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Heehee! So people are suggesting a sequel, eh? Well, yeah, it had occurred to me too. That wasn't why I wrote the twist ending, but although the story of Ultimate Dream is finished, there's clearly a new story to be told in the adventures of Tessa, Paula, Michael and Alleria :) So I might write that, indeed.

I'm not sure I'd envisage it as a VisualNovel, if that's what CH's NaNoRenO comment meant. I certainly do like writing stories that branch, but I hadn't really imagined Alleria's story that way. One idea I did idly consider is that if I do write a sequel in the same style, perhaps it could be Alleria's blog, since she's gone and created herself an account now... :) --AC
I actually meant that someone clearly needs to write the actual UltiDri? game... but I was largely tongue-in-cheek. --CH
Heh. Given how stereotyped the novel's characters found the RPG to be, I have no particular desire to flesh it out in all its clichéd badness ;) --AC (unless in-game you could [break the script] and meet the rest of the Wizards' Academy characters anyway... hmm...)
I think you could make it with RPGMakerTwoThousand? or whatever it's called without significant effort, but why would you want to? Like AC says, it really isn't a very good game. Also, since Tessa and friends broke the chronocycling enchantment, the game shouldn't even work any more, (around now somebody ought to mention the parallels with OnlyYouCanSaveMankind?, I think) which means making it would be a bit daft. --SF
Rm2k would be easy enough to do, I guess.  (Or rmxp or whatever version they're up to now)  --Vitenka

SF comments:
My excuse here is that the summoner is one of the characters who wouldn't join the party since they had more than 3 already. But that is just an excuse :) --AC
Alleria's <Elements> spell is a mass-damage spell, as "Confrontation on the Castle" implies, although I realise now that was never explicitly stated. --AC
Now I know that, I can see how it's implied. Far too subtle for me the first time through though. --SF
No, they use a PF in combat on at least one occasion (the battle with Kraus). Most of the other times they got used, it was only right at the end of the fight that a character died anyway. --AC (actually, on double-checking, no, that was a <Raise> spell. But they're normally interchangeable. PFs are meant to be possible to be used in combat, but a bit inconvenient (since the character needs healing too) so the group usually leave it till afterwards.)
Heh... that's a fair comment ;) The HandWave?y explanation would be that since there are 5 of them and they get to use tricks that the normal RPG party can't, they get to defeat enemies that you'd need to do some leveling up to beat if you were playing the game. But I'm happy for the RPG to be shockingly well-designed if that's the alternative :) --AC
They don't exactly play optimally, though. Notably, the heal-bot stops being a heal-bot halfway through and starts casting the token underpowered attack spell heal-bots always get. Tessa admits that Michael is the only one of them who knows what he's doing (though when she says that the party doesn't include Stuart - that said, Stuart probably doesn't play optimally due to overprotectiveness towards Tessa).  --SF
(and the one you presumably expected coming...)
Hee! As I said, none of the characters except Paula are deliberately based on anyone (and Stuart's name was almost Steven). But I'm glad you like him :) --AC
I would be more reassured by the name thing if it weren't for the number of times I've been called Steven at GamesEvening (though not, I think, ever by you). I wasn't accusing you of basing Stuart on me - you've never seen many of my characteristics that Stuart has (the most obvious one is the silver tongue he picks up in-character). It was just kinda eerie. --SF
I thought of SF the first time Stuart was mentioned... --M-A

Oh yes, and
Possible outcomes whirling in my head, I laid down and close my eyes.

My eyes snapped open at the incessant beeping of my alarm clock. Sleepily, I leaned over to hit the snooze button-and, coming fully awake, snapped the flight yoke I was holding in my other hand hard left, causing my fighter to veer away from the oncoming space station the proximity alert had warned me about.

Right, I thought, trying to identify the cockpit from any amongst the scores of such fictional ships I'd flown, this is positively the last time I read anything written by Alex after midday.

