Simantics: Falling in the deep end of the time pool

Sigh. The Samples have really been living in this town for too long.

I looked at their family tree, and Aunt is a bit of a stretch, but they do have a connection a couple of generations back. We’re going to forget we ever saw this.

I will say that the game DOES have incest checking, and it didn’t think they were closely enough related to avoid heart-farts.

This is definitely the best way to hate each other. I’m pretty sure there’s porn for the way Gamora and Jonah feel about each other. Lots of it.

Jonah went off to look at horses and came back by way of a LLAMA. The results were tragic.

Fortunately, Edmund was around to fix things up. I just now noticed Gamora playing on the computer behind them. Ha.

Also Vickie far behind, cooking. She took that up as a passionate new hobby when Jonah moved in, but you better look at it now because I later discovered that her ability to cook was borked. I I thought this might have been related to my Kelp Recipes, which I loaded into my game somwhere around then, and I was terrified that there was something weird about them that borked people’s sims. But, no, I have multiple reports that the recipes work fine for other people. Vickie just now takes about 4x times the time to cook a recipe as she’s supposed to. Like, literally most of a day to cook one dish. Each animation repeats over and over again. I have no idea.

I tried removing the Cooking skill using MasterController, but that doesn’t seem to reset a sim to the state of not having learned a skill. It just removes a pointer to something. When she learned to cook again, the problem resumed.

So she’s going to take up painting, I think, and Jonah can cook his own damn kelp.

At any rate, Jonah is ready for anything this weird landwalker magician might throw at him.

But it turned out all right.

Gamora discovers that she can’t avoid her high school graduation, even by jumping into a time machine and zapping herself hundreds of years into the future.

Graduation will always come for you.

Emit had to take a break from his important moment with Gamora.

OK, the special philanthropist’s money-donating animation is just completely bonkers. Can we just look at this again?

Oh, and after she gives the check, they both are showered in glitter.

Since I wanted to tie up this little loose end of Gamora’s life, I saved JC Sample’s family to the bin and placed him back in Utopia Oasis Landing. After all, nothing Gamora did should have affected the romantic choices of her immediate family, right? Right?

What I didn’t realize is that Dystopian and Utopian sims keep their timeline-related behaviors in a hidden trait. JC’s family immediately turned their lovely utopian home into a trash pile.

Emmett hugs himself. A lot of the Wonderland/Utopian sim idles are adorable, but the walk style is AWFUL. It’s the same as the Imaginary Friend walk, and it must DIE BY FIRE. I had to take the Wonderland trait off Emmett so that he could walk across the room in less than four hours. If there’s a way to just destroy the walk style and keep the rest of the cute stuff from that moodlet, please let me know.

Ah, the romances of our time are just part of a loop that repeats itself over and over through time.

Or maybe ITF doesn’t try very hard when it generates descendants….

Echo in Time: Year 1304 – 1306

Nash was was filled with wonder and delight by the news that he would finally be father.

He set about doing everything he could to make her pregnancy an easy one. In addition to his own work, he took on half of hers.

The proceeds from their last successful trips to the market were enough to buy a cow. (Imagine this is just one cow. I found CC later. They couldn’t have afforded THREE cows).

Babies needed milk, after all. What if there wasn’t enough milk?

In the meantime, Emmaline set about learning to make cheese. Milk itself was difficult to keep fresh to sell at the market, but cheese would bring a great price.

Emmaline had heard stories about pregnancy, but that wasn’t the same as living it. The persistent nausea and aches wore her down.

She was boundlessly grateful to Nash for all his help, both the big things and the little things, like a backrub when she felt achiest.

She tried to stay positive, but she knew that pregnancies were dangerous. She had been old enough to remember when her mother lost what would have been another baby brother, and a woman in her childhood village had died in childbirth.

There were so many things that could go wrong, and the fear struck her at odd moments when Nash was away fishing.

Still her pregnancy seemed to be progressing normally. When she was far enough along to share the news, they invited Aunt Ruby and Uncle Gerbald to see the farm. Emmaline was so proud of the little home they’d built for themselves.

Aunt Ruby had delivered a healthy little boy, and they named him Adam. He was old enough now to stay with neighbors for an afternoon while the Weavers went visiting.

They were thrilled to learn that Emmaline was expecting. Their children would be close together in age. Uncle Gerbald was especially delighted. Fatherhood was sitting well with him. He loved babies, and he thought everyone should have at least one.

Nash still hadn’t proven himself as a worthy husband in their eyes, however. One sarcastic remark about parenting life, and he found himself on the receiving end of a long lecture from Aunt Ruby. She knew what Emmaline was going through, she insisted, and she needed a husband who would take his responsibility seriously!

Nash just hung his head and didn’t even try to defend himself.

“She means well,” Emmaline said when they had gone.

“I know,” Nash said with a rueful grin. “I have a reputation. I understand that they want to protect you, but that’s my job now.”

Emmaline blushed.

At last, as they were settling down to bed one evening, the moment came that she’d been both anticipating and dreading. Contractions came, fast and painful.

Now was the time. Nash was helpless, and he hated being helpless. As the pain grew, Emmaline was struck by a sudden terror — could she handle childbirth? Was it too much for her?

It turned out she could after all. In due time, she delivered a baby boy, who they named Alair.

Time passed in an exhausted haze for a while. Tending to little Alair was the most challenging thing Emmaline had ever done. Nash built her a rocking chair so she could at least rest while she was feeding him.

And he took the next trip to the market because she couldn’t leave.

The air was growing colder. Winter was not too far away. They set about drying fish and storing all the food they could toward a time when the garden would go dormant and the ponds freeze over.

Alair continued to grow up healthy and strong. At last, Emmaline decided he was strong enough to leave home, and she insisted on presenting him to the Watcher at church on Sunday. Nash trailed along sullenly, thinking of other things.

The village blessed the littlest Howland and wished him long life.

All the women, her aunt in particular, were full of advice.

Nash caught up with his friend from his workhouse days.

