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Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
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Doc. I don't know why you're harping on the possibility of a third part as much as you are. There's nothing to suggest there's a third party.


Because Slam's play is incredibly scummy but inconsistent with mafia play. That means he's either bad town, bad scum, or a third party. Slam's a good player, so Occam's Razor dictates door number three, Wayne.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
EBWOP:
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I donít think anyone has really scumread Doc yet (except for opposite Vyse, and do correct me if Iím wrong), so Iím just wondering why, if Mafia decided to choose two fairly Townie voices, why didnít they try for Doc? Thoughts, everyone?

More experienced Mafia tend to keep the most active town voices alive so that the game doesn't stall, and because they're more likely to end up on a bad lynch and become an easier push later as the town becomes more paranoid. It's why I'm not too suspicious of you and Naft surviving this long. I am curious why they didn't even try to go after Yugi, but maybe they weren't too worried about his NA? Something to keep an eye on.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
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I don't think you could call Vyse the strongest, most certain lynch when I was throwing weight in it (rather early on). If anything, it was a very divisive lynch even towards the end.


Not really. By the time you voted for Vyse, four other people were already on the train(Goose, Turtle, Decoy, and myself) and Vyse and I were already heading into the tunnel. Many had already voiced concerns over his play without voting, and no other lynch got anywhere near as much traction as Vyse's. You came in with actual commitment around the exact middle point of the lynch. Prior to that, you make a passing statement on not liking how Vyse is "grabbing the game by the gonads" in your first post, and don't chime in on him again until his spam-posting has become the dominant issue of the phase. You don't start throwing weight onto the train until all eyes are on him.

Your RC push is actually a little more committed, but it's curious in that you don't say anything about RC the day before(when he's the second biggest train and worth commenting, as well as going after you directly a couple times), and you jump in on him today when there's already right of the gate pressure from Bowser, Persy, and Espi, pretty much guaranteeing we're going to be talking about this all phase. The absence of any other reads, either scum or town, in both phases combined with the fact that you continued to push RC's lynch hard even though we had near confirmation that he was the doctor comes off incredibly opportunistic to me. That's what I mean by "staying in the wind." It's hard to peg you one way or the other based solely off of your arguments when you're really just making the same ones that the majority of the town is making. It's like a weak connection buddying strategy, and it seems suspicious as hell to me.

This leads me to believe you're a third party role, because you're going after both town and mafia more or less equally so far and you don't seem too concerned with the alignment, just getting the lynch secured. There was a lot of frustration in your posts regarding the continued discussion of RC's role yesterday, and while I can understand it to a degree, staying on after Yugi's reveal is very, very odd and I wish we could have switched to someone else.
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Doc, why are you confused regarding Un-Persona?

There's too much weirdness surrounding his play and pushes. You and Vyse trying to push him at the end of Day One in particular stands out to me uncomfortably, because it gets into really WiFoM territory. That being said, he was throwing shade at both Deamon and Vyse Day one, and RC was his push before switching to Vyse because of time. Out of all the people that suddenly pushed RC right out of the gate of Day 2, Persy's is the one whose play is at least the most consistent. The fact that he kept scum-reads on Deamon during Day Two helps his case. He's climbing up to town for me.

All that being said, I'm gonna go ahead and VOTE: ESPI

Slam's play at least includes some theory 'n shit and he helped put down Vyse, which gives him town points even if I'm leaning third party on him. Espi, on the other hand, abstained from weighing in one way or the other on Vyse the whole phase and kept his distance, struck fast early in Day 2 to help build on the RC train, and then faded away once the discussion got rolling. That seems shady, brah. I too would like some answers from your end.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
That'll top the queue off, for now! Critiques will start rolling again in the near future.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Thank you all for your kind words and interest, they're very appreciated :)

The queue has been updated with all current requests. There are two spaces remaining.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Incinerating the incriminating evidence with CRITIQUE: KAREN RUIZ

THE COMPELLING

Sometimes, it's the little things that stand out to you about a character during a re-read. Take this line from Karen's profile, for instance.
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Karen dresses in an odd manner, attempting to avoid attention, but, failing that, striving to draw it to her clothing rather than herself.

This is either really, really good foreshadowing, or some great on the fly adaptation on MurderWeasel's part. It's interesting because this one innocuous little detail both tells us a lot about Karen as a person, and sets up one of the most innovative things she did from an in-character perspective.

The big take-away from Karen's profile going into the game is that she really doesn't like interacting with people. She is paranoid due to the dangerous nature of her surroundings, and she prefers to fly under the radar. For those familiar with Karen's outcome, this may seem a little incongruent at first, given that she becomes the game's most prominent killer and one of the most central characters of the version. The shift starts very early on, though, and is explained well in her first thread, But She Locked The Door And Threw Away The Key:
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The problem was, there was a word for girls like Karen, for quiet girls who flew under the radar and never said an unkind word to anyone. The word: victim.

Karen had victim written all over her, and nothing could change that. All her high school survival mechanisms had suddenly backfired on her, had turned her into the perfect target. Weird girl. Quiet. Weak. No allies.

She Locked The Door builds off of this notion and lets it grow in a paranoid spiral until Karen comes out the side with a completely new perspective. By playing the loner and appearing to be a quiet, shy, vulnerable person, Karen has made herself a target for her classmates. Her response is to invert that impression by killing just enough people to let everyone know she's dangerous, and then hiding out until the competition has thinned.

