A Farmer's Social Minefield
Akizuki Hyuga, adventurer and farmer, has set up a small stall in Shibuya to sell his wares. Rather than staff it with an NPC, he attends it himself... but will his help his social anxiety, or cripple him further?
It is a warm day with a good breeze in Shibuya, and Market Square is abuzz with activity. Several new stalls have been set up, and one - "The Hammer's Plow" - is staffed by an actual PC! Hyuga stands at his stall in his casual clothing, greatshield propped up behind him against a pinion for this express purpose. A hammer's sigil is emblazoned upon it, as well as upon the stall's mantle. Fresh produce is at this stall, all of it seemingly well cared for and grown with a trained hand.
Yeowang is in Shibuya making rounds with a measuring eye, and the Landers offer measured nods. They know her and know she's not there to buy. She's one of the NWA people that ... not exactly make Shibuya home, but make it their base of operations. And Base of Operations suits Yeowang, who runs things like a corporate manager when she can help it. Inspecting the produce to make sure they're not selling anything that's spoiled, pointing out when stalls are in disrepair. Can't have things falling apart! She looks over Hyuga's stall when she arrives, and arches a brow when seeing it's a Player. A quick inspect - not even NWA. Well, that's not a problem, per se. "Good morning," she offers. "Some fine looking produce you have here."
Hyuga is taking in the crowd with measured breathing. Social interaction is not his strongest suit, but he has resolved to change that, which meant staffing his own stall. As Yeowang approaches, he takes a gander at her, and realizes she is a Player. Brushing off some errant dirt from his shirt as she approaches, he smiles. "Good morning! Thank you. I do my best to produce quality... uh, well, produce!" He puts a hand on the crate holding several ears of corn. "Especially proud of my fire corn, here."
Yeowang looks over the corn thoughtfully, then nods. "Well done," she says, then gets a calculating look in her eye. "Player farmers are quite rare, you may know," she says. "We of NWA have our own farms, but it's a bit complicated to manage them when we have no player farmers. Not higher-level farmers, like yourself."
Hyuga cocks his head. "We're rare? I didn't know that. It's just something I've always tried to do in games. Self sufficiency, and all, especially in raids. If you grow your own materials, you don't need to play the marketplace." He smiles a sad sort of smile. "Though I guess that all went out the window for this place, huh?" He rubs the back of his neck nervously. "Thanks for the praise on the produce. I really do try my best."
Yeowang nods about self-sufficiency and the markets, and she agrees, "That's quite a pertinent statement you've made there. You may not know, since you've farmed for yourself, but we've had some resource scarcity problems in the past. And ... well, not rare overall, I suppose, I'm told there've been whole villages that have been founded by players, I assume at least some of them with Farming skill. But at our level, there's not very many. So it's nice to see one, and doubly nice to see you here in Shibuya."
Hyuga looks around at the current area of Shibuya. "It reminds me of home." A tear comes to his eye. "I'm Japanese. I... love the fantasy world, but when I first came here and saw all of this... I could not say no. Moved in immediately. Secured some land, and..." He produces a work rag to wipe his brow, and eyes. From this, he seems to restore a bit of himself, and smiles. "...and here I am! Glad to be here and glad to meet folks here. I wasn't aware that there were scarcity issues in the past. I... only recently stopped keeping to myself."
Yeowang nods slowly at reminding Hyuga of home. She's a city girl, herself, but she's been making do the same as everyone. She hrms about Japanese, and knows there are a few still who live and work farms. "Well done for you, then," she says, with regard to the accomplishment of goals, and nods about not keeping to himself. "Well, we're always glad to have people, of course. But a farmer is doubly welcome. Though the farms that need the most help are not /here/."
Hyuga looks at Yeowang. "What do you mean? Are they poorly staffed? Or is it a lack of knowledge?" Taking a look to one side, he retrieves an apple from a tucked-away box. It would seem that he left the lower-quality items for himself. "I do not know about all of the politics involved, but as a Player, I would not mind lending some services and knowledge for the greater good and all." He takes a bite of his apple once he has finished speaking.
