• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
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Alexandru H.

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"The AARland News, Written but Never Trusted"



EditAARs’ Foreword

It was a dark and stormy night, or it seemed like it even though it was late afternoon in the land of the midnight sun. Wind drove fat wet flakes of snow at the windows of the office. Saabs and other types of cars were being quickly buried by the falling snow. Programmers sat around a table bouncing ideas off one another. Speaking of a great new game they would like to create. Or so it could have happened. The game? Europa Universalis. A game of war and diplomacy spanning a good chunk of history from 1492-1792. You could play a plethora of nations and conquer the world if you so desired.

It became so popular that those programmers, and the company that paid them decided to start working on a sequel. They also began to create a society for those wanting to interact and ask questions about the game. People began to make their own modifications to the game to give it even more playability. Then someone had a wonderful idea. Why not let people WRITE about the games they play? The AAR forum was born!

Europa Universalis II would come out and become as popular as the first version. Another AAR forum would be born! Then would come Hearts of Iron, a game depicting the era of World War II. It also become hugely successful and another AAR forum would be birthed.

Victoria would come some time later, and again prove to be quite popular, and so a new child of AARland would come into being. Soon enough Crusader Kings would be released and a new AAR forum will be created. In each forum there is a place to recommend and discuss stories written by various forum members. The EUII bAAR, the EUI Private bAAR, the HoI OfficAARs’ Mess, and the VictoriAARn Tea Room. Not all at once, but they became a focal point for many people.

Presiding over these areas are the bAARtenders, quAARtermaster, and victorian genAARal. Armed with their quote guns, aprons, and dirty rags<tm> they stand ready to serve drinks and recommend AARs to their fellows. These men are ready and able with a quick quip and a friendly smile and eager to help their fellow members.

The AARland Gazette is meant to be a collaborative effort by these men to promote the various areas of AARland to everyone. To bring together the various members to read wonderful tales by their fellows in ALL of the AAR forums. Stories from every AAR forum will be presented and recommended. A spirit of cooperation and fellowship is the goal.

With AARticles; interviews with members, moderators, and featured writAARs we intend to prove that regardless of the game played there are stories ripe to be plucked from the shelves of the various forums and read voraciously by readAARs eager to be entertained. What will be featured may change, but the basic philosophy is the same.

“We are not just writAARs and readAARs, but membAARs!”


The EditAARs
 

Alexandru H.

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General Rules

General Rules

a) Please do not post in the Gazette unless you are an editAAR. All discussions concerning the Gazette shall take place in the designated AARland Gazette Discussion and Feedback Thread!. Do not start unnecessary threads.

b) If you would like to submit an AARticle or even start a periodic column, send a PM to one of the Senior EditAARs outlining your idea. He will discuss it with the other editAARs and if agreed upon, he will notify you. Once your AARticle is complete, send it by e-mail as an attached Word document to an editAAR (coz1, Amric or Alexandru H.) and they will look it over, suggest possible changes and let you know when the AARticle will run. Holding a permanent column in our newspaper offers more advantages than simple one-time AARticles, so be sure to apply for one, if you think you have what it takes.

c) The AARticles may consist of a topic related to reading, writing or general observations on AARs – their state, trends, volume, uses and techniques. We also encourage interviews, reviews, AAR historical research and writAAR biographies. Feel free to surprise us, though.

d) Senior EditAAR Staff:
Amric, bAARtender (Senior EditAAR) talonwarlord at yahoo.com
coz1, genAARal (Senior EditAAR) coz1 at bellsouth.net

e) Associate EditAAR
Director, membAAR (Associate EditAAR)

f) Moderating Staff:
MrT, moderator (EditAAR at Large)
Lord Durham, moderator (EditAAR at Large)

f) Columnists
Estonianzulu, MacRaith, Morpheus506, Voshkod, Cow Pie, Anibal, Hajji Giray I, Judge,
forgbeastegg, jwolf (Columnists)
 
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Amric

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Europa Universalis II AARland News




The Latest Beta patch is now 19 June!

19 June beta



Did you know there are a whole HOST of mods for EUII? You can find them all here!

EU2 - Scenarios, Events and Modifications

Here is a List of Nations for EUII and difficulty for a brand new player!

A Nation Guide By Sliver Legion


Recent Writers of the Week!
TreizeV, LordLeto, Lofman


Even though EUII has been out for quite a while now, there is still a great deal of activity going on in the AAR forum. Victoria is out, and Crusader Kings, and let us not forget Hearts of Iron. Yet the EUII forum is still going strong with many new stories popping up every week. It is a great time to be alive!
 
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Alexandru H.

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Hearts of Iron AARland News

The News for the Week of April 11th - April 17th​

Announcements

- The 1.06 Patch is here!!! There are still a few little problems concerning graphics, but the gameplay, man, the gameplay is absolutely fantastic. No matter, Germany will still conquer the world! Get it here!
- 2Coats did it again! The second version of his Manual Project is on-line and ready to be used, filling the obvious gaps of the original manual. Get it here!
- Modders are working hard nowadays to bring you new levels of enjoyment. Try CORE v0.71, HSR v1.02c, TGW v1.03b and SHM v0.99p. We expect two more great additions to the list, the Super AI Bundle and Math Guy's HSP. Keep them coming, guys!