She Locked The Door takes this plan a step further, though, by incorporating one of TV's unique mechanics: The characters of the TV universe are assigned to teams, and told if multiple team members make it out, they can all go home. Karen doesn't believe this for one second. In a move that builds off her prior fears regarding her classmates and people in general, she decides this must be a trick, and she needs to kill her team-mates before they kill her. This helps build the "teamless" aspect of Karen that is later enforced by how she wears any bandannas she can steal from the dead. It's a very steady scaffolding process that defines Karen as a character, adding layer after layer after layer to her core, altering her initial plan half-measures until she becomes the prominent, multi-killing figure that we remember her as.

The important thing that keeps Karen grounded through all of this is how unhappy she is about it. Karen doesn't want to kill anyone. She's not reveling in the violence, or the program. For as dominant a figure as she becomes, Karen is reacting entirely out of fear here in the early game, which sets her apart from a lot of the big, heavy killers who came before her. It's very interesting to see a character like this gain traction, because it makes for some interesting inter-play. I think MurderWeasel does a very good job of maintaining Karen's mystique, because while we as an audience understand what's happening from the very beginning of Karen's story, the rest of the characters do not. As noted on her Wiki page, Karen doesn't even speak until her tenth thread, when she encounters Mason Ross. Even when Karen does speak, she talks in short, cryptic sentences, stopping and starting on her own whim, establishing herself as this alien, "other" force with no allies, no attachments, and no restraints.

What I really enjoy about Karen as she's winding down is how this plays into her epilogue. It's commented on, in-character, that a lot of people going through SotF-TV end up acting or playing to the crowd. In the end, though, this isn't just an act for Karen. This wasn't just something forced upon her by the situation. She's been molded, altered by her time in the game, but ultimately it's not something she can shed, or something she could have ever chosen to be. When dealing with the aftermath of winning, Karen is still that same reclusive, paranoid person that captured one of the game's biggest prizes, and to her the representatives are just new opponents.
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"I want that contract," Karen said. She let her voice drop and flatten now, let it assume that same tone she'd used the few times she'd spoken to opponents on the island. She locked eyes with Coley, and she realized, as he adjusted his tie and glanced away, that he might actually be afraid of her. Here he was, sitting across from a girl who had murdered ten people in the last half week, and now he was definitely off script.

This is important, not only for Karen but for the universe of SotF-TV. It gives us a curious look into how the show works behind the scenes, one of the first we're ever really given in regards to winners, and I think it's set a very good tone for future world-building.

THE DRAGGING

Right off the top, I feel it's important to acknowledge one thing: Karen's story is incredibly gutsy. There are many, many ways it could have gone off the rails and is constantly holding a tenuous balance to keep from tipping. A lot went right for this story to work out the way it did, in no small part do to the great scaffolding laid out above, but this is the kind of story that needs a lot of outside support to really work.

That's where the major problem with Karen, for me, comes in. Outside of the encounter with Mason in The Mourning After, a lot of her encounters end up feeling very same-y, in that Karen encounters a group, tries to get the upper hand and kill them because she doesn't trust them, and either succeeds or bails. She doesn't have any consistent relationships or rivalries, really, because even if other characters project major importance on to her, her narrative by nature must undercut their importance. Everyone blurs into one big mass of "opponents" that Karen fears, and while she touches on a few friends from time to time, it really doesn't change the encounter all that much to be staring one of them down as opposed to a stranger. Karen steels herself to a course, and she follows it ruthlessly. While there are a lot of positives to this, as mentioned above, it's problematic to me working in this medium because it means Karen rarely gives a rub to another character. Any scene she appears in is immediately dominated by her presence and her violence, and the somewhat binary nature of encountering her makes it difficult for each character to form anything approaching a unique response.

Given that we're working in an interactive medium, this sits somewhat oddly for me. Karen carries this archetype of the wild, violent, terrified force of nature well, and certainly isn't as difficult to work with from a narrative perspective as she could be, but because most of her monologue is entirely in her own head and she rarely voices any of her thoughts, no one else can really touch her story, or be touched by it other than responding to her aggressive actions. I would have really liked to see Karen break down more over the course of her story, or end up in positions where violence was not an option, because she settles into some very comfortable boundaries as the game develops. She could have benefited from having those boundaries pushed and being forced to interact with or trust other people in some way. One of my favorite things to see is a handler building a weakness into a character, and then forcing them to work with it. Karen is a phenomenal character, probably one of my top five of all time, but more could have been done by forcing her out of that comfort zone. It happens sensationally in her final encounter with Jhamel, and it's one of my favorite scenes in her entire story. It happens to a lesser degree after Kathy's death, through the Walkie-Talkie conversation with Vincent, and it's another high, tense point of her story. I would have liked to have seen more like this to balance out the action and fear, and to allow other characters to grow and feed off of Karen's presence rather than just her actions.

THE NITPICKY

One stylistic issue I have with Karen is that she has a tendency to tell her feelings, rather than show them. As an example, when she describes Brenda:
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Brenda was also someone Karen liked. She was a pretty decent person, one who Karen had been hoping she would never interact with again. It was easier when it was just names read over the speakers, connected to other names. Easier still when half the names didn't mean anything.