Emmaline hurried to bring in the last harvest as frost loomed.

Then the pond froze over. There could expect no more fish until Spring.

The Harvest Fest came, and the entire village held a feast in the meeting hall above the market to celebrate the year’s bounty.

Little Alair slept in a makeshift bed of straw in the corner while everyone laughed and ate and visited around him.

Everyone brought something to share. They ate until they were almost too full to roll home.

They had cold and careful rationing to look forward to for a while now.

But there was a light in the long dark. There would be another baby soon.

Alair grew into a healthy and active toddler with his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes.

Nash jumped into the task of teaching his son his first words, which proved to be a frustrating job.

Before winter hit with full force, they were blessed with a bout of false summer. The pond thawed enough for Nash to catch a few more fish, and Emmaline was able to glean a bit more from the garden. She thanked the Watcher for their generosity. Her life was full of joy in ways she could never have imagined a few short years ago.

One the first day of winter, it was time for the baby to come.

This time Nash had an important role. He kept Alair out of her way as she did what was needed.

She delivered a beautiful baby girl who already had a shock of her mother’s hair.

This delivery left her much more drained than the last one.

And as much as she tried to soldier on, she was growing weaker.

As she readied herself to go out in the morning, she was struck by a wave of lightheadedness. She set down her little girl just in case.

And then she collapsed on the floor.

Nash came downstairs to the sound of the baby’s cries and found her. She was already gone. After six short, wonderful years of marriage, she had to leave her beloved family behind. Her only wish was that it could have been longer.

Numb with grief, he named the baby girl Emma after her mother.

I’m sorry guys! I was sitting there with my kid, who was having fun watching the challenge. And I said, “You have to roll to see if the baby survives, and there’s a very small chance of the mother dying in childbirth.” Then I rolled for the mom and got a 1 on a d20, which was the only roll that would have killed her.

And thus passes my founder. I was really attached to her. The challenge will have to take a different path from here. Nash will have to remarry. I’m going to take my cheat for this generation to try to keep one of Emmaline’s children alive to be heir, but I’ll have to decide whether Nash’s children or Ruby and Gerbald’s children are my backup heirs.

I guess this is what I signed up for.

7.36 Everything’s coming up rainbows

The Time Machine lit up with an incoming signal…

…and dumped Gamora out onto the roof of the Oasis Landing time traveler’s center.

She was just never going to get that landing right.

She stepped to the edge of the roof and looked out over Oasis Landing.

Not bad, if she did say so herself.

She headed down the stairs and out into the town to explore.

No piles of trash? Check.

Crisp clean air? Check.

Happy residents? Probably check, but she didn’t really want to learn enough about anyone’s life to find out.

The rainbows absolutely everywhere were a bit much, but she wasn’t going to complain.

The wind smelled sweet. Her skin drank it in like nectar.

Gamora tried out a kite she had built a long time ago with her dad.

All right then. There was one person she needed to see. It wasn’t difficult to look up the Sample family’s address. It didn’t look like they was doing badly in this reality. Then again, she didn’t know how successful they’d been in the other one.

She was wandering around the grounds of the expansive house when JC Sample conveniently arrived.

“Hello, who are you?” he said. “If you’re from the Orphaned Flowers Association, I gave at the office.”

Gamora blinked. She’d been rather hoping that their time together at the time traveler’s center would have preserved his memory of her in his new time stream. Well, there was no help for it. “Nothing like that,” she said and reached out to take his hand. “I’m here as a representative of Simshare’s Clearinghouse Lottery.”

“A lottery?” JC said. “I don’t know why you’d be here to talk to me. I never buy lottery tickets.”

“We’re the lottery of the next generation,” Gamora said. “You don’t need to buy tickets to win. We can look into the future to see what tickets you will buy.”

“Are you saying I won something?” JC asked, “In a lottery I never entered?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Gamora told him. “I’m here to present you with a check for one million simoleons.”

“What!” JC cried. “Is this real?”

“Completely real,” Gamora said. “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

“I don’t know what to say!” JC cried. “This is what lottery? I’ve never heard of Simshare’s Clearinghouse. What’s your name?”

Instead of answering, Gamora blew him a pollen-laced kiss.

His hand flew to his face, and he stared at her. “Who are you?”

“It’s not important,” Gamora said. “Have a nice life. Oh, and actually don’t to worry too much about buying a lottery ticket.”

Then she jumped on her hoverboard and sped away.

Back at the time travel center, she set about tracking down Emit Relevart.

As usual, he wasn’t hard to find.

“So, that problem with the timestream,” she said. “Fixed it for you.”

Emit stared at her for a second. She couldn’t see his eyes behind the visor, but she got the impression his look was positive. “You did,” he said slowly. “Impressive.”

“I can’t say that I approve of using future knowledge to cheat on a lottery,” he said, “but seeing that you used the seed money to found nonprofit dedicated to the protection of the planet, I think we can let that part slide. You may be reckless, but you’re incredibly intelligent, and you care about doing the right thing. I admire that about you.”

“Thank you,” Gamora said. “I think we’ve found a lot to admire in each other.”

Emit frowned. “I’m not sure I know how to take that.”

Gamora rolled her eyes. “We’ve been dancing around each other through three time streams now. You’ve been sneaking into my dream capsule at night. That’s not creepy at all, by the way.”

It seemed impossible for Emit Relevart’s skin to get any paler, and yet the color drained out of his face. “Ms. Gamora,” he stammered. “I’m sorry if there’s been a misunderstanding, but ah… I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…”

Gamora just waited for him to finish a sentence.

At last he sighed, and his body looked ten years older. “I am the Custodian of the Time Stream,” he said. “I live outside of causality. I keep time travelers from destroying reality. In exchange, I cannot… engage in any romantic relationships of any kind.”

“You’re lonely,” Gamora said bluntly.

He nodded. “It’s a lonely job.”

“And your vow of celibacy exists why….?”

“Children born outside the time stream are a problem. Let’s leave it at that.”

