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Worm: The best supervillain web serial that you aren't not reading yet.

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Noliar

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I think you're right, Coilvert was genuinely expecting Skitter to put the municipal over the individual and didn't expect to have to use the contingency and he was irritated/surprised/regretful enough to choke and hesitate and his men followed his lead. He may even have been second guessing the decision because as Calvert he could have called on Dinah's services if necessary (which I thought was his plan and probably so did Skitter.)

Still the worst mistake we've seen him make and right in his core competency so as a commentator I stand by my criticism.

"Terrible mistake, absolutely unforgivable. You won't win a supers fight at this level passing up an opportunity like that, Bill."
"Indeed Bob, this game is 90% between the ears and even a temperament as icy as Coil's can show cracks under the pressure of a victory this big, this close."
"You have to give a lot of credit to Skitter too, Bill, she still had an awful lot of work to do to steal the fight and keep herself alive there. Total determination, total focus under agonisingly difficult conditions."
"You are so right, Bob, nobody can question Skitter's big game temperament. There's a reason they call her The Cockroach. But she should never have been given the chance and I think it's going to hurt Coil. If you make a mistake and win anyway it's quickly forgotten but the errors that cost you can haunt you."
"Well he'd better get over it fast, Bill, because the rounds come thick and fast at this stage..." [/commentary]
 

dreamfarer

Man of Two Worlds
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I'm picturing one of the realities that Coil had to let go. Imagine one where Skitter did have a second trigger and it changed just one aspect of her power. The part where she can only control things with very simple nervous systems.

I don't think that can ever happen in the story because that's pretty much game over. Brockton Bay become "Skitter's Hive", without people necessarily even being aware of that. So, we'll never see it but it's cute imagining Coil going "Oh hell no, let's just leave, leave now."
 

Wolfwood2

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"Terrible mistake, absolutely unforgivable. You won't win a supers fight at this level passing up an opportunity like that, Bill."
"Indeed Bob, this game is 90% between the ears and even a temperament as icy as Coil's can show cracks under the pressure of a victory this big, this close."
"You have to give a lot of credit to Skitter too, Bill, she still had an awful lot of work to do to steal the fight and keep herself alive there. Total determination, total focus under agonisingly difficult conditions."
"You are so right, Bob, nobody can question Skitter's big game temperament. There's a reason they call her The Cockroach. But she should never have been given the chance and I think it's going to hurt Coil. If you make a mistake and win anyway it's quickly forgotten but the errors that cost you can haunt you."
"Well he'd better get over it fast, Bill, because the rounds come thick and fast at this stage..." [/commentary]
Brilliant. :)
 

Wildbow

Retired User
I'm picturing one of the realities that Coil had to let go. Imagine one where Skitter did have a second trigger and it changed just one aspect of her power. The part where she can only control things with very simple nervous systems.

I don't think that can ever happen in the story because that's pretty much game over. Brockton Bay become "Skitter's Hive", without people necessarily even being aware of that. So, we'll never see it but it's cute imagining Coil going "Oh hell no, let's just leave, leave now."
If that happened, though, what's to say she couldn't use her newfound control over Coil to make him collapse into that reality?
 

Noliar

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I'd say having live grenades stick in mid air just in front of you would be enough reason to take the other path.
 

RazorSmile

Threadkiller
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That would make a lot of sense. Sometime after all of this is over from the conventional perspective, it would be neat to go back and see Coil's experience of it. Interlude fodder, perhaps. :D
I for one would love to see a similar interlude from the POV of one of the faceless mooks in that sequence.

Well, I do make a point of not repeating characters...

But I fudged that with doing one for Armsmaster and one for Defiant.

I could do the same for Coil & Calvert
Ah! See, that works out perfectly :D
 
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dreamfarer

Man of Two Worlds
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If that happened, though, what's to say she couldn't use her newfound control over Coil to make him collapse into that reality?
The only handwave I could come up with for that would be she'd need to control both Coils and the other one was luckily out of her range. Beyond that? Yeah, it's pretty much an "I Win" sort of power, presuming she got the same level of control over people as she has over her bugs.

