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Thread: The Free Company Tavern & "OOC" Thread for Book VII

  1. #1
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    The Free Company Tavern & "OOC" Thread for Book VII


    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.

    * * *

    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.

    * * *

    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.

    Cheers,
    LD

    So far these writers are confirmed:

    LD
    The_Hawk
    Holistic God
    Valdemar
    Amric
    Redwolf
    Alfred Packer
    Awakened
    balkanite
    casb1965
    comagoosie
    coz1
    Derek Pullem
    jlucjan
    J. Passepartout
    Lord E
    merrick
    Mettermrck
    stnylan
    Storey
    Stroph1
    The_Guiscard
    The Swert
    von Streusser

    On the bubble:

    Primas Ultima
    TheF


    Here is the latest Free Company OOB (Order of Battle)

    Here is a Word doc that has the compiled (to date) bios: Short Bios




    ____________________
    Last edited by Lord Durham; 14-01-2009 at 18:34.
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  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Exciting.

    May I ask in what century and what geographical locale this is to be set?

  4. #4

  5. #5
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard View Post
    Exciting.

    May I ask in what century and what geographical locale this is to be set?
    The story segues from my post in the Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008) AAR.

    While a good part of the Company head East in the Journey AAR, the balance comes West to France and St. Malo for some--closure. The year is 1450.

    Comagoosie: Don't be afraid . One thing we're known for is helping writers ease in. Come along for the ride. I think you'll like it (just be prepared for the pace...)

    Alfred P: Don't worry about that. There will be a few 'scene setting' posts before we open things up. You may want to read a page or two of a previous Book to see how it works. Bottom line, don't worry.
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

    Follow the link to read The Pariah. For more Lovecraft style horror, try The Crane Horror and my Holmes/Lovecraft story The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. All are free to read in the Lovecraft eZine.

    Available: The Saglek Incident in the anthology Sha'Daa: Pawns and Witiko in the anthology Bigfoot Terror Tales: Vol 1

    Also: Plains of Hell in the anthology Lawyers in Hell & Colony in the anthology Rogues in Hell, continuing the HUGO award winning Heroes in Hell series, edited by Janet Morris

    For a complete list of my AARs go to The Ink Well. Visit my Website for news, reviews and story excerpts.

  6. #6
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    Well count me in. I'm eager for another ride with the FC.
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  7. #7
    CatAARstroph1c moderator Moderator Stroph1's Avatar
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    The FC is back!

    Pen --- Check
    Paper --- Check
    Willingness tio join in ---- Check

    Of course, my character died a while ago as did many of his heirs. I may need to develop a new one.
    More spam, you die! Horribly, horribly!

  8. #8
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    I'll give it a go, at least see how the introductory phase goes. Hopefully my timezone won't be a hindrance.
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  9. #9
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    *dusts off the old writing skills -- such as they are*

    I'm quite proud and honored to have a little thing I hammered out a year or two ago be the basis for an FC book. Someday, when we're further along, I'll tell the story of how this all came to pass. Credit for the instant encouragement to get LD back in the saddle goes to redwolf and Amric's Journey, though. Well worth reading for anyone that hasn't been following it.

    Meanwhile, newcomers to the FC -- welcome! If you are particularly brave, I recommend you to the previous FC books in my sig, but don't worry -- you don't need to know it all.
    Proud participant in the Free Company: NOW: Book VII -- Closure (and OOC Thread.) Death rides again!

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  10. #10
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    Well you guessed it, I'll be along... as will Frederik, but I think I need to consider Johan's fate

    I must admit, despite being active I have a hard time remembering the content of book V whereas IV and VI stands failry vivid in my mind

    V

  11. #11
    I have had a look at the old Free Company books and realized that this venture requires a high frequency of rather short posts, kinda throwing each other the ball. Have former participants any experience with collaboration over time zones that are many hours apart? Has this in the past been a hickup for temporally more isolated participants (if any), or have any such been a brake for the development of the story? What impact have you found out the time zone issue to have?

