the space more or less in terms of effects, rather than in terms of the main stats themselves. In order to do so, we’ll need a model.

One of the neat — or, depending on whom you ask, vexing — properties of the STR–DEX–LUK continuum is that we’ll end up with somewhat different results depending on the exact model PC that we choose. In this essay, I’m going to make use of just one model, and that model is going to be restricted to melee weapons only. This only displays part of the power of the STR–DEX–LUK continuum, but is useful for the purpose of simplicity.

The model

Again, we’re trying to keep it really basic & simple here. To that end, we’re going to make as few assumptions as possible about the PC’s class & skills, and we’re going to limit the PC to melee weapons only. The result will thus be similar to an outland permabeginner of some kind (albeit regrettably deprived of the ability to use a claw), but it will also do an okay job of reflecting warriors, melee mages, & a few others as well. Naturally, for results that are more accurate to the specific thing that you have in mind, you’ll have to make the appropriate adjustments to the model.

With all of that in mind, here are the assumptions that define our model PC:

The model PC
  • The PC is some kind of beginner, warrior, or mage.
  • The PC’s expected PSM is roughly ≈4.0. This typical of one-handed melee weapons, and being an integer makes it a little easier to work with & to reason about.
  • The PC has no mastery, nor other passive skills.
  • The PC’s attacks calculate their raw damage range similarly to a basic-attack. This is representative of almost all physical attacks.
  • The PC is roughly level ≈120.
  • The PC’s gear confers upon them roughly ≈40 of each stat. However, this is the only stat bonus from equipment, so their equipment is unspecialised.
  • The PC’s gear & buffs collectively confer upon them roughly ≈20 raw WACC & ≈30 raw AVOID.
  • The PC is not affected by any other outstanding buffs.

A more subtle aspect of the model is which effects we’re looking at. In this case, we’ll have three effects, just like we have three stats:

Making the continuum concrete

Now that we have a model, I want to consider four possible concrete cases:

  1. Pure STR.
  2. Pure DEX.
  3. Pure LUK.
  4. Equal amounts of STR, DEX, & LUK.

Of course, the reason why I’m calling this a “continuum” is because any combination is possible. But there are almost infinitely many of them, so I’m going to stick to these four obvious cases for concreteness!

I’ve decided to represent each one of these four points as its own plot, because… it looks cool? I don’t know. Let me know whether or not you think it’s a good visualisation.

For the place where the numbers are crunched & the plots are generated, see: str-dex-luk.py.

First up is the point at pure STR:

Visualisation of the point at pure STR

Raw numbers of the above image
  • 𝖤⁡[damage]: 1465.4.[12]
  • WACC: 77.2.
  • AVOID: 63.0.

Then at pure DEX:

Visualisation of the point at pure DEX

Raw numbers of the above image
  • 𝖤⁡[damage]: 747.9.[12]
  • WACC: 563.6.
  • AVOID: 215.0.

Then at pure LUK:

Visualisation of the point at pure LUK

Raw numbers of the above image
  • 𝖤⁡[damage]: 139.9.[12]
  • WACC: 381.2.
  • AVOID: 367.0.

And finally, at STR = DEX = LUK:

Visualisation of the point at STR = DEX = LUK

Raw numbers of the above image
  • 𝖤⁡[damage]: 784.4.[12]
  • WACC: 340.7.
  • AVOID: 215.0.

If you really insist on seeing these points in 3D, I think that this is about the best I can do for you:

3D plot of all four points

Sorry about that.

So what?

As you can see, the three stats in order of increasing specialisation are basically: DEX, LUK, STR. Although DEX leans most heavily towards WACC, it’s a surprisingly good compromise between WACC, AVOID, & damage output. Although LUK leans most heavily towards AVOID, it’s also similarly potent for WACC — although it lacks any damage in this particular model. And STR is just a heap of damage here.

I came up with the idea for a STR–DEX–LUK continuum whilst thinking about weird-statted warriors like DEX warriors and LUK warriors. As hopefully made obvious above, the concept is actually quite general. Not only can the various assumptions that go into the model PC be tweaked heavily, but the effects that really define the continuum (in the above example: expected melee damage output, WACC, & AVOID) can be played with as well.

By picking interesting models and the right kinds of effects, we can see more clearly how STR, DEX, & LUK are interrelated, with each stat overlapping the next. This is the essential strength of the idea: because the various stats overlap to varying degrees, and because each one on its own is multifarious, the player is afforded nearly unlimited power to continuously & finely sculpt the abilities & aptitudes of their character with simple changes in AP allocation — not to mention equipment.

This kind of power is lost with the typical one-dimensional, strictly non-odd-statted approach. In some ways, this is unfortunate. When we treat everything besides “multiplying the PC’s PSM by a larger number” as totally incidental, the entire rest of the game mechanics’ statistical landscape is frozen, and serves as little more than a backdrop.

On the other hand, two more things are worth noting. Firstly, “the typical one-dimensional, strictly non-odd-statted approach” is in no way necessary for — and should not be identified with — the non-odd-jobbed PC; indeed, many non-odd PCs make use of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, etc. approaches in ways big and small. Secondly, it speaks to one of the defining qualities of MapleStory that so many players will do absolutely fine by ignoring a huge chunk of the nuance of the game: the subtlety is there, as it is in so many other aspects of the game, but the game’s design is holistic enough that, no matter what your style of play is, you can just… have fun playing the damn game.

Footnotes for “The STR–DEX–LUK continuum”

  1. [↑] Not to mention that the (H/M)P washing mechanic is an implementation quirk that is absent or marginal in many (perhaps even most?) pre-BB MapleStory implementations.

  2. [↑] In MapleLegends, STR contributes to the AVOID of brawlers/marauders/buccaneers.

  3. [↑] For simplicity, I lump “no weapon” in with “knuckles”.

  4. [↑] Note that LUK is the primary damage stat, and both STR & DEX are secondary damage stats, for claws, even when claw-punching. The problem with claw-punching is that its PSM is so unfathomably small (viz. 1.0) that, paradoxically, the claw-puncher increases their expected damage more by increasing their STR and/or DEX than they do by increasing their LUK.

    However, as far as I know, claw-punching is the only case where this paradox appears, so we can treat it as a marginal case.

  5. [↑] 0.25 in MapleLegends…

  6. [↑] Stricto sensu, the “primary stat”/“secondary stat” distinction does not apply to magical attacks (with the exception of Heal). Moreover, although INT does directly increase the damage of magical attacks, said damage actually scales dominantly on TMA.

    Still, because INT passively increases TMA, and simply for convenience, I treat INT as a “primary stat” of magical attacks for this purpose. And, more generally, I attribute TMA’s effects to INT despite the actual relationship being somewhat indirect.

  7. [↑] Similar comments that apply to the relationship between INT & TMA (see: [6]) also apply to the relationship between INT & MDEF.

  8. [↑] This mechanic in particular is a common target for removal, often replaced by buffing Improved MaxMP Increase.

  9. [↑] I’ve defined the term throughclass several times in my diary, but the basic idea is simple: it identifies each class of 2nd job or higher with its corresponding 2nd-job class. For example, {fighter, crusader, hero} is a throughclass. Notice that swordman and beginner are excluded, due to being 1st job or lower — and thus, not fully specialised.

  10. [↑] For this purpose, weapon type conflates types that differ only in handedness, because this same conflation is made by all skills (e.g. masteries, boosters, etc.), and because a change in handedness never changes the primary nor secondary stats (although it may change the PSM(s)). For example, it distinguishes between swords vs. axes, but not between one-handed swords vs. two-handed swords.

    Moreover, we consider “magical attacks” to be a kind of weapon type, for obvious reasons.

  11. [↑] Really, more like 3, but you know…

  12. [↑] The damage values here are not absolute values, but rather, only make sense relative to one another. This is mostly because WATK is just “some arbitrary constant”.

In which MapleLegends is digested within the rumen of the arcade cabinet… & spit back up

In the “In which MapleLegends is swallowed up by an arcade cabinet” section of the previous diary entry, I detailed my experiences with MapleLegends’s 2023 anniversary event. However, those were only my experiences with, roughly, the first half of the event. I continued participating in this event fairly vigorously until its end, including more Demon King’s Towering than you might expect!!

The Demon King’s Tower

In the previous entry, I was able to clear the Tower once, on my darksterity knight rusa — but only with a lot of handholding. Well, this time, I was able to also clear it on my pugilist tarandus, with some help from OSS-locked fighter Buffyy!:

Buffyy & tarandus, final stretch of floor 19

Oh yes, that is the victory lap that is the ending of floor 19~! But, well, there’s still the slight issue of floor 20…

tara clears the Demon King’s Tower!!

Easily done!! Take that, Demon King!!!

I figured that, if I were going to be able to clear the Tower multiple times, I would want those clears to be on tara. Not only is the 2 WATK from the Retro Hero pendant extra powerful for her — pugilist that she is — there’s also the fact that the whole Retro Hero questline is… technically just that: a questline! And quests are kinda tara’s thing, if you haven’t noticed.

So I enlisted the assistance of Mega Man™ expert — and notorious level 1 crook — Level1Crook (Lvl1Crook, xXCrookXx, Lanius, SuperLuck). On one of our runs, we ran into trouble in perhaps the most unexpected place: the beginning of the 6th floor. The 6th floor is pretty early on in the Tower, & as I noted previously, floors 1 through 10 are firmly in soloable territory, even for me. Nevertheless, RNGsus is as fickle as he is mysterious, and so we managed to get a bunch of projectile-shooting monsters spawned in just about the same location:

Not shown here is Level1Crook bravely taking a hit to dispatch this freak monster cluster.

On the higher floors, however, we had much better luck. We even managed to clear from floor 1 through floor 19 in one go!!:

tarandus & Level1Crook clear floor 1 through 19 on the first try‽

Transcription of the above image

tarandus: WHEW

Level1Crook: we just first tried it

tarandus: hjajaha [sic]

Level1Crook: lets FUCKING GO

Holy moly!!!

And I did some Tower-running with the assistance of some other expert Towerers, as well. In the previous entry, I mentioned that my Vicloc clericlet d33r was my first character to miraculously end up at floor 15, and that I unsuccessfully tried running from floor 15 onwards with some mostly random folx that I found in channel 1 of Balina. Well, this time, I joined up with inward (inject, Skjal, inhale, vvvv, Pitiful, eject, DexBlade) & JQer extraordinaire OmokTeacher (Slime, JumpQuest, Slimu, Thinks, Ginner, Slimusaurus) — and finished up the rest of the tower! Actually, after a few attempts at floor 20 with just the three of us (far more difficult than just running as a party of six), I somehow managed to emerge victorious against the Demon King, but only as the last one standing…:

d33r finishes the Demon King fight as the last one standing…

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

OmokTeacher: solo boss

d33r: l;ol [sic]
i did it

inward: gzzzzz

d33r: ty!!!!

Still, I found that, even alongside people who’d carry my ass by killing the monsters before I could even get there, I was having some trouble with the sawblades…:

Teaching the sawblades a lesson

Transcription of the above image

capreolina: i didnt die

OmokTeacher: restart?

capreolina: no im fine

OmokTeacher: ok

capreolina: just teaching the sawblades a lesson

Although there are certainly very many sawblades peppered throughout the various floors of the Tower, all hurtling to & fro at breakneck (literally…) speeds, one of them in particular was consistently confounding me. There’s a sawblade on floor 19 that, even with someone having killed all of the monsters already, I would manage to scrutinise for a good 60 seconds or so, before giving it my best shot… and falling to my death.

Eventually, someone explained to me in detail how to do this one:

I know, it probably doesn’t look that difficult. But this was my first time actually getting past the damn thing without just closing my eyes and hoping that I take damage instead of getting knocked off of the map!!

After a while of getting some real Towering experience under my belt, OmokTeacher had a proposal:

Wanna practice speedruns with us?

Transcription of the above image

OmokTeacher: deer

d33r: hihi

OmokTeacher: wanna practice speedruns with us?
ur

d33r: o like [floor] 1 → 20

OmokTeacher: ye

d33r: i can try but

OmokTeacher: ur super consistent so ud be good
no need to rush

d33r: i only get through it by being really patient ahaha

Kargo: the objective is jsut [sic] to survive
haha

OmokTeacher: yeee

d33r: oker

OmokTeacher: ur actually
pretty fast for someone who’s only being patient

Naturally, the call of the speedrun was the only reason that OmokTeacher was even here to begin with. Like the CNY event earlier this year (see the “Lunational” section of pt. xcix of this diary), this event’s JQ had its own in-game leaderboard. And so I was, perhaps somewhat ironically, recruited in pursuit of the #1 spot.

So I did speedrunning practice. Really quite a lot of speedrunning practice, I might say. Along the way, we collectively found the speedups, the slowdowns, & the quirks of the Tower — especially of its lower floors. Here’s a weird spot towards the end of the 4th floor, where you can duck into the corner and somehow not get hit by the shooting flames at all:

Weird spot on the 4th floor

Essentially every run starts at floor 1 — even a “practice” run. This is because speedruns, naturally, only count if you clear the whole thing in one go, meaning that the use of checkpoints is off-limits. For practice, you might consider using checkpoints in order to get more practice with higher floors, but we almost never did that. As a result, floor 3 was going to be a lot more frequently run than floor 13, and so on.

In fact, if we took, for each floor 𝑓 in the Tower, a kind of “average” (for the sake of simplicity) of how likely that we were to make it to floor (𝑓 + 1) conditioned on our making it to the beginning of floor 𝑓, we’d see that our probability of making it from floor 1 to floor 𝑓 basically decreases exponentially as 𝑓 increases. When you put it that way, and consider the fact that getting to floor 𝑓 means that you completed all floors below 𝑓, it becomes obvious that we’re going to get disproportionately more practice running the lower floors.

You might not think that this effect is really all that important; surely, the lower floors are so easy that we almost always pass them anyways. You would, however, be very wrong. When you’re in a party of five or six speed demons, the likelihood that someone tries a little too hard to go really fast, & ends up careening off of the map or losing their third heart as a result, is pretty damn high… even on the lower floors.

Indeed, the run from floor 1 to floor 5 is, in some ways, the most “speedrunnable” part of the entire damn tower. These floors make sparingly little effort to stop the player by randomly putting monsters into their way, making it mostly a classical MapleStory JQ: just you, versus the map. This means that there are lots of places to save a little time, lots of “fast paths” where timing everything correctly will deterministically get you past those tricky obstacles at just the right moments, & so on.

As a result, I started getting pretty fast with those first four floors…

Getting faster…!

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: Your hearts have been restored. Demon King’s Tower Entrance will now be able to warp you back to this floor.

OmokTeacher: :D
2:58 deer
fast

After quite a bit of practice, I was feeling confident in my ability to speedrun this section. There’s the slight issue of floor 4, where OmokTeacher showed me a fast path that involves a very precisely-timed jump at the beginning of the floor. I was able to make this jump correctly, albeit very inconsistently. On successful attempts, I would clear floor 4 very quickly as a result. On the other attempts… well… not so good. It’s okay. At first, I probably only made the jump once out of every four attempts or so. With some practice, I was able to refine it to maybe every other attempt being successful. Which is… still not consistent, but you know… Still pretty good, I guess.

