Story Time!

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Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:40 am

No I’m not here with more short-stories or anecdotes. I’ve been penning in some ideas (for a while now) for an actual novel. Well if I’m honest, I was inspired by video games (specifically JRPGs) and started designing my own ‘premise’ for a video game. Then it developed into a ‘plot’ and all of a sudden it was a ‘world’.
Next thing you know I’m planning characters and ‘teams’ and a class system and how magic works in my lil’ fantasy land. The planning phase has become almost a novel unto itself!

So I thought I’d share some of my ideas here. For critique (what’s amusing, what sounds stupid, what’s kinda interesting) and also to take on ideas.

If you want to throw up any character ideas or ‘wouldn’t it be cool if..’ scenarios or whatever you can think of - I'd be pretty interested to hear them. I don’t know where I’m going with this – I’m having trouble actually writing scenes atm – but it’s a bit of fun if you’ve got a bit of imagination and/or if you like writing yourself.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:41 am

The key idea to get me started was – what if you played a game where you saw a protagonist’s journey, but you played as his rival?

Imagine watching the Matrix from Agent Smith’s perspective for example. You would be tasked with stopping Neo, and yet everything that happens just makes your job more and more difficult. Him being a bit wily, having some good fortunate, meeting sympathetic friends and overall Neo generally transforming into something of a hero. No matter what you do, no matter how much of the upper hand you seem to have, this guy just finds a way to beat you…. What would you do?

That was the interesting idea that got me started down this path.

Setting:
You have to think Final Fantasy style (lets say FF9 or FF12). It’s almost a medieval time (though not quite so filthy), but has a strange array of technology in some parts but also absence of technology sometimes.
Magic exists, but most people cannot use it. Even from those who can, it’s rare to have significant power. Magic also doesn’t “create”, it just “manipulates elements” – so you can’t light a torch from nothing, but you can take the fire from 1 torch to light several for example.

Beyond that there’s a single huge nation on the continent that fractured when their King died – the last in his lineage – meaning these past 20 years or so have been this land learning how to govern without a Royal leader. This boils to a head a couple of years before our story starts, with two factions going to war over ruling the entire nation.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:42 am

Premise:
Now we meet Paetro, acting as our aforementioned ‘protagonist’, on the run from Anatov, essentially an “antagonist” (you can probably see how I created my placeholder names for these characters lol).

The story will primarily follow Anatov – it’s his journey – but would cut to Paetro to reveal what he’s going through. The ‘video game narrative’ idea was to have cut scenes with Paetro for the audience, but if this somehow turned into a fantasy novel you’d flesh out more of a dual-perspective story.

And it becomes a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Anatov makes moves and Paetro makes counter moves. Paetro encounters people and situations and often Anatov will encounter the very same ones – albeit in a different light. Some will help, some will hinder. Some will be quite funny.


Plot:
Two Nations are at war. Aptly named (I promise my naming gets a bit better after this) “Team A” and “Team B”.

To gain the upper hand Team A has been trying to create a super soldier program. Paetro, a leading scientist in the program, destroys all the research they’ve been doing and flee’s into the lower-class parts of town to hide.

Military Officer Anatov, respected by the commonfolk yet despised by the ruling classes and his military peers, is tasked with hunting down the traitor Paetro. A rather menial task well below his paygrade.
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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” - Aristotle
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:43 am

[Paetro]
Paetro is the first test subject for the super soldier program – a process of essentially infusing magic rocks with a person’s bone marrow (still working on the wordsmithing a bit here lol) – and realised how torturous the procedure was and how painful ‘living’ is with this kind of unchained magical energy within your body.

He destroyed the lab because he fears how destructive having an army of folks like him is, and yet in turn creates a bit of an identity crisis for himself. He’s a traitor to Team A and he’s also kind of a mage with unlimited potential, but also no idea how to use it. He fears death, and wonders if he can ever be ‘cured’. He’s wracked with guilt of both studying and then volunteering as the first test subject.

