Page 1094 - Blades in the Bright

24th Jul 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 1
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Blades in the Bright
Average Rating: 4 (1 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 24th Jul 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
Now that we're deep into this episode, I just want to say that I'm really fascinated by the discussion I'm seeing in the comments sections. Especially how the points are colored by everyone's personal experiences. It's like a long-running meta-Story Time.

Anyway, here's just a little bit more implausible Thieves Guild worldbuilding because I cannot let it go, apparently.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Digo Dragon 24th Jul 2018, 6:08 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Huh, looks like a recent-season screen cap snuck in. :3

Quite the lose-lose choice given here. Take the diamond, but it's probably cursed, or leave it and your enemies acquire it, curse-free. Since everyone has their price, you just need a big enough diamond to convince the player to embrace their ruin.
Waffle Sorter 24th Jul 2018, 9:10 AM edit delete reply
It probably says something about how long it's been since I was a dedicated watcher that I don't know whether you mean panel 3 or 4.
Wulfraed 24th Jul 2018, 10:17 AM edit delete reply
Panel 4 looks to be the beaurocrat that tried to shut down Twilight's School in the season opener.

Don't recall is panel 3 was the food critic from a few seasons back, or one of the sneering fashion designer types.

And of course panel 2 is the villain from one of the Daring Do episodes.
Wulfraed 24th Jul 2018, 10:18 AM edit delete reply
Make that "bureaucrat"
Smithers 25th Jul 2018, 3:24 PM edit delete reply
Panel 4 is indeed Chancellor Neighsay from the current series' premier.

Right the first time on the food critic in panel 3.

And for panel 2, he's actually the villain from at least three of the Daring Do episodes.

In unrelated news, this is my first time commenting after catching up through over a thousand pages. Maybe I should introduce myself sometime.
Mykin 24th Jul 2018, 9:14 AM edit delete reply
A diamond as big as a millstone then. And I bet Rarity has enough rope to secure it snugly around her neck.

Although now I'm left wondering how the DM will take it once he finds out what happened here? Will he dislike how Discord handled this situation or will he just be upset that he didn't think of this first? But at this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if he starts to worry that things are starting to get out of hand here, so to speak.
Digo Dragon 24th Jul 2018, 9:42 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
@Waffle Sorter: Huh. Guess I should have said caps (plural). My memory of which season what cap goes where is a little fuzzy.

@Mykin: Consider how the episode resolves it. The DM still has Celestia/Spike to use as pawns that helps Twilight's player formulate a solution (possibly by exploiting her talent in magic).
Toric 24th Jul 2018, 6:02 PM edit delete reply
Oh, I'm betting that fail-safe spell designed to reset Ponyville to a previous "default" state-of-being will feature again by the end of this arc. I think the DM might call it a moment of inspiration, or even offer the equivalent of a Wish to accomplish it, maybe even in a bit of defiance to the guest DM.
ZzzDJ 24th Jul 2018, 11:38 PM edit delete reply
It LOOKS like a lose-lose scenario... but honestly, I don't really believe in lose-lose scenarios. Reject both choices, insert your own. Sure, you might still lose, but now it's on your own terms, and almost certainly not what the enemy was counting on.
For my part, I would attempt to break the diamond. Diamond dust isn't particularly saleable, easily dispersed or buried or etc, but is very helpful to spellcasters for certain high-level spells.
Fun fact, did you know that Diamond does not have a listed hardness or HP/inch in the Rules?
ZzzDJ 24th Jul 2018, 11:40 PM edit delete reply
*IS easily dispersed, or buried
One of these days, I'll make an actual account, so I can edit...
Digo Dragon 25th Jul 2018, 6:51 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Basically do as Jim Kirk and take a third option. Usually a fun thing to pull off, if you can think of a third option to go with.
Missfinefeather 24th Jul 2018, 6:13 AM edit delete reply
Well, the thieves guild is Rarity’s storyline. It’s kind of hard not to tie it into her undoing.
Discord 24th Jul 2018, 6:17 AM edit delete reply
"That's too evil, even for me"
Ever said that in-game?
Digo Dragon 24th Jul 2018, 7:54 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Not in game, no. Any viciously evil ideas I get are strictly out-of-character and not brought up in the game. Even my evil characters have standards to avoid crossing certain lines.
Rastaba 24th Jul 2018, 11:44 AM edit delete reply
Even Evil has otherwise you're no better than any old chaotic neutral murder-hobo player character.
Winged Cat 24th Jul 2018, 11:50 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
I kind of said it just this morning.

