Something I'd like to see for a CRPG sandbox game in the vein of Skyrim
or Fallout 3 is a game along the lines of the White Wolf Scion game.
For those that aren't familiar with the game, scion is a game where you
play the children of the old gods in a modern time battling the servants
of the titans (and occasionally the other gods). Very recently, some
time after World War II, the Titans escaped their prisons (at least
partially) and are now once again trying to return the World to a state
of primal chaos that existed prior to the development of humanity and
the subsequent birth of the gods.
To be perfectly frank, there is something of a fuzzy line between when
something goes from being a story to being a myth, but I'm not going to
go into that line of discussion. My intent here is to discuss the
tendency of some people to hold up the "real myths" as a criticism of
various pieces of fiction that have come out in the last couple of
decades. Admittedly, I'm no stranger to making this argument, but I do
at least try to make sure I'm referring to myths that actually developed
organically within a culture as adverse to stuff that came out of more
recent fictions, as in within a century or two.
The illustrations are beautiful. The setting is evocative and lean
toward genres I heavily enjoy. The character creation is intriguing and
very much geared toward building a unique character rather than a simple
collection of stats. The adventure links and PC connections are very
useful for creating a coherent party from the get go.
sounds ridiculous on first glimpse. After all, a sizeable portion of
fiction involves elements that are very much unreal. Stuff like talking
animals, magic, curses, faster than light speed capable starships and
other such things are not elements you'll find in real life. That being
true, how can a piece of fiction that involves such things be connected
to real life at all, much less being a shadow of it.
So, there are a lot of characters out there that are popular and have
been popular for a long time...and have suffered for it. It isn't true
of all popular characters, but it certainly seems to afflict a number of
them. I'm going to talk about some of the signs and symptoms of this.
When you're watching a TV show or movie or reading a book, you'll often
run across an instance where the main character has noticed some detail
or another that clues them in on what is going in the story. Some other
character, usually the designated Scully, will often dismiss it as
coincidence. This dismissal is usually used as a tool to show how the
character with the idea is elevated above the perceptions of other
people. After all, he or she has just noticed and understood something
that everyone else neglects as being unimportant. The tone of the
dismissal is either frustrated, negligent or contemptuous. This will
often come with a summary of the discovering-character's theory followed
by the phrase "it's just coincidence" or something similar.
Immediately following the main character will have a "there is no such
thing as coincidence" speech and the story will continue.
For ease of reference, assume anything about Mary Sue applies to Marty Stu.
The term Mary Sue
dates back to a 1974 Star Trek fanfic that was written as a parody of
various self-insert fanfictions that were coming out at the time. There
is some controversy as to just what constitutes a Mary Sue or Marty Stu
but it is considered one of the worst insults you can lay on any
particular character. On the other hand, there is what I call "Main
Character Syndrome" which probably exists under some other name but is
my catch all term for situations that tend to develop simply because a
character is the central character of a story. These two situations can
appear very close to each other, but one is generally overlooked while
the other is lambasted. So what's the difference?
Candy is when you give the reader something
that they want and it doesn't really have anything pertinent to add to
either character development or moving the plot forward. There's a
couple of reasons to add candy.
One of the best examples of this comes from the Dennis Quaid movie
Undercover Blues. Obviously this is something of a spoiler, so be
Throughout the whole movie, the Blues portray
themselves as in control of the immediate situation but still trying to
figure out the larger picture. Meanwhile they pepper the conversation
with things like "(Morty) could be useful" which later turns out to be
true. You don't learn that they've been manipulating the larger picture
all along until the end of the movie.
One of the problems with the stories that are popular, things are always
going wrong. There's always some amount of unnecessary pain and fear
and trouble in the world. It's stuff that could probably have been
avoided if it weren't for a handful of mistakes that the story makes
The crisis can be personal, such as saying
the wrong thing to a girlfriend and trying to spend the rest of the
story apologizing, or it can be local, such as dealing with a bank
robbery. It goes on and on, with the mistakes being more obvious and
seemingly extreme as you go further up the line.
But the matter is the same.
Mistakes were made and they have to be cleaned up.
There are two maybe three parts to this piece of advice. And the first
of these is quite well explained by the large, pear shaped individual
that arrogantly spews his opinions of science-fiction and fantasy in the
comic shop that's part of El Goonish Shive's world setting.
Okay, you will see me wax philosophic and start to delve into deep and
meaningful stuff here and there all over my blog in places. I might
even start delving into what I consider to be the big philosophical
meanings and metaphors of my various works. Said discussions might get
fairly complex, deep and insightful.
Most of them are things I
come up with after the fact of writing the story and are more ways for
me to analyze myself than to analyze my work.
Consistency is a big part of any story, if you are not consistent then
people are going to quickly get fed up with your story as it becomes
harder and harder to relate things.
