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Literature / Mind Games

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Magic! Catgirls! Magical Catgirls!

Mind Games is the first book in a series, wherein one Saturday morning the main characters wake up to find that all of a sudden magic works, electronics don't, and hilarity is about to ensue. (Assuming you find fifteen-foot long rattlesnakes, bears the size of mini-vans, and the fact that everyone on Earth now has quantifiable stats, a Class, and no clue what to do next hilarious.) Something which calls itself the "System" starts communicating with everyone in the world, giving them messages and allowing them to access an RPG-style interface which includes stat attributes, magical abilities called Skills and Spells, and the ability to gain levels and become more powerful.

Mind Games provides examples of:

  • Ability Depletion Penalty: Running out of Mana causes dizziness, fatigue, and incapacitation. James pushes even further and suffers a Power-Strain Blackout and a temporary penalty to anything he does with Mana.
  • Aliens of London: When someone uses the System to learn a language they don't already speak, they will speak it in the manner most common in the location they learned it. This results in things like elves and dwarves with Tennessee accents.
  • Animal Species Accent: Danielle, when in her Magical Catgirl form, ends random sentences with "nya" and uses cat puns like "I'm purr-fectly aware." She doesn't even know she's doing this; the System makes her do it unconsciously.
  • Background Magic Field: "Mana" pervades the entire Earth and everything on it, not only empowering humans to use magic, but even making their bodies physically more resistant to damage and able to heal from nearly any injury.
  • Dance Battler: Danielle, whose class is "Shadow Dancer." Somewhat negated by the fact that when she's mad she tends to not be so much the "Ninja" kind of Cat Girl as the "fighting her is like falling into an angry blender" kind.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: More than once, someone is so captivated by Danielle's inhumanly high Charisma that they forget how to talk for a minute. This hits James especially hard when she's in Cat Girl form.
  • Elfeminate: After "elves" start emigrating to Earth later in the story, it is observed that they are "just as pretty as Legolas" and that one of them flicks his hair around as if he were in a shampoo commercial.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The disruption to transportation and communications networks, along with the fact that wildlife starts mutating into hideously dangerous monsters, immediately causes widespread disruption. Though the novel only takes place during the first few days of the event it is implied that this will take human civilization down several pegs. It's outright stated that half of all the people on Earth die within the first twenty-four hours, though the deaths are not very evenly distributed.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: When the other characters see Danielle for the first time after her Charisma boost, even the other women in the group are a little affected by her demigoddess-level Charisma.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: The first time Anthony sees James after James gets a Charisma boost, Anthony says, "I'm straight as a ruler and you're looking kinda tasty."
  • Genre Blindness: Susan is so determined not to acknowledge what's happening despite Joe, Anthony and James trying to explain it to her that she refuses to leave the cabin and is presumably eaten by monsters.
  • Genre Savvy: Joe, Anthony, and James are all experienced gamers, and immediately see the parallels between the System and traditional role-playing-games, to the group and later the town's great benefit. Somewhat avoided when the characters realize the System may just be trying to find a metaphor they can use to understand what it can do, and it may not actually work like an RPG at all. Lampshaded by both Joe and James at different points. ("You had to say it, didn't you?'')
  • Has a Type: James is so into Catgirls that the System gives the girl he likes the ability to change into one. Of course, she's just as into geeky men, and it's not like she doesn't get anything out of the ability.
  • Mass Hypnosis: The description on several of James's Class Skills says that anyone who can "hear and understand" what they are saying will be affected by them. Given the apparent power of the System, this could include an unknown number of people at an unknown potential distance.
  • More than Mind Control: James has high Charisma and the benefits of his Mesmerist Class Skill "Indirect Suggestion", which makes it very, very difficult not to see things his way even if he's not directly trying to make someone do something.
  • Natural Weapon: Danielle's claws when she's in Cat Girl form are so sharp that they actually count as System weapons, which means they're more dangerous than guns to System-empowered beings.
  • No Periods, Period: When Anthony questions Danielle's sudden confidence that she smells blood at the scene of a disappearance once she changes to her Cat Girl form (which has superior senses,) she gives him a Look and says, “I know what blood smells like. I’m a girl, remember?” He has the grace, or perhaps just the youth, to be embarrassed about it.