I'm working on some starship designs for Traveller. This morning (around 5 AM, when I woke up for an hour because it was too hot to sleep) I finished writing up one designed for stealth orbital bombardment: the target doesn't realize they're under attack until just before their cities turn into craters, by which time the attacker is long gone. The writeup says it is considered "evil" by most of the major powers in the setting.

(Specifically: the Aslan say, "that degree of stealth is dishonorable," the Zhodani and the Hivers, "orbital bombardment is immoral," and the Imperium, "shoot on sight because we have laws against that sort of thing." The Vargr, Solomani, and K'Kree say, "nice idea but we can not use that particular design," for varying reasons.)

So when said governments' agents self-deprecate, they might literally say in reference to this, "That's too evil, even for us."
Guest 24th Jul 2018, 2:31 PM edit delete reply
PCs on the other hand...
BackSet 25th Jul 2018, 7:34 AM edit delete reply
Nothings too "evil" for you so long as it's chaotic.
FanOfMostEverything 24th Jul 2018, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
A character voiced by Maurice LaMarche trying to take over the... country. Seems legit.
Jennifer 24th Jul 2018, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
Haven't seen the recent seasons, so I don't recognize the two later screencaps. Still, intriguing.
Jannard 24th Jul 2018, 7:49 AM edit delete reply
Nice trick, and extremely narrativist. No hidden system traps, no rules-lawyering, just playing straight into the player character's coherence. Gotta respect such elegance.
ThatGuest 24th Jul 2018, 8:26 AM edit delete reply
As a hardcore support class player (Cleric/Druid/Bard) the kind of thinking Rarity is doing right now just, drives me up a wall. I cannot tell you how many times I've watched entire fights crumble just because the other players just don't bother realizing that they don't have to solo solve everything.

I got into an arguement with a fighter once over him holding the choke point that he insisted would end up with him dead, the conversation ended with him shouting at me "Well how am I going to survive this?!" and me shouting back "I'm the cleric, I'll heal and buff you! IT'S WHAT I DO!" And just the revelation that I'd put my trust in him to keep me alive and that I'd use heals on my party members and not myself? Everyone at the table looked like their minds had been blown.
Jannard 24th Jul 2018, 8:57 AM edit delete reply
Except that's how she ROLEPLAYS. It's not necessarily a matter of lacking the knowledge that her party supports her, it's a matter of knowing her character behaves like that.

Regardless, I feel your pain. We had an untrustworthy player in the table, and he also acted as if he expected us to all be like him.
Digo Dragon 24th Jul 2018, 9:47 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
As a fellow support specialist, I feel your pain. The fighter in our local group complained of being nearly out of HP fighting some ogres until I stepped up behind her and kept laying on the healing and buff magic. She slew three ogres without dropping.
KathiraNarae 24th Jul 2018, 2:58 PM edit delete reply
Huh, I've never had that. I'm playing support myself, but everyone seemed to just acknowledge from the get-go that, as the cleric, I would heal them first. It's using my non-healing spells that I'm trying to get the hang of right now.
Digo Dragon 25th Jul 2018, 6:55 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
My problem with cleric non-healing spells is trying to time when to cast them. I'm usually bad at winning initiatives, so I tend to act later in the round and by then people need my medical services.
ThatGuest 24th Jul 2018, 4:15 PM edit delete reply
Yeah we almost lot a campaign at the very final battle because the other support players went into full paranoia mode and refused to buff/heal anyone but themselves and the offensive members kept wasting turns drinking potions rather than letting me heal them.