His journey is essentially a fish-out-of-water scenario. He’s not used to being on the run. He has limited contacts and resources. He’s not a warrior nor particularly ‘strong’.

[Anatov]
Team A finds him a bit of a nuisance. He previously revealed potential war crimes that Team A’s military was prepared to commit, but his family name is legendary among the people so they can’t get rid of him. Throughout the war they’ve essentially been giving him menial tasks well away from the front lines, almost in the hope that he’ll get bored of being an Officer and resign.

When Paetro runs, Team A figures it was a planned move and there’s no chance of ever finding their former scientist – in all likelihood Paetro would soon die from the experiment anyway – the perfect nigh-impossible and potentially indefinite task for them to assign Anatov to.

[Cat and Mouse]
Anatov’s pretty clever and resourceful (despite very little help from his peers in Team A), but Paetro’s wily and as essentially proof of the unethical experimentations Team A’s rulers have authorised, he does garner fair bit of sympathy, support and most importantly some allies.

Over time, Paetro learns that Team B (aka ‘the good guys’) are sympathetic to what’s been done, and offer (via messenger) to help try to reverse the process – and in it for Team B is the chance to learn how to combat these super soldiers before Team A makes more of them.

So we trek across the country trying to get from 1 capital to the other, both parties getting desperate – Paetro fearful that the longer he has this power the harder it will be to both contain and reverse to the process. Anatov knowing that the further he progresses towards Team B’s capital, the less friends he’ll have (as an officer of Team A of course) and the more he risks his own safety. But to go back empty handed would give Team A all they need to discharge him due to his incompetence.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:44 am

So that gives us all the ‘set-up’ we need (for now), I think? Why everyone is doing what they’re doing and why we’re following Paetro and Anatov. The potential struggles for both our main characters and a whole bunch of moral & ethical conflicts that can come up as they learn more about one another.

Next up I just want to share a few characters – this is where some of the more ‘fun’ elements come into it, and I’d like to hear some other ideas for characters – important or no – that might fit the idea.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby werdo64 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:28 am

Is the story going to be written entirely from Anatov's perspective, or are we going to have chapters from Anatov's and chapters from Paetro's perspective?

Having been an avid reader since my youth, I feel like the best stories are the ones where there is mystery that you are left to fill in the blanks, or when you have the big Ah HA!? Moments when you put the pieces of the puzzle together or something gets revealed.

I really love the premise of being the "bad" guy who is following the "good" guy, and the story being written from the "bad" guys perspective. I've yet to see a movie like that, and I really want one. The closest I ever saw was Swordfish, but they used the storyline, and dialogue to try and make the john travolta's character out to be a good guy, rather than the bad guy he was. I really didn't like that.

I like the setting, it reminds me of Infinite Undiscovery.

I'm extremely analytical, and not very creative myself, so I'm intensely detail focused. I just want to ask more and more questions! You don't have to answer these.
Firstly, there are some elements of the plot that sound quite like Wolverine from comics, was this intentional? How were you planning on differentiating from this?
Is there any need to have detail surrounding the process of what happened to Paetro, or is that going to be glossed over and left to the imagination of the reader?
How much thought have you given to the mix of technology and medieval?
Is this designed to be a multiple book thing or all resolved inside a single novel?
Do you want the universe to be complete enough that you could write other novels about the universe (e.g. The events leading up to, and immediately after the king's death)?
How much did you want to delve into the actual magic itself? Is there a source that needs to be investigated to 'cure' Paetro? Did he 'invent' or 'discover' magic?

Additional Characters.
I'm just reminded of english class at school where they talked about comic relief, etc.
I'd like there to be remnants of the royal family still alive. Some active in the military of Team A and Team B, and some passive, just trying to live peacefully.

Sorry, lotta rambling in there, but I reckon the concept is really exciting!
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:18 am

werdo64 wrote:Is the story going to be written entirely from Anatov's perspective, or are we going to have chapters from Anatov's and chapters from Paetro's perspective?