  • Power Equals Rarity:
    • The System awards "Titles" to people when they do something unusual. Since Titles grant benefits (for instance, if someone gets the title Adamant for saving someone’s life by nearly losing their own, they become much harder to kill) they are much prized and beings who have them are much respected. The harder it was to get the Title, the rarer it is, and the rarer it is, the more benefits it grants. Two of the main characters have Unique Titles which grant absolutely ludicrous benefits.
    • Similarly, one of them has a System Class no one else has, and the other has a System Skill no one else has (the Titles are for being the first to ever have the System Class/System Skill, which is why this combination is basically winning the Superpower Lottery.)
  • Power Perversion Potential: One of the characters gains a special Class called "Mesmerist." The System Message the System uses to tell them about the Class explicitly says that this is a new Class, unique to humans, and the people creating the System Messages are horrified by its potential. Among other Class Skills available to the class, they obtain one called "Instant Induction," which allows them to put people in a hypnotic trance and give them post-hypnotic suggestions whether they want to be hypnotized or not. Since it's strongly implied the whole reason the character likes hypnosis in the first place is because they think it's hot, the Perversion Potential is off the charts.
  • Power-Up Food: Eating the flesh of "monsters," i.e. animals which have absorbed Mana and become empowered by it, can grant temporary buffs. For instance, eating the meat of a giant bear gives the main characters a temporary boost to Constitution and thus more Hit Points.
  • RPG Mechanics 'Verse: The "System" imposes RPG-style mechanics onto everybody and everything. At one point, it is revealed that even things like empty water bottles and rocks have hit points.
  • Running Gag:
    • Whenever James does something that irritates Danielle, or she thinks he's getting too full of himself, she socks him in the shoulder. He tries to duck but her Dexterity is so high that it's utterly useless: she always hits him, in the exact same spot every time.
    • The most common cause of this happening is James using a pop culture quote about something related to the System, such as when he responds to someone who says that something "is the strangest thing I've ever heard," by saying, "Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."
  • The Six Stats: The System quantifies those aspects of a person which can be enhanced by using it, at least in the minds of the characters in the book, as exactly these.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Most of the people we meet in the story were asleep at System Start, which happened at 7 AM local time on a Saturday. That means they didn't see the original System announcements and have no idea what's going on.
  • Smells Sexy: When she's in her Cat Girl form, Danielle claims this is how James smells, even if he's covered with dirt and blood. "Those smells are around you. You smell like you and you smell so good."
  • Sudden Game Interface: Everyone on Earth gets a character sheet and starts receiving message from the System.
  • Superpower Lottery:
    • James is the first person ever with his particular System Class title. The System itself seems to be somewhat worried about the potential of this power despite giving him a ginormous Charisma boost and doubling the effectiveness of his powers. In combination with his Demi-god level Charisma and his Class Skill "Indirect Suggestion", he can pull off More than Mind Control. Things get really ridiculous when he gets his second Unique Title, which gives him another Charisma boast and cuts his Mana requirements to use his powers by half and doubles their effectiveness again, meaning that for as long as his Mana holds out, he can put the whammy on almost any being in the System.
    • Danielle has high Dexterity, the potential to be an assassin, and so-high-it's-dangerous Charisma. The special abilities granted by her Unique Title "Nekoprima" make her literally the only person on Earth who has them.
    • Most of the main characters, due to their bonus Perks for being in a dangerous high-Mana area at System Start, have one or more extremely powerful abilities that are indisputably OP for their levels. They also get a gigantic level boost when they accidentally complete a Hidden Quest that dumps a metric truckload of Experience Points on them.
  • Trigger Phrase: Danielle can only assume her Magical Catgirl form with the help of a Mesmerist. Fortunately, James is a Mesmerist, and he implants her with a trigger phrase both for becoming a Magical Catgirl and for becoming human again. However, because James has a weird sense of humor, the phrases are, respectively, "Here, kitty kitty" to transform to a catgirl and "byebye, kitty" to change back to a human. Danielle is not amused.
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: Inverted. Danielle does this trick to demonstrate her inhuman Dexterity to someone who doesn't believe how powerful she is by grabbing the "pebble" (actually a small pocketknife) without even looking at it before they can close their hand around it.