Chapter 5) The old fashioned way my grandfather used to do it.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Stealth > Evasion > Escape > Fighting > Talking

I was pondering that chain of thought in bed this morning while fending the dog’s paws from my throat. Her constant barrel rolls always seemed to end with her paws at my throat or her butt in my face if I wasn’t careful.

There was bound to be lots of skills I could learn. Perhaps even things like {Poker} to make money with. But since I didn’t know if anyone else got this skill system and anything flashy would bring attention it seemed best to have a plan to keep mind and body together. A plan to not accidentally trigger new skills was also a must. Or gain those potential skills in a way I wouldn’t pass out on a street at night again.

First, not being noticed in the first place seemed to be the best type of skills. And if you were noticed then evading that attention. Being able to escape from captivity seemed out of order but there’s a lot of things you can’t fight like someone threatening to shoot the damn dog. And skills in talking only work if the other person is willing to talk. If it’s an animal or someone stubborn then talking things through rarely seems to work.

After browsing and thinking of ideas the last few days I couldn’t think of any books that were likely to explain Stealth in the city’s Public Library. There was likely some with small chapters about camouflage in hunting but there was two problems with that. A small section of a book might not give a skill. And while camouflage can be urban, its more useful with specific clothing in wooded areas. I could likely find a set of urban camouflage at the army surplus store at the other end of town but 99% of the time I’d just stand out wearing it.

The more I thought of it the idea of a single skill that did multiple things like quietly sneak, hide in shadows, and camouflage or blend in, seemed unlikely. After all I got {Walking} which implied {Running}, {Jumping} etc. would be separate skills instead of something like {Ground Movement} or the more amusing name {Moving Legs} as one big skill.

Which lead me to list a few possibilities as {Sneak} / {Silent Movement}, {Hide} / {Concealment} and {Camouflage} / {Cover}.

Next was Evasion as in Stealth is broken then evade people looking. At first I thought of {Running}, {Jumping}, {Climbing} as in a parkour type evasion. But even {Walking} could count if trying to blend in a crowd while moving smoothly through it.

The other part wasn’t obvious at first but knowing when you have evaded or lost stealth is critical too. In games it’s usually obvious, you all of a sudden lose your slow movement speed in sneak or an icon pops up.

I already have {Sense Bloodlust}, but that only works for people actively thinking of hurting me. Doesn’t warn me if say a security guard is around a corner reading a book, ready to drop it and jump me if I step into view. So gaining some type of {Sense Presence}, {Detection} or even {Sixth Sense} is vital.

Next would be escaping skills. Like picking locks, escaping handcuffs / straight jackets, understanding security systems, and chewing through steel bars. Looking up picking locks and escaping handcuffs lead to Escapology which lead to adding another potentially useful idea, contortion.

From that my list was {Contortion}, {Pick Lock}, {Escape}, and {Security System Knowledge}. Of those I was only fairly comfortable with the first two. The other two seemed dubious names and would knowledge be a skill? Or would it be something like {Disable Security System} and {Avoid Security System Detection}?

For fighting it seemed likely there was some type of unarmed combat which would be a combo of styles similar to MMA or specific things like boxing, kick boxing, etc. There should also be some type of skills for knives or sticks, light firearms, and heavier military weapons like squad ones. Maybe even a sniping skill.

Since I don’t own a weapon and it’s Canada I’ll concentrate on {Unarmed combat} or specific styles if needed, and maybe {Knife Fighting}.

Finally, talking is obviously the {Persuasion} skill you see everywhere. {Acting}, {Bribery}, and {Threaten} might exist too. Though how much a broke, chubby, middle aged
guy can bribe or threaten is dubious.