We were generally quite fast with the first half of the Tower, so OmokTeacher made it clear that we should try to just survive the first ten floors:

World record pace

Transcription of the above image

OmokTeacher: just so everyone knows
we were faster than WR run
for 1–10

Flamous: pogpog

OmokTeacher: so definitely

SpiderOPQ: ah thought we were slow tbh

OmokTeacher: feel free to play safer

SpiderOPQ: nice

OmokTeacher: we did 1–10 in 5:05
I mean at 5:05 last person
reached 10
WR run was 5:06

Now that I was getting a lot of Tower practice, it was starting to look more like I could actually clear the thing multiple times! Which I did not previously expect to happen!! Defeating the Demon King for the fourth time on rusa, I had reached the end of the quest, and the Demon King had something slightly different to say to me:

Demon King: Argh… Who are you?
Barging into someone else’s home and destroying everything!

rusa: Huh? I was just up here not too long ago.

Demon King: WHAT? I remember no such thing!

rusa [to herself]: (Oh no, I think all the axes we’ve thrown at his head must have given him amnesia.)

Demon King: Why do you people keep coming up here just to bully me? One after another you all come up here just to make a mess of my home! My poor henchmen and I can’t take it! I’m so angry I could destroy the world!!!

rusa: WAIT!

Demon King: I paid 5 billion Retro Coins for this property! That was my life savings! And all I have gotten is a huge headache and a pest control problem!
Unless you’re the Goddess Avaracia, I have no business with you.

Demon King: Now LEAVE!

Kicked out of the Tower once again, it was finally time for me to speak directly with the goddess Avaracia about the whole ordeal:

Avaracia: Hello, rusa. What seems to be troubling you?

rusa: [Tells the Goddess about her encounters with the Demon King]

Avaracia: Oh dear, he says he’s been ‘scammed’? And you think he’s developed amnesia?
That is quite the predicament…

Avaracia: I can’t help but feel guilty about my part in this. You see, I sold the property to the Demon King. I had hoped that he would be able to find peace and happiness in the town of Balina, but everything seems to have gone terribly, terribly wrong.

rusa: But you’re a goddess, why ‘sell’ him the property? Couldn’t you have given it to him for free?

Avaracia: Well, yes, I am a goddess of bounty and wealth, but I cannot make money spawn out of nowhere, or rain from the sky. I create wealth for the people of Balina in various ways; I turn money into items of value, and items of value into money. Think of it like an exchange of sorts.

rusa: So the 5 billion Retro Coins the Demon King paid you…

Avaracia: …Were to be used for the townsfolk of Balina, to give them wealth in ways more than just money.

Avaracia: But I fear that what once was a happy, welcoming town, has been frightened by the Demon King’s presence. I only have myself to blame.

rusa: I mean… it’s not your fault they overreacted. It’s not too late to help them, the townsfolk AND the Demon King.

Avaracia: You’re right, adventurer. Spoken like a true Hero.
I shall go have a word with the townsfolk, I can’t remember the last time I’ve made contact with them. Goodness, it’s been so long!

rusa: And the Demon King?

Avaracia: Oh, but of course! I’ll speak with him soon after. His amnesia however, hm… I wonder what could have caused it?

rusa: Haha… right… I hope he’ll be okay.

Avaracia: Do not worry, my dear adventurer! I am quite the skilled potion maker, the Demon King will be just fine. I better brew a big batch in case this happens again, just to be safe.

Avaracia: Ah! Before I forget! Your hard work and dedication to the town of Balina and its people has not gone unnoticed. Please accept this small token of honor, as you are worthy of being called their Hero.

REWARD!!: Retro Hero

Retro Hero

Transcription of the above image

Retro Hero

One of a kind Item, Untradeable

  • Available until
  • Category: pendant [NX]
  • HP: +500
  • MP: +500
  • Weapon attack: 2
  • Magic attack: 10

Well, I am a bit concerned that Avaracia “can’t remember the last time [she’s] made contact with” the townsfolk of Balina, but it’s not my problem anymore… It’s time to take my snazzy pendant and GTFO!

Well… not quite. Not only do I have some more Retro Heroes to collect, but I’ve got some more speedrunning to do! Including one run that actually completed!!:

The time taken: [14:22.576]

That’s 14 minutes & 22.576 seconds to clear every floor from floor 1 all the way through axing the poor head-trauma’d Demon King until he capitulated. Not bad! So not bad, in fact, that this run made it onto the leaderboard!!:

#7!!!

Transcription of the above image

5. Celesteela, HEEM, Kiado, O0OO000OO0OO, Quarktar, ekubo
[00:14:20.458]


6. Boomeraple, lync, sweepsweep
[00:14:22.442]


7. Arsia, Flamous, OmokTeacher, SpiderOPQ, Yvione, d33r
[00:14:22.576]


8. INSTALOCK, Ragi, Substrata, aPippy, leetoratto, punpun
[00:14:22.907]


Number 7! Cool. This was a somewhat competitive time, as this wasn’t towards the beginning of the event. Still, it wasn’t at the end of the event either, so by the time that the event was over, my leaderboard hit had long since been pushed off the end — the end being #10.

This would be my only time hitting the leaderboard, and indeed, it was one of just two completed speedruns that I managed over the course of the entire event. The other completion was not quite as strong, thanks to the run kinda falling apart during the last few floors. By the time that the Demon King capitulated, Maangchi & myself were the only ones left standing:

we tried

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: The time taken: [14:53.314]

Maangchi: we tried
ggs

As for the 14:22.576 run that hit #7 on the leaderboard, I felt like I was pretty much solely responsible for slowing that one down. Once we got past the usual floors that we had ran over & over & over, I was not so fast anymore. My strategy of “just be patient and don’t die” was still consistent enough to result in me, you know, not dying. But it also resulted in everyone waiting for me to finish floor 19 so that we could fight the damn Demon King. With there not being much time left, it was unlikely that I was going to be able to do much better than 14:22 unless we got an event extension (we didn’t).

In the end, the #1 time was due, naturally, to OmokTeacher, spellnote, SpiderOPQ, Arsia, SemenSipper, & stardustuwu — only the very last of which (stardustuwu) I hadn’t myself previously done many speedruns with. They managed a crazy time of 12:56, the only run to make it below the 13-minute mark!!

Still, I learned a lot from speedrunning, and I was able to use that knowledge to my advantage in getting those juicy Retro World coupons and Retro Heroes. For example, remember that pesky dark brick golem in floor 16 that you can’t see before getting yeeted onto its platform by the jumping spring? Well, in many of our speedruns & practices, OmokTeacher preferred to not scout at all, and to instead just blindly jump into the thing. As it turns out, if you know what you’re doing, you typically only lose one heart at most before killing the thing. That is, unless you get super unlucky because it’s extremely far left and just knocks you back down to take fall damage… Well, when I did just a small handful of floor 15 → 20 runs with random people, I liked to horrify my party members by jumping up there as soon as possible and just taking care of the golem myself, dropping a “c” in chat to let them know that I cleared the way whilst they were still sitting around scouting…! I think that most people thought that I was just stupid and didn’t know any better (I got a lot of “lol”s, “yikes”s, etc.…), but trust me — I know exactly what I’m doing!!

In any case, it was honestly pretty cool to even participate in the speedrunning at all. Speedrunning the Demon King’s Tower is quite unique, because it really requires a full or nearly-full party to even be competitive, thanks to the 20th floor (amongst a few other things). I’m normally the type to have trouble clearing a JQ at all, so the prospect of shaving off seconds or milliseconds with fancy difficult time-saving tricks is generally not for me. The Demon King’s Tower gave me my first real experience speedrunning something, which is a pretty neat experience that I likely wouldn’t have ever had otherwise. In OmokTeacher’s words (archived):

I enjoyed it even more this time because getting a good time required finding other determined people, teaching your tricks to one another, matching your paces and balancing the risks you all take!

Filthy lucre

Alright, alright. Speedrunning is cool & all, but where are the prizes? The disgusting raffle rewards?? The filthy lucre??? The despicable gains that shall line my coffers????

Raffle pulls

If you enjoy contemptible profits, you’ll be happy to know that I painstakingly recorded every single raffle pull that I did, as promised in the previous entry. Yes, all of them. Behold:

item pulls quantity
Rare Gachapon Ticket 117 117
Strawberry Shortcake 57 114
Chocolate Cake 54 162
Retro Pink Bean Box 54 54
Cookie 53 1 325
Teleport Coke 49 147
Mysterious Candy 34 102
Mapleade 32 1 600
Cream Shortcake 28 28
Clean Slate Scroll 3% 26 26
Mysterious Coin Pouch 1 22 22
Candy 21 105
Cheesecake 18 900
Maple Earring [level 70] 11 11
Maple Cape [level 70] 11 11
Pixel First Maple Tree 7 7
Maple Hat [level 90] 7 7
Maple Hat [level 70] 6 6
Retro Yeti Box 5 5
Retro Slime Box 5 5
Mysterious Coin Pouch 2 5 5
Purple Gaia Cape 3 3
Maple Earring [level 40] 3 3
Pixel Bloom of Lucid 2 2
Maple Shield 2 2
Maple Hat [level 30] 2 2
Maple Cape [level 40] 2 2
Birthday Cake 1 100
Pink Gaia Cape 1 1
Pink Adventurer Cape 1 1
Mysterious Coin Pouch 3 1 1
Purple Adventurer Cape 0 0
Retro Orange Mushroom Box 0 0
totals 640 4 876

(For the raw data, see raffle.csv. For generating the tables, charts, & graphs shown here, see raffle_stats.py.)

Yep. 640 raffles. Would’ve been 673 if I hadn’t turned 33 of my coupons into event APRs

How about a fancy bar chart instead…?

Bar chart of raffle pulls, with approximate 95% confidence intervals

I’ve included error bars in the above bar chart to represent approximate 95% confidence intervals[1] for the true expected value of the number of pulls obtained for each item ID. The CIs assume an underlying categorical distribution, which seems intuitively obvious — at least, at first. In reality, the underlying distribution is only categorical if you hold the raffler’s level constant. There are separate categorical distributions for separate level brackets; for example, certain items are entirely unobtainable for certain level brackets.

You’ll notice that I conspicuously obtain a whopping 54(!) Retro Pink Bean Box pulls, and yet only 5 Retro Slime Box pulls, and no Retro Orange Mushroom Box pulls whatsoever. This is not a reflection of Retro Orange Mushroom Boxes being so ultra-rare that I managed to pull zero out of 640 attempts; rather, it’s a reflection of the fact that Retro Pink Bean Boxes are nominally level 64, Retro Slime Boxes are nominally level 35, and Retro Orange Mushroom Boxes are nominally level 0. Almost all of my raffles were done on level ≥64 characters, which explains the discrepancy. As another example, Birthday Cakes are also not actually ultra-rare, but are simply only available to level <30 rafflers.

Still, I left the error bars there because I think that they should still be a decent estimation of 95% CIs, given the distribution of character levels with which I made raffle pulls.

Fine, but who doesn’t like pie…?

Pie chart categorising raffle pulls into buff potions, gacha tickets, HP/MP potions, Maple equipment boxes, TP Cokes, untradeable Maple equips, MCPs, CSS3s, chairs, and “Maple Shields & PACs/PGCs”

Alright, that’s about enough of that. 😅

Maple equipment boxes

This event’s raffle comes with its own subraffles, if you will. One such subraffle is simply the Rare Gachapon Tickets. But Rare Gachapon Tickets — and the Gachapon machines that accept them — are available year-round, so that’s not very relevant here.

Maple equipment boxes, on the other hand, are certainly relevant. However, they were made available in this event from multiple sources:

I did some ordinary PQs myself, and for the PQs that I actually did a large number of, I recorded how many PQ completions resulted in a Maple equipment box (& how many did not), and recorded what equipment box that was in particular. Here are the results:

I lost some data by neglecting to record the rewards that my MPQ mule potpan got.

I also recorded most of my Maple equipment box openings. I lost a few data here because I neglected to record the openings of boxes obtained from Bit Puff Daddy, but Bit Puff Daddy only accounted for a very small fraction of all boxes that I opened anyways. Most openings were, naturally, of Retro Pink Bean Boxes:

Retro Pink Bean Box pulls
item pulls
Nishada 8
Shine Wand 8
Steel Axe 8
Glory Sword 7
Warrior Shield 7
Belzet 6
Golden Claw 6
Demon Axe 5
Soul Spear 5
Thief Shield 5
Canon Shooter 4
Kandiva Bow 4
Asura Dagger 3
Karstan 3
Magician Shield 3
Skanda 3
Wisdom Staff 3
Dark Mate 2
Havoc Hammer 2
Soul Rohen 1
total 93

I did open a handful of other boxes, like some Retro Yeti Boxes:

Retro Yeti Box pulls
item pulls
Doom Singer 2
Dragon Axe 1
Scorpio 1
Storm Pistol 1
total 5

And even some Retro Slime Boxes:

Retro Slime Box pulls
item pulls
Gun 2
Bow 1
Crow 1
Staff 1
total 5

In any case, as you can see, the Maple equipment boxes mostly have crap in them (wow — no way!). No one really wants this shit, the market is flooded with thousands of Maple equips, and even the kinda good stuff is usually shit because the randomly-generated stats come out bad. No one wants something that’s below perfect by more than ≈2 or so WATK, or TMA, or whatever. The Magician Shields and Warrior Shields are a nice chunk of cash, though…

Footnotes for “In which MapleLegends is digested within the rumen of the arcade cabinet… & spit back up”

  1. [↑] I’m using the Wilson score interval, because unlike the usual Wald interval, it doesn’t suck ass. Sorry, but why do we teach people in school to use the Wald interval, again?

What a rich, lucky island are we! Our enemies quail, for they know they will fail, against people so reverent & free

In the “Viclocked” section of pt. lxxxiii of this diary, my Vicloc clericlet d33r managed to pull a pair of Tangy Earrings out of MapleLegends’s 2022 V-dayCNY event. The earrings were very promising, as they started out clean with 2 INT & 1 LUK! Unfortunately for d33r, she had quite poor luck with scrolling it: only two out of five 60% scrolls passed. ]:

I tried CSSing them with the single CSS3 that I got out of that same event, but to no avail. This 2023 anniversary event, however, gave me three more Vicloc CSS3s to burninate my Tangy Earrings with! And the second one actually passed‽ And then I passed a 60%‽‽‽

d33r passes a CSS3?? And then a 60%???

Transcription of the above image

Tangy Earrings (+3)

Untradeable

  • Req lev: 30
  • Category: earring
  • STR: +1
  • DEX: +1
  • INT: +5
  • LUK: +1
  • Magic attack: 6
  • Weapon def.: 11
  • Magic def.: 11
  • Number of upgrades available: 0

HELLOOOOO NEW EARRINGS! Get these delicious tangy lollipops onto my earlobes, stat!! That’s 11 TMA, plus 1 LUK, and some other neat stuff too. Even the STR & DEX are gonna help me when I’m using my claw (not to mention the extra 0.25 AVOID from the DEX…).

