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December Exceptional Story: Por Una Cabeza Messages in this topic - RSS

Amalgamate
Amalgamate
Posts: 464

12/3/2019
Jolanda Swan wrote:

Finally, I really wish for more stories like that, where our actions matter and we are able to bring about a really happy ending if we wish so. It's Christmass, after all!



Actually, that was one of the bits that annoyed me here - our actions really didn't matter.


The three racers were in cahoots, so it didn't matter which one of them won - the three go into business the same way no matter what. Dona Villar gets away the same way regardless of what you do, as far as I can tell. (My heart never warmed up to her and I tried to sabotage her, making sure to tell her to bet on the wrong slug. Didn't matter, she outsmarts the Brass Embassy anyway.)


The funny thing is, I really didn't mind our actions not mattering for the three slug racers! I liked them all, and I was happy to see them all work together. On the other hand, it really annoyed me that Dona Villar got off scot-free regardless of what I did.

--
http://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/amalgamate

Social invitations of all kinds welcome, especially games of chess and deadly sparring!

Also happy to help with nightmares, send sips of Cider, and plant battle.
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Diptych
Diptych
Administrator
Posts: 3547

12/3/2019
Amalgamate wrote:
Lettucefighting happens, I believe, every 2 phonograph actions.



...this game really is rather special.

--
Sir Frederick, the Libertarian Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
+4 link
Fadewalker
Fadewalker
Posts: 136

12/3/2019
I didn't like the sunken actions though I liked this mechanic. I didn't realize it at the beginning, but cheating is an art of subtlety after all. The phonograph was a secret and the progress of the racers would tell, so we shouldn't cheat in that obvious way.
And I loved some mechanics in this stories, which are actually clever ways of characterization. The discription of "You have a 0% chance of winning this game". And after you advised her to bet on the wrong slug, the covert plot of the spirifer turned overt, but this card would never be played if I helped her. I was a card in her hand, and it made no difference which card would go, she would always make it. All of these convinced me she is Dona Villar, "richer than a duchess, less trustworthy than a viper."
edited by Fadewalker on 12/3/2019

--
A fervent supporter of the Council and the Masters.
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Shadowcthuhlu
Shadowcthuhlu
Posts: 1558

12/4/2019
So trying to get back into my routine of actually being around here. . .
I enjoyed this story from the start Dirae Erinyes can easily forgive any rats that distract them from the endless schemes at this point. I'm glad the racers were in cahoots so I could give them all a happy ending but I wasn't a fan of the spending resources to cheat and then realizing that was no reason to cheat earlier when you get to the phonogram. Cheated hell out of another soul. If there is one disappointment, is that we don't have minor slug races to bet on

--
https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Dirae%20Erinyes. Closed to calling cards, but open for all other social action. I also love to roleplay.
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NotaWalrus
NotaWalrus
Posts: 265

12/4/2019
Knocked it right out of the park. This is now one of my favorite stories, just below Lost in Reflections and Cricket, Anyone? Doña Villar is a brilliantly-written mastermind.
edited by NotaWalrus on 12/4/2019

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http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/NotaWalrus
Ignacious, the Fluid Professor, he will accept most social invitations, including boxed cats and affluent photographers (but only betrayals), though he is absent-minded and might take more time than entirely necessary. He apologizes.
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Yae
Yae
Posts: 7

12/5/2019
Hmm I dont know, I found this one to be rather disappointing.

Not only did our actions not matter at all, you also had no way of unconvering the plot.
The plot itself was obvious from the beginning, the urchins, them cahooting, and of course her being such a great super over the top mastermind totally untouchable UGH. Just aggrevating and boring. Way too forced.

And on top of that the reward for the whole story was just meh...

That reward point is something I noticed the last months in general. While before you could manage to get great gains in renown, favors or some other qualities, lately you only get large (but ultimately useless) quantities of "selling" materials Glim Shards, Scrap Cloth, etc

--
http://www.fallenlondon.storynexus.com/profile/Yae
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1797

12/6/2019
Huh. You really couldn't change the outcome. True. But the fact that I noticed it just now... and the fact that the game told you that from the beginning... when it gave you O% chance to beat Dona Villar... I don't know, I didn't mind. Perhaps because the end was heartwarming, for a change, and even though I disliked the protagonist, I didn't mind at all.
Will the next one be a weasel story? Let it be a weasel story.

