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The Starcaster Chronicles 12.19

November 21, 2023 by Tim


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Stephen
Stephen
5 months ago

Disbelief at the idea of Cort re-joining the Federation?

Or stunned shock at the idea that they would want him back outside of a prison planet?

I’ll take “AND” for my answer please

Benjamin
Benjamin
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

Probably more the shock of seeing Cort make a decision that is not utterly bonkers.

7eggert
7eggert
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

On that ship she’s the last to know.

The Legacy
The Legacy
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

Yes.

BakaGrappler
BakaGrappler
5 months ago

There was much celebration and gnashing of teeth when this page went live. I personally wonder how long Cort rehearsed what he was going to say here.

P. Stein
P. Stein
5 months ago
Reply to  BakaGrappler

Out of curiosity, how did the vote turn out?

Dramabear
Dramabear
5 months ago
Reply to  P. Stein

I wish the creator would just write the story HE wants to write, not this popular vote stuff.

Carl
Carl
5 months ago
Reply to  Dramabear

Even back when “The Starcaster Chronicles” was just a little prototype side project of Ethan as space Indiana Jones, it was always a choose your own adventure story. I think the story Tim wanted to tell was a choose your own adventure one. The difference between this and those old books is that this is an evolving narrative with no take-backsies.

The Legacy
The Legacy
5 months ago
Reply to  Carl

This method of storyline actually predates The Starcaster Chronicles; much like CAD 1.0, there was the Ethan MacManus: Space Archaelogist series (I had to look at the hardcover book to find it), and it was run in a similar format to this, except voting was open to all. TSC is the spiritual successor to EM:SA.

Brisbe
Brisbe
5 months ago
Reply to  Dramabear

Tim, by definition, holds all the power here still. He decides when to go to a vote, or when to progress the story without a vote. He decides what options the vote has, and even if a decision is made in one direction, he decides the consequences of that decision. There’s two reasons for how it’s currently being done. The first is obviously engagement; it’s a way of rewarding people willing to contribute to helping the site. The other, though, is that it can sometimes be exciting to write a story that you don’t know exactly how it’s going to… Read more »

Joey Pereira
Joey Pereira
5 months ago
Reply to  P. Stein

The three votes were: -Agree to rejoin the Federation only so long as it takes to help defeat the Dranglaex, with a promise that he’ll be allowed to go his own way afterwards. -Refuse to rejoin the Federation, but offer to work alongside them on a freelance basis, for adequate compensation. -Decline the offer. Cite the extreme danger given his lack of experience with the Starcaster, and his/his crew’s overall lack of training in that sort of front lines combat, and insist on remaining private citizens with a vow to keep the Starcaster away from the Dranglaex. Of those 3… Read more »

BakaGrappler
BakaGrappler
5 months ago
Reply to  P. Stein

If I recall correctly, it was a difference of about 3% between becoming a Merc, and being reinstated. Going on their own wasn’t really even considered by most people, getting something like 5% of the vote. The conversations were pretty intense to the point that some were actual debates, with point and counterpoint. The main draw for the Merc option was that the government was inherently corrupt and it was best to be outside of the system so that the cast could keep doing what they wanted, while getting larger paydays. The arguments against the Merc option was that mercenaries… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by BakaGrappler
ViggsPR
ViggsPR
5 months ago
Reply to  BakaGrappler

Thank you for this writeup

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  BakaGrappler

Sign me up for the gnashing of teeth side. I honestly didn’t think there would be that many people who would fall for such an obviously bad option. I can see it already. Cort’s first assignment being to sit on his ass and protect some Forge World while our favorite genocidal zealots go around doing their thing. As a soldier, he’ll have no choice but to sit there and do nothing, protecting the high priority world while others burn one after another. I’ve had *WAY* too many DM’s pull this on me over the years, it’s why I flat out… Read more »