This is by no means a bad or poorly written paragraph, but it carries very little pathos or ethos behind it. We know Karen liked Brenda, but we don't really get a good sense of why here. We know about their relationship, but in the moment, what is Karen feeling? What memories does seeing Brenda evoke? How does she get from those feelings to leveling a gun at her friend? The last part does get elaborated on, and it's a good example of what I would have liked to see more of in her narrative:
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Instead, she had run into Karen. More than that, she had chosen to approach Karen, knowing full well who she was and what she had doneóno, part of what she had done; only her first four murders had been announced so far. All of that screamed danger. Maybe Brenda thought she was doing something noble, slaying the monster she knew, putting a twisted spirit to rest. Speculation was pointless. Whatever angle Brenda was playing, Karen wasn't going to die to it.

There's very little telling in this paragraph. The only point that overtly "tells" is that Brenda's actions "screamed of danger," and even that is on the borderline. It's evocative. It's visceral. It builds a greater connection than simply being told what Karen feels or thinks, because it gives us an audience connecting point to those emotions so that we can form opinions about them, and empathize with or demonize them as we see fit. It would have helped fuel the intriguing disconnect between the fleshed out world we see in Karen's head and the flat, uncaring visage she presents to the rest of the game. Karen's narrative is already powerful, but for me it would have been even more evocative if that emotional spiraling had been nurtured more.

With the critique of Karen Ruiz, the third queue is now open for submissions. Characters from V5, TV1, TV2, PV2, Virtua, and Evo are eligible for submission. I would ask that handlers who have received a critique in this queue wait three days before requesting another.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
Slam
Feb 25 2015, 06:13 PM
If I was a third party, I wouldn't freak out over one night of being roleblocked.

Correct, but you didn't freak out. You just got hungry for the lynch, as Naft pointed out. This kinda ties into what I mean here:
Slamorama
 
Also, mostly staying in the wind? Honey, there's windier people than me abord these train.

By staying in the wind, I mean that you jump on lynch trains pretty early in the phase. You tend to stick in one place for a long time and chime in with theory and such, but I haven't seen any townreads, any broad scum-hunting, or much beyond single-trains and some theory-crafting. You even say yourself earlier in the game:
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Now you're just making shit up. Look through my posts and tell me where I was actually pushing anyone who wasn't Vyse. I'll wait.

Right now, you're providing a lot of space to find suspicion, but not following up to it. You claim not to have any strong reads, and have only thrown your opinion in on the strongest, most certain lynches in the game so far. It feels like you're trying to stay nebulous and not associate yourself too much with anyone, which tends to imply a player is working alone. It's not helpful to the town because it gives us very little to work with and makes lynch trains that much easier to achieve.

There are people that just plain aren't talking, and then there are people who are talking and not making firm commitments. My suspicion falls more on the latter group, which is why I'm eyeing you and Espi pretty heavily right now.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
Coming into today, Espi and Slam are my top scumreads. I like the Espi train because he's been riding pretty quiet and staying on the fringe of some really anti-town play. Between staying out of the Vyse lynch and pushing RC as hard as he did, he's coming up pretty suspicious.

Slam is still playing what I'd expect him to play as a third party, and the desperation and opportunism could be indicative of being locked down at night through Deamon. Pure speculation there, though. I'm not liking how he's mostly staying in the wind and jumping on trains.

My read on Persy is completely confused at this point.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
It's time to dismiss the diagnosis with CRITIQUE: AILEEN AURORA ABDALLAH

THE COMPELLING

Aileen is a good example of finding a narrative partnership early on and just running with it. Aileen and Owen make an interesting, almost "good cop/bad cop" sort of pairing, and they cover for each other's weaknesses pretty well, so staying with him was a very good choice from a writing perspective. It allows Aileen to have some interactions that would have been otherwise difficult for her, since Owen can do a lot of the talking and patching to keep people around. Her own narrative supports the partnership well by taking the more dynamic, authoritative position over Owen's peace-making, which helps keep their scenes moving at a nice, even pace.

I also really like how Aileen's internal monologue has grown since pre-game. It's pretty solid with a nice, visceral edge to it that hints towards her constrained temper and lack of patience for the events around her, without being overbearing or distracting. Her first post in Huddle does this really well by sidelining what could be an emotional moment with characteristic impatience because it does not suit her current goals. This may sound like gibberish, but it's really compelling how emotional she is about being emotionless. There is a stubborn urgency to the way she packages situations down to what she needs and vents her frustration towards lacking supplies freely. It's a really interesting juxtaposition, and I like it.

There is also some nice humor scattered throughout Aileen's internal monologue. A lot of it is in short, little mannerisms like referring to Joe as "good boy" in Eh, anything's fine, and others are longer jokes such as this line from Huddle:
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Frankly, the first thought Aileen should have when seeing Benjamin Ward standing there with a scythe should not be Oh look, maybe that'll do the job. Something more along the lines of Shit, someone dangerous is coming would have been more appropiate, but that is what desperate circumstances made necessary.

It works for me. I smiled a lot going back over Aileen, and that's really all you can ask from comedy.

THE DRAGGING

One of the frustrating things about reading Aileen is that the strength of her narrative and internal monologue really highlights the weakness of her dialogue. It's really hard to find any of the endearing personality traits above present in what she says, which gives her speech a sort of lifeless tone due to the disconnect. There's also the issue that much of what she says comes off as very formal and stilted, which strikes me as an attempt to establish the character's superior nature that never quite hits the mark. It feels unnatural to read things like "I did not lay gaze on Theodore." I would have liked to see her dialogue suit her narrative a little better, because seeing them side by side is very jarring.