Lesser, aka more reasonable and storyable, versions would be she has a trigger like that but doesn't get as much control over more complex creatures. So it's not every person within her sphere of influence, or her sphere is much smaller, or she can't control them as absolutely as she can with the bugs (or all of the above).

That would be in line with what we've seen for Grue too I suppose - his power copying isn't a pure amping up of his abilities, i.e. same area of darkness, and everyone in it.

Idle speculations aside though, I'm pretty happy with how the last chapter went. It surprised me, and that's always a good thing. It also didn't feel implausible - Coil tried for a fairly simple assassination, personally overseen so he could be sure of the results. When it started going pear-shaped he got out of personal danger and set his minions to finish the job in what should have been a very effective manner. A burning building with no exits that Skitter could force open should have been a slamdunk.

I could picture being Coil's player for example and being very content in that moment that I'd killed the GM's bug girl NPC. That she suddenly had a gun after not carrying one on missions I sent her into that were intentionally deadly, would have been exactly the kind of "now you're just cheating for her you bastard" moment that it takes to trip up a "great planner" type. As readers on Taylor's side though, we got the foreshadowing needed to make that feel right. And we saw just how much she suffered to make the rest of the escape come together. And she's not even vaguely out of danger yet.

So, all-in-all, quite a fun chapter!
 

Noliar

Registered User
Validated User
Steel fused into shoulder bone (possible necrosis, increased fracture risk because of sharp discontinuity in mechanical properties, arthritis), recent open surgery on shoulder followed by heavy activity in insanitary conditions, deep blunt trauma to chest and arm, smoke inhalation, blindness, minor injuries everywhere, weeks of stress and exhaustion.

How long before she just drops dead? Place your bets!
 

Sinvael

Retired User
New Years update is amazing, thanks Wildbow!

I particularly like how well-realized the interplay between Coil and Skitter feels. It seems to me that Coil has crafted a plan of contingencies within contingencies built upon more contingencies, and Skitter is skating an almost impossibly thin line that puts her at the very edge of his ability to have prepared for.

To establish some analogies, it's strikes me somewhat that recent developments appear as if Coil has used his power to rearrange his environment so as to provide a successive series of constrained game-like scenarios which he may 'play' in two different ways concurrently, writing to separate 'save files', either of which he can 'delete' to commit himself to the other. If we think of each scenario as a chess-puzzle-like entity and his overall goal as the death of Skitter, it seems to me that he has distributed his strategic resources among these scenarios according to various hierarchies possibly relating their value to him, his effective control of them, and their occupational utility.

Using chess and shogi to provide an archetypical basis for assigning roles and capabilities to various characters, I will begin by describing the 'kings' of the scenarios which have so far occured. Based on the range and scope of Skitter's powers, I would have her as possessing the 'movement' of a promoted bishop - she has a high degree of offensive capability at all ranges, becoming more oblique in its application at greater distance, as well as similar capacity for defensive maneuvering. Coil is obviously the primary 'king' in terms of game significance and role as player identity. He also matches somewhat to the movement of a king, as his power represents a limited ability to move himself and surrogate 'kings' out of 'check/mate'. From there, I suggest that Dinah is a diminished 'king'. She is presumably secondary to himself in importance and possesses practically nonexistent movement except as derived from Coil's power. From there, I posit that Tattletale may be a tertiary king, as her power provides synergy with his own to a similar-but-lesser degree as Dinah; meanwhile possessing greater capability and individuality independent of himself in contrast. As a sidenote, it occurs to me that he may have engaged Lisa in a protracted contest over the Undersiders, and recently tsumi'd, captured, and 'dropped' her as a precondition of implementing his 'game'.

