• Member Since 10th Jan, 2012
  • offline last seen Oct 16th, 2013



Nightmare Moon has risen again, intent on the destruction of the world that mocked her. Ponies everywhere have fallen into an endless sleep, and monsters from the stars ravage what's left of Equestria. There's one thing that might save them: the ANIMa, a bizarre machine which turns relationships into psychic weapons. Led by a still-waking Princess Celestia, Twilight and her friends must forge friendship into a weapon and defeat the terrors of the night once and for all. Based on Ben Lehman's Bliss Stage RPG.

Cover image by JackJacko-Eponymous; used with permission.

GDocs links:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 34 )

this sounds... interesting. A little NGE-ish, minus mission control being an utterly deplorable individual. tracking, and 4.5 stars.

AAAAAH something Bliss Stage related. I... I will probably explain in a later comment, but suffice to say, I am very happy to see this.

Minus? Ahahahahaha don't bet on it. Celestia is great and all, but your average Authority Figure... Less so.

So... this exists and I'm not responsible for it.

Excuse me while I paste links to this all over RPG.net and this makes my headcanon Anchor-as-Twilight joke retroactively 20% funnier in 10 seconds flat. :rainbowlaugh:

My god, yes. I remember reading this on /fic/. Brilliant stuff, can't wait to see more.

How does this not have more views? Pardon me while I personally punch most of the site's readers in the face. :pinkiecrazy:

222945 Glad you're liking it. As 222977 points out, Authority Figures generally aren't as stable as Celestia here. (For instance, the example game's Authority is an ex-cop who's avoided Bliss by spending the last seven years strung out on confiscated meth.) While I hope the characters stay recognizable and sympathetic, I will warn you that it's going to get dark. Heck, Celestia's actions toward Dash in this chapter, while understandable and debatably justified, are still kind of cruel. And I love me some emotional manipulation—despite NGE's problems, Hideaki Anno is a master of emotional manipulation (dummy plug scene!), and I'd be happy if I could squeeze a tenth of that impact into this story.

A major difference people familiar with Bliss Stage will notice—and a major contributor to Celestia's stability—is that I've cut the time between Bliss Day and the first mission from seven years down to a few months. Lets me use the mane cast as Pilots and Anchors, and I don't have to worry about explaining the seven-year gap. I've also changed the Nightmare's water motif into a sky/stars/space thing. "ANIMa" is an abbreviation for something different—"Alternative Nightmare Induction Matrix"—seeing as the nightmares aren't precisely aliens any more. Description of the dream world is mostly left to the Pilots, rather than the Anchors. And some other stuff which will come up when and if it ever becomes important.

Bliss Authority, Var, and Vimbert, thanks for your praise as well. Chapter Three (In Which Applejack Does Stuff) is coming along fairly well, Chapter Four (Dash Gets POV Status Again) has an outline, and I've been writing scenes from Chapter Five when I get stuck on those.

Chapter Five is, under my current outline, scheduled to be fun. Three and Four come first, of course, and those should be fun as well. Chapter Five is just that special :twilightblush:, terrible :trollestia: variety of fun that comes up so often in Bliss Stage.

Chapter Three: Applejack Gets to Do Something.

Questions, comments, and criticisms are all welcome. If you like it, tell your friends! If you don't like it, keep your bucking mouth shut.

I kid. If you don't like it, say so. Say what you think I'm doing wrong, or what you think I could be doing better. Am I too aggressive with the scene cuts? Do I get bogged down in description? Characterization feels iffy to you? Chapter structure getting repetitive? Something else? Tell me! Feedback is delicious.

Chapter Four: Rainbow Dash is a Sexy Horseshoeless Goddess of War
Chapter Four: Pinkie Pie is Entirely Too Subtle
Chapter Four: Intimacy Four?

As always, I appreciate your feedback, whether it's an three-page paean to my excellence or a one-sentence explanation of why I suck.

I'm interested in reading this chapter. I really am!
But... I can't. The current formatting just is really painful on the eyes, and quite hard to read. The indentation isn't a -good- thing in web formatting, and there's no spacing between lines of dialogue, or even most paragraphs at all. Once it's reformatted, I'll leave a real comment, but... Yeah, I can't actually parse this.

I didn't actually have trouble reading this, but spacing things out probably wouldn't hurt.

Part of me thinks Dash's affections were a bit sudden, but I've never been the most ardent AppleDasher - were there clues I missed prior to this chapter? At any rate this could cause serious problems for Dash considering how blunt and unsubtle she can be - if Pinkie was dropping hints there, then a love-triangle could be devastating for Dash's battle effectiveness. Should be interesting to see how this factor will affect their relationships - yet another avenue to doubt the other's sincerity in an already stressful situation.

I wonder now how it works? Does the feeling have to be mutual between them to boost the ANIMa? Or does it just have to be perceived on one party's behalf?