Aileen also has some issues with interaction. She does well enough with Joe and excellent with Owen, but the nature of her dialogue often leaves very little to work with, and her superior, detached nature just doesn't gel well with other characters in her present role. We find Aileen in this confused position where she's not exactly a player or out to get her fellow students, but she has a distinct disdain for many of them and is willing to act violently to get what she wants. Today I'm Dirty is probably the most problematic example, because the escalation feels rather forced and sudden. I think Aileen's thoughts on violence could have been better fleshed out up to this point, because right now it's very unclear where her lines are and why. This is somewhat cleaned up by her final encounter with Travis in Huddle, but it still ends on a very murky note that could have benefited from more cohesion.

THE NITPICKY

There's a thing I see often in profiles that I like to call The Event. It's a major, defining moment for a character that's supposed to shape a lot about who they are. I've mentioned Hansel's Event previously, , and I wrote one of my own for Garrett(one that, if I were to critique it, would definitely be addressed in the Bad rather than Nitpicky section, to be fair and clear. Garrett is a good example of what not to do with a Profile Event.) Aileen also has an event, regarding her father's encounter with necrotizing fasciitis. It's an interesting one that pushes her into medicine, and Riki does a good job of referencing her medical inclinations throughout her story. However, I would have liked more to be built off of this occurrence. The way it is written suggests a certain protective or paranoid mindset regarding wounds and disease, and there are ample places this could have been played with around the Island. I think this would have added more to the already ample character stock Aileen had to draw off of, and added some more potential hooks for others to play around with in her interactions.

I'll admit that for a long time, I've been kind of hard on Aileen. I've read her in snapshots that highlighted her more negative qualities and uncomfortable interactions. I was pleasantly surprised by analyzing her full story from beginning to end, though, as it gave me some insights that I didn't pick up on before. Overall, I'd say Aileen does pretty well for herself.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
I don't think we can rule out third parties yet. Role blocks resolve before kills, so if scum had a killing role locked down, they would still be blocked last night.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
decoy73
Feb 24 2015, 03:40 PM
@DuckyB: I will both agree with you and disagree. I disagree on the role of Deamon's killer.

Given the color given (green), and the flavor given (Darth Vader), I believe it is very likely that Deamon was killed by the vig. However, I do agree that we are, at this point, better off not knowing who made that kill, and instead focus on which person, or quite possibly even people, are playing Han Solo and Chewbacca. Hopefully, we can take down one of those two, but so long as someone from the Rebels is taken down, it's okay.
...you know what? I completely missed all that. That's important. Don't out, Yugi, and derp on me for not seeing it.

This does present an interesting problem: Does the Mafia have two kills? I'm assuming here that a third party would not be the red associated with mafia, but I could be wrong. My speculation, however, would be that Han as a smuggler might be a good fit for a Mafia Thief, which would help explain why there were no deaths in the last phase. Maf steals one kill, another is blocked.

It's good to know we have a Vig, then, by the looks of the flavor. We can incorporate that into our lynches.

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
Yugikun
Feb 24 2015, 05:32 AM
Um


I'm not going to reveal who I tracked tonight, but considering that the person hit Deamon, I think I might have found our vigilante.
Thoughts on this?

I don't think whoever killed Deamon was necessarily a vigilante. It would have been a bit of a shot in the dark. I'm torn between asking you to out because if you did catch scum, you're almost definitely dead tonight, and telling you to keep it secret, keep it safe because I don't want them to have another shot at our PRs.

The weird thing is that they didn't kill you last night. If scum is PR hunting, they should have gone straight for Yugi, unless they have reason to believe there's another protective role in play.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Let's all have a little freak out with CRITIQUE: MAYNARD FRANCIS HURST

THE COMPELLING

Maynard has a pretty slow start. He spends a lot of the game playing emotional foil to Adam Morgan, and while they have a good dynamic, there are some things inherent to that start that I want to touch on later. It's a serviceable start, though. They have some important encounters along the way, but for the most part things are pretty calm and middle-ground.

Then Detritus hits, and suddenly we're cooking with gas. Gwen's death triggers a complete breakdown in Maynard. One that could have been managed...if his buddies didn't decide they needed to take his weapon away and give him a time out. He doesn't respond kindly to that.

The great thing is at this point, it's mostly a giant accident for both Maynard and Adam. It's a very well written scene where two incredibly stubborn people refuse to back down, and a horrible accident occurs as consequence. The aftermath finds Maynard standing back from Adam bleeding out, and all he can say is "I'm sorry." It's a powerful scene that builds on Maynard's past weakness and indecisiveness really, really well. It leaves Maynard in this state of flux, wandering around until he finds his best kill prize and settles on one conclusion:
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The protagonistís gone, and the sidekick has to step up to take his place.

He could deal with that.


This is the best place Maynard's story could have gone, in my opinion. It takes him down a dark path where he tries to protect James like Adam used to protect him, but James abandons him quickly before any really connection can be formed, which devastates him further. He spirals into this deep, dark, depressive pit, until he finds one person, maybe the only person left, who is happy to seem him and tries to save him.

So he shoots himself in the head in front of her so that he'll never have to lose that happiness again. He's lost too much at this point, and he wants to keep this one moment, before it's all over.

Even if the death ended right there, it would be one of the saddest of the version for me. It is a brutally executed arc that builds on past weaknesses until it draws us down further than I ever thought possible. Maynard started the game at rock bottom, and then he dug down.