Moving on to some other pieces and beginning with the least significant, it seems to me that the mercenaries Coil employs bear an analogous relationship to pawns and lances, minor pieces with limited utility in contrast to many capes as a result of technology and training. Moving on to the capes, and from the outside of the back row inward, we have Ballistic and Sundancer as lances. They have straightforward and almost exclusively offensive range. Trickster, Imp and Regent are knights; they tend to employ a an oblique approach which tends to put them at risk, while being primarily useful for threatening pieces so they can be captured in concert with other pieces. Additionally, Trickster and Regent have partiular long-term value to Coil, as they allow Coil to exchange the position of any two pieces and drop at least one additional unit on a semi-permanent basis between scenarios which has previously been captured, respectively. Bitch is a silver general, a piece from shogi which is primarily employed in defending the king, particularly in the early game, but with more/earlier offensive utility and flexibility than Grue, a gold general. For anyone unfamiliar with the movement characteristics of the generals, they both have the ability to move one square directly or diagonally forward, and the silver can additionally move one square diagonally backwards like a slow bishop, while the gold can move one square orthogonally, like a slow rook. Genesis tends to be used as a rook, a durable piece with straightforward offense but limited evasion against oblique attacks. She is valuable to Coil, as she can potentially be 'held' and dropped as a piece of variable type according to need, any time she isnt 'in play'. Shatterbird is a promoted bishop for similar reasons to Skitter and in conjunction with her identification as a bishop during Plague. Finally, Coil has access to three Tinkers, who allow him to dynamically change the rules of play.

Analyzing the 'gameplay' described over the most recent pair of chapters, Coil's first scenario involved him isolating Skitter and restricting her to a very small 'board', and attempting to checkmate her while only exposing his most minor pieces to risk. Skitter managed to escape, at significant cost of personal resources, while Coil sacrificed a single pawn. The next scenario was more detailed, comprising an attempt to threaten Skitter via lance and possibly knight oriented methods, but skitter evaded those - I suggest that in an alternate reality, Skitter did not establish contact with Dinah, and Coil chose not to accept the losses she inflicted on/through the pieces he had in play. Since she did establish contact with Dinah, he used that connection to emphasize Dinah's importance and possibly make it appear she was vulnerable to capture by Skitter, leading into the third scenario. In said encounter, he immediately 'castled' Dinah, whisking her away to his base while exerting 'control' over the Undersiders, causing them to react to Skitter with hostility and stripping her powers, thanks to Leet.

Edit: Fairy pieces, huh...
 
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Noliar

Registered User
Validated User
New Years update is amazing, thanks Wildbow!

I particularly like how well-realized the interplay between Coil and Skitter feels. It seems to me that Coil has crafted a plan of contingencies within contingencies built upon more contingencies, and Skitter is skating an almost impossibly thin line that puts her at the very edge of his ability to have prepared for.

To establish some analogies, it's strikes me somewhat that recent developments appear as if Coil has used his power to rearrange his environment so as to provide a successive series of constrained game-like scenarios which he may 'play' in two different ways concurrently, writing to separate 'save files', either of which he can 'delete' to commit himself to the other. If we think of each scenario as a chess-puzzle-like entity and his overall goal as the death of Skitter, it seems to me that he has distributed his strategic resources among these scenarios according to various hierarchies possibly relating their value to him, his effective control of them, and their occupational utility.

Using chess and shogi to provide an archetypical basis for assigning roles and capabilities to various characters, I will begin by describing the kings. Based on the range and scope of Skitter's powers, I would have her as possessing the 'movement' of a promoted bishop - she has a high degree of offensive capability at all ranges, becoming more oblique in its application at greater distance, as well as similar capacity for defensive maneuvering. Coil is obviously the primary 'king' in terms of game significance and role as player identity. He also matches somewhat to the movement of a king, as his power represents a limited ability to move himself and surrogate 'kings' out of 'check/mate'. From there, I suggest that Dinah is a diminished 'king'. She is presumably secondary to himself in importance and possesses practically nonexistent movement except as derived from Coil's power. From there, I posit that Tattletale may be a tertiary king, as her power provides synergy with his own to a similar-but-lesser degree as Dinah; meanwhile possessing greater capability and individuality independent of himself in contrast. As a sidenote, it occurs to me that he may have engaged Lisa in a protracted contest over the Undersiders, and recently tsumi'd, captured, and 'dropped' her as a precondition of implementing his 'game'.

