Archive for the ‘worldbuilding’ Category
Just a collection of reference pics for a future minor character – the son of a genetically uplifted horse, who commissioned a bunch of magogeneticists to give her foal a horn. She wanted him to be special. That's also why she named him Moonflower Etheriel Bliss. *facepawheaddesk* Mares.
These following are all pics of one cremello chap and right for colour, but I don't know that he'd be the right breed/build. (I know the horses in this setting are roughly Percheron-derived, but I haven't the expertise to recognise one if it came up and ate a stick at me.)
Here's a pic that I particularly like (source unknown; the url on the picture is sadly domainsquatted now, so I can't find out any info about it), although this might be overdoing the feathers. You know, just a tad.
And finally, amusement courtesy of Second Life, because whatever daft idea you come up with, someone is bound to have done it before in Poser…
We've been listening to a radio adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness. As it stands, I've lost interest in proceedings just at the end of the info-dump (more than an episode long, i.e. getting on for a quarter of the programme in one stretch). I may finish listening to find out what happened to the missing dog, but I think I can call my HP Lovecraft curiosity sated.
Definitely needed a more permissive adaptation to be workable as a radio drama, and I speak as someone who's usually a rabid book purist.
The realisation that my fiercely, actively atheist dragons make Great Old Ones look quite soft and vulnerable isn't necessarily conducive to easy sleep. Heh.
Fortunately those don't take an active part in any of our cooperative writing shenanigans, except (potentially/sketched in) for providing a MacGuffin to an already-OP protag.
Speaking of the writing group, Drupal experiments for our next-gen site are continuing with steady success.
Currently percolating in my mind is that I don't know to what extent I can make the edit form present fewer options to J. Average Member. Dumbed-down isn't really Drupal's natural state of affairs, and after all, the alternative solution was unpopular because it too was excessively complicated to use.
I'd like it to auto-fill and perhaps even hide options where it can, on the basis that not every member will be leet or want to get to grips with Drupal's books/blocks/nodes jargon. Indeed, I'd rather play down Drupal's involvement, at least to a casual visitor, in case it'll discourage any hacking attempts.
But the design and theming of Drupal is a whole mad mountain I'll only climb when I come to it.
Great dream. (Not the one close to waking, in which I thought a parcel had arrived, but it was actually someone returning my mother's scarf and gloves, which a wayward child had hidden before we left their office. That was dull.)
This is just about how it happened while asleep, so it's not particularly polished or sense-making. It does have a canon-ish feel, though.
The Trials were a huge event, treated with all the fervent interest of a sporting tournament. Vassals of the war nobility swapped notes on the performance of their lords, while those of house nobles also had their favourites and league tables; bets were placed among friends in pubs up and down the country, and so of course there were also bookmakers setting up stall around the capital cities.
The sixteenth Suitov warlord – unranked and untried at the barely-adult age of fifteen, but considered by true connoisseurs as a possible wildcard thanks to distinguished, if atypical, breeding – was hanging around one of these stalls incognito. It amused him to hear the chatter and to see the odds posted for his friends and rivals. Seeing his designated emblem and colours posted up was still an odd sensation. Gold and black, gold and black… how melodramatic. And he hadn't collected his new uniform from the tailor yet.
He'd hung around long enough to attract the attention of the bookie, a large voksin lady of equatorial complexion.1 Opting to play it dumb, Suitov asked her "So these ones with the larger numbers pay you more if they win?"
"Yes, my dear, if they win."
He went back to attempting to memorise the wall of colour, jingling a coin or two in an attempt to allay her impatience.
"Perhaps you should stop messing about, child, an' go ahead and put a bet on yourself, hmm?" suggested the bookie.
Suitov let loose a genuine laugh. "Ah, you've caught me out. Yes, I think I will."
1 She also talked in a rather cute Caribbean accent in my head.
I think he made quite a tidy profit on this deal too.
He may have been treated as an obscure nobody among the nobility, bitchy as they are, but Suitov underestimated how distinctive a young man with strong atavistic Nordic features is going to look among the gambling classes. Especially when said young man is given to wandering around outside the safety of the walled palace gardens, yakking with beggars and ruffians.
It takes the poor evil sod a little while to adjust to being a 'celebrity'. I'm not sure he ever gets used to it.
Past cases like this inspired me to a particularly silly (and possibly icky, depending on your tastes) piece of worldbuilding. Fiction based on real life weirdness, especially medical, is always the more WTFish for it, I find. Fun times, fun times.