I've also seen plenty of times when the party just threw their hands up and gave up when a slightly challenging danger arose because they refused to think about the party fighting it together and instead judged it on whether or not they'd be able to do it all by themselves.

And I don't have a problem with Rarity, I know it's going to be character development for her. I was just voicing my dislike of people who never learn the lesson that if the party unites they can take on crazy amounts of trouble just fine, and instead screw everyone by thinking they have only themselves to rely on and doing something stupid.
TyrantViewer 24th Jul 2018, 5:15 PM edit delete reply
Now I have only played two campaigns but that just baffles me, why would they play with other people if they think they have to beat each monster solo?

Personally my first character was a combat/support hybrid in how I played him. A dragonfire adept my first move in combat was setting as many enemies as possible on fire, with feats that meant they were also entangled- and my buffs made every other party member immune to that attack, so most fights had my teammates basically fighting people who were tied up and on fire.

I do have one occasion where things went south. We were passin through a creepy village, too many scarecrows hanging around, and no children in town. The new guy was playing a cleric, and he decided to get drunk, and I ended up keeping an eye on him, and the other players found the plot hook in the meanwhile and went off to fight the witch that kidnapped all the kids. So while I was in character dunking the new guy trying to sober him up, the rest were fighting a witch who had an army of scarecrows, who could all cast a few low level spells. When I found out where they were in character, I got to say "Wait, they went to fight a witch, who we know is using the scarecrows for something, AND THEY LEFT THE GUY WHO BREATHES FIRE BEHIND!?" of course one of the spells they could cast was protection from fire or something like that but I had ice too. We only ended up wining because the witch's magic drain attack triggered some things, basically we survived via DM intervention, but well done enough that we still had fun. The first magic drain spent the remaining charges on a magic Horn we got in our first adventure, and removing the magic that prevented it regenerating back into a troll- so for those of us fighting outside (the witch and some party members were inside her house, along with the plot significatn NPC we were escorting) we got to see it burst from the house like koolaid man and finish off a bunch of the scarecrows, but then we had to fight it too. The second use of the magic drain broke the magic binding on the NPC, who then went dark Pheonix on the witch and the troll, and then refused to tell us what was up with that for the rest of the campaign.
ThatGuest 24th Jul 2018, 6:51 PM edit delete reply
Mainly they get so laser focused on just caring about their character and nothing else that they forget there are other players and what they can do and everyone makes their character a solo build.

When I made my best bard, they were baffled that I didn't take a bunch of attack spells and instead just buffed them to crazy levels. Or the time I made a fighter who was horrible offensively (which they scolded me for the entire campaign) but she was basically a wall that could lock down anything and face down an adult dragon and tank everything it could throw at her and allow everyone else to get through the fight almost undamaged. But they still thought it was stupid because I wasn't putting out that sick DPS, even though I could shrug off a breath attack like it was a mild annoyance.
obscurereader 25th Jul 2018, 11:33 AM Wait, what? edit delete reply
Won't lie, some of these stories sound incredibly baffling to me, since I consider myself to be a support specialist (as in, I tend to play utility wizards and bards a lot) and the concept of not being able to support others would (and in fact has) driven me nuts in the past.
There's not much point in playing a cooperative tabletop rpg if you can't, well, cooperate with anyone other than the dm (and, speaking from experience with taking part in an attempt at a pseudo-solo campaign as a player, being forced to rely only on your own character's abilities because no one else can really do anything in combat sucks balls - especially since D&D/Pathfinder, by their very nature, are not at all meant to be solo campaigned, so feeling compelled to try and do everything solo sucked. Compounded by the fact that most of my abilities were meant for aiding others, who weren't really able to do much of anything because Plot In Favor Of Big Bad...).
Guest 24th Jul 2018, 8:28 AM edit delete reply
Blimey, is it time for season 8 characters already? Oh well...
DocBeard 24th Jul 2018, 8:32 AM edit delete reply
I think a lot of it is people who're new to the game versus us old salts. I can see how a lot of the language we use can be intimidating or come off as manipulative or just mean to newer players, when it's usually just shorthand for the types of personalities and gaming styles you pick up after being at this for ten to twenty years.