“That’s convenient,” Gamora said. “I can’t get pregnant.”

Emit shook his head. “You’re right. I like your company. But that’s as far as I can let it go.”

Gamora sighed. “I’m sorry too. I guessed you would say that, but I had to try.”

“Thank you,” Emit said. “It’s good to know you are thinking of me. You are lonely too.”

Gamora nodded. “I’m very lonely. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to fix that.”

Then she started to laugh. “I think I figured it out. I might be a good time stream guardian, but I had to break the rules somewhere.”

She walked past Emit into the corridor where two time tourists were flirting, and she held up a glass orb in her hand. Her eyes glinted wickedly.

The male tourist’s eyes went wide, and he jumped in front of his date. “What are you doing?”

“Don’t worry,” Gamora said. “It’s not about you.” And he threw the glass onto the ground and watched it shatter.

Where the glass fell, a new person seemed to coalesce out of of the air.

Emit stared at the new sim, who stared back at him.

“Whoa,” said the time tourists, “You could be brothers!”

“He’s you,” Gamora said, “or at least as close as my dad and I could get with cutting edge timestream cloning. I gathered the DNA sample from you a couple of time-shifts ago. You might not remember.”

“You shouldn’t be able to do that,” Emit said.

“I know,” Gamora said.

“Hi,” Emit Relevart’s clone said. “This is a lot to take in. You’re the person who created me? I hope it was for a good reason?”

“I hope it’s a great reason,” Gamora admitted. “But you’ll have to be the one to tell me.”

“Whoa!” the clone exclaimed, his voice muffled against her skin.

Gamora stepped back. “Entirely up to you,” she said. “No pressure. You have a lot of options.”

“Actually, why don’t we do that gain while I figure out what I want?”

“I think this is going to take a lot of research.”

Gamora relaxed for the first time in days and gazed into his face. “I didn’t know you’d feel that way, but I was hoping,” she admitted.

“You have a lot to explain to me,” he said.

“We have all the time we need,” Gamora said. “And if we don’t, we can make some.”

“It’s crowded out here, don’t you think?” Emit’s clone said. “What do you think about getting a room?”

Emit Relevart watched for a while in silence.

Then he moved on.

He had important things to do. Important time things. Somewhere else.

“We could start with a name,” Gamora said. “Do you have any thoughts on what you’d like to be called?”

“I’d like to hear some suggestions,” Emit’s clone said.

“I did have something in mind,” Gamora admitted. “How do you feel about Emmett?”

“Ok, I see what you did there,” Emmett said. “That’s not bad.”

“I’m dying to see your eyes underneath that visor,” Gamora said.

“As you wish,” Emmett said.

The exact moment of Emmett’s creation got messed up, so I did the best I could. It was actually a clone drone potion brewed by Andria, though Gamora did (or should have) collected that DNA sample much earlier in the storyline.

My plan was to clone Emit, but it turns out you can’t clone him either. Can’t woohoo him OR clone him. Good grief. I have no idea why that guy is so locked down. Don’t want him to make babies? No problem. But making a sim you can’t woohoo just seems against the whole philosophy of The Sims.

So she used the potion on the random guy in the room, and I transferred Emit’s genetics over using NRaas Mastercontroller.

Echo in Time: Year 1301 – 1303

“This is my family home,” Nash said. “It burned down when I was a kid and took my parents with it.”

Emmaline gaped at the cottage. “This is beautiful,” she said. “Where could the fire have been?”

“Oh, right,” Nash said, as if he had just remembered. “I spent the last few years rebuilding the house when work in town was thin,” he said. “I hope you won’t mind living here. It was a farm, but the fields are all grown over. We’ll have to start with almost nothing.”

“By the Watcher, I am truly blessed,” Emmaline said.

Nash caught her legs and knocked her off balance. “What are you doing?” she cried out.

“I’m carrying you over the threshold, my lady Harlond,” Nash said.

“I’m too heavy for this!” she said.

“Nonsense!” Nash retorted. “You’re light as a… ungh… feather… urgh.”

He plopped her on the floor in the main room and took her hand, drawing her upstairs to the loft. Emmaline realized that the bed would be there and froze. “I… I don’t know if I…”

Nash squeezed her hand. “One great thing about having nothing is that nobody wants to prove anything about what we did or didn’t do on our wedding night. I’ve never done this either. I figure we’ll just try what we like and see what happens.”

“You haven’t… ?” Emmaline stared at him with wide eyes. She’d heard all about boys and wild oats and the loose women who helped sew them. Nash had seemed, well, like one of those boys.

Nash scowled. “No matter what the girls told you, men aren’t born experts at woohoo.”

They took their time, and everything worked out fine.

Their first morning as a married couple began early and worked them hard. Nash’s trade, in as much as he had one, was as a fisherman.

The fish he brought home weren’t much, but they would have to make do.

Emmaline set herself to sorting what they might be able to glean from the farm to feed themselves that season.

A couple of apple trees remained on the property and still bore fruit. That was a start, at least.

The garden itself took far more work before she could even begin planting. Summer had already begun. They had no time to waste if they were going to have any harvest at all to tide them through the winter.

She was caught unprepared for the coughing fit when it tore through her body.

For minutes afterward, she could only stand and gasp for breath. Something was very wrong.

At the fishing hole, Nash began to feel it too.

The fever hit that night. And the nausea.

Emmaline felt as if her body were burning from the inside out.

Nash could barely keep down water.

They held each other in bed, shivering and sweating by turns, and wondered if they were already looking at the end of their lives.

“Could this be vengeance of the Watcher?” Emmaline whispered to him when they were both lucid. “Did our wedding displease it?” She did not say anything directly about Nash’s blasphemy, but they both knew what she meant.

“Nonsense,” Nash retorted. “If the Watcher watches at all, it cares nothing for the likes of us.”

Sure enough, slowly the waves of heat and chill eased. Their heads began to clear.

