Alabaster — 82 of 123

John Cater, Rob Dubbin, Eric Eve, Elizabeth Heller, Jayzee, Kazuki Mishima, Sarah Morayati, Mark Musante, Emily Short, Adam Thornton, and Ziv Wities

Release 1

Chapter 13 - Rob Dubbin Oct 31

Understand "ask [corpse] [text]" or "tell [corpse] [text]" as a mistake ("It's a dead hart, not an undead hart. It's not exactly capable of scintillating conversation.") when the player does not recollect thank-the-hart.

Understand "ask [corpse] [text]" or "tell [corpse] [text]" as a mistake ("The spirit no longer seems to be animating the hart; it says nothing more.") when the player knows hart-no-longer-undead.

Understand "ask [undead corpse] about/that [text]" or "tell [undead corpse] about/that [text]" as addressing it with.

Understand "ask [undead corpse] [text]" or "tell [undead corpse] [text]" as addressing it with.

Definition: a corpse is undead rather than really dead if the player recollects thank-the-hart and the player does not know hart-no-longer-undead.

Before giving or showing something to the corpse when the corpse is undead:

if the corpse is the current interlocutor, continue the action;

try addressing the corpse with "hello" instead.

Addressing it with is an action applying to one thing and one topic. [1]

To say player's own phrase:

let N be indexed text;

let N be "[topic understood]";

let X be 1; [This is the number of words we're going to print from N]

if the number of words in N is 1: [This likely means the player typed ASK HART ABOUT BLOOD or something, rather than ASK HART ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED]

if N matches the text "Hello", case insensitively:

do nothing;

otherwise:

if the player's command includes "tell":

let N be "About [N]";

increase X by 1;

otherwise:

let N be "Tell me about [N]";

increase X by 3;

let N be "[N in sentence case]";

say "[first X words in N]";

if N matches the text "Hello":

say "?[run paragraph on]";

otherwise:

say "—[run paragraph on]".

Instead of saying hello to the corpse when the corpse is undead:

try addressing the corpse with "Hello"

Instead of saying hello to the corpse when the corpse is really dead:

say "It doesn't answer."

Before printing the name of happy-name-known:

now corpse is proper-named;

change the printed name of corpse to "Happy".

[Rule for printing the name of corpse:

say "corpse". ]

Understand "Happy" or "blue" as corpse when the player knows happy-name-known.

Instead of addressing the corpse with something when the player does not know undead-hart:

let player-asks be true;

if the player's command includes "tell", change player-asks to false;

say "You wait for Snow White to become tired of glaring at you and after a few moments she obliges, turning toward a scurrying sound in the underbrush with a hungry glint in her eye.

Seizing the opportunity, you kneel before the heartless hart and [if player-asks is true]ask[otherwise]say[end if], '[player's own phrase]'

Several things happen at once. Firstly, Snow White whirls toward you, her face livid. 'YOU CAN'T —'

But before she can finish her sentence, in point of fact as she's starting it, the once-dark forest flashes with frantic, ice-blue energy, the air fills with a steady, ethereal hum, and you see the pallid princess lifted before you, suspended in the thick, vibrating air, her rage caught in her throat.

The immediate impulse is to taunt your suddenly riposte-incapable companion, but petty vengeance quickly dissolves in the face of a final sudden development.

Namely, the hart — which now stands proudly upright, its eyes[set body-context to corpse] and empty chest cavity glowing an incongruous silver.[paragraph break]";

now the corpse is unknowing; [2]

start talking to the corpse;

queue hart-thanks-you as immediate obligatory;

rule succeeds. [3]

Rule for expressing ignorance for the corpse when the player does not recollect hart-thanks-you:

do nothing instead.

Stopped-time is a scene.

Stopped-time begins when the current interlocutor is the corpse. Stopped-time ends when the player knows hart-no-longer-undead.

When Stopped-time ends:

start talking to Snow White;

say "Snow White returns to earth. She looks around her, blinking: she seems a little confused. Perhaps she does not remember you speaking to the hart."

