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The Flame Badger Company Post Mortem

     Recently I haven’t had the energy much to be around. Other things have caught my attention, and sl2 fell a bit down my priority list, and with that I felt it was time to cut free my guild, and let the stories of its members float on to their own paths. All of that has already been handled in house, don’t worry, but I figured as this was a near year long endeavor, I might share with you some of the details of how it played out, in case any of you want to try running your own stories here in the wonderful land of sigrogana. So let’s take a look at the Flame Badger Company, the good, the bad, and the petty. For the purpose of this post mortem I’ll be trying to look at the plotline as a whole, rather than any specific characters, such as my own badger Ignis. We’re going to try and keep things chronological, and add context as necessary.


     Not too terribly long ago Dev added Homunculi as a race category to the game, and I had the seed of an idea. People love created races, but it is far easier to make a character than it is to make their maker, and without a Karaten to just build them like Mechinations, a fair few homunculi would be running around without a backstory. Around the same time I also heard the ever common sentiment of nothing ever happens in SL2, and figured I might try my hand at killing two birds with one stone. I envisioned a backstory element, akin to the histories in some tabletop rpgs, less than a race and a class, but still something that affects your character going forward. SL2 being such a narrative game this background would need a bit more meat, but it was never meant to be a big event chain, just a faction that would show up and play a bit part in other stories, and give context to the world at large.

     Enter the Flame Badger Company, the shittiest mercenary company in the Six. A band of mooks that could show up to any event, look tough, and then fold when a heroic character gave their anime speech, and hit them with a named attack. By day they’d take off the ski masks, shuffle around lamenting the terrible living and working conditions, and maybe even meet a few adventurers they’d have to feel bad about fighting later. I was even open to running events if someone came to me wanting one, though I’ll admit I could have advertised that louder and further, my main focus was to let people I knew who ran events know that we were available if they ever needed filler.

     In house, the Flame Badgers were a band of slave mercenaries, all constructed with the express purpos of being expendable soldiers. Mostly Homunculi, made by a lich to generate passive income as he explored the limits of the akashic. Being a badger meant the only family you knew worked you near to death, wouldn’t let you leave, your needs would be met, but it would take you a decade before you started to get time off, or actually paid. You could of course bend the rules, fudge your time card, steal money to spend on yourself, exercise some independence, but all at the risk of a sibling finding out and getting you in trouble.

Two Italians shouting in town square

     So a few characters made, and a tone in need of setting, we launched the first badger ‘event’. For these breakdowns I’ll avoid using names where possible, since we’re focused more on the what, not the who. An ‘escaped badger’ who we will call Shirly for the time being had run off from the family, and as such the family was sent to recover them. In this case we’ll call the badgers sent after them Butch and Casidy. Shirly got a head start, a chance to ingratiate herself with the community, and drum up support and interest before Butch and Casidy went to try and basically kidnap her with the not so subtle implication that if she was caught she would be killed, terms Shirly’s player agreed to, since Butch and Casidy were never supposed to catch her.

     The first scene was in Tannis. Shirly had been working with a local who was helping her with her common when Casidy spotted them. We’ll call the guy Terrance. So this is a perfect opportunity to get things rolling. Casidy went to Terance, making the argument that Shirly stole from the family, and was too damaged to be on her own. Shirly, who could barely speak common, but had expressed firmly that she couldn't go back and was in danger, panicked, and tried to stir Terance to action. So we have a patented Star Trek moral dilemma. Do you trust the lawful evil knight claiming her sister needs to go back and fight, or do you trust the panicked knight that hardly speaks common, but might be saying she’d be killed if she went back? Terrance decided it was not his problem anymore, clearly, despite both sides insisting Shirly needed help of some kind, that she could take care of herself, and began advertising his guild. When asked later he is quoted as telling another character “Oh yeah she’s fine now, don’t worry”. No one else felt like getting involved, so Casidy let her run off in the interest of not causing too much of a scene.

     The second half of this encounter happened a few days later in Celsvich square. Shirly ran into Butch and Casidy in Celsvich square. Butch stayed neutral feeling sympathertic, and out of character a bit of a scheme was hatched, a PVP match in the middle of Celsvich, where neither player was able to use an offensive move. Cassidy charged and grappled, Shirly blinked away and tried to escape, all while the pair were shouting at each other in Alstalsian, the language Shirly actually speaks. If nothing else, two women in full plate shouting at each other in fantasy Italian, while engaging in a teleporting wrestling match, was enough to justify the badger's existence. We peeked there. Eventually the guards came, and were asked to handle a situation, where no weapon was drawn, and fault was ambiguous. After a debate in Arjav it was decided Shirly would be free to run around Sigrogana, so long as she gave back all of her equipment, and pretended to be dead, in exchange for the guards looking the other way over the disturbance.