THE DRAGGING

Maynard's entire fall is predicated on a story about weakness, depression, and helplessness building to a boiling point before he snaps. It's incredibly well done as a whole. The problem, for me, comes at the beginning.

The problem with this sort of arc is that there's never any guarantee that you're going to get to see it through, and it needs to stay engaging from start to finish. Truth be told, I just wasn't engaged with Maynard pre-Detritus. He felt very much like a background player without firm grasp on what was going on, or firm intentions towards what to do next. He clung to Adam for support and direction, and while that sort of thing can work fine, I felt that the Adam/Natali/Maynard dynamic did a lot to highlight Maynard's flaws and lack of agency in negative ways. I had a hard time getting into his story because it was very difficult to see where it was going, for me. In the end, when everything comes together? Fabulous, would read again. Without that foreknowledge, though, it's hard for me to enjoy Maynard's early game, and I feel that the turn could have been built on more solidly to give the audience a greater idea of where he was headed.

THE NITPICKY

This may be the stupidest thing I have ever nit-picked about, on my part. It has zero real impact on Maynard's story, but it's something that grated on me for reasons I cannot adequately grasp. Throughout his narrative, Maynard refers to his naginata as a "sword." But it's not a sword. It's a spear. It's a long stick with pointy bits on the end. I'm having a lot of trouble conceptualizing it as a sword. Again, this is completely dumb on my part and means nothing at all. But I had to get it out of my system, because I am a bad person.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Coming up with a witty non-sequitur with CRITIQUE: VENICE PENNINGTON-JOHANNES

THE COMPELLING

Venice has delightful character chemistry. I swear I'm watching a fun little slice of life animu when I go through her early exploits with Amy in Good Morning, You Bastards. Here they are, on Murder Island, and she's rescuing the girl like a cat that's climbed too high for its own good. The fun thing is, it doesn't feel contrived or forced, for me. It's two friends who seem to have genuinely forgotten the stakes of the game to ineffectually problem solve together.

The setting of the clue game with Ian, James, and Kathryn also suits her. I like these nice little moments where she's just distracting herself from the game with one quest or side-track every time another runs out or gets delayed. It has this quiet urgency to it that makes things very tense, because you know any second things could go horribly, horribly wrong.

I also appreciate the certain arrogance there is to Venice's death, especially in moments like this:
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A lot of people would be jealous of the way Venice was going to die. She went into shock as the bullet entered her chest, and would quickly bleed out from the bullet leaving it. That was what most people wished for anyway. Young and fast.

It's darkly comedic, haughty, and really outlines who Venice is as a person in a way that reinforces the positive aspects of her constant denial and distraction. It's rather endearing.

THE DRAGGING

At the same time, however, some of Venice's naivete and denial can become...grating. Again, I'd look back to her death, especially the circumstances leading right up to it.
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But the machine kept disassembling Venice's truths. Her fellow graduates were killing each other. She rolled up the map and put it into her pocket, and finally saw a couple of people far away, mourning with grief as far as she could tell. Without any worry, Venice began to walk over to them.

"They're a group, they can't be dangerous. No one is staying anywhere near a murderer."

This is frustrating for me, because unlike most of Venice's story, it feels very contrived. The preceding lines make a big deal about the fact that Venice is clinging to false ideals that are being destroyed each second she listens to the announcements, and she just kind of...moves on from it. Immediately. She was so certain that none of her friends would kill each other, and after having that reality shattered she heads straight for a group of people that she doesn't even seem to recognize. It's a weird circumstance that breaks the flow of the character, and I think it could have been handled differently. I really would have liked to have seen Venice hit by the full weight of the announcements, and had her react more noticeably to them. As it stands, she finds out there's a very real chance she's going to die, and she just sort of takes it in a stride despite the narration really selling it.

THE NITPICKY

One thing I would have liked to have seen Venice be a little more interactive. A lot of her posts, especially in Dead End, could have more hooks to help the rest of the group engage, especially with as many people as she was interacting with. She did fine without it, but more interactivity would have really pushed her fantastic chemistry to the next level. It's a very exploitable attribute that can improve not only her story, but the story of hers around her, and I would have liked to seen it employed more outside of Amy.

Persy, or someone else, should snag Venice for SCDos. I'd read it.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Hitting the range with CRITIQUE: HANSEL WILLIAMS

Hoooooooo boy. This is gonna get long. No, really, this big ol' bastard has over 30 threads. Strap in with me, folks.

THE COMPELLING

Here's the funny thing about Hansel Williams: reading through his profile, I have a lot of expectations. He's grumpy. He dislikes people. He's ultra-conservative and stubborn. He's homophobic and unconsciously prejudiced against women if we're being charitable, and outright misogynistic if we're not. His biography contains an explicit scene where at the age of twelve he shoots a sick dog for his father without blinking. It goes on to explain that putting down sick animals became a regular part of his duties. Basically, I look at this guy in the setting of being transplanted into a socially and morally liberal school full of everything he hates, and I think "Damn. This guy is gonna kill...just a lot of people."

And he does. That's what's interesting about him. He completely met my expectations in a way that utterly shattered them.

