Archive for August, 2009

As the month slowly winds towards an end, the rough draft of Tears of the Mountain is starting to take shape at last, with the last week being especially productive. The word count has now passed 30,000. Of that, apart from three hundred odd words, it is all of the main plot. The secondary plot hasn’t been started yet, nor a couple of other scenes that need writing up.

The aim is to finish up the main plot line and then go back and write the secondary plot. Once that is done, it will be time to work out how best to weave them together and then write up the ending which ties it all together. While the main plot is drawing to an end, I’m not sure how much more the secondary plot will add to the rough draft – my guess is it will come out to between 40 and 50 K in length.

And then the real work commences.

This first draft is very minimalist – almost more a synopsis. For the most part descriptions are very limited, conversations basic and some characters not fully fleshed out. In fact two characters have had their relationship completely changed halfway through. The two, as I previously mentioned in How To Stop Them killing Each Other, where threatening to derail the whole plot and so changes had to be made.

There are eight characters in the main group – unfortunately some are little more than names at the moment. I need to work out some more details and work that into the story. The main concern is the only woman in the group, Abhiala. I don’t want to cut her out – that would leave no women in the story. The original part of the plot she was going to be involved in seems to have been axed, leaving her with little to do. I’m not turning her into a amazon action-girl – it doesn’t fit – but I need to figure out something for her to do.

So much work to be done still – almost makes you want to start another story instead.


Another short story has now been completed and added to the Pure Escapism collection. By my count the total amount of words between them comes in at around 96,000 now, which came as a surprise to me when I compiled the numbers.

This story continues on the tale of the giant white minotaur Nhaqosa, following on from The Pit and The Merchant’s Legacy. This one is called Echoes of Dark Reflections.

The world that Nhaqosa has found himself in has always been the most gritty and brutal of the various setting, but this one is darker still, at least for my writing. The story never intended to turn out the way it did. The concept behind it had always been there, to give Nhaqosa something of a different challenge, one that would test even him. However the story took a different path than I expected and I had to ramp back the ending a bit. Even so, the events are going to leave scars on Nhaqosa, and how than pans out in future stories we will have to see when I get around to them.

Given the nature of the story, it seemed logical to introduce a new race, one that I had been trying to work out how to bring into the setting. This is the Talsharan, as mentioned previously in Long Lost Relics. They have something of a dark, unpleasant history to them as well, one that will require further exapnding on at a future date.

The story is also in a way a bit of a homage to Dark Sun setting. It isn’t set on Athas, but it does in parts have a feel for the same brutal setting of Dark Sun I’d like to think.

And so with another story down, it is time to move onto the next one.

I first read The Silmarillion many years ago, back in high-school, and was blown away at just how epic the book was. It is pretty much my favourite book of all time, and if there was one book I wish I could have written, it is it. Now days epic seems more commonly used to describe those twelve 1000-page volume door-stoppers with more characters than a phone book. The Silmarillion is small by comparison, and the epicness in it comes from the characters and history and events, not from the verbosity and length.

Ever since I have wanted to right my own sweeping epic backstory for the history of my mythos, in the manner of The Silmarillion. Of course, being young when I first started out, it wasn’t particularly good, and borrowed too much from The Silmarillion. But as I got older and pulled the world apart and rebuilt it more than once, things changed and the backstory faded away and was mostly forgotten.

The recent announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and the accompanying trailer, got me thinking about it again. The idea of unleashing a cataclysm on the world of my creation has been one I’ve toyed with for many years, but only in the distant past has it really been appropriate and considered. And so the old gears began to churn again to put together that epic backstory.

I don’t want to do it in the manner of The Silmarillion, which is a straight out narrative telling of the events, but to leave it a bit more open. In particular I want to do it as told by one group, in this case the Arduq, and be their view of the events that transpired. In this regard I am drawing ideas that have intrigued me from two games, or game settings actually. One is the Warcraft setting the other the Elder Scroll setting. Both have a lot of history and backstory scattered through them and built up on but, with the Elder Scroll setting in particular, you are never quite sure if all the little bits of lore you come across are the actual events or not. There are whole websites devoted to the discussing and arguing of the lore of those settings, trying to piece it all together.

If I have a dream, it would be that my words become popular enough that it would inspire that kind of behaviour and that kind of debate. A lot of my stories already have scattered tidbits of history seeded in them, helping to give the world a more fleshed out feel. Some of them are fairly straightforward and make sense, others more obscure and may seem irrelevant so far. Others yet may be stated opinions that may or may not be true. In the upcoming Echoes of Dark Reflections short story, the Minotaur Nhaqosa is talking about the Arduq, and says ‘they were old when the world was young’. It is that kind of thing that leads to debate, hopefully 🙂

Of course, also working out the details properly now means less chance for errors to creep in. If I know what happened and how everything works, I wouldn’t be contradicting what has been said in earlier stories. It is too easy to do and is often seen in sequels that were never thought about when the original story was written – some things just don’t mesh.