     So what worked? Honestly it was a lot of fun. A simple game of cat and mouse one player getting to be scared, while the others sneaky. The encounters were loud, and silly, and using the fight mechanics as an expression of character is something we as players rarely do outside of the arena. People outside of the know didn’t seem to care all that much, which is fine for one event, but quickly became the sad trend of the badgers. People might watch, but more often than not, the assumption is, unless you are explicitly invited, that’s all you can do. Getting others to engage in the deeper, and morally complicated themes also proved difficult, after all it’s silly on the surface, why peel deeper?

The drought and the mountain

     From here things slow down. The three badgers start to grow into twelve, but despite my advertising in and out of character, no one seems to have too much need for a band of mooks to do crimes. There are a few instances of extortion, one even leading to a guard call, but nothing more than that. Even when the guards got involved, the second any defense was made we were given a blanket ‘don’t do it again’ and sent on our way. Perhaps I could have done more, advertised openly that something was actually suspicious, rather than just making sure the organization seemed shady in character.

     So what were the badgers doing with nothing to do? Killing black beasts by the thousand. As a bit of a joke, the one consistent bit of work the badgers got was a benefactor who put a hit out on Seto, and explicitly tasked the badgers with shouting “DOG MOUNTAIN” while defending the towns. Now there was the IC justification, the root of which being, “how someone has enough money to put out a hit on god.” has never been looked into, even when people have asked who is the one paying for it, but it also had narrative utility. It power scaled the badgers as a group who were strong enough to fight black beasts, but weak enough to make a show of fighting black beasts. Given that most of the badgers also hated killing black beasts, it begged the question, why do they do the work they hate, when most adventurers don’t.

A misguided event
     I’m not sure how much I should go into this one. There was a post detailing it quite extensively last fall, but it is still relevant to the Badgers as a whole. After months of dog mountain, seeing the badgers go nowhere for months on end, I was finally approached by a friend on the eventmin team, looking to maim an amalgama, and since we had a few in our ranks I agreed. This eventmin also had a badger, and around the same time expressed that they were displeased with their character, and asked to make a second badger character. Later I would come to find out the two requests were related, and they intended to use my organization for their plot in a manner I was not consulted for.

     After providing the initial stakes, myself and a few other members of the guild worked out of character to try and drum up interest for the event, no one seemed all that interested. The eventmin tried to hand the event to another guild, so they could take the win, but their leader refused. Where I sat it looked like no one was interested, so I suggested the badgers take a more active role in finishing out the plot, since we were already invested, and had done so much of the groundwork to make the event feel real. I also reached out to the other guild leader, unaware of his reservations over the event, and the eventmin.

     While out of character I was trying to manage our involvement, the eventmin’s second badger was killed, opening a rift between the two of us. The details were discussed in that other thread, but for the purposes of this post mortem, the eventmin tried to remove the badgers from the plot and use this as leverage to force the other guild to be involved. Out of character I proposed a solution that would let both parties get a win, and allow the event a clean wrap up, but it was ultimately decided to finish the event off screen, to prevent any damage to any involved parties. Forgive and forget.

     I made a tool, and begged it to be used. I was fixated on getting us content, at any cost, I didn’t realize I was selling us for so cheap. I crafted a ladle, and saw it used as a hammer. I want desperately with this post mortem to leave you all with a message of hope, to encourage you all to start projects of your own, but I must also be truthful. Just because someone is interested in your plot does not mean they share your ideas of it’s narrative utility. People, even people you consider friends, might try to twist your work to meet their ends, even when you go in without ends of your own.

Crab mentality

     At this point the badgers have been around for some time, so let’s take a look at the core philosophical argument of the guild, and how it’s playing out with the community. When dealing with crabs, you do not have to put a lid on your crab bucket, as when one tries to climb out, the one beneath it will pull it back down, trying to get up itself. This is called a crab mentality, when a group in a bad position works to keep it’s members in that situation while trying to escape themselves. Every badger has the capacity to be a normal member of society, but can’t due to the family's rules, and should they try and break them, they risk other members of the family ratting them out.