And that’s not the only thing that d33r got from this event. She also bought lots of drugs. Lots. Of drugs.

d33r bought a lot of drugs

That’s 13 hours’ worth of +30 MATK buff! I can just smell the Wraiths quaking in fear…

It’s not all about the anniversary event, though. I’ve been showing (and also not showing) a lot of d33r participating in various GM events, so you know what that means: it’s time for a SoS run. Many Zombie Mushrooms later, and I was able to open all eight (8) SoSes that I had stockpiled:

8-SoS run

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

[system message]: You have gained an item (Dark scroll for Shoes for Jump 30%)
You have gained an item (Dark scroll for Crossbow for ATT 30%)
You have gained an item (Red Bean Sundae)
You have gained an item (Red Bean Sundae)
You have gained an item (Dark Scroll for Eye Accessory for Accuracy 30%)
You have gained an item (Dark Scroll for Knuckle for Accuracy 30%)
You have gained an item (Scroll for One-Handed Axe for ATT 60%)
You have gained an item (Dark Scroll for Overall Armor for STR 30%)

Alright, I got one (1) Red Bean Sundae… twice in a row. Kind of insulting if you ask me, but hey — at least I got a joocy shoe jump 30%! And OA STR 30%!! I’ll take it. If only I had something to use the eye WACC 30% on…

And once again, folx… once again, I am out here FoGging it up on my Vicloc dagger spearwoman d34r. You’d better believe it…:

d34r hits level 96!!

😉

Danger’s level 200 party!!

I was honoured to attend the level 200 party of corsair Danger (Hampy), who has featured in a few of my previous diary entries. Danger actually briefly started back in early 2016 (less than a year after MapleLegends was first launched), and didn’t come back to the game again until early 2022, so his level graph looks pretty funny.

In any case, I was one of thousands — nay, millions — of adoring fans who attended this party, as can be seen below:

Danger’s level 200 party

The party started at Top of the Tree That Grew, a map that has played a special role in one or two of my previous diary entries (see the “Geography” section of pt. c). For Danger, this map is particularly special thanks to the conspicuous “DANGER” sign on the island in the middle of the map!

Of course, there are no monster spawns in this map, so a sacred summoning sack of old was sacrificed in service of the superlative levelup:

Huge gratz!!!!!

And with that, we huddled in the nearby Sleepywood Hotel (falling to the bottom of Top of the Tree That Grew warps you to Sleepywood) awaiting big red dragon and Danger’s first Echo of Hero:

Danger’s first Echo of Hero

🌟

Sword × Sword

But Danger’s level 200 party was not the only momentous event that I attended during this fine Maple chapter. I also attended a really very special Maple wedding between the honourable SwordFurb (SwordFurbs, Yoshis, Furbs, Fabiennes) and SaviorSword.

You see, SaviorSword made the trip north, some three thousand(!) or so kilometres, to be with SwordFurb in person (yes, in Real Life™, where the so-called “grass” that can be “touched” exists) — and that was the setting of this very special kinda-almost-IRL Maple wedding.

You can watch Furb’s video of the Sword × Sword wedding on her YouTube™ channel:

SaviorSword ❤ Furb [YouTube™]

I took a few screenshots myself — including, naturally, of the speeches. Because it’s not a Maple wedding if you don’t profess your love to each other, or at least tell a few jokes or something. Otherwise you’re basically just marrying two mules together? Lame.

SwordFurb was first up on the soapbox:

SwordFurb’s speech

Transcription of the above image

SwordFurb: i cant believe this all started with haha funny sword in megaman game
then 2 years later he invited me to wstarcraft [sic]
so we played that
then minecraft
then even maple

SaviorSword: Then here!

SwordFurb: and maple has brought u[s] pretty close hehe
this all started in like 2017
its been long
but also doesnt feel very long lol
i still find it just amazing how we got from that point A to B
savor [sic] is a cutie and i like him

At this point, the crowd was going WILD from the adorable event that they were witnessing…:

YALL R ADORABLE

Transcription of the above image

cervid: :D

auzenia: !!!!

Dakota: c: soo sweet…

Jestterz: speech swordd!

Epications: AWWWWWWW

fursuit: ARE YOU GUYS HOLDING HANDS IRL

Level1Crook: cute

ConTroll: CUUUUTE

Archery: !!

cervid: YALL R ADORABLE

Epications: NOW KITH

Lightman68: SWARDS

Jestterz: speechhhh

SwordFurb: saviors behind me

Lightman68: HORRAY

Level1Crook: im gonna VOMITE

Dakota: :))))

…And so the pressure was on for SaviorSword to give his own speech:

SaviorSword’s speech

Transcription of the above image

SaviorSword: Alright, I’ll start.
When I first met Furb, I thought she was…
a teen guy with a bad sense of humor.

fursuit: awk

Lightman68: Omg

cervid: LMAO

ConTroll: LOL
swordlore time

SaviorSword: But goes to show that life can take ya in places ya didn’t expect.

iShortCalls: so uhhh
i have a question
what are you guys doing after this

SaviorSword: Oh!
We’ll raid Pap!
All of us here!

Wew, alright. Short but… sweet? Maybe “sweet” isn’t the right word. In any case, the most special moment of the wedding was, naturally, the real-life kiss!:

Real life kiss!

Beautiful. 🥹

With the knot tied, it was time for some Pappin’:

SwordFurb: pls gib pouch savior is beautifu; gib it

Grats, you two!! LF>IRL wedding! 😉

あしゅれい

I admit to indulging myself in a wee li’l bit o’ bossin’, on my darksterity knight rusa. My guilty pleasure is, naturally, getting absolutely swept off my feet by none other than the oversized three-headed lizard known as “Horntail”. So I did exactly that…

I didn’t do all that many runs, but in the HT runs that I did, I captured two clips of edge cases related to Hero’s Willing in anticipation of being 1⧸1’d. In this first case, I activate my Will in time, but it turns out that I didn’t need it:

At first blush, it looks like I don’t need the Will because the attack “MISS”ed me, which is fine — it’s not generally possible to predict that. But actually, the attack that “MISS”ed me was not a 1⧸1 at all; it was merely a mana drain from right arm that just so happened to be timed to hit me just before the 1⧸1 would’ve, thus giving me iframes that would’ve shielded me from getting 1⧸1’d anyways. The timing is so tight here that there’s very little indication of the order in which the attacks are going to contact me, so this was an unfortunate one.

This second case is somewhat of the opposite: rather than activating my Will in time for… nothing, I erroneously miscalculate that the 1⧸1 cannot make contact with me:

At the time, I was a bit disappointed in myself for miscalculating this one. I have a pretty good idea of the animation time and the hitbox, so I probably could have been less greedy and used my Will. That being said, it is confusing that the visual transition that the 1⧸1’s animation makes does not indicate the attack actually going off; the attack goes off… some time afterwards. There’s no actual visual indication, and you just have to have it memorised. You can also see that there is no visual indication of how tall the 1⧸1’s hitbox is; I very clearly get hit well above the top of the 1⧸1’s entire animation.

Don’t worry, though. I survived. Not only was my bishop paying enough attention to respond to my “help” chat message, but I didn’t actually need a bishop here at all; my self-healing was enough to allow me to tank the rest of the damage.

Alright, lizards are great & all, but what about mysterious pink-haired floating women? Luckily for us, MapleLegends has a boss for that, too: Aufheben.

Aufheben might seem less intimidating than Horntail at first, but be not fooled: she will kill your ass dead. Like really dead.

R.I.P. Fara…

R.I.P. Pinaka…

Oh dear.

I was doing a lot of runs hosted by Danger (see the “Danger’s level 200 party!!” section above), and we were having a bit of a rough time of it. Sometimes someone forgets to cast MG, sometimes the MapleLegends servers are having a rough day and start freezing up during our runs, and I’m pretty sure that one time, I accidentally murdered Danger in an attempt to avoid killing myself so that I could help protect Danger from… being murdered. Oops.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I finally got the fabled 2nd Auf clear, alongside shadowers Harlez (VigiI, Murhata) & kappaa, paladin Bomber123, & hero Confessor!:

2nd Aufheben clear, with kappaa, Harlez, Bomber123, & Confessor!

Oh heck ya!! I can finally complete the entire damn Neo Tōkyō questline!!! And for that, it was my turn (and also Bomber123’s turn) to meet Ashray for the first — and last — time:

Meeting Ashray

As always, I don’t claim to understand the Neo Tōkyō storyline. I don’t know why I had to go back in time to re-subdue 2nas, re-dismantle the Core Blaze, and re-sublate our girl Aufheben here. The timeline is even more wibbly-wobbly and elaborately entangled than Ashray’s rather impressive hairdo, and that’s saying something. Luckily, she’s timeless & immortal, so she presumably doesn’t have to re-do up her hair every morning. Phewf.

Still, it’s good to know that Tōkyō is finally saved once & for all. Or completely destroyed & erased from history. Or something like that. You’re… welcome(?).

I took this opportunity to blow up my Aufheben Circlet by slamming it with four (rather expensive, I might add) dark scrolls for STR, but it refused to boom, so my circlet is just… 28 STR now. That’s honestly pretty awesome by pre-Auf standards, particularly for a STR-starved character such as rusa. But it’s still got some slots left, so it remains to be seen what I shall do with it in the future…!

Now that I’d saved Tōkyō, it was time to go back to good ol’ monk-slappin’ at þͤ olde 7 F. I mean, not really, but I did get some GM buffs, so I grinded there with Harlez for an hour:

rusa… @ 7 F again??

It’s been a while since I bopped these metallic monks over the head with my Fury!

And with a little more Horntailin’, rusa inched her way past level 182, and hit the 183 mark!!:

rusa hits level 183~!!!

(And grats to HawtGuy, as well!)

Vow of demolition

My darksterity knight rusa was, however, not the only character as which I did some bossing! We can’t forget crowd-favourite empty-handed pirate girl tarandus!!

As usual, I did a lot of raving Ravving, like this run that I did with notorious level 1[1] crook marksman, Level1Crook (Lvl1Crook, xXCrookXx, Lanius, SuperLuck):

tara & Level1Crook vs. Rāvaṇa

Less so did I Peppered Lettuce it up, but I did get to do a pair of Purple Ladles with shadower extraordinaire Harlez (VigiI, Murhata):

Harlez & tara vs. Papulatus

Not pictured above: me (mid-Demo).

Naturally, I also did numerous Rāvaṇa duos with infamous INTlaw Lvl1Crook. Below, you can see me eagerly sinking my Demo into Rav whilst it’s not on cooldown and I’ve still Onyx Apple left, leaving Lvl1Crook on summon-slaying duty:

tara & Lvl1Crook vs. Rav & his many summons

Now that tara had ascended to the rank of Ravana Expert™, she was getting deadly close to The Big 135™. So I took her back to a place where she’d gained much EXP as a baby marauder: Hollowed [sic] Ground, to take on the Headless Horseman once again. Baby no longer, tara had no issues swiftly dispatching the pink steed’s rider:

tarandus hits level 135~!!!

At long last!! 135!!! Level 135 is a significant milestone for tara, even as a quester:

Plus, Zakum, Krexel, Scarlion, & Targa are all certainly… bosses. I’m mostly excited for Zaqqūm in particular, but you know, Krecksell is good EXP at least…?

But first, there’s more business to take care of. Like duoing 7 F with Level1Crook, and watching him die repeatedly:

tara & Level1Crook @ 7 F

And, as you perhaps already anticipated, even moar ทศกัณฐ์. Like this one, with Lvl1Crook and DEXadin SwordFurbs (SwordFurb, Yoshis, Furbs, Fabiennes):

Lvl1Crook, SwordFurbs, & tara vs. Rav

Or this one, with Lvl1Crook and bishop MiIf (Dakota, GiIf, Skug):

tara, MiIf, & Lvl1Crook vs. Rabanana

Woah! ✨✨✨✨✨Big Bang✨✨✨✨✨!!

After that one, I headed to 7 F once again to nudge myself across the line into level 136~!:

tara hits level 136~!

Oh, but that’s not all. I had the pleasure of doing some Rabanana in a big party with Lvl1Crook, MiIf, and the daggerbros inject (Skjal, inhale, vvvv, Tetrin, DexBlade, inward, Pitiful, eject) and daggerknight (Jonathan, Gumby, Edward, j0hnny, Kimberly)!:

inject, daggerknight, tara, Lvl1Crook, & MiIf vs. Ravvie

After those runs, Lvl1Crook was really tryna hit that level 119, so we headed into the Phantom Forest seeking Bigfeet:

tara & Lvl1Crook vs. Bigfoot

We did find the one ’Foot, but that was all. So we turned to the sea instead, seeking Cancel Carps:

Lvl1Crook & tara vs. Pianuses

Did we kill both Cancel Carps? Yes, we did. Did we use one ✨billion✨ pots in the process? Pretty much, yeah. Fighting Cancel Carps is absolutely exhausting, and we both agreed to vow never to venture into that cave again…

Alright, alright, alright. Enough bullshitting! In the “Hand over fist” section of the previous diary entry, I said:

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.

Well, welcome back. To Questin’ With tara™.

tara’s first Zak, w/ M3ISTER, Hematoma, misandrist, Harlez, & ikachow

That’s right: tara did her very first Zak run, accompanied by Harlez, bishop misandrist (xRook), hero ikachow (Mater), bowmaster Hematoma, & marksman M3ISTER.

I’m still getting my bearings when it comes to buccin’ it up at þͤ olde Zakky-wakky. During the arms phase, it seems to be a bit tricky to stay engaged when my ST is down & so is my bubble: without ST, I have a severe case of T. rex arms, and without bubble, I’m getting knocked about like a ragdoll, even by some arm touch attacks. Positioning & avoidability are thus paramount here, to minimise the time that I spend getting knocked tf down, crying just a little bit, and climbing back up again. As you can see in the image above, I opted to position myself to attack arms 6 & 8, because… I wasn’t sure what else to do.

Somewhat contrary to my pessimistic expectations, it actually gets a bit easier when we move past the arms stage and move on to the bodies.

If you’ve been following Questin’ With tara™ for a very long time, you might remember that tara started out as a washy li’l ankle-biter — I even skipped like half of the Maple Island quests just to squeeze out a few extra MAXMP! Skipping the Maple Island quests would later become a source of regret, as it wasn’t too long (somewhere around tara’s early level 50s, IIRC) before MapleLegends would announce “HP challenges”: quests(!) that would let me just get the MAXHP without having to wash! With a little bit of arithmetic, I estimated that — with my washing trajectory at the time, which I had planned out fairly meticulously beforehand — I would ultimately gain at least as much MAXHP from HP challenges as I would from washing. Because of the way that HP challenges were de jure designed, this effectively destroyed any motivation to continue washing tara, and so I quickly reset out my base INT into STR and gave the whole thing up.

Fast forward approximately three centuries, and HP challenges show no particular signs of actually releasing in a usable state. tara is now in a Zakum run, and I’m not super excited to be reckoning with Zak’s touch damage as a melee attacker with not-so-great MAXHP in general, and truly pitiful MAXHP by bucc/warrior standards.

Nevertheless, I knew that, with MAXHP in the 10k〜11k range, I at least had enough MAXHP to sustain any single attack from any of Zak’s bodies, so long as I was at 100% HP. So it wasn’t fatal, but rather, just felt pretty dicey, and potentially costly as well.