An important step in making sure you have a rounded character instead of a Mary Sue, or so I've read, is making sure your little puppet is not omniscient, isn't correct about everything and is sometimes pretty failtastic at telling important information from unimportant.
Recently, in the interest of characterisation and hopefully the occasional plot idea, I've been mentally listing ways in which my characters are wrong about other characters. I don't mean factual things here, but rather those impressions that you form of people for whatever trivial reason and, thanks to confirmation bias, are hard to dislodge.
Some of them are secret for the sake of spoilers (although, for the record, even Suitov thinks Weft is gay), but here are some examples.
Suitov is wrong about:
Malfina: "It's a pity her gameplan for her life could never involve me. I gave up asking her the question; I imagine she was bored of hearing it."
Jaina: "She is emotionally fragile and I have to protect her. She couldn't cope with knowing about everything in which I'm involved; I'm not sure I could rely on her understanding."
Basaltine: "He will come to regret giving up his lifespan to match mine."
Sebastian: "The man is a ridiculous fraud playing a game of his own devising and not caring a whit for those around him. Sounds like a lot of fun, actually."
Himself: "I am not 'evil'. I am not cold-hearted. I feel as deeply as others do. That nickname 'Iceheart' is just a silly reputation on which I capitalise. I do have principles, some of which I will not break for any reason."
(Suitov has quite a balanced personality overall, and is intelligent and well-informed, but that doesn't protect him from sometimes being plain wrong, sucka.)
Weft is wrong about:
Sebastian: "He can do anything! Everything he says is true. In fact, I'm not worthy to hang around with the servant of a goddess. I wouldn't be surprised if he despises me."
Nico: "She has an irrational grudge against my organisation. Either that or our enemies have been telling her lies. She thinks I'm weak and she probably despises me."
Jaina: "She luuuuuurves Suitov so much that she won't listen to anything against him. They could never be happy together. I try to warn her off and she despises me."
Himself: "I'm worthless. Anything I try to do on my own initiative will end disastrously. Everyone I ever love will die horribly and it's my fault. I ruin everything I touch and I deserve to be despised."
(Classic example of an attitude problem saying more about the perpetrator's attitude to himself.)
Basaltine is wrong about:
Sylvie: "She could be my girlfriend. It could so work! We'd be awesome!"
Ferrl: "And she could be my girlfriend too. I'm her type!"
Helmine: "She so wants me!"
(Basaltine has a definite advantage in nosing out lies and motives, but hey, even a doggy character needs silly self-deception. A good-natured and hopelessly optimistic doggy personality provides that in spades.)
No, I'm not talking about gay boys, although you could say I am something of a fairy in that sense (and vaguely proud of it), and also sometimes quite boring.
No, I mean the other fairies. The little winged gobshites.
So some people love cute little fairies. Some other people are into the dark, sinister side to fairies (which, when you think about it for more than a second, ARE bloody scary).
I just don't engage with the concept of fairies/faeries/fae/fairfolk on any level. They bore me and – well, they do repulse me, but in an unemotional way (since even hating or being scared of them would still be some kind of reaction, whereas they don't grab me in any way).
I suppose it's partly the "small humanoid" angle that totally turns off any sympathy, interest or engagement that I would have in abundance for any animal creature. I don't know. I've just never had any interest in fairies.
I actually stopped reading the Harry Dresden books because they degenerated into "whee, fairies fairies fairies and more bloody fairies I'm so cool, oh and just to turn Mutt completely off, let's add a knight prat who's so pure and Has Faith and wields a Magic Sword of Faith". (Well, that and it got boring seeing Harry get beaten half to death every book without fail and still pull some magic whupass out of his arse.) Shame, because the writing in the books is really pretty OK, the wisecracks are excellent and I do like the hardboiled genre.
But yes, fairies. They don't do it for me. I tend to hate anything with them in. The one exception I've found is Pratchett's Lords and Ladies, which is at least a very complete and competent treatment of the idea, explicitly drawing them as personalityless (an important angle for me) as well as the usual cruel, feline flibbertigibbets.
(Next time, maybe: why Tolkien-D&D-style elves are boring. Or maybe why prats with swords are boring. Then, that selection probably leaving basically nothing in the genre of fantasy for me to read, I'll have to think of some sci-fi things I find hackneyed.)
(Oh, and just in case: I don't actually expect other people to change their interests/writing styles based on my opinion. Hell, somebody go off and tread some genuinely new writerly ground with the idea and I promise I'll be happy you've made boringness into a topic that I can actually enjoy…)
A little background material for Profusion. >:)
(SPOT THE SUITOV!)
