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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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[anchor=Jan2008-I0]
[/anchor]​

Welcome once again to INSTRUMENTALITY , The Tempus Society's Monthly Publication .​

The Tempus Society is an all inclusive organization dedicated to the edification of AARland and for promoting excellence in writing in the Alternate History genre as well as in all facets of our community. If you are interested for writing for our monthly publication please feel free to contact canonized or English Patriot for more information.​

Code:
[I][U][B]Editor in Chief [/B][/U][/I]: 
canonized S.T.S.

[I][U][B]Assistant Editors [/B][/U][/I]: 
English Patriot S.T.S.  General_BT F.T.S.

[I][U][b]Member Writers for This Month[/b][/U][/I]: 
Atlantic Friend F.T.S.  Mettermrck F.T.S.  canonized S.T.S.  
grayghost H.F.  General_BT F.T.S.  Kurt_Steiner F.T.S.

[I][u][b]Contributors for This Month[/b][/u][/I]: 
Capibara  Avernite  jeffg006

[I][U][b]Other Writers or Contributors on Staff[/b][/U][/I]: 
Judas Maccabeus S.T.S.  English Patriot S.T.S.  LeonTrotsky F.T.S. 
JimboIX F.T.S.  VILenin F.T.S.   Grubnessul   Discomb   Myth

[URL=http://www.europa-universalis.com/forum/showpost.php?p=7553466&postcount=324]Current Tempus Roster[/URL]
Code:
[B][U]TABLE OF CONTENTS[/U][/B]

[B]Part I: BREAKING THE ICE[/B]
   [anchorlink=I1]THE HEROIC JOURNEY by Atlantic Friend F.T.S.[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I2]A WORTHWHILE PORTRAIT by jeffg006[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I3]ALTERNATE MUSINGS by Mettermrck F.T.S.[/anchorlink]

[B]PART II: THE SPANISH CORNER[/B]
   [anchorlink=I4]AARS PARA TODOS by Capibara[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I4]A SPANISH TALE by Kurt_Steiner F.T.S.[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I4]A REVIEW OF THE MAIN CK ENGLISH AARS by Kurt_Steiner F.T.S.[/anchorlink]

[B]Part III: DÉNOUEMENT[/B]
   [anchorlink=I5]THE RAF by grayghost H.F.[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I6]MILITARY REVOLUTION by General_BT F.T.S.[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I7]THE REAL COST OF WAR by Avernite[/anchorlink]
   [anchorlink=I8]YOU'VE BEEN CANONIZED: HAJJI GIRAY I by canonized S.T.S.[/anchorlink]
 
Last edited:

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  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
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  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • March of the Eagles
[anchor=I1]
THE HEROIC JOURNEY, CHAPTER ONE: SETTING SAIL[/anchor]
By Atlantic Friend


We have seen earlier that a story could be seen as a journey, which takes us to new lands, using the Hero as our guide and the narration as our vessel. We have also seen what kind of engine was needed to power that narrative vessel, and what kind of features was necessary for the vessel to actually start navigating. Finally, we have seen that the narrative journey usually followed a classic 12-step program, taking us from the Mundane World to the Big Fight, and then back to the Mundane World which will be transformed by what the Hero brings back with him. Just to refresh our memory, here are the twelve steps :

- Step 1, the hero still lives in the Mundane World
- Step 2, he gets the Call of Adventure
- Step 3, he usually resists the call (depending on the Heroic archetype)
- Step 4, he meets the Mentor (a useful archetype we’ll talk about in a later article), who makes him accept his destiny
- Step 5, he meets (and overcomes), the First Obstacle
- Step 6, he finds out that this first victory brings greater challenges, as he meets Allies and Adversaries (other archetype we’ll discuss another time)
- Step 7, he makes his way toward the Big Fight
- Step 8, he fights the Big Fight
- Step 9, he gets his fair reward, the Magical Potion
- Step 10, he starts his journey back to the Mundane World
- Step 11, he undergoes some kind of resurrection / transformation
- Step 12, he returns to the Mundane World with the Magical Potion

Let us now see how the 12-step journey can apply to our narrative After-Action Reports. For simplicity’s sake, and because it is my favourite genre, I’ll tackle the issues through the perspective of writing a Hearts of Iron 2 AAR. While the specifics may of course change from game to game, I am sure you will find the core issues remain the same, whether it’s for Christian Kings or Europa Universalis, or Victoria : Revolutions.


THE NARRATIVE VESSEL

Even though our narrative AARs will be partly defined by the game’s results – or rather, by the game’s mechanics – there are a number of questions the writer should ponder before typing the first word of his story.

WHAT FLAG WILL THE VESSEL FLY ?

The first question that a prospective writer should probably be : what country will I pick for my story ?

I know we usually pick countries we either like (for gamey or historical reasons), or nations we think will provide us with a greater challenge and an opportunity to see things with a different perspective, but the choice of the leading country will have an, impact on nearly everything else. As nations are not equal in terms of industrial might and military power, giving our AAR a certain nationality will make it easier to develop a certain type of story, and more difficult to develop another. To put it briefly, the AAR’s passport will have an impact of the degree of realism of the story, which will in turn have an impact on the type of story.

I will illustrate this narrative rule by an example. Let’s suppose I want to write the story of my glorious conquest of Western Europe, having already in mind an endgame situation where I am the dominant power in Europe and the Mediterranean. Obviously, if I want to write a realistic story, then it would be a good idea to pick a country that has the industrial, military, and cultural potential to dominate the continent. I could therefore choose Germany, the Soviet Union, or the United States – all three are industrial and military heavyweights, after all. If I want to start as the United Kingdom, France or Italy, it is still possible to make my goals an story coincide, but will require more on the narration to justify that a regional power, even a strong one like these second-tier competitors, attains global power status. As the Roman Empire, Napoleonic France or the Soviet Union would attest, dominating an area militarily doesn’t make its inhabitants your friends, and unless you are the Borg Empire at some point conquered populations become inassimilable. Now if I start my AAR as Belgium or Luxembourg, then there is absolutely zero chance I can realistically describe my conquest of Europe in my narrative, even if the game mechanics make it perfectly possible. I will either have to settle for much humbler goals for my endgame situation, or ditch any idea of plausibility.