The big thing now is to make it suitably epic; the characters, events and history. I have a few ideas already. Hopefully some will make an appearance here at some stage. While it will be the story I have always wanted to write, it is not the kind of story easily sold and is likely the kind of thing that only ever sees the light of day if one becomes very successful and popular. One can only hope and work hard to try and make it so.


Posted: August 24, 2009 in General

Blizzard Entertainment – makers of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and of course World of Warcraft – announced at Blizcon that they are working on the third expansion to Wow; World of Warcaft: Cataclysm.

Big, big changes are in store with this expansion.

Long story short. Deathwing, one of the biggest baddests of Warcraft lore, an immense, powerful and completely insane dragon was in the past beaten and took refuge in the elemental planes. There he recovered and plotted his revenge, and when the Horde and Alliance were busy up in Northrend battling the Lich-King he made his return.

Literally bursting from the elemental planes back into Azeroth, his emergence shook the world and caused a cataclysm, reshaping the entire world. And now he is intent on destroying everything.

What is in the expansion?

Firstly the old world that was core World of Warcraft is being completely remodelled – every original zone is being changed by the Cataclysm, the biggest being The Barrens being torn in half. Which means pretty much every quest is being looked at as well.

The way gear and talent trees function is getting a complete overhaul as well, which is needed.

But that is not really new content, just a reworking of old stuff.

What is new is the following;

Level cap to 85, plus 3 new spells/abilities at 81/83/85, but no new tier of talents.

Seven new zones, including a sunken Naga city and a visit to the elemental planes.

Two new races; Goblins for Horde and Worgen (aka werewolves) for Alliance. Alliance getting Worgen is the only real disappointment for me. They seem more a horde race and are liable to throw numbers balances out even more. Horde got Blood Elves back in Burning Crusade to try and even it out, but Worgen are going to prove a little too popular I think you’ll find. It is good to see the goblins returning to the horde though.

Four new 10/25 man raids and 8 5-man dungeons at release, plus two old ones being upgraded to the new cap. That is more than was available for both other expansions.

A new secondary profession – archaeology, which ties into the Path of the Titans, a new ways to customise your class.

New class/race combinations. Troll Druids for one – the most awesome part of the patch. Also Tauren priests and paladins – and yes, the holy cow jokes are flowing thick and fast.

In addition to the physical changes, lore and the storyline is moving onwards as well and, if rumours are true, into a darker phase with all out war between the Horde and Alliance coming again.

It sounds very intriguing and quite a gutsy move by Blizzard to upend everything this way.

Progress, for whatever reason, has been a little slow this month. The last 2 days have seen around 25% of the work done and the 75% over the last week. At least it is picking up a bit.

I’ve managed to get 20K done so far on the rough, rough draft of Tears of the Mountain, and am about halfway through the plot points. Oddly the story isn’t halfway through though. The group has been travelling for just a week with three more to go to reach their destination and have just started their first minor fight. There was a brief scuffle at one stage earlier on, but that doesn’t classify as a fight. And I still have et to do three more minor fights, a naval battle and a major land battle. Or start working on the subplot. I had hoped to complete the rough draft by the end of the month, but that may not happen.

In other news, somehow I’ve managed almost nine hundred downloads on Smashwords, and have somehow snuck up to #11 on the most viewed author over the last 3 months there. Of course, many of those others are trying to sell their books and I’m just giving it out for free, so that is certain to skew numbers in my favour.

I’ve reached an interesting, and unexpected, development in the rough draft of Tears of the Mountain – two characters who actively want to kill each other. I knew they were antagonistic towards each other when plotting out the story, but I didn’t realise just how much until I started writing. The difficulty lies now in keeping them apart. I could just let them off each other, but that would demolish the plot, but on the other hand I need a way to stop them which seems plausible and not heavy-handed.

An explanation of the background may be in order here.

The Amari city of Adranatti Vesa lies across the northern sea, and grew rich on gold and gemstones until the mines dried up, but by which stage it had become an important trading centre. Adranatti, like most Amari cities, is a princedom, under the nominal rule of the Amari King, but in reality most are semi-independent city-states. When the Prince of Adranatti, Tol Venatro, went to war with his western neighbours, his younger and more popular brother, Cantarossi, took the opportunity to usurp him and exile him, leaving him and his army trapped between hostile forces.