--
Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
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Optimatum
Optimatum
Posts: 3714

12/6/2019
I actually quite liked our inability to change the outcome this time. In most Exceptional Stories, the protagonist is a powerful force who can singlehandedly decide outcomes affecting many other characters. When we're guaranteed to fail, it furthers the story but often isn't sufficiently justified by in-story elements. For example, last month people said that The Committee's endings dissatisfied because each led to the same outcome, when in-universe many of our characters could have done more. It's the cutscene incompetence problem: our character is smart enough to beat the Boatman at chess but is tricked by some NPC, or can rob the Bazaar but can't sneak up on an amateur. The difference with this story is that your character isn't outplayed by someone less qualified—the game is rigged from the start. We're not forced to lose, it just doesn't matter when we win.

It also helps that, unlike Chandler's previous stories, this one ends up character-focused. We still have the trappings of an adventure story, gallivanting around and uncovering secrets, and that part's definitely fun. But while the big event of the story implies the racers are the important ones, the real focus is the woman who, for most of the story, seemingly does nothing to contribute. I can see why someone might dislike her shameless, unbeatable cheating, but that's not the point of her character. We're told from the start that she cons people; the story is about learning why.

--
Optimatum, a ruthless and merciful gentleman. No plant battles, Affluent Photographer requests, or healing offers; all other social actions welcome.

Want a sip of Cider? Just say hi!

PM me for information enigmatic or Fated. Though the forum please, not FL itself.
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Arcengal
Arcengal
Posts: 201

12/7/2019
I feel like Chandler can't really put a foot wrong. Every story I've played that he's written (including my first, the Rat Catcher) has been simply amazing.


[spoiler] I can understand the murmurings about our actions not mattering as a player, but having gone from wanting the rats to win to suddenly wanting the urchins to win to OH LORD WHAT DO I TELL HER TO BET ON?!, it was a terrific ride and I was genuinely stumped about what to do in the end. I was glad of the happy ending because it made me feel my choices mattered, even if there was no *wrong* choice. I do feel the outcome of her bet with Hell should have been more impactful than it turned out to be (I chose to help her win) but, again, it was so well-written and well paced that I can't complain.[/spoiler]


I also loved that me going to Flute Street was something that came up, and from what I'm seeing I'm envious of all your crazy cider owners.

Was there a different bit of text for anyone on Heart's Desire! ? I saw that was a requirement for the lines I saw.

--
https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Arcengal
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NotaWalrus
NotaWalrus
Posts: 265

12/9/2019
I did also kinda like how our choices didn't matter so much. It was refreshing to face off against a mastermind who already has all the cards, has prepared for every eventuality, and just needs you to play your own part. This story nailed the feeling of being a pawn in greater game more than any story related to the Great Game I have played.

We didn't have a chance to change the outcome and that's kind of the point. After all, we have a 0% chance of success.

--
http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/NotaWalrus
Ignacious, the Fluid Professor, he will accept most social invitations, including boxed cats and affluent photographers (but only betrayals), though he is absent-minded and might take more time than entirely necessary. He apologizes.
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1797

12/9/2019
I understand that Chandler always uses as many of the player character's resources as he can. Which is... amazing. Even if it's just a mention of your profession, or your accomplishments. First because it makes you happy and makes the story more alive and personal, and second because it leaves no annoying plot-holes, that slight disconnect you feel when an ES pretends you have never been to the palace before. Masterful!

--
Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
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NNNnobody
NNNnobody
Posts: 109

12/11/2019
This cavilling at the end was really cheap. Every real lawyer would tear you apart for that nonsense. So I'm rather unimpressed by our mastermind here. Though I don't mind that I couldn't decide her fate. Afterall, she was hardly relevant to what I was doing. She was just a character with her own story while I had my shenanigans during the race.