At last, Nash was able to make it to the fishing hole and bring back dinner to roast over the fire. After days of sustaining themselves with apples and water, it tasted like heaven.

“See?” Nash said. “Nobody watches the lives of peasants like us. We are the only ones who can build our destiny.”

His impiousness made Emmaline nervous, and she whispered a prayer to the Watcher for both their sakes.

They later learned that the illness had swept through Marhlberg, starting around the time of their wedding. There had been no deaths, thank the Watcher, but there were many stories of death’s shadow barely passing by. Emmaline was grateful that it hadn’t been worse and didn’t mention to Nash her worries about the timing of the disease. He would only tell her that she was talking nonsense.

She returned to her work in the garden. Emmaline had gardened with her mother before everything changed. Making things grow made her feel close to her lost family. She had a knack for it. Soon the garden with filled with sprouts and cheerful budding leaves.

The first day she was able to serve them a meal she had grown herself, she felt that she had proved her worth in an important way. Nash brought home fish, but she could feed them too and the family they hoped to build.

The family they hoped for had not yet begun, though it wasn’t for lack of trying.

“Could there be… more we should be doing?” Emmaline fretted.

Nash rolled his eyes. “If so, we’ll have to get used to being childless. There’s no reason to give up hope. We’re young, and the trying is too much fun to stop.”

Emmaline flushed at the way he looked at her. She knew that woohoo was for making children. It unsettled to admit how much she liked it for raw pleasure it brought. Even now that her marriage was comfortable and familiar, Nash could make her heart beat faster just by touching her hand.

And Nash… well, Nash was shameless. The thought that his zeal for woohoo might be inappropriate only made him enjoy it more.

She doubled her secret prayers to the Watcher, just in case. And she resolved to ask Aunt Ruby if there was anything, an infusion of herbs perhaps, that might help to bring on a baby. Not that children had easy to come by for her aunt and uncle either.

There was no end to the work, and the days were long. Emmaline couldn’t bear to imagine them living in filth, and she made time to scrub their home clean when she could spare time from the garden.

Sometimes she found herself scrubbing their laundry as night fell because there was no other time to do it.

One night Emmaline awoke to a clattering sound downstairs. Nash still slept soundly. She tried to convince herself that it was an animal or her imagination.

The clattering continued. She crept to the stairwell and glimpsed a dark man moving in the floor below.

She managed a scream before fainting dead away.

Her cry brought Nash surging out of bed, but the man escaped before he could catch it.

The damage was substantial. The burglar had looted most of their food supplies. Worst of all, their stove had been destroyed.

They were left with only the fire outside to to cook their food until they could find a way to make enough to money for the supplies to build a new one.

While gardening in a sudden thunderstorm, Emmaline was struck by lightning.

Nash returned home to find her curled on the bed, scorched and weak. She was feeling much better by the next morning. Nash met her inevitable worry about the anger of the Watcher with a scowl. She had survived, he said. Perhaps it was a sign of the Watcher’s favor.

Just when it seemed they could take no more hardship, things began to improve.

The fish were biting. Nash began to bring home enormous, plump catches, far more than they could eat.

The farm was flourishing under Emmaline’s adept hands and yielding crops in abundance.

At last, they had enough to bring to the market in town.

While selling her produce, Emmaline ran into Aunt Ruby. There hadn’t been much opportunity to visit since her marriage, but she hadn’t tried to make any either. She couldn’t face telling her family the news and giving Uncle Gerbald a reason to think he had been right about Nash.

Now, however, she had plenty of good things to report. Aunt Ruby was delighted to hear it. She also reported that she was expecting a child. Emmaline knew they had been hoping for a baby for a long time without success, but she still hid a small flame of jealousy.

The proceeds from the market were enough to replace their oven.

While working in the garden, Emmaline was struck by a pang of nausea. Her first thought was fear that another malaise would fall on the household.

Not this time. At long last, she was expecting her first child.

So that’s the summer season and the first three years of Nash and Emmaline Howland’s life together. I currently have seasons set to 10 day at 3 sim days per calendar year. Seasons were never going to line up with the calendar.

Some notes on gameplay: Something is not working with Woohooer. I have it set to treat woohoo and TFB as Risky and Risky’s success rate at 25%. After most of the summer and more than a dozen woohoos, she was still not pregnant. I gave up and started rolling a die for every woohoo and pollinating with MasterController. The townies are breeding happily, so the problem shouldn’t be anything involving the StoryProgression settings or the connection between SP and Woohooer. I’m fiddling more with the settings, and if she gets pregnant without a manual roll, I’ll stop rolling manually. I’d rather like to be surprised by a pregnancy :).

Regarding their illness: They both came down with the Germy moodlet at their wedding. I’ve always been bugged by the fact that Seasons introduced an illness and allergies with great mechanics except for the fact that the moodlets themselves are so forgettable that you don’t even realize you have them. I tried giving my sims the Pestilence Plague moodlet. I’ve seen in the code that it has symptoms, but I’d never seen in in action because my witches don’t generally curse people, especially with deadly curses. Wow, it is BRUTAL. I knew it had the coughing fit animation, but it also brings nausea and vomiting, drops hygiene, and has a disgust broadcaster to make everyone nearby gross out. It’s also wickedly contagious. Since Pestilence Plague is deadly unless the sim receives a magical charm, I removed it manually when the Germy moodlet completed and then had to search and remove it from several townies.

This has me contemplating a mod that would provide symptoms to the Germy and Allergy Haze moodlets. Then you could care about getting a flu vaccine or allergy shot and whatnot. But I have GOT to get Pet Fighting released first.

I’d love to stick a mechanic into my challenge where the Germy moodlet could be deadly because, y’know, medieval. If I introduce another way to die, though, I’d want to make the death rolls at age-up more generous.

They really were living hand-to-mouth until the very end of summer. The burglar and the lightning strike really added insult to injury. I don’t think I’ve ever had a sim struck by lightning. Fortunately, Emmaline was well-rested. Calling the police on a burglar isn’t very helpful in a world with no roads where the cop has to run to the house. That oven was §400 to replace when they had §25 and were living on Nash’s minnows roasted on the campfire.

