We are here now in the Lost Lands of Gondwalla with the Wyrm, for an interview that was arranged through intermediaries. Thank you for inviting us.

“You are welcome, thank you for agreeing to this. It’s surprising how many reporters don’t.”

You DO have a reputation as a criminal, murderer, and terrorist.

“All true, but there are no examples of me violating my word when given. Wealth and power are useless without a social system to utilize them, and those systems generally operate best with a level of demonstrated trustworthiness.”

Let’s start with this. ‘The Wyrm.’ Why that name?

“At its core, Wyrm is another word for serpent. In the Bible, which is among my favorite bits of mythology, the serpent proves that God is keeping secrets from mankind, and thus making man vulnerable. If God had told Adam and Eve why they should avoid the tree of knowledge, what it would do to them, they could have made a rational choice. Instead, like abstinence-only sex education, he depends on total obedience to be enough to protect those less developed, less educated, than himself. I am a creature of knowledge, and planning, and open information. I am the Wyrm.
“The word ‘wyrm’ has also come to mean dragon in many cases, of course. Dragons are classically creatures of power and wealth. Who wouldn’t want to be compared to such a creature?”

It’s been suggested you took the name because when cut in half, there end up being two of you.

“Ugh. That’s been suggested by one specific idiot, and it’s a gross simplification. It is true that I react to overloads of force, kinetic force included, by forming an additional temporary physical vessel. I’m a third-generation Boomer. That is not the same as ‘being cut in half,’ which if it actually happened to my core body would leave me as dead as anyone else.”

Very well, we’ll get back to the owner of that quote in a bit. Before that, we must confess to surprise that you agreed to an interview. Why do it?

“Why? Many reasons, one of which is because the league of idiots who wish to ‘bring me to justice’ have done more damage to the public, and cost them more money, then I ever have, and I wanted an opportunity to declare I’m not responsible for their excesses or obsessions. And here there’s no risk to me, personally. Gondwana is a sovereign nation that does not recognize the warrants or extradition requests of other nations, and I am held in high regard by the Shaman Supreme of this land. Indeed, it is at my request you were granted safe passage.”

Which we appreciate, though it may impact the reception of this interview. Most people doubt that Gondwana, or its Shaman Supreme, even exist.

“Most people can’t grasp the gambler’s fallacy, and think they are free of cognitive bias, which is itself a bias. I stopped worrying about what ‘most people’ think before I performed my first operation.”

Indeed. And you call them ‘operations’ instead of ‘crimes.’ Why is that? Do you not think of your acts as criminal?

“Oh no, they are absolutely criminal. I’m not fooling myself about anything in that regard. I just don’t CARE that they are crimes, for the same reason I do not care about the opinions of others. My own Zen requires only that I look to care for myself to the best of my ability, and I often discover that my best interests are served by arranging for me to benefit at the detriment of others. If I were less able, I’d likely think that obeying the artificial constructs of law and morality western society clings to would serve me better.
“No, I only call them operations because that is the fact that’s relevant. A crime can be simple, complex, heinous, or petty. None of that tells you anything about how to be successful in committing it. An operation is, by its nature, a delicate matter requiring planning and skill. That’s the thing I never want myself, or my agents, to forget.”

Interesting. It also seems, despite your apparent comfort here in Gondwalla, that a majority of your operations occur in Gulf City. Why is that?

“That belief is a matter of confirmation bias. Actually, fewer than 40% of my total operations occur in Gulf City. However, because that place is plagued by idiots who have decided Ahab is a role model, and I am their Great White Whale, people remember things involving me in Gulf City longer than they remember other things. They also assume I am involved in mysterious Gulf City events when I’m not.”

Care to give an example of an occurrence misattributed to you?

“One? Certainly. I had nothing to do with the 2009 sea serpent attack on the city, or the looting that followed. Indeed, the people who launched the attack had nothing to do with the subsequent looting, that was mostly petty criminals and panicking local citizens.”

And yet when that was reported as the Sea Wyrm War, you did nothing to correct the record?

“Reported by whom? By members of my own personal Star Chamber, who seek to vilify and persecute me in everything they do, lead by ‘that idiot.’ These are people who are clearly unbalanced, but are given endless credibility despite their obvious mental illnesses.”

The heroes sometimes known as your personal Star Chamber are a bit eccentric, it’s true, but are you serious in characterizing them as mentally ill?