Instead of listening to the location during Stopped-time:

say "The woods are eerily still."

Instead of waiting during Stopped-time:

say "No time passes at all."

Instead of examining the lantern during Stopped-time:

say "It gives off light, but it does so without any of the liveliness of burning. It does not flicker or leap."

Rule for avoiding talking heads during stopped-time:

if the current interlocutor is ready for transition:

if the current quip is strong and a random chance of 1 in 2 succeeds:

say "[timeless beat][line break][paragraph break]"; [4]

otherwise:

say "[timeless beat][if a random chance of 1 in 2 succeeds] [run paragraph on][otherwise][line break][paragraph break][end if]".

To say timeless beat:

say "[one of]The woods are eerily silent[or]No one speaks, though only the two of you experience any pause[or]The light from your lantern casts an unusually steady glow over the scene[or]You are less cold than you were earlier[or]Even the clouds seem to have stopped[or]The wind has dropped completely[at random].[run paragraph on]". [5]

[Instead of doing anything when Snow White is the noun or Snow White is the second noun during Stopped-time:

say "She is stilled, unaware."]

[what snow white was doing is a questioning quip.

It mentions snow white, corpse.

It assumes possible-blood-drinking.

It is restrictive.

The comment is ""

The response is "".

It quip-supplies the corpse.]

hart-thanks-you is an NPC-directed quip.

The response is "[line break]It has what can only be described as a wry expression on its face[set body-context to corpse]. 'I suppose I should begin by thanking you[queue annoyed-offer].[undead-hart]'". [6]

It assumes hart-thanked.

why he thanks you is a questioning quip.

Understand "me" as why he thanks you.

It mentions corpse.

The comment is "You've hunted and bested many harts through the years, but this is the first to comment on the exchange afterward. Awestruck, you manage to stammer 'Th-thanking me?'"

The response is "[The corpse] glances into the canyon that used to power its circulatory system. 'You've been through a lot. Please forgive my sarcasm.'[queue annoyed-offer]".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows hart-thanks-you.

It is listed.

that he's welcome is an informative quip.

Understand "you're" or "he's" or "you are" or "he is" as he's welcome.

It mentions corpse.

The comment is "Blindsided, you manage to stammer, 'Y-you're welcome?'"

The response is "'Welcome, am I. Excellent - I shall have to take you up on that sometime, perhaps once I've acquired another heart.'[queue annoyed-offer]".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows hart-thanks-you.

It is restrictive.

It is listed.

annoyed-offer is a q-transitional NPC-directed quip.

The response is "[The corpse] peers at you sardonically. 'Before we go any further, is there anything else you'd like to carve out of what's left of my body?'".

The nag is "[one of]The hart clears its throat, sort of.[or][queue no-9]'I guess I'll accept that as an abashed silence.'[stopping]".

It is restrictive.

It quip-supplies corpse.

yes-7 is an affirmative quip.

The printed name is "say yes". The true-name is "yes-7".

it mentions corpse, snow white.

The comment is "You are beginning to find the resplendent hart corpse to be less agreeable company than even Snow White. 'I can't make any promises,' you offer, with a meaningful glance at its flank."

The response is "[The corpse]'s eyes[set body-context to corpse] narrow, peering at you with scorn. 'I'm sorry, Am I bothering you? I can just die again, you know.'"

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows annoyed-offer.

It is restrictive.

[It is listed.]

yes-8 is an affirmative quip.

The printed name is "say yes". The true-name is "yes-8".

Understand "to" or "die" or "for" or "real" as yes-8.

it mentions corpse, snow white.

The comment is "The frustrations of the past 24 hours stream out of you angrily. 'You know what? That would be great, if you could just do what you're supposed to do when someone cuts out your heart, and die.'"

The response is "[The corpse] shrugs. 'Very well, but this time it's forever, unless you can get her,' gesturing toward Snow White with its antlers, 'to drink my blood again.'[hart-no-longer-undead]".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows yes-7, maybe-need.

