October 3, 2014
Thinking of the second major character for the fantasy setting I’m working on, Smoke, got me thinking about the kind of trope design the setting will be built around. Almost all fantasy settings have ‘classes’, or types of heroes that wander around in those worlds. Usually it’s a combination of professional fighters; thieves, rogues, and other cut-throats; clerics, priests, shamans, or other sorts of healers and holy men; and wizards, sorcerers, mages, and other types of magicians. Occasionally there are specific versions of one of these four groups that are particular to whatever setting it is, or unique hybrids among them that provide flavor for the setting.
In this world, all great persons can be summed up into 3 groups: Warriors, those whose martial prowess, extreme technique, and skill with arms give them power and prestige; Sorcerers, whose sage like knowledge, wisdom, and control of the four elements and five directions grant them mystical abilities through their sacred knowledge; and Alchemists, the rare martial artists who practice an internal form that mixes martial prowess, mystical abilities, and the arcane energies of the Dao to manipulate themselves and their opponents.
Savisha, or my Grey Paladin as I think of her, is a Warrior. She is a master of the Eight Arms of Marisha, the martial art that was created by the founder of her holy order. It uses six weapons, outlined in the last bit I wrote about this, as well as an open-handed style and intricate study of the body’s positions and how they reflect the mind’s wisdom to make practitioners skilled diplomats. Other Warriors include samurai from beyond the White Peaks who mastered a flowing and fast style of fencing with their curved but strong swords or the soldiers of Hwaran Shein who patrol the emerald hills around their kingdom on horseback with heavy chopping swords and axe-like polearms. Most militaries and royal clans are made almost completely of Warriors. Their secrets lie in the mastery of External Martial Arts, the methods of striking out from the body aggressively.
Smoke, her companion through the journey she finds herself in within the story, is an enterprising Alchemist. He is a master of a form of combat that centers around deception and manipulating his body to make it light enough to fly short distances, flexible enough to bend around his opponents, yet strong enough to deliver crushing blows when necessary. His style is centered around the control of the qi in his breath, so as to control his breath itself. To exploit this, he carries a large water pipe, using the sweet smell to disorient those trying to overtake him and controlling the smoke to hide his presence in a fight. Other Alchemists would include the ancient orders of doctors in the Xiaolin states or the horse-callers of the open plains of the Khans. Every great martial arts tradition has a mystical arm composed of Alchemists to master the body and the mind through their martial practice. Their secrets lie in the mastery of Internal Martial Arts, the methods of controlling the body’s flow of energy, or qi, to work mystical feats.
The last group is the Sorcerers, who will not go without their own representation in the story, are the most secretive and rare group of the three. Their practices are truly arcane in nature, drawing on an understanding of all of the sacred forces of the world that govern its nature. They are the sage students of the four elements (Water, Fire, Stone, and Wind) as well as the five directions (North, South, East, West, and Center). Both wizards with no allegiance or alliance who lock themselves away in ancient places to study arcane forces and the holy men in the temples of the Merciful God who speak words of healing and curing are Sorcerers. The truly magical feats of the world are all rooted in the 3 Sciences; Elemental Control, The Methods of the Five Directions, and the Sacred Names. Elemental Control allows Sorcerers to direct and control the fundamental force of their world, from drawing poison right out of the blood by commanding its Water essence to shaping steel into a legendary sword by commanding the Earth within the iron and carbon. The Methods of the Five Directions grant Sorcerers incredible powers over distance when studies properly, allowing them to move at quick speeds, take flight, or even stand timeless in a single place and never aging at the highest levels of mastery. The Sacred Names are an incomplete collection of sutras, or sacred writings, that describe the true nature of things and allow the Sorcerers to manipulate the world using inscriptions in these sacred words directly on objects or by using temporary pre-written spells called Talismans. Their secrets lie within this body of knowledge and their creativity in using the 3 Sciences together in powerful ways. Many Sorcerers find themselves performing strange experiments to expand the knowledge of one of the Sciences, working to help those less powerful than themselves due to pacts with themselves (or occasionally powerful spirits), or serving leaders of the great nations of the many lands in the great continent of Surra and the islandsto the south in the Hwaran Archipelago.
Surra is but one part of the largest continent in this world and the most powerful political entities in their world. Though other nations certainly interact with them, and I’ll be exploring those later.
So, I don’t know what to do. Notes Part 2 is looking at having a whole chapter of exposition. Which I don’t want to do.
I’m considering having Part 3 be a flashback section, to explain the foundation of the current story, but Part 2 is only 7500 words right now. That’ll be expanded in editing, but will it go far enough to support itself?
What should I do?
June 12, 2012
I’m working on a draft for a Kickstarter for the boardgame concept I recently posted about. Partly so that I can generate money to work on it, partly so I can find an artist, and partly so I can find out if anyone else is interested in working on the idea with me.
Part of why I want to find a nice, small team (an artist that doesn’t mind doing a lot of drawing and another mechanic designer) is so we can knock this out quickly and get it going. I’m kind of in a situation where I need to find a way to generate income pretty quickly that isn’t dependent on unemployment insurance, so. Yeah.
I also want to do this quickly so that I can get the essential mechanics out of the way. I’ve got an idea for doing expansions and new versions using different tropes and structures not long after the first game comes out. The reward levels for the Kickstarter would include some of these expansions at different levels (one level will include the first expansion when it’s ready to print, another level is also going to include the next version of the game when it’s ready). I think. Still have to work out this one.
Part of this discussion, as well, is me looking for advice on what levels to offer for the Kickstarter and the kind of things to throw in as incentives. So, if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them. Especially since until I get the essential mechanics hammered out I don’t even know how to assess printing costs. I can say one thing, though – it’ll mostly be a box full of cards and tiles.
So, what are your ideas, opinions, and expectations? Would you chip in for the game?
March 24, 2012
Tropes form the backbone of writing conventions in all mediums. We know who the hero is, who the villains are, what the setting is, and what the genre is thanks to tropes. A lot of tropes are good, many are useful, but a lot of tropes are problematic. Things from the Femme Fatale to the animation age ghetto to Men Are Dumb, Women Are Emotional there’s lots of tropes that support negative and false stereotypes that affect how people think of and interact with media of all types.
What are your thoughts on problematic tropes? What are your “favorites”?