Also the double entente at the end made me crack up, so nice job there.
Jannard 24th Jul 2018, 9:01 AM edit delete reply
Not necessarily. I'm not entirely an old salt, but I've been roleplaying for more than 10 yeras now, and I still like to take some distance and try to see whether certain table habits can be unhealthy. in fact, if a newer player perceives a behaviour as unhealthy, then it may very well be (not "is", just "may be"), and we who have been playing for so long are just so used to it that we think it's just the natural state of things. Ugh, this is already sounding like social commentary.
Theris 24th Jul 2018, 11:34 AM edit delete reply
I am not sure I understand the trick here. Why would Rarity be tempted? There is so many reasons to NOT take the diamond even when you aren't metagaming, many of them fitting with Rarity's personality (bad rep, obvious trick, awkward to explain to my friends, Discord can create other diamonds anyway etc.).

And what does Rarity means when she says she isn't that kind of pony? What kind of pony?
Boris Carlot 24th Jul 2018, 2:38 PM edit delete reply
@Theris: the kind of pony that would take that wealth and use it to knee-cap her enemies before they can organise against her. Literal assassination, character assassination, bribery...if you're that way inclined and well funded enough, you could prevent the problem from ever becoming a problem.

Her friends would never have to find out, and on the whole it would save a lot of lives. It's not *strictly* moral, but it's only a tiny little hoofstep out of her normal behaviour...who would know? Etc etc slippery slope weee until she's turned the Thieves Guild into an Assassin Order or bought her own country or something.
TyrantViewer 24th Jul 2018, 5:32 PM edit delete reply
The fatal Flaw that Discord is using against Rarity here is her willingness to let her roleplay of her character take center stage- basically like canon Rarity let things go to her head in the episode with Rainbow Dash's flying competition- Player Rarity ends up being a Diva playing a role, even when it distracts from the rest of the story.

Basically her insistance on her roleplay combined with the DM's lack of foresight lead to the theives guild plot taking over the game for a while. Discord is simultaneously appealing to her character's logic that for why she should take the diamond, and appealing to the player's desire for the sort of intrigue focused play she enjoys.

The really dirty thing is that he is also making a stick out of how not taking the diamond could lead to more of her own character's issues interfering with everyone's lives. Maybe it is supposed to be a lie that Rarity would be able to see through if she "passed the test" but it does distract from the nature of these cursed being aimed at the Player's flaws if there are in and out of character reasons.

Basically, Discord gave Applejack a in character option to get metaknowlege with a price, and then used that price to keep her from abusing metaknowledge and metagaming, traping her in a logic puzzle made of her own bad habits. For Pinkie he turned around and did the same sort of forth wall breaking that she does on her, telling her she gets cursed in story and then letting her decide how it would work by appealing to her desire to roleplay a quirky character even if it gets grating for other players, and fear of them getting annoyed and being rejected for doing exactly that. Thus she comes up with an opposing roleplay and her agreement and the idea that it will be a fun part of the game counts as her taking the deal in the forth wall breaking nature of Discorddm's meta play.

Unfortunatly this also furthers the trend of pushing closer and closer to the line of too far. I am now wondering if the resolution to this will be the GM messageing twilight to fix things and them later roleplaying it as the messages from celestia. Or rather I think at this point either the GM will meta roleplay back to get twilight and then the rest of the gang back together, or they will just use those panels to show a normal turnaround
TyrantViewer 24th Jul 2018, 5:50 PM edit delete reply
Actually thinking about it more, the "solution" that Rarity would take as the correct way would be to let others have the diamond because as we all know, when discord is beaten all his magic is undone, even if him giving the diamond to her enemies isn't a lie there is no way they could use it while Discord is causing chaos.

