The scene opens on a curtained stage in front of a live television audience. The crowd begins to applaud as an Announcer steps out from behind the curtain.
Announcer: Goooooood evening, adventurers, and welcome to the latest episode of The Slaying Game, the hottest game this side of the Exordium! The rules are simple – tonight’s contestant will ask a series of questions to our four lovely slayers, each of whom must answer honestly without sharing any details about their identity. When the questioning is complete, our contestant will choose the slayer that best matches his preferences to accompany him on a journey. With any luck, these two will go all the way, but that’s none of our business now is it? At any rate, let’s meet tonight’s contest: Ian Shepard, come on down!
A cartoon man steps onto the stage – yeah there’s totally a stage, by the way, did I forget to tell you that? – and waves to the crowd as he jogs to a stool next to the announcer. The man has brown hair and wears round glasses over his pupil-less eyes. His maroon cardigan is nice without being extravagant. He only has four fingers on each hand and his feet are essentially indistinguishable from potatoes.
Announcer: Mr. Shepard it’s a pleasure to have you here tonight.
Ian: It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m looking forward to meeting a slayer who really suits my needs. Someone who can go Beyond and maybe even past that.
Announcer: Well let’s not spoil the game, eh Mr. Shepard? Tonight you have before you Slayer #1, Slayer #2, Slayer #3, and Slayer #4. Appearances aren’t everything so we’ve hidden each of them from your view, and they cannot give you any identifying information as part of their answers. With that in mind, why don’t you get us started with your first question?
Ian shifts his weight a bit as he gets settled onto the stool and takes out a series of index cards from his pocket. The backs of the cards have drawings of monsters on them – he is clearly reusing them.
Ian: Alright slayers, this question is for all four of you, so let’s go in order from #1 to #4. I’d love to go visit the Spire, but I want to make sure I have a great time while I am there. What is it about you that will make our trip to the Spire something special?
Slayer #1: I’ll be honest, I’m a simple guy. But sometimes simple is what you need. With me you get what you get, no gimmicks, no complicated techniques or weird rules to memorize. Traveling with me may be straightforward but I consider that to be a good thing. I bet a guy like you appreciates a good reliable man.
Ian chuckles awkwardly then repeats the question for Slayer #2.
Slayer #2: I like to bring a lot of options to the table. Sometimes an idea won’t work and you need to be ready to toss it aside quickly. It’s important to be able to improvise and come up with new ideas on the fly. I’m good at that. I’m not a direct person, I prefer to chip away at problems a bit at a time. But the more I invest in someone, the more potent my approach becomes.
Ian: That sounds intriguing, thank you. Slayer #3, same question. What about you will make our trip to the Spire something special?
Slayer #3: Well while I certainly don’t want to throw shade at Slayer #1, I must say that I find simplicity rather dull. The Spire is a dangerous place and you need advanced tools to do well there. I’m a deeply elemental person – deadly as lightning, sturdy as ice, cunning as the dark, and tireless like plasma. I need time to prepare and I’m very particular about how I get everything set up for a trip. But once I’m fully ready and I get my claws into a problem, you’ll see just how much preparation pays off.
Ian: You certainly talk a good game! Slayer #4 let’s hear from you.
Slayer #4: I’m a spiritual person. For me the journey is all about the highs and lows of the experience. There are times to be calm, to play things safe and bide your time until the perfect opportunity presents itself to change your stance. That period of calm builds your spirit so that when the time comes to be passionate, you’ll have the energy to accomplish something truly incredible.
Ian: I do love when a moment of calm becomes a moment of passion! Ahem. Slayer #3, I’d like to return to you for my next question. On the Myer-Briggs scale I’m an INFP, and the P stands for perceiving. In other words, I like to play things by ear and I don’t really make a lot of preparations in advance. So how do you handle a situation where you don’t have the opportunity to make all the preparations that you typically like to make?
Slayer #3: I think if you don’t like to prepare, you maybe haven’t experienced that moment of pure elation when your skillfully laid plans come together and a situation would may have otherwise been overwhelming is resolved in a matter of moments. But as you said, sometimes those preparations just aren’t possible. In those times, I fall back on what for me I would consider to be the basics: channeling and evoking the elements. Lightning to attack, ice to protect. The best choice in those situations is often to bide time, play defensively until the opportunity comes to make the preparations I need and turn things around.
Ian: I’m sure that sounds like a good time to somebody, but I’m really not sure that you and I are going to match well, Slayer #3. Slayer #4, you mentioned that your spiritual beliefs teach you there is a time to be calm and a time to be passionate. I certainly agree with that in principle but in practicality I can be an emotional guy. Something things make me angry when I shouldn’t be. Have you ever lost your temper at an inopportune moment, and can you tell me what resulted from that?