Heee.  Nice.  Big plot thingy I can see that is currently unexplained is why the king knows their real names.  Unless the Chancellor told him?  But I thought he only got taken over after they got sucked in.  --Vitenka
I was wondering if the King might turn out to be VarynFan? ? --DR  Or maybe there just has to be a little spying of parties going on, so they know who to warn to be in position when the party arrives.
Heh. Yes, I really didn't explain this very well - I kindof meant to rework this bit before releasing the novel. The best explanation I have is that the King has a certain magical sensitivity in the same way Kraus does. Paula &co didn't enter the game the moment they played it, only once they accepted the King's invitation. It was only thanks to Kraus's spell from the end of the previous cycle that the King's invitation was possible - that the players were "close" enough to Elysia for the King to sense their names. But yeah, this is one of the bigger plotholes, I'll admit. --AC

DR Comments:
I did have two thoughts.  Firstly, when it occurred to me that they could take things back in the same way they brought the CD through, I thought that they make take back a PhoenixFeather? for Ben.  Of course, having a limited and non-renewable supply of such items could pose many real world dilemmas and tensions for the group, now they are back.
My version of that thought was "They could always PhoenixFeather? the corpse in Elysia", but given the ending your version is more likely to work. However, there's a precedent for letting Alex get away with this one, so... --SF
I was thinking that given they were carrying around a pack with all sorts of things in, that should appear in the real world with them each morning. But I was also wondering if Alleria knew a rise-from-the-dead spell, and if the troupe would go and exhume the grissly remains of Ben from the ground at some stage. "By this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days!" --Admiral
Terena's the healer - she's the one with the <Raise> spell. And PhoenixFeathers only work for a short period after the character dies - or alternatively they only work on the party. Tessa specifically mentions her urge to reach for a PhoenixFeather? at the moment they kill him, but resists it, and it's too late after that. --AC
*Sniff* So Ben's really dead? --Admiral
Having helped a friend after the death of their friend (not someone I knew) recently, I have to say that you've missed out the utter desperation to get that friend back and have them not have died.  I was amazed that the PhoenixFeathers didn't even get mentioned after they found out that Ben had died, and no-one even tried to come up with ideas of what they could try (even if those ideas were futile).  Either Ben was really no more than a passing aquaintance to your main characters, or there should have been deeper and longer-lasting emotional reactions to his death.  They'd have been thinking about it every moment for weeks afterwards - it would have woven itself into everything they did. --M-A
This is probably somewhere where I sadly betray my fortunate lack of experience in this area. I didn't want the novel's final quarter to be unremittingly depressing, and so although I wanted the death to be terrifyingly real, I didn't want to focus on it to the expense of everything else. That probably is unrealistic and unfair to those who've been through similar situations.
On the flip side, there were only three days of entries after the funeral, and Ben's name is mentioned emotionally in two of them; there's not been long to see what long-term emotional impact his death will have. But you're right, I'm writing outside what I know here, and it shows. (I received a similar comment on WhenIRuleTheWorld, actually, from someone who'd had a mental issue similar to the one depicted in that game, saying that it's not something one gets over that quickly. This may be a recurring weakness of mine.) --AC
I don't think the problem has so much to do with writing outside your experience as it does with being unsure of your tone. You're writing a light, fast-paced fantasy adventure with a few mysterious undertones in it. Then you throw a major character death into the works and try to continue without, as you put it, making the novel's final quarter unremittingly depressing. Unsuprisingly, the death appears to be somewhat marginalised (also, that's an issue of format - Tessa is sufficiently guilt-wracked to not want to talk about Ben much, which might be why he gets this treatment...) as a result. I think this may be summarised as "If you don't want the last quarter of your novel to be depressing, don't have the lead character accidentally-on-purpose kill a good friend three-quarters of the way through!" --SF