[It is listed.]

maybe-need is a performative quip. The comment is "'I don't know what else I'll need.'".

Understand "[maybe]" as maybe-need. The true-name is "maybe-need". The printed name is "say you don't know".

It mentions corpse.

The response is "'Impertinent!' it (he?) roars. 'I could just die again, you know.'".

It is restrictive.

It directly-follows annoyed-offer.

It quip-supplies the corpse.

Understand "[maybe]" as a mistake ("It doesn't seem as though further beating around the bush is going to help this conversation. Better to apologize, or else tell him to die for real and end this odd encounter.") when the current quip is maybe-need.

Instead of saying sorry when no-8 is flagged-ready:

try discussing no-8.

no-8 is a negative quip.

The printed name is "say no". The true-name is "no-8".

Understand "sorry" or "apologize" as no-8.

it mentions corpse.

The comment is "You realize that you've put the hart through more in the past 24 hours than it's put you through in the past 10 minutes. 'I apologize,' you say, nodding deferentially at the corpse."

The response is "[The corpse] inclines its head in acceptance. 'I forgive you. [hart-pacified]Now let's get down to business.'"

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows yes-7, maybe-need.

[It is listed.]

Instead of saying sorry when no-9 is flagged-ready:

try discussing no-9.

no-9 is a negative quip.

The printed name is "say no". The true-name is "no-9".

it mentions corpse.

The comment is "'No,' you reply sheepishly."

The response is "'Very well,' says the hart corpse, '[hart-pacified]then let us get down to business[casually queue what Snow White did].'".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows annoyed-offer.

[It is listed.]

Rule for quip-introducing what Snow White did:

say "[roman type][one of]The first obvious question is what Snow White did — she herself isn't likely to answer, but maybe the hart can[or]You contemplate asking what Snow White did[stopping].";

list no other quips.

what Snow White did is a questioning quip.

It mentions corpse, Witchcraft, Snow White.

It assumes hart-pacified.

The comment is "You feel justified in asking the hart corpse how exactly it has managed to return to life and stop time. 'What in the underworld just happened?'"

The response is "'[if prompted]Apt choice of words,' compliments the hart corpse. '[end if]I will tell you exactly what just happened, and indeed provide enough information to turn the tables on your know-it-all prisoner over there, if you agree to my terms.[hart-pact-proposed][conditionally queue hart-smile]'".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It is listed.

Instead of saying yes or saying no when the current quip is what Snow White did or the current quip is hart-smile:

say "Perhaps you had better find out what the terms are before making any rash decisions."

what Snow White did can be prompted or unprompted. what Snow White did is unprompted. Carry out discussing what Snow White did: now what Snow White did is prompted. [7]

Instead of the corpse discussing hart-smile when the player recollects what the terms seem:

say "He makes another grimace that might be a smile or might be something else entirely, it being hard to read facial expressions when the lips are partially missing.";

now the player recollects hart-smile. [8]

hart-smile is a q-transitional NPC-directed quip.

The response is "As though to add to the disturbing qualities of the moment, the hart gives you something that might be intended as a reassuring smile[conditionally queue what the terms seem]."

It quip-supplies corpse.

Instead of smiling when the current quip is hart-smile:

say "You try smiling back, but it doesn't feel at all sincere."

[Availability rule for what the terms seem:

if the player knows hart-pact:

it is off-limits.]

what the terms seem is a questioning quip.

The printed name is "what the terms are". The true-name is "what the terms seem".

Understand "are" as what the terms seem.

It mentions corpse, deal.

The comment is "'What kind of terms?' you ask, wary of entering into any more pacts."

The response is "The hart corpse paws the ground innocently. 'It's very simple, really. I want my heart back[conditionally queue what exactly he intends by cosmic].'"

It assumes hart-pact-proposed.

It is negated by hart-pact.

It quip-supplies corpse.

[It is listed.]