AARs

- We have a new AAR, for you to try and enjoy: a new Romanian AAR by RossN, new member as well, bent on Balkan conquest ("PAX Romania").
- Bad news on the AAR front: Anibal has decided to abandon his USSR AAR, due to a busy schedule. The Soviet Marines shall live in our hearts forever! Pay your respects here.
- Blast from the Past: Could the Brazilians achive greatness? Too bad we couldn't find out more, but still, a very worthy read. Bravo!

Awards

- Writer of the Week: Zanza
- Weekly Showcase: Siam - The Pocket Empire (Semi-Lobster )
- Free Booze in the OficAARs' Mess goes to Rustican for his hilarious and unorthodox German RISK AAR. If you want to die laughing, this is the only way to do it

Miscellaneous

- Mork deserves a custom title!
- Where is The Yogi? Everyone awaits for the OscAAR winner gone rogue to transform his acclaimed German AAR into an easily-downloadable PDF file. Damn it, where are you?
- Don't forget to stop by the OficAARs' Mess Hall and give us hello! Don't wake us though, we're still trying to get over a bad case of beer-related hangover.
 
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coz1

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Victoria AARland News

The News for July 18th - July 31st

QUICK QUESTION - IS ANYONE READING THIS SECTION? REPLY IN THE FEEDBACK THREAD IF YOU ARE PLEASE.

And the answer to that question is apparently not. If you would like to see this feature return, please let an editAAR know.

Announcements:

- The beta compliment to the 1.03 patch has been out for a while and can be found here.
- Also noted is perhaps a very useful thread entitled POP Incomes Revealed (1.03) by Crimson King, explaining exactly what the title suggests. Hope it helps.
- Rafiki has provided a very nice FAQ for your perusal which can be found here. As well, you might want to check out his site, VickiWiki.
- Memnon has produced a most helpful Revised Manual & Strategy Guide. Go check it out.

AARs:

- I've just started reading a wonderful tale of Prussia by a newer membAAR called Fire Warms the Northern Lands -- A Prussian AAR. The membAAR is Rensslaer and the tale is quite good so far.
- It seems Memnon's The Pharaoh and the Prophet - An Egyptian Caliphal AAR is quite popular. I have taken a look and I can see why.
- And don't miss frogbeastegg's attempts to learn the game of Victoria in her They call me *MR* Newbie!. She has quite a bit of talent as a writAAR and her trials and tribulations should help us all to realize that we aren't the only ones struggling to learn the nuances of Paradox's fine game.


Awards:

WritAAR of the Week:
- Recent recipients include Estonianzulu and Seidita. Congratulations gentlemen.

Victoria Showcase:
- Currently on hold it seems - hopefully this will return soon.

OscAARs:

- We have taken the nominations for the VictAARian Cross Award: Best Completed AAR. Right now there are seven, but if you have others, go ahead and nominate them. I hope to see this poll take place in the coming months.


Miscellaneous:

- You will find that the survey results are posted elsewhere in this Gazette. Please feel free to stop by the survey thread if you wish to discuss the findings.

- Be sure to stop by The VictoriAARn Tea Room. We can always use good recommendations for AARs forumwide. Just remember to be in character...and don't quote. As well, watch for Machiavellian's construction work. He seems to think there's gold in them there hills...er, Tea Room. :D


- The GenAARal's Picks this week are:
The Noble Lives: A Chronicle of the Kingdom of Castile by Secret Master
The Golden Pig and the Concrete Porker:A Rather Silly Tale by J. Passepartout
 
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unmerged(6777)

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Crusader Kings AARland News

Crusader Kings Goes Gold!

As many of you are aware, Paradox Entertainment announced this week that their long-awaited game Crusader Kings has gone gold and is being forwarded to the various distribution channels for localization. Many of us have been waiting for this moment with breathless anticipation for the more-than-two years since the project was first announced, dreaming of the amazing new AAR potentials that the tantalizing hints about CK have seemed to suggest.

When this inaugural version of the Gazette was being planned by your bAARtenders, they approached me about writing an “update” about the current status of the project since they knew that I was a member of the beta team for the game – a team that has been working feverishly over the past few months to help ensure tha the game is ready. At the time that coz1 asked me, CK’s “gold” status had not yet been announced and, having agreed to provide an AARticle, I began to wonder just what I could write without violating the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) I have signed. Even with CK’s release now being official, I am still bound by those same terms until the game actually hits the shelves – or Johan authorises the betas to make comments – so I hope that you will understand if I cannot give you some of the specifics that you are all undoubtedly eager to read. However I will tell you as much as I am permitted…

First of all I should tell you that I feel CK has incredible potential to become an equal to EU2 – perhaps even its superior. Upon release you will find a very stable game that has incredible variety and nearly infinite replayability. This is by virtue of two major departures from Paradox’s previous games: the new character-driven dynastic – rather than territorial - focus of the game; and the dynamic event system.

The player’s primary focus in Crusader Kings is the survival of his dynasty – his “blood line”, if you will. While increasing the size and importance of one’s demesne is a good way to do this, it is by no means the only way. What is critical in the game, though, is that your dynasty survives – in some form – or your game is over. You will begin the game as the head of a dynasty – be it king, duke or count (or hierarchical equivalent, depending on what part of Europe you choose as your homeland) – with a demesne of a size appropriate to your station, and with a court that is peopled with a number of courtiers. You must then ensure your survival by appointing advisors, by finding yourself a spouse (unless you happen to have one at the beginning of the game), and by siring the next generation of your family – for when your first character dies, you assume the role of his successor. If you fail in this task and your bloodline comes to an end, your game is over.