     I never intended to enforce any of these rules. Oft mentioned time cards, and quotas were there for flavor, the threat of punishment was left vague, and ominous, even dog mountain was a mandate in character, and a suggestion out. I never wanted being a badger to be anyone’s job. This quickly devolved in two ways. The first being that people were generally rude and unkind to the badgers, so well adjusted, empathetic humans that we are, we set story aside to actually have our characters care for eachother, as siblings should. I am just as guilty of this as any other badger, and if you take one thing away from this post mortem, let it be that humans are not so petty of creatures as to inflict suffering on the weak as a matter of course. The other side effect was that since no one tattled, and no one was enforcing rules, most of the badgers treated them as flavor in character to. If you take anything else away from this post mortem, let it be we’re also lazy creatures of habit.

     Generally speaking people outside of the family were unaware of the struggle. A few were told explicitly, be it by our second, and only other run away Clyde, or by befriending a badger and earning their trust. Usually out of character this led to a “Oh sick that sounds cool can I make a badger.” to which the answer was almost always yes, but almost no one ever seemed to care to address this issue of a slave army running around sigrogana. One person did, we’ll call them Amy for now. At first it was a simple matter of keeping Clyde safe and hidden, then it became, keeping Clyde safe, and helping one other escape, then she fell tumbling down the rabbit hole and seeing just how deep it went. So of course the first course of action was to call the guards, a point we’ll cover in the next section. Finally Amy manages to track down one of the few characters in the know of the badgers, but outside of the family, and they get into a deep philosophical conversation about the nature of the family, and the problem with “saving the good ones, and killing the bad ones.” There are no good ones, there are no bad ones, there are people who have never known a life other than the one they are forced into, and the victims are the ones forcing each other to suffer.

     It is at this point, after dealing with Clyde in and out of character for months, spreading lies in character, some light meta gaming, and actually calling the cops, Amy and I finally get into proper contact out of character so I can extend the invitation for her to attack the badgers. Nothing has since come out of it, aside from Clyde being allowed to walk outside more, now that she knew Out of character he wasn’t kill on site.

     Heroes, characters described as lawful, characters described as good, other gangs, guards, all looked at the badgers, and could spare for them at most pity. Even Amy, a character painted as an anarchist, was sooner ready to go to the guard than sort things out on her own. I suppose I made the problem too complex, or I wasn’t clear enough that out of character I was willing to play ball. Should I have put out a wanted ad? “Looking for protagonist to deal with evil army, and sort out the aftermath?”

Deus Vult

     Alright, time for the part where I have to spill tea. I’ve left names out, kept things vague. This is Analysis, historical documentation, not a call out, but the parties involved here are too inextricably linked to the events, that there is no sense trying to maintain anonymity.

     The badgers have had an interesting relationship with the guards of Sigrogana. For an organization that seems to so often complain quietly that they are never involved, and that there is nothing to do, they seem awfully content to let brazen criminals operate in the open at the first sign of back bone. When the same person is called into arjav for questioning, three times on strange charges, and gives half answers, and questionable defenses, one might think an investigation would be in order.

     Eventually one did come about, it was a clearly staged show of being toured about a too clean office. No hard questions were asked, and the matter was dropped. With IC as IC, it was fun, but eventually word got out to me that there would be a far more thorough search soon. Giddy, and having learned from my past mistakes I made sure there was a line of contact out of character between me and a member of the guards who was involved with the investigation. We were discussing terms, dates, and all was going well until very suddenly I was told “It seems the church knights will be conducting the investigation instead.”

Karidan, a member of our GM staf, and the leader of the church knights decided he wanted to be involved. To this end he made no attempt to contact me, instead contacting another badger, and insisting it was the church's business, since homunculi mean necromancy, and the church has a problem with necromancy. I’ve since found out that he in fact had another character involved with the Badgers which I personally view as a conflict of interest. When eventually he realized he had to contact me, he insisted on coming in, in such a rush that I wasn’t even home, and had to pass the situation on to one of the high ranking badgers.

     The over tuned church knight commander, who has been granted numerous buffs befitting an eventmin’s npc, located without help, and entered the badger’s headquarters asking to speak with whoever was in charge. Politely, and in a matter of fact tone he effectively said “I know you are all slaves, point me to your lich, we are going to kill him and you will all be free to go.” A statement that is full of so many deep leaps in logic, and pieces of metagamed information, that is only made more hilarious when you realize if he’d bothered to look even a little deeper he’d realize the person he was talking to couldn’t possibly know the answer to the question he was asking. He also got the lich’s name wrong.