GUNnibal
GUNnibal
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

I’m going on a bit of a tangent here, but your statement made me curious. Looking at the DM example you’ve provided, what exactly makes you think that you “abandoning the post” was the wrong/bad option? It lands you in some measure of trouble, sure. But is avoiding all trouble your one purpose in playing? Yes, you could have avoided this “trap”, but you also could have avoided that literal trap in a dungeon but the dice disagreed and you took damage – I doubt you gnash your teeth every time that happens (otherwise, you might need a dentist sooner… Read more »

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  GUNnibal

It’s happened more than once I’m afraid, I had bad luck with getting DM’s who only ever saw the game as DM vs players :/ First case, literally word for word an army teleported into the fortress two days after we left, meaning it would take two days for us to get back IF we knew it was being attacked to begin with. Conveniently as I said the BBEG didn’t teleport his massive army into the fortress until the five of us left. He could have at any time, but he didn’t, it was only after our party left. He… Read more »

Blair
Blair
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

You have had some seriously bad DMs.. that is all I can say.

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Blair

No argument there, though the first one had his moments at times. I remember one time he got so fed up with our resident Bard that he literally killed off the God of Music in a campaign so that said Bard lost the ability to seduce anyone ever again ^^

Was pretty damn funny when half a dozen women from the capital beat the sod to death lamo

Ben
Ben
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

Sure, but they were all bad options. At least this way he has the chance to get some training and a little support. This is the most likely way to keep the starcaster out of the hands of the Dranglaex

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben

I don’t think the merc contract was a bad option at all, for Cort or the Federation.

Merc contract he could have still had access to vast resources, including training, money, etc. It would also have given the Federation an off the books resource prestampled with plausible deniability all over it.

Darkhorse
Darkhorse
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

As soon as Cort can shoot and take out a single vessel he’ll be a too valuable asset to hold back. It is clear that the Drangealex cannot win a direct engagement with the Federation. The Federation probably has too much building capacity and defences next to their fleet not to approach this with utmost care and strategy. Not to mention they have only one Starcaster in this galaxy, vs 3 of the Federation. The Starcasters can identify usage of the enemy Starcaster, helping identify the Drangealex fleet. You then harass them to prevent them from repairing or bolstering their… Read more »

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Darkhorse

First off, only one Starcaster user has the ability to sense other Starcasters, and even then only when it is used. The other (I admit I forgot his name) stated it might be possible in theory, but he wasn’t able to do it. That aside, as for the actual war itself, I admit that is something I have pondered over since it started. The Federation is very large, and it has a lot of building capacity. But we don’t really know how big the Drangealex armada *IS*. If memory serves they don’t even have a homeworld, they are a spaceborne… Read more »

Steve
Steve
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

La’Ni = Starcaster master
Danton = the other one

(I think. My memory is fading with age…)

7eggert
7eggert
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

This is a bad option but there was an IMO slightly worse option as a free agent and the option top let the space nazis win before fighting them alone.

VibrantEvolution
VibrantEvolution
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

why do you think they are going to send him to “some forge world” while the rest of the world is getting blown to bits? You’d think they’d keep him close and train him to use the starcaster and to learn to work together with the other two starcasters so they could actually launch an attack on the dranglaex as they outnumber their starcaster 3 to 1 now.

CMasta1992
CMasta1992
5 months ago
Reply to  BakaGrappler

I’m definitely celebrating. This gives better opportunity for training, better resources and better opportunity for gathering Intel than to just going rogue and absolutely having two massive opposing forces eternally keeping tabs on you

RblDiver
RblDiver
5 months ago

Sometimes the best thing you can do is wipe the slate clean and start fresh!

Jedi
Jedi
5 months ago

I guess that is as close as a face can be to a questionmark 🙂

Daniel Sørensen
Daniel Sørensen
5 months ago

He actually did it. I didn’t think his character was there yet. My guess was that he needed another push to acknowledge who he is, but maybe his conscience was too loud.
I see a lot of interesting possibilities storywise from here

Doc ?
Doc ?
5 months ago

The voters did it.