This is quite a departure form Paradox’s previous games where the designers’ “directed historical” approach had files that predetermined who would rule each nation, when they would assume their crowns, and when they would die. Instead, think of CK as a game that contains a “snapshot” of the major personages at the beginning of a scenario and from there evolves based on the course and success of your actions. From then until the end of the game, very little will occur that is absolutely “true” to history.

That brings me to the dynamic events system. Other than a handful of major, global events that are scripted to be “faithful” to the history of the era, most of the events in CK are of a “dynamically directed” random nature. You won’t find events like EU2’s French “Wars of Religion” series that force you along an historic path – or opt for a limited number of alternative choices. For players interested in a game that is more along the lines of a historic simulation, these sorts of things could be scripted by the Scenarios & Modifications community – and likely will. Rather, CK will interact with your decisions to challenge and entertain you in a myriad of unpredictable ways.

The events in CK are rarely time-dependent, there being almost nothing scripted to happen to a particular country on any particular date. Instead, the events are triggered and/or affected by certain conditions – be it a type of law, the existence or lack of a certain province improvement, a certain social setting, or whatever. I can’t give you more details yet, but I can assure you that they can keep you on your toes and give you a real feel for many of the challenges faced by the rulers of the era.

So what does this mean to the AAR writer? In my opinion, quite a lot! No two games will be the same – probably not even remotely the same. There is almost no predictability, and thus your readers won’t be able to anticipate what is coming up next (with the exception of a few things). The game is more character driven – with each ruler and courtier having a set of basic statistics (a martial value, a diplomatic value, a stewardship value, and an intrigue value) and also dozens of available “traits” that can affect their nature – and so the opportunities to write about them are amazing. Members of your court may be appointed as your Steward, your Marshall, your Chancellor and your Spy Master (yes, murder and assassination is part of the game!)…there are tourneys…there are a large number of “improvements” that may be built in your provinces…there well over a hundred different technological advances that may be researched….and more! Each of these opens up a myriad of story opportunities that should keep the Crusader Kings AAR forum active and entertaining for years to come.

I should close, now, before I reveal anything I’m not allowed to. But suffice it to say that I am really looking forward to what the incredibly imaginative authors around here will do with such a wealth of material.

Happy gaming, and happy writing!

MrT
 
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Amric

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The Eye of the Hurricane (Amric)

What's in the EUII forum?


This being my first AARticle for the AARland Gazette, and the first of what hopes to be many issues of this newspaper I’d just like to take the time to thank you for reading. Now that I have done that, let’s get to the meat of things.

I started here in the EUII forums in May of 2003 as a member. I had been lurking for over a month but hadn’t joined until then. I had been reading some excellent literature from many people, including Lord Durham, Eochaid, Alexandru H., and so many others that it would be impossible to name them all.

So I started my own AAR, and began responding to all the other stories I had been reading as well. I’ve written a few AARs since then and Anibal, another member, nicknamed me the Hurricane. Of which I have taken a great liking to, as can be seen from my title of Hurricane bAARtender.

Now I didn’t start off as bAARtender, that was something Eochaid was doing, and doing very well. But late last year he was looking for an assistant. I hem and hawed about it and finally put in my application for the position. I got it, and then about a month later I became the full time bAARtender of the EUII AAR forum.

Enough about me, I think.

The idea for this AARland Gazette is the brainchild of Alexandru H., the Mess Hall Sergeant, or QuAARtermaster, of the Hearts of Iron AAR forum<HOI Forum>. He’s been around for awhile and when he first approached me about this idea, I jumped on board with both feet. Why? Because it is a GREAT idea, for one. Another is that it is going to be FUN. At least for me, and I am sure it will be for the others as well. Plus it is envisioned as being a resource that will bring people together, regardless of the forum they most participate in.

Alexandru H. is also the one who started the Library of Historical Fiction. What is that? It is a library of AARs written by various authors that he has pulled together into one PDF file for ease of reading. They are BOOKS! That’s right. Books! Stories written by members of Paradox Forums that will encompass ALL types of stories from each game. He asks permission from the authors, and works VERY hard to put it all together for our enjoyment. It is an initiative that brings even more to our community. When I say community, I mean ALL the AAR forums, not just EUII.

But enough of inflating his ego!:)

Coz1 is the Tea Room Colonel, soon to be GenAARal, and has been writing wonderful tales all over the place. He is a prolific writer who has been honing his craft to a razor’s edge that leaves his readers begging for his next story. He also is a prolific reader as well and leaves comments in just about every AAR he reads. He was just as quick to jump onto this idea as I was and he has already brought a steadying influence to the Vicky<Victoria> Tea Room with flair and humor all his own. But if I keep this up, he’s going to get all excited as well, so I’d better stop now.:)


The EUII AAR forum is the place where members read stories written by members. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well think a little harder. How many other games, or gaming companies for that matter, set up a place for people to write and read stories based on their games? Not too many, believe it or not! There are some, but we aren’t here to talk about them and none of them have the same kind of spirit as our own beloved forums.

This is a place where you can realize your dreams of writing a story and having thousands of people able and WILLING to read it. Think of it as being published, in a way, and it’s FREE to us! That is unheard of, in my opinion and something we ought to be very thankful for. Each forum, not just the EUII forum, has moderators who patrol the forums keeping things civil and encouraging interaction between the members as well as giving feedback to writers as well.