The whole scenario he is discribing is just to tempt and distract her with role play opportunities when really him giving away the diamond wouldn't hurt her at all
Achtungnight 24th Jul 2018, 12:28 PM edit delete reply
A fun trick with players is to have them drag a big fancy object like a diamond around all through the dungeon and only learn it’s non magical and fake, thus worthless, when they get back to town. Maybe that will be the case here. I can see Rarity ok with this, though of course it doesn’t apply to all players.
Guest 24th Jul 2018, 1:26 PM edit delete reply
You know, I kind of don't get what the "exploit the flaw" strategy is supposed to be, here.

When an evil super-spirit tell you "take this curse, or I'll advantage your enemies with a ridiculous boost in power (through money)", is the right choice supposed to be "I walk away"?

I mean, which part of FiD!Rarity's personality is being exploited, here? How would Applejack, RD, or Twilight react differently to that kind of choice?
Freelance 24th Jul 2018, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
Except that Rarity doesn't know anything about the curses. These cases have been going on one-on-one, remember? Well, one-on-DMs, but the point remains that due to dramatic irony, we the audience know what the plan is, but each of the players do not know anything about the curses until it's time to.
Vegetalss4 24th Jul 2018, 4:17 PM edit delete reply
I think you are misunderstanding Guests point.
It's not that Rarity know what's going on, it's that this trap here don't have any dramatic justice due to a lack of connection to Rarity specifically that they can see.
Guest 24th Jul 2018, 4:33 PM edit delete reply
Basically that, yes. Take any player, give them the choice between "take the item that's probably going to backfire on you" and "I'm going to empower your enemies so they can ruin your life"... and I'd say most people don't want to have their lives ruined.

Like, what if this was, say, Applejack confronted to that kind of choice: "you take the item, or I'm making sure all the unscrupulous businesses who have something against your family will prosper until they can buy out all the Apple Clan and leave your whole family destitute."

Or the Twilight equivalent: "you take the item, or I'm empowering all the evil warlocks and monsters who hate Celestia so that they can murder her while you're trapped here and busy finding the Elements".

How could they not take the first option? Just bet everything on the guess he's bluffing? When he's shown to be capable of doing such things in the past?
Guest 24th Jul 2018, 4:23 PM edit delete reply
But in that case, it makes this "dilemma" even more absurd, or at least more divorced from who Rarity is.

Discord is presenting "take this item which is probably a trick, because I'm a trickster, or I'll advantage your enemies with a ridiculous boost in power (through money)" as the problem.

I don't see how being forced to make a choice between "preventing a bunch of rogues who hate you to have enough money to ruin your life twice over" and "don't get tricked by the chaos spirit right now" illustrates/exploits any flaws or issues with Rarity herself.

Maybe some people would go "nah, I'll just walk away, I can handle those punks even if they have a lifetime of riches handed to them", but if anything that'd be more indicative of a flaw (prideful overconfindence).

Or am I just missing something?
TyrantViewer 24th Jul 2018, 5:41 PM edit delete reply
The trick is that it is the PLAYER that is being tempted not rarity, Discord is tempting her with an opportunity to do the sort of intrigue focused gameplay she likes and giving in and out of character reasons why she should, all to distract from what she should know, the diamond is a trap of some sort- see my post above for more- but basically the Trick is that these reasons are moot because the diamond is a trap the entire time- Discord the character is wreaking havoc across the land noone will be able to spend a diamond on political skulldugery now, and once he is beaten all his magic is undone,so the diamond disappears anyway.

The trick is that none of the reasons for why she should take the diamond are valid, but the scenario is tempting to Rarity's player and is keeping her from noticing that, and it is testing a flaw of hers in how she has ended up making a big part of the campaign get wrapped up in the plot tumor of her own character's issues, just like twilight powergames and applejack metagames.
Guest 24th Jul 2018, 2:36 PM edit delete reply
Tell Discord to give the diamond to himself. Needs to help his appearance anyway he can.
Toric 24th Jul 2018, 5:59 PM edit delete reply
Oh sure, pick on the chaotic amalgamate of many contrasting elements, he's an easy target.