As it turns out, Zak’s hitbox for the purpose of attacking it is somewhat generously larger than its hitbox for the purpose of taking touch damage from it. I already generally knew this, of course, but after doing some Barraging of my very own, it became clear to me that I didn’t have much to worry about — unless I got knocked rightwards by one of Zak’s summons (it does happen, but not that often).

tara’s first Zak, 3rd body

And, with tara’s very first Zakky-wakky run, I got the final cert in the certificate trifecta!:

tara gets that Zakum Certificate!

Ah, but there’s no time to turn it in just yet! Over in Neo Tōkyō, there’s more questing to be done, starting with NTPQ! I joined misandrist & Harlez in clearing this clusterfuck of a “party quest”:

Harlez, tara, & misandrist take on NTPQ

With that bit of the NT questline finished, next up was paying a visit to Akihabara [(あき)()(ばら)] in the year 2102 to hunt Iruvatas[2] for their goofy laser guns…:

Harlez, misandrist, & tara vs. Iruvatas

…And a very special quest item — the Iruvata Transmitter — that I didn’t manage to find yet. Ouf. Iruvatas are no joke, being more than five levels above tara, and sporting a cool 280k HP a piece…! So, we’ll see how lucky I get with that quest item. 😊

Of course, I’ve still got to turn in the certificate trifecta to get my CotDS. So I headed to Leafre

“Regained Will Power” is bugged…?

Wait, what? When I showed up at Leafre, I was surprised to see that Eurek the Alchemist had a quest for me. When I talked to him, it started the “Regained Will Power” quest of the Strong Will questline, a.k.a. the Hero’s Will questline. I was confused as to how I’d missed this quest; after all, I had checked my quest journal many times and never once seen it in anything other than the “Completed” tab. Naturally, I quickly checked my skillbook to make sure that I indeed had the Hero’s Will skill… which I did. Meaning that I had already completed this questline! What the hecc‽ I even documented tara doing this questline, in the “Questin’ With tara™” section of pt. xcix of this diary!!

Just to follow through on it, I took the Mithril Wristband from Eurek, and intended on bringing it to Carta, just as he asked me to (again). Of course, that requires going all the way to the Aqua Road, so I set out to do my Leafre business first.

That meant hunting for a few Tough Dragon Skins from the local Wyverns, for Wars of the Dragons…:

tara hunting for Tough Dragon Skins

…And bringing those, plus two Empty Dragon Elixirs, and my certificate trifecta, to Moira:

tara gets the CotDS!

Yell heah! Now I just need to level up 19 more times, and I can totally run HT… Maybe……

With that out of the way, I continued investigating this apparent bug with “Regained Will Power”. Taking the Mithril Wristband to Carta, she once again exchanged it for a Firm Hand. Shoving the fist into my mouth, I re-learned the Hero’s Will skill…:

tara eats Firm Hand… again

And just like that, nothing actually changed. Weird.

In any event, I did keep on bossin’ — and hit level 137~!:

tara hits level 137~!

This even included another pair of Zaks, this time with misandrist, nightlord Brokeen (Dazho), bowmaster rekau, paladin Recuperate, & fellow buccaneer HERside!:

Another Zak, with misandrist, Brokeen, rekau, HERside, & Recuperate

Hopefully even more Zak in the future? Mayhaps I can finish the Krexel questline?? Perhaps more ToT quests??? 😁

Footnotes for “Vow of demolition”

  1. [↑] He’s actually a level 2 crook now, but we still call him “level 1 crook” for… legacy reasons. One day, he’ll be a level 100 mafia boss…

  2. [↑] Sometimes erroneously localised as *Eruwater.

    Based on a bit of 🕵🏽‍♀️internet sleuthing🕵🏽‍♀️, I’ve come to suspect that the etymology of Iruvata is ultimately from Quenya Ilúvatar “Allfather”, as part of Eru Ilúvatar /ˈɛru iˈluːvätär/, the god of J. R. R. Tolkien’s posthumous The Silmarillion (1977). Ilúvatar is typically rendered in Japanese as イルーヴァタールIrūvatāru⟩ /iɾɯ̟ᵝːvätäːɾɯ̟ᵝ/.

    Note the use of ヴァ ⟨va⟩ //, which cannot appear (in katakana or otherwise) in native Japanese words; /v/ is not phonemic (except perhaps marginally in loanwords, such as this) in Japanese. Moreover, the -ル ⟨-ru⟩ /-ɾɯ̟ᵝ/ is due to /ɾ/ not being a valid mora on its own. When borrowing from languages like English (or in this case, Quenya) that are phonotactically freer with syllable structure and have a phonemic ⫽r⫽, postvocalic instances of ⫽r⫽ can be represented by simply lengthening (see: Compensatory lengthening) the immediately preceding vowel, in a process analogous to non-rhoticity in English. Ilúvatar is thus just as plausibly borrowed into Japanese as イルーヴァターIrūvatā⟩, hence MapleStory Iruvata.

    This also explains the alteration into *Eruwater: the -r is perfectly etymological, the w is from assimilation into Japanese /w/ (remember that /v/ is marginal), the -er is from the influence of English water, and the Eru- is from confusion with Quenya Eru, the first half of Eru Ilúvatar.

@ ur cervice

Welp, I guess it’s just that uhm… time of the year, or phase of the moon, or direction of the wind, or whatever. Ya girl made yet another silly little goofball of a character! Meet d00r!!:

d00r: my jar protectors

(The above screenshot is courtesy of the pictured MiIf (GiIf, Dakota, Skug).)

“Oh, god. What is it this time?”, I hear you asking. Well, you see, the stars seem to have aligned:

And thus, d00r — and her Peppy Slime, smudge (albeit not yet nametagged in some of the images below) — were born:

d00r and her Peppy Slime

Of course, the Peppy Slime is not the only goody included in this limited-time starter pack. d00r also entered the Training Camp with a whole 50k mesos to her name (wow, rich!) and some USE items, as well:

d00r’s starting items

200 Red Potions for Beginners, 200 Blue Potions for Beginners, & 100 Pet Foods. Not bad!

I mentioned the creation of a HS mule, so you’re probably expecting d00r to be some kind of cleric — and you’d be right about that! In particular, however, our dear d00r is very stupid. So stupid, in fact, that she’s a full-blown magelet — INTless as can be! I can’t be getting hit by monsters when I’m just tryna do some HS muling, but getting “MISS”ed is perfectly acceptable, soooo…

Anywho, d00r’s journey started with some Victoria Island questing until I was high enough level to head on down to KPQ. Even with the event inflating the population of the game, and specifically incentivising PQing — at least, more than usual — I found it quite difficult to find KPQ parties at all. There are a couple of reasons for this — not the least of which being that KPQing is not actually very profitable, even with the small-but-significant chance of getting a Maple equipment box — but I persisted anyways.

My persistence gradually paid off, as d00r went from a fresh level 21 magicianlet all the way to level 29 (almost 30), making plenty of dumb jokes for her fellow KPQers along the way.

With a bit more questing & a job advancement under my belt, I headed to Lūdibrium — specifically, to Lost Time ⟨2⟩ — to do some good ol’ fashioned hoeing with MiIf and Jonathan (daggerknight, Edward, Gumby, Kimberly, j0hnny), as seen in the image of “my jar protectors” above. Although I originally only headed to Lūdi for the promise of a good hoeing sesh, I decided that, since I was already in Lūdi anyways, I may as well do the region’s quests whilst I was at it.

So that’s exactly what I did. I even did “The Missing Mechanical Parts”, a.k.a. the Lūdi JQ:

d00r completes the Lūdi JQ!!

(Do you like how my rose kinda looks like a moustache when I F5? Me too.)

You might remember that, in the “tara taran’ it up” section of pt. lxxxviii of this diary, I gave this JQ my best shot, & ultimately failed. Then, in the “tara tara!” section of pt. xc, I was able to complete the JQ with extensive assistance from Level1Crook (Lvl1Crook, xXCrookXx, Lanius, SuperLuck), who was watching me livestream it. Mustering up as much of my memory of this JQ as I could, I was able to replicate this success on d00r after not too long!

And so I continued wandering all through Lūdibrium and its towers, doing every quest that I could find. Like “The Lost Guard”, for example:

d00r doing “The Lost Guard”

Whilst I was still somewhere in the upper floors of the Eos Tower, I bumped into a mysterious OSS-locked fighter by the name of Buffyy, who told me that the fine folx of LPQ could use a Teleporter mage such as myself. I agreed to at least give LPQ a fair shake, and so we went up to the 101st floor to take down the dreadful nippled whale of time:

d00r & Buffyy vs. Alishar

Having completed this “Lūdibrium party” quest once or twice, d00r said her farewells, & moved on to yet other Lūdi quests.

It was at this point that I fatefully crossed paths with GiIf (MiIf, Dakota, Skug) & Skjal[2] (inject, inhale, eject, Pitiful, Tetrin, vvvv, DexBlade, inward), two ironman characters of the lronman guild[3] who were at just about my level, and doing some quests around the area too!

We did encounter one slight difficulty early on, when GiIf & myself decided to do “Eliminating the Drumming Bunny” together. If you’re not familiar, this is the infamous “1k Toy Drums quest” — really, more like 1.1k, thanks to “The Drumming Bunny”. At first, we had some issues because of the several pre-requisites for this quest; I forgot that not everyone immediately goes to complete all Lūdibrium quests the instant that they hit level 30. Even with that out of the way, however, there was still a glaring issue: the only map suitable for hunting Drumming Bunnies — viz. Drummer Bunny’s Lair — is a minidungeon! So we couldn’t even get into the same map without partying, which is CRIME!!

Disappointed, we each farmed our own Toy Drums in our respective minidungeons (boooo…). Killing a single Drumming Bunny was taking me two, & occasionally even three, Magic Claws. With a spicier MATK buff, I was able to make this consistently two hits. Still, Magic Claw is a single-target attack, and I didn’t have any alternative — the Drumming Bunnies are certainly not undead, so Heal was of no offensive use. This made farming up 1 100 of their ETCs quite… laborious, but hey — I got ’em!:

d00r finishes farming up 1 100 Toy Drums

Because I was completing all Lūdi quests that I could possibly get my hooves on, the quests eventually started asking me to fight some rather chunky monsters. For “Eos Tower Threatened!”, I headed to the Hidden Tower on the 8th floor of the Eos Tower to take on some Block Golems & some King Block Golems:

“Eos Tower Threatened!”

These blocky bois can absorb quite a few Magic Claws, but it’s light work for d00r.

Eventually I did legitimately run out of available Lūdi quests entirely, and so I started looking towards the very bottoms of the Eos & Helios towers: to the Omega Sector & to KFT. KFT had a handful of good quests for me, such as “The Lost Seed” & “Opening Nolbu’s Gourd”:

d00r opening Nolbu’s gourd

Still other KFT quests were inaccessible due to level requirements, and yet other quests were technically accessible, but not really doable. “The Kids That Became the Sun and the Moon[4] asked for Slippery Oil & 20 Tough Ropes; the Slippery Oil was easily obtained, but the Hodoris were really giving d00r a tough time, being 13 levels above her, & putting up quite a ferocious fight. Worse, “The Wooden Hoe That Snapped” is even more ridiculous for its level, notoriously asking the nominally level 37 quester to kill Blins, of all things! Sheesh!!

Even so, the KFT quests that I did do were sufficient EXP to unlock some new Lūdi quests for myself. Heading back up the tower, I started Maple Messaging with GiIf & Skjal as we did quests around the Lūdus Lake:

Maple Messenger

Transcription of the Maple Messenger chatlog in the above image

Skjal: what am i showing

d00r: dmg range

Skjal: ive never done this b4

GiIf: wtf did i just say

d00r:

GiIf: Noob
rlly that chair is 50m now rip

d00r: which 1

GiIf: rip chair

Skjal: done

GiIf: omgggg

Oh yeah, baby! I’m here to say that the Maple Messenger does not get nearly enough love!! It’s fun!!! Try it out!!!!

Now that we were kinda on the same page, we were able to do some questing together. Here I am with Skjal, hunting Robos (and a few Master Robos) for “Assembling a Toy” & “The Clock Workers’ Batteries”:

Skjal & d00r vs. (Master) Robos

Cogs are used not just for “Assembling a Toy”, but also for quite a few other quests, so I headed to The Path of Time ⟨3⟩ to hunt some Chronoses with GiIf:

GiIf & d00r @ The Path of Time ⟨3⟩

Ah, finally! Something undead, so that I can actually use my 2nd-job skills offensively!!

Once we’d each gotten the Chronos card set and a bunch of Cogs, we decided to simply move over to The Path of Time ⟨1⟩ for the Platoon Chronos set:

GiIf & d00r vs. Platoon Chronoses

Lost Time ⟨1⟩ is also a map populated entirely by Platoon Chronoses — and indeed, is the only other map in the game that has Platoon Chronoses at all — but I preferred to go to The Path of Time ⟨1⟩ for its wacky main-diagonal map design.

With our Platoon Chronos sets completed, we tried out The Path of Time ⟨4⟩ for hunting Master Chronoses. It seems that this map is probably not really better than Lost Time ⟨2⟩ in most cases, but we gave it a fair shake anyways, staying there until we finished our Master Chronos sets. I later briefly moved over to Lost Time ⟨2⟩, and ended up getting a helm DEX 60% scroll there! Wowzers!!

Eventually, we wanted to move away from Lūdibrium & Omega, so I took a trip to Orbis with GiIf. We started with some quests that required killing Pixies, such as the VIP Ticket to Florina Beach and The Chaos Behind Alfonse Green and the Nependeath Juice questlines:

GiIf & d00r hunting Pixies

Of course, as the reader is likely already aware, The Chaos Behind Alfonse Green and the Nependeath Juice is a whole questline & a half, requiring all sorts of crazy items to complete. For this questline — and to a lesser extent, for To the New World & Maya’s Concerns — we’d need to kill a lot of Nependeaths & Dark Nependeaths (moreso the former). So I showed Skjal & GiIf the Disposed Flower Garden, a well-hidden map most suitable for hunting these lip’d plants:

d00r & Skjal @ Disposed Flower Garden

Much to my pleasant surprise, I found a Nependeath’s Honey whilst we were at it!!:

d00r finds a Nependeath’s Honey!!

Phewf! I tend to have bad luck with these things, & I’m pretty sure that I ended up buying one off of the FM when I did Green’s questline on tara. 😅

To continue Green’s questline, however, we’d need to take a vacation to the Victorian Archipelago to talk to Estelle & gather up some more raw materials like Pig’s Heads, Lupin’s Bananas, Coconuts, & so on.

Whilst I was on Victoria Island, I continued with the Sleepywood JQs. With some struggling & some crying in buddy chat, I was able to complete step 4 of The Deep Forest of Patience for “John’s Present”!:

d00r gets the pile of blue flowers!!

The only thing left was to hunt Pigs for their heads. Unfortunately unable to go back to Maple Island, we had to settle for the next best thing: the Henesys Pig Farm. Even more unfortunately, the same problem recurred: the Henesys Pig Farm is a minidungeon! So we did a little itty bitty infinitesimal amount of crime:

d00r & GiIf @ Henesys Pig Farm

If anything, creating the party just long enough to enter the minidungeon and immediately disband was just griefing GiIf. Between just the two of us, we were killing these Pigs & Ribbon Pigs so swiftly that we had to wait for them to respawn. Even with me griefing poor GiIf, they eventually did collect the few more Pig’s Heads that they needed for the questline, and so we headed back to Orbis.