Both princes desire to find the fabled lost city that the Amari call Illiatoriun, said to lie in the deep deserts and to house a vast wealth of treasure. When the professor, historian and explorer Halir visit Adranatti, they both try to get him to find the city for them. His curiosity getting the better of him, Halir sets out to find it, and in his party are two men, Tol Marassi and Logawa, who work for the rival brothers.

They don’t like each other. In part because they work for rival brothers, doing the dirty work for them. Also in part because they both come for cultures that have a long history of feuds – think how the French and English perceived each other for centuries and were seemingly always at war. Both men are killers and are determined that their prince should come out on top.

The problem is I still need both of them alive for future events but both seem determined to derail the whole plot with their feuding.

It is certainly making the writing of the draft interesting to sat the least.

I just added one of the short stories I mentioned I found the other day to the list of downloadable stories on the Pure Escapism page. This one is called Long Lost Relics.

Okay, I’ll admit that there is a bit of a bad pun involved there; they story revolves around the recovery of a long lost religious relic, and at the same time the story itself was a bit of a lost relic recently recovered and rewritten.

The story itself originated from a game I played many years ago that sadly ended when the GM got overtaken by real life. It was a fantasy 4X style game – building up a nation via exploration, research, construction and war. The story itself relates certain events that happened during the game itself.

It has nothing to do with the worlds of my fantasy writing, even though I am trying to get the Talsahran, the race I played in the game, into the setting somehow. It has been put up simply as a relic of past writing.

The Minotaur

Posted: August 18, 2009 in fantasy
Tags: , , , ,

As may have been noticed in some of the short stories, I like minotaurs. While many races have been culled from the world of my writings, the minotaurs survived and thrived.


I am not sure exactly where my fascination for the minotaur comes from. In Greek mythology the Minotaur was a singular creature, not a race, and was something of a violent monster that ate dwelt in the labyrinth of Crete and devoured young men and maidens. He was slain by Theseus of Athens (though this being a Greek story, it ends in tragedy for Theseus as well.)

Every since, minotaurs have generally been depicted as being rather violent, barbaric and evil creatures. Mostly. Yet despite this, I had a soft spot for them. When I first started writing fantasy at a young age, one part of the world had what I refer to as the half-men; minotaurs, centaurs and satyrs. At the time C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books were one of my main influences, hence the centaurs and satyrs. While minotaurs did rate a reference at times, they were on the White Witch’s side.

I think I may have wondered why the half-man/half-bull creatures were bad while the half-man/half-horse and half-man/half-goat creatures were good, so I included them all in together. Since then the centaurs and satyrs have been culled (reluctantly, and they may return as creatures of one of the Otherwords) but the minotaurs remained. My biggest concern is that I may have made them a little too good.


Recently minotaurs have been seen in a more positive light, one of the main reasons being Warcraft. In Warcraft III a race of bullmen made an appearance – the Taurens. They were minotaurs with an Amerindian influence. They were wise and calm and lived in balance with nature and became an integral part of The Horde. They are seen by both sides as being probably the most ‘good’ of any race. Hardly surprising then that in WCIII and World of Warcraft that I turned out to be an avid Horde player – and my main was a Tauren Druid called Kwatalani.

So here is to the noble minotaur and be on the lookout for further appearances of them in my stories.

Just finished off the rough draft of the Echoes of Dark Reflections short story, at slightly over 4500 words.

I did this in the new minimalist rough draft style, so it will take a lot of reworking and polishing in the rewrites to get it in a readable form. Not sure how long that will take.

Nhaqosa and his bad go through a bit in this story, which may change them a little in future stories, but I think it may have needed to be done.

More when it is closer to being finished.

Back in the mid-90s there was a game released that I played a lot – probably the only game I played more was Master of Orion 2. The game was called Emperor of the Fading Suns, a 4X game based on the Fading Suns RPG universe. It was a fairly grim, gothic setting. Consider it the Dark Ages in Space and you get the idea; knights and nobles and peasants and superstition and the inquisition. Not as grimdark as WH40K, but certainly not the happiest of settings.

If any game could have a sequel/remake done, this game tops my list.

Part of the appeal of the game was the soundtrack. It fitted perfectly. The other day on a forum elsewhere, the question arose of favourite game soundtracks and I remembered EFS. So I got out the old CD, ripped the music off it and started listening to it again. It makes great music to write too.

I also found the tracks on youtube so as a musical interlude I’ll start working the way through them.

Fading Suns


For the Fallen

I also discovered a copy of the introduction to the game, though with Spanish subtitles. The CGI may look dated now, but back in its day it was good.