Spike of All Trades

by Ariamaki

Chapter 33: Quantifying

The Crusader’s ‘character sheets’ as produced by Observe were... interesting.

Identity: Sweetie Belle, 15, Female, Unicorn
Personal Information: Job: Student, No Position
Title: Cutie Mark Crusader, ? Specialty
Current Status: Status (Normal) 
Experience: Level 5, XP to Next Level: 978
Attributes: STR: 10    DEX: 14    VIT: 13    INT: 22    WIS: 19    LUK: 22

Identity: Scootaloo, 16, Female, Pegasus
Personal Information: Job: Student, No Position
Title: Cutie Mark Crusader, ? Specialty
Current Status: Status (Normal) 
Experience: Level 5, XP to Next Level: 760
Attributes: STR: 13    DEX: 29    VIT: 17    INT: 10    WIS: 15    LUK: 18

Identity: Apple Bloom, 15, Female, Earth Pony
Personal Information: Job: Student, No Position
Title: Cutie Mark Crusader, ? Specialty
Current Status: Status (Normal) 
Experience: Level 5, XP to Next Level: 410
Attributes: STR: 23    DEX: 19    VIT: 23    INT: 17    WIS: 14    LUK: 7

In addition to dropping the History segment, Spike trimmed off a few other small sections. The main one was that to his eyes 'Status' also included their emotional state. Not much sense writing that down, it was going to change too often to be useful. It made sense to keep Status line as a whole, just to prove they were all in good condition. Chalk that up as another use for Observe: He could probably do some fantastic diagnostic work at the Ponyville General Hospital. Volunteering might be a good way to grind skills... Onto the list it went. In the meantime, he tried to keep an ear out for what the Crusaders thought about their stats.

"Mah luck is seven?"

"Aw, why am I so... balanced?"

"WHOO! So fast. I mean, probably? Um, what's the base like?

"I started with ten and that seems normal, from the ponies I saw."

"OK, sweet! Then I am very fast. Awesome."


"I mean, it definitely seems right, but geez, Scootaloo's got twenty-nine dexterity and-"

"-and Ah have SEVEN LUCK. Can we come back around ta that?"

Spike frowned down at the sheets.
"Yeah, about that... Actually... Huh. Give me a minute here, I want to do some math."

"...That is not a normal sentence."

"Ya'll OK?"

"Hey, I like math!"

Tally it all up, carry here... Weird. So if everypony had 10 in each stat to start, and then everypony but him got 5 points to spread on level-up (or got a level when they earned five points? how do levels even work? was it just abstracting these stats from their potential when he used Observe, or was it a static fact that only he could see and understand?), and all the Crusaders were Level 5... Added up that would be 85. But Apple Bloom, despite her Luck complaints (and the fact that everypony started with 10 made seeing a single-digit number even weirder, actually) had the highest total of them... at a staggering 103.

So where did the other 18 points come from? That was more than three levels' worth! They had to come from training, given what he knew about the system... And that made sense. A worrying amount of sense. Their never-ending Cutie Mark Crusade inevitably involved all sorts of high-end strenuous activity, pushing their limits trying to learn anything and everything. As they had gotten older they'd diverted into just as many mental pursuits as physical: Scootaloo spent six solid weeks last year studying old Cloudsdalian war tactics, for just one example.

Spike wondered if the girls would be anywhere near this powerful if they had already gotten their Cutie Marks at a normal age, instead of striving constantly and still lacking. Would they have the same raw stats, except more focused? No, they'd almost certainly be weaker... He felt that there was a lesson here, something about spreading out and confronting your weaknesses instead of just relying on the places where you're already strong. He also realized he was digressing again: The Crusaders all looked at him expectantly, clearly having come to a similar conclusion a while ago.

"So all the crusading and adventuring that we did..."

"Worth a whole mess a' points, huh?"

"...Spike, what are your stats like?"

He looked nervously from the Crusaders to the pile of random implements they had brought down.
"Uh, I think because of The Gamer it... Started me off fresh? So, um, Eleven-ish. All around."

Their eyes lit up with a very worrying gleam, which was when things got a little hectic. Spike remembered agreeing to work on his stats and maybe even grind his skills while they were at it. And he very clearly remembered the setup, making sure they understood his limits, deciding on a signal in case something dangerous happened. The basics, you know? As for what came next...

"Hay Spike can ya Observe how many marbles are in this here jar?"

"Spike, can you lift me? What about after buffs?"

"Oooh! Can you calculate how much buffing it takes, out to two decimals?"

"Carve a stone statue! Doesn't matter how bad, just try it."

"Alright, now that I'm on your back, how much slower are you? Try sprinting!"

"Start using that Heartsong thing! I'll accompany you, that works right?"

"Oooh, that's actually pretty nice. Can ya try to do it up as sheet music? In dragonfire!"

"I'm your training weight for now! Do normal exercises but with me on top of you."

"Croup dock haunch, shoulders hip- How long can we interrupt the song?"

"Ya'll both slowed up real bad there: So... Not long from the lookuvit. Less than a bar?"

"OK, throw me! Just toss me, I'm good at tucking and rolling. See how far I can get."

"That's enough song testing for now: Let's make our way into town!"

Somewhere towards the end there he ended up slipping into a harness attached to a modest sledge. It was something they pulled around town during school fundraisers, or they’d drag it out of mothballs when their families needed help to move things. Spike had helped haul it before, although usually he wasn’t alone and it was full of cloth or produce. Today he had to pull it solo, and it was over-full with three over-excited fillies. They didn't stop testing his abilities and limitations either, save for was some attention paid to keeping his MP stable: With his current stats self-buffing was required to drag them all across town, so testing Active skills right now was off the table.

They got some strange looks, but not much stranger than usual: Ponyville kind of inured you to shenanigans after the first few months. Around halfway to the Library, Spike realized that in a cosmic sense this whole thing was his own fault: The Crusaders had only encountered this kind of ridiculous multi-disciplinary training in comics and games thanks to him, and now it came full circle to bite him. That bite was softened just a little by the constant parade of stat bonuses, skill ups, fresh acquisitions and Mastery system pings. Turns out when you've got the body of a video game character, you can do impossible ridiculous grindy training like one too. Who would've guessed?