  12. #12
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    Well in hectic periods it is hard to be on either side of the ocean, but some of it is solved by agreeing behind the scenes what should take place.

    Also, it is not ALL five line replies... some periods players get longer posts and once everyone gets a feeling for each other they will be able to "standing writing".

    For instance, Hawk and I often let our respecitve chars apear in the other's posts so any given post contains both chars. That way i can rely on hawk to reply on behalf of Frederik up to a certain point so the plot doesn't bog down due to me being asleep

    V

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    Very exciting indeed. Count me in.

    *starts obsessing about a character*

  14. #14
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    Redwolf has experience with the time zone differential...He lives in Singapore while most of us are European or American....It can be tough, but it is definitely worthwhile....

    *Scratches head, have to think up a new character since Amric is currently heading east....Let me see.....Scout or heavy cavalry? I just don't know....Hm....*

    Hey, LD, do you have a preference for which part of the company I ought to set myself in?
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    Will definately be following this one as well
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard View Post
    What impact have you found out the time zone issue to have?
    As Valdemar and Amric say, not usually very much. For posts that are not pre-planned, well, you don't have to respond to every hook or get involved in every subplot. That is to say, the FC doesn't require a high volume of posts in quick succession; it may just appear that way because people are making replies every few hours as it is convenient for them.

    Plus, if your location accurately reflects that you are in GMT +1, you are not alone; observe our goodman Valdemar, there.
    Proud participant in the Free Company: NOW: Book VII -- Closure (and OOC Thread.) Death rides again!

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  17. #17
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    Actually I don't know if I'm up for this, it's a bit daunting. I've been reading the last book and there's 200 posts in the first nine days alone. I doubt I'll be able to keep up with that sort of pace.
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    I doubt I'll be able to keep up with that sort of pace.
    Don't let that stop you. Just let LD know ahead of time and you can run a minor character or a temp character - it is an incredible experience even with that kind of character. My time is usually limited so my character has not been the basis of any major plot elements, rather I would react to whatever situation comes about when I could. Most of all, it is just good old fun!
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard View Post
    I have had a look at the old Free Company books and realized that this venture requires a high frequency of rather short posts, kinda throwing each other the ball. Have former participants any experience with collaboration over time zones that are many hours apart? Has this in the past been a hickup for temporally more isolated participants (if any), or have any such been a brake for the development of the story? What impact have you found out the time zone issue to have?
    As Amric has pointed out, I live in Singapore where the time zone is GMT+8.

    As far as I am concerned, it has not really affected me. Usually I try to plan what I am going to do in advance with the other parties on subplots so it will not affect any storyline.

    I guess the only impact that it has for me is the number of late nights when it come to the exciting parts. That means 2-3am in the morning for me to keep up with the rest from the USA and Europe.
    Current AARs:

    1) Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008)

    2) The Free Company Book VII: Closure

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    A proud member of the Free Company. Death Rides with Us!!

  20. #20
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    These excerpts are from the notes of Sir Jonathan Thomas York, historian and scholar, and date from the early 1920s to about 1930.


    The Beginning

    Sir Robert of Brandon was born in Brandon, England on June 7, in the year 1390. His father was the revered John of Gaunt, his mother a commoner of Scottish descent. John of Gaunt held Mary Elliot and their son Robert in high regard, shielding both from England’s dynastic politics. Though born a bastard, Robert still held a distant claim to the English throne.

    When he was seven Robert was dispatched to the island of Rhodes, where he was accepted into the Order as a page. He ascended the ranks until reaching Knighthood in his late teens.

    A brutal siege and pillage of a town in the Levant led Sir Robert to question his faith and role as a Knight of St. John. Ultimately, he left the Order to travel the mainland as a sell-sword. Here he met his mentor, Syban, who taught him the art of strategic and tactical warfare.

    After several years in the mid-East, Robert turned his attention to Italy and the incessant warfare that infected the peninsula. Finding a patron, he formed a mercenary company, and spent the following years hiring out to the highest bidder. During that time he adapted the moniker 'Captain', in part to bury the horrors he perpetrated in his past, and in part to disassociate himself from any pretensions to the English throne.