We decided to take the scenic route, both boarding the same airship from Ellinia Station to the corresponding Orbis station. Level 40-ish characters that we were, we immediately cowered within the cabin as soon as the ship departed, wary of the possibility that a ship of Crimson Balrogs might raid our own.

After a minute or two, I decided to brave it, exiting at the bottom of the cabin so that I might be able to sightsee from below the ship’s hull… And so we both went the rest of the ride standing down here:

GiIf & d00r on the bottom of the airship to Orbis

Phewf!

Arriving back at Orbis, it was time to finally complete the questline, and to rock our hard-earned Bone Helms!:

d00r & GiIf rocking the Bone Helm

We also did various other quests around Orbis — such as Orbis In Danger — and eventually, it was time to move down the Orbis Tower. We started doing some quests around the Orbis Tower, El Nath, & the Aqua Road. In the process, I noticed something a little… funny about floor B2 of the Orbis Tower:

Yep! It’s actually really easy to go “outside of the map”, and unlike some similar maps elsewhere, this is an underwater map, so you don’t just fall out of bounds & get warped back up. You can actually just swim around down there, and even swim back up through the bottom of the floor!

Whilst we were along the Aqua Road, we did some of the quests there, such as “Kenta’s Advice”:

GiIf & d00r doing “Kenta’s Advice”

With our respective Peppy Slimes now 200% faster (or your money back!), we did various other Aqua Road quests as well, and came across some Serufs along the way:

GiIf vs. Seruf

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

GiIf: HECK
THIS IS A REAL BATTLE

Oh, yes! When you’re a level 40-something ironman character, those “area bosses” are real battles!! That’s why they’re called “bosses”!!![3]

Of course, with both the El Nath Mountains & Aqua Road regions directly connected to the Orbis Tower, and with the Aqua Road directly connected to KFT and thus the Helios Tower, we made our way around this corridor for various quests. We did “Mr. Shim’s Request”, which I had previously started, but decided to hold off on until I could duo it with GiIf:

GiIf & d00r doing “Mr. Shim’s Request”

300 State-held Rices[4] is kind of a lot! But you know, we did do 1.1k Toy Drums each, so this was easy pickings for d00r & GiIf.

Also in KFT, we went back — with a few more levels under our belts — to try “The Kids That Became the Sun and the Moon”[4] once again, collecting 20 Tough Ropes each from the damnable Hodoris:

d00r & GiIf hunting for Tough Ropes

Still a rough fight, but we got there… eventually.

Of course, the days of collecting hundreds upon hundreds of blasted ETC items for questing purposes were not yet behind us. Not even close! For Maya’s Concerns, “Master Sergeant Fox’s Secret”, & especially Food-Hunting for Moppie, we would each need a total of 740(!) Jr. Pepe’s Fish. So to the 1st floor of the Orbis Tower we both went, to hunt these tiny spheniscids one by one…:

d00r & GiIf hunting for Jr. Pepe’s Fish

With 1 480 fish farmed up & several quests turned in (including “Alcaster’s Cape”, for my belovèd Cape of Warmness), it was time to walk back to KFT, pop a pair of handy-dandy Command Center Warp Capsules into our mouths, and do some questing around Omega Sector & the lower Eos Tower. For “Peace at Eos Tower”, Lūdibrium guardsman Marcel needed me to defeat Rombot, but made sure to first adequately warn me about the dangers that I would be facing:

The monster you’re facing is the leader of the Block Golems, Rombot. Astonishingly powerful, it is considered incomparable to other Golems. I strongly suggest you take [it on] with your party or guild. I’ll be here waiting for you.

Oh, jeez. I guess I could ask my guild to come help me, but in the end, I decided to take on the Rombot solo:

d00r & smudge vs. Rombot

Many Magic Claws later, and after sustaining a few hefty blows, the Rombot toppled! You’re welcome, Lūdibrium. You’re saved now.

Omega Sector, on the other hand, was having some issues with Mateons. And when I say “Mateons”, I mean a lot of fucking Mateons. Like, “how about you go collect one & a half thousand of their tentacles for us” kind of a lot. And so, for The Antidote, GiIf & I headed to the giant Mateon map known as Off-Limits to hunt thousands upon thousands of these fish-bowl-headed, betentacled, hair-dryer-wielding alien goobers:

GiIf & d00r farming Mateon’s Tentacles

Now, I know that this is going to take a while. Like, a while. With a Wizard Elixir, I’m taking four, & sometimes even five, entire Magic Claws to kill just one (1) Mateon. And half the time, it doesn’t even drop a damn tentacle!

So I made Off-Limits my new home. Literally tens of thousands of Magic Claws, many hours, two GFA60s (hey, not bad!), & more Dark Penances than you’d actually believe later, I had collected 1 500 Mateon’s Tentacles:

d00r collected 1 500 tentacles!!!!

Now that I was finally allowed to leave Off-Limits and take a bathroom break (don’t worry, I’m only kidding; I took plenty of bathroom/crying breaks), I headed through the warp machine in the Command Center and back to Victoria Island to do… moar JQ:

d00r doing the B3 JQ

Where’s my face? Where’s my nametag & my guild tag? The world may never know.

On the outer edge of the Archipelago, GiIf & I did the main questline of Florina Beach: Special Taste of Florina Beach. This meant a lot of slapping Lorangs, slapping Clangs, & a lot of slapping coconut trees for their delicious woody fruits:

d00r & GiIf @ Clang and Lorang

And that’s all for now, folx. Tune in next time to see GiIf & d00r on even more wacky ironman adventures in the pursuit of such high levels as 70! Or maybe even 80, one day!!

Afterword

Although d00r is most certainly a character that I made on a whim as “maybe a future HS mule or whatever”, and although d00r is not very unusual in the context of my other characters (cervid is an INTless bishop, cervine is a magelet, & d33r is a clericlet), I find that every time that I start over with a new character and give it a fair suck of the sauce bottle, I remain impressed by just how much fun it can be. I distinctly remember thinking this to myself as I was busy Magic Clawing some Ratz & Black Ratz near the top of the Eos Tower, and later on, being able to play with GiIf & Skjal really made it that much better.

If anything, I’m basically just saying “MapleStory is pretty cool & I like playing it”, and if that wasn’t already the impression that you got from reading my diary, then something is seriously wrong. Still, I think that there’s something to be said for how expansive the game really is, & how much of that expansiveness is so heavily concentrated at the earliest levels of the game. This is not so much to say that playing a high-levelled character in MapleStory can’t be fun, as it is to say that it’s not the same kind of fun as the core, original MapleStory experience.

In particular, the origin is not so much feeling well & truly trapped in a single map or so (“I sure can’t wait to graduate Himes, so that I can move to 7 F… forever…”), and not so much doing discrete, daily-registered[5] “runs” (boss runs, daily-registered PQs, repeatables, etc.), as it is exploration. When we think of exploration abstractly, we often think of travel in the hopes of geographical discovery, and that is certainly one of the core senses here. Still, it’s clear to me that even if we had already minutely mapped out the geography of every single region that we’d ever conceivably go to — you’d be surprised; this is less plausible than you’d think… — our basic gameplay would still be one of exploration.

Although I’d certainly agree that the geography per se is vastly important — as made perhaps obvious by some of my previous diary entries! — the path that a character carves through the game has its own kind of geography & topography. Everything from the broad strokes of the activities that we do & the places to which we go, all the way to the minute details of the items that we find along the way — & everything in between — define a latent, but nevertheless coherent, structure. Moreover, a considerable portion of the exploration is not geographical at all, but rather, a kind of self-exploration. We “build” our character in a certain way, they have a certain “job”, certain abilities & skills, certain equipment that they wear, etc.; these things all evolve; and the lower levels are shot through with this kind of development & auto-exploration.

And this is hardly to even speak of the social aspects of the game. It’s at this point that I’m obliged to remind the reader that MapleStory is a massively multiplayer game, not a massively single-player game. Then again, this section focuses on the intersection of three characters — d00r, GiIf, & Skjal — and of this trio, a two-thirds supermajority of them are ironman characters. If there were such a thing as a “massively single-player online role-playing game” (an *MSPORPG[6], if you will…), then it would probably look something like ironman. Still, my interactions with them mean a lot to me, and they are even occasionally reflected game-mechanically: sharing maps affects monster spawns, and I’m not ironman, so I can loot their stuff!!

lesleyuntitled portrait of d00r

I’m also very excited to say that lesley (GiIf, MiIf, Dakota, Skug) decided to draw a portrait of my goofy li’l clericlet d00r!! And it’s incredible!!! Check it out!!!!:

lesleyuntitled portrait of d00r

lesley — untitled portrait of d00r

Not only is lesley’s interpretation & handiwork beautiful, but look! Even my partner in crime, smudge, is in the portrait!! >:D

🧡 🧡 🧡 🧡 🧡

Footnotes for “@ ur cervice”

  1. [↑] Before you go accusing my other characters of being buff mules too, just because I sometimes stand them in the FM entrance or the right-hand wall in Rāvaṇa’s lair or whatever for buffs, let me just stop you right there. Mkay? We’re done here? Because I have very good Maple lawyers, and I will not hesitate to sue your ass for defamation in a court of Maple law. SMH my head…
  2. [↑] Not quite *⫽skja(ː)l⫽ as I initially expected, this is more like /scäːl̥/, from Icelandic skjal “document (n.); data”. I mean, [c] is basically [kʲ] anyway… There’s also the cognate Faroese skjal which is /ʃɛ̯ɐl/, as the *⫽c〜k⫽ is gone, and so the palatalisation instead affects the *⫽s⫽.
  3. [↑] R>lronman.
  4. [↑] See the “tara taran’ it up” section of pt. lxxxviii of this diary for more on “The Kids That Became the Sun and the Moon”, State-held Rice, & “Mr. Shim’s Request”.
  5. [↑] Or weekly, or what have you. You know what I mean.
  6. [↑] */ɛmˈspɔ(ɹ).pɪg/. You’re welcome.

Card wish

In the “Lady Palmation” section of pt. ciii of this diary, I did some card-hunting on my daggerlord alces, ultimately winding up at the bottom of the Eos Tower. And in the “alx” section of pt. civ, I did some more card-hunting, but this time in duos with dagger sader (now dagger hero!) inject (Skjal, inhale, Tetrin, inward, Pitiful, vvvv, DexBlade, eject), and later with priest PriestjuhNL (xBowtjuhNL). It was at this point that I accumulated enough tiny EXP fragments to make it to level 124, and put my first SP into Taunt.

I recommend going back and reading that “alx” section if you haven’t already, & want to understand what makes Taunt special. I included a screenshot of myself using Taunt, but this time, I thought I’d go a step further and actually show video of it. It’s got a unique animation, and it’s worth seeing how useful Taunt can be for card-hunting squishy low-level monsters like Ratzes:

Pretty neat, right? Who knew that daggerlords were a ranged job…?

Anywho, now that I’m back hunting cards by myself again, it’s time to start where I left off last time. That meant getting the Ratz set, and moving upwards to get the Black Ratz set as well:

Black Ratz card get!

Continuing on up, I went to the 6th floor for the Tweeter[1] set:

Tweeter card get!

It was here, and on one or two other floors, that I picked up the remaining Drumming Bunny cards that I needed to complete that set:

Drumming Bunny card get!

Moving up two floors and heading into the Hidden Tower, I did the King Block Golem…:

King Block Golem card get!

…And Block Golem sets:

Block Golem card get!

Whaaat? No Rombot cards?? Yeah, no. That one can stay 0⧸5 forever…

After I’d cleared the Hidden Tower, I was invited to do some more duo card-hunting, but this time with INTlaw Lvl1Crook (Level1Crook, xXCrookXx, Lanius, SuperLuck). Consulting both of our respective monster books, we decided to head to Orbis to do the Big Cat™ sets in the Garden of Colours. That’s the Lioner…:

Lioner card get!

Grupin…:

Grupin card get!

…And Cellion sets:

Cellion card get!

Going back to the Eos Tower, I headed to the 22nd floor for the King Bloctopus set:

King Bloctopus card get!

By moving between the 22nd floor and the 23rd floor — both of which are populated by Bloctopuses & King Bloctopuses, but with the latter having a much higher proportion of the non-King variety — I was able to also complete the Bloctopus set at about the same time:

Bloctopus card get!

Moving up to the 25th floor, I did the Planey set:

Planey card get!

Going quite a bit further up, on the 58th floor, I did the Propelly set:

Propelly card get!

On the 71st floor, I did the Trixter & Green Trixter sets…:

Green Trixter card get!

…But actually, just the Green Trixter set, because I already had the Trixter set completed, and Green Trixters have a way lower card drop rate for some reason.

Although I probably should have just completed (or almost completed) it on the 60th floor, I completed the Helly set around the 91st & 92nd floors:

Helly card get!

Along with the Chirppy set, of course:

Chirppy card get!

And with that, the Eos Tower was all wrapped up. That still leaves plenty of good Lūdi card-hunting real estate, however. Going the rest of the way up the Eos Tower, and subsequently into the Clocktower, I started on the far right-hand side of the Sky Terrace, for the Panda Teddy…:

Panda Teddy card get!

…And Roloduck sets:

Roloduck card get!

Really, I only got a few Panda Teddy cards, and would later finish that set at Toy Factory ⟨Main Process 2⟩.

In any case, I took just a slight break from farming Roloduck cards to meet with Dakota (GiIf, MiIf, Skug) once again at Lost Time ⟨2⟩ — a.k.a. “the map where you desperately plead with RNGsus for just one (1) taste of the helm DEX 60% PLEASE” — where I did the Master Chronos set:

Master Chronos card get!

Back at Roloducks again, I finished that set, and was immediately greeted by a very ✨sparkly✨ lightbulb!:

Litebolb!

I don’t have time for that quite yet, though. I’ve got more Loodi business to take care of, starting with the Toy Trojan set over at Cloud Terrace⟨5⟩:

Toy Trojan card get!

Whilst I was hunting here, I noticed that the toy blocks stacked upon the floor spelt out ⟨LOVE⟩:

L-O-V-E spells love

Cute.

And, still at the Cloud Terrace, I did the Brown Teddy…:

Brown Teddy card get!

…And Pink Teddy sets:

Pink Teddy card get!

Alright, alright; it’s time to head to Vicky Island real quick-like:

Tier 5 ring get!!

That’s tier 5, bb!!

Aite, baq 2 bsns. I headed back to the Lūdi Clocktower, but this time, dropping below the Terrace levels & into the Toy Factory levels. At Toy Factory ⟨Apparatus Room⟩, I did the Robo set:

Robo card get!

At Toy Factory ⟨Process 2⟩ Zone 1, I did the Master Robo set:

Master Robo card get!

Dropping even further down into the Clocktower, into the Spoopy Time Area™, I went to Crossroad of Time to do the Tick-Tock…:

Tick-Tock card get!

…And Tick sets:

Tick card get!

Over at The Path of Time ⟨3⟩, I did the Chronos set:

Chronos card get!

At The Path of Time ⟨1⟩, the Platoon Chronos set:

Platoon Chronos card get!

And for the Maste— Wait, no. I already did that one.

