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by Seuzz
Rated: 18+ · Book · Other · #2156493
A hub for the "Book of Masks" universe.
The Interactives
"The Book of Masks: A high school student discovers a grimoire that can make magical disguises.
"The Wandering Stars: Sequel to "The Book of Masks."
"Student Bodies: A high school student is turned into a blue goo that can possess people.

For non-WdC Members
"The Book of Masks: Archives: Dodges the "Servers Busy" barrier!
"The Book of Masks (Abridged): Introductory storylines for new readers.

"BoM/TWS Message Forum: Community for readers of the interactives.
"BoM/TWS/SB Wiki: Notes and documentation for authors. Spoilers!

Current Polls

The Latest
2/25: Interactive: "Bros and Hos
2/25: Public: "Bros and Hos
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February 22, 2024 at 12:48pm
February 22, 2024 at 12:48pm
There have been a few hiccups over the past few days with my posting schedule, you might have noticed. Nothing serious. Just hiccups.

It's been a couple of things: A few bad nights that destroyed my ability to concentrate, so that I didn't have anything prepared. Yesterday I did have a chapter for you (the one I published today) but I got in deep writing something else, and the time got completely away from me.

And this storyline is evolving in ways I couldn't have predicted, and sometimes that means I'm stuck for an idea, because I've wandered into a cul-de-sac. So there's a chance of a few more hiccups.

But I've no intention of doing a weeks-long fade.
February 12, 2024 at 12:38pm
February 12, 2024 at 12:38pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "From Plan B to Plan C
* Entry: "From Plan B to Plan C

—is a cheap bait-and-switch, I know. The choice was to "circle back" to previous choices, but the story shouldn't reward procrastinators, so any reader who won't go for the first four choices offered deserves to be pitched into something quite different.

Next up:

I closed a poll yesterday, asking if you wanted a story where Will worked as the senior, junior, or equal partner with someone else. The victory narrowly went to "Senior Partner", by 40% - 30% - 30%. So tomorrow I'm going to return to a storyline where Will is in the most senior position possible: "A Junior Partner

That's the "doppelganger" storyline, where Will has replaced half a dozen classmates with duplicates, and aims to replace a lot more after getting himself some junior partners. So, disguised as Chelsea Cooper, he has recruited ex-cheerleader Michelle Estrich as a partner, and they have replaced Christine Miles, an arrogant bitch in the junior class who has it in for Michelle and her friends. Michelle gets to pick two more people to replace, while Will (as Chelsea) is going to pick three. Michelle has just sent Will the names of five people she wants to replace, giving Will the chance to steer her to one of them ...

EDIT: I have a few authorial notes about the just concluded storyline, in "Re: Commentary: "Just the Typical Hollywood Story""  
February 8, 2024 at 12:13pm
February 8, 2024 at 12:13pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Theater of One
* Public: "Theater of One

—continues the Hollywood arc and it ends in a choice, but I'm not going to post a poll. My original plan had been to end today's chapter with five possible choices, but I didn't have time to set up five choices without just doing an exposition dump. So I'm going to string things out over one or two (or three?) more chapters. So tomorrow (if things work out) should bring a sequel on the "Just envy" choice. I'll suspend this branch once at least five choices have been set up.
February 7, 2024 at 1:05pm
February 7, 2024 at 1:05pm
I think today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Hook and Haul
* Public: "Hook and Haul

—is going to bring the "Party of Five" branch to a halt, at least temporarily. Tomorrow I hope to have a sequel to "School Survey

Oh, right, there a poll that went with that one.

"Snag a student" had a solid lead for most of the time, but GPs and a last minute surge gave the final victory to "One of Gianna's outside friends." Final tally:

* Outside friend: 43%
* Student: 41%
* Teacher: 16%

So, now I have to invent some outside friends for Gianna Johns!

* * *

A few weeks ago I polled readers on what kind of story they wanted to see next, but I forgot to do a follow-up poll. Well, the follow-up is finally up. You can find it here: [Poll completed and deleted.]
February 3, 2024 at 12:27pm
February 3, 2024 at 12:27pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Party of Five, Chapter 18
* Public: "Party of Five, Chapter 18

concludes the "Party of Five" story-within-the-story. It was fun to write (well, adapt). I hope it was also fun to read.