Good summary.  P.S. 24 hours to arrange a funeral for someone young who didn't die in hospital?  Very unlikely, unless it was for religious reasons.  Even a straightforward "they were old and died of old age in hospital" funeral takes several days to arrange, usually.  You'd probably have a coroner's inquest to deal with too.  But I can forgive your lack of experience. :) --M-A
Now that one I did realise was unrealistic, but that /had/ to be very shortly afterwards, because the game in their dreams keeps going unrelentingly, and they'd have got through the rest of the game before the funeral happened unless I added unnecessary padding. I know it's unusual, but I thought it wasn't impossible; perhaps I should have added a mention of the in-world reason for why it was so quick. --AC
That's the point where the game sends you on an immensely long fetch quest to unlock something to let you go to the real final confrontation region, though.  You had Alen let them skip it.  Perhaps having several posts spread several days apart with very few terse comments, ending with "The funeral is today."?  --Vitenka
That... is actually a really good idea. I may well use that if I do a rewrite. I can also address M-A's point to some extent in the rewrite, but SF's pointed out a pretty fundamental flaw with the plot. --AC
To be honest, I think SF's point is very valid - if you don't want the novel to turn depressing, don't kill one of the characters. I know it's all very arty and everything, but it doesn't really quite manage to work. I guess there's a reason the hollywood-style stories are so common after all. However, if you think about it, Ben dieing doesn't actually add that much to the plot - it just adds "realism" and a load of plot problems. Not sure how to rework any of it though - that's your area of expertise. --Admiral
It might not add much to the plot, but torturing characters is so much fun! ;) Sorry, not got anything to add there, really, except that the mismatch really is something you need to address if you do do a rewrite - SunKitten
Secondly, what if it turned out that Klaus was a good guy after all?  He lived as a servant for many a year, and got many chances to see the futility of evil.  Suppose he too got sick of the role he was forced into by the chrono loop?  As the greatest magician of all time, perhaps he saw that this great spell to summon the people from out world was the only way to break the loop.  And, there at the end, his most heroic deed - lying to the party about his motives, so they'd have the strength and determination to kill him.  Giving his life to save his world.  I mean, this guy could do a mass paralysis spell.  If he'd really wanted to win, he could have done so at any time.  Are you really claiming that a baddie let them win through a sense of fair play of wanting to stick to his plotted limitations?
Except he doesn't have to die to break the enchantment. At least, not before he SoulBinds? the summoning spell into his own life. Regarding his limitations, those are probably in his MP total rather than in his AI - note that he does cheat, casting three spells before the battle starts, which isn't supposed to work. A lot of SquareEnix? badguys only get to cast their ultimate attack once, presumably because they only have enough MP to cast it once. So he can cast <UltraGrinder?> once and <MassHourglass?> a couple of times. But <MassHourglass?> probably isn't a win button, because it won't have enough duration (Status-effect spells in SquareEnix? games *usually* suck unless they do actual damage as well) for him to accomplish anything during it. --SF
What a delightful theory! I like it! Um, I think the natural claim would be that he let them win despite very much lacking a sense of fair play, but because he really cares about the group obeying the rules of the game. Remember he didn't plan for the observers to come into the party's bodies. Still, a superb theory and one which I may promote :) --AC (and yes, <MassHourglass?> only lasts a few seconds the one time you see it.)
I have to say, I was almost expecting Klaus to have a proper ulterior motive along the somewhat more noble lines. He actually seemed a bit cheesily unrelentingly evil, at the end. It's not that it didn't work as it was, but I do like my villains to have redeeming features (like, not actually being villains at all, or at least forced by circumstances into being utterly depraved, that sort of thing) - SunKitten

Admiral comments:

So with some non-zero probability, Tessa's going to turn up pregnant at some point in the next month or so with Stuart's kid. I wonder if all that dimensional shifting has any particularly nasty teratogenic effects on a foetus. You never know, the kid may end up pixellated or worse. Tessa should probably tell her doctor everything that happened, so they can keep an eye on the situation. --Admiral

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