Probably a bit of both. Maybe 70/30?
As mentioned, the initial idea was just to sketch out a video game plot - so you'd just play as one (Anatov). But as the world grew I thought I might try my hand at practising some writing... and if this is a novel, it probably needs to spend time with both characters.

werdo64 wrote:Having been an avid reader since my youth, I feel like the best stories are the ones where there is mystery that you are left to fill in the blanks, or when you have the big Ah HA!? Moments when you put the pieces of the puzzle together or something gets revealed.


Agreed that's the trick. I think there needs to be a constant mix of reveals & questions generated, and within that a mix of short-term problems & solutions/reveals as well as slow burning things. Hopefully I can get some the layering right.

werdo64 wrote:I really love the premise of being the "bad" guy who is following the "good" guy, and the story being written from the "bad" guys perspective. I've yet to see a movie like that, and I really want one. The closest I ever saw was Swordfish, but they used the storyline, and dialogue to try and make the john travolta's character out to be a good guy, rather than the bad guy he was. I really didn't like that.

I like the setting, it reminds me of Infinite Undiscovery.


I'll be honest, the strategy is to make it seem pretty clear who's good and bad at first - and over time add the sheets of gray over both of them. For example, Paetro seems like the noble guy, but he did help with the science AND volunteer to be the first experimented on... is that noble and nice?

From a story-telling perspective I probably wouldn't even give much detail on him aside from "was experimented on and broke free and is on the run" for a bit. Then it's revealed he was a scientist on the project (so he's not "quite" as pure as we thought), and then it turns out he was [one of the] leaders of the science project and volunteered. So he basically knew about and willingly helped with the supersolider program (still working on a name for that) - ethically he wasn't a great person.
But then the experiment and kind of the reality of the situation dawns on him and he does what he does. You could argue that he's a pretty dodgy character for his actions really. But you won't know about that dodgy-ness until long after you've felt sympathy for him for a while (since as a reader you won't know better at the beginning).


werdo64 wrote:I'm extremely analytical, and not very creative myself, so I'm intensely detail focused. I just want to ask more and more questions! You don't have to answer these.
Firstly, there are some elements of the plot that sound quite like Wolverine from comics, was this intentional? How were you planning on differentiating from this?
Is there any need to have detail surrounding the process of what happened to Paetro, or is that going to be glossed over and left to the imagination of the reader?
How much thought have you given to the mix of technology and medieval?
Is this designed to be a multiple book thing or all resolved inside a single novel?
Do you want the universe to be complete enough that you could write other novels about the universe (e.g. The events leading up to, and immediately after the king's death)?
How much did you want to delve into the actual magic itself? Is there a source that needs to be investigated to 'cure' Paetro? Did he 'invent' or 'discover' magic?


- I haven't looked into Wolverine beyond the movie stuff, so I don't really know. If there are similarities, I can only hope that as the 'world' takes shape, it starts to feel a lot different. Having said that the plan is to have our guys find friends and travelling allies (like a Final Fantasy game would do) and Wolverine was mostly a loner I guess? Hopefully that part starts to distance things.

- Yes and no. I have a basic idea of how magic 'works' and the concept of using nature to power it. But beyond a few episodes of House MD, I wouldn't know anything about the science/process behind getting magical dirt in someone's blood stream or bone marrow or that level of detail.

- Not sure on tech vs setting. I think it'll be more like "Assume there is no tech unless it is mentioned otherwise." I don't have many examples really. There's certainly no electricity or electricity-equivalent "power" source though.

- The specific story of Anatov chasing Paetro is certainly just supposed to be 1 story. I believe there's only so many times you can go "Oh I've got you now!" "Awww damn, he got away at the last minute again!" without it getting tired. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of Paetro or Anatov's stories or lives of course. I have ideas for other stuff. But yeah, the 'chase' is 1 book. I have some ideas of how one or both of these characters go on after this including some ideas on how to foreshadow that during this first story... but for now it's just 1 story and I really just need to do one 'fully' before I decide if I'm capable of doing more haha.