This concludes the non-deep Lūdi region for alces, as I’d already completed the Retz set! So… where next? Well, I’ve been generally following the same guide that I’ve used previously when card-hunting on my darksterity knight rusa and even on my woodsmaster capreolina: GrayNimbus’s Card Hunting Guide: Get your Tier 10 Ring ASAP.

I know, I know… Boring! Do something else!!

Well, the primary reason that I use a guide at all is just to reduce the amount of decisions that I’m making, and so to that end, it doesn’t much matter. Moreover, with rusa in particular, she had quite a head start due to various crazy card sets that she got more or less inadvertently in her travels across the Mapleverse. As a result, I went back to finish up Victoria Island a bit late, and… didn’t even finish it before getting to tier 10! So maybe with alces, we’ll get a bit further before crossing the finish line.

In any event, this is a long-winded way of saying that Mu Lung Garden is up next. I started this region on the Herb Town side, with 10-Year-Old Herb Garden. But not really, because I was actually already done with the Jar set, thanks to a certain quest… So instead, I started at 50-Year-Old Herb Garden, to do the Ginseng Jar set:

Ginseng Jar card get!

I already had the Bellflower Root set as well; not because of any quest, but just because Bellflower Root cards naturally start flying towards you any time that you get within screaming distance of one or more Bellflower Roots.

The more venerable Bellflower Roots, however, are a different story. So I headed to Bellflower Valley for the Sr. Bellflower Root set:

Sr. Bellflower Root card get!

And with that, to the Old Swamp for the Mr. Alli set…:

Mr. Alli card get!

…And the slightest hope of a spare Kru card. A hope that was left unfulfilled. ☹️ Still, the Mr. Alli set was at least made less painful by my high AVOID and my tendency to shift my way out of sticky situations, meaning that I only got stunned occasionally.

Speaking of painful, did you know that Krus don’t drop cards? It’s without exaggeration that I say that I had probably something like ≈8 Mr. Alli and ≈10 Captain cards and still 0⧸5 Kru, even after hunting Mr. Alli at Old Swamp, and then moving to Red-Nose Pirate Den 1 — the literal best map in the game for farming Krus — afterwards.

Still, I was so sure that Krus did drop cards. I swore that I’d seen it before — almost like I had done the Kru set before, perhaps on other characters… So I stubbornly persisted, farming Red-Nose Pirate Den 1 until I was red in the nose face. And eventually, the Krus showed signs of weakness:

Kru card get!

I knew it. The damnable Emergency-Rescue-Tube-wearing bastards were just hiding the cards from me! Well, I never!!

Anyways, I continued along the path towards Mu Lung, which meant crossing over into Peach Farm territory. It was here that I did the Reindeer and Peach Monkey sets:

Reindeer & Peach Monkey cards get!

I know. It’s tragic to see me hunting my own kind… but really, it’s all for the camera. In reality, I can get as many Reindeer cards as I want with just a few shady back room deals. Sometimes, being a deer pays.

Moving over into the foggy Virtuous Forest, I did The Book Ghost set:

Book Ghost card get!

There’s also a few Sage Cats here, so I started on that set as well:

Sage Cat card get!

And you’d hardly believe it, but Sage Cats drop more than just Sage Cat cards. For example, they drop… Golden Rivers…?:

alces wields the Golden River…

Sleek. Stylish. I cannot see this dagger without seeing my Vicloc dagger spearwoman d34r and the incredible Jrog-themed suffering that she underwent to get that damn dagger.

After finishing The Book Ghost set, and finishing the Sage Cat set at Goblin Forest 2, I went to Where the Sky Forest Ends and Snake Area for the Blue Flower Serpent…:

Blue Flower Serpent card get!

…And Red Flower Serpent sets:

Red Flower Serpent card get!

Also at Snake Area were a few Black Porky cards:

Black Porky card get!

And, moving to Sky Forest : The Train, I did the Chipmunk…:

Chipmunk card get!

…And Red Porky sets:

Red Porky card get!

Taking a detour into the Wild Bear Area, I did the Grizzly…:

Grizzly card get!

…And Panda sets:

Panda card get!

Now, all that was left of the Mu Lung Garden region was the dumb cards. I mean, the dummy cards. At Practice Field : Beginner, I did the STD set:

Straw Target Dummy card get!

And, at Practice Field : Advanced Level, I did the Wooden Target Dummy set:

Wooden Target Dummy card get!

That does it, right? Err… wait a sec. I already have a few Master Dummy cards, so I may as well do that set also, ya?:

Master Dummy card get!

Alright, well I still need one more of those cards… I’ll come back later.

Next up is KFT! Starting at A Small Well, I did the Moon Bunny set:

Moon Bunny card get!

Whilst I was there, I got a Hodori card or two…:

Hodori card get!

…And finished up that set at Around the Pond.

In the Black Mountain ⟨Valley⟩, I did the Hogul…:

Hogul card get!

…And Samiho sets:

Samiho card get!

Going back to Mu Lung real quick-like to check for Master Dummies, I finished that set…:

Master Dummy 5⧸5 💡??

💡 O HECC YA 💡

Tier sixxx~

Tier 6 ring get!!!

Aight, now we’re talkin’. With all of that, it’s time to cruise on over to the Top of Black Mountain for the Blin set:

Morphed Blin card get!

I mean, the Morphed Blin set. You know what I mean…

And, atop the Black Mountain, in the Haunted House thereupon, I started throwing food & shit all over the ground. Naturally, as a result, various brightly-coloured goblins with giant stone face masks started popping out of the ground and eating the food. So I took this opportunity to complete the Green King Goblin…:

Green King Goblin card get!

Blue King Goblin…:

Blue King Goblin card get!

…And Yellow King Goblin sets:

Yellow King Goblin card get!

HOKAY. I haven’t seen a single Scholar Ghost yet, so that’s about enough KFT for… ever. Bye.

That means it’s Shànghǎi time. There’s something uncannily… orangish-yellow about the Shànghǎi maps, and it’s giving me weird vibes. Are you sure that that soil is healthy? I mean, I certainly don’t know. I’m not a pedologist.

Anywho, I started at Out of the Bridge, where I picked up the Sheep…:

Sheep card get!

…Comically large-eyed Duck…:

Duck card get!

…And Rooster sets:

Rooster card get!

Unfortunately, Roosters turned out to be a source of great frustration. Having long since completed the Sheep & Duck sets, and with no other maps in the game offering better access to Rooster spawns, I was stuck here grinding this map for a while, generating lots of useless cards along the way. Eventually, the Roosters started dropping a card here or there, and I had ’em in the end.

As always, there’s the obligatory Giant Centipede set:

Giant Centipede card get!

I hiked to Western Prairie II for the Cow set, or at least most of it:

Cow card get!

And with that, one map over to Western Prairie III for some Plow Ox cards…:

Plow Ox card get!

…And perhaps a Goat card or two along the way:

Goat card get!

A strong start for Shànghǎi, but there are still more cards here yet! Join me next time for… probably more cards! Wow! Cool and nice. ☺️

Footnotes for “Card wish”

  1. [↑] Known in later versions as simply “𝕏”.

    Sorry, dumb joke. If you’re reading this and the year isn’t 2023, this is probably even less funny. Sorry about that.

From forth the fatall loynes of theſe two foes, a paire of ſtarre-croſt louers take their life

O Fortune, Fortune, all men call thee fickle,
If thou art fickle, vvhat doſt thou vvith him
That is renouun’d for faith?

― VVilliam Shakeſpeare; The Tragedie Of Romeo and Iuliet, act III, scene v; First Folio, 1623 (1597); spoken by Iuliet.

In the “For the Goddess” section of the previous entry in this diary, I continued to eagerly follow the adventures of a curious LUK warrior by the name of axisaxis. In that instalment, we saw axisaxis continue assisting Kenta with their scientific investigations, discover an alternate universe made of strange square blocks, personally speak there with yet another wingèd goddess — Avaracia — who made clear to axis her wyrd, clean the Tower of Goddess Minerva of its pixie infestation countless times, complete Wiz the Librarian’s life’s work, pass several demanding tests laid out by martial expert Tylus [Тылус] of El Nath [⁧النَّطْح⁩], and ultimately receive extensive training from Tylus in an ancient form of martial magicks that was nearly lost to the ages.

At the end of the previous instalment, we also learned that the goddesses Minerva & Avaracia had something of even greater gravity in mind for axis — something that would even more fiercely test her abilities & mental fortitude. Eventually, Minerva sent Avaracia as her messenger — and this time, explicitly — to tell axis what she would be up against.

Avaracia claimed that, in a faraway land known only as the Nihal Desert, there was a strange town — the district of eternal sunset — that she referred to as “Magatia”. Magatia was a town of alchemy, dominated by its two rival houses of alchemical practice: Zenumist & Alcadno. So severe was the antagonism between these two houses that citizens of one neighbourhood couldn’t be seen even associating with those of the other, lest they be reprimanded or even exiled.

From betwixt these entrenched adversaries sprung forth a syzygy of ill-starred romance: the lovers Romeo of Zenumist & Juliet of Alcadno, & Yulete, the interloper alchemist who would seek to unify the two alchemies. Although Avaracia — or rather, Minerva — was not at liberty to tell axis how she knew this, Avaracia claimed that inter-house tensions would soon come to a head as the paramours desperately professed their love for one another in a fatally abortive elopement, and the meddling alchemist was eaten alive by his own horrible creation.

With the stability of the entire town of Magatia — and potentially of Ossyria more broadly — hanging in the balance, it would be axis’s job to diffuse tensions by any means necessary, thus mitigating potential damage to the extent possible. Avaracia leaned in as she warned axis in a low tone: although Avaracia trusted axis in this quest, axis would stand no chance if she worked alone. axis would need to assemble a band of only the sharpest adventurers if she were to succeed in her mission.

And so, with that, axis set off towards the Nihal Desert & towards Magatia. Along the way, she recruited the keenest, mightiest, & most well-dressed people whom she knew — including some of the very same adventurers with whom she’d restored the Tower of Goddess all those times. Introducing herself to the Magatian locals as a traveller with no alchemical knowledge, she befriended both Romeo & Juliet with her roguish charm.

It was in this way that axis gained access to Yulete’s covert laboratory. This underground laboratory stretched between the two opposed neighbourhoods, and had been the instrument whereby the two illicit lovers had once made a furtive rendez-vous. Armed with this knowledge & with Juliet’s trust, axisaxis brought her elite party to the entrance of the laboratory, with the dual intent of investigating Yulete’s experiments & of facilitating further communication between the star-cross’d lovers.

At first, the lab looked mostly like a mess of books & scattered notes. Somewhat disappointed, axis & her party rummaged through the piles, looking for anything that might aid their investigation. Thankfully, axis was a seasoned expert in rummaging through books that she wasn’t authorised to touch — much less to take with her — and was able to find a secret lever hidden within a hollowed-out book. Eagerly flipping the lever, axis & her party collectively swivelled around as the wall behind them opened itself, whistling as it slid.

Carefully moving through the concealed portal, axis was somewhat perplexed to see that the room that it opened into was entirely unlit. Still, axis was of course well-prepared for this, & took out her torch. When she did so, however, axis immediately started — in front of her were perhaps dozens of ghosts and freakish grey blobs silently milling about. axis & her party froze in place, standing atop a small staircase that led down to the floor of the room. The spectres & oversized globules, however, seemed to not notice, and continued aimlessly roaming the floor, not even so much as looking in axis’s direction.

Before axis could continue, she & her party flinched once again, as a clattering of smashed glass suddenly rang out from somewhere within the otherwise soundless room. axis supposed that these grey creatures must be the results of another one of Yulete’s alchemical experiments, although she wondered why the lab equipment had been abandoned here for the creatures to trample willy-nilly. In any case, the creatures continued placidly waltzing around as axis & her party members gingerly took the two or three steps down the staircase, and started walking along the floor of the room. The room was certainly yet another laboratory chamber, although axis now realised that it was a lengthy hall of sorts.

As axis & company cautiously continued through the hall, they tried to avoid touching the strange grey aberrations at all. This proved to be more or less implausible, as the critters moved unpredictably, and there were so many as to flood the entire room. When axis inadvertently bumped into one of the grey blob beasts, its spongy flesh stung her own, and the thing immediately turned sour against her. The blob viciously leapt at axis, attempting to wrap around her legs & waist, so as to pull her to the floor. It wasn’t long before seemingly every creature in the room had turned hostile towards axis’s party, & they were brought to blows, breathlessly battling the balloon-bodied beasts.

Eventually, the horrible slapping noises of the grey blobs & the eerie wailing of the ghosts subsided, and the room was soundless once again. The floor was slick with a layer of grey goop, and the air was filled with a bizarre aroma like a sickening blend of cough syrup, ammonia, & dirt. axis & her party were thus relieved to see that the door leading out of this room was already open.

The next room was at least more orderly & well-lit, with a series of three laboratory stations, each lined with its own set of alchemical equipment. Nevertheless, the floor situation was not so improved: more alchemical aberrations ominously shuffled about, each one a strange floating ghastly-faced fish-blob creature carrying its own glass bucket of yet more grey-brown blobby horror. Still, this room was at least less crowded, and axis made an attempt to carefully weave her way to the other side without disturbing the monsters. Much to her chagrin, however, the only other exit in this room was a portal locked from the other side.

Upon closer inspection, however, axis found that although the portal had no discernible unlocking device on this side, it did have a pair of cables running between itself & the adjacent laboratory station. The cables connected to two prongs inserted into a giant glass beaker. Confused but intrigued by the cables, axis clambered up the side of the rather tall lab station (why the stations were so damned tall, axis hadn’t a clue — maybe Yulete was a giant, or something?), & further clambered over the side of the giant beaker. The beaker was a bit taller than axis, and easily large enough for her to stand inside of. Naturally, since she didn’t know what the prongs were, axis was curious to give them a taste. Standing on her tippy-toes, axis craned her neck to lick the terminal end of one of the cables, which was situated just inside of the beaker’s rim. One of her party members complained: “axis, are you… licking the beaker‽” — but axis quickly shushed them and smacked her lips, hoping to get an interesting flavour. Unfortunately, axis was unsurprised to learn that the prong just tasted like metal, and the portal didn’t budge one bit when she licked it.

In the meantime, another of axis’s party members managed to anger one of the monsters. When the monster was slain, what remained was not just foul-smelling grey goop; the monster in the glass bucket had swallowed up a jug of a suspicious-looking liquid. Cleaning the grey goop off of the jug, one of axis’s comrades read aloud the label on the back:

(+)-(⯜)-137-Citrinitas-3-(Rubedo-1-vitriol)-4-(tutty-2-soda)chrom-⯔-azoth

DO NOT INGEST.
ONLY AUTHORISED FOR ALCHEMICAL INDUCTION & APPLICATIONS THEREOF.

Exclusive property of Alcadno. Possession is a punishable criminal offence.

Thankfully, that same comrade actually had an idea of what “alchemical induction” was supposed to mean. If this stuff worked as advertised, axis’s party could perhaps fill the giant beaker with this illegal liquid, so that the solution made contact with the prong at the top of the beaker, & the prong at the bottom, simultaneously. This would allow some kind of “alchemical induction” nonsense (that axis didn’t understand…) to occur between the two prongs, and the portal would perhaps open in response.

