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Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from (Current Donor)Shieldage
Heh. Song books from Earth might make great trade goods. They're easily transportable, can be used generally for entertainment and possible substantial power gains for a niche market, and are less likely to face rejection by the non-songwriting bardic guilds than the equivalent tech for the hard crafting ones.
Comments from author:
The trouble is that no-one would be able to read them without one of the translation amulets or a Read Languages spell.
Review By [(Current Donor)Shieldage] • Date [12 Jun 12] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "How The Heroes Die" from Macfeste
So, during this exchange: “Naqahdah?” Maugrim’s blank look was all the answer Jack needed. He shook his head. “You’ve got nothing we want,” he said, “and we wouldn’t trade with a cut-price Voldemort knock-off like you even if you had naqahdah coming out of your ears.” Is Maugrim hearing the word "Naqahdah" or the the word "Faerzress"?

Are there any updates to the TA'verse I can look forward to? Cierre is my favorite OC ever, and I really want to read more w/ her. Not to mention Sorkatani, and the rest..

edit: an NCIS crossover? McGee's head would explode. Oh, I hope that's coming soon..
Comments from author:
Maugrim didn't speak Drow and therefore heard 'naqahdah'.

I have done no writing except drabbles recently because I've been occupied in getting ready for WriterConUK, where I was giving a talk, but that's just finished and I'm returning home tomorrow. I'll be getting on with 'Tabula Avatar' and 'A Plague of Serpents' immediately - I have another two weeks off work and should be able to get a lot of writing done.

Cierre will be appearing in 'A Plague of Serpents' very soon; not in the chapter due to appear next but in the one after that. She is also due to star in a story of her own in the not-too-distant future, a crossover with NCIS called 'The King of Elfland's Daughter', and an AU version of Cierre is one of the central characters in a Forgotten Realms/Lord of the Rings crossover called 'Les Morts Dansant' which I've been writing when I should have been doing other things and have 10,000 words done so far.

'Les Morts Dansant' starts in the canon Forgotten Realms, with no appearance of Buffy and later SG-1 to shift events onto a different path, and centres on a group of anti-Lolth Drow fleeing Faerûn after the deaths of Vhaeraun and Eilistraee. Cierre goes with them. They end up in Middle Earth and things don't go well...

Technically Cierre isn't an Original Character. She was created by Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl in the 'Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms' game accessory 'The Silver Marches'. Although they only specified her preferred armament, her religion, the fact that she is a Ranger, and her height; I came up with all the rest. It was her being five feet nine, six inches taller than any other Drow other than Qilué Veladorn, that gave me the hook on which to build the rest of the character.
Review By [Macfeste] • Date [7 Aug 11] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from (Current Donor)Sulien
I have to say that I much prefer the way you handled things to the way the Boys at Bridge did them. Nice!

Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading more of this series eventually. :)

ETA: the Boys at Bridge = Bridge Studios (i.e., the script writers of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis)
Comments from author:
Thank you!

Wasn't Bridge only for the period between Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark?

EA: Ah, that makes sense. I was thinking of the 'Bridge' competition that the Neverwinter Nights Vault ran for modules bridging the gap between the end of Shadows of Undrentide, which left the hero stranded in the Shade Enclave, and the beginning of Hordes of the Underdark, where the same hero turns up as a mercenary in Waterdeep.
Review By [(Current Donor)Sulien] • Date [22 Mar 11] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Prometeus
When Jack and Daniel's eyesight stays better, is that the healing spells, or leftovers from the super-heroism, or is it that they leveled up during the fight with Morag? :D
Comments from author:
It's because they had healing spells during the time they were affected by the super-heroism.
Review By [Prometeus] • Date [12 Jan 11] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from ForSpite
Whoops, missed the last chapter of this for some reason. Disregard all questions about 'Zehir' in my review of "A plague of Serpents".

As for this, it was good though it didn't excite me as much as some of your other works.

My only real complaint is wondering both why Anubis is fat and easily smacked around (Ascended on their own plane would be fairly powerful, one thinks, though I guess he doesn't have worship like the Ori or the Faerun gods). The transition to walking joke for him in this chapter is a bit heavy handed is all. And this is coming from someone who was okay with literally having an angel descend to save Egeria (the name thing made it fitting to me)... though I'm still surprised she held NO grudge, given all she had to deal with. Then again, the Tokra queen probably started their love for subterfuge.