If you're familiar with Hansel's pre-game, you know he's not exactly a fluffy person. When he's happy, or if he takes a shine to you, he's alright, especially around Mirabella Strong. If he doesn't, though, there's a lot of scowling, a lot of grumbling, and in one case an outright fistfight. Hansel displays a lot of self-confidence, anger, and control issues in these early moments, as well as a superior attitude used as a shield from his own doubts and trepidations that all point to strong-headed, violent start. Deep Breath, Deep Breath seems to be leading to just that sort of beginning, with Hansel immediately locking horns with Theodore Fletcher, lobbing slurs and homophobic insults on him as they stare each other down with weapons drawn. But then something fascinating happens.

Theo shoots first.

He can't bring himself to fully pull the trigger and try to take Hansel down, but he goes for it. Theo, the pacifist, makes the first move, and enrages Hansel. For a moment, it's hard to remember who our villain is here. Remember: Hansel is a homophobe. Hansel is an asshole. Hansel is a bully.

But Hansel is not a killer. Not yet. When Theo nearly shoots him, Hansel doesn't shoot back. Hansel sights him, Hansel advances, Hansel shakes and stammers with rage, but he does not shoot him. Despite every horrid thing in the core of who Hansel Williams is, he does not draw first blood.

Theo does.

This sets both characters spiraling away from each other in motion, each to carve out distinct paths through the game. What is fascinating, though, is that while Theo is driven to further and further violence, Hansel doubts himself. Hansel reflects, even in the moment, that what he is doing to Theo is wrong. In fact, he doesn't even blame Theo for shooting him.
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Theodore Fletcher had shot him, but the anger Hansel felt wasn't directed at the slight boy. In fact, he doubted that the boy was the first to pull the trigger in Hansel's direction.

No, he thought as he stood, that honor belonged to himself, and himself alone. He'd shot himself with a gun he'd loaded years ago, and it had taken until now for the wound to appear.
The deconstruction here is so brilliantly thought out and established, so intricate and so efficient at the same time, that it's downright awe inspiring for me. Right out of the gate, Hansel is ruining all my expectations and preconceptions about him, but he's doing it in such a logical, reasonable, sensible way that there's no disconnect between the character in the game and the character in the profile. Everything makes sense.

This is Hansel's first defining moment, for me. It sets the tone for the first act of his story incredibly well. From here on out, Hansel is going to try and find peace in many ways. First, he'll try to negotiate. He'll try to come with open hands seeking help, and he'll be rejected. For his troubles, his refusal to act first, he'll be verbally and physically assaulted, treated with doubt and suspicion for his past actions(in ways that are absolutely fair, mind you,) until he breaks down in rage and frustration and decides to throw the first punch. The self-reflection earlier is burned away into seething rage and thick, boiling hatred.
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Fire and brimstone, he thought again, the rage and terror of the encounter with Theodore, the standoff with Adonis and Mallory, and the brief yet intense chase with Tyler fueling his current blackened mood, overcoming him with a sense of purpose.

For Theodore, he'd have used fire. He'd have lit alight that cocksucking little fuck and watched him burn until the gun melted into his hand and there was nothing but ash. Tyler was too good for fire, though. He'd need brimstone and blunt force, something to cave in that thick skull, stop him dead in his tracks.

To hell with them. To hell with both of them.

Full of hatred, bleeding out, and low on supplies, Hansel stumbles on to Daniel Whitten. He sees a boy with the medical supplies he needs to survive, and he's tired of trying to negotiate. Even now though, after three consecutive attacks, with all the pain and stress wearing at him, Hansel Williams is not a killer.
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Hansel shrugged out of his duffel bag, got to one knee, and flipped the safety again to semi-auto, figuring he'd only need one shot. One shot, above Whitten's head, just close enough so that the boy would know he meant business. Then snag the bag, take off.

He means to rob Daniel, but he does not mean to kill him. This is important, because this is what causes things to spiral so thoroughly out of control for Hansel. A lot happens after he pulls the trigger. Daniel dies. Mara runs off screaming. Carlon looks on, horrified. Nina and Alex close in, accusing him, pressuring him, smothering him with their contempt. Hansel can't even begin to process them as the shock and disbelief sets in, as his mind tries to reject what happened. Before Nina and Alex can even register, he's already questioning himself.
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Why hadn't he just stopped? The sight of the gun was enough - the sight of the gun had scared Theodore. It had scared Mallory and Adonis. He could've just shown them the gun.

But the gun had enraged Tyler, hadn't it? Hadn't he been attacked over it?

Doubt. You may have noticed by now that doubt is an integral part of Hansel's story. It's his central theme at this stage, and it drives a lot of the conflict we've seen so far. Hansel has done horrible things in the past that lead people to assume he must be hostile here, he has to be the monster. Meanwhile, Hansel wants to keep up his old hate, but between the jarring events prior to the game at home and the new, hostile environment he finds himself in now, he finds it hard to justify until someone acts.

Everyone is convinced that Hansel is trying to kill them, and every time they treat him that way, they make it a little more true. He's grasping for an identity, and this is the only one being given to him.

A lot happens to reinforce that identity over the course of Hansel's Act One. He is attacked by Mara, Ray, and Bianca for letting his guard down. He kills Mallory, mostly on accident, while trying to neutralize her. Around the mid-way point, Hansel scores his first intentional kill, shooting Kyle Fitzpatrick in the head to finish him off. How Naft frames this kill is very important, though.
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Hansel didnít take any chances. As he raised the FAMAS and pressed the muzzle squarely to the center of Kyleís forehead, he didnít flinch, didnít show expression, didnít hesitate.

Didnít meet the boyís eyes.