And so, axis & co. started beating the jugs of unauthorised fluid out of the monsters in the room:

Yushui, Shermond, Juley, & axisaxis @ MPQ stage 3

With some effort, the failed experiments were quelled, and the party had enough forbidden juice to fill the beaker — and then some. To everyone’s felicity, filling the flask with felonious fluid formed a fantastically flurrious fermentation of phosphorescent frothing, foaming, flipping, & flopping, and the portal gave way to the next room as a result.

Walking into the next room & expecting yet more terrible grey blobs, axis was surprised to instead see a small army of cute robots patrolling the floors of this rather large room. Each robot wore a shiny metallic nappy around its pelvis, and axis failed to stifle a laugh when she saw them confidently marching about in their training pants. Unamused by her giggling, the robots turned towards axis and began marching menacingly, firing rockets at her as they went.

axis @ MPQ stage 4

Plunged once again into combat, axis & her party were soon overwhelmed. Not only were all three other exits to the room locked, but there was no end to the diaper robots in sight. For every pair of napkin-clad androids that axis dispatched, three more crawled out of the ceilings, the shelves, & the walls.

Then, axis noticed that a small number of the automata were each carrying a small plastic card with them. Shoving the crumpled droid corpses aside, she picked up one of the cards to inspect it more closely. Although the card had no legible markings on it, it did have a small hole at one end, through which a cloth band was looped. And on the other end, axis noticed a metal sigil that had been embedded into the card. Showing the card to her party, one of her companions recognised the sigil as the same sigil that they’d seen on one of the locked doors.

Bringing the card to its corresponding door, axis brought the matching sigils together, and before they could even touch, the door hissed as it gave way to an unlit storage room. Thanks to her experience with the Tower of Goddess Minerva, axis was very familiar with lightless storage rooms. Wielding her torch, axis stepped inside to investigate. Distressingly, the hissing door hissed once again as it shut itself, locking axis in the storage room. Worse, the storage room was a massive refrigerator, and axis trembled as the heat was abducted from her body.

Although the plastic card would presumably be capable of re-opening the door, axis insisted upon exploring the unlighted refrigerator before her party should let her out of the damned thing. Plus, she still had the Cape of Warmness that Alcaster had fabricated for her (see the “axs” section of pt. civ of this diary), which helped her to fend off most of the cold. Brandishing her torch, axis was surprised to see that most of the refrigerator was occupied by a tangle of conveyor belts operating at various speeds. axis didn’t think that conveyor belts needed refrigeration, but then again, maybe they start to wear out if left at room temperature.

With further exploration, however, axis realised that the conveyor belts were not the beneficiaries of the refrigeration. Some of the conveyor belts carried boxes of frozen goods. axis loved frozen goods, so she was excited to see what was inside of the boxes. Unfortunately for axis, getting to the boxes would mean climbing up this vertical labyrinth of haphazard conveyor belts. And so, putting her special jumpy sock onto her left foot, axis started jumping. She fell a lot, but always managed to land on her feet, thanks to her lucky sock.

Getting a hold of one of the boxes, axis used her pinwheel as a crowbar, prising it open to reveal a frozen dish of food. Although she didn’t recognise what kind of food it was, axis eagerly shoved the dish into her backpack, saving it for later. Much to her disappointment, however, the next box that axis pried open had no food inside.

axis does the MPQ “thief” portal

Instead, all that axis got was a lousy clipboard with some papers on it. Nonetheless, she skimmed over the notes, & in doing so, she noticed that one of the sheets had a strange sequence of numbers scrawled at the bottom:[4]

2470aeecf4a19095

After convincing her party members to let her out of the refrigerator, axis scraped the frost out of her eyebrows and waded through the diaper droids towards the large central exit to the room. This exit was quite a large door, and it appeared to be made mostly or entirely of metal, so axis’s party stood no chance of brute forcing it. However, the steel door was also equipped with a 4×4 array of small square buttons labelled with numbers & letters, and when axis tried the numeric sequence that she’d found on the frigid clipboard, the door made a trio of muted clicks, unlocking & allowing her to push it open with some effort.

The door’s hinges must have been oiled recently, or perhaps it was constructed with bearings, as the massive door was surprisingly silent as it opened. It also became immediately clear to axis that this door was an excellent acoustic insulator, as should could quickly detect the subtle aural ambiance of the new room as soon as a crack was formed in the door’s seal. Then, she heard yet something else: a human voice murmuring.

Eyes wide, axis froze one of her arms in place and swivelled the rest of her body around to shush her party members. She brought her body closer to the door with extreme care, cupping her ear with one hand, and listening intently. Whoever was murmuring was not immediately adjacent to the door, & so axis had some difficulty making out the words that were being murmured. axis only heard one voice, & it became clear that the mumbler was merely talking to themself. Still, axis was able to comprehend enough of the murmured speech that she understood two things: that the speaker was quite anxious, and that their concern seemed to be directed at Romeo, with the implication that something quite adverse had befallen him.

Just then, one of the diaper droids managed to weasel its way past axis’s party, and a rocket that it fired loudly struck the door’s frame. The murmuring immediately ceased, and so axis quickly shoved the door open to see the murmuring figure: a long-haired old man wielding a walking stick & wearing a large black robe. Taking the old man to be Yulete, axis raised her pinwheel above her head and cried out: “wait!” — but it was too late. Yulete had already scrambled to the room’s other exit, pulling a lever on the way there, and locking the door on his way out.

The lever that Yulete pulled on the way out produced a mess of metallic squeaking, and several panels in the walls popped open, flooding the room with clunky metal automata. The automata screeched & clanked towards axis’s party, menacing them with their terrible snapping jaws.

McWingsMeal, Hiusbeti, Shermond, & axis @ MPQ stage 5

The metalline lackeys had a few tricks up their sleeves, cleverly deflecting incoming blows with strategically-positioned mithril plates. Nevertheless, axis’s party was eventually able to hold off the mithril security drones long enough to find the more covert switch that Yulete had used to open the exit. When she left the room, however, axis was perplexed to see that she was simply faced with even more doors: four of them, to be precise.

These doors thankfully didn’t appear to have any security built into them, each one having its own handle with neither lock nor keypad in sight. Still, neither axis nor any of her colleagues had any idea which door Yulete had gone through, so they simply started picking doors at random. At first, they came to regret this decision, as each new room that one of them entered automatically closed the door behind them, changing the colour of the blue circle on the doorhandle to a bright orangish-yellow and locking up.

Each door led to its own seemingly identical room full of innumerable platforms, arranged in a huge stack of rows, each row composed of exactly four platforms. It took axis & her party some time to figure this out, as they were a bit busy trying to somehow go back through the auto-locked doors, and they could only communicate with one another by talking loudly or even yelling.

Noticing that this was effectively yet another combination lock featuring the number four, axis supposed that perhaps four was Yulete’s favourite number. This was no ordinary combo lock, however. Each platform was a magical portal, and selecting the correct portal out of four would teleport the user up to the next-highest row; any other portal would force them to start over at the bottom. Initially assuming that the correct combination was unique, axis’s party members yelled the number of the correct portal out loud each time that they discovered one, so that others could follow suit. However, they quickly found that this approach was mistaken. Any time that someone found the correct portal within a row, it seemed that no one else would agree with them. As a result, the process of climbing up this combination lock was arduous, with correct guesses giving mere hints as to what others’ correct portals wouldn’t be. All the numbers started to make axis’s head spin, and she thought that this must be a version of the top of Tower of Goddess devised by the devil:

axis @ MPQ stage 6

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

Juley: 1334~31
1334~312

axisaxis: 411 143 4
411 143 43

Finally arriving at the top of the combination lock rooms, axis’s party was relieved to see that all four rooms exited into the same hallway. The newly-reconvened party failed to find anything interesting in the hallway, other than a single door at the end that was mysteriously left ajar. With no time left for cautious exploration, axis & her party shoved the door wide open to reveal a laboratory room with more advanced equipment than any room they’d seen yet.

The technical apparatûs were, however, not the only occupants of the room. As expected, Yulete was at the end of the room, albeit wielding some kind of bulky electronic device this time. Perhaps less expected was the presence of Romeo, who was lain prone — and presumably, unconscious… or worse — upon a raised platform.

Even through the bulky lenses of Yulete’s eyeglasses, axis could see Yulete’s eyes wild, frenzy coursing through his veins as axis’s party barged in. Although something had clearly gone awry considering the state of Romeo, axis was still unclear as to why Romeo was subdued, & for that matter, why Yulete was whipped up into some kind of mania:

axisaxis: What’ve you done to Romeo‽

Yulete: Not a thing! I can’t be held responsible for the fate of trespassers, & if I’d my choice, those who’d seen too much would be silenced…

axisaxis: Seen too much of what? Nappy-wearing robots‽ We’re here to save Romeo, & if you insist upon upsetting the détente between Zenumist & Alcadno, then we’ve got a problem!!

Yulete: [grunts] How many times do I have to tell you hopeless romantics to stay out of my lab‽‽‽

Yulete’s face hardened as he screamed, determinedly smashing his palm against the device resting in his other hand. The floor immediately in front of Yulete gave way, splitting open like a pair of eyelids. At first, axis started forwards, half-expecting Yulete to escape through this hatch in the floor. Instead, a huge figure emerged up through the hatch, pushed by some mechanised platform. So ponderous was the figure that it was only just small enough to fit in the huge elevator, & worse, the elevator emitted a horrid cacophony as it pushed, grinding & puffing with such vehemence that axis expected it to implode.

The thing that emerged was… a thing. axis & her party were collectively dumbstruck, uncertain what to make of this quasi-humanoid figure that towered at four times their height. In the other rooms of Yulete’s laboratory, the party had borne witness to strange spectres, abominable grey fleshy blob creatures, & metalline automata of various shapes. Besides this thing being an order of magnitude larger, it was also uniquely a kind of freakish mélange of these other types of monsters: encased in a gargantuan metal suit equipped with outsized steel arms, its hair-topped head & its inner limbs were flesh of a nauseating greenish hue, and it radiated an oppressive ghostly aura that haunted everyone in the room.

axis was quite sure that she now knew what “seeing too much” meant.

The party didn’t have much time to ponder the nature of this fever dream Goliath before it was already upon them, glowering as it swung wildly with its monstrous mechanical fists. Worse, it wasn’t the only experimental monster summoned by Yulete’s hand-held device: several of the mithril plate automata spilled onto the floor, & concerningly, diaper droids began slowly filtering out onto the platform upon which Romeo was laid. One of axis’s party members had no choice but to clamber up onto the platform to defend the incapacitated Romeo from the droids’ rockets.

axisaxis vs. Angy Fanky

The rest of axis’s party battled the behemoth at length, struggling to defend themselves against its staggering blows. Vexingly, the cyborg titan had some dirty tricks up its sleeve. For example, it wielded an alchemical teleportation device that allowed it to simply teleport its foes away. axis was frequently the target of this diabolical device, often finding herself mysteriously warped into the hallway:

Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!

Transcription of the above image

[system message]: Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!
Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!

Shermond: the pkb sometimes can be scam i swear

[system message]: Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!

axisaxis: omfg

Shermond: 90% knb my ass

[system message]: Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!
Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!

axisaxis: crying

[system message]: Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!
Through dark magic, you were transported elsewhere. Find your way back and help your friends!

axisaxis: literally what

McWingsMeal: wth

After a fatiguingly lengthy struggle against the colossal amalgamation & against the napkin-clad robots who would threaten Romeo’s life, Yulete’s creation finally began to admit signs of weakness. When it gave out, axis had to quickly get out of the way, lest she be crushed under its weight. The toppling titan violently shook the entire room as it thunderously crashed into the floor, and axis was concerned that the floor might collapse along with it. Worried for Romeo’s constitution, axis’s colleague checked his vital signs, and reported that he was indeed still breathing.

Of course, that still left the problem of Yulete. Yulete had collapsed in the corner of the room, apparently from exhaustion. axis slowly approached Yulete, holding her pinwheel out & pointed directly at him. The frenzy had faded from Yulete’s eyes, and he took his eyeglasses off in resignation. Much to axis’s surprise, Yulete thanked her & her party. He explained that his terrible creation had enthralled him, causing him to become increasingly unhealthily obsessed with alchemical creation & destruction. In his careless zeal, Yulete had failed to properly supervise his creation, & it assailed Romeo during one of Romeo’s attempts to clandestinely meet with his paramour.

Yulete had only barely stopped the fiend before it could overcome Romeo… permanently. Regrettably, however, it was already too late for Yulete; Romeo had borne witness to the horrible creation, and worse, had been seriously injured by it. Yulete’s alchemical experimentation was heretical from the perspective of both Zenumist & Alcadno, & to make matters worse, it was illegal in like half a dozen different ways — not the least of which was the unauthorised usage of (+)-(⯜)-137-Citrinitas-3-(Rubedo-1-vitriol)-4-(tutty-2-soda)chrom-⯔-azoth and other highly controlled substances.

With the terrible monstrosity laid to rest, Yulete was thus freed from the spectre of his own creation. Moreover, with Romeo resuscitated, he was able to reunite with Juliet, who had been worried sick — although axis made sure to warn the both of them to be more careful next time…

And Avaracia was very pleased.

Return, return again

In fact, Avaracia was so pleased, that she asked axis to do it again. axis was confused. Again? Surely, unless Avaracia had a time machine of some sort, the whole ordeal couldn’t possibly repeat itself…? Avaracia assured axis that although she didn’t have time-travel powers, she could definitely pull a few strings here & there to make it work. Avaracia was looking forward to an encore, as she loved to see mortals struggle & succeed in the end. She reminded axis of her experiences at the Tower of Goddess & at the Forest of Poison Haze, and insisted that just like before, axis would be handsomely rewarded for her efforts.

And so, axis stuck around in Magatia to run through Yulete’s laboratory again. And again. And again…

Of course, these were not carbon copies. Sometimes Romeo was replaced with Juliet. Sometimes, axis battled Yulete’s ghastly creation toe to toe, and other times, she was on Juliet-protecting duty:

Juley, Shermond, & axis vs. Angy Fanky

axis found that her ability to freeze her foes in ice could help quite a lot, freezing the diaper droids so that they stood no chance of harming Romeo or Juliet. Still, Avaracia wanted a good show, and so purposely manipulated the napkin robots to make them impossible to move:

axisaxis: oit [sic] wont aggro :(

It was tragic to see Romeo die like this, but he always managed to come back for another round anyway.

The goddesses were very demanding when it came to Yulete’s lab. axis often found that she — & sometimes her party members, as well — frequently had little time for such necessities as going to the little Maplers’ room, or even eating:

mpq more important

Transcription of the above image

Shacat: hungry D:
might die irl

Shermond: haven’t had lunch sha ?

Shacat: havent had breakfast

Shermond: but eat alr or not

Shacat: havent

Shermond: jeez

Shacat: mpq more important

axis struggled to keep up with the seemingly inhuman endurance of her party members, & wondered what it was about Yulete’s laboratory that inspired such desperate commitment.