    His fame and experience, together with a sense of honour sorely lacking among the Condottieri, made him very popular with the Italian city-states. That popularity was to prove his undoing. During 1418, while serving Venice, his band of mercenaries were betrayed and slaughtered. A handful escaped. Later it was revealed the Doge of Venice and the Council of Ten had orchestrated the betrayal.

    Captain retired to Burgundy to lay low. However, he didn’t forget.


    The Birth of The Free Company

    In early 1419 Captain formed the Free Company at the behest of Jean sans Peur. At the time, Burgundy and England waged war with France, Orleans and Auvergne.

    The Company took field during March of 1419 in aid of the English, who laid siege to the city of Orleans. They immediately proved their worth to King Henry V by eradicating enemy led brigands and playing a vital role in the Battle of Janville, fought April 23, 1419, between England and France.

    Called to Dijon in June of 1419 to face a threat from Auvergne, they joined a Burgundian army, only to suffer defeat on June 25, 1419. The poorly led Burgundians routed, though the Free Company managed a strategic withdrawal, tying down the enemy while awaiting the arrival of Jean de Pressey with reinforcements. The Auvergnese were forced to retreat to their border.

    After a brief rest the Company force-marched to Orleans in time to help the English assault the city. It fell on July 10, 1419.

    Their next action came on September 19, 1419, at a bridge in the town of Montereau. Men loyal to King Charles of France, under the guise of a peace parley, assassinated Duke Jean sans Peur. The Free Company recovered his body after a sharp fight. However, upon the death of their patron, the Company was suddenly unemployed. They decided to march on the besieged city of Tours and enlist with King Henry V.

    Tours capitulated November 3, 1419. Henry asked the Free Company to garrison St. Malo, a fortified town on the coast of Brittany. This they did, and were eventually granted ownership of the port in recognition of their service.

    In January of 1420, Henry asked them to harass a large Auvergnese army marching to besiege Orleans. Their tactics proved successful, disrupting the Auvergnese supply lines. However, in July of 1420 they were brought to battle in the forests near Janville, and only the timely arrival of Henry saved their vastly outnumbered force from extermination.

    The Free Company remained in the employ of King Henry V until his death in September of 1422.


    The Italian Years – Part One

    Deciding it was time to settle an old score, Captain struck east by sail to Florence. However, they were caught in a storm while fleeing a Venetian fleet and washed ashore in Tunisia. Here they successfully fought off local Berber tribesmen and the ruling Hafsids until the fleet was made seaworthy, allowing their journey to resume.

    By 1423 they were under contract to Francesco de Medici of Florence. It was here they began an association with Francesco Sforza, one of the most powerful Condottieri of the era. After several campaigns against the Sienese, and another against the Venetians, in which Captain gained a modicum of revenge, the Free Company settled in Florence and opened a training Academy.

    For the next 15 years elements of the Free Company fought in many wars across the face of Europe, serving as combatants and advisors, though the bulk of the force seldom took the field. They were, in effect, semi-retired.

    Sir Robert married Constance d'Abbeville in 1424, producing a son, John, and a daughter Kathleen.

    Constantinople

    In 1438 the Free Company came out of retirement to aid in the defence of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople from the Ottoman Empire. The newly reformed Company, a collection of veterans and new blood, first sailed to Rhodes, where they undertook a campaign to rid the Anatolian coastline of pirates.

    Successful, the Company, now accompanied by the Knights of Rhodes, attacked Teke, a Turkish ally, and forced them out of the alliance. Leaving the Knights to consolidate the victory, the Free Company sailed on to Constantinople. They found the city reeling from the effects of plague, and Captain was asked to assume command of the city’s defense.

    For several months Constantinople held out against relentless Turkish assaults, until betrayal, once again, proved the Company’s undoing. Fleeing the city and leaving many of their brothers among the dead, the remnants of the Company returned to Rhodes.