I love this, because it's a subtle nod back to Hansel's profile. We've seen this scene before. Kyle is the sick animal that Hansel is putting down. That's how he's framing this in his head. There's no hesitation. No remorse.

No acknowledgement. Hansel isn't killing Kyle because he wants to. He's killing Kyle because he feels like he has no other choice. He keeps trying not to kill people, trying to keep the violence as minimal as he can, but it never works. So he embraces it.

It's really powerful, and I want to dwell so much on this early period because it informs the rest of his game to a high degree. The narrative of doubt and digression holds through his whole story, with one interesting note: The hope for redemption.

In Learned Something From Yesterday, Hansel dreams about his victims. He imagines a train he cannot enter that they are boarding because of the heavy baggage he is carrying. The metaphor is obvious, intentionally so. It's left alone for much of the rest of the game, until Hansel reaches Endgame. As he lies dying from the many, many wounds he has accumulated over the course of the game, Hansel declares:
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"I wouldn't change anything," he said, his voice soft, contemplative as the sun slid behind the treeline, dusk becoming night, the world sliding into sleep in preparation for a new, irrevocably changed day.

"Not a goddamn thing."


It seems surprising, for a narrative so riddled with doubt, for Hansel to find certainty in death.Yet it seems that's his fate. While his narrative declares he is still deliberating, after his death he sees the train once more. He arrives, without baggage, to open arms, ready to be received. And then...
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He nodded, grinning, and took the boy in white's outstretched hand as the boy in white pulled him into the car. Suddenly, he was bathed in warmth - a soft, light glow that surrounded his body. On the car were dozens of people, smiling and waving at him, offering cheers and congratulations as he stepped into their circle, their hands caressing him, comforting him, consoling him.

He smiled into their grins, laughed into their mirth, as the train car doors slid closed. He closed his eyes, smiled at the ceiling as the train car started to move, their hands securing him among them, taking him amongst their number.

In the instant before the car slid on soundless wheels into the dark tunnel, in the moment before the world went black, his eyes opened.

Their smiles had turned sinister.

I don't have words. It's a brilliant capstone to a brilliant story, and that's all I have to say about that.

THE DRAGGING

I have almost nothing bad to say about Hansel. He is my favorite SotF character that I've read, and I've read quite a few. His narrative, while very, very long, is relatively tight and efficient, with very little drag. I think the only things to criticize are that the two brief relationships he forms that do not immediately end in violence, those being Andi and Claire, could have used more fleshing out. Hansel has a very solitary narrative, and choosing to take a hostage seems like an out of place variable that he would not want complicating his already fragile situation.

Andi is a little easier to understand, and I think this relationship would have gone further if she hadn't gone inactive. As it stands though, it ends on a very odd note and I think there could have been a stronger transition away from it to keep things as tight and consistent as they were elsewhere. However, this is partially bad circumstances, rather than any inherent flaw with his plot, so it's hard for me to press on it.

THE NITPICKY

Hansel's another one that I just have nothing to nitpick on. He's great. Go read him. You'll be happy you did.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Chasing the dream(hur hur am funny) with CRITIQUE: CHASE RODRIGUEZ

THE COMPELLING

I really like the structure of Chase's opening one-shot. While these days something like that would typically go to Meanwhile, it's a really tense, interesting way to cold-open a character, especially with that chill ending, "She was holding a large gun." It's very interesting, and I'm probably going to holler at Vyse some in private about terrible, terrible V6 ideas it's giving me.

I also appreciate the methodical cadence in Chase's posts. A lot of my recent non-SotF work has me exploring narrative cadence, and I think Chase's fits him very well. It highlights his slow, artistic nature in some very intriguing ways when you dig under the surface.

THE DRAGGING

Chase is a little hard to critique for me because a lot of what I like and what I dislike about him is very broad. There aren't many good, single examples of what I'm talking about, it's mostly all stylistic. I feel a lot of this comes down to the fact that Chase has a lot of fluff. One example is this paragraph fromWhat's up, Dock?
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He took a couple more deep breaths as he let the stiffness work it's course. He had to stay calm, even now, when it was just himself he had to worry about for the moment, but there wasn't really anything he could distract himself with, except more morbid thoughts that couldn't do anything about. He briefly considered the possibility of scouting the docks, but decided against it. With his luck, that would just be asking for some horrible accident to happen.

My problem with this paragraph is that even in the context of the rest of his story, it doesn't tell me much. There's a theme of "be calm," but it's not really captured outside of a brief sentence and it doesn't inform the rest of the post. There are chunks like this throughout Chase's narrative, and they make it hard to get a firm grasp on his character, and who he is.

Chase also doesn't make a whole lot of firm decisions or face many real challenges. Part of this seems like a theme, such as during Lydia's death, but for the most part it just makes him feel like an observer without comment, moving in and out of pivotal and mundane moments without grounding himself in anything solid.

I've talked about Character-Profile disconnect before, usually in the nitpick section, but I think it fits here better this time. Chase's lack of firm personal character is really constraining to a good narrative. There's a lot of good stylistic things going on here, but the substance never materializes in a way that satiates what's been set up. I really would have liked to seen his interests and relationships play a bigger role in his narrative to show who he was as a person and why we, as readers, should connect with him.

THE NITPICKY

So, I'm weird about deaths. I can be very, very picky when it comes to wrapping up a story, and this is one of those cases. I dislike how quick Chase's death ended up being, especially when the post falls so far out of line with his usual narrative style. He's the sort of character that benefits from that slow, smooth cadence to complement his natural calm and eye for detail, and the burst speed of his death post doesn't fit well with the normal pace of his story, which makes it very jarring for me. I can understand it stylistically in context of how he died, but I don't think this kind of death fits this kind of character very well.