A lot of people might
point to George Lucas when thinking of examples of
inconsistency. However, George's arbitrary decision to change some
things in the Star Wars universe is not really a very major example of
A lot of fiction can be called larger than life. The Rule of Cool is
repetively invoked in all manner of stories. This is why the
star-fighters in Star Wars make strange whining sounds and action heroes
can outrun explosions. This is why characters in movies and TV shows
seem like they're experts in just about everything. This is why the
characters in romance movies can so flawlessly express
themselves. Fiction, even realistic fiction that says it sticks firmly
within what is possible in real life, still seems to stick strongly to
the mantra "I reject your reality and substitute my own!"
you should not simply reject reality when making your stories. The
first thing you should do when writing a scene and desiring to make
something "cool" is to do the research as to the reality of the
subject. If you don't know precisely what is or is not possible or
realistic, then you increase the risk of breaking the willing suspension
Predictability, very much like stereotypes, has a bad reputation
amongst readers and writers alike. To most people, predictable is the
same thing as boring. They want, or say they want, unpredictable
stories that end in ways that they did not expect whatsoever.
"I did not see that coming."
That is one of the phrases that most people connect with a story that is well-written and surprising.
It is something of a misdirection.
are not truly unpredictable. The closest sorts of stories that can be
called unpredictable are things like Looney Toons, Monty Python and
Alice In Wonderland. However, even in this case, the apparent
randomness is expected by the viewers and readers. Same with such
humorous works as Discworld, with its mountain of puns.
Repetition is an important tool for writing of any sort. The more often
a point is repeated, the more important it seems to the reader.
narration, for the most part, you want to avoid repeating things word
for word. You want to repeat a reference to a situation or event, but
not a word for word repetition. Some people have a higher or lower
tolerance to this. For example, I got irritated at seeing the phrase
"like a puppet with its strings cut" twice within fifty pages in one
book. Someone else might not notice that at all.
Most people take a dim view of stereotypes and assume that it is a bad
thing to design a character to fit a stereotype or archetype. The
assumption is that making use of a stereotype means making
cookie-cutter, low dimensional characters or, worse, that you are giving
in to unfair perceptions of different groups.
This view operates under the perception that a character can only fit one particular stereotype at a time.
Writing is one of those things where there are numerous rules put out by
a variety of different people. Some of the rules sound very specific,
others are very broad. Depending on which authors or editors whose
advice you read, they can even be contradictory. When you start out,
you don't know any of these rules except some basic ideas of sequencing
and he said/she said. As you progress, you learn more and more rules to
Okay, I'm going to try to stay away from opinion and interpretation for
the most part, but given the subject matter, that's just not possible. I
probably have a lot of misconceptions myself. I tend to believe that
misconception is an inherent danger of the human condition since we are
limited to imperfect interpretations of things. Still, I like to think
that I know a bit more about Christianity than most people so I'm going
to hit some of the more general misconceptions about Christianity and,
to a lesser extent, the other Abrahamic religions that I've seen around
for a while.
It is a common conceit among those who are fans of the Cthulhu mythos
that Lovecraft's entities are greater in power than the more
traditional, humanistic sort of deities found in pantheons within real
history, or of eldritch horrors found in other fiction. There is also
this sort of belief that the Lovecraftian entities are something worse
than "evil" since they are an entirely alien sort of entity that doesn't
even understand or care about humanity at all. In stories that contain
both Lovecraftian entities and beings from more standard myths, the
Lovecraftian styled entities are largely implied to be more powerful and
very difficult to contend with. The truth is that the Lovecraftian
entities aren't really all that different from the entities of other
myths or fiction. Now this is not going to be a perfect comparison
since power at the scale cannot really be objectively measured.
Everything involved is highly conceptual in nature and pretty much
ignores such things as physics.
Truth is a highly subjective thing and far more interesting than fact.
It might be a fact that a person was 5'7" but whether that person is
short, tall or average depends on their gender, their age and the
culture in which they are raised.
Two separate people might be
arguing over the correctness or wrongness of a particular situation or
action and using the same facts to argue their point that their opponent
is. However, both have different perspectives resulting in two
different truths. The response to this is generally to consider the
opponent's perspective to be flawed in some way either through
ignorance, self-interest or malice while one's own perspective is viewed
as the most appropriate and closest to The Truth (the words "one",
"only", "real", "actual" or so on may be added or simply implied). Part
of this is because my perception that both frameworks of viewing the
same situation as each being true from their proponent's perspective is
simply another truth that other people may or may not accept.
Every story has conflict and speculative fiction; whether
science-fiction, horror or fantasy; often involves conflicts of a
particularly spectacular sort. This isn't always true, but we're
focusing on where it is. The threats, if not the central conflict, of
sci-fi, horror and fantasy usually come from a standard list.
There is a common trend among fiction where the plot involved is in the
creation of a new weapon or else exploit some discovery for a military
purpose even if it is not directly used as a weapon. Depending on the
nature of the story, this can either be portrayed as an expression of
the will and ingenuity of the human race in the fact of adversity, or it
can be portrayed as our baser, more savage instincts leading us down a
path of violence. The more common interpretation, at least recently, is
the latter. A lot of us seem to have this opinion that anything
related to weapons or the military is sinful, evil or at least unwise.