“That you, a serious reporter who I respect or I wouldn’t have bothered setting this up, feel the need to ask that question is proof of just how bad the cognitive dissonance in America is. Let’s consider who these people are.
“Early Bird. I shouldn’t even have to explain how crazed you have to be to think calling yourself ‘Early Bird’ is a rational course of action. The man dresses in a feathered cape and cowl, and claims to be the world’s greatest detective. If that were the case, wouldn’t he have found a way to deal with least a FEW of his major foes? Yet year after year, we keep committing crimes and making profits. Believe me, paying dozens of mooks, building secret bases in abandoned amusement parks and old canneries, having custom helicopters made, and sponsoring the creation of new ray guns and chemical weapons takes vast quantities of money. If any of Early Bird’s major foes were being inconvenienced by his supposedly vast detective skills, we wouldn’t be able to afford these things. And in that regard my own efforts are quite modest—I pay for only those things I need to succeed at operations with a reasonable chance of bringing in significantly greater sums of money than they cost. I’m convinced some of Early Bird’s foes spend money just to mock him. I shudder to think how much Enigma spends on needless complexities just to confuse the Feathered Crime-Fighter, but Mr. Iddle is as crazy as Early Bird.
“Also, Early Bird keeps doing the same thing in hopes of different outcomes, the textbook definition of insanity. And what has the response to Early Bird been? Aside from some mocking Korean animated news reports, he’s hailed as a hero. Not to mention the copycats who have followed in his insanity: Ladybird, Early Warning, and the rest of the so-called Dawn Patrol. These people actually get up early, to fight crime. Do you know what percentage of crime occurs in the early daylight hours? I do, and it’s not much. They are all suffering mass dementia. Even the idea of the hero patrol is ridiculous – it’s virtually impossible for a few dozen people to cover enough ground in a major city to hope to randomly come across a crime. They’d be better served setting up community watches, rather than wondering around on their own or in groups of 2.
“But at least Early Bird is seen as “eccentric,” as you noted. Many of the rest of my personal Star Chamber are worse. The Hook is at least as insane, but because he’s willing to kill people with an indestructible metal hook and his own wounds heal quickly, the public accepts him as some kind of serious vigilante. And who does this sadist spend time with? Bait. Not only is Hook and Bait a terrible motif, I happen to know Bait is 14. It’s bad enough that ANYONE thinks it’s a good idea to put a girl in a tunic, bare legs, and pixie shoes and send her out to fight crime, but her name is BAIT for goodness sake.
“The rest of the Chamber are no better. Jumping Jack truly is the world’s finest leaper, but I have no idea how that is supposed to qualify him to serve the public interest by violating laws on stalking, breaking and entering, and fraud. Karna? He believes he is possessed by the actual Karna from the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, and whether that is true or not he shoots people with a bow, hangs them off buildings and threatens to drop them as a form of inquisition, and swaps back and forth between razor-heads and a selection of technological arrows that are less-lethal ammunition. He’s clearly schizophrenic, likely suffering PTSD, and is a confirmed torturer. Miss Amazing? First, calling yourself that is a sign of megalomania. Second, she constantly creates some of the most spectacular technology anyone has ever seen for her crime-fighting efforts, and she owns a multibillion-dollar company, but nothing she has created ever actually improved the lives of any significant number of people. Poverty, crime rates, disease, all move along the same trends that have more to do with the availability of education and abortion (as increased abortion availability reduces crime rates 16-20 years later, in every case) than with anything Amazing Inc. releases. So… what she is really spending her time and money on, other than self-aggrandizing hobbies?
“But if these clearly-insane people say I, who has never been found in a single lie and has no connection to the sea, or giant monsters, was responsible for a sea serpent attack and the subsequent looting, no one even QUESTIONS that narrative.
“It makes me weep for humanity in general, and Gulf City in particular.”

That’s… that’s an interesting point of view. We can’t help but note it seems fairly self-serving.

“Your skepticism is appreciated, truly. You are a reporter, that’s your job. But what part of THEIR narratives aren’t self-serving?”

We… don’t have a ready answer for that.

“No, you don’t. I am a self-confessed criminal. I make no bones about it. But my so-called Star Chamber of Heroes is a true menace, and someone needs to hold them accountable.”

And is that the true purpose of calling us here, for this interview?

“What? Oh, no. Well, one purpose yes, of course. But secondary at most.”

Then what was the primary purpose?

“I knew one of those Star Chamber idiots would be unable to resist taking the opportunity to attempt to ‘bring me to justice,’ in contravention of international law. As we speak, Early Bird has a stealth Whirlybird violating Gondwalla airspace, with which he intends to kidnap me and bring me to the U.S. illegally.”

How did he know the exact time and place of this meeting? He didn’t learn it from any leak in our organization, I assure…

“No, of course not. Instead, Miss Amazing assisted him in hacking into every cell phone in the Greater Gulf City Metropolitan Area, and your branch office there forwarded the call to you when my agents originally contacted you. Those two ‘heroes’ have violated the privacy of five-and-a-half million people, and can now do whatever their own private morals allow with that data.
“But somehow, I am the great menace.
“In any case, now that they are angering the Shaman Supreme, my most important goal here is done. But this secondary operation has been successful as well. Because what I have said here will sit with you. It will eat its way into your brain, and make you see the world differently.
“Like a wyrm.”

About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on September 10, 2015, in Short Fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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