• Published 21st Jun 2014
  • 2,383 Views, 68 Comments

Would You Like To Play Again? - Doccular42

What would you do if you died and discovered that your whole life was a game? That you were someone else's pawn? That the entire world was run by a guy named Phil? And what if you could try again? Would you? Button Mash would.

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Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Button Shine gently climbed into his bed, mindful of the small sleeping form occupying the other half of the mattress. The baby dragon lay curled up in his tiny crib which Button had insisted on having right next to him. After all, his father had told him that he was personally responsible for the adorable creature, so there was no way that Button would make him sleep on the floor.

“Do you think you know what to name him yet?” Twilight Velvet asked, poking her head through the doorway with a smile.

Button leaned over and hugged the dragon close to him. “I haven’t decided for sure, but I do have an idea,” he replied.

“Oh? What’s that?”


Stormaggeddon, Dark Lord of All!

Button cut off mid-sentence. What?

It’s the most awesome name ever! He would totally love it!

You roll an influence check. You roll a natural twenty. Automatic critical success!

Well, if you say so…

“Well honey? What is it?”

Button cleared his throat. “I was thinking Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All.”

His mother looked at him for a moment, her eyes wide. The she suddenly burst out a quick laugh. “Button, you say the funniest things! Well, when you pick a real name, I’m sure it’ll be great.” She trotted over to him and gave him a quick kiss on his forehead.

“I love you mom,” Button said as he returned a hug.

“And I love you, you silly little colt. Sweet dreams…” She closed the door softly as she exited the room.

What? ‘Pick a REAL name?’ What’s wrong with Stormageddon, huh?

It is a kinda weird name. I was thinking that we could name him Spike!

Dude, boooooring. I grew up with a guy named Spike. Actually, he was a green and purple dragon too. And his mom’s name was… Oh. Oh. OH! Holy crap! Dude, I know who we are! We’re—

Hello? Mr. Voice? Eh. Weird. And with that, Button shine rolled over onto his side. He smiled as he looked at the dragon’s side going up and down in time with his breathing.

“Goodnight, whatever your name is…”


Button Mash came to back in the darkness of Phil’s room.

“Ah, good. You’re awake. Or asleep. Same thing, really.” Phil stood up from his desk as swept across the room to the red couch that still sat in front of the hearth. “Come, sit with me.”

Button shook his head, trying to clear away his disorientation. His propeller hat fell off, so he put it back on his head before trotting over and jumping onto the couch.

“This is the weirdest game ever, Phil,” He said matter-of-factly. “Why am I Twilight Sparkle?”

Phil chuckled. “Noticed that, did you? Well, let’s just say that the ‘Faithful Student Story Arc’ is one of my best campaigns, so I thought that it would be a shame to waste it. You have quite a magnificent adventure ahead of you.”

Button cocked his head to the side. “But I already know a bunch of the story. Isn’t that kind of unfair? Shouldn’t we just run a different adventure?”

“Allow me to explain.” Phil raised his hand to quiet the colt. “You will have noticed several things while you were playing. First, while you can influence your character and talk to him, you cannot control him directly. This is intentional.”

“But why—”

“Please. Allow me to finish before asking questions,” Phil said.

Button pulled one of the blankets from before over his body and nodded his head.

“Thank you. As I was saying, this is intentional. When we created the game, we realized that it was impossible for us to remain completely ‘in character’ the whole time we were playing. Our solution was this: We create the character and his or her personality, and then we live inside their head as a separate personality. The influence checks allowed us to move the character in a direction we would want to go, but not in an extreme way. Do you understand?”

Button nodded.

“Good. Next, you will note that the character accepts your presence within his mind quite easily. This is, once again, intentional. It would do no good for them to tell the whole world that they have another voice in their head telling them what to do.”

Button laughed. “Yeah. It would suck for every adventure to end in an insane asylum!”

“Indeed,” Phil said. “Finally, you will note that you did not recognize yourself as being Twilight Sparkle until the end of the day. This is because, as I said before, your memories of your life are suppressed. At least, they are supposed to be. As you get more practice, you will be able to remember more of your previous experiences and be able to use them to guide your character.”

“But why even put that in if you want to remain in character so much?” Button asked.

