1. You’ve invested an enormous amount of time and energy, and you still have no idea what is happening.

2. Everybody you meet speaks in half riddles.

3. Hours spent completing a task are rewarded with meaningless feedback and unhelpful awards.

4. No matter how much you accomplish or how good you do, it’ll never be enough.

5. You don’t know why you are serving whom you are serving, but you serve them all the same as though that service matters.

6. Most of the people you meet want to destroy you.

7. You want to destroy most of the people you meet.

8. You sometimes wear a silly robe.

9. You are surrounded by old, crumbling buildings that were probably really something in their day.

10. The most powerful people you encounter were destroyed by accumulating that power.

11. The rush of excitement upon achieving a long-sought goal is followed by the crippling realization that what you achieved doesn’t actually matter.

12. The people you encounter seem to be working out some long-repressed trauma that neither you nor they understand.

13. Your stats are being kept.

14. Finishing one task always leads to another task, which leads to another task, and then another.

15. The compensation never seems to match the labor, but the small incentives along the way keep you going.

16. You want to stop, but the amount of time and energy you’ve put into this makes it hard to quit.

17. The more powerful you become, the more powerful your opponents.

18. Your stunning and ruinous surroundings make you suspect that the apocalypse is near, has happened, or is currently happening, though nobody seems able to name why things are the way they are.

19. Success requires the study of how others have survived this, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to make this any easier.

20. It doesn’t look like this will ever end.

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Elden Ring: 1-20
Tenure-track professor: 1-20