As you can see, it is, as always, a balancing act between what we can achieve (and want to tell) and what we will be able to explain away.


CHRISTENING THE NARRATIVE VESSEL

Now that we have sorted out which country would have a go at glory and world domination, it’s time to define the atmosphere and to give our story an appropriate title.

What kind of vessel shall our narrative be ? Will it be an epic saga of dashing heroes and scheming villains, will it be a dark and cynical story where fallen angels make up the majority of characters, or will it be a funny satire of what might have been but never was ? In this respect, there is no rule – a writer can achieve success and even greatness in every genre after all. The genre will affect the story’s development potential, though, so you might want to think it through because what seemed a funny idea initially can feel lame or repetitive after a little while, and what seemed a promising start for a great adventure can lose steam if the perfect situation we had in mind doesn’t crop up in the game. So, think it through, ladies and gents, if only to be ready to adapt the story to the situation.

The third and final question, once the genre and initial plot idea has been defined, is to christen the narrative vessel you are about to launch. Find a suitable title for the story might seem trivial, but in the end it can be a great help to the prospective writer. At first, your AAR will be nothing but a line one a screen full of similar links, and all the prospective readers will get to catch their attention will be the title you’ll have chosen. It is therefore important to give this issue due consideration. Like a veiled dancer, your title has to show just enough to make people curious to know more, without giving away too much information, which would be counter-productive. Since people will walk away if the title isn’t informative enough, staying away from the one-word kind might be a good idea, unless the word expresses just the concept you built your story around. Conversely, you might want to avoid elaborating too much, as it can weaken the impact of the title and discourage readers’ curiosity. Let’s look at it this way : more people will want to know what “A Bridge too far” is about than people who will in the case of a story called “Bridge” or “British Paratroopers on the Bridge of Arnhem”.

If you hesitate about what title to choose, try thinking about the first opening scenes, and of the general idea and atmosphere of the AAR. Once the title is chosen, make sure the readers will understand the connection it has with the story. After all, you don’t want the readers to have to read 50 chapters to understand why you called the AAR “Mistaken Identity”, particularly if it’s a theme that is important to the story. Dropping a little hint in the introduction or the first chapter will


LAUNCHING THE NARRATIVE VESSEL

Writing the first chapters of the story is akin to launching a ship : the ink cartridge replaces the bottle of champagne, and as the first drop of liquid hits the page or the hull, the vessel is launched and can start its adventurous career.

The first scene, like the title, will make or break your efforts to get readers hooked. It must set the atmosphere, the particular ambiance of the story, and also introduce us some of the characters we’ll meet regularly. It can either bring us straight to the heart of the action, or compose a more elaborate prologue, giving us the opportunity to see the main characters before they become the story’s Heroes and Villains. For example, a USA AAR might start with a trench scene from World War One, as one captain Mc Arthur decides he’ll go into politics to make sure American soldiers will never have to fight for foreign powers. Then, a later scene will show him as the recently elected President, and the real AAR story can begin. Alternatively, it might become with the appointment of a promising intelligence officer, whose career will span the 1936-1964 game report.

Once the first chapter is written, it more or less sets the rules for the rest of the story. Mixing genres harmoniously is a daunting task, and one has to have the sheer genius of a Terry Pratchett to make the story go from comedy to dark moments or deep philosophical talents without your readers having a bumpy ride. It doesn’t mean that a dark AAR cannot have its moments of comedy, nor that a comedy one cannot have its tragedies – it’s just that, by picking the genre, you establish rules for yourself, that will set limits to canalize the rest of your work. You can bend these limits here and there, but remember, in the end these rules are essentially made for your own safety as a writer.

THE SHORES OF THE MUNDANE WORLD


Now that the vessel has been designed and christened, it’s time to take it on its maiden voyage, and to leave the Mundane World behind you.

DRAWING THE BORDER

While in fantasy tales the Mundane world and its Heroic counterpart are truly different (the small, quiet village where the Hero lives at the beginning, and then the warring kingdoms where he will fulfil his destiny), in an AAR based on alternate History the border between the two is bound to be blurry. More than a geographical border - which might still be the case if you tell the story from a specific character’s point of view – the separation between both worlds will be historical. In the Mundane world, certain events haven’t happened yet – be that Pearl Harbour, the Wehrmacht marching into the Rhineland, or the 1945 Allies become deadly enemies. In the Heroic World, the Nazi flag flies over Cologne, bodies are recovered from torpedoed battleships in the American naval base, and the iron Curtain has fallen on Europe. What is important is to make sure the Mundane World provides the reader with the “Back-story”, or historical context that you will use in your plot. This must not be given as a boring lecture, but sewn seamlessly into your story. As was said in the article about narrative Archetypes, in this respect it can be a good idea to use characters from the supporting cast to deliver the necessary information.

Regardless of what kind of border separates the Mundane World and the Heroic World, you’ll need to stress the difference between Here and There, or between Then and Now. A stark contrast will help emphasize the drama, giving readers a better sense of what is at stake and giving a powerful momentum to the rest of the plot. Let’s take an example : suppose your hero is a wealthy and young Briton who at the beginning thinks his country should retire from the Continent’s petty quarrels. Show how peaceful, and nearly idyllic his life is, spending times in his family numerous estates in Southern England, with social parties, polo games, prospects of greater wealth and success in whichever career the young man has chosen… And then show the family manor burnt to the ground after a Heinkel-111 bomber strays away from its original target, the family ruined because their assets bare seized by the Nazi government, his friends wounded or killed because they volunteered or got drafted or simply were at the wrong place, at the wrong time. What will our Hero do ? Will he join Britain’s armed forces and fight the Hun ? Will he join British Intelligence ? Will he blame his predicament on the foolish decision to support Poland ? Whatever his future actions are, the reader will remember the burnt manor, the dead friends and relatives, the ruined future – and will recognize whatever the young man does as part of his Heroic Journey. If on the contrary our young man suffers nothing but a mild concussion after the crew of a stray Heinkel-111 ditches an apple core, whatever he’ll do will seem considerably less dramatic.