Phil laughed. “You are quite astute. I wonder if you’re picking up some of Button Shine’s intelligence already… Being in a character’s mind for a while will do that to you.”

“That doesn’t answer my question…” Button murmured.

“I suppose it was pride, or perhaps selfishness, that made us implement that feature. We had a dream of one day distributing our game and having others play it as well. So we added in a feature exclusive to our group: The longer that we play, the easier it is for us to access past memories from our actual lives that would apply to the game world itself, or from previous adventures. You can automatically remember non-critical information, but not information that would actually help you. That is why you could remember that it is a game and that you had a stuffed animal elephant, but not facts that you previously knew about Celestia’s School or Twilight Sparkle and Spike.”

“Hey! That’s totally not fair to the other players!” Button yelled. “Why would you guys do that?”

Phil sighed. “We were young and brash. We thought far less about others than we did of ourselves and our own enjoyment. It was a foolish choice, but one that we came to appreciate after centuries of playing.”

Button nodded in understanding before Phil continued.

“But what is odd is that you managed it on your first day in-game. I shall have to think about how that was possible… Well, there is one more thing you will have noticed. Whenever you try to give meta information about the game or knowledge from your previous life, whether it is helpful to the gameplay or not, your voice inside his head is cut off for a while. Once again, we did this on purpose. Well, I did it on purpose. Call it a fit of conscience after allowing my players such a large advantage from earlier.”

Button sat thoughtfully for a moment. “Okay. So I can remember unimportant information, but not important information until I’ve played the game longer. I can’t give important information to the character at all, and I can’t control his actions. But I can influence them?”

“Correct.” Phil nodded.

“Hmm… Alright, I think I get it!” Button exclaimed. “After I play the game long enough, I can retain important information and keep getting bigger bonuses to my influence checks. So, after a certain amount of time, I’ll be able to point the character in the direction I want to go, and then let him do the rest! Now I see how you put that together!”

“Well, I’ll be. The only NPC to ever become a player is already shaping up to be a powergamer. That’s a good bit of deduction there. It took my old players quite a while to understand the mechanics like that.” Phil gave a deep, throaty chuckle from beneath his hood.

Button grinned back. “We’re totally gonna win this!”

“I certainly hope so.” Phil waved his hand and his desk appeared before him. “Now, I suppose that you would like to see your character sheet, yes?”

“Sure!” Button scooted over on the couch to look at the papers littering the desk.

“This is Button Shine, Level One Wizard. As you can see, he has some rather formidable stats.”

Button studied the sheet. At the top of the paper were several lines with miscellaneous information such as his name, gender, class, level and player. It also included his height and weight, as well as his Lawful Good alignment.

“Yuck. Lawful Good. I thought I was a Wizard, not a Paladin!”

Phil patted him on the head. “Well, the way that you influence your character may eventually change his alignment over time.”

“Good.” Button shifted his gaze to the left side of the paper. Six rows of numbers showed Shine’s base stats. “Seven Strength, ten Dexterity, twelve Constitution, twenty-two Intelligence, sixteen Wisdom, and fourteen Charisma,” Button read aloud. “Twenty-two at Level One? How is that even possible?”

Phil snapped his fingers again, and a huge book landed onto the table with a loud crash. Phil opened it up to the first chapter.

“Is that the game manual?” Button asked.

“No. It’s the character manual…”


“...for unicorn Wizards.”

Button blinked. “You have a ginormous game manual just for one character type?”

Phil nodded. “Yes.”

“What?” Button shook his head. “How many rules do you have for character creation?”

“I have written a full and unabridged volume for every possible class combination, even down to the extremely complicated multiclasses,” Phil said.

Button stared at his companion, mouth agape. “Dude… How long did that take to make?”

Phil pointed at the cover of the manual.

“‘The Game: Character Text: Unicorn Wizards. Twelfth Edition.’ What the what. Twelve editions of this?” Button asked incredulously.

“Let’s just say that I’ve had quite a bit of spare time,” Phil replied dryly.

“I’d hate to see what the core rulebook looks like then…” Button muttered.

“Let’s take it one step at a time,” Phil said, smoothly opening back up to the first chapter. “This is the chapter on creation and the first level. It is over two-hundred pages long, so I will give you the short version. I rolled your random base stats, calculated your lineage, genetic, social, and environmental bonuses up to age six, and then I assigned the stats accordingly.”