Yeowang explains, "Our outpost in the Palace Lands has an attached farm that we built up there at considerable expense, and we continue to pay a considerable expense to get Landers and low-level PCs to maintain it. The combination of remote location and the fact that it's quite a high-level area lets them charge a presmium, or else PCs that have no particular skill in it are left to manage things." She gets perhaps a predatory look in her eye. "But a higher level PC such as yourself would be a huge asset there."
Hyuga rubs the back of his head. "Palace Lands... I'm sure I should know more about what that is. I apologize. Can you tell me more about it?" Looking around, he taps a stool that he brought to rest his legs. "I can offer you a seat if you want, and something to eat. Apologies, again. I was something of a basket case for a while." He says this with a nervous laugh, and then hides his blush with another bite of apple.
Yeowang waves away what was with a dismissive gesture. As to the Palace Lands, she explains, "That's the server for China and Korea. It's well away overseas, so it's a bit like a colony for us." Hyuga would absolutely know about the Palace Landers, they drove us out of Shibuya for several months before we were able to take it back, and any PCs that remained behind would have been made into mind-controlled slaves via the 'Crowns' the Palace Landers use to mind-control PCs. Yeowang assumes that maybe Hyuga, not being NWA, didn't flee with them and instead maybe remained hidden in the local area, self-sufficient as he is, waiting for the Palace Landers to be driven off. "I don't blame you for not wanting to know about them," she says dryly.
Recognition clicks behind Hyuga's eyes and he nods. "Oh, that's right, I do remember that. I... well, I hunkered down. Didn't have to deal with too much in the way of assaults during that, and those who did come... well..." He looks back at his greatshield, a huge chunk of metalworked mastery. "...they didn't really bother me." Back to Yeowang. "Well then. My name is Akizuki Hyuga." He bows, a force of habit. "How can I be of assistance?"
Yeowang hrms about hunkering down, but she eyes the shield and nods slowly. "When a tank hunkers down, they are quite hard to de-hunker," she agrees. "I am Yeowang," she replies. "It is nice to meet you, Akizuki-san. As to how you might be of assistance, well, we're running it more or less on autopilot just /at the moment/, so nothing special is required. But when there is something to do, I will let you know."
Hyuga nods. "I have mastered the art of hunkering down." A grin. "Self sufficiency is of great assistance in that regard." Looking around, he picks up a Container item, and begins to load it with produce from the stall. "Of course, that is true for almost any skill. Being able to define oneself by one's goals, and then directly tackle the problems inherent in reaching them, does wonders for self-confidence... at least with regards to safety." A little bit of each is loaded into the Container, which is then offered to Yeowang. "Allow me to present both a gift and a proof of skill. Please accept this."
Yeowang arches a brow, but will accept the unexpected gift. "Thank you," she says. "But you are broadly correct about self-sufficiency, which is why we set up a farm in such an otherwise inhospitable place." She will put the container into her inventory, then explain, "Society -needs- people who make things, be it food, goods, or anything, really. Though I am none of those. My skills like in organization, and society needs that also, or we are not a society."
Hyuga nods in agreement. "I can defend myself, sure, but without some sort of creative skill, I would largely feel useless. I turned my attentions to self-sufficiency, but here, those skills have been largely in demand. I can farm, work metal, grow and process herbs... these things, I'm finding out, are in higher demand here than they might normally be. It is... odd. It's why I opened this stall: to start overcoming my own social anxiety, because I can help."
Yeowang arches a brow, and says, "A metalworker, also? So you can turn swords into ploughshares? Another quite uncommon skill." She nods about opening the stall, and says, "I may need your skills for another project I am putting together, though it's still in the concept phase at the moment. Because many players are not, like you, self-sufficient, and many may have trouble getting what they need, I am working on putting together basically a department store."
NOW Hyuga takes a seat himself, scooting the stool to within the same conversational range. "I can indeed, and have in the past. I had also considered such an idea, truth be told, but I was planning to run it from behind several NPCs, until I decided to get over myself and try to be more social." He takes another bite, casually, and puts a hand underneath the stall's main displays, accessing an inventory there. A large hammer is produced, equal parts weapon and forging tool, and hangs it on his hip. "I am no stranger to such endeavors in my real life, but my social skills there did not translate well to here. Please, continue, as I am very interested."