CHARTING THE COURSE

It is now time to think of what the major plot will be. Your first idea needs not be extremely precise, plotting the narrative vessel’s course in every detail – particularly since the AAR will be affected by game mechanics, which you normally won’t control. But it is a good idea to have a short summary of the key principles and ideas. Will it be about world conquest, mere survival, will we accompany a soldier through a lengthy campaign, will we see the rise (and possible fall) of a new ideology or nation ? Will it be a tale of heroic sacrifice, of cynical politics, of generosity in peace and war alike ? Will there be a moral conclusion, will evil triumph, will a glimmer of hope remain somewhere ? All this you have to think about, maybe not before writing the first word of the story, but probably before writing the first word of each chapter. As a general rule, you as a writer will have to make sure the readers have to understand rapidly what is at stake.

Before the story’s Hero steps into the Heroic World and gets the call of Adventure, the writer can give him (and his readers) a small glimpse of things to come, setting up a dramatic situation that will find echo the main story. In “The Writer’s Journey”, Christopher Vogler calls this process building a Miniature Heroic World, and it can be a useful thing to instil a sense of foreboding into the story. You can use the Miniature Heroic World as a navigational chart : it will announce the moral and plot issues that you will develop later, or help you build a certain architectural symmetry in your narration.

Let’s go back to our young Briton – let’s call him Harold. What if Harold is vacationing in Spain when the Nationalist officers attempt their coup, and has to leave the country in a hurry, witnessing the horrors of modern war as he tries to reach the French border ? The atrocities Harold sees in Spain are not going to affect his peaceful Britain (which is his Mundane World), but now that he has seen what horrors lie nearby, we readers are going to expect Harold’s world to be shattered at any page. And since we readers are heartless creatures, we are going to enjoy Harold’s fall from Heaven. Another option, if you want to go back to that idea of narrative symmetry, would be to have Harold stand in the ruins of a firebombed district of London at the beginning of the story, and have him walk amidst the ruins of a flattened building in Berlin in the end – therefore giving you a clever and evocative way to complete a tale of two bombed cities.

THE CAPTAIN OF THE NARRATIVE VESSEL

The ship is ready, the course is plotted, and the home port is well-known, so let us meet the Captain. As the Hero is our guide and medium in the story, he is the Captain of the USS Narrative, and how the readers meet him is important. What should the Captain be doing when we first see him ? How is he dressed, what kind of aura does he project around him ? Is he the typical clean-cut officer and gentleman cadet fresh out from Sandhurst, or does he exude the darker charm of a cunning East Side con man ? Is he amiable and easy-going, or gruff and hostile ? Does he live in a nice environment, or does he prefer more dangerous surroundings ? Does he live in style, or as a low-life ? Just as the first scene will set the general atmosphere of your narrative AAR, the Hero’s first impression on the reader will set a pattern for the rest of the story. Regardless of their types, which we studied in an earlier article, Heroes can be of any shape, size, of flavour. Therefore, it’s time for us to have a closer look at our Captain.

INTRODUCING THE CAPTAIN

The purpose of the Mundane World is not only to contrast with the heroic World and to provide a back-story – it is also to get us acquainted with the Hero. In the very first few chapters, as we discover the Mundane World, we also must see the general social dynamics around the Hero : who does he talk to, who does he like, who does he love, who does he hate or despise ? What are the deep issues in the Mundane World, and what is the Hero’s take on these issues ? The better your first chapters will answer these questions, the easier it will be for the readers to truly enter the world you’re building, and to identify with the Hero. Readers don’t have to actually like the Hero, but they have to find him interesting, intriguing. He may be the Hero we all hope to be, or someone closer to us or even someone we cannot stand – but he has to fascinate us somehow.

Let’s take our dear friend Harold. His isolationist views might exasperate us to no end – but in doing so they only make sure we are going to follow Harold’s adventures, because at some point we want his world and views to be turned upside-down after some dramatic event. Once his Mundane World is shattered, the insufferable Harold becomes a broken character, and in his struggle to come to grips with a cruel world we discover some of his qualities that we had initially overlooked. Harold might have not wanted to go to war for Danzig, but he may not be as cowardly, or as selfish, as we first thought he was. He might enlist, he might rescue civilians, or he might overcome his own prejudice and change his views on life. As the qualities show up, we’ll also realize Harold has personal flaws and shortcomings, things that will make him closer to us.

UNDERSTANDING THE CAPTAIN

Whatever set qualities you pick for your Hero, the greater influence on his quest will probably come, not from something he has, but from something he lacks. The idea of an imperfect - and therefore incomplete - Hero is more widespread in literature than in movies, but can be a great plot device. The lack of something important can lead a character to embark on a life-changing quest, whether to find peace, revenge, wealth, or fortune. That all-important missing piece can be something that is taken away from the Hero (a murdered friend, a broken peace of mind, a kidnapped relative), something he was lacking from the beginning (like the cowardly young soldier who struggles to overcome his fear), something he desperately wants to bring to the world. Alternatively, the Hero can be propelled by something he has that the rest of his fellow men lack, like some terribly upsetting knowledge, or some grievous wound, physical or moral.

The imperfect Hero is not a new concept. It has actually been theorized by none other than Aristotle, who in his rules for writing tragedy describes Heroes affected by some hamartia, a tragic flaw that force the characters to face their destiny, their fellow men, or the Gods. It is interesting to note that Aristotle thought pride and overconfidence were the best kind of hamartia to be used in tragedy. The affected Heroes are drunk with power, their eminent qualities leading them to consider themselves as superior beings, above the laws and morals of “lesser”, ordinary men. Naturally, in Greek tragedies this road always leads the overconfident Heroes to their doom, but in a modern story it might also lead the Hero to some form of redeeming quest, restoring his humanity, bringing them back into the fold.