     While the badgers were never going to have an ongoing event chain, they did have a few background points that would eventually need resolving. The main one being the lich that started the organization has been missing for eight years. No one has seen him. Sure he used to take long breaks, but never this long, and more importantly new badgers keep showing up anyway. Turns out he’s been dead for eight years.

     I tried to give him the opportunity to do some detective work, figure out the mistakes, work for the win, but quickly realized the effect such a brutal attack from a GM, on our organization, as a direct result of metagaming was having on the players I swore to look after. I asked kindly that he step away, and he agreed, citing his other character. Apparently it is only a conflict of interest after the first shot misses.

     To me the badgers have always been a domino chain. Something to knock over, and enjoy the spectacle of it falling over. A slow cascade of reactions where each piece matters in the chaotic breakdown of an ordered system. While this wasn’t the last straw, someone coming to me begrudgingly, asking for permission to throw a molotov at my dominos, because it was made clear they couldn’t do it behind my back, was enough to send the badgers on auto pilot for a very long time.

The not so grand finale

     So all good things must come to an end. Make no mistake, though there is a lot of negativity here, the badgers were a good thing, and to the capacity they still exist, they still are. After teases and hints dropped like bread crumbs, and enough angst filled scenes of glorious role play it was finally time for a select few badgers to go on a quest to seek out their creator, and ask him the meaning of life. “Why were we born, was it just to suffer?” And seek they did, hunting down one of his old workshops, and breaking in, hoping to find him there, or a trace of where he had gone. After a few trials, they found instead his broken phylactery. Their father was dead, and has been for eight years. Out of character it was always the case, a fact that made Karidan’s demand to find him all the sweeter. It was a deeply personal event, with just a single party who largely didn’t know the twist going in.

     The thing that made life as a badger hell was never their father. It was always the organization, at the center a Dullahan with the soul driving focus to keep the business running, and growing. Like a rogue A.I. it killed the lich when it realized the organization would run smoother if it didn’t have someone skimming off the top. From the beginning Adamant Chronos had been there, the one to hand out orders, the one to wake new badgers when they were freshly made, the one to handle punishments. Ask any badger, “Who is responsible for keeping the organization running?” and the answer is always Adamant. All the more reason to be disappointed when I’m told “Give me your lich, if I kill him you go free.” He’s been dead almost a decade, and the badgers are still slaves to his memory.

     Unfortunately this is where scheduling comes in. I’d wanted a last hurrah, but days became weeks, and weeks became months. Even when people are invested it can be hard to get everyone together. It was decided in the end that word got out, and led to unrest in the wider badger organization. The looting, and riots of the nameless npc badgers was enough to kill the organization, and with it, Adamant Chronos, who lost his purpose when his hard work melted away.

     Now the badgers are free to roam as former badgers. Try to adjust to a life without their shackles, but also that support of family. They get to ask the questions now, and decide the answer of who they are, and where they go. In the end it is fitting that the badgers managed to free themselves. After all, for most of their run, they only had each other.


     So what have we learned? Over the past year when it comes to sl2, I’ve learned you cannot be the change you want to see in the world, but you can create the things you enjoy. People will always be there to offer support, but if you leave yourself open, some may take advantage of you. No one will talk to you, you must be proactive, blunt, and explicit, and even then they may still go behind your back. If something seems strange, ask about it, in or out of character, you may stumble down a rabbit hole into some actual intrigue. Finally and most importantly keep yourself open to change.

     I suffered setback after setback with the flame badgers. I was constantly met with indifference, apathy, hostility, and scandal. Not a single thing worked in the way I designed it, but you know what? I had fun. It was worth it. So many characters surprised me, and people took takes on my initial pitch that I never could have dreamed of. For every instance of hair pulling, over the bullshit, there were ten beautiful scenes that couldn’t have happened if I never tried. Seeing all the characters sprout up and interact with the community, seeing them clash, and come together and show each other familial support, seeing the special few who investigated finally put the pieces together, it warms my heart. It was worth the pain for me. Go out and make something.
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The Flame Badger Company Post Mortem - by jintheblue - 01-30-2022, 02:30 AM

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