Yeowang smiles at Hyuga, turning out to be quite the usefully skilled person. Though she cautions, "We /do/ have a few skilled metalworkers in the Alliance, so while it's rare in general, we probably boast more, and more skilled, metalworkers than the other Alliances. Though I think both of ours work in the Land of Beginnings. I am quite glad, though, you've decided to become more social, as everyone's skills, taken together, are what propel us forward."
Hyuga smiles. "As I've said, I have my own... problems? Quirks? Still, I do recognize that I need assistance on that front, and I have the skills to exchange. Plus, I really do like to be of assistance to folks. It's why I went tank this time instead of what I usually go for in class-based games. Even more, if I can learn from others, that is super great."
Yeowang says smoothly, "If you have problems we can help with, please let us know. We like helping. We have a few tanks, but not many, as you've observed, it's not a common calling. I, myself, am a striker, or DPS, I guess the term is. But I have a number of skills I bring to the table as well. Mostly organizational."
Hyuga seems to be very invested in the conversation and its possibilities. "I used to mainline magical DPS for the longest time. Decided to try something new for this place, and I like it so far, especially seeing reactions when I lug out that greatshield. I think it could stop just about anything. Anyhow, my main problem is social interaction. Once I get going, I tend to be okay, but it's the getting going that I really struggle with. Meeting new people, and such."
Yeowang chuckles, and says, "This is my first game, and I have to say, it is not what I expected. I had joined up in order to meet up with my boyfriend who was still in Korea. I had come to Japan for school, which is why I'm on this server. But I didn't know the servers would be separated. The game is ... not entirely correct or useful, when it comes to fighting, and the tactile feedback of taking a hit is reduced, which makes it hard to guage when I am getting hurt. But interaction, as you may have guessed, is something I have no problem with. I am glad you have joined us here, though, and I hope we can work together successfully in the future."
Hyuga smiles broadly at that, and takes another bite out of the rapidly-disappearing apple. "As am I, and I hope that we can work towards our common goals together at some point in the future." He addresses the other part of Yeowang's statements after this. "I do not have a great depth of martial arts ability outside of the game, and so I had not noticed such things. I am shocked, however, that the strive for realism in such games has not extended to tactile feedback and function. Is it distractingly bad, or just something to notice and adapt to?"
Yeowang is complaining about the pain feedback, which is about a quarter of what one feels in real life. "I try to adapt to it, but sometimes I find I've lost considerable health from what I had thought was a trivial wound. I expect serious injuries to hurt. I fought Mixed Martial Arts for years, and bare knuckles on some occasions when it couldn't be helped, I -know- what a punch of a kick feels like. So the game system is hard for me to wrap my head around."
Hyuga thinks out loud. "If we felt 100% pain in the game, I guess that would turn people off of playing at all, though it would be realistic in parts. The pain feedback here makes it doable, but you would think they would compensate in another area for the lack of pain feedback, I suppose." He shrugs. "Again, I've no idea about it beyond what I've played."
Yeowang nods about people not wanting to play at 100% pain feedback. "That's my conclusion also. And they do compensate, I suppose, in the fact I can look at a readout of my HP. But it's hard to remember to do that in a fight. I am, as I said, new to gaming, but not new to fighting. You guys probably do the right thing as a matter of course." She shrugs weakly. "It's not important, in the end, just a quirk of the system."
Hyuga shrugs in agreement, nodding with the reasoning. "Makes sense to me. At least the stuff is intuitive at all, right? Not just mindless button mashing. I think I might pay more attention to the nuances of combat in the future and see what feels like its missing, just to get some information on it. It could pay off, or at the least give me insight into the plight of folks such as yourself in combat."
Yeowang smirks. "I wouldn't call my situation a plight, exactly. My attacks are about on par with what they should be, I think, so the advice my little brother gave me on building the chartacter was good in that regard. He's the gamer in our family, so I asked his advice before making this character." She shrugs dismissively. "But all of that is unimportant now. We are what we are, and we now have to make that work. Which is why I organize."
Hyuga nods. "Fair point. So, organization! Truthfully, I have not seen much of it yet. Beyond keeping to myself, I have not really known where to be or where to go in order to work with others in the factions I've chosen. That might just be a fallacy of mine instead of anything else, but... yet another reason to put myself out here publicly."