“Huh? You rolled dice, then did what?”

Phil pointed at a single blank page. At his touch, many tiny words appeared on the page, arranged into lines and rows. “This is your family tree. Well, Button Shine’s family tree. It goes all the way back to the first unicorn, back even further than that, and then all the way to the first living thing to walk the face of Equus. We shall limit ourselves to the first important ancestor of yours.” He waved his hand, and the page zoomed in upon a single name.

“Nebulous Wave, founder of Equestria’s first magical academy. Moving down, we see his daughter, Shimmering Star, who was a very powerful enchantress. She managed to win the heart of Nebulous’ star student, and the two of them had a foal named—”

“Okay, okay. Are we going through the whole line? Can you just tell me what bonuses I get?” Button asked, rubbing his head. “I don’t understand this.”

Phil sighed. “The past is wasted on the very young. Very well. Your ancestry includes some of the greatest Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, Druids, Favored Souls, Bards, and Swordmages of all time. This gives you a significant lineage bonus. You also inherit a genetic bonus from your parents. These two are added together to become your Inherited Bonuses. We then take the environment you were raised in, which includes how your parents taught you, what schools you went to, and so on, and add that to the Social Bonus from the town you were raised in. This becomes your Influenced Bonus. We then add your Racial Bonuses, subtract your Age Penalties, and then we have your stats.”

“‘Age Penalties.’ What’s that?” Button asked.

“Younger characters have lower stats than their older versions. These penalties decrease over time, but for now, you have a large penalty to your physical stats that will quickly be removed over time, and a smaller penalty to mental stats that will take quite a bit longer to full leave.”

“So these stats are my final stats?” Button asked, gesturing at the row of numbers on his character sheet.

“No, those are your current stats. By the time you are an adult, you will have six added to the physical stats, and four added to your mental stats.”

Button’s jaw dropped. “Well, that isn’t ridiculously overpowered at all.”

Phil chuckled. “Don’t worry, little one. The game has ways of compensating for more powerful characters.”

Button sighed. “Okay, I think I understand the stats already. Strength is physical strength, for lifting heavy stuff. Dexterity is like flexibility and speed. Constitution is how tough you are. Intelligence is how smart you are, like what you know, how well you learn, and how good you are at solving puzzles. But I don’t really get what Wisdom and Charisma are in this game.”

“Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma all have some contribution to what you said Intelligence is. Intelligence is like your mental Strength. The smarter you are, the more powerful your spells are, and it also allows you to think faster on your hooves. Wisdom is how you apply your knowledge. It allows you to make better plans, understand things better, and gives you defenses against hostile spells and illusions. Charisma is how you interact with others. It is the force of your personality and your natural leadership abilities. All of these interact with each other in complicated ways. The rules for how these three abilities affect your skills and any actions that you take make this manual look like some light bedtime reading.” Phil smiled. “But don’t worry. You don’t have to learn all the rules. To you, it will feel as if you are living them.”

“Okay then,” Button said. “I guess that you don’t have the normal skills from other games either?” He looked down at the character sheet at the section labeled ‘Skills.’ It was completely blank.

“My skill mechanics are extremely complicated.” He waved his hand over the skills, and many swirling numbers appeared, seeming to pop onto the page one second, then immediately disappear. “We’ll just say that every skill for every single action that you can take in any situation has a number, and I have that number.” He waved his hand again, and the page became blank again.

“Ugh. This is gonna hurt my head.” Button shook himself, his mane flying all over the place.

“Don’t worry about it, Button. The stats are the easiest to understand, and we’ll eventually cover the other statistics. For now, would you like to hear a story before you have to go back down and wake up as Button Shine?”

Button’s ears popped up. “A story? Sure!”

Phil gave another small laugh. “Very well. Long ago, the ponies of Equus were not the most powerful nation on the planet. That honor actually went to the powerful gryphons who ruled almost the entire world with an iron talon, including the land of Equestria. But that was not always to be. For the gryphons had made a critical error, and one of the pony generals would take advantage of it...”

Button smiled, snuggled up in his blanket, and listened to the first of many stories. The fire crackled warmly, and Button’s mind drifted to his family. I’ll be back. I promise.