I decided that I’d throw a party at the church every Sunday to simulate services, but a destination party on that lot costs §400. I thought about that and decided that this isn’t a bad simulation of tithe to the church. However, they didn’t have anywhere near that amount of money on their first Sunday together so I allowed them to skip it.

I wanted a challenge, and so far this has been it. Woot.

7.35 New Frontiers

Jonah set himself to exploring the ocean around the island.  The bays and sea caves around Avalon were fascinating and very different from the scenery he was used to.

The land was beautiful too. There were so many colors and types of plants — grass, flowers, bushes, and trees. Mountains above the sea could reach up to the sky and even have snow on the top. The air changed temperature much more than the sea as well. It could swing from cold to hot and back to cold in the span of a day.

And then there were horses.

Avalon was home to a small herd of wild horses. The first time Jonah saw them, they took his breath away. They were huge and majestic. Calling the sea-critters seahorses was just a joke.

He slowly worked his way on land to try to get close to them. His first attempts were an instant failure.

Jonah was a thoughtful and determined merman, and he couldn’t get them out of his mind. He watched the horses for hours and approached them much more gradually.

That attempt was ultimately a failure too.

Winston had developed a fan base. A little fan club had even sprung up on the Internet. He lurked there every once in a while just for the ego boost.

He started seeing familiar faces show up at his performances.

One name started showing up over and over again on the fan club forum — Emilie Weaver. Eventually Winston got a chance to meet her face-to-face.

“I can’t believe we’re finally talking!” she enthused. “You look amazing on the stage, but you’re even more attractive up close.”

“I’m not sure what to say to that,” Winston said. “Thanks?”

“I enjoy watching your show, but I’m not a mindless fangirl,” Emilie said. “Well, not just a mindless fangirl.” She laughed.

The longer Winston talked to Emilie, the longer he wanted to. The chemistry between them was hard to deny. Were there rules about dating fans? Were there rules about having fans? This was new territory. A huge was probably all right.

But his mind was on other things.

Gamora activated the time machine. It was ready for one more whirl through the continuum. This was the moment where she learned whether all her carefully laid groundwork was built on the correct assumptions about the time stream.

There was no way to know without going there to see. And if it didn’t work, well… she’d just have to come up with a new plan. Everything was fixable with time?

She took a deep breath and jumped.

1st Echo: Year 1300 Continued

Emmaline was always afraid. She was afraid of the trip to the outhouse after dark, afraid of rustling sounds in the corners of the house, afraid of harsh words from her aunt and uncle, afraid for her future.

She took whatever excuse she could find to get out of the cramped house and into the village. The villagers were friendly enough, even with the pitying glances, and being near other people helped her feel grounded. It was even better if she could be useful while doing so. Her aunt and uncle worked hard and had precious little to spare. They tried to make her feel welcome, but she knew she often received food they denied themselves.

Thus she was in the market at sunrise, looking for vegetables, when she felt eyes on the back of her head. She turned around to face a man she had never seen before.

“Good morning sir,” she said with a curtsy.

He waved his hand. “They’re trying to make you marry John Burrows,” he said. “I know him pretty well. Don’t them force it if you don’t want to.”

Emmaline froze. “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t see you at church. How do you…?”

He laughed. “Don’t call me sir,” he said. “I’m Nash. I don’t hang around to listen to that windbag of a vicar, but I’m around. Everyone in Mahrlsberg knows your situation.”

Emmaline felt the back of her neck warm. She felt a flash of anger, then fear, and dropped her eyes. “Then you know, Mr. Nash, that I am a girl with no options,” she said. “I have no immediate family and no dowry. I’m dependent on the charity of my extended family who do not have the resources to support me. I cannot support myself alone. I must go where I’m sent and hope for the best.”

Nash scowled. “That’s wrong,” he said.

“Believe me, I would be delighted to have more options,” Emmaline said bitterly. “I welcome your guidance.” The square was beginning to fill with villagers on morning errands, which eased her fear at being near such a large and intimidating stranger.

Nash grunted and seemed to look at something over her shoulder. She took that dismissal, rushed through her vegetable shopping, and fled. Safe at last inside, she curled up on her got with her knees to her chin and waited until her heart stopped pounding.

In the evening, her aunt and uncle herded her to the King’s Inn for another chaperoned meeting with John Burrows.

“I’m sure with a bit of time, you’ll see what an honorable fellow he is,” Uncle Gerbald told her. “He can be a bit intense at times, but he’s quite respectable.”

“I saw someone new at the market,” Emmaline asked tentatively. “A man who called himself Nash. Do you know who he is?”

Aunt Ruby and Uncle Gerbald frowned in unison. “What did he say to you?” Gerbald demanded.

“N-nothing much,” Emmaline stammered. “He just said hello.”

“He’s a heretic,” Aunt Ruby said. “That’s why he wasn’t at church when we introduced you to the village. Almost any time he opens his mouth, it is to blaspheme the Watcher.”

“You’ll do well to stay away from him,” Uncle Gerbald added.

The King’s Inn was more boisterous than usual that evening. Emmaline found a seat in the corner and watched the village laughing and drinking. She saw John Burrows as he came in the door and scanned the crowd for her face.

Her aunt and uncle found her and escorted her across the room. They made awkward smalltalk about the weather while her chaperones looked anywhere but at them.

A drunken man climbed up on the bar behind them and began to sing loudly and dance.

“This is more entertainment than I was expecting,” John said at the crowd hooted and cheered at the dancer.

“Everyone seems so happy,” Emmaline said, trying not to sound as miserable as she felt.

“I want you to know that I’m truly sorry for shouting at you when we met,” John said. “I was late because of a list of frustrations, and I was in a poor mood. You didn’t deserve it.”

“Thank you,” Emmaline said. “You’re very kind. Think no more of it.”

