Aaron submitted an updated map of Brockton Bay as of Arc 8, presumably still by Ridprime! I’ve included the previous map on the left for comparison. I really appreciate that the destruction caused by Leviathan is visible not only in the forms of the Leviathan Crater (or Lake Heroic, as I’ve dubbed it for now) and a […]

Just thought I’d jump in to correct the other asker, Taylor’s odd were no better or worse than anyone elses. Aegis was indeed a likely second protagonist, but there was nothing to guarantee they wouldn’t both die. Wildbow did not plan for Taylor to die, but he was prepared for the possibility.

I think a lot of people are misinterpreting/misunderstanding WoG on the die rolls. Wildbow definitely didn’t *plan* to have Taylor die there. A lot of people miss the fact that very little of Worm was planned out in advance. I think the “seat of your pants” writer thing has been pointed out in the past, which ties in really well with the die rolls. Wildbow has given various descriptions of how the story might have played out if different sets of characters had died (including Taylor). Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to misinterpret that and think that those descriptions were his original plan for the story. They weren’t, because he didn’t have one! I think he’s said that he didn’t bias things *in favor* of Taylor surviving, but that’s very from saying he biased them towards her dying. Assuming the death rate did end up around ¼, that means she probably had better than even odds of surviving.

I see. I do think it makes sense that he would give the characters modifiers, and that Taylor’s modifier would be low because she is, as someone described her, a “squishy bug girl”, but yeah, this all makes a lot of sense too.

(Incidentally, re: “seat of your pants” tying in with the dice rolls, recall that when I first learned of this, I called it “the ultimate seat-of-your-pants writing technique”.)

Hopefully this doesn’t count as spoilery, but your guess as to what’s up with Zigzag is as good as ours. As far as I know, Wildbow has never commented on that. Whoever they were, they’re dead now, so it’s not really relevant to the story.

Yeah, that’s fair enough.

I kinda like this, honestly. The fact that Wildbow puts in things like these that are intriguing, but not relevant and not promising to be relevant (which would make them an annoying violation of Chekhov’s gun and conservation of detail)… details that indicate that there’s a story here, a story we might not ever learn, much like how we see traces of strangers’ stories all the time in real life. It makes the world feel more real.

To clarify the section numbering thing a bit, Interlude 3 ½ actually was NOT a donation bonus. Wildbow didn’t even set up a donation button until after he’d left college and committed to writing full time (around Arc 6 or 7). Back during Arc 4, he had buffer of unpublished chapters, and he accidentally posted the wrong one at some point, and spoiled some people. Interlude 3 ½ was an apology for that. At the time, he didn’t know that wasn’t going to be the only mid-arc interlude in the story.

Ah, interesting!

I’m not sure this does clarify the numbering, except maybe by indicating that Wildbow didn’t know he’d eventually have to figure out a system that allowed for the potential of multiple mid-Arc Interludes in the same Arc, just in case that issue came up. (That much I’d already figured.) It’s nice to know nonetheless, though.

Extermination is the arc where Worm changes as a whole. It goes from being about a conflict between superheroes and villians to a hopeless battle with a kaiju. Were you surprised by the tonal shift? How would you rate it compared to previous arcs?

It’s a bit of a shift, but it’s not really unprecedented or out of left field. Arc 8 has a lot in common with Arc 5 when it comes to this, and both of them tie back into a concept that was introduced all the way back in 3.6. Through this and other things, the story has been setting this Arc up for a while, which is one of the reasons why this feels like a larger subclimax, an “end of part 1” point.

As to whether I was surprised by the shift in tone… I’m not sure how much there really was one. I did know this story was pretty dark already. The bleakness did reach an all-time high in 8.3, but fortunately, it mostly went back to levels I was used to after that, although still with significantly more death than usual. That said, the aforementioned bleakness high in 8.3 did get to me, being quite a bit more than I had expected even from this story.

In retrospect, Arc 8 was a masterpiece. Though I still think Arc 4 is my favorite so far, it’s definitely one of the better ones.

You missed something, Krixy. Coil wasn’t talking about his own kids, they were his neighbours.

Ohhh…

Let’s look at that again (emphasis mine):

He prepared and ate his breakfast, then stepped outside in his bathrobe to pick up the paper and the mail, pausing to wave to the neighbors as they led their two girls out of the house.  The flooding hadn’t affected their neighborhood as much as others, but the schools weren’t yet up and running, so the mother and father would be taking their girls to work with them for a short while.

Yeah, I guess I totally misunderstood who “their” was referring to.

Quarter-baked theory I thought of while writing up the Arc Thoughts:

What if Noelle’s situation has something to do with Taylor’s occasionally heightened abilities? I mean, if Leviathan could detect it from afar, that implies there’s something to detect, such as an energy of some kind. Maybe that energy, when it peaks, interacts with Taylor’s power somehow?

I don’t know, I guess I’m just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks.

Arc Thoughts: Extermination

Hoo boy, what an Arc.

Where I felt that Arc 7 lacked a true climax, Arc 8 feels like a climax as a whole. This genuinely feels like a point where you could believably say “End of Part 1”.

Pretty much everything was really well written. Yes, that includes 8.3 – a chapter that was so thoroughly hopeless that I started talking about potentially quitting down the line if that became the norm. Now, looking back, I see reason to the hopelessness: They were legitimately fighting a hopeless battle, so Wildbow started establishing that feeling from the beginning. Is it not good writing to be able to put the reader into a state of mind that matches the situation like that?