Along with the other forums, EUII has initiatives like the Weekly Showcase, and the Writer of the Week, along with the OscAARs. The Weekly Showcase is something Lord Durham created to highlight a promising or excellent story currently being written. The Writer of the Week is a creation of Warspite, which highlights a particular WRITER who has contributed much to the forum. The OscAARs is like the Hollywood Oscars except that a type of AAR is featured whether it be Best AAR, or Funniest, or some other type. People nominate various AARs and then they are put up for a vote for ALL the members to decide which one deserves the OscAAR.

But let us not forget the LibrAARy! It is a wonderful resource to discover treasured stories from the past. They also have stories in there that are still being written as well! It is truly a valuable tool to discover hidden gems that writers have written that you just might not have read yet.

Of course we can’t forget the LibrAARy Updates area as well! This is the location that is used for writers to inform the LibrAARian, Stroph1, of the latest story you are writing. How do you do this? By telling him the name of the story in a link directing people to the tale. How is this done? You copy and paste of course! First you copy the address from the address bar. Then you can go to the LibrAARy Update section and type in thus; {url=Put your copied address here!}Name of AAR{/url}. Simple isn’t it? Except the instead of using this { you use [.

Then there is of course, the bAAR! I am your friendly, but firm, bAARtender as I stated before. This is a place to discuss and recommend AARs that you have been enjoying. This is also a place where you can tell people that you are writing an AAR. If your story has been lacking readers, it has been known for some to remind folks of their story by remarking that they have just UPDATED their story and that they should really go check it out.

There is also another very useful place called the FAQ section. Otherwise known as Frequently Asked Questions. Now this is in the EUII General Discussions forum, but it is a VERY useful tool that everyone ought to be looking at. But this has been folded into a section now the link and resource thread where Lord Durham lists interesting websites and books about the eras of the various games.

Where are all these wonderful resources? They are ‘stickied’ at the very top of the forum thread. There are other stickied threads in the AARs and General Discussions area as well. Book resources to help you get a better feel for the era of EUII. Another is the SolAARium, which holds discussions on how to write in various styles, as well as how to handle conversations between characters in your stories without having to keep typing ‘he said’, ‘he replied’. There is even discussions on how to set a scene, or how to describe the area around a character! All very useful information that can help you write an even better story!

Future AARticles will have various other information for you. Like recommendations of AARs that you SHOULD be reading. Some oldies but goodies from the past that are so well written that you shouldn’t miss reading them but are no longer on the ‘radar’ of the members anymore. I’ll be pulling some out for you all to look at and appreciate. And whatever else might catch my ‘eye’, as it were.

I’ll also make sure to inform you of the latest Writer of the Week<WOW>, Weekly Showcase, and OscAAR nominations as well as voting for the OscAAR of the moment! All that will be in the news section. I’ll also, along with my fellow EditAARs of the other forums interview writers, mods<moderators>, and influential members who are making contributions beyond just writing and reading stories.

If there is a particular topic about writing, reading, or AARs in general you’d like to see featured in one of my AARticles, or from one of the others such as coz1, and Alexandru H., Morpheus506, as well as Mr. T, feel free to PM any one of us about it and we’ll certainly try to answer your questions in the next AARticle or a future one. Plus there will be AARticles written by guest writAARs. Who will these people be? It’s a surprise, otherwise where would the fun be?

In essence these AARticles are meant to educate, enlighten, and entertain you. They are also meant to help foster a spirit of cooperation between the various AAR forums, be it EUI, EUII, HoI, Victoria, or CK when it comes out. A cross pollination, if you will of people reading not only wonderful stories written by people from EUII, but the other forums where you may not own that game, yet, but you can enjoy tales written there that is just as good as the ones in EUII. So go out there and interact! Read some stories! Write one of your own if you desire! Tell the authors of the tales you read how much you enjoy their efforts!

Remember our motto! We are not just WritAARs and ReadAARs, but MembAARS!
 
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coz1

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The GenAARal's LettAARs (coz1)

LettAARs I


Hello one and all, and welcome to our inaugural issue of the AARland Gazette. Among the many things you will find in this periodical are a few letters to the editor with questions, suggestions and general observations. I shall try to answer them to my best ability. Without further ado, our first letter comes from Ms. Hilda McGreevy.

Dear Sirs,

As I was passing my local newsstand I spied this wonderful new paper you have started and I must say I am quite pleased to see such wonderful material what with all the filth the normal rags give us. I hope that you will be able to provide good, honest reporting and perhaps a few interviews with those famous gentlemen we read all the time. They do make me swoon. Thank you for your effort and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Hilda McGreevy


Well, Mrs. McGreevy, I also hope we might offer up such an effort. Through guest writers and our own efforts, I should think we might satisfy both yours and others wishes to see what has become and is becoming of our members. Thank you for your suggestion. Next up is a letter from Mr. P. Burppleson.

To whom it may concern,

As I was traveling on my way through the library today, I spied this periodical on the main counter and happened to pick it up for a perusal. I must say your endeavor is a bold one and I, for one, wish you all the luck in your labors. I do hope you have the good sense to highlight some of the better portions of the library as it has many fine stories to recommend.