- And yes, the idea is to make a fully 'living' world. And if this ever goes anywhere, yes I certainly think it has potential for more stories set before and after this one.
I've previously read through a whole bunch of the Dune series, and that's a good example where the main story(/stories) is(/are) great, but there's a whole bunch of side stories (re: the Houses etc..) that are still interesting to be written beyond that. And a lot of stories end up with spin-offs based on certain (popular) characters etc..
I haven't specifically thought back to the original king specifically - I just had a vague idea and threw out the 20 years this just today as a guide.

- I'll talk magic & Paetro separately. I have a LOT of notes on all that stuff.

werdo64 wrote:Additional Characters.
I'm just reminded of english class at school where they talked about comic relief, etc.
I'd like there to be remnants of the royal family still alive. Some active in the military of Team A and Team B, and some passive, just trying to live peacefully.


I haven't thought much about the royalty side. I made some of that up this morning to try and frame the premise of war a little better. Doesn't mean it isn't canon, just that it was a vague idea in my mind. But having living relatives that are unknown is a good idea. I did like all the political/bloodline intrigue from GoT in the early seasons for example (haven't read those books mind you).

So far all I've shared is the serious stuff. And yes, it IS supposed to be fairly serious. But I have some fun stuff in mind. I have some fun comic relief characters in mind, and a few fun scenarios too.
Same can be said for romance. I'm pretty keen to have romance options (again, this is based in video-game logic) - currently on Paetro's side more than Anatov's.


werdo64 wrote:Sorry, lotta rambling in there, but I reckon the concept is really exciting!


Definitely not a problem! I'm pretty invested in the story and you know I like reading/writing a lot from the forums here, haha.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:40 am

I wanted to give an example of a character. My current favourite (which you know, changes every week as I think up new characters or new cool stuff to include with certain characters) is Baron.

Barnon / Baron / Barren
In the story, he’s just a passing encounter for Paetro and Anatov.

He’s a jovial ‘bar fly’ type, who hangs at the most popular tavern in the Lower Class parts of town (Lower Class is not necessarily ‘poor’ in this world, it’s just the tradesmen, farmers etc..). He’s more stocky than he is burly. He always seems to be at the bar, he’s always drinking but never seems to be sloppy or overly drunk, and he basically socialises with everyone in the place.

He’s quite wealthy as well. People don’t know that much about him / his family (most Upper Class families have well-known names, but Barnon doesn’t share his). He’s pretty generous (shouting drinks and caring about people down on their luck etc..).

He doesn’t reveal much about himself, but because people have been bringing up how wealthy (and Upper Class) he must be, he’s started introducing himself as “Baron” (instead of Barnon) as if he’s implying he has some kind of awarded title/estate out there somewhere - you can never tell if he's telling the truth, just saying it as a lie to get people off his back about it or if he says it because he thinks it's funny (he always laughs when they ask him about his name). Other bar patrons (friendly) mockingly call him “Barren” as both/either a reference to the fact that he spends so much on booze so often his wallet must be barren, or as a joke about how he drinks so much he’s clearly not barren dry.

And because he knows everyone and everything he’s not too bad as an information broker. He might help Paetro make safe passage out of town/get him an escort, and he may well pretend to help Anatov who comes to investigate, but he’s actually leading the officer on a wild goose chase to buy Paetro time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I actually started writing two scenes – the first where Paetro enters the bar looking for “the Baron” and Barnon pretends to be able to point them in the right direction, but only after he’s grilled them with a half dozen questions (why do they want to see Baron etc..) after they’ve bought him an ale or two… only later revealing that he’s that Baron all along once he understands that their motives are pure.

Then the 2nd scene is Anatov entering looking for The Banon as well, and Barnon plays an almost identical trick, asking very similar questions. And when he’s less than satisfied with how Anatov answers, he leads them on a wild goose chase looking for Baron or following the wrong leads.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby werdo64 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:40 am

Have you thought of a system for last names, family names?

I only really have a very limited base on this, cause not a lot of books that I've read have a deep enough universe to need to differentiate families like this. Since you mentioned Barnon/Baron/Barren is wealthy, but no one really knows who he is, or his family background it made me think of it...