Similarly, Wildbow pulled off one of the most effective false deaths I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction. I think the key was that Interlude 8a was written like a real death chapter, an effective one at that, to the extent that even though we didn’t see the “body”, I was far more sold on her death than Taylor was once we actually had the armbands reporting her name. (Incidentally, the armbands getting DDoSed was a fantastic way to preserve the ambiguity.) Taylor’s uncertainty also helped to make it not feel like a cop-out when Tattletale turned out to be alive.

Honestly, I should probably have known Taylor was right. She tends to be. 😛

And then there’s Armmaster’s shenanigans. Pride goeth before the fall, and Armmaster fell hard. Featuring a fantastic parlor scene run beautifully by Tattletale.

The Arc title

Usually these are too obtuse for me to figure out without help (”Shell” being a notable exception), but I think this time it’s pretty obvious. Lots of people just got exterminated by the Daleks Leviathan. What more is there to say?

I guess there could still be more layers to it, like to Leviathan, but I don’t have a nanotech Halberd.

Prediction review

Alright, so we’ve got two sets of predictions to go through here.

Let’s start with the predictions from the previous Arc Thoughts post:

The obvious one: Much of the city’s honorable cape population will band together to take down the Endbringer.

Check.

There will probably be a lot of death and destruction before they succeed, possibly including already named characters. 

Check as fuck.

In particular, I’m a bit worried for Danny’s safety – Wildbow could get a lot of angst mileage from killing him off right now.

This one’s still up in the air. That fact leads me to believe he’s alright, besides the psychological results of still not having seen Taylor two weeks after a fucking Endbringer attack.

On a brighter note, I think the experience will cause Taylor to ultimately change her mind about leaving the Undersiders. We’ll also likely find out what the Undersiders ultimately decide to do regarding Coil’s offer and their existing arrangement. I’m no longer certain what they’ll decide, though I’m slightly leaning towards them accepting the offer.

That damn cliffhanger!

So yeah! Just bring it, Endbringer… wait, bad wor–

Oh, he brought it, alright.

And now for the closing post of 8.1. You may remember this as the time I bummed myself out by trying to speculate on who would die. Let’s see how wrong I was, shall we?

Armsmaster, for one, has a huge death flag. As far as Brockton Bay is concerned, he’s practically retiring in dishonor anyway, most likely exiting the story for good (except maybe a very occasional guest appearance). As such, there’s no reason for him to not end up dying in this battle, possibly heroically to make up for his dishonor.

Ahahaha! This must’ve been rich to read, knowing what was ahead.

I mean he’s still most likely exiting the story, but he’s retiring in far more dishonor, and probably a one-way elevator.

There’s also a risk of something similar with Aegis.

I can’t believe I predicted Aegis’ death. I think I must’ve forgotten about his power for a second back when I was writing this, because I was certainly surprised when he died.

Taylor, obviously, needs to survive if she’s going to keep being the POV character and narrator,

Which apparently wasn’t the plan!

but I’m not sure I’d assume the same plot armor for all of the Undersiders. One in four is a scary ratio when we’ve got exactly four of the main protagonists here.

Oh yeah, that’s another reason why I was so sold on Tattle’s death. And then after 8.7 brought her back, all of a sudden there was Brutus and Judas on the monument in 8.8, bringing us back up to 2/8 Undersiders… dammit.

(Not gonna lie, though, I’d much rather lose Brutus and Judas than Tattletale.)

Anyway, I think if anyone’s going to die among them, Brian is particularly vulnerable, being someone Taylor has built up a strong emotional attachment to (that attachment having been ripped to pieces in the last Arc only makes it worse). Alec is unlikely because he needs more fleshing out. Lisa has some of the same issue as Alec, though not as intensely – we know her a bit better, but I still feel like there’s a lot more to know about Lisa before she gets killed off.

I was wrong about Brian, though I suppose 8.8 helps to confirm that last point about Lisa.

As for the rest, Sundancer is at some risk, though I think Wildbow might want to delve more into the issues in the Travelers at a later date, and Sundancer seems to be his main conduit for doing so.

I really thought she was about to die at one point, but she just went “down” instead.

I’m also thinking at least one of the big shots might go down, to show even more how powerful Leviathan is. Legend and Alexandria are at a fair bit of risk due to their idolization by Taylor, though their status as Triumvirate members ought to protect them somewhat.

One of the asks did mention that Alexandria almost died, though like pretty much every other death here, that was more a quirk of RNG than anything else.

Maybe Myrddin or Chevalier will go down instead – as team leaders, they’re still fairly big shots, just not that big shots.

Nope.

On the other end of the scale, there’s likely cannon fodder such as a whole bunch of thus far unnamed Wards and Protectorate members, Parian, Bambina… Laserdream and/or Shielder might go down too so we’ve got some from New Wave…

Well, one of those, and his dad, I got right, as well as the at the time unnamed cannon fodder.

Basically, lots of people are gonna die and this is getting morbid. I’m beginning to understand Lisa’s reaction in Agitation 3.6.

I had no idea.

Predictions for Arc 9

Arc 9 is largely a mystery for now, due to the cliffhanger in 8.8, but it’ll presumably deal with Taylor setting the first parts of her plan into motion. If Taylor decided to involve the Undersiders in it, we’ll also be dealing with her trying to regain their trust.

There’s also a chance we’ll learn more about Noelle’s situation towards the end of the Arc, given the tendency of Interludes to cover content relevant to the Arcs on both sides.

There’s not much more I can say. Extermination was a good’un. See you soon for the next one!