“Very good,” John said. “I can but hope for a bride who is so gracious and eager to please.”

He started to reach out for her then. She stiffened with terror but held herself firm and waited. “Perhaps a bit more time, then,” he said. He bit her farewell then, and she hurried back to curl up in her cot.

In the morning, she was working in the garden when Nash walked by. As she watched him, he looked up and met her eyes. The look on his face was thoughtful, even kind. She quickly looked away and focused on her weeding. When she looked up, he was gone.

He wasn’t gone for long, however. He sought her out in the market on her next trip.

“You’re right,” he said. “You don’t have as many options as I would have in your shoes. I apologize for being arrogant.”

“You’re forgiven,” Emmaline said. “It was kind of you to think of my problems.”

“I thought of just one other option that you might choose for your future,” he said.

Emmaline blinked. It had been so long since she’d felt any control at all for her future. “I’m very curious!” she said.

He grinned and produced a bouquet of wildflowers. “You can marry me instead.”

Emmaline stared at the flowers as he held them out, blood draining from her face.

“Take them,” he said. “They don’t require any promise from you.”

“Why are you saying this?” she demanded. “I have enough problems. I don’t need jokes at my expense.”

“There is no joke,” Nash said. “It’s time I settled down, and I think we have a lot in common. We both lost our family young and have had to make difficult choices. That’s as good a reason as any. None of the local girls are nearly as interesting as you turn out to be.”

Emmaline reached out and touched the flowers. He pressed them into her hands. “My uncle says you are a heretic,” she stammered.

Nash gave her a wolfish grin. “I can’t argue with that,” he said. “The Watcher has an army of greedy clergy who give long boring speeches about virtue they have no intention of following themselves. I have no time for it. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether that makes me impossible to marry.”

“I have no dowry,” she said.

“I don’t need to be purchased like a trinket in the market,” he retorted. “I am reseeding my father’s farm. Any wife of mine will need to work hard with me and prove her worth that way.”

“I–” Emmaline couldn’t think of anything else to say.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Then Nash nodded his head. “Thank you for listening to my petition, my lady,” he said. “If you ask your uncle, I’m certain he will steer you away from me. I’m really not such a bad fellow if you can handle the blasphemy. Good day.” He waved to her and turned away. Emmaline stood and watched until he disappeared between buildings.

Emmaline didn’t sleep at all that night. She lay awake and stared at the moon through the window above her cot.

Why had she survived? It was a cruel joke. Any of her family would have been more capable of moving on alone than she was. She was trapped and helpless, with few possibilities each more terrifying than the last.

That’s when she realized that in all of Mahlsberg, the only person she wasn’t afraid of was Nash.

She found him the next morning at the bunkhouse for laborers on the edge of town. She had traveled alone, which by itself seemed so scandalous that she wasn’t sure she could still be a suitable bride for Mr. Burrows.

When she knocked on the door, he was the one who answered. “Miss Weaver,” he said in astonishment. It was the first time she had heard him say her name.

“If your offer is real, then I accept,” Emmaline said as fast as she could before she could freeze up.

A smile, warm and delighted, spread over Nash Harlond’s face. She found herself smiling back. “The offer is real,” he said.

“I have one condition,” she continued. He raised his eyebrows. “I need you to come with me to tell my aunt and uncle,” she said. “I don’t think I can face them both by myself.”

He laughed.

There was shouting at her uncle’s house, followed by days of tense silence, but in the end it was done. Aunt Ruby even loaned Emmaline the gown that she and her mother had both worn to their own weddings.

No matter what Nash’s ideas on religion, Emmaline would only recognize a marriage consecrated by the church. Nash didn’t protest too much, perhaps out of respect for how much of her reputation she had already given up to marry him.

She thought Aunt Ruby and Uncle Gerbald had washed their hands of her and would shun the wedding, but they arrived just as the ceremony began.

Uncle Gerbald even wished her well and made amends for harsh things he had said to her. He did not agree with her choice, but he wished her happiness.

Rings were exchanged, and they became man and wife in the eyes of the village and the Watcher.

When the ceremony was over, Nash pulled her arm, and she found herself falling.

“Now,” he said fiercely,

“You shall see that when you fall, I’ll be there to catch you.”

Most of Nash and Emmaline’s interactions were autonomous. They took her origin story someplace entirely different than what I planned.

1st Echo: Beginning, Year 1300

Sunrise in Praaven

The sun rose over the mountains to shine down on the village of Mahlsberg in the duchy of Praaven.

It was beautiful. If only it could feel like home.

Emmaline Weaver woke from another nightmare and sat on the edge of her cot to catch her breath. The cot was miserably uncomfortable, but she knew it was all her Aunt Ruby and Uncle Gerbald could offer.

The nightmares had become so familiar they were almost routine. She could feel the water swallowing her up, closing over her head. She heard her parents and her little brother shouting her name. They were all gone now, swept away in a late spring flood while trying to cross the river Vayruga. It had been a journey to spend the summer with her Weaver-side family and hopefully to find her a marriage prospect. It had all gone wrong.

Today was Sunday. Aunt Ruby helped her dress her best for services. Mahlsberg chapel was so large and grand she would have believed it was a cathedral. Uncle Gerbald assured her that there was one just like it in every village from here to the City of Praaven.

This interior was even more intimidating.

“The Vicar is always late,” Aunt Ruby confided. “There’s plenty of time to introduce you to everyone. We’ll start with Helga Hayter. She’s the undisputed matriarch of Mahlsberg. If she likes you, everyone will like you.”

Unspoken was, So it will be easier to find you a husband.

Helga Hayter looked her over. “So you’re Gelbert Weaver’s poor penniless orphan niece?”

Emmaline gulped and offered her best curtsy. “Yes ma’am. Emmaline Weaver.”

Helga smiled benignly. “You have lovely manners. You’ll fit in here just fine.”

A wave of greetings and introductions followed. The names flew in one ear and out the other.

There were plenty of young men, but would any of them want a girl whose dowry had washed down the river?