I'm continuing to enjoy the battle scenes, mostly because of the varied dreamscapes they take place on. Still, I'd like to see the environment play a bigger part in future battles - ie, they're facing a powerful Nightmare in a storm and lure it into getting torn apart by lightning, or they're fighting in a rocky valley and set off a rockslide. Even the environment working against them, like the fog in the last chapter, would serve to keep the fights fresh and interesting. That said, fighting wasn't really the point of this chapter, so it's okay to have it light.

Looking forward to the next!

I've been using the same tab indent, no blank lines between paragraphs formatting throughout—why did this chapter bother you especially? Was it that there's a lot more back-and-forth dialogue here?

Either way, I've gone ahead and changed it all to tab indent, one blank line between paragraphs throughout all four chapters. Probably should have done that earlier, Infinite Canvas and all. (Didn't change the spacing on the four opening lines of ANIMa formation, though, and haven't yet decided on whether or not to reformat the prologue.) I'm likely to take out the tabs, too; I admit I have a somewhat unreasonable attachment to them. Most of what I write is intended for hard copy, so I'm used to that formatting. Eh. Hope it's better for you now, though.

I'm building off of the interpretation that Rainbow Dash is kinda tsundere for AJ. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tsundere, for any readers unfamiliar with the term.) I probably do need to telegraph it more, though, in their previous interactions.

I'm glad you like their battles. I think it's important to anchor fight scenes (all scenes, really, but especially fight scenes) in their setting—it makes it a lot more concrete. The best action movies make use of setting, scenery, and props to help anchor their scenes, and since the setting in a written piece doesn't exist unless you imagine it, I try to do my best to integrate it into the action.

As for your questions on the tech, I'll answer those in a little bit. Have to go for now.

My current plan is to get chapter five up, then take a short break to polish up everything so far, then re-submit to EqD, then get to work on chapter six onwards. Chapter five is next. Working title: Hers, in Flesh and Spirit.

It had been an issue in the past, but I muscled through it. I think the back and forth was part of it, as well as it being "just one chapter" instead of previously, when I read most if it in a single shot. The change helped, but yeah, the indents are... A big issue. You could always just keep two copies, strip out the indentation when you post it online and leave it alone in the other copy.
I agree that keeping the ANIMa formation the way it is has an appropriate 'feel'. Overall, I'm definitely happy to see it keep moving forwards. :)

So apparently someone put this up on holistic.xkcd.com. That’s kind of amusing, though I wonder how many people coming here from there ended up reading. (If you found this story from holistic.xkcd.com, say so! I think it’s kind of funny.) And I’ve gotten a couple links from a Polish FiM fansite, which is kind of cool.

Anyway, Var, you were musing on the implications of Dash’s romantic troubles, so here’s A (not really all that) Brief Explanation of Bliss Stage Mechanics.

Bliss Stage is pretty rules-light. Whereas D&D has, off the top of my head, STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA BAB AC REF save FORT save WILL save and dozens of skills, Bliss Stage has only five stats. Three of these—Intimacy, Trust, and Stress—measure relationships, while the other two—Trauma and Bliss—measure how screwed your Pilot is. (Technically there’s a sixth stat, Terror, but it’s basically a Trauma substat.)

Intimacy is attack power, Trust is defense power, and Stress measures how much damage you’ve taken. They all go from 0 to 5. Trust and Stress go up and down. If Stress gets too high then Trust drops by one, but actions taken out of battle can increase Trust or reset Stress to zero.

Intimacy only goes up, and each level has certain minimum actions you have to take in order to reach that score. 1 is simply making eye contact or knowing someone’s name; 2 is talking, working, or singing together, or making casual physical contact; 3 is affectionate physical contact, personal conversations, or shouting matches; 4 is for sloppy makeouts, groping, sharing blood, or getting into a serious physical fight; 5 requires sex.

These actions are minimums—you can hook up with someone and still only have Intimacy 1, for instance. Blood relatives get an automatic +1 Intimacy, but it still caps at 5. There is no game benefit to incest. Just want to be clear on that.

If and when a relationship hits 0 Trust, it breaks. This is bad, and gets worse the higher your Intimacy score is.

Getting your pilot into a love triangle is actually a useful strategy, as long as you manage it carefully. If you do it right, you end up with several powerful relationships. If you do it wrong, you end up breaking several of those relationships and taking a one-way ride to Nightmare Town. The Carefree Hedonist character archetype basically runs off of this—he or she starts with lots of high-Intimacy, low-Trust relationships, which makes for a powerful but very fragile Pilot.

When I saw the words "giant robots", I thought this would be some sort of Megas XLR crossover. :rainbowlaugh:

Echoes: took forever, but here: http://www.ponychan.net/chan/fic/res/55414.html#i97668
Also, I like colons.