{Sneak} / {Silent Movement}
{Hide} / {Concealment}
{Camouflage} / {Cover}
{Running}
{Jumping}
{Climbing}
{Sense Presence} / {Detection} / {Sixth Sense}
{Contortion}
{Pick Lock}
{Escape}
{Security System Knowledge}
{Unarmed combat} / Specific styles
{Knife Fighting}
{Persuasion}
{Acting}
{Bribery}
{Threaten}

That’s a fuckton of pain. If all those skills exist. And that just gives me a chance to avoid, fight, talk my way out of trouble not a guarantee.

After punishing my brain to organize all that it was time to get up and face the day.

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First was browsing a few more keywords at the Library to see which sections to check first. Of the list I was sure I could find books on {Running}, {Jumping}, {Climbing}, {Acting}, and some {Unarmed combat} / Specific styles. Surprisingly there was a book on Ninja Knife Fighting that had decent reviews when I researched it.

Searching {Pick Lock} on Amazon got a bunch of hits so likely some of the others could be found. But there was no point in ordering books if the whole skill book thing didn’t work.

Next was off to the Library beside City Hall. I quickly found the sports section with books on running, jumping and things like mountain climbing. When I lifted my hand to grab the biggest running book my palm started tingling.

It kind of felt like when my college hot plate started shorting a bit into my Kraft dinner as I stirred it. I thought back then it was just cold in the kitchen the first couple times.

I slowly swept my hand about an inch from the spines of books as I walked down the shelf. The tingle was sharp enough that I could easily tell which book it was detecting even if they were very thin. I started taking pics of the names and codes of each one and checked three entire shelves dealing with sports and physical activities. Of that there were 17 books that reacted. 3 on Running, 2 on Climbing, 1 Jumping, 2 on Hockey, 1 on Football and Soccer each, 1 on Knife Fighting, and 6 on various martial arts.

The first three skills I should be able to learn by myself if need be. The sports didn’t interest me, I wasn’t about to try out for the NFL or CFL. The 6 martial arts were all ones taught at dojo’s in town so in theory they weren’t as important. Though learning there would be slow due to limited class times. That left the knife fighting.

I tentatively reached out and pulled it from the shelf. Nothing happened other than the tingle stopped as soon as I picked it up. From there I had two choices. Check it out and try to figure out how to work it at home. Which risked the book being absorbed and my broke self owning the library. Or finding a quiet table upstairs and hoping that gaining a skill from it wouldn’t release a flash of light or something.

I decided to head upstairs and see if there was any decent spots to try learning it. There were four tables set between different sets of stacks. Two of them were occupied, another was in clear view of the stairs, so that left the one I sat at.

I opened the book and started reading.

Nothing happened.

I reached page 75 of the 100 some heavily illustrated pages.

Nothing happened.

I reached the end of the book.

Nothing happened. I did learn a few things but no new skill.

Which lead back to my occasional thoughts the last few days on just how did I gain the skills. I know with {Walking} I was just zoned out. {Sense Bloodlust} I was thinking about something else entirely and it didn’t feel like I was the one who caused that skill even. And with {Russian} I don’t think I was even paying that close attention to the critical subtitles, I just noticed it in passing while trying to follow the action.

All of which left me with no one surefire method. So experimenting I decided to close my eyes and try different things like I did with my failed title viewing exercise.

I first tried to mentally review and picture some of the book. My memory is poor but the book was fresh and a few things were especially vivid.

Nothing.

Next I tried to let my mind drift or at least think about trivial things like ice cream.

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I was drooling on the table when I woke up. The clock on the wall showed it was 4:16 through the transparent window, a good thirty minutes after the last I remembered seeing.

Due to your actions you have gained a Skill.
The skill {Knife Fighting} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.0%, has been created.

The pain of learning the first three skills felt like a giant hammer hitting my head. This was far worse, more like two guys with sledgehammers alternately trying to pound of railway spike of knowledge into my brain.

The pain was at least 30% worse and I ended up with just 0.0% in the skill.

The thought I could learn skills from books in emergencies was still a bit reassuring as I dragged my sorry brain and tired body home. A quick granola bar and I slept.

