Death Cap – Fourteen – Picking the Best Options for Dramatic Growth
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Death Cap - Fourteen - Picking the Best Options for Dramatic Growth

My list, now that I’d peeled off a few more options, was... not small enough to make the choice easy, but it was less cluttered, at least.

  • Critical Thinking - Rare
  • Druidcraft - Rare
  • Poison Handling Expertise - Rare
  • Social Manipulation - Uncommon
  • Tenacity - Uncommon

Five big options, three of which were at least rare though maybe I shouldn’t rely just on skill rarity to make my choices.

I tapped the first option, [Critical Thinking] and read over its system-given description.

[Critical Thinking] - Rare
By taking time to think through the issues and challenges facing you, you can better work out the best and worst course of action. Critical thinking doesn’t give you wisdom, it merely helps you detach your emotions from your choices while assisting you in having a more complete understanding of the world. As this skill grows, so will your ability to think logically.
Category: Self-mastery

Damn, that was tempting. It wouldn’t be immediately helpful, but it was the kind of skill I would have loved to have in my previous life. It sounded like a scientist’s wet-dream, to be able to analyse things without personal bias alone would be huge.

But... as incredibly awesome as the skill might be, it wasn’t immediately useful.

I was still in a poor position, literally and figuratively. I needed concrete advantages to bootstrap myself, and while the skill would maybe allow me to come up with solutions, it wouldn’t necessarily help me achieve them.

This was a great skill for someone who already had some amount of power, who could move pieces on the figurative board and who wanted to climb the societal ladder or who had some way to force change.

I had none of that.

Maybe it would be a skill I could revisit once I had a firmer grasp on the world and more personal power. The truth was, you needed privilege to be able to employ intelligence.

I cursed under my breath, then crossed the skill off my list. It hurt, but... yeah, it wasn’t the golden solution.

Druidcraft was next, and this one seemed more interesting.

[Druidcraft] - Rare
The craft of druids is a vast art made up of many parts, and this skill facilitates the understanding and execution of all those aspects. Druidcraft includes potion making, communicating with nature both physically and magically, and fighting through natural means with natural weapons. As this skill grows so will your expertise with various facets of druidcraft.
Category: Nature magic, Nature crafting

So, this was less of a specific skill, and more of a... generalist one. I hadn’t seen any like that yet, but I imagined they were somewhat common. Skills that helped the skill-haver with a lot of related tasks.

It probably earned its rarity just by being so useful across so many things.

There was a lot of good stuff here, even if I suspected that each one of those things was weaker than a skill specifically designed for that thing would make them. A sort of jack-of-all skill. Potion making was damned interesting. Communicating with nature was... probably not super useful to me, not when I had other skills that might overlap with that. Fighting skills would be nice though. I suspected that they were more about fighting in hand-to-hand or maybe with traps and snares.

I wiggled on the spot, working through some indecision. I didn’t cross this one out. It was a decent-enough skill that had a lot of potential. Subskills tended to come from--I suspected--use, so this broad skill could probably unlock very specific subskills later on which might make up for its generalist nature.

Shaking my head, I checked out the next skill.

[Poison Handling Expertise] - Rare
Handle dangerous materials and poisons with greater ease, while also gaining the ability to craft and cook new volatile poisons. As this skill improves, you will gain a better understanding of the poisoners art and additional resistances to the very mixtures you create.
Category: Poison making, Poison-based combat

That... was really good. The potential subskill was especially useful. At the moment, my [Basic Poison Resistance] was lagging behind. The only way to level the skill, as far as I knew, was to poison myself.

I was, quite naturally, reluctant to do that.

I could probably dose myself with something that wasn’t too dangerous in tiny quantities to improve the skill, but even that was far, far from tempting.

[Poison Handling Expertise] might allow me to get rid of [Basic Poison Resistance] with a little bit of practice, and practising this skill would be much easier. All I had to do was make and use poisons.

That... was fine by me. I needed more effective weapons anyway. Learning to create better poisons and freeing up a general skill was a win-win.

