Archive for August, 2009

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Battle

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.

…poking around in old files on an old computer.

I ran across two short stories I write many, many years ago, one sci-fi, one fantasy. As it happens both came out of games I used to play.

I’m going to rewrite them both now that my writing has improved a little and hope to have them posted up for all to see in the next week or two.

Dark Sun Returns

Posted: August 15, 2009 in General
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Many years ago, I came across a campaign setting for AD&D 2nd ED called Dark Sun. It was my first foray into non-traditional fantasy and I fell in love with the setting; a dark, gritty world where an apocalyptic war of magic had left most of the world a desert wasteland, countless races wiped out and the remnants huddled in a few city-states ruled over by tyrannical immortal sorcerer-kings where life was short and brutal, slavery was the norm and the characters often were forced into the gladiator pits.

This is what the world of Athas looks like;

Dark Sun

Dark Sun

Well, it is back. Or will be next year when it is updated for 4E.

Dark Sun Cover

The Dark Sun setting had a big influence on the world of my writings. Before it was a fairly standard clichéd fantasy world. Afterwards I began to rework it until it has reached its current form today, which is a world of vast tracks of inhospitable deserts, with civilisation clinging to the edges along the coasts. Nowhere near quite as inhospitable as Athas, but not your normal world either.

Also, the current Nhaqosa story being worked on, Echoes of Dark Reflections, has some definite Athasian elements too it. I suppose we could all it a tribute to Athas.

Over the last few days, in addition to working on the rough draft of Tears of the Mountain, I have also been making progress on the next short story in the Nhaqosa collection, called Echoes of Dark Reflections.

The rough draft is getting close to the end, but do date it has turned out a bit darker than other stories. The Nhaqosa setting was always the most brutal of them, but other events in Echoes of Dark Reflections seem to be making it grittier. Whether that will survive to the final draft remains to be seen.

The story hasn’t quite been finished yet, and I’m trying to make up my mind about something before doing so. Nhaqosa is accompanied by a merry band of mercenaries, around two dozen in total. Most however remain unnamed and only around three have received any real attention in the stories to date.

I’m trying to decide what to do with them. I could kill most of them off so only a handful remain, but this is likely to have a big impact on Nhaqosa given he sees them as family. The other is in each story focus on one or two of them and then cycle them into the background again. The nature of the stories is that there would always be deaths, it’d just be more pronounced in the former option, and it would be the way I’d go if I was truly evil.

I have in the past had a tendency to want to write the whole story in one go no plotting, no rough drafts, just the finished story. It is kind of a bad way of going about things and can explain why so little in the past ever got finished.

Even today when I am actively writing rough drafts, I still tend to try and put too much detail in, rather than just getting the gist of the story down, though it is improving.

The new method I am trying seems to be helping, plotting the story out first and then doing rough drafts from that. They really are rough when looking at them, with scant details. One scene as an exampled has a couple of people entering a room to meet a man. Pretty much all that is written is that they enter and the man is sitting behind a table. No descriptions of the room or the man, nothing about what is on the table or what is is made of, of light sources or anything like that. All that can be worried about later, once the rough draft is completed.

It doesn’t mean though that nothing much is happening. Yesterday I took one of the plot points off the board and started working on it.

The plot point comprised of just 16 words;

-Leave Adranatti.
-Head north through farms and jungles.
-Marassi and Logawa argue.
-Reach pass through mountains.

Somehow from that I wrote 1500 words of very rough draft. Large parts of a two day trip were glossed over, descriptions were exceedingly minimal, conversations were curtailed, yet it came out to 1500 words and included new plot details I hadn’t considered earlier. When it comes around time for a rewrite of it I’ve got no idea how long it will turn out to be. Not bad for a 16 word plot point.