Story Time!

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Re: Story Time!

Postby darkmatter » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:10 pm

I quite like the set-up of your class system, and how shame/fear of losing one's own status means it is difficult to overthrown the regime.
Darkmatter - South Park expert; USA u19 assistant (seasons 5-7); USA U19 manager(seasons 8-9); USA Assistant manager (season 10 -14,17-some time); USA National Manager (season 14 - 16) Winner (s16 & s17 T20 div 1)
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:30 am

darkmatter wrote:I quite like the set-up of your class system, and how shame/fear of losing one's own status means it is difficult to overthrown the regime.


Cheers! I wanted to make my Upper Class and Lower Class a bit unique and when I decided there was no Monarchy anymore, the Ruling Class kind of 'had' to function in this kind of way otherwise it'd would be either (a) a boring Democracy or (b) a crumbling pile of mess.

I haven't really elaborated on the Upper Class kind of structure either....hmm

Upper Class

Essentially the wealthy - business owners, military leaders, advisers to the Leader etc...
The marker for if you're 'Upper Class' is whether your family name owns a Sigil. There's a record keeper in the Ruling Class who tracks these things. Traditionally owning a Sigil was clearly handed down through the family lines, but nowadays they're almost entirely a kind of permit or licence - one which you can acquire in many ways.. most commonly by buying one off a current Upper Class family (who in turn would no longer be Upper Class, having given up their Sigil now).

And as dumb as that sounds, that kind of thing happens a LOT - the Upper Class families are all about face-value prestige and the vast majority of their life decisions are about improving your prestige compared to your peers.
A big part of this is how many servants you have. We're talking Maids, Butlers, Cooks & Gardeners - then some will have personal Tailors or Animal keepers/tenderers - and the richest of the rich just have private Guards and basically whatever else they can think of. All of these servants are paid, and it's typical fare to have all the servants as "live-in" servants.

So the Upper Class see's 'how many servants you pay/sponsor' as a good deed - as they feel they're improving the quality of life for said servants - and as such, the more servants you have, the greater opulence shining from your estate. And thus, the number of servants you employ is a mark of how prestigious your family is.

Similarly, voting for the nominated successor to the Leader/Ruler position and even donating $$ to him leading up to his appointment is seen as a sign of wealth/prestige.

Transitions in and out of Upper Class

If it all sounds like it's ludicrously excessive, you're totally getting it. The costs get so exponentially excessive that it's nigh impossible to sustain the highest respected reputations. And that's why Sigil's change hands. Sigil's are an expensive asset and if you are going broke, sometimes the Ruling Class will re-possess your Sigil, kicking you out of your estate and out of the Upper Class areas (to recoup outstanding debts etc..). Some families simply don't make much money and decide to sell their Sigil's (typically this is done directly to another family rather than through a 3rd party like the Ruling Class) and just go live Lower Class lives with a lot of money in their coffers.

That selling transaction is usually to a Lower Class member. Selling a Sigil to another Upper Class family, while allowed, is seen as the worst possible thing you can do... certainly a sign that your family can never return to Upper Class society (of course you *can*, but this is all about reputations and face-values etc..).

Exceptions

Folks in the military tend to get a good reputation and upon certain levels are exempt from Class. Keep in mind the town Guard are typically already respected Upper Class folks, whereas the military anyone can join. Lower Class society kind of respects Lower Class folks in the military, but the real respect comes from the Upper Class. An Upper Class member who see's a Lower Class soldier will appreciate and respect him for trying to 'dedicate himself to helping to nation while trying to better himself'. Respecting the military is also a kind of long-standing mandate from the Ruler, so it's frowned upon to resent solders - keep in mind this is also a time of war.

And even Lower Class folks can rise the ranks in the military - Class really doesn't matter there - so Lower Class people can make really good money and get really good promotions if they are good soldiers. Which in turn means they might have the coin to buy Sigils when the opportunity presents.

The other major exception is what I've been calling the "Ruling Class". By definition Ruling Class is really anyone who's employed directly by the Leader to help run and make decisions on the running of the Nation. The Ruling Class are really just Upper Class folks, but in the eyes of society they are exempt from being judged via prestige, because these Rulers are helping run the Nation.


Notes In Practise
From a practical standpoint, that means the Ruling Class still live in the Upper Class estates, but there is still a Castle kind of set up, which could theoretically accommodate them if necessary. But the Ruling Class typically already have their own estates and go to 'work' every day like everyone else. Keep in mind a person in the Ruling Class can be removed - for whatever reason the Leader decides so - and in which case they need to fall back on whatever they had to get them into the Upper Class in the first place.
So a typical example would be a Dad who owns a Blacksmith or something, and he ends up being invited to the Ruling council. He'll probably pass on the running of the 'business' to his Son. And by the time Dad is done with the Ruling Class duties, he'll still hopefully have the Blacksmith business to keep him wealthy.