Otherwise, an excellent well-thought out piece, although now I have to wonder if the Buffy crowd are from the same Earth as the Stargate crowd or a different one because the former presents some interesting questions about the nature of Stargate's reality and the reasons why SG-1 hasn't heard about magic (if not on Earth, then elsewhere). I suppose the existence of Hellmouths on earth could make it a local dimensional instability but again, that's the kind of thing someone might mention somewhere. Given the vague and powerful nature of the Key relative to dimensional manipulation, the latter is also possible.
Comments from author:
Anubis being a fat guy named 'Jim' in the episode 'Threads' is canon. His semi-ascended status doesn't put him remotely in the same league as Shar and Vhaeraun, hence the easy smackdown, but he has plans to rectify that disparity in the future.

It's also canon that Egeria held no grudge against the Pangarans. In her position, in the canon episode, I would have ordered the Tok'ra to drop an asteroid on Pangara's capital city but Egeria was a much nicer person than me.

The SGC's knowledge, or lack of it, about magic and the Undead is always a tricky point in crossing Stargate SG-1 and the Buffyverse. I'm assuming, for this story, that the compartmentalisation of information meant that the SGC never heard about The Initiative - although by the time of 'A Plague of Serpents' their investigations of the names mentioned by Sharwyn will have led them to at least some information abut Sunnydale. Before that they'd have regarded historical mentions of vampires etc as distorted accounts of past Goa'uld incursions.
Review By [ForSpite] • Date [11 Sep 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from DCG
awesome stuff. I've had a great time reading every fic in this line up.

I really hope you going to continue with the other groups, buff and the lot where great to read about.

Oh and do you have a main song list around any place? Would be very handy in finding every thing you've used in story.
Comments from author:
Thank you!

I had intended to return to the other stories in the series now but I suddenly realised that it's only a month until UK WriterCon. I'm doing a talk there and I haven't prepared it. I'm concentrating on getting that ready right now and so there will be a slight delay before I restart 'Tabula Avatar'.

It never occurred to me to keep a list of the songs featured in the stories.
Review By [DCG] • Date [25 Jun 10] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Dragonelf
As usual you have done an excellent job with your new additions to this series and I am already looking forward to read any future additions you might get inspired to add to this series.

::Gives the plot bunny some Cabbage roll::

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand
fibers connect us with our fellow men.
- Herman Melville
Comments from author:
Thank you!
Review By [Dragonelf] • Date [22 Jun 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Prometeus
> just as Shar has said about Viconia.

Oho, is THAT what was going on? I thought it was just that all her other priestesses had gotten kinda cynical and jaded. Come to think of it, reflexive rote worship by non-sapient characters would pale in comparison to conscious worship with a little edge of desperation. So congrats again, it makes sense.

> I'm using self-awareness merely in the sense of one of the basic qualities of sentience, not in the sense of being introspective and analytical of your own motivations. Mielikki isn't particularly introspective.

Yes that's what I meant. Selune really doesn't display consciousness.

For the terminology, by sentience you mean sapience or consciousness (damn Star Trek!). Consciousness is an overloaded term that can mean either psychological consciousness (possessed by humans as of about 3000 years ago, as described by Julian Jaynes in his book) or philosophical consciousness (subjective experience as possessed by cats), or even just being awake. You don't need to be awake to be conscious, as lucid dreaming shows.

Being introspective and analytical about your own motivations is a necessary but not sufficient condition of higher psychological consciousness (having a concept of oneself as a psychological, mental and higher emotional being). It has nothing to do with lower psychological consciousness (having a concept of oneself as a physical, social and lower emotional being).

When Eilistraee points out the stupidity of Selune's using a cage of light against a moon goddess, Selune could be embarrassed at her own stupidity or ashamed at Eilistraee's scorn at Selune breaking the rules and doing so badly. Embarrassment is a conscious emotion and shame is an anti-conscious emotion. Most humans don't notice it when other humans are non-conscious. It takes higher consciousness to understand lower and higher consciousness.

So yeah, nothing in your stories says definitively that Selune has even lower psychological consciousness anymore than say Bagpus. And only a highly analytic and introspective deity would even have a chance to notice that she isn't all there.
Review By [Prometeus] • Date [21 Jun 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Gladius
As always, I love your stories. I've been a fan since Tabula Avatar 1, and have only grown in my appreciation.