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Waking up I quickly resolved to save the skillbooks for last and try to pick up what I could naturally. The pain was mostly gone but it was already 9pm. After taking the dog for a short walk and grabbing another granola bar I decided to learn another skill. This time I decided to try learning {Sneak} or {Quiet Movement} a few blocks away downtown.

I had a growing theory there were multiple ways to learn skills and one of the ways might involve other people. I didn’t know if {Sense Bloodlust} was a skill I gained by unconsciously noticing the husband’s bloodlust the other day. Or if he somehow pushed the skill onto me by his focused attention. Or if it was a skill that required some type of acknowledgement/interaction between us. I had a feeling it was the last and a way to test it.

I’d learned a way of rolling my feet to walk silently as a kid but was never good at it and it never seemed to work well even when I thought I was doing it right. But I was 9 so it’s dubious I was doing it close to right. The method was simple, carefully land your foot heel to toe, along the edge if possible, while watching not to step on anything like loose stones.

If I slowly strolled down the sidewalks and passed a lot of people standing around chatting I thought I was sure to get that mental reaction of ‘wow I didn’t hear him’ from a few of them. Provided I didn’t exaggerate the way I walked and didn’t get close to anyone it would be a good test of the theory. All the while ignoring everyone as best I could just in case there was such a thing as a sixth sense for being looked at.

I felt a bit creepy but since I was actively trying to ignore and avoid everyone’s attention the feeling wasn’t very strong. After 45 minutes I got it and the usual headache.

Due to your actions you have gained a Skill.
The skill {Sneaking} (Novice, Active) EXP: 3.8%, has been created.

I was definitely getting stronger mentally. The pain was just as strong but I seemed to have a higher tolerance now.

I practice trying to activate it as I walked home. By leaving the Skills Window open I could see when I activated it and the skill started rising. It wasn’t very hard to activate, all I had to do was vaguely think of wanting to sneak or be quiet and it activated. There was also a kind of vague feedback feeling that told me it was on. But it was really hard to notice without concentrating.

I kind of wish there was a customizable UI for all this.

Got home, had supper, and slept a few hours to recover before my final test of a long day.

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My headache wasn’t over by a long shot this time when I woke at 1am but I though I could learn one new skill if I was careful not to level up another or gain two new skills by accident.

I checked sneak and it was under 40% still. Walking had barely risen all day, likely due to the lack of challenge in my route.

This time I grabbed a black pair of pants, brushed off the dust, and put on a black jacket, and grabbed a flashlight before going out. The target this time was the Legion park a few blocks away. It wasn’t big, you could throw a baseball but not a football from one side to another. Along the edges, near the sidewalks, were widely spread out trees. Other than the statue at the center, and one row of small trees near it, there was little cover and it was fairly safe and open.

I decided I would sit in the shadow of one of the trees that went into the park away from the streetlight. I checked with my flashlight for dog poop, picked my spot around 20 feet from a sidewalk and just let myself peacefully wait out the present headache. I was easily visible to anyone within 20 to 30 feet so I shouldn’t startle anyone unless they were only watching their feet. Beyond that I should be hidden a bit, I was hoping that enough people would pass me on their way back from the bars that I would get some type of hiding skill by them not noticing me until they came closer.

It was damn boring. The road being ripped up, for sewer and water maintenance, along one side of the park lowered the number of walkers more than I expected. I did get what I guess I can call company when one of the drunk college students staggered into the park and decided to lie down for a while. He wasn’t good at the whole resting and recovering, instead rolling around like my dog and breaking into 3 word song sections.

Finally a bit after the bars closed at 3am I got it.

Due to your actions you have gained a Skill.
The skill {Hiding} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.4%, has been created.

I went home, headed to the pain pills then bed while I reviewed my final results.

{Hiding} (Novice, Active) EXP: 8.7%.
{Knife Fighting} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.0%.
{Russian} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 25.1%.
{Sneaking} (Novice, Active) EXP: 36.5%.
{Walking} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 19.3%.

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