And that's a good example to describe how the Upper Class get money. They are either rich lineages or own functioning businesses. They seldom 'work' in a hands-on sense, but they own buildings and hire trades to give a service... it's a very 2019 take on medieval fantasy I guess, but the concept doesn't ruin the setting. So the Upper Class take on the CEO kind of roles in this comparison I suppose.

The Lower Class are then all trades. There are schools, but not compulsory schools (nor 'free' ones for that matter). There's a lot of following in your fathers footsteps kind of thing, but women typically pick up skills as well.

The mix of servants is kind of fluid. An example is say, a maid - her family lives in the Lower Class, but she's invited to live full time in the Upper Class estate. She can still go home and stuff when she's off duty, but she lives based on the provisions given by the Upper Class family and also is paid a wage/compensation on top of that. Some families say that it's too much time away from your actual family members, but most of the time servant roles are highly sought after by Lower Class members.
And that works for men and women. There are all kinds of skills that Upper Class members might want - remember that half the time Upper Class folks are hiring for the sake of having another servant in their house, not because there's a specific need. So ANY kind of trade or skills can be utilised.



Anyway that's just some notes for now. I wish I had some art or pictures to break up the text walls, lol.
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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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:39 am

Characters - Steve
(definitelynotsteveitsjustaplaceholder)

I think it's time to mention Steve. The most developed side character.

From a design perspective, there were 2 things I wanted from him.:

<> Time Traveller
<> Because of the above, he's able to guide Paetro - maybe to give him some perspective.


Now I didn't want time travel to become the crazy stupid head-scratcher for readers. I wanted the idea of time travel - the sense of perspective and priorities that it can give characters (and the audience) - without the mess of 'everything is pointless or fixed because time travel.' I wanted the time travel element of his character to be interesting, and the implications of what his time travelling 'gift' means to give people something original to think about.
So below is what I've come up with.


Story - Steve the Local Mage
Steve lives in a small village. He actually has reasonable magic powers and he studies a lot - I guess he pays travelling merchants to bring him more study material from the cities. He messes around with ways to improve his magic - really only on an academic level. He doesn't need to get stronger, he just likes the idea of understanding magic so well that he can make his magic stronger. Besides, he has no real perspective - he assumes he's quite a weak mage compared to the ones in the cities and in the National armies.
Being a bit over ambitious and being the most powerful mage in the village - despite being early/mid 20's (??) - he doesn't really have anyone training him or stopping him. The villagers are simple folk and no one can really understand what it's like to be a mage. They don't resent him, but when he says he's doing magic things they don't understand the risk of any of his experiments.

Choas in Steve's life
That all in mind, Steve experiments and something goes very, very wrong. Suddenly his magic prowess has all but gone. He feels no physical shortcomings, but he simply can't manipulate things with magic the way he used to. He's pretty fed up with the whole thing, but as time passes he just has to realise his life in the small town.

So a few years later war breaks out. Steve's village is actually a reasonable distance away from both strongholds and a little off the beaten path so the initial battle lines and battle fields aren't nearby. Overtime a little more of the Team B (who do govern his village) has soldiers marching through more frequently, until 1 day Team A has a squadron come through and essentially sack and raze the town, killing everyone in it. Steve included.

Wha!?
The next thing Steve knows, he wakes up. It's a familiar setting within his own village. What has happened?

Long story short; he returns back in time 10 years, to his former self, every time he dies. The "experiments" he did on himself had this very surreal affect, and they also allow him to retain his memories.
Events tend to play out identical each time unless he changes things... which he strives to do (obviously trying to avoid the slaughter of all his friends and family and of course his own death). The '2nd life' he's not entirely sure if it's a recurring thing for example, so he doesn't aim to put himself in harms way. As he starts to understand what's happening, he starts to try and manipulate the war with his powers - he gets taken on by Team B as a soothsayer kind of figure... a bit of a trick because he knows the large events that will happen for the next 10 years.

Last note on time travel is that he ALWAYS goes back 10 years when he dies. NOT to the same point in time. It's just wherever he was 10 years ago at that moment, that's where he goes. If he were to, say, die, go back 10 years and then instantly kill himself then, he would go back 10 further years.
What happens if he dies before he's 10 years old? Steve hasn't tried that yet.