Hopefully, the growing confrentation on Toril will draw the attention of heroes from far and wide, including a certain band who operate out of Anese Hold ... Perhaps a troop of paladins and knights from Akathla will be sent to assist Neverwinter, led by Sir Xander?

Would this be after the events of Neverwinter Nights 2, and will we see your version of the Knight Captain? More important, will Neeshka return?

Finally, can you tell us which of the gods are allied to Shar, and which to Selune? In particular, I'm interested Sharess: the Dancing Lady was close to Shar before the Time of Troubles, when Sune managed to seperate them. With Shar's change of heart and Selune's betrayals, will Sharess return to her old assosiate, this time as a real friend and ally?
Comments from author:
Thank you!

'A Plague of Serpents', the sequel, takes place shortly after the events of NWN2 - during 'Mask of the Betrayer' and 'Storm of Zehir'. Buffy and Dawn will appear in it but probably not any of the others. You might see a cameo appearance of the Knight-Captain but if I decide to deal with the events of the Second Betrayer's Crusade in a separate story he won't appear in 'APoS' at all. Neeshka is, of course, dead by that time (although that doesn't totally rule out her making an appearance).

I'm not going to give a full list of the allies of Shar and of Selûne at this stage. It's obvious from the opening chapters of 'A Plague of Serpents' that Talona is allied with Shar; as Talona is pretty much Shar's longest-standing friend and ally that's only to be expected. Eilistraee's alliance with Shar is established in 'The Whole of the Moon', as is her relationship with Vhaeraun, but you're going to have to wait for a forthcoming 'Tabula Avatar' chapter to find out any more. It won't be long; the party that Shar mentions near the end of 'Whole of the Moon' will be crucial to the forming of the alliances. And a lot depends on Giles.

Shar certainly wants to re-establish a friendly relationship with Sharess (complicated slightly by Sharess having merged with Vhaeraun's ex Zandilar the Dancer) but, again, you'll have to wait to find out how things work out.
Review By [Gladius] • Date [21 Jun 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Prometeus
If Mieliki was the first to be made self-aware then that explains her inordinate interest in Tara. That presents problems though since I'm not sure Mieliki could tell that she hadn't been self-aware. The other gods don't seem to. Also, the only event with Mieliki that stands out is when Tara first became aware she was a priestess. But that's really closely connected to the Scoobies' transport to Toril. And then there's the disk space issue that early on in the game, even assuming Mieliki contacted no one. I'm going to assume that Mieliki became self-aware during another event, but I'm drawing a blank. A little hint please?

Self-awareness is pretty tricky to determine. Selune for example never demonstrates it in any of your stories. Except maybe at the end of Debt of Blood when she sends an angel of Selune in response to a call by a worshipper of Sehanine Moonbow. Maybe. Vhaeraun demonstrates it when he reexamines his long-held beliefs about his sister as he's trying to betray her. And even earlier when he questions Shar's identity because she's happy and gives a pass to his head priest. Yoshimo pushes Eillistraee into self-awareness by talking about what he can do vs what Shar can do. And she demonstrates it definitively when she deceives Selune and rants at her.

Which raises the issue, does Mieliki reflect enough on herself to be self-aware? Selune doesn't. I wouldn't have thought a goddess of nature to do so either. Oh wait, I'm probably taking 'self-aware' too literally.
Comments from author:
Mielikki isn't aware that she wasn't always self-aware; I'm speaking as an omniscient outside observer when I say that she was the first, none of the participants can date things that precisely. All she knows is that she experienced a sense of 'vitality' about Tara's worship that seemed more intense than that coming from any of her other priestesses (just as Shar has said about Viconia).

I'm using self-awareness merely in the sense of one of the basic qualities of sentience, not in the sense of being introspective and analytical of your own motivations. Mielikki isn't particularly introspective.
Review By [Prometeus] • Date [20 Jun 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Ansku
Love it :)
Comments from author:
Thank you!
Review By [Ansku] • Date [20 Jun 10] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from WebSpyder
I absolutely loved this story as I've loved all of your work in the Tabula Avatar universe. Please tell me you're going to finish Tabula Avatar book 3 and Plague of Serpents!
Comments from author:
Thank you!

