Side Story: Gacha Games — Part 1
“Well, Nell, it’s time.”
“Time? Time for what?” Nell blinked in confusion as she attempted to react to my out-of-context statement.
“Time for you to drop the whole deaf protagonist meme and roll a goddamn gacha, that’s what.”
“Oh, it’s not that I didn’t hear you. I’m just not really sure what you mean,” she said. “And what’s a meme?”
I wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of explaining a meme to her, as it was sure to lead only to even more explanations and potentially even cause an issue or two if I had to go in depth, so I decided to hope she was fine with being left in the dark and move on.
“A gacha’s a gacha, of course,” I said, a matter-of-factly. “You can see the menu and whatnot, right?”
“I-I think so. Are you talking about the thing that appears when you use your, er, I mean the dungeon’s powers?”
“Yup. So one of the things the menu lets you do is access a power known as the gachapon, or gacha for short. It’s basically capable of churning out all sorts of different items, and all you gotta do to activate it is pay,” I explained. “It’s how we got Rir.”
“Wow… That sounds incredible.”
She held a high opinion of Rir. Learning of his origins had effectively put the gacha on a pedestal.
“Yeah, gachas are awesome. But they’re just about as fearsome as they are rewarding. Countless whales have found themselves entranced by its potential, only to have their hopes, dreams, and livelihoods burnt away in a blaze of glory.”
“D-does that mean gachas can set things on fire?”
“Yeah. It does,” I said with a solemn nod. “You have to be ready to make some pretty hefty sacrifices if you want to get anything decent. It’s both a blessing and a bottomless, micro-transaction based hell filled with nothing but anxiety and nerdrage. Those that lack the luck to succeed are forever left to rot in purgatory’s flames…”
Nell seemed to sense that I needed a moment to reflect. Though overwhelmed by information, she did nothing but look on as I directed my eyes to a faraway place and offered a moment of silence. You know, thinking back, I’m pretty sure my shitty luck stat is something I carried over from my last life. I’d always thought that my bad luck couldn’t possibly last forever, so I kept rolling and rolling and rolling until I realized that RNGesus had forsaken me, and that the gacha had been a trap all along. Fuck man, never again. The only SSRs I ever got were either dupes or total trash. And it was all my fault. I always kept rolling even though I knew nothing good was going to come out of it.
After taking a deep breath to chase away the spectres of negativity hovering over my darkest memories, I cleared my throat and got back to speaking to Nell.
“Don’t worry Nell. You won’t end up like them. Your luck stat is the highest I’ve ever seen.”
“Uhm… Do I really have to? I’d really rather not do something that scary…”
“Sure, the gacha’s terrifying, but it’s nothing you have to worry about. We’re not going to be screwing ourselves over by using credit cards and not watching our spending,” I said. “We’re going to be using a specific set of funds I set aside for this exact scenario. Your luck and my wallet are all we’ll need to succeed.” I gave her an encouraging pat on the back. “Come on, just try giving it a shot.”
“D-do I really have to?”
“Come on. You got this. Don’t let my dreams be dreams. Just do it!”
“A-are you sure? Because you’re acting a bit weird, and it’s kind of concerning… but… alright.” Nell wasn’t all that willing to go along with my little scheme, but she wasn’t able to turn me down given the extent of my enthusiasm, which had led me to act much like a certain rather famous individual. “I don’t think you would be pressuring me into doing it if it really was as dangerous as you made it sound, so I’ll at least give it a try,” she said. “So what exactly do I need to do?”
I popped open the menu and navigated to the gacha page as soon as she agreed. Nothing had changed since the last time I visited it. There were still just four options. From smallest to largest, their costs were a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, and a hundred thousand DP respectively. The plan was for her to roll the most expensive gacha once, pop a couple spins into the second, and then drop down one more tier and go for another few dozen.
The financial decision I was about to make was, frankly, so awful it terrified me. A hundred thousand DP was enough for me to straight up buy some of the catalog’s more powerful monsters, as well as more than enough for us to live off for three whole months. One fifth of all the DP I’d saved up was about to vanish the moment she pressed the roll button. But that shit ain’t gonna stop me. I’m a goddamn demon lord. And there ain’t no demon lord dumb enough to let a chance like this, risky as it is, slip right through his fingers. Putting ourselves at risk and treading dangerous paths are both a part of our everyday lives! That’s why we’re dreamers! That’s why we’re demon lords! That’s why we’re true gamblers! Mwahahahahahah!
“Is tapping this all I have to do?” she asked, with her hand hovering over the roll button.
“Fuck yeah! Legggoooooooooooooooooo!”
“W-what the heck!? Don’t scream like that!” she glared at me after reacting with a start, but went ahead and pushed the button regardless.
And then, there was silence.
One moment passed.
And then two.
But nothing changed.
“Huh…?” I cocked a brow.
“It doesn’t look like anything’s happening,” said Nell.