Yeowang smiles, nods, "It's a challenge to find a niche to fit in sometimes. But do not fear, we will help you and guide you, if you like. We've all been in your shoes, not sure what to do or where to go next, but we can show you various paths forward, and you can select your best route. Even if you're not in our Alliance, I, at least, am happy to help you. Some are a bit insular, but most of us are quite friendly."
Hyuga reveals his Faction window. Olympus Alliance, Eastal Free League. "I'm sure there are other groups I should be joining or picking a faction for, but I simply haven't had the mental bandwidth to find out. Some of these groups might not even be Player groups. It's simply a lack of knowledge on my part."
Yeowang explains, "Your Alliance is really the only faction of significance, I think. The player kingdom of origin links players with certain elemental affinities, but I don't think anyone does anything with regard to kingdoms. I'm in the Eastal faction, and the chimlink has been silent. But for now," she manipulates her menu clumsily, but will send a Friend request.
The one thing Hyuga had plenty of time to do was look through menus. When the request comes, though, the ping is pretty easy to find, and he readily accepts it. "Excellent! If you need anything I can provide, please let me know... you're my first Friend in-game, so I don't know what it will show you about what I can do, but feel free to ask questions."
Yeowang is, for the reasons she's stated, poorly skilled at the gaming side of things. She can manage things, if slowly, and socially, she's a go-getter. "I will let you know," she agrees. "I'm happy to be your first friend, but I think most of the people you meet here in Shibuya will be friendly also. And feel free to ask me questions also. I think we each have a lot to gain."
Hyuga smiles, a genuine sight, and nods. "I think so too!" Finishing off his apple and trashing it properly, he stands up from the stool and moves it to one side. "I appreciate the conversation, and look forward to the future. Don't let me keep you any longer from your... patrol, it seemed?"
Yeowang chuckles at calling her little walkabout a patrol, but she says, "I'm just making sure the Landers are all right, no one's selling rotten vegetables, and everyone's safe and well-situated. It's part of being organized. Not quite a patrol, though." There -are- guards, at various points around Shibuya. But she's not one of them.
"Ahh, got it!" Hyuga nods. "I haven't seen anyone selling bad food, thankfully, and I brought my gear just in case something goes down, but if anything does, I'll let you know and try to identify the perpetrators." A confident nod again. "Can't have badness persisting in this area!"
Yeowang agrees about people not doing bad things here, explaining, "They know we check, of course. But sometimes someone will be lax and it may be a bit past its safe date, or they'll miss checking an item. No one seriously tries to scam us. But if something does go down, we'll be glad to have you and your shield."
Hyuga grins. "I've yet to find something that truly gets past the defenses that she provides. Of course, the flaws in my own combat experience are their own, and no fault of the gear." A wink. "Plus, meals made with this level of produce do help in several ways, even when I keep the lesser quality items for myself and sell the higher ones."
Yeowang considers, agrees, "We do have some quite good cooks in Shibuya. I'm suree they will be pleased to make some delicious things with your ingredients. Erufu has an inn here. Hifumi's inn is not here, sadly. He does a lot of traditional Japanese cooking. Olympus has a place to eat in Camina Gadelica Marina, in the Isle of Beginnings, but they are styled like an American Diner. Scale has a place in the Tower but I don't know much about it."
Hyuga opens a Notepad window and takes down those names and locations. "That is good to know. I didn't know about too many places. I like trying new cuisines. I really should dedicate some time to learn Cooking properly, rather than trading for food with materials."
Yeowang nods about cooking, and says, "I'm sure any of our cooks would be happy to help you learn the skill. The more people that have it, the better everyone eats. I know I got quite tired of menu food before we learned how to cook with flavor."
Hyuga nods, and seems about to respond, but a pre-set Alarm raises on his window. "Oh, time for the next harvest!" He smiles at Yeowang. "So sorry, but I have to go. I'll be replacing myself with an NPC merchant to sell the wares, but you've seen the prices and quality, so there shouldn't be a problem."
Yeowang ahhhs as Hyuga explains about his next harvest. "Good luck, then. I look forward to seeing you, and your produce, around Shibuya in the future." She bows, and will head out about her rounds, such as they are.