Yes, I'll be going back to them shortly. Right now I'm on a run of 10-hour night shifts, I'm trying to watch World Cup matches in what little time I have between sleep and work, and I'm being distracted by a plot bunny for a 'Debt of Blood'/NCIS crossover, but I have managed to make a start on the next 'Tabula Avatar' chapter.
Review By [WebSpyder] • Date [16 Jun 10] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from mendal
What the sgc should do is have neverwinter rent Gutenberg printing presses and train former scribes to operate them.
Comments from author:
And that's The Truth.
Review By [mendal] • Date [14 Jun 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "How The Heroes Die" from Prometeus
So it's even stronger than I postulated, Shar can and has directly observed the difference.

Okay, the fact the sphere disappeared way after Buffy & Co were transported nullifies much of my speculation and disconnects the party from the event. I'm tempted to remove most of my earlier comment since you've nullified it but really it illustrates nicely how few options you have given what you're already written.

However, the crystal sphere disappearing also makes it really, really obvious to all the gods on Toril that something's happened. While providing plausible deniability to all the Ascended. Huh, that works better than I expected.

Yeah, I can see it happening. All the other gods will have no idea what's happened and only Shar knows because she's actively watching this party of adventurers that's seemingly disconnected from the main event.

Okay, before I start making up another theory, what exactly is involved when a cleric communes with their god? What exactly does Mieliki know from Tara? And what would she do based on that information?

Also, Xander just got involved with killing a fellow paladin and sitting down with an evil Drow assassin. That's probably going to bring him up in Torm's attention. Is Torm going to be watching?

And can I presume that "the right place" involves Shar finding out Dawn is special and/or contains divine power?
Comments from author:
I'm not going to say much more as it would contain too many spoilers.

All I will say is that Mielikki knows quite a lot - she was actually the first of the Faerûnian pantheon to become self-aware - but she's not as inclined towards investigation as Shar and hasn't looked into the reasons behind the changes.
Review By [Prometeus] • Date [13 Jun 10] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "The restaurant at the end of the universe" from Prometeus
Shar was created with false memories however, consider events from her perspective.

She's got memories of interactions with other worlds and their gods, or she's got no memories of any interactions with other worlds at all. If she does have memories of the Ascended, they're verifiably and demonstably false. Changing the Ascended's memories to make them think Toril has always existed is a bit much after all. And galaxy-wide wholescale revision contradicts the fact the Tokra don't remember Toril having existed.

If she's got false memories then she knows they were constructed and that her memories are unreliable (at which point she's going to be furious and highly motivated to investigate). If she's got memories of other gods or of no gods then from her perspective, Toril was suddenly and without any warning pulled into a different galaxy. *Without Lord Ao even noticing, let alone consenting to it.* Such an event might be outside of the Being of Light's power.

Remember, the Key has power yes, awesome power even, but it doesn't have self-awareness - it isn't a self-aware entity distinct from Dawn. Because if it were, that would cause serious problems, such as the Key would have taken independent action to free Dawn from Glory when they were captured. So when the Key created Toril, it couldn't have made any effort to hide its creation because it isn't self-aware enough to *realize* that this would cause problems.

Animals act on instinct and objects are used, the difference between them is whether they have intentional will or not. The Key has never demonstrated any will so it's an object. But in any case, neither objects nor animals are capable of realization - of creating a meta-level connection or concept based on domain level data.

The upshot of all this is that something really, REALLY big happened. And it's not only big, it's also got TOP SECRET written all over it in flashing bright-neon rainbow-coloured capital letters. How could Shar NOT investigate what's probably the biggest and definitely the most mysterious event in all of Toril's entire history?

Well, the first thing that Shar will want to do is to pin down WHEN the dimensional shift (or planar shift) happened. With all of the observers, both internal and external, she's going to be able to pin it down to a window of a few years. Then the next thing she's going check up on is any and all planar travel in that window of time.

The planar travel event that's going to be staring in her face is the Unknown Mechanism that delivered Buffy and Company to Irenicus' dungeon and helpfully cast a permanent Tongues spell on them. That event, originating in a world (Earth) that supposedly only has low-key covert magic, is going to be very, very suspicious. At this point, Shar knows that Toril has been transported to a different plane without any visible transition, and that Buffy & Co have a direct connection with the Unknown Force (Unknown Super-God?) that did it.