Bear in mind that, as Christopher Vogler points out, a perfect Hero will always be less interesting than an imperfect one, and one readers will find less easy to identify with. His scars and flaws will always give additional depth to the Hero, and move him way from being a one-dimensional, stereotypical creature.


*****

This shall conclude the first part of the Heroic Journey : we have built our narrative vessel, we have anchored it to its Mundane World, and we have charted a course and picked up a suitable Captain. Next article will take us to the first steps of the Journey itself.

Atlantic Friend is a Fellow Of The Tempus Society and the WritAAR of Crossfires
 

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[anchor=I2]
A Worthwhile Portrait – Creating an ‘themed’ AAR
[/anchor]
By jeffg006

Perhaps among the most skilled writers and paradox game players online here are many who would like to share their gaming experiences with others, write a story using the game’s events for inspiration. This is the beautiful and wonderful world of After Action Report writing, and the Paradox Games Online community is more than experienced in the retelling of gaming experiences it seems like no other. The AAR community has become a community within a community at Paradox online and personally I am more than happy to have been introduced to this group of talented and interesting individuals. While on the Paradox forums I have always contended that there are some incredibly skilled writers who have shown not only a knack for an excellent alter-historical storyline but many have displayed their profoundly skilled talent of driving character storylines and depicting great battles and events in After Action Reporting. As AARs have progressed over time from a simple report to other players of decisions, movements, victory, and losses, many have evolved to become grand stories revolving around very realistic characters and situations. While this is more than satisfying to many viewers and AAR fans within the Paradox gaming community, many AAR writers have gone that extra step to create a work of art – that is the ‘themed AAR’. A ‘themed’ AAR takes a little more work – UBB code, fonts and look, pictures, and even music if you like. It is not only a story or report, but rather a portrait of how you would present that era. It is ‘spicing’ one’s AAR up with culture, colour, and a general feel to it. The goal of a themed AAR is to attempt to give the reader an experience in reading the AAR. It is an attempt in a sense to make the political or social or even military climate of your After Action Report that much more tangible to those reading.

But how does one go about this? While we have all seen some pretty impressive AARs in the past with meticulous UBB coding and incredible pictures, it is really quite simple – a series of steps, and with a website to host your images and/or music and a notepad or wordpad file you only require less than an hour to set up a beautiful format for your themed AAR for it’s whole run… that is, if you don’t feel like changing it up later for flavor. In light of the recent praise of my own work in the Victoria AAR section I’d like to share with you a formula which can lead to your own themed AAR.
What you might need for your themed AAR:

1. A flavourful format – Experiment with the size, tinker around with the fonts. Bold things, add foreign language – Islamic nation AARs become so authentic feeling when the reader sees Arabic on the screen, after all - and while A little UBB knowledge required, it really pays off so much when you see the final product of your AAR. See other people’s examples – after you have a perfect format that you want your AAR posts to be in, save all the UBB code in a text file. There, now you can use it again and again, and just insert links to music and pictures in, and change the data or words inside the post.

2. Images – The internet is full of historical artwork, portraits, and beautiful modern depictions of battles, events, peoples, etc. Make a file and save a handful of these pictures –

3. Primary Sources – Texts, poems, religious documents, anything from the era or as best you can do. Nothing represents the era like itself, after all. Playing as the Vatican? Then find some Papal Bulls! Playing as medieval Persia, then search for writings and poetry from the era. Names, terms, language, Wikipedia is a great source to find sources.

4. Plenty of screenshots – We all know how much more we enjoy themed AARs when we as Paradox game players can familiarize with the writer’s situation by actually seeing the game unfold

5. Extra ingredients – Using a free web space server to host music – be it a German march song for World War I AARs or the holy choirs of the Papacy, it really invokes a sense of the reader ‘being there’. Some excellent AAR writers have even gone so far as to add youtube videos of battles onto their AARs – the sky is the limit here, so, use your imagination…!
Now I have found that an AAR can be all this and more with just simple standard text, depending on the writer and the subject of the AAR itself. However taking that extra step and beautifying your AAR by creating a theme within it, every update, will ensure it is not only rewarding when finished each time, but also acts as driving force to continue an AAR for a long time to come. And we all know that feeling we get when someone gives us the thumbs up on our hard-worked After Action Reports – it makes it all worth it.


Jeffg006 is the WritAAR of Empire Under Heaven ~ Zhonguo and Regnum Angevinus ~ A Plantagenet EmpiAAR
 
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[anchor=I3]
Alternate Musings[/anchor]
By Mettermrck

Are you too subtle for your own good? Did you just put in a hilarious reference to that recent blockbuster movie, melding in this witty quote seamlessly with your own quality storyline? Did anybody get it?! Do you let it go or do you plot how to get your audience to recognize your brilliance? From my own experience of reading alternate-history AARs on the forums, I find there’s typically four ways to deal with this unexpected setback and to retrieve your image as a capable, clever writer with lots of finesse and style.

Let’s take an example. You are about to have the King executed in this story. The main protagonist, the rebellious Duke, is about to take the throne in triumph once this dastardly deed is done. As they watch the execution together, his scheming manipulative wife turns to him with doting eyes and whispers, “You had me at ‘off with his head’”. Get the reference right? If you don’t, I will handle it by choosing option 1 below. Anyhow, using this brilliantly funny line, what happens when absolutely no reader gets it…or at least mentions it or congratulates you. Don’t you hate that?!

Let’s take a look at the four methods of dealing with this affront:

Stiff Upper Lip – I am simply above this sort of pettiness. Yes, my readers let me down and failed to be as witty as I, but I will choose not to condemn them or further dredge up this matter. I will give them a few updates without my full humor and then, and only then, will I try again, trusting to fortune that they will not fail me again. I raise my chin at you, poor readers!