I've only got 3 sort of ideas here.
1. Surnames, as per current times.
2. Mostly unique firstnames, but where there are two characters with the same first name they are known as son/daughter of father/mothers name. Baron, son of Ballwin.
3. Houses, or similar. Like Game of Thrones/Medieval Europe, the wealthy, higher class citizens are known by their family/house name, where lowborn tend not to have last names at all.

I was just doing some quick reading on when last names begun, and why. Interesting stuff.

Barnon sounds like a great character. I like the way he disguises his identity.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-crowfan65 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:27 am

Surnames have derived by different methods of the years

In the english system for the lower class it was based on what job the held
John the Carpenter
William the Smith
Tony the Farmer

In addition to these it was derived from the parents (patronymic/matronymic)
John, WIlliam's son
Lyndon, John's son
etc

Similar with Mac and O' so Bill McDonald was actually Bill, Donald's son
Teddy O'Donald was Teddy, Donald's son

Just something to keep in mind for you
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:49 pm

werdo64 wrote:Have you thought of a system for last names, family names?


Not really. Even the first names of the main two characters are really placeholders. But everything so far is first-name basis in my notes.
I think I want upper and lower class folks to pass family names down. My "caste" system is a bit different - you essentially 'buy' your way into the Upper Class by acquiring (paying for) a Sigil^ in your family's name. Then all your Upper Class folks have a kind of prestige game they play - in the same sport as Dragon Age's Orlais, but with different rules. Point being that it's important to have consistent surnames (as in you pass it onto your kids), but no idea what they are, or naming conventions.

^ Yes I'm aware there's a magical background with what a 'Sigil' is - that's on purpose. The legend (everyone knows) is that Gods/Demons were a presence, they ruled over/oppressed humans with their foreign tricks & magics, and secretly a cult of humans studied and learned some magic of their own. But humans were ultimately frightened of both magic and their gods' wrath, so the new human 'mages' cult was small and humble. As a kind of a 'bond' these mages created personalised sigils to represent themselves - the idea being that once you had one, you could never betray them by ratting the mages out to the oppressors.
Over (generations of) time, the small order or mages were powerful and wise enough to trap the gods - and with the element of surprise they did! The final act of their coup was to seal their former rulers away with a magic seal. The act of which was each human mage sketching their own Sigil on the Seal, essentially as a kind of statement - 'If these guys ever get free, we are the lineage of the brave, original mages, who will be called upon to defeat them again.'


Of course the Sigils now (1000 years later?) are nothing short of pass-key's handed out by the Ruler, for a family to be allowed to live with Upper Class. But Upper Class members hold their heads high with the belief they are the chosen heroes of old.


werdo64 wrote:Barnon sounds like a great character. I like the way he disguises his identity.


Cheers. It's the kind of humour I like. The explanation takes the sting out of it a bit, but if written well it's humorous - and it feels kind of 'normal', which is important when the two main characters are going on some kind of fantasy adventure.


GM-crowfan65 wrote:Surnames have derived by different methods of the years

In the english system for the lower class it was based on what job the held
John the Carpenter
William the Smith
Tony the Farmer


As Dan "the" Butler. from England, I can attest to this. :lol:

jks of course. I don't know how far back my line is - probably to a time before they called them "Butlers" haha.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:34 pm

I'm getting a bit lazy just posting the raw image of my notes, haha. But I'm going away for the weekend so the updates may well be shelved until Sunday night.

Team Roster.PNG


The idea being that these guys come and go a bit. Paetro has JA and Simone for most of his journey (when I was hinting at Barnon hooking him up with an escort, one or both of these were whom I had in mind), but Anatov has long periods on his own.

"LEGENDARY MAGE" explanations - I basically decided that there should be like a "best swordsman" and "best mage" who are well known around the land. It's ye olden time, so what they look like and who they are can be a bit here-say and unreliable, but at the end of the day the stories of their exploits - or the ways in which they've proven themselves - are fairly accurate. Both "LEGENDARY SWORDSMAN" and "LEGENDARY MAGE" are kind of so good that they transcend the squabbles of Team A and Team B, and they refuse to join either side.