She's going to be able to dismiss Giles and Xander because they died and showed up in the Afterlife as normal souls.

If forced to speculate, she's going to be able to dismiss Tara because she calls on Mieliki, and why would something greater than Ao call on and commune with one of his subjects?

Willow might be a candidate, but she brings too much attention to herself as an archmage and her magic is too weak and way too flashy for something that moved the Heavens from under the gods' feet without their notice.

Spike and Buffy are demon-infested humans with known and limited powers.

Which leaves Anya, a thousand year old demon with the power to create an entire plane.

Dawn appears to be totally normal. Unlike Giles, Willow, Spike and Buffy.

Whatever Force triggered the planar shift brought 4 very abnormal humans, 1 cleric, 1 demon with planar creation powers, and 1 totally normal human in every way.

If it were me, I would investigate every single last one of them. But I would start with Anya and Dawn. My hypotheses going into the investigation would be that 1) Anya did it and lost her powers as a result, 2) Anya did it and stored her powers in a vessel, 3) the party was transported as bodyguards and decoys for Dawn, 4) the Unknown Super-God is watching the whole party.

Regarding #4, why was Dawn included in a party of super-heroes? Being Buffy's little sister isn't going to cut it.

Regarding #2, the prime candidate for the vessel is going to be Dawn.

Regarding #1, why would Anya transport all of Toril to her original plane after transporting the party to Toril? Was it an attempt to get back home that failed spectacularly and snapped her powers without giving her so much as a nose bleed? And it's much less likely that Anya would have lost her powers after a permanent Tongues spell when she didn't by transporting Toril. So the order of events then was obviously Transport the party, Tongues Spell, Transport of Toril. Can this be verified somehow?

In any case, 3 out of the 4 hypotheses go right back to Dawn.

Shar is going to want to pin down the order of events somehow, but none of the gods in Toril can pin it down accurately. And she's going to go to Earth (the origin) to find out where they came from, who they are (necessary background research) and to interrogate the Earth gods about what the fuck happened. And at that point, things are going to start looking really weird and interesting.

Overall, I don't think it's a question of whether or not Shar figures everything out. It's just a question of WHEN she figures everything out. The fun thing is if she comes up with a bizarre theory that fits all the facts but isn't true.

Final note, I've considered the possibility that Shar investigates on her own without revealing that Toril's had a planar shift. But the outcome of that is that Shar still arrives at exactly the same conclusions, just that she's uncertain they're the correct conclusions since she doesn't have all the data and could have missed something. At that point, she would HAVE to meet Anya and/or Dawn in order to verify whether or not her worst fears are true so she can take the appropriate action.

However, this scenario isn't possible because the planar shift is public knowledge. You see, the moment Shar stepped in the Astral Diner, it instantly and retroactively followed through inexorable chains of logic that Shar was able to directly observe the dimension the Ascended went to. She was not restricted by having to shift to commonn points in the material plane (ie, having to travel to Earth then back up to the Ascended's realm). For Shar to have stepped into the Astral Diner, she has to have known the Astral Diner exists. And for her to know that means she knows Toril isn't where it's supposed to be.

You could have kept the Toril and Stargate heavens practically disjoint and disconnected, but you didn't. And honestly, things are much better off this way.
Comments from author:
As far as Shar is concerned the crystal sphere that separated Toril from the rest of the universe vanished on or around Marpenoth 10, 1369 Dale Reckoning, or 15th May 2002 Earth time. She discovered it a few days later when she escaped from Selûne's captivity. Bodhi's trip from Toril to Earth is the defining event (in fact things went super-critical slightly earlier, and the disk space indicator suddenly reading infinity marks when the ice-bound planet that just happened to be the right size and orbital position was remodelled into Toril, but there wouldn't have been any internal signs of that happening).

However Bodhi only wanted to go to Earth because of Spike, which will lead Shar to the right place before long.

One thing she won't want to do is rock the boat; the way things have worked out Shar is the main beneficiary of the changes, and the big losers are Selûne and Lolth. Shar is the first to recognise the significance, and the fastest to react, and she has spotted a way to make herself into the most powerful being in the Universe.

Of course that will inevitably set her on a head-on collision course with the Ori...
Review By [Prometeus] • Date [13 Jun 10] • Not Rated
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