Slayer #4: I think everyone can relate to the experience of becoming angry at the wrong time. You’re not alone. In my case, when I am wrathful is also when I am most vulnerable. I have to be careful to manage those feelings so that they arise only when my opponent has no intent of coming for me directly, or when I know I can finish things quickly. It can also be helpful to have a technique on hand for calming down or for emptying my mind and body of the wrathful feelings. But ultimately what is most effective is leaving behind passion altogether for something even greater – a direct connection to the divine spirit within all of us. Actions taken in anger may be twice as effective, but actions taken in divinity are three times as potent, and lack the vulnerability that comes with rage.
Ian: That’s a profound observation. I feel like we could talk more someday, but right now I have barely mastered the basics of calming down, let alone the concept of letting go of my passions entirely. Slayer #1, you described yourself as an uncomplicated man. I would say the same thing about myself, and I often worry that I’m perhaps too boring for people. Do you think your simplicity makes you uninteresting to travel with?
Slayer #1: I think being straightforward can still be fun – in fact, I think it’s because my tools are so simple to use that traveling with me is the best choice you can make. You don’t have to worry about complicated instructions and you don’t ever have to worry that maybe you’re missing something important that is essential to getting through the Spire safely. Attack and block, that’s all you need to do, and I make sure you can do those things at the maximum level. And think of it this way – don’t you have the most fun when you are winning?
Ian: That’s a compelling argument, Slayer #1. Slayer #2, let’s talk about his point. You mentioned the need to “invest” in someone as a key part of your strategy; can you elaborate on what you meant by that?
Slayer #2: The creatures of the Spire are dangerous; they are well-protected and full of vitality. Simple weapons could never hope to overcome such creatures, and so I use a different tool: poison. Poison circumvents armor and as long as you have plenty of vials to build lots of poison into your opponent’s system, even the fiercest monster will be sent toppling.
Ian: “As long as you have plenty of vials?” It sounds to me like you may be pretty dependent on a specific strategy to succeed.
Slayer #2: Perhaps I am, but understanding that strategy to the fullest does get results. You need to understand more than just the basics to run with me. I won’t apologize for that. But learning to travel with me effectively will help you understand better how to choose the tools for your arsenal. If you want to ascend the Spire to the highest levels, you have to understand complicated concepts that come with trial and error. Slayer #1 may not be willing to say it, but without the lessons you learn from me you likely won’t be able to succeed.
Slayer #3: Exactly! Ascending the Spire well is about more than just loading your deck with the biggest cards. Sometimes you need to be selective with your cards, trim the fat from your deck, and focus on quality rather than quantity.
Slayer #4: It’s also important to understand hw to move effectively through the Spire. The path you choose may have lots of opportunities for you to obtain rare relics, but if you’re too underprepared to face the elite dangers of the Spire then you’ll need to change course. Understand how to factor rest, shopping, and even the unknown passages of the Spire into your journey, or you will falter when the time comes.
Announcer (whispering): Hey guys, I think our whole dating game joke is starting to fall apart here.
Ian: I think I get it! Each slayer is an opportunity to learn how to effectively utilize new tactics, and spending time with each one of them is important to mastering the game. Slayer #3 taught me about the importance of keeping defensive cards in your deck. Slayer #4 emphasizes how important it is to choose your offensive push at just the right moment. Slayer #2 has great lessons to learn about deck management. And I never would have known the basics if not for Slayer #1. It’s not about choosing the “best” character. It’s about learning how to master the core concepts of the Spire so that you can excel with any character!
Announcer: So…you’re not gonna pick a winner?
Ian: I don’t think I will. When I agreed to come on this show, I was thinking it would be easy to identify a favorite once I had played as each character maybe two or three times. But as I started talking to each slayer and giving each one a little more time, I realized that until I have journeyed through the Spire a lot more, I won’t really be able to appreciate their unique differences. I’m not ready to commit to a serious relationship yet. I’ve got a lot of growing up to do first.
Announcer: Ugh, our ratings are gonna plummet after this. Can you at least choose one you don’t like or something?
Ian: Oh that’s easy. Slayer #3, I friggin’ hate that guy.
Suddenly, the curtain rises and all four slayers are revealed. The Defect, previously known as Slayer #3, is suddenly grabbed by a couple of lizard monsters and then is dragged offstage. The Ironclad (Slayer #1) chuckles while the Silent and the Watcher (Slayers #3 and #4 respectively) both shake their heads.
Announcer: Well there you have it, folks! Tonight’s contestant will be heading off into the sunset with three of our four lovely slayers, with only the Defect missing out on the fun. We hope you enjoyed today’s broadcast! Be sure to stay tuned to this channel, because coming up next we’ll be showing a great infomercial with the Timekeeper. He’s got a great deal for you on his patented pocketwatch, so don’t go anywhere!