“That’s… weird. I’m pretty sure there should’ve been a whole bunch of light…”
Normally, rolling the gacha would cause a bunch of light to come together in order to form whatever it was the machine spat out. But this time, there was none. Don’t tell me it was a total dud…
“T-there’s no way we’d get literally nothing from a whole hundred thousand DP, is there…?” I groaned.
“Oh! Look at the little panel thingy! It looks like some symbols have shown up.”
Nell’s voice pulled me from my despair fueled trance and directed my eyes towards the menu. Right! I almost forgot there was supposed to be a results page.
The text that had popped up on screen said, You have received a Waterfall Hot Spring.
“A waterfall hot spring…?” I muttered.
“Ohhh… Those symbols were letters? Wow, I’ve seen them several times now, but I never realized,” said Nell. “They seem really extravagant for letters.”
Wait… Does this mean what I think it does? No fucking way!
Sure enough, working my way through the menus confirmed that my suspicions were on point.
“Holy shit! You just straight up won us a new facility!” I shouted excitedly. The waterfall hot spring now sat at the top of the facilities tab and featured a beautiful net cost: 0. “Follow me! We need to go check this shit out right now!” I grabbed her by the hand and dragged her over to the door, which I promptly manipulated in order to ensure that it would teleport us outside the castle.
“Wait! Yuki! Hold on!” she tried to get my attention, but I was too distracted to process her words. “…You’re not listening to me, are you?” She sighed. “And I’m pretty sure you’re going to stay that way, with how excited you are. Fine… I’ll tag along.”
With an expression that mixed happiness with exasperation, she followed me through the door and joined me on my quest to place the dungeon’s newest asset.
“Fuck! Yes!” I dropped to my knees and shook my fists at the air as I roared in excitement. The waterfall that had formed before my eyes, and the reservoir it fed into was exactly as I had imagined.
I didn’t even need to enter it to know that it was nice, warm and toasty. The steam wafting off the newly constructed pool told me that it was bath-ready at any moment. Though it was a bit on the smaller side, the waterfall was still an incredibly impressive and majestic sight. The basin it fed into was large enough to accommodate more than ten full-grown adults at the same time with ease. It was a tiny bit too shallow to play around in, but it seemed just right given that its intended purpose was bathing.
“It’s so… splendid,” I slowly got to my feet after taking a full moment to offer the new facility the appreciation it deserved.
The waterfall was a financial win. After browsing around in the catalog, I discovered that its regular cost was well over the hundred thousand DP we’d paid for it. Naturally, it had to be much more than what it seemed at a glance to be worth its price tag, and it certainly was. Its greatest properties were its special effects. It was capable of beautification, the rejuvenation of one’s youth, the acceleration of one’s metabolism, and recovering both HP and MP. These five effects alone were already enough for me to think that the item was worth it. But then I saw the last two.
Permanent increases to health and mana.
Sitting around in the hot spring was all one needed to do to perpetually boost not one, but two base stats. The rate at which it did this, one point every thirty minutes, seemed rather slow at first, but then I considered its impact over a longer time period. Using it for a few dozen years, or perhaps even a few centuries or millenia, for those with longer life spans, would lead to some crazy numerical advantages. I was immediately convinced that taking the future into consideration made our newest acquisition just as valuable as Rir. Because, as one of the dungeon’s facilities, it was sure to stay as long as the core remained, which meant that, as far as I was concerned, it was permanent. That’s a hero’s luck for you. No wonder people worship them.
Nell made a rather motherly face as she watched me get all worked up about our newest addition.
“You sure do like your baths,” she said with a sigh. “I can’t really say I don’t feel the same way about them anymore. Life without easy access to one is going to be much harder than it was before.”
“Alright Nell, lemme tell you something special real quick.”
“Uhm… sure… What is it?”
“You see, I’m what we call Japanese. All of us like baths. That’s just how it works.”
That’s just how do when you live in a country that’s both hot and humid. This time, I felt as if my reaction was perfectly reasonable given the country of my birth. I highly doubted that any true Japanese citizen could have possibly reacted any differently to suddenly getting a huge spring installed right in their home. The only Japanese people incapable of understanding the sentiment are anti-nationalist extremists. Period. This is how we identify terrorists and coups and shit.
“You’re Japanese? What does that mean? Is it just another way for you to say that you’re a demon lord?”
I edited the area around the hotspring as we chatted. Specifically, I added some nice rocky terrain, a path made out of stepping stones, and a small forest. I’d originally wanted the forest to be made of bamboo, but bamboo was far too expensive, so I replaced it with some small, thin trees instead.
“W-wow… that’s incredible,” said Nell, eyes wide. “It seemed a bit bland earlier, but now it’s become something like a fancy resort!”
After seeing the elegant, refined style I pulled from my mind, even Nell began getting a bit excited. Heh. I’m the goddamn Demon Lord of Creativity. This is nuthin’.
“Alright, setup complete! Let’s head back to the true throne room, grease up the wheel, and get the gacha rolling again.”