But Anatov's kinda famous in his own right. He also has a history with the legendary mage (hinted at being an intimate history). So he gets a message to her and she agree's to join him. After all, Paetro is almost like a powerful new kind of Mage - so of course she'd be interested in checking him out.

And yes, "Allegro" is intentionally named lol.
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:45 pm

This sheet always makes me laugh. Don't know how far down this 'gag' rabbit hole I'd go, but it's a fun thought during the planning stages regardless.

Allegro.PNG
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:49 pm

Ok one last one - I found a random sketch I made (in my beloved MS Paint) which is concept art for Team A's capital, lol.

StorytimeMap.png


Grey is roads. So the river ultimately defines Upper and Lower Class 'zones' and the Upper Class area bends around a commercial district. That's more like closed in 'shops'. There's a Lower Class commercial kind of district too - but it's more like a Market.

That random blue box near the words "lower class" - that's Barnon's watering hole... lol. He doesn't own it, but he's the most significant person there :wink:
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:29 am

Social Class - Ruling Class

I guess some perspective on society is required, since we’ve mentioned the ‘class’ system a couple of times. It’s an important piece of world-building, and in helping create the right kind of imagery for readers. It’s also important to know how people in the story interact with the main characters we know (and love?), based on social standing and background.

Team A & Team B
For starters, both ‘teams’ function in a similar fashion. In reality this is 1 big fractured nation, and these are two equal and opposite sides fighting a civil war. So the social classing structure hasn’t had time to evolve/devolve/change since they split.

Before we start, it’s important to understand that I’m not politically minded. The world was created in the way that best suits the story, and then any similarities to political or governmental structures are really just there for a reference.

Ruling Class
I may well come up with a better name for this.

My best attempt at referencing 21st century-known government structures is to say the land functions in an Oligarchy – where a scant few essentially ‘run’ the nation.
From there it’s similar to a Plutocracy – where wealth and social standing determine who has the opportunity to join the rulers.

In practise, vote among the wealthy & high socials to determine whom the solo ruler is. Said ‘Ruler’ hires his own council of advisors – these families take up direct residence in the castle. But the Ruler has final say.*
*arguable, depending on the ruler & advisers and power-struggles.

Actually in reality, the ‘new’ ruler is usually chosen by general consensus than over and official vote. Often the retiring Ruler nominates his successor (and how much that is based on capability, family ties or other nefarious political machinations is often unknown) and everyone agrees. To publicly go against the general consensus or to demand an official (legally allowed, by the way) vote is a sleight on your social status… it’s shameful to undermine everyone else’s opinions like that.
So you can see why it’s hard to put a label on the structure. I don’t know if Oligarchy structures have a single head figure and I’m not certain if Plutocratic (sp?) structures have any kind of voting at all. And I’m not certain if it’s worth caring about any of this at all, since it’s all deceitful and dishonest over who and how someone gets to be Ruler anyway!

For what it’s worth, Team A has passed the Ruler mantle around a bit, but the council of advisors have been similar families for a while (a couple of generations) so it’s implied they are ruled-by-committee a bit more. Team B has kept it’s Ruler in-the-family a lot more like a Monarch, though we won’t learn how well that functions until much later in the story.


[spoiler tag I guess - plot related points below]


And yes having 1 run by committee and one run by (essentially a) king is deliberate – I like the idea of exploring the pros and cons of each setup (albeit from afar).

As an example, Paetro is ‘running’ to Team B. The story is that the King has promised him protection. Now how much power does the king have? Well you and I know it’s fairly absolute… but Paetro (and hopefully the uninformed readers) won’t. Having only experienced the Team A’s council-style, they’ll question the legitimacy of Team B’s Boss – can he really promise that on his own?
Brother Butters of the Blessed Comebacks
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” - Aristotle
"Oh, my mistake... I suppose he stares at you longingly, because he's hopeful for a successful military alliance."
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