Blanket Condemnation – I have had it with you incompetent types who can’t appreciate a good joke! Satisfying my erupting anger, I will vent my spleen on everyone in my latest comments, lambasting you for not getting the reference. It might start with something like, “I can’t believe that none of you…”, etc etc etc. Sure, I peg myself as a loose cannon but it feels ohhh so good.

Clever Insinuation – I can’t publicly be bothered by this, but you bet I am! So I will make a subtle hint to my earlier subtlety, casually directing everyone back to my earlier update, seeing if they can catch it the second time around, with a little more analysis. I’ll use softer words, gently stinging my readers with my feigned indifference. “I’m disappointed that my reference wasn’t noticed, I hope you guys will look more closely…” etc etc etc.

Peer Review – We’ll deal with this privately, not publicly. I have a few close friends and can send them some pms, asking if they got the reference or not. If they say yes, then it’s my readers who aren’t sophisticated enough and not I. If they say no, well, I’ll probably ignore them and choose 1, 2, or 3.

What does this have to do with alternate-history AARs? Admit it, most of you slip modern references into your stories, so I’m sure many of you, at some point or another, have dealt with this bitter scenario from time to time. I myself have on several occasions, but thus far, I maintain my Stiff Upper Lip.


Mettermrck is a Fellow Of The Tempus Society and the WritAAR of Eagles of Avalon
 

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[anchor=I4][anchor=Feb2008-I5]
Reaching Out: Instrumentality's Spanish Language Corner​
[/anchor]
by Capibara
[/anchor]

Last month, Instrumentality reached out to WritAARs and ReadAARs who speak other languages starting with our Spanish speaking friends and it was a great success garnering hundreds of reads! To continue this endeavor is our Spanish Language section hosted by Capibara and Kurt_Steiner at the Spanish AAR forums. This month we also have Kurt_Steiner writing in English about what many of the Spanish AARs are about! Go check out this excellent piece to know what our Spanish brothers are writing!

AARs Para Todos AARs for Everyone by Capibara (Spanish)

A Spanish Tale by Kurt_Steiner (English)

A Review of the Main CK English AARs by Kurt_Steiner (Spanish)


For our Spanish language readers, we hope you enjoy it and we hope to continue to foster the growth and togetherness of all of AARland!

Capibara is a contributing writer and is the author of The All Island AAR

Kurt_Steiner is a Fellow of the Tempus Society and author of Lo Llibre dels Feyts[GoyAAR CK 2006] and its English counterpart.
 
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[anchor=I5]
The RAF[/anchor]
By grayghost

Welcome music lovers, amateur song writers, and general Idol wannabe’s. Do you have a hankering to be famous? Do you have what it takes to be a star? Are you tough enough to take the criticism that goes along with the grab for fame? Well, if you do, then I have the ultimate AAR for you.

On January 30th of this year, Snake IV started the greatest mass participatory AAR of all time, (insert link)Paradoxian Idol . This is the AAR where anybody who thinks they have even a smidgeon of talent when it comes to relyricing songs to themes from the Paradox forum has a chance to showcase their abilities.

What is my part in all this you may ask? Well, I am one of the four judges that will be pouring over your submissions and deciding if it makes the grade…or gets cut.

Some of you may be asking yourself “What does he mean”? If any of you have ever read an AAR by Evil Santa, then you have an idea of what I mean. You find a song and rework the lyrics to make it work with Paradox game themes. For example, the current phase of the contest is currently in the HOI2 forum, so submissions are about the World War 2 time frame, or specifically about the HOI2 game and its mechanics.

Below, you will find an example of what I am talking about. Now remember, this is all for fun. So far there have been submissions from silly to serious, it is all about what you want to do and write about in whatever style you wish to present it.

So, without further adeu, I present for your listening pleasure, a tune done to AC/DC’s “TNT”:


RAF

Oi, oi, oi, oi, oi…..

See us fly out of the sunset
Behind your bf109
Rippin up your fuselage
We’ll get you everytime

Spitfires to the left of me
And Spitfires to the right
We are the damned
Of fighter command
We got you in our sights

Cause we’re RAF
We’re the kings of flight
RAF
And we’ll win the fight

RAF
Here our tallyho
RAF
As we watch you explode

Oi, oi, oi, oi, oi….

We’re fast, we’re tight
When we’re in a fight
We do all we can

To send Gerry crashing to the ground
Understand

So head back to Germany
If you want to stay alive
Turn your planes around
And run for your life

You don’t want to mess around
Cause we’re gonna shoot you down

Cause we’re RAF
And we rule the sky
RAF
And if you wanna die
RAF
Come and join the dance
RAF
Gerry don’t have a chance

RAF
Oi, oi, oi
RAF
Oi, oi, oi
RAF
Oi, oi, oi
RAF
Oi, oi, oi

RAF
We’re the kings of flight
RAF
And we’ll win the fight
RAF
Hear our tallyho
RAF
As we watch you explode


Now, I do not profess this to be the greatest relyriced song ever made, but it was fun to do, and I hope gives you an idea of what we are looking for. If you want more examples, drop by Paradoxian Idol and see what it is all about.

Look forward to you dropping by and hope you decide to participate and contribute and give our judges, Snake IV, Evil Santa, the Duke of Wellington, and myself, Grayghost the chance critique your fine work.

And don’t worry, there are no Edmunds judging the competition, so we wont be to hard on you.

grayghost is a Honorary Fellow Of The Tempus Society and the WritAAR of The Manchurian Candidate
 

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[anchor=I6]
Military Revolution
by General_BT
[/anchor]



One of the key early components of the Military Revolution was the so-called Artillery Revolution - a series of changes in the construction and use of artillery that simultaneously rendered traditional castles obsolete, and markedly increased the effectiveness of gunpowder artillery to the point that other forms of siege equipment (trebuchets, etc) were no longer used. This revolution in artillery would begin a cascade effect, forcing a change in fortification, which forced a change in the size of armies, which forced states to find new ways to mobilize resources, etc. etc. - a long road that culminates in the modern bureaucratic state, armed with numerous methods and tactics to mobilize the resources of its population for its needs.