--
https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/NNNnobody
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Lomias
Lomias
Posts: 84

12/19/2019
It is a good story, though not perfect. It is rich in text, took me long enough to finish it. Mostly amusing, sometimes hilarious. All in all, I like it.
[spoiler]
I like the setting of the story. It starts with a rodent infestation. Then it is the slug-racing and the bet, the introduction of the host, the slugs, the players, each with their own schemes and secrets. That is enough to pique my curiosity.

I also like how the story moves on. I travel to different places and investigate the player during each leg of the game. Hiring the rat-catcher is fun, though it only reveals more unexplained questions. The meeting with Mrs Plenty is enjoyable, I like her mentioning about the phonograph, which foreshadows it would be the key to rig the game. And I like her little "souvenir" when I took my leave. How very hospitable! The Inveterate Gambler, on the other hand, really caught me by surprise. I wasn't even aware that this shadowy figure, if not suspicious, is actually the disguise of two little adorable teen urchins. I always have a soft spot for urchins, that is why I decided to help them win this game.

Playing games with with Doña Villar is intriguing, she always finds her way to win, but every time I lose, I get away with something useful for cheating in each leg. It almost seems like Doña Villar is hinting me how to cheat.

The slug-racing, on the hand, is more fierce than I imagined. No offence, but I am not a fan of slug, or any slug-like octopoid mutant. That said, I am amused by the squirting Xletholoxcatollax and how Rattus Faber Jockey cut the corner dramatically. That, is what I call a race.

There are two things that I consider as flaws though. First, I know the players are up to something and they might have some agreement under the table, but I don't know they are in cahoots with Doña Villar until the very end. In that case, the game result would be unimportant because all the players will be benefited no matter who wins. That does not explain why the players wanted to win so badly in the first place.

The second thing would be Doña Villar's very plan against the Dapper Devil. I know the writer wants to depict her as a cunning con-artist with her scheme go as planned. It almost succeeded, if it was not my character she has chosen to aid her in the bet where her soul is at stake. I mean, we don't even know each other before this race! Considering my character as such a fickle person (my bad), how could she be so certain that I would help her? I did, just because I was in the right mood to help someone, and I would be happy to see a devil's failure. I wouldn't risk my soul by having me at other's mercy (especially my character's) if I were Doña Villar!
[/spoiler]
edited by Lomias on 12/19/2019

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http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Lomias
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Azothi
Azothi
Posts: 588

12/19/2019
Re: Lomias, regarding the story.
[spoiler]
Lomias wrote:
The second thing would be Doña Villar's very plan against the Dapper Devil. I know the writer wants to depict her as a cunning con-artist with her scheme go as planned. It almost succeeded, if it was not my character she has chosen to aid her in the bet where her soul is at stake. I mean, we don't even know each other before this race! Considering my character as such a fickle person (my bad), how could she be so certain that I would help her? I did, just because I was in the right mood to help someone, and I would be happy to see a devil's failure. I wouldn't risk my soul by having me at other's mercy (especially my character's) if I were Doña Villar!
This is one aspect of the story that makes more sense if you intentionally make Villar lose the bet. For reference, you can see that result here. The dice are already loaded. If you help her, she wins the bet. If you sabotage her, she doesn't lose anything. There's a reason why the Indebted Spirifer was around, after all. The reason she asks you to aid her is precisely that "we don't even know each other before this race!", as you say. To the Dapper Devil, you're nobody but a neutral witness to the contract. It's as she says:

Her Last Gamble wrote:
"I needed to cultivate a dispassionate third party. To play as fair as possible! And demonstrate, above all, that I'm not cheating. Not this time."
She spends the rest of the race dancing with the Dapper Devil to prove she isn't cheating, and she secretly leaves the key with you - the "dispassionate third party". If she had an ally present, the devil would undoubtedly suspect foul play. It's another way to stack the deck right beneath the devil's nose. You're bait to tempt the devil into taking the bet, and you're a chance for her to guarantee victory, even when she has no need for it.