Rule for quip-introducing how that would be possible:

say "[roman type]It's hard to imagine how that would be possible.";

list no other quips.

how that would be possible is a questioning quip.

It mentions corpse, hart's heart, cavity.

Understand "terms" or "pact" as how that would be possible.

It mentions deal.

The comment is "For what you realize is, incredibly, the first time, you feel disgusted. 'Back... in there?' you ask, gesturing at [the corpse]'s glowing rib cage."

The response is "The hart corpse rears upward, clattering back to the ground with enough force to jar a few loose gobbets from its body cavity. 'Don't be grotesque. I mean that I want it back in a more cosmic sense.'[conditionally queue what exactly he intends by cosmic]". [9]

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows what the terms seem.

It is restrictive.

It is listed.

Rule for quip-introducing what exactly he intends by cosmic:

say "[roman type]Which raises the obvious question of what he means by 'cosmic'.";

list no other quips.

what exactly he intends by cosmic is a questioning quip.

The printed name is "what exactly he means by cosmic". The true-name is "what exactly he intends by cosmic".

Understand "means" as what exactly he intends by cosmic.

It mentions corpse.

The comment is "'What exactly do you mean, [']in a more cosmic sense[asked-about-cosmic]?[']' You can't believe you're negotiating with a decomposing hart corpse."

The response is "The hart blinks, heedless of the fact that silver light continues to escape from its torn left eyelid. '[if the player knows asked-about-cosmic]Unfortunately, I can't answer that question without revealing too much of my hand, such as it is. [end if]I am proposing you a pact. Do you say yes or do you say no?'".

The nag is "[one of]He waits impatiently.[or]'It is nothing difficult.'[or]He is becoming an increasingly anxious and disconcerting companion.[or]'You should really think about this. I'm the only ally you have in these woods.'[or]He waggles his head from side to side as though trying to remind you of your diverse options, namely YES and NO.[stopping]".

The uncertainty-refusal is "'It isn't much of a pact unless you give a definite answer.'".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows how that would be possible.

It is restrictive.

It is listed.

yes-9 is an affirmative quip.

The printed name is "say yes". The true-name is "yes-9".

It mentions corpse, Snow White.

The comment is "You figure there's no harm in collecting pacts. 'I accept,' you intone solemnly."

The response is "[The corpse] clatters excitedly, and its silver glow momentarily surges while the urgent blue prison surrounding Snow White flickers and dulls. 'Excellent. It is done. [hart-pact]I believe you are in possession of a small wooden box?'"

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows what exactly he intends by cosmic.

The nag is "[one of]The hart appears able to wait indefinitely for an answer[or]'Box?' he prompts[or]'Do you have the box?'[at random]."

It is restrictive.

[It is listed.] [10]

no-10 is a negative quip.

The printed name is "say no". The true-name is "no-10".

It mentions corpse, Snow White.

The comment is "You just can't stomach the idea of adding another pact to your docket, least of all with a shambling, reanimated hart corpse. 'Sorry, er, sir. I must decline.'"

The response is "[The corpse] sighs, its silver glow fading to nearly half of what it was. 'Very well. I will say that I expected more from this conversation. Thank you for time, and farewell — forever. Or at least until you can get her to kiss me again.' With that, the glow fades entirely, and the hart collapses to the ground in exactly the same position you found it in.[hart-no-longer-undead]".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows what exactly he intends by cosmic.

[It is listed.]

what his name seems is a questioning quip.

The printed name is "what his name is". The true-name is "what his name seems".

Understand "is" or "its" or "corpse's" or "hart's" as what his name seems.

It mentions corpse.

The comment is "'Before we go any further,' you ask, 'might I ask you your name?'"

The response is "[unless the player knows hart-pact]If a decomposing hart corpse can be said to smile, this one does. 'How rude of me. [otherwise]'I should have introduced myself. [end if]The name's Happy Blue, professional juggler and itinerant dwarf-about-town,' declares the hart corpse proudly, crooking a fractured forelimb and dipping its matted shoulder in salute.[happy-name-known]".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It indirectly-follows hart-thanks-you.