The first component of the Artillery Revolution is the use of so-called 'corned powder.' Prior to this, gunpowder was usually packed in barrels in a powdered state - an arrangement that made transportation difficult. Inadequate roads and bumpy rides meant that the powder had a tendency to sift into its component parts during transportation, changing a potent chemical agent into a useless pile of powder. Thus, artillery and cannon were seen as haphazard siege weapons, difficult to transport and to effectively use. The varying state of gunpowder mixtures significantly decreased the muzzle velocity of cannons, making them less powerful physically than great mangonels and trebuchets.

Early cannoneers fought this problem through a long and tedious loading process, which required an artilleryman to first put the uneven powder inside the barrel, then the ball or stone, then finally seal the front of the barrel, usually with a mixture of dirt, mud, peat, or whatever else was available. This process was long and painstaking, resulting in extremely long load times. One French cannoneer during the last phases of the Hundred Years War was accused of being in league with the Devil simply because he managed to get his cannon fired three times in one day - an unheard of feat. Because of all of these problems, early cannons and gunpowder weapons offered a significant psychological advantage to their users, but little beyond that.

'Corning' powder involves combining the grains of sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal with a liquid, the most common being urine. The liquid would act as an adhesive, holding the mixture together in relatively consistent grains, or 'corns,' that guaranteed an even burn and hence a more powerful reaction. Additionally, the corning process reduced the amount of gundpowder 'dust' in the air, significantly cutting the possibility of an explosion during the manufacturing process. Cannon ranges increased by great measure, and the hitting power of cannonballs was proportionally greater. Additionally, because the corned powder burned evenly with a higher muzzle velocity, cannoneers no longer were forced to seal the barrel before firing - immeasurably speeding up loading times as well.

Another key change involved the technical process of creating the barrels of cannon themselves. Early cannons were usually constructed in the same manner as a wooden barrel - sections of iron held together by thick bands that ringed the barrel. This method of construction meant that cannon usually had very limited service lives before they breached. Cannon barrels also could never be very long - a ratio of 3 to 4 times the barrel diameter was common. Shorter barrels, of course, meant decreased accuracy and range.

It wasn't until the late 15th century that smithys began reverting back to an older technology - bronze - as a solution to this problem. Unlike iron, which in large quantities was brittle due to the manufacturing technology of the day, bronze cannons could be cast in one piece, similar to a church bell. A single piece bronze cannon could have a longer barrel for better accuracy and range, and also would be far more durable in combat.

As a result of these processes, the kings of Renaissance Europe began to actively gather and collect cannons to form vast siege trains - the largest of which belonged to King Charles VIII of France. This helped urge along a previously ongoing process - the gradual centralization of states based on systems of feudal landownership to more centralized governments. The connection between the 'Growth of the State' and the 'Military Revolution' will be a long-lasting one. Central royal governments alone had the money to maintain large artillery parks, which granted them the ability to destroy the castles of an errant noble with ease. Coupled with other factors at work (see the upcoming article on the centralization of the state), the power of the feudal nobility in European states significantly decreased over the time period from 1450 to 1750.

For all great revolutions in military affairs, there is always a counter, an attempt to defeat the new strategic or technological foe. During the French invasion of Italy in 1494, the powerful French artillery, fully equipped with the new long-barreled artillery cannon and corned powder, easily battered down fortress after fortress, rapidly seizing control over most of the region. The invasion itself likely would have resulted in the conquest of northern Italy for the French crown if Charles' army had not suffered an outbreak of a new and deadly disease - syphillis. However, the lessons from this campaign - that traditional high and thin castle walls were useless in the face of powerful royal artillery - was not lost on the Italian city states. They would be at the forefront of the next major change during the Military Revolution - the development of the trace italienne, the geometric method of fortress design that would come to dominate European warfare for the few centuries.


General_BT is a Fellow of the Tempus Society and author of Rome AARisen
 
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[anchor=I7]
The Real Cost of War
Part I: The European Axis
[/anchor]
By Avernite

In paradox games, it is often overlooked what really made nations powerful in the middle ages. In fact, in Hearts of Iron 1, it is completely ignored, and even in the games about older eras, the focus is elsewhere.

In those times, money was the most important resource in a war. The Dutch republic was powerful because it was economically strong. Venice reigned the Mediterranean because it controlled trade. In essence, money IS power in those times. In the real world, most armies until the 1700's were built of mercenaries and levies, with a small core of full-time loyal troops. Whoever had the money to hire and keep more soldiers in his service had a very big advantage.

This is a fact that, especially in AARs about the middle ages and renaissance, must be taken into account. Certainly you can, in the game, become powerful from just manpower and your taxes, and go to war with it, but any story takes into account the additional reality that war costs a lot, economically. The thirty years war, in EU, would grant a bit of inflation to the hardest fighters, and some badboy. In the real world, it devastated Germany. Crusader Kings represents this a lot better through its looting mechanic, which is a lot more devastating than what usually happens in EU. Certainly, 3 provinces looted for a year is bad, but after that year it's all back to perfect economy.

Even into later ages the economy of war is important. The Spanish empire collapsed under the combined weight of too many foes and too little money. The French revolution was also in response to the continued wars bankrupting the nation. And even in our current day and age, the collapse of the Soviet block is partly blamed on the fact that it simply couldn't pay for all the armies it needed.

However, this is not all doom and gloom. Because it gives you a chance to justify your pathetically weak German state conquering the world: you just took control of trade, and then moved on to taking the land that went with it (even if, in-game, you never did it, you can always say some sort of secret support did it). You can end a war because your economy didn't like it anymore, thus giving you a perfect justification for not destroying your foes within the first ten years of your AAR. You can have a serious rebellion that greatly alters your nation in the direction you like, and base it on the simple problems caused by armies running around your country.