I should have posted another "Hollywood" chapter before concluding "Party of Five," but some scheduling conflicts and one night of insomnia destroyed three consecutive days of writing time, so I had to fill it with "Party of Five" nonsense, and by the time I'd recovered my footing "Party of Five" was so close to concluding that it just seemed best to finish it off. But tomorrow will bring another "Hollywood" chapter (as voted for, the "Wait" option, which won with a GP-adjusted 44% of the vote) along with another poll. Then my plan is to follow with a few more sequel chapters in the "Party of Five" branch that will extend Will's shenanigans vis-a-vis Sean, before capping the Hollywood branch with one last chapter.

And after that? I'm not sure. I'll have to look around.

EDIT: There's a commentary thread on the story in the forums now: "Commentary: "Party of Five""  
January 28, 2024 at 12:32pm
January 28, 2024 at 12:32pm
Latest chapter in the Hollywood saga is up:

* Interactive: "NIght Blooms
* Entry: "Night Blooms

There's a poll, too: [Poll completed and deleted]

I'm really having to improvise, and am doing so by very slowly adding details. Hence, only one of the four choices specifically points in a direction of development; the other three are just placeholders.

Which is fine. I don't want to try to invent THE WHOLE HIGH SCHOOL all at once. Each of the three non-specific choices will likely branch out into one or two specific choices and three or four non-specific choices, which will further branch out into, etc. That way there are lots of paths via which lots of nooks and crannies can be individually explored, if it comes to it.
January 27, 2024 at 12:04pm
January 27, 2024 at 12:04pm
Latest chapter in "Party of Five" is up:

* Interactive: "Party of Five, Chapter 13
* Public: "Party of Five, Chapter 13

The latest poll, for "The Life of Gianna Johns, is closed. The results were very close, so I held off on writing a chapter, until the GPs started to roll in late yesterday. Final percentages:

* Spend the night here: 64%
* Go home: 36%

So I'll get on that.
January 25, 2024 at 12:24pm
January 25, 2024 at 12:24pm
The last poll ended with a 59-41 victory for the "Drive out to see Sydney" choice. The vote was even wider in the Free Poll, but because GPs were in the mix, I held off until this morning to write the sequel chapter:

* Interactive: "The Life of Gianna Johns
* Public: "The Life of Gianna Johns

It was written very quickly and took kind of a veer at the last minute, one I'm not sure I'd have written if I wasn't racing to get it done. Anyway, it's up now, and there's a poll to go with it: [Poll completed and deleted]
January 22, 2024 at 12:31pm
January 22, 2024 at 12:31pm
There wasn't much doubt about which choice would win in the last poll -- it was a runaway win for "Switch with Ms. Johns" -- so I got started writing it early. As it turned out, I didn't actually get to the switch before I ran out of room for words, so I did a bit of a shuffle: I turned the choice at the end of "The Adult Thing to Do" into a "Continue" and moved the choices "Switch with Ms. Johns"/"Stick it out as Paul" to the end of the new chapter. I will try have the new chapter, making the switch, posted tomorrow.

But then I ran into another snafu. When I deleted the placeholder chapters at the end of "The Adult Thing to Do," the interactive would not let me post a new chapter to replaced the deleted "Switch with Ms. Johns" choice. I've posted a query about this to the Technical Support Forum, and we'll see how it gets sorted out. In the meantime, you'll all just have to do with the copy posted into the Archives:

* Public: "Afternoon at the Improv

EDIT: And the tech guys gave me a solution!

* Interactive: "Afternoon at the Improv
January 21, 2024 at 12:37pm
January 21, 2024 at 12:37pm
Back to "Party of Five." The link to the latest chapter is here:

* Interactive: "Party of Five, Chapter 10
* Public: "Party of Five, Chapter 10

I'm posting links because I had to move the first nine chapters into a new Volume of the Archives, so if you go looking for it in the old place, you will not find it.
January 20, 2024 at 12:44pm
January 20, 2024 at 12:44pm
The last two days caught me flatfooted when it came time to post something. I hadn't quite finished a new chapter for the Hollywood arc, and I also didn't have time to deal with the "Party of Five" storyline because I am going to have to move the Archives version of it, as Volume Two of the Archives is now full.

Anyway, here's the new Hollywood chapter:

Interactive: "The Adult Thing to Do
Public: "The Adult Thing to Do

There's also a poll to go with it: [Poll completed and deleted]
January 16, 2024 at 12:27pm
January 16, 2024 at 12:27pm
Yeah, I'm still posting "Party of Five" chapters -- partly so as to get to the actual bodyjacking, but mostly because I am still working on the Hollywood stuff. I'm having to invent an entire new high school, after all, and I underestimated the work that would require.

