Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Fiction?

We have written a fiction to go along with Hot Springs Island, and I've just finished draft #2. It's taken longer than I thought to get here, and it's ended up weighing in at 11 chapters, an introduction, and 16,131 words. According to wikipedia that's enough to be called a novelette.

Length, when it comes to writing, is of course utter bullshit as any sort of gauge of quality, but damn it, it feels good to be at this point. For our process, we all get together and brainstorm out the storyline. Then, for draft #1, Wintergreen vomits forth a landslide of words and phrases in the way that only he can. For draft #2, I go through the landslide to shape it up (he likes to forget about characters in some scenes and throw out the transitions between them) and prospect for all the gold nuggets buried in the scree.

But why? Why the fuck are we writing fiction? We're doing it first and foremost because Wintergreen and I enjoy it (and we're probably subconsciously trying to compete with Safari's awesome art in our own way). Secondly, like all fools errands, we're doing it because of a belief structure.

You see, I think that many people stick to rails over sandboxes because they don't know how to build a story with the pieces that they have, and that's what Hot Springs Island, and the Swordfish Islands are all about. The idea, is to use the fiction as a way to illustrate the possibilities that exist, or, to use corporate platitudes, train the player by showing, and not by telling. Everything that happens in the stories adheres to the play parameters we set regarding travel times, and all the monsters and encounters are encounters can be encountered in the areas where they were encountered.

There aren't really any heroics that take place in the stories, some characters die and much of the stories are about fleeing from the creatures encountered in some way. I also really tried to make sure that there was no clear cut good and evil because that's the totally wrong vibe for the islands. I think I managed to pull it off without unnecessary character death or deus ex machina, but we'll see. We'll see.

The first set of stories covers the Martel Company Marines exploration of the elven ruins on Hot Springs Island when Captain Rand and crew first arrived at the islands. Twelve marines go into the ruins in hex 19, get attacked, separated, and only 4 of the original 12 make it back to the ship.

The marine named Harp took the orange path and fled northwest, hit Crab Mouth Lagoon, and then cut back south along the coast.

The marines Harvard and Unger ran southeast from the ruins and discovered the Buzzing Glade before cutting back along the beach to reach the shore craft.

The marine Indio spent most of the night in the ruins themselves before cutting and running around the city's ruined wall to reach the beach.

All the stories are written as journal entries, compiled by Matthias Mayford, the navigator and helmsman of Captain Jeremy Rand. He kept a running log throughout the group's adventures in the Swordfish Islands, and with the help of his goblin assistant Zilbee was able to transcribe the marine's tales almost verbatim.

The second set of stories covers the adventures of the crew of the Siren's Folly. Captain Rand has two ships, the Siren's Blade, and the Siren's Folly. The Folly is run by Captain Patrick Marsh, Rand's right hand man, who he plans to put in charge of the eventual adventurers guild they're going to open up at their new port town of Swordfish Bay. Patrick insists that he needs to experience the perils of the islands first hand if he's to have a chance of actually being respected as said guild master.

For their trip, the party manages to stay together.

Over their trip they encounter three of the islands factions, and seven points of interest. Opportunities to engage in combat, or avoid it completely are made clear, and the consequences of the characters actions and choices are detailed.

Hopefully, they will eventually serve their purpose. We'll see.


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