Gonfrask
Gonfrask
5 months ago

As the song says:
You are in the army now ?

GUNnibal
GUNnibal
5 months ago
Reply to  Gonfrask

Aaaaand now I’m going to spend the whole day trying to get this song out of my head.
Thanks for that.

Rolando
Rolando
5 months ago

Cort just likes to play the idiot as a coping mechanism and a disguise. He’s not truly one. He just played it for so long, to the point that many wondered if that was his real self. Or a significant part of his real self, anyway (human nature can easily be contradictory, after all). I guess that explains their shocked faces. Maybe they feared his dumber impulses would go into overdrive under such enormous pressure. Or that the federation would be far less lenient and civil. Even idiots tend to fall in line, in situations where EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE outside… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Rolando
Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago

Aaaand he picked the stupid route. Seriously Cort, enlisting means you are a slave, a dog of the military beholden to whatever their whims are. As a merc you’d at least have a measure of autonomy.

CMasta1992
CMasta1992
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

And significantly fewer tangible and intangible resources

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  CMasta1992

Congrats you have all the resources in existence, however you are not allowed ask for them, request them, take them or use them, because you are not in command, control, or in charge. You are ID#11978B and your assignment is to stay in this heavily fortified world far away from any combat. You will be staying here for all time, even after the war is over because: 1: Enemy must not get another Starcaster. 2: We don’t trust you with your Starcaster. So we have decided it is in our best interest if you are never allowed to leave this… Read more »

Blair
Blair
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

You do know that this is a story.. so Tim can write it interesting.. rather than just the rest of the story being staring at a brick wall?

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Blair

Obviously it’s not going to be Cort staring at a brick wall, that isn’t the trap or the problem. Enlisting means forced to follow the chain of command. ALWAYS. You have no agency, no free will or free choice. People who are impulsive, who think or react based on emotions are *NOT* cut out for the military because you have to follow orders even when they go against everything you stand for or believe. While I doubt it would happen, just as an example if Cort is ordered to protect a planet that is a giant ore mine, and the… Read more »

Cmasta1992
Cmasta1992
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

You need to think about this a little deeper. Having Cort on their side even if the two sides don’t particularly fully trust each other already reduces the number of variables they have to account for significantly, meaning it does not benefit the Federation to be so restrictive that it makes Cort want to leave. You’re talking about freedom as a way to live on your own with no one to account to but Speck was right a few pages ago. There is no endgame where Cort just is left alone by both parties. The Federation is seemingly large enough… Read more »

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Cmasta1992

Why is it you seem to believe the Merc contract option (which was one of the three) would have meant the Federation would have seen him as an enemy exactly? Since the contract would have been with them? You keep going on and on about if he ran how things would turn out, but you are completely ignoring the fact Cort was given THREE options. Run, Enlist, or Merc Contract. So far every single reply you have given has lumped ‘run’ and ‘merc contract’ as the same thing. From the start my argument has been merc contract was the good… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Kenju
Cmasta1992
Cmasta1992
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

Merc Contract is a false midpoint between running and enlisting. You get a little more freedom and you gain a little more trust but at the end of the day you still are in between the two factions. Enlisting gives the best access to training and resources needed and it’s not even a hard choice.

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Cmasta1992

Enlisting also means there is the possibility of the Federation *not* training Cort, you do realize that right? Just purely from a logical and reasonable perspective here, they have the advantage of two Starcaster users that know what they are doing opposed to the Dranglaex only have one. Best way to take advantage of that is by keeping both of their Starcaster users on the frontline while keeping Cort out of everything. Literally, just keeping Cort out of the war means keeping that third Starcaster out of enemy hands. His track record also shows someone who is brash and who… Read more »

Jin
Jin
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

Depending on the military, there are such things as illegal orders, and units in most modern forces have always been given some degree of autonomy on how to operate in the field, particularly when it comes to big-picture objectives. I believe most western, professional armies have codes and rules that everyone is held accountable to, to the point where “I’m just following orders” is not an excuse to commit war crimes. So I honestly am not sure where you are coming from, unless your understanding of military doctrine comes from the WH40K Imperial Guard instead of anything that is actually… Read more »

Blair
Blair
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

Or they give him a WO level rank, a small staff and an officer handler, who has been briefed, and gives Cort a measure of autonomy as a carrot to keep him motivated to do the few things that the Federation really needs.