We didn't really get into the 'gang war' plot very much; it ended up being a kind of backdrop. Still, it all helped me flesh out Offwhite City and its attitude towards its penal colonies.
Just getting that title pun out of the way so I don't have to use it anywhere else in my writings.
As I understand it, it's normal for creators to be pleased when their creations cause reactions in onlookers. I think that's meant to apply to negative reactions too, sometimes. It certainly does for me in this case.
I was talking to Vespy this morning before leaving for work, and mentioned in passing one of the worlds I built for our little interplanetary ding-dong known as the Twine Wars. The world is called Instar and it's… I suppose you'd call it on the unusual side for generic fantasy, despite being populated by humanoids with pretty few differences from your generic sapiens. They're not especially nice humanoids, but then, humanoids tend not to be, so this is all within the bounds of sensibility.
Anyhoo, I believe the term Ves used to describe lovely little hemispherical Instar was "fucked-up", and in response to further questioning from a fascinated writer he said its inhabitants, and I'm paraphrasing, creep him out. I was kind of surprised, especially as they're somewhat caricatures of a type of animal he likes, but I suppose it's not too surprising on the whole. Ves comes across as a pretty honourable, easy-going and sane sort of chap, while Instarrians, well, produced Weft. (Who is not a typical Instarrian, but rather an extreme worst case scenario.)
I'm rather delighted by this reaction. As long as everyone doesn't feel that way and avoid interacting with them, because then I'll just be sad that the silly-billies are all missing the joke. (Because joke it is. Right now the thing I find funniest is that my ethics force me to view Instar as the good guys for being neutral.)
I became so repeatedly mildly irked by the skewed placement of the collar on that profile view I did of Weft (I've had it set as my desktop wallpaper for a couple of days for a laugh) that I've decided to make it An Undocumented Feature instead. This way, it can be fixed right now instead of waiting for me to get home and open Photoshop. You perceive that my reasoning is coldly logical.
So there you go: the Offwhite citizenry now fastens their shirt collars on the right. Slaves and monks button to the left. I think the political (aristocratic) class buttons to the left too, but that's not to say they're equated with all those holy men and convicted criminals, heavens no.
You see, they've this concept of things alternating as they ascend, shown also in the malarkey over which hand you pass with. Someone one position above you would merit a certain hand, while for someone two positions above you'd pass with the other hand, for three positions above you'd go back to the first hand, and so on. (Before anyone asks, for a spouse you'd use both hands… but one would hope you'd be on close enough terms to pass cheeks instead.)
Aliens would be expected to button their collars to the right. >:)
Now to finish off my peas and chickpea paste and have another look at Commissioning.
(Well, sort of like a mapping party, if you don't have friends or GPS or an interest in the outside world.)
Tonight I added a map of Shade to Twine.
It's rubbish in particular because (other than the facts that I don't have Illustrator and that I spent much less than 12 hours on it):
- Probably too little land area, i.e. bits need enlarging all over (haven't I received a few emails from various senders about that topic recently?)
- Soprone's mainland mass is not how I envisaged it, but I can't make up my mind what "how I envisaged it" IS. I think it should be touching the nearby continent, or almost
- Obviously, all land masses need edges detailing
- I think the land bridge between the north pole and Lotsi's homeland needs to be a lot thinner, otherwise there'd be some very grumpy dinosaurs coming down complaining about the noise
The island chain north of the blue continent is meant to be unshaded, though, because the blue folks are very definitely not seafarers and nobody else has snaffled it up yet. (Maybe there should be a large island, close to the blue mainland, that was settled by chance. That's one for the next update, though.)
Did half of my gift picture for Cerhn. Watched the first third of King Kong (the '00s remake) on the video recorder. That has been the extent of my billable time today.
Well, except for finishing The Wiz Biz, one of the books I asked Slen to buy me for Xmas. He got me the two sequels, too. These are titles I've had my eye on for some time, suspecting (correctly, it turns out) that they'll mirror some of my thinking with my worldbuilding and generally give me ideas. The first was ok as a fantasy novel; it's a little (well, a LOT) clichéd in both the worldbuilding and the freckled redheaded love interest, but that doesn't matter: the central thesis is what I was after.
I don't need to do anything with the ideas straight away, so I don't need to rush through reading all the titles before working out my introductory post with one very attractive greying-blonde middle-aged voks, Paraskive. But I can start thinking at the back of my mind about the similarities and differences between Wiz's system of magic and my magic system…