One time, axis looked on in sheer amazement as one of her party members near instantly obliterated Yulete’s abominable brainchild in a pillar of fiery exploding money:

Watetsu explodes Angy Fanky to smithereens

Demanding as this work was, axis needed her party members in tip-top shape. To that end, she encouraged them to cultivate an alcohol dependency:

become an alcoholic

Transcription of the above image

axisaxis: hiusbeti i want you to drink the cider every day
and become an alcoholic
your alcoholism shall bestow upon you immense strength
with which you may vanquish your enemies

Thankfully, the local cidery made quite tasty ciders indeed, so it was easy to get people hooked on the stuff:

lets buy for Alcoholism

Transcription of the above image

Hiusbeti: ahhh
:< i need cider

ScrapyHS: you can buy at showa town npc named doran

axisaxis: or ninja castle

Hiusbeti: lets buy for Alcoholism

The person with whom axis had done perhaps the most runs through Yulete’s lab was a bowman by the name of Shermond, who was inexplicably a big fan of wearing nought but his underpants. Although axis always thought his fashion sense to be… somewhat questionable, she never said anything, as he otherwise made a fine party member indeed. axis was thus astonished to see Shermond fully-clothed one day:

Shermond, but… not naked‽

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

axisaxis: omg
ive never seen shermond with clothes on

Hiusbeti: ohh :v
magic

Magic indeed.

An alchemical gig

Eventually, Yulete simply offered axis a small job to do within his underground lab, as she’d already been through the lab so many times anyway. Yulete promised that axis would be compensated with a very special piece of jewellery. axis loved jewellery, & so she eagerly accepted. Yulete showed her to a part of his lab that had three doors:

The three trials of Yulete

axis had never seen this part of the lab, and wondered to herself about how large this “secret” underground laboratory really was. In any event, Yulete had three jobs for axis, each one conveniently located behind a separate one of these three portals.

The first task was the simplest but most annoying: to comb a room full of countless books, small pieces of furniture, & doodads for twenty pages of a missing lab report. axis was confused as to how the twenty inexplicably individual papers managed to get scattered all throughout a large room, but decided that it was best to just not question it.

axis looking for lost lab report pages

The second task involved axis doing a bit of alchemy of her own. This room was a small lab station swarmed by yet more diaper robots. This time, however, axis was neither babysitting an incapacitated Romeo nor hunting for a key-card. Instead, she needed to collect various forbidden solutions, each one a different colour of the rainbow. By pouring the illegal juices into the beaker at the top of the lab station in exactly the right order, they would combine to precipitate a ⚠️SUPER ILLEGAL JUICE⚠️! axis really wanted to drink a little bit of the super illegal juice, but Yulete said that she really shouldn’t if she valued her life.

axis doing a little alchemy of her own

And finally, the third task was one of pest control. No ordinary pests, this room was flooded with automata forged of alchemically alloyed mithril — more of Yulete’s failed experiments. Yulete had made an unexpectedly large batch, and so it was axis’s job to play clean-up:

axis vs. Obstacle Mutæs

Having completed all three jobs, axis rushed back to Yulete, expectantly waiting to see the jewellery. The item that Yulete produced was a necklace wrought of steel, in the shape of an eye. The eye’s iris was a lustrous amethyst sphere suspended within the steel wiring.

axis was reminded of the Glittering Altaire Earrings that she’d obtained — and then un-obtained… — at the Forest of Poison Haze (see the “axs” section of pt. civ of this diary). She could feel a potent energy emanating from the necklace, and when she moved it around to view it from different angles, she thought that she saw the amethyst sphere swivel around to look at her. Putting the necklace on, axis felt stronger already. Thanking Yulete, she made her way out of the underground lab.

Yeet haw

When axis was at the local Magatia apothecary stockpiling the usual drugs, she bumped into a dashing woman sporting a chequered button-up blouse underneath a ruggèd jacket cuffed at the wrists & tied at the waist with a scarf of sorts. On her legs were a pair of long denim pants & a pair of hard brown boots, and atop her head a cowgirl hat; she was a cowgirl. axis had never seen — much less met — a cowgirl before, so she couldn’t resist the opportunity to chat her up.

As the cowgirl turned around to say “howdy” & give her name — Dakota (GiIf, MiIf, Skug) — axis noticed that, in addition to the distinctive gun holstered on her waist, she also had a strange-looking double-pointed spear strapped across her back. Shaking Dakota’s hand, axis was impressed by how strong her grip was; she was more well-built than she appeared at first blush.

axis asked Dakota about her business in Magatia; axis had yet to see another cowgirl in the Nihal Desert, & in any case, there were no cows here! Dakota laughed, explaining that although she was a cowgirl, cows & horses were only two of the types of critter that she was familiar with. As of late, Dakota had spent most of her time herding compact discs. Confused, axis asked what a “compact disc” was — perhaps it was just an exotic name for a creature that she’d already heard of before. When Dakota explained, however, axis’s confusion only magnified. She’d never heard of anything even remotely like a compact disc, & the habitat that Dakota described sounded otherworldly.

Dakota offered to take axis to the land of the “CD”s, and, charmed by Dakota’s cowgirl energy & the promise of exotic lands, axis assented. On the way there, Dakota explained to axis that they were headed to a place known as “Taipei 101”, which was an ordinary shopping mall — with the slight exception that many of its retail goods hopped off of the shelves & the sales floors, roaming the mall as wild beasts. axis had never seen a mall before, but was excited to be introduced to the extravagant riches that Dakota claimed were contained within.

When they arrived at the mall, axis was dazzled. Most of the dazzling was simply the result of the lighting: the entire building complex was flooded with an almost supernatural wash of artificial light, and the walls, floors, & ceilings were paved with a brilliant off-white somewhere between beige and a pinkish tint. Moreover, the countless shops lining the mall’s avenues often had flashy lights of their own, enticing their potential customers with ostentatious neon signage.

And Dakota was not lying about the retail critters: axis saw brightly-coloured perfume bottles, various audio amplifiers, alarmingly uncanny mannequin children, & more, all roaming the avenues of their own accord. When they arrived at the section of the mall inhabited by CDs, Dakota warned axis by demonstrating how the CDs were capable of magically striking out at those who disturbed or angered them. She explained that this was one of the main difficulties when it came to herding CDs. That, & the fact that they had a habit of multiplying extremely rapidly: the death of each single CD produced three devilish CD children!

axis tried her hand at some CD herding, using her mighty pinwheel to goad the CDs to & fro. Together, axis & Dakota spent many hours at the mall of Taipei 101, breathlessly herding CDs until their limbs were sore.

axis & Dakota @ CDs

五目並べ

Later, during a break in between CD-herding sessions, Dakota sat down at the local pub for a friendly game of omok [오목]. Her opponent, however, turned out to be none other than the legendary OmokTeacher (Slime, Thinks, Slimusaurus, Slimu, Ginner). A consummate master of omok, OmokTeacher lived up to his name by giving both Dakota & axis a master course in the more difficult rules of the game:

Dakota’s informational OmokTeacher teaching omok livestream

axis was already familiar with the game herself, although she usually liked making shapes with the pieces on the board rather than actually attempting to defeat her opponent. Like Dakota, axis didn’t ever really understand the “double three(s)” — a.k.a. “three & three”, or “three by three” — rule of the game.

For axis, the rules of omok were apparently very simple: the game board is a square, divided into a square grid. The two opposing players then take turns. On each turn, the player places exactly one of their colour of piece onto the board, on a gridline intersection (or a “spot”, for short) that isn’t already occupied by another piece. The game continues in this way until exactly five (not six, not four, …) pieces of the same colour occur along the same single line[1] (that is, they are colinear), such that there are no gaps within the five pieces; we may call this a “group of five”. Whichever player to whom these pieces’ colour corresponds is then the victor. For the purpose of adjacency, distance is measured by the 𝖫 metric. For the purpose of defining a line, lines come in exactly four flavours: infinite[2] rows[1] are lines, infinite columns are lines, infinite main diagonals are lines, & infinite antidiagonals are lines.

Sometimes, however, axis would find that she mysteriously couldn’t place a piece onto a certain spot, even when that spot was entirely unoccupied. This is a result of the rule of double threes.

OmokTeacher explained that certain configurations of pieces are called “open fours”. For simplicity, we can use the term “terminal” to refer to a spot on the board — or on the board’s edge — that is immediately adjacent to, colinear with, & not part of, a given group. An open four is then a group of exactly four, so that both of its terminals are empty spots, & so that placing a piece of the same colour into either one of said empty spots results in a win. By ignoring the orientation of lines, representing one colour of piece as X, representing “any spot not occupied by X” as +, & representing empty spots as -, we can represent an open four as simply +-XXXX-+. Open fours are special because they are a “forced win”: no matter which side of the open four that their opponent attempts to block, the X player can simply place a piece on the other side, & win as a result.

Moreover, certain configurations are called “open threes”. An open three is a configuration of exactly three colinear pieces of the same colour, such that the strategic placement of exactly one additional piece of that colour is capable of turning the open three into an open four. Thus, an open three is essentially an open four as explained above, but with exactly one of the four Xs removed, & thus replaced by a -. Open threes thus come in two flavours (because, again, we are ignoring orientation):

The rule of double threes, then, can be stated simply: any hypothetical placement of a piece that would cause the simultaneous creation of two open threes is forbidden. Two open threes of the same colour is a forced win, because the opponent can only block one, and then the other can be turned into an open four. The rule of double threes thus disallows this particular kind of forced win, by fiat. The aim of such a rule is to eliminate some — but regrettably, not all — of the first-move advantage, whereby the player who goes first has a natural advantage.

Rather than painstakingly explaining the rule with a bunch of boring impenetrable words, OmokTeacher gave numerous illustrative examples. To give just one example, we can represent the edge of the board with #, & the forbidden “double threes” spot as 6 (rather than simply -), and consider something like:

#-------
#-------
#----X--
#---X---
#-------
#-6-----
#-------
#-X-----
#-X-----
#-------
########

If we were to break the rule of double threes and place an X where the 6 is, we’d get something like:

#------+
#-------
#----X--
#-+-X---
#-------
#-X-----
#-------
+-X-----
#-X-----
#-------
##+#####

As you can see, there’s a top-to-bottom (vertical) configuration of +-X-XX-+, & a top-right-to-bottom-left (antidiagonal) configuration of +-XX-X-+. Both of these are open threes, & neither of them existed immediately before we broke the rule of double threes.

In some — but not all — versions of the rule of double threes, there’s an exception: the player may break the rule, if doing so fills one of the terminals of a group of exactly four of their opponent’s pieces, & that group’s other terminal is nonempty — thus, blocking their opponent from trivially winning.

axis learned a lot from the demonstration, and she was glad to finally kinda-sorta understand how omok really works.

راون

In another session of CD-herding with Dakota, Dakota mentioned that she’d previously heard of a warrior vaguely similar to axis in some ways[3]. As the legend goes, this warrior possessed infinite dexterity, had mastered the ways of the dark knight, and wore the head of Rāvaṇa [रावण] as her own. The head of the Sanskrit villain was said to confer upon her immense prowess. axis wanted immense prowess too, and she knew that Rāvaṇa was tucked away in the caves of Thailand; she’d been to Thailand before, although she’d certainly never beheld the dastardly Rāvaṇa with her own eyes. So axis set out in an attempt to get a Rāvaṇa head of her very own — after all, Rāvaṇa had ten heads, so he could surely spare just one…

In order to even be allowed near the Hindu scoundrel, however, axis would need to prove her worthiness. The cave’s guard demanded a number of refined crystals; axis thought that perhaps he was just being greedy, but nevertheless begrudgingly obliged. But the guard also had something more serious in mind: axis would be allowed to venture into the cave herself, on the condition that she “took care of” the vicious goblins that inhabited it.

The goblins came in three flavours. First were the Red Goblins, which were very… red, and even wielded giant red axes:

axis vs. Red Goblins

The Red Goblins put up a serious fight — certainly, more of a fight than the CDs put up — but axis was nonetheless able to subdue them.

Next were the Blue Goblins, which were perhaps more white & gold than they were blue, and which wielded steel talwārs [तल्वारें][5]:

axis barely touches a Blue Goblin

Although the Blue Goblins started by waddling menacingly towards axis, their menacing waddle quickly turned to frantic stumbling in the other direction when axis brandished her mighty pinwheel, set ablaze by the martial magicks that Tylus had taught her. The Blue Goblins recoiled from the flame, and axis laughed as she waved her pinwheel just out of the goblins’ reach, taunting them: “I’m not touching you!”.

Finally, the third goblin species was the Strong Stone Goblin. True to their name, these goblins were made entirely of stone, and they were very strong indeed.

axis vs. Strong Stone Goblins

But perhaps the most notable trait of these goblins was the sole garment that each one wore: a bright red diaper. axis cackled at the absurdity of fighting both diaper robots and nappy goblins, wondering if fighting so many diaper-clad creatures was part of the kismet that the Fates had carved out in the stars for her. Then again, knowing Avaracia, axis really wouldn’t be so surprised. If anything, the gods must have a sense of humour — it wouldn’t make sense any other way.

Footnotes for “From forth the fatall loynes of theſe two foes, a paire of ſtarre-croſt louers take their life”

  1. [↑] Sometimes, the basic rules of the game are explained in terms of “five in a row”, but this is incorrect & certainly confusing: rows are only one of the four flavours of line.

  2. [↑] Using “infinite” and “arbitrarily large” effectively interchangeably for this purpose.

  3. [↑] See: the “The STR–DEX–LUK continuum” section above.

  4. [↑] This passphrase is just a randomly-generated 16-digit hexadecimal number. The number of possibilities is thus 16161.845×1019, or about ≈18.45 quintillion. This is exactly 64 bits (eight bytes) of information. Compare to a maximum-length MapleStory password (12 characters, each being one of 95 printable ASCII characters) at ≈78.838 bits, & a four-digit MapleStory PIN at ≈13.288 bits.

  5. [↑] This weapon is known in English as a tulwar /ˈtʌl.wɑ(ɹ)/ or talwar (also ⟨talwaar, talwār⟩) /ˈtæl.wɑ(ɹ)/ (archæically tulwaur /ˈtʌl.wɔ(ɹ)/).

    Borrowed from Hindustani तल्वार (Urdu spelling تلْوار) ⟨talvār⟩ /tɐlˈʋäːr/, simply meaning “sword”. The interchange of ⟨w⟩ and ⟨v⟩ is due to [w] and [v] being allophones of /ʋ/. तल्वारें (تلْواریں) ⟨talvāre̐⟩ /tɐlˈʋäːrẽː/ is the nominative plural.

    The Hindustani term is inherited from Sanskrit तरवारिtaravāri⟩ /tɐ.ɾɐˈʋɑː.ɾi/ “sword”.

(…cnvpstdf…)

cnvpstdf

maplestory……

Transcription of the above image

GiIf: maplestory……

d00r: maplestory

GiIf: hentai

d00r: NO

Skjal: disgusting

d00r: ;o;

Buffyy: i died to cold one time in el nath without a safety charm

What is a satyr?

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d00r: its for ur own protection that i recommend not scrolling up
but yea

MiIf: aite i saw perm erection and scrolled back down
im gud

d00r: LOL

flaming snayl

Transcription of the chatlog in the above image

tarandus: LMAO
flaming snayl

Level1Crook: why is it on fire

tarandus: idfk

Level1Crook: thats what i want to know

the friends we made along the way

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Skjal: it wasnt about the friends we made along the way
it was about the snitching we did at the end to get all the rewards

alces, NZPally, Sabitrama, & OmokTeacher form a totem pole

In loving memory / R.I.P. giif 2023–2023 <3