The lives and time(lines) of Steve
(Keep in mind that a LOT of Steve's story isn't going to be in the main story - that is Anatov and Paetro's story. But I needed to properly map out Steve's story so that we understand how he should interact when he meets our heroes.

I have 5 Steve 'lives' planned out. We don't need to worry too much about the details of each, but remember that he's quite bookish and smart and he has foreknowledge of the war starting and at the very least, the raid on his town. He leads some of his lives in Team B's military and he studies how to be a good general and he learns from the wins and losses each nation has during various battles.

Steve 1: Dies during the massacre of his town.

Steve 2: Takes him a few years to properly comprehend what has happened and what to do. Eventually appeals to Team B's military (though they rebuke & ignore him at first), but his knowledge of predicting when war breaks out is so precise they take him for interrogation. He never explains 'how' he knows, just uses the fact that he knows things as leverage to get him into their leadership. Then he's able to prevent his village from getting slaughtered. After that his heart isn't in it and he takes early retirement (his contributions were enormous in the scant few years he helped Team B out, beyond just saving 1 village). Unfortunately that takes him out of military-level protection and Team A learns of his efforts and has him killed by assassination.

Steve 3: After being killed by Team A twice, Steve goes full out in trying to help Team B win this war. He does a LOT of study to stay on as a Military Strategist even after his knowledge of events expires. Team B win's more and more battles. Consequently it means Team A ramps up their Supersoldier program. Much to the dismay of Steve, Team B creates their own Supersoldiers and retaliates. It's a hint that Team B may not be all they've cracked up to be - this is war after all.
The clash of armies decked out with a bunch of unnatural super powered mages is catastrophic. I'm talking near-apocalyptic. Steve dies in an explosion caused by collateral from fighting.

Steve 4:...

Meeting Paetro
From our story's perspective, Paetro meets Steve during his [*checks notes*] '5th life'. It's actually not the first time that Steve has met Paetro - funnily enough Paetro actually killed Steve during his '4th life'.

As our 3rd Steve see's supersoldiers from Team A arising, he hears of Paetro for the first time - essentially a hero who's only goal is to stop supersoldiers and protect people. Steve see's him as a welcome ally for Team B, but is unable to properly meet him. Because Team B was winning the war (thanks to Steve's help), the fight against the Super Soldiers starts much nearer Team A's capital and Paetro is right there - albeit slowly being pushed back as Team A claims more land in the war. Once Team B releases their soldiers, Steve hears that Paetro died - the strain of having to fight off two whole nations of Super-enhanced mages got to be too much for him, and shortly after the spiral of destruction got out of hand.

This is all important, because it's really Steve 4 that realises the ends justify the means. He has more knowledge than ever about the war and he's seen essentially the end of society as he knows it (because of the apocalypse and all from his last life). All he can do is make sure 1 side wins - he almost doesn't care which any more, but because of his deep knowledge of Team B, it's easier for him to help them. He still seeks out Paetro as best he can, but he does everything in his power to ensure Team B wins the war as swiftly as possible. This includes a series of questionable plans that tarnish his otherwise reasonable set of morals. This is ultimately a misjudgement on Steve's part and upon his meeting with Paetro, our 'protagonist', essentially a champion of what's Just and Right, kills him for his heinous acts of war (likely including trying to expedite the Team B super soldier efforts).

Our Story - Meeting Paetro take #2
Our Paetro meets Steve during his 5th life. Steve has tempered how much involvement he has in the war - essentially keeping it at a bloody stalemate until he can discuss matters with Paetro. Steve believes Paetro can snuff out super soldier programs from both sides and then they can let the war just run its' course.

It's been a long explanation to get to the meeting that we'll actually read about, but I hope it's been interesting. I think it is good background to know, because understanding what Steve says and does here *should* be a reflection on all the ways he's tried to manipulate things in his past lives. There's a lot of potentially deep discussions here - we've spent the entire novel getting to know Paetro and how he thinks, but Steve will have such a different outlook that he'll be able to turn a lot of them on their head. Especially if one revelation is that Team B aren't the 'good guys' that Paetro has been pining for throughout the story.

Bittersweet Stevie
Ultimately Steve's life is very, very sad. He's a good guy who always just wanted to better himself and his life and later the lives of others. He tried to study and learn to accomplish his goals and he tried to watch the people around him (say Team B's military generals) to gain even further knowledge and understanding of how he might have things turn out the way he wanted them. It was only after a few goes his way that he tried the ruthless way and he learned that even that doesn't pay off. It's not until that 5th life that he meets Paetro under the right circumstances and has learnt to accept help so he doesn't have to compromise his morals to help stop the war.