Also, to be truthful, I've been a bit distracted. I found a Minecraft Blind Playthrough on YouTube that is totally engrossing. If you know Minecraft, you can guess how hilarious it is to watch someone try to play without knowing the first clue about it or its mechanics.
January 13, 2024 at 1:57pm
January 13, 2024 at 1:57pm
The "Type of Story" poll closed yesterday, and the "Back to School" poll has just closed. The results of the latter, after taking GPs into account:

Ms Johns: 54%
Wait: 27%
Hailey: 11%
Parker: 8%
Adam: 0%

I'll try to have a sequel chapter tomorrow.

The "Type of Story" poll surprised me with a win by the "partner with someone else choice." I'll have a new poll tomorrow to try narrowing that down.
January 11, 2024 at 12:09pm
January 11, 2024 at 12:09pm
I take a one-day break from "Party of Five" to post a sequel to "Home Sweet Hollywood":

Interactive: "Back to School
Public: "Back to School

There are five choices at the end of it, and a poll to go with them: [Poll completed and deleted] Admittedly, there's not a lot to go on when making a choice. But then, it's a new school, and Sydney has barely met anyone.

The poll closes on Saturday at noon.
January 10, 2024 at 12:10pm
January 10, 2024 at 12:10pm
Well, that was close and unexpected.

The poll for "Home Sweet Hollywood" not only got more votes than I thought it would, it even brought out some GPs, and those led to an upset. Final tally, when including GPs:

Look inside a high school: 33%
Valerie Dunn: 32.1%
Savannah Getty: 22.4%
Bryce Philips: 10.4%
George Babakhanian: 2.1%

So I guess the first real thread in the Hollywood setting is going to be another high school story!

I'll try to have a chapter written by tomorrow, Friday at the latest.
January 8, 2024 at 12:04pm
January 8, 2024 at 12:04pm
Yesterday I promised you a sort of new story, but cautioned that it would be outside of the BoM continuity, being a prose adaptation of a webcomic by chronicstuss.

Well, I've changed my mind a little. I went looking for a place to put it, and decided to do something a little different. I will still be publishing that adaptation one chapter at a time, but each chapter will be fitted inside an actual and developing BoM branch.

So, it all begins in an existing chapter, "The Boy with Two Brains, where I've added a paragraph toward the end. The story in this branch:

Will has been experimenting with his new book and its magical devices, and to finance his researches has taken that job at Salopek that his father has been pushing him toward. There, he has met and befriended Sean Mitchell, a classmate at Westside, and has copied Sean's mind into a brain band. This gives Will a better idea of what kind of chemicals and tools they have at Salopek, which he might be able to borrow or steal for his own.

Things now continue in a new chapter, "Man in a Mirror,which replaces "The Copycat," an old one-off chapter that has been a dead end for years. That sets up the adaptation I've got for you, which then begins in "Party of Five, Chapter 1

The idea, I will go ahead and say, is that Will is writing and posting this novella one chapter at a time, and you'll get each chapter one day at a time, but each chapter will have a tag at the start or at the end showing how these chapters are nudging the larger plot forward.

Meanwhile, polls are still open:

[Poll completed and deleted]
[Poll completed and deleted]
January 7, 2024 at 12:41pm
January 7, 2024 at 12:41pm
First, the good news. I am alive, and I haven't been gone for as long as I was last year.

Second, what happened?

Well, the last time we talked, I said I was going to take a hiatus from publishing, but that I intended to stick around and not drop out. Unfortunately, some other stuff came up.

The first and decisive crisis was that a close relative of mine was hospitalized with pneumonia on the day before Thanksgiving. That knocked everything askew, both during/over that holiday and for the week after. I was entirely preoccupied with that.

Then, as the expression goes, we had the holidays at our throats.

Actually, I was (both emotionally and in charge of commitments) ready to come back the week before Christmas, and I could have started checking in, but I made the mistake of deciding that I wanted to have something in hand when I came back; otherwise, I feared, I ran the risk of dropping out again. So I spent the middle of December playing with ideas. I decided I wanted to do something in the Hollywood setting, so I spent the last half of December coming up with sketches for settings, personalities, etc., so there would be some kind of Hollywood playground I could further develop.

But then I decided that I wanted you readers to have a say in it: picking where the story would go. That would mean polls, and what would I have for you while the polls were running?

So ... yada yada yada ... what am I back with?