It is listed.

where its name came from is a questioning quip.

It mentions corpse.

The comment is "[if immediately]If you were puzzled before, now you stand completely at a loss. 'I'm sorry - did you just refer to yourself as a dwarf[otherwise]'I'm sorry, but I'm still trying to understand - you were a dwarf[end if]?'" [11]

The response is "The decomposing hart cor... er, Happy, capers testily and revoltingly in place. 'This body,' Happy inveighs, 'is but a shell, a container, a temporary lodging for my eternal soul. In fact, when I woke up this morning, I was 100% dwarf, with the large bushy beard and twinkling eyes[set body-context to corpse] typical of my kind. Then, sad to say, I died.'"

It quip-supplies corpse.

It indirectly-follows what his name seems.

It is listed.

you're sorry to hear is an informative quip.

Understand "I'm" or "I" or "am" or "are" or "you" as you're sorry to hear.

It mentions corpse.

The comment is "You clear your throat. 'My, er, condolences.'"

The response is "'Think nothing of it,' say [the corpse]. 'I have to say, the non-corporeality and omniscience of the deceased [hart-omniscience-revealed]compares quite favorably to the piteous renown and staggering debt of my previous engagement.'"

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows where its name came from.

It is listed.

what dwarrows do is a questioning quip.

It mentions corpse, dwarrows.

The comment is "'And what of the dwarrows?', you ask, genuinely curious. Dwarrow folk, after all, have not visited human settlements for some time, preferring to live and work among their own kind."

The response is "'Oh, dwarrows and humans are more alike than many think. We become embarrassed, lose our temper, and catch cold just as humans do. There are those of us who aspire to great knowledge, and others who would just as soon sleep through the day. I myself was considered something of a rube, but of course all of that changes with the infinite knowledge dwarrows inherit upon their demise.[hart-omniscience-revealed]'".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It indirectly-follows where its name came from.

It is listed.

how its soul got there is a questioning quip.

It mentions corpse, dwarrows, souls.

The comment is "Still mildly skeptical, you press the issue of [The corpse]'s supposed immortality. 'How exactly does the soul of a dwarf come to take up residence in the decomposing body of a hart?'"

The response is "[The corpse] clears what remains of its throat. 'Excellent question. As you may or may not know, all living beings in this world have souls. When mortals die, these souls are flung into the heavens, where they fritter about for a day or two learning the complete and staggering truth of the reality they've recently vacated, before ultimately dissipating into nothing.' [The corpse] snorts ghoulishly. 'They dissipate, that is, unless they find themselves a host.'[casually queue how its soul got there again][truth-about-souls]".

It quip-supplies corpse.

It indirectly-follows where its name came from.

It is listed.

Instead of someone discussing how its soul got there when the player does not know hart-pact:

say "[The corpse] stamps defiantly. 'If you want the answer to that question, and indeed to the many others I know you itch to ask, you must agree to my terms[hart-pact-proposed].'". [12]

how its soul got there again is a questioning quip.

It mentions corpse, souls, Snow White.

The comment is "Somewhere in the back of your mind, the absurdity of talking to the soul of a dwarf in the decomposing body of a hart registers. 'And how, exactly, did you come to occupy your current residence?'".

The response is "[The corpse] smiles through rapidly mouldering teeth. 'Oddly enough, I had just learned of my existential peril when I was quite literally sucked into this body, by your companion over there.' Here, the reanimated stag angles its antlers toward Snow White, who, truth be told, you had nearly forgotten about until this moment."

It quip-supplies corpse.

It assumes truth-about-souls.

It is listed.

[An availability rule for whether snow white seems a vampire:

if the player knows vampirism-revealed:

it is off-limits.]

whether snow white seems a vampire is a questioning quip.

The printed name is "whether Snow White is a vampire". The true-name is "whether snow white seems a vampire".

Understand "is" or "if" as whether snow white seems a vampire.

It mentions corpse, Snow White, vampirism.