A Sure Fan,
Mr. P. Burppleson, Sellers Lane


Well, thank you Mr. Burppleson. I do hope we are able to comply with your request of not only highlighting some long lost tales in our librAARy, but also in looking at their history, growth and perhaps future. Thank you for offering your opinion. Our next writer was not such a fan,

To the fools that run this rag,

I have never been so irritated in my life. I am walking peacefully down the street and see this terrible excuse for a paper lying on the ground (which is where I should have left it) and read that you wish to actually promote your idiotic writings? Have you no shame, sir? Self-promotion is among the lowest of the lows of human behavior and I shall not spend one farthing towards your foolish pride. I can think of no better purpose for this filth than to light my fire with it. I sincerely hope you fold and crawl back under the rock from whence you came.

Full of disgust,
Name Withheld


Well, Mr. Name Withheld…I do not know what to tell you. If promoting wonderful work is a crime then call me a criminal. I am sorry you do not approve and we shall miss your recommendations, but I should think we could proceed without such. Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts, however. Any and all criticism is certainly welcome. Next we are presented with a question,

To the Editor,

I have recently been given a copy of your magazine and wonder what you might have to offer. It seems quite bare at the moment, but shows great promise. Perhaps a word or two on your intentions? I would be most edified.

Yours truly,
Gerald Poser


Well, Mr. Poser, I am glad you asked. Our intentions are mainly to promote and educate on the state of AARland and suggest and inform on its inhabitants. Through highlighting different tales and making sure everyone is aware of the different awards we distribute, we hope to bring awareness to the membAARs of our community that brings us together as a whole, rather than as loose group of aspiring writAARs and voracious readAARs. I do hope that gives you an idea as to where we are going with this project. This letter asks for some critical analysis of our combined work,

Dear AARland Gazette,

I have just picked up a copy of this newsletter and would very much like to know what all of you think about some of the wonderful tales I have read in the past. Do you intend to write reviews of the stories your organization produces?

Thank you in advance,
Mr. S.M. Ashley


We do indeed intend to offer up such a worthwhile effort, Mr. Ashley. I am glad you brought it up. We would very much like to extend the previous efforts of AARland in providing reviews of completed and ongoing work. It would obviously remain under the guidelines of the previous review team, but we think it might be a worthwhile endeavor to continue those initiatives. Any and all individuals that would like their work reviewed are welcome to submit their request and I am sure we will eventually come up with a fantastic team to carry out such tasks. Our final letter comes from a Miss Ida Laardan,

To the AARland Editors,

I am piqued by your project, gentlemen. I think it a most worthy effort and am curious to know what kind of articles you plan to produce. I should think there are many different subjects that your members would be able to write about. Would you care to highlight one or two?

Yours in enjoyment,
Miss Ida Laardan


Ah, the beautiful Miss Laardan. One of my favorites. Certainly, Miss. I shall try to suggest a few other projects we have in mind. We hope to have many different aspects of AARland discussed and written about in our AARticles. You should hope to see critical analysis of the fora in general, the state of several features, the comparison and contrasting between the games, members, styles of AARs and writing techniques. We offer an open invitation to any and all that wish to contribute because we sincerely hope this will end up a combined effort of the membAARs. We do not wish to close off participation to only a few, but rather contribute to the strengthening of the AARland membAARship as a whole.

This concludes this letters section. Please feel free to discuss our efforts in the bAARs, as well as offer up both suggestions and possible AARticles by way of private letters. Any and all may be included either in the letters section or as an AARticle unto itself. Thank you very much and happy reading.
 
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Alexandru H.

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Alexandru's wAAR (Alexandru H.)

“We're the middle children of history, no purpose or place. We have no great war, no great depression. Our great war is a spiritual wAAR; our great depression is our lives.”



A Sense of Community


Someone once told me that the Paradox AAR Forum is, without any doubt, a self-sustainable bee-like colony of writers, readers and lurkers. The writers, fine individuals, who are using their literary skills for the benefit of the entire hive; the readers, one of the needed catalysts for the almost-chemical reaction called After-Action-Report, are the busy co-workers, taking time not only to read these fine pieces of literature, but also to attach them to a global world-spanning consciousness; the lurkers provide, from time to time, a purifying flood of new writers and readers, keeping this system alive and well-irrigated. This is, in general, what most people think about our Forum: a traditional gathering of highly-gifted minds, their fans and supporters, acting as one in the most libertarian agoras of post-modernism: the Internet.

I always thought that this explication is way too deterministic and conservative. As a militant libertarian, I have problems with explanations that require the acceptance of theoretical rigidity inside the World Wide Web. We take for granted the fact that people write or read AARs, having no real interest in their actual reasons. And, if you are like my friend, you will suggest that we are basically dealing with some sort of a “medieval guild”, a private zone of order inside a demented system of wires and bytes. It’s just not true.

We have to accept, once and for all, that the concept of liberty, and not order, is the essential principle and driving force of Internet. There are counter-examples, of course, but most of them derive from economical reasons and few have the capability of being a threat to the system. You can, of course, forbid it in your sphere of influence; you can smash the computer or feed the modem to the sharks. It won’t make a difference. This epistemological change in our inter-human relations even managed to transfigure the art of writing, an easy-to-understand process if you are a member of our forum (one of my future AARticles will discuss in full detail the condition of the wAARiter).

“It is called a government of the people (demokratia) because we live in consideration of not the few, but of the majority”. Pericles said this in connection to his own Athenian system of values, a system which forms today an apparent majority in our real world. Yet, the Internet is our only vehicle for the successful spreading of democratic ideas, because it is the only medium that allows the free creation of “zones of liberty”. Not because it’s democratic (it is, after all, just the product of technical development), but because it isn’t under human control. The Paradox forums aren’t singular in this venture, nor did they invent anything new. But, apparently, there is something that differentiates them from the majority of the internet board forums today.