I'll have you know that Discord is a good-looking guy, and that diamond is the only thing in Equestria that can match him in sheer beauty. Just ask him.
Randonimity 24th Jul 2018, 6:06 PM edit delete reply
The vibe I am now getting from this arc is "DM-Discord is using in-game events as punishments for ooc-issues OG-GM has with the FiD players." Did nobody think to use the flowchart?
HappyEevee 24th Jul 2018, 7:32 PM edit delete reply
Newbiespud, I have to say I'm hugely enjoying your comic. :) As a gamer and MLP fan I find it a hilarious and well-executed concept, showcasing a fun and believable game between friends. Please continue doing your excellent work, it's extremely enjoyable. ^_^
DeS_Tructive 25th Jul 2018, 4:34 AM edit delete reply
Thinking about it, there is one point that bothers me a bit about this story arc:

How does DDM have so much intricate knowledge of not only the campaign, but the players involved. As others have pointed out, DDM is able to navigate both the players AND the characters.
Where could they gain this information? Not from DM, since their tendency to be surprised by player actions to the point of it blowing up their plot should also mean they don't have enough "working" knowledge about the players. Could it be that DDM had an additional source of inside information?

I can imagine Dash being responsible. She's an experienced gamer who might have been in a campaign with DDM before. As more of a munchkin type, I could imagine her telling DDM about how their mutual friend's campaign keeps jumping off the rails in increasingly hilarious and awesome ways.

Or here's another thought: What if DDM got their information from Fluttershy, because of being her SO?

Just putting that out there.
TyrantViewer 25th Jul 2018, 5:06 AM edit delete reply
That is my new Headcanon. And it explains fluttershy's different cursing, she actually just goes along with it, or Discord takes her doing so for granted...

Though actually it works better as a story if they become an item later now that I think about it
Zetsus 25th Jul 2018, 6:04 AM edit delete reply
Honestly Rarity should just walk away from the damn thing.

1. It's a huge ass diamond, how the fuck are her enemies going to use it? They can't break it into smaller pieces to sell and no pony has the kind of cash or the lack of common sense to simply buy it outright with gold.

2. The people who /could/ buy the damn thing would more than likely simply kill the pony carrying it or take the pony that gave the message and torture them for all their worth before moving up the line until the reach the diamond. Dragons and Diamond Dogs would take it as is, but the first one would simply eat you and/or burn you alive while the second would put you into slavery.

3. Even if Discord bypasses all these problems, so what? Your enemies just got tougher, big whoop. She's an adventurer, she grows by trial and tribulation. The stronger the enemy the bigger the pay out, and there is no such thing as an enemy you can't kill. Everyone has a loophole, even gods, and I doubt a god can be bought like a hitman with a lifeless rock.

4. She has the Princess as an ally. The minute she tells the crown what happened you can bet you butt Celestia will have her accountants, spies, and other assorted agents watching for any suspicious transactions once this Discord nonsense is over. Money that big, it makes waves, and it only takes one set of loose lips to sink a ship.
Guest 25th Jul 2018, 9:58 AM edit delete reply
You can actually break a diamond into smaller pieces.
Guest 25th Jul 2018, 4:42 PM edit delete reply
For number one:

It is possible to break a diamond into smaller pieces, yes. In fact, it'd be much smarter to in this case, since the giant diamond is basically impossible to sell as-is. But chip off small chunks of it, hire up a jeweler to make them all pretty and sparkly, and you could have something like ten thousand or more smaller diamonds that sell for a few hundred each. That's maybe $30,000,000 altogether, and that's really lowballing it.

I assume Rarity's enemies within the thieves' guild would have their ways to break down that diamond into movable wealth. That's the entire basis of thief guilds, to make valuable things disappear and to move money around to where it isn't supposed to be. Forgers, smugglers, gem cutters, laundering, then sell the goods to a legit business for untraceable profit.

Discord's making a valid threat, is what I'm saying. If he gives that rock to Rarity's guild, the balance of power will shift in a big way. Even if the princess were to get involved, by the time she was able to turn up the evidence the crime will have already been committed, the money spent, and the means put into motion. Her turning the diamond down guarantees another Rarity-centric sidequest.
PumpkingKnight 17th Aug 2018, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
I knew Zesty Gormand was crooked!