The comment is "[if the previous quip is how its soul got there again]You're so close to the truth, you can almost taste it. 'Are you saying that Snow White is a vampire?[otherwise]'Tell me, then: is Snow White a vampire?'"

The response is "[The corpse] pauses. '[one of]Knowing the answer to that question is going to change things for you, huntsman. Snow White cannot know that you've learned what you are about to learn. Are you sure you want to know the answer to that question?[or]I warned you before — are you sure you want to know?[stopping]'". [13]

It quip-supplies corpse.

It assumes hart-pact.

It is negated by vampirism-revealed and Snow-White-possessed.

[It indirectly-follows how its soul got there again.]

It is repeatable. [14]

It is restrictive.

[It is listed.] [15]

no-11 is a negative quip.

Understand "[maybe]" as no-11.

The printed name is "say no". The true-name is "no-11".

It mentions corpse, Snow White, vampirism.

The comment is "You quail at the menace lurking behind the hart's words. 'I'd like some more time to think about that,' comes your tentative response."

The response is "'Very well,' intones [the corpse]."

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows whether snow white seems a vampire.

It is repeatable.

[It is listed.]

yes-10 is an affirmative quip.

The printed name is "say yes". The true-name is "yes-10".

It mentions corpse, Snow White, vampirism.

The comment is "You steel yourself, certain that you will be better off with this knowledge than without it. 'Yes, I'm sure. Tell me the truth.'"

The response is "He blinks. 'Yes, of course she's a vampire. [vampirism-revealed]A deuced dangerous one, as a matter of fact. I'd avoid any further mention of her condition if I were you — she'll be able to discern the surety behind your question in an instant.'"

It quip-supplies corpse.

It directly-follows whether snow white seems a vampire.

[It is listed.]

Notes

[1]. We're creating this action only for this one effect, so we're not going to write it out in full: it can only *ever* match the corpse, and we don't care about the text the player types afterward.

[2]. this turns off a trivial flag to do with whether you've seen it "wink" at you; winking disambiguation should go back to normal.

[3]. The original suggested implementation here involved a quip named 'ask the corpse what Snow White was doing', but that would only have worked if the player guessed precisely the right wording. This implementation handles the possibility that the player asks the hart something other than the right question, or types TALK TO CORPSE. But then that meant we also needed to be more flexible about what we show the player saying to the hart: it should reflect what was actually typed in some way. Hence the shenanigans to print part of the player's command.

[4]. If the current quip from which we are building is weak, we want to fold it into one continuous paragraph with one intervening beat.

[5]. The woods should presumably fall silent.

[6]. if the player doesn't follow up on this, we still want the hart to speak on, because he has a definite agenda to pursue and it doesn't make sense that he would wait indefinitely for the player to talk.

[7]. This is just a way of determining whether we get to the quip via the player asking about it or through the hart introducing it himself. IF we were doing a lot more of this kind of thing it would be worth adding it to the system, but for the most part we aren't.

[8]. What we don't want to do is queue hart-smile, have the player leapfrog ahead of it through questioning, and then have the hart bring the conversation *back* into that sequence when it has already been used once.

[9]. Even if the player doesn't ask the logical next question, the hart should be interested enough to continue the conversation.

[10]. I am commenting these out as a matter of style, since the hart explicitly asks us to say yes or say no in the previous line, which makes the "You could..." bit look particularly silly.

[11]. Edited to allow for the fact that it's now possible to go several directions with the conversation at this point, so the player might come back to this quip after talking on other subjects.

[12]. We need to do this, rather than just putting a condition into the response of "how its soul got there", because we only want to count this quip as successfully discussed if Happy answers it. Interrupting the action with an instead should do the trick.

[13]. Originally you could only get to this by asking about the hart's soul, which is a somewhat roundabout way to a question the player is bound to want to know in most play-throughs.

[14]. this way we can come back to the question if the player changes his mind and still wants to know

[15]. I thought it more interesting to unlist this and let the player discover it for himself.