GeorgeV
GeorgeV
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

Given how the Feds desperately need an extra Starcaster to even/tip the odds against the Dranglaex, it seems a bit silly to suggest they’d try to keep him away from combat instead. (And given how much Cort wanted to get away from all this, that wouldn’t be entirely undesirable anyway).I’d be more concerned about the opposite scenario. Also note that their other Starcaster wielders are (Lance) Majors with at least some access to resources (La’Ni even commandeered a Dreadnought for her hunting trip), and there’s no reason to assume Cort wouldn’t have at least some similar option. And given that… Read more »

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  GeorgeV

Just going to point out, if the Federation can’t afford to send one of their 2 Starcasters to chase Cort if he runs, how is that any different from them sending one of their Starcasters to train Cort? This is the reason I’ve never once believed the Federation would train Cort, because as you pointed out they can’t afford to take either of their Starcasters off the frontline to train him. Now, had Cort gone to the Feds earlier, before the war broke out? Very likely, in fact I would say fact, but right now that isn’t the case. They… Read more »

GeorgeV
GeorgeV
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

One obvious way it would different: Training would still keep them on-site, ready to be deployed when needed. That’s pretty different from them being out searching in the middle of nowhere and potentially out of reach if a crucial engagement were to suddenly emerge. (Also note that this assumes they would actually send one after him. As you correctly point out, they can’t really afford to miss any. On the other hand, they can’t really afford to not have Corts Starcaster working for them either. It’s an interesting question how many resources they would conceivably spare to track Cort down… Read more »

Nightdagger
Nightdagger
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

I’m not sure why you think the military’s mindset upon acquiring a worlds-destroying superweapon attached to someone in their service would be “let’s lock this in a vault and never, EVER use it because maybe our enemy will get their hands on it” instead of “oh f- the hell yes, we’re gonna blow those bastards out of the stars now, it’s on!”

Or why the comic would ever be written in such a way even if that did make the slightest bit of real-world sense.

Rolando
Rolando
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

He’s playing along for now. Antagonizing the federation in his current location and situation, would’ve been suicidal. Even if your plan is to go independent, you STILL need to play nicely when you’re surrounded, outnumbered, outgunned AND outmatched. Otherwise, you’ll end up with even less freedom. Perhaps even dead. Your vision of freedom is oversimplified and lacking in perspective. You gotta play the game carefully. Play the long game, bid your time. Specially when you’re the weakest player in the field. And he is, even with the Starcaster. Sure, he can cause some damage and maybe even get away. But… Read more »

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Rolando

A few pages ago we were told there were three options. He could enlist, he could make a merc contract, or he could run. You say my vision of freedom is oversimplified? I say your understanding of the military is even more so. If you are in the military, ANY military, and you do *ANYTHING* against orders you will find yourself in for a world of trouble. If your orders are to move out, and you stop to help an injured civilian, even one injured by your unit? Your ass gets busted for it. If your orders are to level… Read more »

Rolando
Rolando
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

“A few pages ago we were told there were three options. He could enlist, he could make a merc contract, or he could run.” Where? If you’re talking about the votes, I’m not there so you’ll have to tell me if that happened there. Also, what the results were. “I say your understanding of the military is even more so. If you are in the military, ANY military, and you do *ANYTHING* against orders you will find yourself in for a world of trouble.” I know that, about the military. I even described what would happen to him, if he… Read more »