I circled the skill. I was definitely going to take it. It might take a few months to grind it until I got some sort of appropriate poison-resistance subskill, but that would be worth it.

Although... with the way subskills were based on experience, that did mean I’d have to poison myself... again. Not something I was looking forward to.

[Social Manipulation] - Uncommon
Lie, cheat, misinform and confuse others with greater ease. As this skill grows so will your ability to trick and beguile.
Category: Social skills

I nodded. I not only wanted this skill, I needed it.

My day-to-day wasn’t filled with fighting. I was going to talk to more people than I’d fight, probably. Diplomacy was always going to be a thing. What if I got caught? What if I needed to squeak past someone, or pick out some information that I wasn’t supposed to know?

Right now, I was a--well, maybe not cute, but I was a small and young--child who looked scrawny and weak. That was great when it came to disarming people, but it was terrible when it came to convincing adults to listen to me.

I knew, from bitter experience, that being good at socialising was better for opening doors than any amount of talent. You could get a lot further in life just by knowing the right people. That was as true here as it was back on Earth in my previous life. I’d been passed up for some opportunities and won others because of soft skills.

Yeah, this was staying on the short-list.

Which left one more option to look at.

[Tenacity] - Uncommon
The ability to endure and resist. This skill will improve your willpower and help harden you against fatigue and exhaustion. As this skill improves, so will your ability to push through pain and suffering.
Category: Self-improvement

A self-buffing skill. Nothing miraculous or incredible. This wasn’t some powerful apocalyptic magic, but it might be just as useful under the right circumstances. I chewed on my lip as I considered it.

Tenacity might help me resist the pain of poisons, or endure through my hunger. It might let me work longer hours with less sleep.

Having a strong will wasn’t something to be underestimated.

But, at the same time... no, I couldn’t take this one. I would have to endure things the old fashioned way. The other options I had were just better.

[You have unlocked the [Social Manipulation] Skill!]

[Do you want to add the [Social Manipulation] Skill to your known repertoire of General Skills?]

“Yes please,” I muttered.

[You have unlocked the [Poison Handling Expertise] Skill!]

[Do you want to add the [Poison Handling Expertise] to your known repertoire of General Skills?]

“Second verse, same as the first.”

And that was it. Two new skills. I felt no different than I had a minute before. I had no way of testing my new social skill, but the poison handling one was easier to test.

I walked over to my mask, still lying where I’d left it, and I stared at the dusting of spores on the filter. Squinting at it to better focus, I sort of... metaphorically pushed down my [Druid Sight] and paid more attention to my new skill.

[Dead Man’s Cough Spore]
An inhalable spore that cripples the lungs by attaching itself to the victim’s bronchioli where they then secrete psychoactive hallucination-producing neurotoxins. Can cause bleeding in the lungs and oesophagus. The neurotoxin might, in larger quantities, cause seizures. Spores will germinate in the corpse of the victim, producing more fungi. Irritation is instant. Poison is slow-acting.

I grinned. Fabulous!

I checked my stats and levels, just to see how my new skills looked alongside the rest.

Name: N/A
Race: Human {Common}
Age: 6 Years
Mana: 24/27
Primary Class: [Feronie’s Crusader {Epic}]

Afflictions
- Black Lung {Common}
- Child of Poverty {Common}

Blessings
- Blessing of Feronie {Unique}

Feronie’s Crusader Class Skills - Level Ninety-Six
- Aura of Growth {Rare} - Level Forty-Five
> [Shaped Aura]
> [Careful Casting]
- Blight {Epic} - Level Fourteen
- Ritual of Sporemageddon {Legendary} - Level One
- Druid Sight {Uncommon} - Level Seventeen
- Mushroom Magic {Rare} - Level Nineteen

General Skills - Level Eighty-Nine
- Running {Common} - Level Twenty-Six
> [Surefooted]
- Knitting {Common} - Level Fifty-Seven
> [Patterner]
> [Clicky Clacker]
- Basic Poison Resistance {Common} - Level Four
- Social Manipulation {Uncommon} - Level One
-
 Poison Handling Expertise {Rare} - Level One

Not bad. But I could make it better.

***

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