So remember: the economy is important, which leads to both limitations and opportunities.

Avernite is a Contributing Writer.
 
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[anchor=I8]


You’ve Been Canonized: Hajji Giray I​
[/anchor]

Welcome once again ladies and gentlemen to this month’s INSTRUMENTALITY edition of You’ve Been Canonized! our weekly interview segment at Timelines where we take a patron author and get to know more about them, their views on Timelines, and about their current project or AAR! If you’re new to the programme, I’m your host canonized author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? and, today, we have a special interview where we’ll be talking with Hajji Giray I who is both the current coordinator of Guess the Author and curator of the OT Museum! Let’s get it on!

Part I: KHAAAAAAN!! KHAAAAAAN!!
Hajji tells us a little bit about himself!

canonized: First thank you for coming on the programme ! Could you perhaps introduce yourself for those who might not know you ?

Hajji Giray I: Sure! My name's Hajji aka Brian, and I've been a regular member of AARland for something like five years, but am primarily active in some of the "less-traveled" parts of the realm. My current AAR is in the Victoria forum, and most of my past works were for EUII. I also coordinate the Guess-the-Author program, more on which shortly.

canonized: When did you first come to the forum ?

Hajji Giray I: Let's see ... I had just turned thirteen years old, so it must have been the fall of 2002. Yes it was - I was a very law-abiding little boy, and saw that the American law stated that twelve-year-olds had to ask their parents before joining an internet forum, so I waited until right after my birthday. My first AAR was very serious and sober and had some sort of noble title like "Triumph and Despair." I abandoned it after a week.

canonized: What were your impressions of the paradox forums in respects of AARland as well as the other places like the OT etc ?

Hajji Giray I: Back in those days AARland was a very different place. In fact, it didn't really exist; each game had its individual AAR forum, and the different areas were not linked together by anything at all. When some of the forum elders pulled off the creation of AARland a few years ago, there was some unrest to be sure - but it's really made the community such a better place, and given us so many more opportunities to work together and learn new things. I don't remember when I first waded into OT, but that is a quicksand-ish sort of place; once you get a bit into it, it starts sucking you further and further downward into the abyss. An enjoyable process, naturally: now I'm the OT Forum Curator, which means I categorize and file away all the most interesting things that happen into the forum's Museum. What place on the Internet aside from Paradox could have a Forum Museum of memorable threads - such a bizarrely joyous sense of community history? Now, my main field of activity for my first two or three years on Paradox was the roleplaying forums - specifically the game Eutopia. It was a free-form text-based RPG where we were all politicians on a fictitious island, and my writing improved by leaps and bounds there. A lot of other prominent AARers could be found there too - Amric, heagarty, Judas Maccabeus, and many more.

canonized: What first drew you to Paradox games and how would you say participating in the forums has changed or enhanced that initial attraction ?

Hajji Giray I: Well, I first got EUII for my birthday, and spent several years playing it obsessively. When the fun started wearing off, AARing, playing mods and ticking off my little brother (he hated the game with a passion) kept my interest. Nowadays, I must confess to not playing Paradox games at all. Writing the AARs is just more fun than playing the games for me now - and in any case my AARs (the current one is a murder mystery) really don't tie in to gameplay matters as much as most authors'. I never did get EUIII or HoI II, and don't know about buying Rome. I'm not a very good Paradox customer at all. It's kind of sad, really. Please don't kick me out. : )

canonized: As someone who is working hard for the improvement of AARland , what would you like to see more of in the forums ?

Hajji Giray I: Well, to be honest, I'd like to see the forums more to begin with; for the past few months, as my unfortunate readers know, real life matters have been knocking me off the Internet for days or even weeks at a time. That's currently happening again, sadly, so before resolving to help make AARland a better place I need to simply resolve to be here more often. We have a pretty huge pool of great writing talent, comprised not only of terrific writers but mentors too. People like coz1 have been watching over me since the olden days, and their discussions about the art of writing itself - as in the old SolAARium - are as valuable as any of the stories being created. That element - the realm of ideas where serious authors are helping each other become better - ought to be emphasized a little bit more; initiatives like the SolAARium and Guess-the-Author contribute to this, as do some of our most esteemed commenters and fans, and some of the articles in the AARlander, as with that excellent chat between Phoenix Dace and Atlantic Friend in the December issue. Maybe it is just folks like me who find these kinds of discussions interesting and who enjoy sitting around talking about different methods of introducing characters, but initiatives about writing itself can lead to some terrific learning experiences and good ideas. Take a look at how some of our forum's most famous authors have evolved over time and it is abundantly clear how much we can help each other improve!

canonized: Considering this interview itself will be in INSTRUMENTALITY , what might you have to say about the initiatives for AARland that have really taken off in the recent months ?

Hajji Giray I: Well, frankly the AARlander and Instrumentality are superb - I just hope that they are getting the readership they deserve. Since this will be appearing there, it might be tacky for me to praise them too much, except to say that some of the past columns have been fascinating to me for their looks at not just the art of writing, but the history and structure of AARland itself. There have been plenty of "magazines" before in our community - one was called the Gazette - and although they were all consistently good reads, they ended up subsiding as readers and writers declined in numbers. We can't let that happen this time; there are just so many good articles, discussions, historical essays, and columns coming out, and they make AARland a much more interesting place. (Anonymous4401 is reading this and thinking, "Well, why haven't you written anything for us?" Heh, sorry about that. Some day...) Of course, there are a lot of folks who never really make it out of their areas to the broader forum where we have all these initiatives - the magazine, the Guess-the-Author, the SolAARium. Perhaps a new initiative could be to simply get the word about those programs? All it would take would be a signature-editing campaign.

canonized: So aside from your works on the paradox forums , what can you tell us about the real life Hajji ?