Darkhorse
Darkhorse
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

A chain of command does not mean micromanaging your Starcaster. Especially such a special unit will be given certain autonomy. Cort himself will have plenty of choice in the matter, as he’s got plenty of expertise he can use to blindside the enemy, or his direct superior. His knowledge both inside and out of the Federation can be put to great use to hide or smuggle himself and his team to safe or strategically better positions. And to squander such a valuable resource on a fortress world is just a waste. Not to mention that keeping Cort a reasonable amount… Read more »

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  Darkhorse

When it comes to things capable of what a Starcaster is able to do, yes, it absolutely means micromanaging them. I would also argue that keeping such a valuable resource on a fortress world is not squandering it in the least. Federation has twice as many active Starcasters, just keeping Cort’s out of enemy hands is a massive advantage in their favor as it means keeping their 2v1 doomsday score. Second, and more importantly, it means keeping something already very well protected even more safe. Fortress worlds exist for a reason, and its not border control. For a world to… Read more »

GeorgeV
GeorgeV
5 months ago
Reply to  Kenju

Debate tip: You’re not helping your own credibility if you’re basing your argument on multiple insane decisions (stupidity, even in your own words) and an implausible, apparently easily avoidable outcome from a fictional universe. (No offense to MechWarriors.)

Kenju
Kenju
5 months ago
Reply to  GeorgeV

My point was how a smaller force with superior tech and training can still punch way above their weight. The Clanners, by all rights could have easily won the war, but they didn’t because their culture has its own specific glaring flaws (their ‘honor’) in line with the other five main factions that are in a perpetual state of unending war. This was done because the writers of MechWarrior backed themselves into a corner and couldn’t come up with a realistic or believable way for the IS to not lose. Worse still, this isn’t an isolated case in MechWarrior, they… Read more »

Crestlinger
Crestlinger
5 months ago

‘First of all, Nyrah, you were right. However it’s this or a matter extractor and even if they managed to get this thing off me, I wouldn’t be leaving anyway.’

Marcus
Marcus
5 months ago

fast forward to training montague with la’ni

RblDiver
RblDiver
5 months ago
Reply to  Marcus

*Starts humming “Gonna need a montage!”*

Dagroth
Dagroth
5 months ago
Reply to  RblDiver

“Let’s get down to business, to beat Dranglaex…”

Michael L Livote
Michael L Livote
5 months ago

Good move. The fun thing about being a mercenary is you can put it on pause for greater gain down the road, meaning that just because Cort re-joined the Federation that doesn’t mean he can’t be a mercenary again when this war is over. Priorities.

Halosty
Halosty
5 months ago

I’m gonna say, I wouldn’t complain too much about not being in a cell. Sure, it’s an important decision but I don’t feel like there were a lot of viable alternatives. If they would really let him free to operate independently, then they’re trustworthy enough to work with. If not… then he wouldn’t actually get out of this place without causing a rather large incident. And if the other Starcaster is still around, it might not be a possibility at all.

Nightdagger
Nightdagger
5 months ago
Reply to  Halosty

There is precisely zero chance that the other Starcaster isn’t within activation-phase distance notice of a Starcaster that the military isn’t 100% certain isn’t about to be used in an ill-planned jailbreak attempt.

Drakin
Drakin
5 months ago

Choosing to join, even as a mercinary role, seems the better option to me. The invading aliens are already an enemy, you need allies on your side. Ditching the Federation would have made them an enemy too. I’m not saying truust them, I’m not saying blindly follow orders. But better to have some folks willing to help and assist than running/fighting everyone who sees you as a threat.

If nothing else this at least buys time to figure out a better option. And working from within the Federation perhaps it can be made better.

Scarsdale
Scarsdale
5 months ago

The merc route would have given Cort a better escape clause, but I have a hunch the only other option would have been his arm removed. The ‘caster heals so quickly that I doubt even a strong knock-out shot would have worked, so he basically saved himself a butt-load of pain and having to live without an arm. The Federation wanted the starcaster, not Cort. So the only options were prison with one arm, or rejoining.