* * *

First of all, I am back with a poll: [Poll completed and deleted]. More background is given there, so here I'll just say it's a poll for a Hollywood story. Will and Sydney (in the personas of a just-laid-off TV actor and his daughter) have just arrived in Hollywood and are looking around for a new identity that they can steal and use to dig deeper into the industry. Which of five targets will they choose?

You guys, of course, will have no idea where any of this will lead, so I'm not exactly holding my breath for a round of heavy voting. Still, I want to give those of you who want to participate a chance to. This poll (and subsequent polls) will run for three days each, and there will be five or six of them. Each poll will generate a new chapter, and after five or six such chapters, hopefully things will be detailed enough that I'll just take over and write more on a regular schedule.

* * *

In the meantime, I will be back tomorrow with the start of an 18-chapter story. It will NOT, however, be a storyline in any interactive continuity, but will be a standalone story: one of those "Will picks up a book and starts to read it" things. Also, it's not completely original to me, but is a prose adaptation of "The Five," a webcomic that chronicstuss published on Deviant Art a couple of years ago.

My intent is to keep people involved and amused with that while the Hollywood chapters slowly roll out, and while I cast about elsewhere for something to continue.

EDIT: I'm tackling emails now. My priority is dealing with the small stuff. Larger stuff may take me awhile to get to, but I aim to at least touch base with everyone within the next 24 hours.

EDIT #2: Okay, I am committed to the Hollywood story line, but I am also posting another poll asking a more general question about what sort of story readers would want to see BoM continue or tackle. Here: [Poll completed and deleted]
November 9, 2023 at 7:54am
November 9, 2023 at 7:54am
* Interactive: "The Candidate Pool
* Public: "The Candidate Pool

That chapter wraps up this branch. A commentary post is here: "Commentary: "The Road Back to Yourself""  

I'm going to have to take a break for a few days because I don't have anything prepared. The last week or so has been tough for me, writing-wise. It hasn't been for a lack of enthusiasm, I just found it kind of hard (for whatever reason) to get through the last few chapters of this branch and so ran through my backlog. (I wrote today's chapter yesterday, and the chapter before that the day before.) Without something prepped, I'm going to have to look around. There is a commission that I need to finish, but I also feel like I should do something else before turning to it, just to create some variety in the schedule. I would also like to building up a small backlog -- get a whole branch written -- before I begin publishing again.

I'm not going to disappear, though, and will be checking in daily. There's some behind-the-scenes stuff that I need to deal with.
November 6, 2023 at 8:56am
November 6, 2023 at 8:56am
Last week's poll is now closed and the results tabulated.

It surprised me how close it was in the Free Poll, being almost a three-way tie. I was especially surprised that the "Cassie" option, after trailing most of the week before rallying, was relatively popular.

So popular, in fact, that it was the only option that got GP votes, which were enough to secure it a win:

* Cassie: 49%
* All of it: 28%
* Jenny only: 23%

Not gonna lie: the Cassie option was the only one I haven't been wargaming in the back of my mind, so it might turn out to be a bit of a challenge.
October 30, 2023 at 9:58am
October 30, 2023 at 9:58am
* Interactive: "Meet the Welches
* Public: "Meet the Welches

That's the last chapter of this short branch, which was written for a commission. The commission calls for more chapters in this area, but with different choices, but I'm going to publish some other stuff before returning to finish the commission.

So what's up next?

A long time ago we had a poll on how to continue "Like a Boss, and for complicated reasons having to do with some janky votes I declared four winners. Recently I wrote up the branch for the winningest of those winners—"A Girl for Kirkham—and now it's time for the first runner-up winner. It starts with "A Girl for Prescott.

Will and Sydney are creating a Brotherhood of Baphomet, and they have "recruited" (meaning they have made an enslaved doppelganger of) David Kirkham. Will was impersonating Kirkham, and he accidentally caused a public rupture between the doppelgangers of himself and Sydney that they left behind. This upset Sydney, who says that she wants to remain Will's girlfriend in some public way. There's multiple ways that Will (who's kind of dense, and is confused by being mixed up with Kirkham's psychology) could take this. Tomorrow we start to explore a different way things could go.

* * *

Separately, we had a poll last week on how to continue "A Stolen Life. Only one choice got GPs votes, resulting in the following standings:

* Will edges closer to Gordon: 50%
* Will tries to save his own skin: 43%
* Will edges closer to Caleb: 7%

Today brings the second poll: [Poll completed and deleted]. Like the first, it will run for a week.

* * *

Oh, and commentary on the just-published branch is here: "Commentary: "Where the Heart Is""  

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