A lot of fiction ends with some hero or group there of using the
prototype of a weapon to end a threat, but insuring that the weapon
itself is lost as well.
When you watch English-speaking documentaries or read books that focus
on a group of renowned soldiers, there are some rather common sets of
language used depending on just what, besides fighting, this particular
set of warriors was most well known for.
I like fantasy stories in general ranging from classic Tolkien to more
modern derivations thereof as well as fantasies deriving from other
cultures, especially Asia. A common theme among Asian fantasies is the
individual who is trying to achieve enlightenment. In the course of
this quest, at least in Western attempts at such, there often comes a
point where the paradox of this search is explained: namely that in
order to achieve enlightenment, one must transcend desires, absolutely
all desires, including the desire to become enlightened.
Anytime you talk about comic books and the like, someone outside the
genre notes that the entire thing is unrealistic. While the superpowers
and a number of the pieces of equipment are definitely in the land of
fantasy, a lot of other things take flack as well. A number of people
note the ridiculousness of the different code names and villains, secret
identities and secret societies and what not.
So there's a rather humorous youtube video up showcasing the
similarities between the Streetfighter franchise and the characters in
Naruto. It's called There can be only one. Of
course, the fact that streetfighter characters are basically raw
martial artist archetypes means that it has characters with a lot of
similarity to a large number of other franchises, but that it is still
amusing to point out where characters are very, very similar to existing
Morality is a funny thing, everybody seems to base it around
different things. Everybody seems to have a very different idea of what
is right. There is a current trend in fiction towards grey vs grey
morality. The basic feeling is that if you look at matters from all the
different points of view possible that it is difficult or even
impossible to ever call any particular action morally right or
wrong. The tendency is to point out that there are no absolutes, that
no one group is any more evil or good than another and thus that the
whole question of morality is moot and pointless.
Because according to the shades-of-grey idea, there are no absolutes.
Cha Dae-Woong is a young man trying to become the world's next big
action movie star. However, his grandfather is getting tired of the way
he irresponsibly throws money around and the way he skips school and
tries to drag Dae-Woong away from his classes and to a military
college. Dae-Woong escapes, but in doing so finds himself stuck on a
truck heading for a country shrine where he unwittingly releases a
nine-tailed fox (Gumiho) from its prison.
Title: 49 Days
Episode Length: 1:05 minutes
Series Length: 20 episodes
Premise: Shin Ji Hyun is a girl who has to have everything. She is
rich, she has loving parents and many friends. She's about to get
married to Min Ho and hoping to introduce her best friend, In Jung, to
one of her fiancee's friends. Then an unfortunate series of events
leads to a car accident that puts her into a coma and puts her soul
wandering out into the world. Not long after, she meets a Scheduler,
whose job is to guide people to their appointed times and places of
death. Because Shin Ji Hyun's death was not on the schedule, she has a
chance to come back to life. If she can prove that three people not
related to her by blood truly loved her by collecting tears of 100% pure
love. Given that she is considered one of the kindest most genuinely
honest people anybody knows, this doesn't seem difficult at first. Of
course, nothing is as simple as it seems. First, she has to borrow the
body of Song Ji-Kyung, who has her own tragic past, and second she can't
tell anybody who she is or about or her mission.
Transformation is something that shows up fairly often in my stories in
one form or another. There is something that intrigues me about the
idea of a person or thing becoming something something other than what
they started out as. I frequently make use of literal transformation
and almost always end up with a matter of metaphorical translation if
enough of the story moves along.
So, this is less about writing skills because it's not about what makes a
good story, but does deal with things I like to use in stories. I'm
fairly sure this started with the same sort of juvenile "cool lesbians"
thoughts a lot of guys end up having at some point in their lives. That
said, I've always liked stories and, as said in my bit on candy and
distractions earlier this week, just randomly adding in sex scenes
usually results in me losing interest in a story as it becomes
repetitive. I am much more interested in emotions and interplay of the
characters involved than merely the physical expression of the
emotions. That said, I've found that I like doing what some people
would consider weird things with relationships.
In the course of a story you are going to refer to each character
several times, however, you do not want to be repeated "Luke said" or
"Luke wrote" or "Luke did whatever" over and over again. The repetition
of the name would get grating on the reader and it has the character of
an inexpert speaker.
This book is a play on the popular trend in supernatural romances that
are out in the market today. There are some significant differences
from the standard formula of the young woman falling in love with the
vampire that make this an interesting variation.
This is a fairly interesting young adult fantasy romance that has some
moderate issues connected to it. Granted, some of what I might have to
say may be a result of this story being outside the normal realm of my
preferred genre, but as much as the setting and circumstances are
interesting, I can't say I much enjoyed the story. I'm sure many people
would, but there was a lot of the storyline that made me feel