Liberty is an empty word if you don’t choose to exercise it. Well, we chose to be a COMMUNITY. We aren’t just writers or readers, pre-established clichés in a random –ism, not just ignorant mobs, led by immoral masterminds, proudly calling ourselves “nations”. No, we are free men and membAARS! We decide on the level of involvement, we pick our favorite authors or themes, but never, and I mean never, denounce our COMMUNITY. We learned to accept anyone that accepts us and disagree with anyone that degrades us. Bring with you a pure heart and you’ll find a place among us. This is a promise!

Trapped in front of my computer by my fellow associates, forced to conjure up something witty as basis for my first AARticle, straining my brain to use its full capacity, while reading, at the same time, a new Victorian After-Action-Report… Cruel destiny? No, a mission worth accomplishing. The AARland awaits YOU!
 
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Morpheus506

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Tunnel DigAAR (Morpheus506)

EUI Never Died


Before I start really writing anything, let me introduce myself. I'm Morpheus506, the newly appointed bAARtender of the EUI Private BAAR. I joined these forums just a little over a year ago, and since then have been a major member of the EUI forum in particular, although I have been known to frequent the HoI and Vic forums on occasion. If you don't know me, it's probably because of my commitment to never enter the EUII forum (long story, ask at your own risk :p). It's also probably because you don't go in the EUI forum often--your loss.

It's too bad that most people never come and look around the EUI forum. You may consider EUII to be a superior game, but that's not a reflection on the forum! There is still a great deal of activity in the EU forum, although the activity does fluctuate--sometimes the forum will be crawling with new users, other times it will just be me and a few other dedicated forumites.

That doesn't mean that the contents of the forum are any less important, by no means. There's always some good stuff going on in there. We might not have too many of them, but the AARs we have are top-notch. That's why it's so sad that nobody really thinks to check out the EUI forum. So, please, guys. Don't forget the game that started it all--come back and visit the EUI forum.
 

Lord Durham

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AfterwAARd


For about a year I have kicked around the idea of doing an E-zine covering all facets of the Paradox line of games. I had a series of potential topics and directions that I wanted to see this project go. But alas, the age-old problem of ‘available time’ left the idea just that – an idea.

So, needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when the collective bAARtenders of the AAR forums suggested such an endeavour. And now, before you know it, here we have the inaugural issue of the AARland Gazette.

I think this is an excellent initiative for the readers, writers and lurkers of the Paradox forums, and I sincerely hope to see this on-line magazine grow and improve over time. Of course, it will only happen with your help.

So, on behalf of Valdemar and MrT, please enjoy the read, and join us again for each successive issue.

Write on!

LD
 
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Amric

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Free Company Interview Series


Lord Durham​



The Free Company. A mammoth undertaking of collaborative writing with a horde of individuals coming together for a common goal. That goal? Now that is an interesting question. I don’t think there is just ONE goal with this story. For a story it is, a story about a mercenary company in the timeframe of EUII. As many of us know, historically speaking there were numerous mercenary bands during this time in history. This is of course a fictional mercenary company. But the writing is outstanding, in my opinion. In spite of the various styles of writing, or writing skills of the individual members of the company this tale has been rolling along for the past two years. From the very first book to the current book, the sixth in the series, the trials and tribulations, the triumphs and defeats, of this company have thrilled and entertained membAARs of the EUII forum.

Led by the redoubtable Sir Robert, Captain of this eclectic band of warriors, along with the indomitable Lochlan, and the other officers, sergeants, and ‘regular’ members of the company, they have cut a bloody swath through Europe. Even in defeat with the loss of Constantinople this group persevered and thrived, and yet they face the toughest test of all in this latest book with another battle against the infidel Turks. This time in the Serbian city of Belgrade.

But that is part of the tale, and we’re not here to rehash the story. We’re here to interview the participants of the story. We’ll start with the leader and creator of the Free Company, Lord Durham, otherwise known as Sir Robert, Captain of the Free Company. We’ll also over the next few issues interview Valdemar and The_Hawk, and others from this illustrious collaborative story.

As promised, the very first interview will feature Lord Durham!


1. What was the genesis of the idea that caused you to create the Free Company?

It began while I was writing my very first AAR for EUI. It was titled ‘The Papacy - An Alternative History’. I was rather bored with the standard ‘In January of 1492 we sent a merchant to Venice’ type of writing that was predominant at the time, and decided to insert some character driven posts. The response was good, so I invited people to join by inserting their own character into the storyline. If I remember right, the first person to post was Storey. Anyway, the idea took root and more writers came on board. However, the actual germ of the concept grew from the next question.


2. I know you have mentioned the Black Company books as the inspiration for the FC, but what made you think a collaborative story would work?

When Ariel was writing his ‘Something a Little Different’ AAR he made a post that ended with the suspicious death of a king. For a lark I wrote a ‘detective’ piece starring a certain Father Petronius Falkenberg of the Order of Colombo. In it he accused the Chancellor of murdering the king. It was a direct takeoff on Peter Falk and Columbo. Anyway, the response was good and a day or two later there was a spinoff thread that featured a few interested writers. That was the beginning of interactive writing. I figured if I could make it work there, I could make it work in my own thread. So you have to thank Peter Falk for starting the interactive craze.