>I'm building off of the interpretation that Rainbow Dash is kinda tsundere for AJ. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tsundere, for any readers unfamiliar with the term.) I probably do need to telegraph it more, though, in their previous interactions.
Yes, yes you do. It is really jarring in the GDocs version I read.

Chapter Five: Also, Intimacy Five.

My thanks to Varanus for pre-reading this. If you haven't read Composure, you should probably go do that, because it's great.

At this point I'm going to pause, so I can go back to the beginning and make revisions. Tightening up characterization, fixing my rather screwy foreshadowing, etc. Then I'll probably end up tweaking the backstory here to be more in line with canon, then gonna go ahead and re-submit to EqD. After that it's on to chapter six, which will probably be an Applejack chapter. There's no such thing as Intimacy 6.

My level of "wat?" at Twilestia is not calculable. Also, enjoyably done though. I fear that you may end up throwing darts and just shipping at some point though... I mean, you've already done two hastily, and it wouldn't be hard to degenerate into "oh, everypony needs love to level up!" Still a fun read though.

Heh. Taking another spin on the roulette wheel of romance. I think I did a little better with the foreshadowing here, though—even way back in chapter 1, you've got lines like
>“My teacher, Princess Celestia.” Twilight’s voice caught in her throat. “My Princess stands beside me. She longs to free her sister from the nightmares. I fight for her sake. For Princess Celestia.”
And so forth. I do have plans! There's just, you know, a gap between planning and execution.

I like what you've done here. Good luck with the tidy-up, I'll keep an eye out on EqD!

While I agree with others that Appledash kind of came out of nowhere I thought there were definitely some indicators that Twilestia might be in the cards(was uncertain until this chapter if you were going to go mother-surrogate daughter route though).
Bit concerning that Twilight hasn't let Celestia or anyone else know about how NMM is in her head. Also, NMM saying she hasn't killed anyone is like saying "I didn't kill anyone, the gun did!" Both now and previously she has blood on her hands whether she is willing to acknowledge it or not.

And caught up. I do have to wonder where you're going to go from Chapter Five. :pinkiecrazy:

Also, Rainbow, stop that. Stop it now. Stop being the chick who does it for the upgrades. I'm warning you, this will end in tears and ANIMa explosions. :rainbowhuh: That sort of behavior backfires so often in my games and players keep doing it...

This is freaking awesome so far...

Holy crap, it's finally on EqD.

Have to crack this one back open. Last time I saw it on /fic/, it only had two chapters, but lots of potential.

If this reaches a victory ending, you should have someone deliver a lecture to Nightmare Moon for once. In so many fics I've read, she spends the entire time going on and on to her opponents about how wronged she was and how awful Celestia is. I wish someone would finally remind her that the rest of the world doesn't exist to make her happy and she doesn't have any right to do this to the rest of Equestria over her sibling rivalry.

Also, are you planning on having anyone reach 108 bliss before the story ends?

Great story so far. I will be reading and following.

485370 Exactly. Adolf Hitler didn't actually kill a single person in WWII. Do we absolve him of the millions of atrocities committed by his followers?

Twilight needs a few pointers from our world! Then NNM would be finished.

Anyway, these ancient spirits (of evil, transform this decayed form to... ack, stop that brain!) are douches. No matter what NMM says, if they're helping her, they deserve to get killed by mortals.

See, if I were one of the spirits, I'd be all like, "Beeyatch, STFU! I ain't gonna help you cuz ain't nuthin' in it fer me! Yo screwed yoself, ho! Deal with it!"

Cuz I'm a bawss. :rainbowdetermined2:

Congrats on this story, and congrats on getting on EqD. This sure has come some ways since I last saw it.

Wow... I can't read any more than the first chapter for now, but this is incredible.

A great chapter, and all around, a great story. :twilightsmile:
Hmm... I wonder though; could Nightmare Moon possibly be jealous of Celestia having Twilight? :trollestia:

Okay, you have got to be fucking dead or something! Finish this damn thing already!!!:flutterrage: it has been literally 2 years since you started this thing. FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED!!!! I don't care if you have to pull some inspiration out of your ass. Reach, pull, and pinch! That's all you have to do! It's just words on a screen mother fucker! Words on a fucking screen! (Ps. Don't take anything I say literally, I am a gigantic asshole!):pinkiehappy:

I realize you've been gone for 23+ weeks so the chances are you'll never see this. For the record, Even though it took me forever to get around to reading it, Friendship is Giant Robots became one of me favorite Twilestia stories, thanks in no small part to the unique premise and its ties to Bliss Stage. It's a wonderful story and very readable throughout. You made it to EqD, you have writers like Varanus, Cold in Gardez, Vimbert, and Ariamaki drooling over the story, and here we sit, still waiting patiently. Come back. Just a whisper, or a hint, something. We miss you.

...A Flashback action. How badly did AJ roll?!

461120 I thought It would be A Gurren Lagenn crossover:rainbowlaugh:

Pinkie used flirting.
It wasn't very effective.

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