“Don’t look so forlorn, my dear,” Aunt Ruby told her. “You’re incredibly charming. The town loves you. We will find you someplace to go. In fact, I know a young man who is on the search who told me himself that he’s not particular about dowry. I’ll introduce you if he bothers to show up for services.”

Then she heard the door open and grinned over Emmaline’s shoulder. “Well! Speak of the Devil and he shall appear! You’re good and late, John Burrows.”

“Not as late as the vicar, apparently,” John said.

“Now, now, we know he has a busy schedule,” Ruby said. “Have you met my lovely and talented niece?”

“You know I haven’t,” John said. He stepped closer, and Emmaline could feel his gaze sizing her up. She trembled inside. Was he a good person? How could she know? Did he have kind eyes? “Tell me about yourself,” he said.

Emmaline opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She was petrified. The silence stretched until Mr. Burrows scowled at her. “Is that the best you can do? Stand there and wait for me to fall under your spell? You may have overestimated your charms, my lady.”

“You know what the poor girl has been through, Mr. Burrows,” Aunt Ruby interjected smoothly. “She’s overwhelmed, and she needs a bit of kindness.”

“I’m so sorry,” Burrows said. “I’ve had a long day, and it’s still morning. I humbly beg your pardon, my lady. I was out of line.”

“See?” Ruby said. “He apologizes so sweetly. He may be a bit short of temper, but John Burrows is good people.”

Emmaline tried to hold in her trembling. He did look like he meant it.

“I think I hear the Vicar,” Aunt Ruby said. “If your Uncle takes any longer to get here, he’ll have to explain himself to the Watcher.” She took Emmaline by the arm. “Come with me, dear child. I’ll show you our pew.”


Echo in Time

Also known as, “This isn’t Samples. What the heck?”

I’m playing another challenge. All the readers I know I have are now on Tumblr. I haven’t gotten a non-spam comment here in years. OTOH, I host this blog, and I’m pretty sure if I wrote fiction there I ever wanted to use for anything else, I’d ever be able to get it back out again. If I get the energy to set up another WordPress blog, I’ll probably move this stuff there. Until then, this is is my first take on a historical sims challenge.

With no commitment for how far I will go, I’m trying out a Sims 3 twist on Morbid’s Ultimate Decades Challenge. This starts in the 14th Century (anywhere, I assume, but I’m going with the white American default of medieval England) and progresses through time with a strict ratio of sim days to the year. Gameplay changes to fit historic events. The beginning is going to suck because life expectancy in the 1300s was ass, particularly infant mortality. And whoever survives will get to roll again to die in the Black Plague. This is a game where you need a hierarchy of heirs.

I hate telling stories where everything is bland and nobody faces any challenges. After 13 years, I have the mechanics of The Sims down, and I can mitigate almost anything the game throws at me. I have to make bad things happen on my own, and I’m terrible at that because I get too attached to my characters. So I shall hand over responsibility for tragedy to a very cruel 20-sided die and a whole bunch of probability calculations.

Modifications from Morbid’s Challenge

Lifespan and Survival

I was compelled to do my own research in to medieval life expectancy, and my probabilities came out different from Morbid’s. I also am going to trim the sim day to real year ratio to 3days/year instead of 4 days/year. That leaves me with:

1. Childbirth

Chance of mother’s death in childbirth: 5% (1 in 20)
Chance of newborn death: 20% (4 in 20)

2. Baby: 4 days to age 16 months, chance of death at age-up 25% (5 in 20)

3. Toddler: 14 days to age 6, chance of death at age-up 15% (3 in 20)

4. Child: 18 days to age 12, chance of death at age-up 10% (2 in 20)

5. Teen: 18 days to age 18, chance of death at age-up 10% (2 in 20)

6. YA: 36 days to age 30, chance of death at age-up 20% (4 in 20)

7. Adult: 45 days to age 45, death chance 20% (4 in 20)

8. Elder: 30 days to age 55, at which point death is handed off to the game’s randomizer.

The reasoning here is that my research indicates that infant mortality was 48%, or roughly half. Of the people who survived to childhood, half of them made it to age 55. In my games, it’s not uncommon for sims to live 10 days after their official end-of-lifespan, so I think that should get us a close enough simulation. I think we’re unlikely to get the long-tail of people who lived to be really comparatively old like 75.

What’s really disturbing is that those numbers are KINDER than Morbid’s rolls. EEK.


Look, I know that miscegenation was a big deal until close to modern days, but I just don’t want to deal, ok? I don’t want to screw with making all my sims white or creating castes of different skintones who are allowed to marry each other and are only allowed in certain careers. I can deal with 25% of my sims surviving to a really-young lifespan target. I’m using mechanics for sexism and heterosexism and economic castes. But encoding racism into my mechanics just makes me feel queasy. This is just going to be a multicolored version of medieval England. All simulations give something up.


I’m a huge agriculture simulation nerd. (You should see me play Minecraft.) I’ve already looked up what foods were available in medieval England. I’m using Cooking Overhaul and Ani’s Hunting Mod. Unfortunately, the only grain available in the game is corn, and I haven’t found a mod that adds any other plantable grains. So we’ll just pretend corn is oats or rye, and I can use Ani’s food processor as a millstone to grind corn into flour.

I’m not sure how much of subsistence will be much of a story in between births and deaths, but I’ll have plenty of fun playing it :).

Inheritance and Location

I was done with sticking to one lot in Sims challenges since back in the Pinstar days. I just don’t know why the community got so attached to, “Buy a 64×64 lot and stay there for 10 generations,” as the foundation for so many challenges. I’ve never been willing to stick to one lot or one world. I play my games too in-depth, and I suck at building.

More importantly, I’ve done enough of defining a family line by the last name. In Morbid’s challenge, male inheritance means that the heir must be male and the girls will be married off with dowries. If the heir dies, a male cousin can inherit and so on. This all makes perfect sense. I just don’t think I need to define the heir of my story as the literal heir of the household wealth. I intend to pick whatever surviving child I want. When that child is female, the story will move into a new active household when she marries. After over a decade of Samples and Wonderlands, I’m interested in telling stories about those who leave, not just those who stay behind.