3. How difficult was it to recruit people to this new, radical idea?

Beyond the original writers who worked on the aforementioned WKCC ‘spinoff’ threads, only a handful came on board the FC. I never really advertised. However, when EUII came along I had the chance to begin fresh with those same established veterans.


4. Who were the first people you approached to help you birth this difficult, yet ever so satisfying artistic story?

I never approached anyone in particular – it began with a post that was basically an invitation. Those who answered the call were Storey, Sgt. Bloomfield, Lionheart, Rictus, Barkdreg, Forster, Fournier, and Misha, to name a few.


5. How do you think Book I went? Did it go the way you expected it to go? What kinds of things gave you pause? Were there directions it went that you didn’t anticipate, and yet did much to bring the story even more to life than you originally anticipated?

I liked Book I. I thought it worked really well as a jump-off point for the new adventures. Though it followed my overall story arc, it featured lots of twists and turns courtesy of writer creativity. There were a few problems with ‘invulnerable characters’ who were ‘walking killing machines’, and a couple of writers who just didn’t understand the interactive concept, but on the whole it came off very well.


6. As time went on, you added the ‘Powers That Be’. Who did you first approach to help you ‘guide’ the way the story developed and grew?

Originally I utilized Sgt. Bloomfield and Rictus as my ‘eyes behind the scenes’ to help keep a handle on things. At that point the story was still mine, but they were invaluable for keeping things on track, though they weren’t privy to any details. The first official PtB would have to be MrT. It’s amazing how many ideas came out of a few nights of swilling beer.


7. With Books II through IV the FC grew with more writers and more intricate storylines. Did you find it more difficult or did it flow relatively smoothly due to the help and active participation of the other PTB?

Book II was my last solo work, and most of Book III was mine. Chris came on board near the end of Book III with a Francesco Sforza subplot, but wasn’t an official PtB until Book IV. The biggest change had to be the fact I no longer had the story all to myself. The plotting became more rigid. However, MrT and I clicked so well that Book IV, ‘The Last Bastion of Empire’, proved to be the most successful, if not the most satisfying.


8. With Book V, some of the old timers that had stayed through the earlier books started to slough away. Did that worry you even though you were getting some new blood into the group?

My biggest disappointment came from the disappearance of some of the very writers I counted on most, the ones who had characters integral to Book V. Making commitments and breaking them sucks, and affected who I would subsequently deal with. But, that’s always been one of the challenges with interactive fiction. Fortunately, some of the new writers allowed me to shift the storyline around. All things considered, Book V came out very well, though quite different from its original inception.


9. Book VI, the current story, has had its problems with personnel disappearing and subplots that got out of hand. Do you think this book is the most difficult one so far?

Yes, though Book II would be close second due to some personality clashes.


10. The current story has had even more old timer writers vanishing from the forums, to the point that the upper command structure is ‘ghosted’ and being written by some of the new comers or the PTB to keep them in the loop as it were. Are there any plans to replace some of them as the story continues onward?

Not at this point. We are near the climax of this Book, and I think the writers are stretched thin as it is. The problem with ghosting is that unless you have a good handle on the character you are ghosting for, he just becomes an end to a means for your own character, and the interaction is lost.


11. Not to put you on the spot, but which of the ‘new’ writers, say from Book III and onward, do you feel has brought such verve and ‘punch’, as it were, to the storylines that you almost wish they had been involved in the earlier books?<You don’t have to name just one, go with numerous ones if you wish>

Thanks a bunch. Well, Valdemar and The_Hawk for sure. Craig Ashley brought a great dimension and created some very memorable characters. Secret Master, Erik Jaeger, Redwolf, Amric and stnylan are some others. With over 50 writers contributing at one time or another it’s tough not to leave people out.


12. Of those writers who have vanished, which ones do you wish/desire would come back and rejoin the FC in full force?

Man, you’re ruthless. Well, Sgt. Bloomfield, Rictus, Rath Jones, Erik Jaeger, Derek Pullem, MrT, Driftwood, Secret Master, Craig Ashley, Misha… Ah, there’s too many to mention.


13. There is usually a plethora of writers who want to join up at the start of each book, and some later on…but most of them don’t stay on. What do you think might be the cause of this phenomenon?

The pace and the complexity. I don’t think people realize what they are signing on for. It requires a certain dedication that the casual writer can’t, or isn’t prepared to, maintain. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast. Collaborative writing isn’t easy.


14. What characters are you mostly writing for primarily, and which characters did you personally create?

Obviously Captain, the Free Company commander. I created his children, John and Kathleen. There’s LeClerc, Sulyman, Kent, and a host of minor throw-away characters to add flavour. To illustrate the power of interactive writing, Constance was originally a prisoner captured by Forster in Book II. I took the ‘prisoner’, gave her a name and back history, and now she’s Captain’s wife.


15. What do you think is the most dramatic storyline in this current book?

The siege of Belgrade and what shape the Company will be in after all is said and done.


16. Did you ever think the FC would get to Book VI?

No. I thought it was finished after Book III. That’s the only Book where I wrote a general conclusion due to lack of posting. It took some forceful arm twisting to get me to continue.


17. Will there be another book after this one? I know I am just one of numerous people who are curious about this very question.

I seriously doubt it, unless we have an influx of new or returning talent. To illustrate, Book IV and V had about 20 views per post. This one barely manages 12. Book I averaged almost 500 views a day. Still, there’s a core of people still interested, so maybe something will happen. I have some ideas, but we’ll see. It’s not just enough to be convinced to carry on, those doing the convincing have to stick around. After all, if I’m ready to commit to a project, why can’t anyone else?