His blessing of having '2nd chances' is indeed quite the curse.

The payoff at the end of all this - and why I'm so keen on my character here - is that his story doesn't end with Paetro's. And by that, I don't mean he goes on after Paetro's journey finishes. Steve sets Paetro on the right path. Our hero finally feels like he has his goals aligned and the right methods to settle the war. It's ultimately a moment of triumph that Steve has worked so hard - literal decades at this point - to earn....

... and then Steve takes his own life.

It won't be sudden. He won't do it off screen. It's not for shock value. I want to capture (and indeed, have our party capture) the emotional realisation that from Steve's perspective, he has done everything right. This is the perfect outcome. No Paetro hasn't 'won' yet, but Steve can't improve things any more. And in knowing that, Steve also realises that the only way to ensure that *THIS* version of events is the true one, Steve has to die now and repeat everything leading up to this moment. If he waits longer, he risks things starting to mess up and then he has to play out 10 more years to guess what to change at the last minute to resolve things. He see's his only solution to leave while things are at a good point, a high point.

And our last scene of Steve - I think he's going to step over a cliff after saying good bye. And then our time-traveller falls to his death.

Post Steve
And then what happens?

Well for Paetro and the gang... nothing. What do we learn about Steve's further endeavours? Nothing. Steve is gone. Did he only have 5 lives with his spell? Was the spell broken because he left he world in a better place? Is he doomed to repeat the past 10 years over and over, because for him not to do so might ruin any chance Paetro has of saving the world?

I don't want to answer those questions. For me, the full story of Steve is deep and emotional if you can imagine it from his perspective... and I'm hoping that from Paetro's story & perspective, the [b]true[/u] depth of Steve's struggles are not realised until that final moment....
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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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Wed May 15, 2019 11:43 am

Bumpy bump.

I've been thinking about writing a bit, so hopefully can try and put some passages into proper writing so you get an idea of my (lack of) writing talents :ninja
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."
GM-Butlee
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Re: Story Time!

Postby GM-Butlee » Fri May 17, 2019 7:41 am

I've decided on a bit of a 'world map' for now.

Basically I've been dabbling in some DnD-esque rollplaying recently (read: the past 4 frikken years!!) and we've played multiple campaigns so to speak during that time. A lot of our stories of late have been built around the same 'world' (which is cool because to some degree the events and characters you create, potentially help shape the world that you go back to play in).
Because of a rotation of players in our little adventuring group, we've decided to start fresh - meaning this 'world' we have created theoretically goes in the bin.

OR, since I'm already familiar with this world, why not use it as the framework for what I'm writing? I can incorporate bits and pieces from our adventures. To "us" few who know what's going on, it'll be cheesy, silly Easter Eggs, but to everyone else, hopefully it'll come off as really deep and well thought out lore (which is kind of is, slaved at for hours by us and even moreso our DM).


I've got to give credit to Roll for Fantasy, for their original mappy things. And Microsoft for giving me paint lol.
https://rollforfantasy.com/tools/map-creator.php


Image

Don't stress too much over the names. This is a work-in-progress, and I'm thinking our adventure will be a timeskip of a few hundred years - so the places that exist here may or may not still be around.

But I am thinking Team A resides in the Green area. The former capital (ruled by an Empress no less), is Aurelia. After the fall of her empire, Team A doubled down on making that the cornerstone of the Nation.

As hostilities grew, Team B set their seat of power up in Alde ['al-day'] - the maroon side. It's a bit of a symbolic station, as the aforementioned fall of the empire first ran through Alde.

To the South, historically there was a famous family who governed most of the lands, loyal to the Empress. When she fell, I'm not 100% certain which way they went. At the very least, I imagine it'll have a bit of a port and there's a matching one at the nearby south-west area of Team B's. So if Orange Family stays neutral, they may well be a wealthy trade region.

Parc Des Reves is another fairly famous landmark - it's a school for magic users. I feel like Team B needs to replicate this with one of their own - since there's no way Team A would let them send potential mage's there to train during a time of war between the countries lol.

And the far north - I think I'm going to have folks not know much about up there. The stories are that Dragons live up there - but no one really believes it. Some say it's ravaged by Goblins and other unintelligent beasts. It does seem to be fairly desert-like though, so it's just as likely that - a barren desert.

Anyway, there's a few things I thought of today. I'm in that kind of mood, so I might do some more writing or note-taking this weekend.
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."
GM-Butlee
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Posts: 14250
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:12 am
Location: I've done my sentence.. but committed no crime...

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