I think there's a lot of good stuff underneath the hood for Chase, and I hope Vyse re-explores it someday. There's a lot of potential here, if the delivery is tweaked a bit.

Plush Wants To Read Your Dead Things!
Don't call it a comeback with CRITIQUE: BENJAMIN WARD

THE COMPELLING

Shangela adopts Benjamin Ward in the appropriately titled Handoff. This adoption represents a shift in character that I think works well in many ways, because prior to this thread Benjamin is pretty much a bully and a pretty nasty person 24/7. Shangela keeps that core, but expands Ben in a lot of ways that I find very compelling. There's a lot of the nasty venom and despicable language that was present early on for Ben, especially the homophobic language that defines his encounter with Matt, but Shangela takes it in a more sinister direction that really echoes what's present in his profile. Benjamin is presented as a character with all the arrogance and drive of his highly successful father, but without his measures of intelligence, restraint, and wisdom. Benjamin is dominant, selfish, easily angered, and dismissive of those he deems as "lesser." This is communicated hauntingly in Handoff as he discovers the corpses of Mark Little and Yasmin Carol. His inner thoughts towards Yaz are especially chilling:
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Ben craned his head away from the hanging girl, shifting his gaze to the front of the classroom. She wasn't interesting anymore, but that bag she left on the teacher's desk sure was. Fuck yeah. Ben's back in.

She wasn't interesting anymore. He describes her in the way you'd expect a child to describe an animal in a zoo. It's a very compelling, fresh take on the character right out of the gate that leaves me wanting more.

This is further complicated by the encounter with Janie in the same thread. Early on, we see that Shangela's Benjamin is a self-reinforcing machine. He has doubts, and fears, and trepidations, but he immediately silences them because he is "still Benjamin fucking Ward,' and that entitles him to be the best, to survive and take out anyone who gets in his way. The natural swagger that returns after his brief hesitation makes the characterization all the sweeter. I really like this note of narration towards the climax of their meeting:
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Diplomacy was a strong suit of Ben. Or at least, he liked to think so. Maybe in reality, they only way Ben coerced people from dissenting was out of sheer fear. At least that fear was something he could always fall back on.

It's that tinge of self-awareness combined with sheer self-assured, arrogant certainty that makes Ben so interesting for me, and I really enjoy watching it develop.

His reactions in the latter part of Huddle leading up to his own death after killing Janie are very humanizing as well. It heavily imparts the fact that Ben is someone that things don't go wrong for, and even when something could be construed as going wrong, it's clearly someone else's fault. He lives in a protective bubble that keeps all fault off of his shoulders and shoves it elsewhere, but between Oscar and Janie that bubble is breaking down fast. You can see him unraveling as a person as his death approaches, and I think it's a very fitting note to leave him on.

THE DRAGGING

Others have remarked that Benjamin has trouble finding a consistent voice. I think this is a smaller issue than it's made out to be on a consistent basis, but in the moments where his voice gets away from him, it really gets away. There's a quote from Fumble that I really want to look at in the context of Oscar's death and Ben's reaction to it.
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Small talk was difficult to uphold with Oscar. They had no grounds of commonality. Ben was struggling to find some way to keep himself relevant. Oscar needed Ben, that was for sure, but other than that, what else did Ben know about the kid?

This makes a lot of sense in context and describes Ben's relationship with both Oscar and Janie pretty well, and after killing Janie Ben leans on it to reassure himself. Oscar's death is more problematic in character though. The actual kill flows well. There's a nice tinge of denial that rings well for both Benjamin and Oscar, and there's just enough force and anger coming out of Ben to believe. It's the follow up that sits oddly with me.

After Janie leaves, Ben starts his next thread by eulogizing Oscar, waxing about how it was an accident and Oscar never should have been here in the first place. That he was a dick, and Oscar didn't deserve what he did, and he was sorry. That's really inconsistent with his character up to this point, for me. Ben doesn't apologize. He doesn't feel bad for his actions. He doesn't take time out to mourn someone he barely even knew, who turned his back on the two people trying to keep him alive and escape with their only means of defense. I really wanted Ben to double-down on himself again, like he does later with Janie, and try to convince himself that he did the right thing. It was too early and too abrupt a shift for that dynamic to break down.

THE NITPICKY

I don't have anything to nitpick on with Ben. The good parts are really good, and the rough parts are less pure content and style and more flow and characterization. There's nothing that stands out to me that I want to pick at in that regard. Ben's just really solid all around, and I'm glad that despite the hiccup in the middle, he was able to finish pretty strong, in my opinion.

Fenris does sprite stuff!
You even got his tattoos, you're the best *_*

I'll throw in my other TV2 partner in crime as well, because I have a fever, and the only prescription is more of this awesome sprite art. You're killing it, man.

Gabriel Munez's description



Fenris does sprite stuff!
You continue to rock so damn hard XD

Let me introduce you to my mountain.
Vahka Basayev's appearance

Star Wars Mafia: Game Thread
With only four hours left in the phase, I don't trust another lynch to materialize.

I'm uncomfortable with this because of the time and pressure, and I want to look at this train no matter how the flip turns out. But as it stands, our time is up.

Unvote.

Vote: RC