Moving on to some other pieces and beginning with the least significant, it seems to me that the mercenaries Coil employs bear an analogous relationship to pawns and lances, minor pieces with limited utility in contrast to many capes as a result of technology and training. Moving on to the capes, and from the outside of the back row inward, we have Ballistic and Sundancer as lances. They have straightforward and almost exclusively offensive range. Trickster, Imp and Regent are knights; they tend to employ a an oblique approach which tends to put them at risk, while being primarily useful for threatening pieces so they can be captured in concert with other pieces. Additionally, Trickster and Regent have partiular long-term value to Coil, as they allow Coil to exchange the position of any two pieces and drop at least one additional unit on a semi-permanent basis between scenarios which has previously been captured, respectively. Bitch is a silver general, a piece from shogi which is primarily employed in defending the king, particularly in the early game, but with more/earlier offensive utility and flexibility than Grue, a gold general. For anyone unfamiliar with the movement characteristics of the generals, they both have the ability to move one square directly or diagonally forward, and the silver can additionally move one square diagonally backwards like a slow bishop, while the gold can move one square orthogonally, like a slow rook. Genesis tends to be used as a rook, a durable piece with straightforward offense but limited evasion against oblique attacks. She is valuable to Coil, as she can potentially be 'held' and dropped as a piece of variable type according to need, any time she isnt 'in play'. Shatterbird is a promoted bishop for similar reasons to Skitter and in conjunction with her identification as a bishop during Plague. Finally, Coil has access to three Tinkers, who allow him to dynamically change the rules of play.

Analyzing the 'gameplay' described over the most recent pair of chapters, Coil's first scenario involved him isolating Skitter and restricting her to a very small 'board', and attempting to checkmate her while only exposing his most minor pieces to risk. Skitter managed to escape, at significant cost of personal resources, while Coil sacrificed a single pawn. The next scenario was more detailed, comprising an attempt to threaten Skitter via lance and possibly knight oriented methods, but skitter evaded those - I suggest that in an alternate reality, Skitter did not establish contact with Dinah, and Coil chose not to accept the losses she inflicted on/through the pieces he had in play. Since she did establish contact with Dinah, he used that connection to emphasize Dinah's importance and possibly make it appear she was vulnerable to capture by Skitter, leading into the third scenario. In said encounter, he immediately 'castled' Dinah, whisking her away to his base while exerting 'control' over the Undersiders, causing them to react to Skitter with hostility and stripping her powers, thanks to Leet.
Where is Coil's decision point? Coil prioritises his personal safety when it comes to using his split capability and especially when confronting capes. We know that he collapsed one split to avoid using grenades in scenario 1 and we have to presume he split again soon after on the decision to stay and supervise vs leaving and chose leaving. In that time fakeSkitter has joined the Undersiders and is acting on previous orders with an emphasis on not arousing suspicion and those order cannot have been split because from the moment of substitution Coil was confronting Skitter and needed the split for that. So the split to affect scenario 3 has to be made between Skitter's escape and her popping up near the Undersiders and during that time he is not privy to Skitter's actions including her communications with Dinah. He expects Skitter to make a slow approach so if he makes a split before she shows up it could be a long time before he knows which is better and in the meantime he can't use a split on any other risk which means he won't deal with Tattletale and Regent, the Travellers, the Wards, the Protectorate or anything else chancy. And if he's using a split to cover Skitter going for Dinah, which he has made provision for, then he doesn't have it available for his reaction if she does something completely off the wall.

Given those constraints, the most likely split for him to try is ordering fakeSkitter to act before realSkitter arrives. Without the diversion of realSkitter she gets killed by Bitch's dogs before she can extract Dinah perhaps.
 
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