Underworld Playerchapter 19: stats befitting a cripple

Due to the depth of his addiction to video games, Bai Zhi was cripplingly antisocial, but online, at least, he had managed to make a few friends.

These were invariably people whom he met through his games—all netizens, deeply rooted in online culture. The person going by [ Infinite Divine Wing ] who had just invited him to play was one such netizen.

After chatting briefly to prove that he was not dead, Bai Zhi turned his full attention to understanding the Player system.

Similar to most MMO* games, this interface, which was only visible to himself, was plain-looking, with seven panels: [ Player Information ], [ Attributes ], [ Skills ], [ Inventory ], [ Marketplace ], [ Auction ], and [ Quests ], respectively.

The [ Player Information ] panel proved extremely sparse.

[ Player Name: Bai Zhi ]

[ Player ID: KM4553*****352 ]

[ Handle: ___ ]

[ Age: 18 ]

[ Race: Human ]

[ P. Level: 1 ]

[ Experience: 50/100 ]

[ Coins: 0 ]

That was all.

Bai Zhi noticed the fourth-last line and realized something. "Race... So Players can be something other than human?"

"Handle..." Bai Zhi struggled for a moment—naming things always stumped him. Finally, he decided simply to use his handle on QQ.


A reminder message popped up before him.

[ You won't be able to change your handle. Are you sure? ]

A quick tap of the OK button, and Bai Zhi was done setting up his account in this dangerous game with the world as its arena. Next, he turned his attention to the panel that most intrigued him—the Attributes panel.

Attribute panels seemed to be a feature common to all games, and allowed players to get a good grasp of their basic capabilities at a glance.

Bai Zhi was quite eager to know what his capabilities were, in numerical terms.

The Attributes panel was noticeably more interesting than the Player Information panel, and it showed seven attributes: Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Constitution (CON), Intelligence (INT), Perception (PER), Charisma (CHA) and Sanity (SAN).

The first three attributes were easily understood—they reflected the speed of his reflexes and how well-developed his muscles were. Naturally, these numbers would be much higher for someone like a national athlete than for the average person, and conversely, a homebody who spent all their time gaming would have abysmal values in these attributes.

Just as the top three attributes described a Player's external traits, the next three—Intelligence, Perception and Charisma—described internal traits. Intelligence needed no explanation, while Perception was an attribute that represented a kind of sensitivity to danger—what some might call a sixth sense. The higher a Player's Perception, the stronger their ability to detect the presence of supernatural entities would be.

As for Charisma, that was purely based on the Player's looks—of course Bai Zhi would have it in spades. However, he could not make sense of the last attribute, Sanity, and the Attributes panel provided no explanation.

A 10 for each attribute was equivalent to the average capability of a middle-aged man. Anything below a 5 was considered an impairment, while a 15 represented the upper limits of what a normal human being could achieve. Bai Zhi's stats were as follows:

[ STR: 7 ]

[ DEX: 8 ]

[ CON: 6 ]

[ INT: 15 ]

[ PER: 13 ]

[ CHA: 15 ]

[ SAN: ??? ]

The sight of such skewed stats sent a shock through Bai Zhi.

He accepted that his Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution—the three major attributes—were below average, but for his Constitution to be only one point shy of basically being a cripple was ridiculous...

On the other hand, getting maximum values in Intelligence and Charisma didn't surprise him in the least. After all, he had always fancied himself a genius, while the "Bai Zhi" of this world was handsome enough to score seven girlfriends in three months, despite how much of a scumbag he was. Finally, the fact that he had a Perception of 13 shed some light on why he had attracted the attention of two supernatural entities in a row.

His Sanity attribute confounded him because there wasn't even a value assigned to it...

From Level 1 to 10, Players earned one attribute point per level, whereas from Level 11 to 20, they would earn two points per level, which they could spend to enhance any of their seven attributes.

In this system, a Player's base stats were not fixed—they reflected the Player's current condition, thus could improve with training, or deteriorate with poor lifestyle choices, as the case may be. The points added on to enhance each attribute would not change, however.

It made perfect sense. People who spent time training at the gym or running long distances inevitably saw improvements to their strength and stamina. With enough determination, it was possible to get one's Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution up to 15, that being the upper limit of what was humanly possible. Further enhancing them with bonus attribute points would allow a Player to surpass those limits.

So, the enhancement from bonus points could even allow a crippled person to raise their attributes to normal levels. And a Player gets a total of 10 points by Level 10... if they started with a 10 in any attribute, even a normal player could practically be superhuman once they reached Level 10...

As he silently contemplated the implications of everything he learnt, Bai Zhi began to feel an inexplicable sense of urgency.

From Level 1 to Level 10, Players would be given an attribute point every level, which they could spend freely. Even someone like him who was practically an invalid in physical terms could, by getting to Level 10, use those points to become the pinnacle of human perfection.

If that was possible at Level 10, then what about Level 20? According to the rules, a Player would get 20 attribute points just by going from Level 10 to Level 20. Since the game had been going on for three months, Bai Zhi was sure that the highest leveled players would have surpassed Level 10. Just how many One Punch Men and Sweeping Monks** were hidden amongst the billions of people in the world?

"I wonder what levels those three Players were..."

The memory of Wu Hua's powerful blow, which had been strong enough to send the little boy flying and leave him completely incapacitated, gave Bai Zhi a feeling of pressure.

Even with the number of high-level Players out there, there continued to be breakouts of supernatural incidents, meaning humanity was always on the defensive. The number of entities classified as Impossible would continue to increase with time, slowly but surely...

This world was far more dangerous than Bai Zhi ever imagined.

*Massively Multiplayer Online (game) - Online video games with a large number of players on the same server. MMOs usually feature a huge, persistent open worlds. E.g. Minecraft, WoW, SAO (fictional)

**Reference to a character featured in the Jin Yong novel "Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils" (天龙八部), an unnamed Monk whose main responsibility is sweeping the floors, but is discovered to have unsurpassed martial arts prowess.