Hajji Giray I: The real life Hajji goes to Rice University, where he is an editor for the school's first and currently only student-run magazine, and writes on topics as disparate as classical music, computer games and Stephen Colbert. He also reviews movies for the school paper, listens constantly to classical music (currently: Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana), and avoids going to parties. He wishes America were more like Canada, often refers to himself in the third person, and loves to mix cranberry juice with Sprite.

Part II: The Who and the Giray
Hajji tells us about his current projects!

canonized: So let's first talk about your work in Guess the Author . For those who may not know about this part of AARland , could you explain it briefly for us ?

Hajji Giray I: Sure! Guess-the-Author is a program with a rather misleading title wherein various authors submit their work anonymously and then the reading public can comment on what they like, dislike, would improve on, and more. Typically the coordinator will designate a topic, four writers will sign up, and their entries will be posted by the coordinator so nobody will know who they are. Then readers discuss and analyze each piece, and when they're done the names of the authors are revealed. Although the name is "Guess the Author," since AARland began to grow and blossom it's obviously become impossible for readers to be familiar with every single author's individual writing style. The purpose of the game, therefore, is basically to give readers a chance to read an entry and review it without knowing whether the author writer is a famous AARlander or a newbie or something in between - and even more importantly, the purpose is to give our authors unbiased feedback on their work!

canonized: Tell us a little bit if you would about your experience running the project ; what are its challenges and rewards ?

Hajji Giray I: Well I've run Guess-the-Author for a little under half of its four-year history (four years as of this month), and although it doesn't require too much time to put together - the hardest part is setting deadlines and remembering them - sometimes a little bit of last-minute ingenuity is required. It's my policy never to edit or change an author's work except in the case of obvious spelling errors, and I don't even give authors advice, unless they ask for it (only one or two have). Getting to read some of the works which are submitted is its own reward; sometimes, though, when we don't get enough entries or an author just plain disappears, I end up writing one as a substitute at the last minute. That's actually rather fun, so if you're reading this and you've bailed out of GtA before, don't feel so guilty. (Well, do feel a little guilty...)

canonized: Were there any memorable moments in the course of your tenure there that you can recall ?

Hajji Giray I: hm, memorable moments ... I do remember that probably my favorite entry ever was sent in - goodness, way back at the very beginning in 2004! - by a new user with only 2 posts to his name. MrDog, I think, was his username. I didn't have very high expectations, but was just blown away. Unfortunately MrDog did not stay here for long; if only he had. And over the years I've run into some of the greatest of all AARers while working on the project, including Amric, coz1, Valdemar, Judge, Prufrock451, and Peter Ebbesen. It's a load of fun when we have a good group of readers to keep up an active discussion. Oh goodness! I forgot the weirdest moment of all! My ex-girlfriend registered for the forum and wrote a piece for Guess-the-Author. But she was afraid that people would criticize her, and didn't want to see what anybody thought about her piece. Eventually she resolved not to come back to AARland, even when coz1 sent her an encouraging message on my behalf. Unfortunately it was true ... there was a lot of criticism of her story... haha, those were the days! She never did find out what anybody thought about her piece; she was just too afraid to look. Note to prospective authors: don't worry, we're very nice people at GtA. We won't bite.

canonized: You're also the Curator in the OT , why don’t you tell us a little bit about that now especially for those who may not know such a thing existed .

Hajji Giray I: well, a few years ago the administrators turned off the search function of the forum to save server usage - people constantly searching was part of the reason why the forum kept crashing. And it immediately became impossibly hard to find all the stuff I liked in the Off-Topic forum! (The rest of the forum is searchable on Google; OT isn't.) So I began to save a list of all the threads that I wanted to be able to refer to in the future; and one day I was bored and looked through all the OT threads from the years 2000 and 2001. (I was REALLY bored.) There was some cool stuff, so I posted a new thread linking to it, and then added all the links to my favorites.
Hajji Giray I:: Eventually this sort of evolved into the OT Museum, an odd and informal arrangement of important events, amusing things, and random spamfests. But in December I decided to repost the Museum in much more organized and coherent fashion, and it got almost immediately stickied. We host a Thread of the Month program, in which one can choose the best overall thread of each month, but there are so few nominations that all of them are made winners. Usually they end up celebrating consistent, sustained hilarity over the course of a hundred posts or so. The Museum is fun to browse and would probably sustain a bored person for up to a week. There is quite a bit of good stuff in there ... incidentally, this would be a good time to point out that one of last month's entries in the Guess the Author program won Paradox Post of the Month and is now enshrined in the museum. It describes a successful conversion attempt and was written by dharper.

canonized: What would you say was the funniest thing that you have enshrined currently ?

Hajji Giray I: oh goodness! Hmm ... a lot of people would go with the celebrated post "The Octagon," which has spawned a huge quantity of OT in-jokes, but my personal favorite posts were when Blade! assumed the demeanor of an airy talk-show host and conducted a farcical interview of himself. Also, the "Paint a Turtle" thread will soon be recognized as a classic. There was also a rather odd flamewar in 2001 about whether or not the ancient Greeks created an imaginary 143 foot tall statue of Winston Churchill. I could go on and on...

canonized: Do you have any future projects you think you'll be taking up any time soon ?

Hajji Giray I: First I have to finish my current AAR (Debts Unpaid, in the Victoria forum); it's about six hours of game-time from completion but at least a dozen updates away. The AAR is a murder mystery - in fact it's billed as the first of a series, so something will definitely have to be done about that! If I manage to find more time to devote to Paradox - maybe this summer - I might send a few things to the AARlander; until then GtA will be my main focus. And then there's this whole business of editing a real-life student magazine...

canonized: Well thank you for being on the show , Hajji !

Hajji Giray I: It was an honor!

canonized: We’d like to also thank the audience for tuning in this time around. Please don’t forget to let us know what you think about the interview in the discussion thread ! Thanks again to Hajji and we hope to see you all next week for our next interview . We’ll be announcing our next guest during the course of the week on the AAR thread . Good fight , good night !

canonized is SEELE Chairman of the Tempus Society and author of Timelines