Impractical Applications (What Kiriko Knew)

One of my favorite things about the solo game I’m running is the character dynamics. (All right, granted, in the stage it’s currently at the game is almost solely about its character dynamics, but they’re still my favorite part.) In particular, it’s the discovery that our feline heroine, the cat god-familiar Kiriko, trusts a grand total of two characters currently present, both of whom can likely be explained by the rule of information and character dynamics.

The first of the two didn’t surprise me too much; after all, I’d been actively trying to set up a potential connection between Kiriko and Kiara. So when Liron and Kiriko came to visit Kiara and her teacher, I’d led off with Kiara demonstrating that she treats people’s familiars with as much respect as she treats her peers. (There are backstory reasons for this, one of whom is off on a hair-chewing spree right now.) But I don’t think it was that that set up the connection between the two of them; that came later, after Carlotta had explained some points of history that Liron had neglected to inform Kiriko of, and Kiara was a bit unsettled from the transfer of memory that Liron had come over to do in the first place. Both of them ended up outside and started talking, a conversation that involved a lot of openness, questions on why the memory transfer was going on (Carlotta had already explained why Liron had been reluctant to do it), and Kiara’s take on the politics that Kiriko had been brushing up against in sessions before. I think that helped.

The second was a bit more surprising. One thing that came to light, after the necessary events surrounding the death of Kiriko’s master (she was, after all, originally supposed to be an emancipated familiar), was that she was feeling at least as much sorrow from her separation from her rescuer, whom she’d only met during the incident itself, as from her master’s passing. This was interesting, particularly since the characters I used, Amaya and Shizuyo, were my second choice; originally I’d been going to have her bailed out by a part-time antagonist, either then-devoted deathknight Lirit or demon sympathizer Rukan. (That, and the original version of Plan B actually didn’t involve that much contact with Amaya. Shizuyo had other ideas.) What was it that made the difference?

As with the other situation, it was all about the information—in both directions, actually. Liron had known a lot, but hadn’t relayed all that much: some, like what Kiriko ended up learning from Carlotta, he hadn’t considered relevant just yet, or had wanted to protect her from until he could figure out how to say it properly; this had led to a not-quite-fight between the two of them which was resolved just before the final mission took place. Shizuyo, on the other hand, took the approach of “Swear to secrecy and then explain”, and Amaya was quite willing to answer questions (somewhat odd for her, but it made sense in context).

Watching the interactions was interesting. Amaya took a somewhat teacherly role towards Kiriko, explaining things like setting history and even teaching a few of her more specialized skills. She also found herself regularly answering Kiriko’s self-doubt with “I’m not surprised you didn’t [x],” followed by some good reason why not. After all, their jobs are vastly different, Amaya’s trained to find people and hide from people while Kiriko can be as obvious as she wants and never needed to be a primary hunter. Mindset barrier, anyone?

And then there was Shizuyo, in all her former wrestler of gods glory, discussing the advantages of being small, and subtle, and generally invisible. An equal, and one who acted like an equal—and discussed things that Kiriko had never really gotten around to discussing with Liron, and wasn’t even sure that he had known.

In all of these, the openness was a strong element in the NPC’s favor; information was freely shared, and in those few cases when it wasn’t, there was a good reason why (from “The fewer know, the safer we all are” to “I’m sorry, I had a friend you remind me of, and I really couldn’t do [X] near her without her wigging out, I’d forgotten you think like a carnivore.”)

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