    The Italian Years – Part Two

    In 1440 war erupted on the Italian mainland between the alliance of Milan, the Papal States, Mantua and Helvetia, against the coalition of Venice, Cyprus, Naples, and Albania. Florence, normally an ally of Milan, remained neutral due to the undermining efforts of Doge Foscari of Venice.

    The Free Company, now a collection of tough veterans and young recruits, took service under the Pope and Captain's old friend Francesco Sforza. With Francesco de Medici of Florence dead, and Cosimo de Medici in power, the Company were no longer welcome in that city. They relocated to Ancona.

    Doge Foscari persuaded the aging Gatamelatta (The Honeyed Cat), a Condotierri whose fame matched that of Sforza, Carmagnola and Captain, to abandon retirement and take up the sword for Venice. The Cat invaded and secured Mantua, removing them from the war. Next he marched into Milan at the head of an army 20,000 strong. Duke Visconti, Sforza and Captain met him outside the city of Cremona with 12,000 mercenaries and militia. On the sidelines, standing neutral, was a Florentine army of some 5,000 men, under the command of Cosimo de Medici.

    The battle wavered for most of the day, until the Florentines entered on the side of the Free Company and Visconti. The Venetians routed. It’s often been conjectured why Cosimo sided with Visconti that day. The general belief was political motivation--a wish to maintain the balance of power.

    After the Cat's defeat, the war quickly subsided into a game of march and counter-march. During the winter of 1440 Gatalametta died, and an uneasy truce was arranged. Mantua was returned to the Gonzagas, and The Free Company returned to Ancona.


    The Bells of Belgrade

    By May of 1441 rumblings of war had come from the east involving their old enemy, the Turks. By then Captain was nearing 51 years of age. His wife Constance, 41. John 16 and Kathleen 14.

    Janos Hunyadi, serving under Ladislau III of Poland, hired the Free Company, hoping to to utilise their past experience with the Turks. The Company sailed to Istria, and after a series of skirmishes, captured the Turkish held town of Nissa. The defeat did not sit well with Murad, the former Sultan, and he reclaimed the throne from his son. His first step was to gather an army to retake the strategic town.

    With Murad’s approach, the Company had no choice but to abandon Nissa and retreat to Belgrade, where they served as the cornerstone in the defence of the city from the besieging Infidel. The climax of the siege had Hunyadi arrive with a relieving army as Captain led the Company in a charge against the Turk, falling in battle as he slew Murad in personal combat. In remembrance of his bravery, the Pope ordered the church bells to be rung daily at noon--a practice that continues to this day.


    The Intervening Years

    With the death of Captain, command of the Free Company fell to Lochlan until John reached the age of 18. During this time the Company remained in Ancona and hired out for minor squabbles, escort assignments and garrison duty. A new military school was opened as a side venture. After John came of age it is mentioned the Company undertook an increasingly active role in the field, primarily to give John experience and to keep the men and women of the Company battle ready.

    In 1450 events on the other side of the world directly impacted the Company, and some 800 men and women volunteered to Journey to the land of the Chin to set things right.

    Meanwhile, Constance, the widow of Robert, decided it was time to return her beloved husband home to England for burial. His body was recovered from the mausoleum erected in his honour in Belgrade. With the departure of the majority of the mercenary group to China, the remnants of the Free Company, some 200 men and women, boarded the Athene and accompanying transports to sail west.


    After several stops along the way the port of St. Malo is in sight—the second to last stage of their journey. Here they will stop to reprovision. After all, the port town of St. Malo is their holding, granted to them many years past by King Henry V.

    _______________
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

    Follow the link to read The Pariah. For more Lovecraft style horror, try The Crane Horror and my Holmes/Lovecraft story The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. All are free to read in the Lovecraft eZine.

    Available: The Saglek Incident in the anthology Sha'Daa: Pawns and Witiko in the anthology Bigfoot Terror Tales: Vol 1

    Also: Plains of Hell in the anthology Lawyers in Hell & Colony in the anthology Rogues in Hell, continuing the HUGO award winning Heroes in Hell series, edited by Janet Morris

    For a complete list of my AARs go to The Ink Well. Visit my Website for news, reviews and story excerpts.

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