The Foundress

Last but not least, meet Emmaline Weaver.

Emmaline Weaver

Since she’s a woman, her surname won’t last very long.

Her traits are random rolled to be: Coward, Hydrophobic, Proper, Gatherer, and Light Sleeper

Those traits naturally resolved into a backstory for me, and I’ve had a lot of fun with her so far.

I want you to know that this is the first game I’ve ever played where the Proper trait was so big a deal. That curtsy greeting is the CUTEST THING EVAR.

7.34 Causality

Victoria and Jonah had a lifetime to catch up on. They spent almost all their time together. It helped that Vickie’s income came from selling her diving discoveries and had no particular schedule.

Indeed, diving was one thing they could do together. They shared a passion for the sea, and that did a lot to bridge the chasm of their life experience. Vickie was conscious that this was much more time than Jonah had ever spent out of the water. She tried not to keep him away so long that it became painful for him.

After plenty of landwalker woohoo, Jonah was eager to show Vickie the pleasures of aquatic life.

Vickie found the idea exciting.

Woohoo and the sea, two of her favorite things together? What could be better?

Jonah was certainly thrilled.

It was certainly fun, but Vickie had to admit that her dive equipment made everything a bit awkward.

In the end, they found a compromise.

It worked pretty well for them.

Edmund called.

He and Joy had found a perfect cottage. They were just starting to unpack, but he hoped to invite the family for a housewarming gathering as soon as possible.

Edmund had just had a birthday, so this would be a chance to celebrate two parts of his new life at the same time.

At around the same time, Gamora got a very different call from her father.

It was about her stepmother.

Gamora hung and immediately went go find her father. He wasn’t exactly a people person, and he wouldn’t expect to talk to anyone about Emily’s loss. Gamora knew Sawyer well enough to know he’d be wrong.

When his shift ended at the hospital, Gamora was waiting for him. “Hey Dad,” she said. “I thought tonight would be a good time to take you to dinner.”

Sawyer scowled at her. “You don’t eat,” he said. “We’ve been over that before.”

“I’ll watch you eat,” Gamora said. “That’s entertaining enough.”

The fact that he didn’t argue further was a sign of how bleak he was feeling.

Sawyer focused on his food and said very little. Gamora told him about her progress at the astronomy center. Their current focus was clearing space debris which, combined with environmentalist initiatives she was also funding, promised to keep the planet healthy for hundreds of years to come.

“You’re making good use of all that money you cheated from the future,” Sawyer said. “I hope there isn’t some causality loop that unravels all your planning.”

“I specialize in time causality, Dad,” Gamora said. “Give me a little credit here.”

Sawyer finished his meal, sat back, and looked at her. He was lost in thought, and a half smile tugged at his mouth.

Gamora smiled back and waited for him to say something.

He exploded.

“We did everything!” he cried. “Cardiac enhancement drugs. Reinforcement surgery. Experimental treatments. She had the best that medical science could offer, and her heart still failed. I couldn’t do anything because I’m a neuroscientist, not a cardiologist. The cardiologist was an idiot!”

“Dad, I think–” Gamora began.

“I could have saved her life,” Sawyer said. “I’m a world-famous neurosurgeon. I’ve saved hundreds of lives, but I didn’t get to save my own wife!”

“Dad, you did all you could,” Gamora said. “You haven’t saved everyone who came to you either. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault.”

“She died in the operating room,” Sawyer said. “I couldn’t do anything. I hate being helpless. I shouldn’t ever be helpless.”

“Emily was my lead nurse and research associate,” he said. “She worked with me on all my recent research. How can I got back without her?”

Gamora didn’t say anything. She just hugged him. He broke down and cried on her shoulder, and she held him tight. Then she took him home and stayed there so he wouldn’t be alone.

After some long talks with his daughter, Sawyer decided to retire. He purchased a new, nicer house. The two of them set to upgrading the interior with bits of technology Gamora had gleaned from the future. Sawyer didn’t seem nearly as bothered by tangling the timeline when the result cooked and cleaned for him.

Gamora wondered where all this compassion came from. Since when was she the kind of person to hold someone, even her dad, while he cried?

Maybe she was now.

Simantics: Advanced lessons in burglar fail

Another reason you didn’t see much of Edmund and Joy’s fancy dinner.

Here’s a waitress we’re totally comfortable with handling our food.

This is quite seriously the nicest I have been able to make that blow-kiss animation. I hate it. All of the Irresistible animations are pretty awful.

I wonder, now that I think about it, if one could replace this animation with the flower kiss one, which I could swear was better.

Jonah is also horrified by the skeezy faces his lover makes.

(Actually, him too. He’s also Irresistible, as it turns out. That’s one of the reasons I decided there were such fireworks between them.)

You flee under the ocean to get away from technology, and then…

And here we have a different burglar for once! Maybe the werewolf chick was at her day job.

Randal here sneaked through the dining room while the family was standing around. I should’ve gotten a better picture of it. But, you know, he was just passing through, not stealing anything.

As he left the dining room and stepped on to the porch, he suddenly realized he was supposed to steal stuff.

At this point, Jonah dashed out to panic.

And Vickie took him down.

Take that! All those finely honed scuba diving muscles must be good for something.

Vampire policeman: Never fear! I’m here to save you from this miscreant.

Vickie: You’re seriously not going to fight him now. I already handled this.

Vampire policeman: Halt, foul thief!

Jonah: I guess we’re really doing this.

Andria: Fantastic! I hate to miss a good fight.

Andria: Except one of you stinks.

Vampire policeman: Here, let me cuff you nice and tight.

And now be a good boy and walk by yourself to my patrol car while I hang out with these nice folks.

Edmund: You’re exhausted. I can handle this!

Edmund: Hmm. Let me check my notes.