Welcome to the Chronicles of the Free Company
Well, due to popular demand--itís back.
The story of the Free Company is some seven years old. The first Book, Burgundy: Origin of the Free Company, was launched in November of 2001 and proved an instant success with writers and readers. It began as an experiment in the early days of the EUI forum and rapidly grew into a writer's workshop--a place where authors could create unique characters and place them in a dynamic alt-history universe to share adventures through an on-going series of Books.
Over its history the Free Company has brought together some of the best talent on the forum--people who collaborated to produce extremely memorable story lines and fascinating characters. And I am happy to say that many contributors used their experience to create their own AARs and branch into other projects.
This thread serves a dual purpose by introducing the concepts of the RPG AAR to anyone interested in reading and/or contributing, and will act as an unofficial OOC thread to discuss the characters, the on-going storyline, history of the time, links of note, and whatever else tickles your fancy.
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Essentially, the Free Company is a character and plot driven AAR that allows the writer to interact with other writers in the FC universe. An over-reaching story arc has been crafted that will guide the plotline from beginning, to climax, to resolution. In short, the AAR is structured like a novel. Warspite once referred to the Free Company as an interactive AAR in the grand tradition of D&D. I think his description is wholly appropriate. In effect, I am the Dungeon Master.
For those of you familiar with the concept from reading or participating in the previous Books: Burgundy: Origin of the Free Company; King Harry and the Free Company; The Free Company in Italy: Vae Victis; The Free Company and the Last Bastion of Empire; The Free Company: Bloody Retribution; The Free Company: For Whom the Bells Toll and The Free Company and the Spanish Gold, no further explanation is required.
But for those interested in joining, the concept is simple, and works like this:
Typically one author will write a post and leave a hook so another writer can step in and pick up the conversation, or action. The approach can be likened to tag-team wrestling. Except in this case itís tag-team writing. In many cases writers have, and will, contribute their own subplots, adding further richness to the Free Company universe.
Typical FC Books run the gamut of plot devices, dealing with grand wars, massive campaigns, political situations, intrigue, quests, battles, sieges, assassinations, and even marriages. They are serious and light-hearted, gripping, sad, tragic and funny.
The rules are simple:
1) Stay within the spirit of the story-telling (i.e. - no silliness or introducing characters who fail to interact, or act in an illogical manner)
2) No killing off another person's character unless prearranged (unless that writer has dropped out, and then itís fair game subject to my approval).
3) Please use dates/times in your post headings for the sake of continuity. It causes less confusion for the readers and authors.
4) Stay away from using ESP . That is, one person takes a private conversation between two other people and twists it for their own gain. If it's supposed to be a private conversation, how would anyone else know?
5) A writer who introduces a character, hangs around for a few posts, then disappears with no warning or explanation will have their character depart, or met with a grisly demise (see rule #2). I know the pace of this AAR can be fast and complicated at times. So, I ask that potential writers who wish to join think about what they're getting into. This thread requires a substantial time commitment, often lasting months.
6) A Company character is mandatory, though secondary characters are welcome. There will be times when a writer who shows consistency of posting will be asked to assume a key role, often a historical character. However, I want to keep the interaction within the FC itself as real and vibrant as possible. Interaction is the key to this AAR.
7) Finally, I am the Dungeon Master. If I feel a subplot is straying too far from the overall story line, then I'll ask that it be set back on track. I give a lot of leeway to subplots, but there will be times when I may feel the overall story is being compromised.
8) I ask that everyone post an extremely short biographical sketch of your main character in this thread and include a short piece on how he should be used by other writers. This will prevent another writer from making your character perform an action or respond in a way that you don't feel is true to his/her personality. The character sketch should be little more than age, height, name, place of birth, physical features and any other minor detail like distinguishing marks. A great part of the fun of the Free Company stories are the unexpected ways that characters interact with one another, and presenting an exhaustive bio only takes away from the element of discovery.
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The entire concept is pretty open-ended within the framework of the main story arc. What Iím saying is really very simple: even though I know how the main story will unfold, its telling will surprise me as much as it will surprise you.
Now, a word about subplots. Subplots are often the bread and butter of the Free Company. They give the various characters an opportunity to interact and develop within the loose confines of the main story-line. However, it's important that a subplot doesnít become too distracting, or remain outside the main thrust of the story. In other words, don't make a subplot a showstopper (Ii.e.: leave me scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the main story back on track).
As usual, I will have a few people helping me behind the scenes. The scope and complexity of the series has increased from Book to Book, and organisational help such as this is greatly needed. To start, The_Hawk has agreed to help with the plot. In reality, much of this particular Book idea is his, so Kudos where they're deserved. I ask that you respect his wishes as much as you would mine. Furthermore, Iíll be calling on a few FC veterans (or really gung-ho newcomers) to help guide the story from the antagonist's point of view, creating literary foils for realism.
Itís a natural fact of life that every new Free Company Book starts in a tavern. This one will be no different.
This opening phase is extremely useful to allow all writers to introduce their characters in a closed setting and give them time to mingle with other newcomers and FC veterans. This period usually lasts several days (real days), and gives me a chance to see who will go where, whether itís in the military structure of the Company, or elsewhere.
I will pause at the end of the introductory phase before the actual story begins. This will allow those who cannot maintain the pace, or do not have the time, to drop out. It will save me the trouble of writing out their characters. So please use the pause to be honest with yourself.
Please use this thread to post your interest and ask any questions. The main thread will start some time during the first week or so of January. Starting this thread in advance usually gives us enough time to gauge interest and get characters sorted. I will post some further background information in the next couple of days, including a brief history of the Company from Book I to Book VI.
So far these writers are confirmed:
On the bubble:
Here is the latest Free Company OOB (Order of Battle)
Here is a Word doc that has the compiled (to date) bios: Short Bios