She says it best. "Even when I lose, I always win."
[/spoiler]

--
Azoth I, the Emissary of Cardinals - A Paramount Presence (not currently accepting new Proteges)
Away to where the Chain cannot bind us.
Hesperidean.
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Marsali
Marsali
Posts: 2

12/20/2019
Does anyone know how to change which competitor you're investigating? I just finished investigating the gambler, and would like to look at the other two, but I seem to be stuck.
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1797

12/20/2019
Go back to Dona's mansion. After you finish with the tasks there,, move to the next leg of the race. You investigate them one by one, as the race progresses.

--
Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
+1 link
Lomias
Lomias
Posts: 84

12/20/2019
Azothi wrote:
Re: Lomias, regarding the story.
[spoiler]
Lomias wrote:
The second thing would be Doña Villar's very plan against the Dapper Devil. I know the writer wants to depict her as a cunning con-artist with her scheme go as planned. It almost succeeded, if it was not my character she has chosen to aid her in the bet where her soul is at stake. I mean, we don't even know each other before this race! Considering my character as such a fickle person (my bad), how could she be so certain that I would help her? I did, just because I was in the right mood to help someone, and I would be happy to see a devil's failure. I wouldn't risk my soul by having me at other's mercy (especially my character's) if I were Doña Villar!
This is one aspect of the story that makes more sense if you intentionally make Villar lose the bet. For reference, you can see that result here. The dice are already loaded. If you help her, she wins the bet. If you sabotage her, she doesn't lose anything. There's a reason why the Indebted Spirifer was around, after all. The reason she asks you to aid her is precisely that "we don't even know each other before this race!", as you say. To the Dapper Devil, you're nobody but a neutral witness to the contract. It's as she says:

Her Last Gamble wrote:
"I needed to cultivate a dispassionate third party. To play as fair as possible! And demonstrate, above all, that I'm not cheating. Not this time."
She spends the rest of the race dancing with the Dapper Devil to prove she isn't cheating, and she secretly leaves the key with you - the "dispassionate third party". If she had an ally present, the devil would undoubtedly suspect foul play. It's another way to stack the deck right beneath the devil's nose. You're bait to tempt the devil into taking the bet, and you're a chance for her to guarantee victory, even when she has no need for it.

She says it best. "Even when I lose, I always win."
[/spoiler]


Wow, I get it. Thanks for the reference, I can see her trick now. That explains my question, yet it makes my character's decision completely worthless. Whichever slug I pick, whoever wins the game, aid the Doña Villar or not, they don't matter. I would prefer my character could at least change something in the end, for better or for worse. But still, it's a good story.
edited by Lomias on 12/20/2019

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http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Lomias
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Marsali
Marsali
Posts: 2

12/20/2019
Jolanda Swan wrote:
Go back to Dona's mansion. After you finish with the tasks there,, move to the next leg of the race. You investigate them one by one, as the race progresses.



Thank you! I was worried I was missing something.
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Nonomori
Nonomori
Posts: 29

12/23/2019
Something curious happened to me after playing this story.
[spoiler]
One of the slugs is called The Zahir, which is the title of a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. When Doña Villar reveals her name (Clementina), I suspected a reference to the work of Borges.

Google soon gave me the answer: Clementina Villar is, in certain editions of the story, a character from that same story. Doña Villar seems to be a nod to this character, or could even be herself.
But then I found that in other editions of the story the character is not called Clementina, but Teodelina Villar. In fact, in ALL the references, extracts and articles that I have seen she is called Teodelina, not Clementina (I have consulted my own copy and she is also called Teodelina Villar).
It seems that Teodelina Villar is the original name of the character, or at least the most widespread, but I have no idea why there is another version of the story with a different name.
[/spoiler]
edited by Nonomori on 12/23/2019
edited by Nonomori on 12/23/2019

--
Vahniel
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Meradine Heidenreich
Meradine Heidenreich
Posts: 489

12/24/2019
Has someone already mentioned that this title has its own Wikipedia page? (I was looking for a translation for the mouseover text...)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Por_una_Cabeza

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Meradine%20Heidenreich

The Starveling kit
Gobbled up the bit
of cheese on my tray ..
"O Weh!"

No plant battles, please.
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