18. I’m going to put you on the spot again. Which people do you feel you interact with in character with the FC best?

Well, the easiest interaction has to be with Rath Jones’ character Lochlan. But then, we’ve had six books to develop the relationship. Driftwood and Sgt. Bloomfield were good, too.


19. Do you come up with most of the ideas that become major storylines? Or is there more of a give and take going on behind the scenes that the rest of us don’t get to see?

Book VI was Chris’s idea, though the execution became a three-way job between Valdemar, The_Hawk and myself. The rest of the Books were mine – the stories derived from game play. That’s why Constantinople didn’t fall in 1453 in the Free Company universe. Once I created the overall story arc I incorporated whatever subplots that looked promising after the Book began. Of course, during the latter Books there were lots of e-mails and PMs flashing back and forth to hammer out certain plot points. To be clear, the main story arcs were mine, but there was lots of outside input to make them work, so the real credit has to go the contributing writers.


20. Which character do you most enjoy writing for?

Captain. I have a definite image in mind when I write for him. I have to admit I don’t know if he comes out as fully fleshed as I think he does, or merely as a device to move the plot along.


21. Of the ‘regular’ writers, which ones do you think have really worked hard to contribute and enhance the FC experience?

Well, I’m going to go with past and present with this question. MrT, for sure. Driftwood is another. Before he signed on, Driftwood read everything related to the FC. He knew more about them than I did. Rath Jones really believed in the process. Valdemar was a pleasant surprise. He introduced a character that was totally non-standard and made him into something unique. Craig Ashley, as I mentioned earlier, created some truly memorable villains. The_Hawk went from a person who was going to ‘give it a try’ to one of the FC’s biggest supporters, and a constant burr in my side to see the FC published. For Book VI Amric and Redwolf have been tireless workhorses, along with the aforementioned Valdemar.


22. Although I kind of promoted the idea of ‘corporals’ into the FC, you seem to have embraced the idea to an extent. Do you think that ‘promoting’ some of the grunts into proto non coms was a good idea?

At the time it was, but now with the lack of writers I think the interaction has suffered.


23. Do you think of the FC as a community of sorts?

Most definitely. When it’s clicking on all cylinders there are few greater pleasures than watching a Book develop into a compelling story complete with compelling characters.


24. Originally the FC was set at a later period of time, what made you decide to drop back to the currently running timeframe?

It was for a change of pace. A lot of FC material was written on the EUI board, and I felt we were getting stale. Mind you, things worked differently in the early days. The writing was more spontaneous, with one post feeding directly off another. If you think the pace here is frantic, ask Joe Storey what the pace was like in the early days. Anyway, I polled the writers, and the decision was made to take it back to 1419 and work forward from there.


25. What do you think makes the FC so successful for so long?

It’s most definitely the collaboration among the writers. They are the ones who believe we are doing something that is unique to the internet world. There are other boards that have AAR forums, but I’ve yet to find any that match the scope and talent that has been showcased here.


26. I am going to presume to believe that you have enjoyed the experience of leading the Free Company despite some of the pitfalls that have occurred, but here is the big question. If you had to do it all again, from scratch, would you do it?

Oh yeah. I have had the chance to improve my writing, encourage and watch others improve theirs, and meet some really good people.


27. And finally, who is Lord Durham? <And I don’t mean the historical figure, either!:)>

Well, this is lifted from another thread, so a lot of it will sound familiar. I'm approaching 50. 5 - 0. Half a century, and hopefully close to early retirement.

I’m a true Gemini – meaning a Jack-of-all-Trades & Master-of-None. I'm a good artist, not a great one. I'm a good writer, not a great one. I played (note: played) bass guitar in my teens and twenties before marriage stole that hobby and put it in the closet. I was an artsy type in High School, making amateur films on my Super 8 when lots of other people were stealing hubcaps and doing drugs. Mind you, making films about teens stealing hubcaps and doing drugs and winning awards for that was a great way of moving from circle to circle. Not that I viewed it as a badge of honour, but at least it afforded me a chance to cross effortlessly between the Art & Jock camps.

Not that I wasn't a jock. I played goal at an age when the position didn't require a mask – hence my face. I never went anywhere playing hockey, and it certainly wasn't a career move, but I enjoyed it as much as any Canuck would. When I reached the age that qualified me for 'Oldtimers', I suddenly found myself in a whole new world – of hurt. It was a world full of ex-NHLers who couldn't cut the big leagues anymore, but certainly knew how to humiliate a small potatoes guy like me. I played my last ten years with a deteriorating back until I was forced to hang up the pads and undergo a spinal fusion operation in the year 2000. I still have the goaltending equipment, but I just look at it wistfully while it mocks me in return.

I majored in Film Arts & Television back at a time when Canada wasn't on the road map as far as film production was concerned. Considering Toronto is now known as Hollywood North, I estimate I missed my calling by about 10 years. Go figure. Still, I was involved in the (then) fledgling world of Community Television – back when they used black & white Sony portables. It was a great time as I produced and directed and handled just about every other chore a small-time TV studio had to offer. I met such glowing dignitaries such as Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame (God, was he small), and ‘The Happy Hooker’: Xavier Hollander (God, did she ever cake on the makeup).

On an interesting side note, I helped pioneer what could arguably be the first program that mixed TV with music – several years before MTV and MuchMusic hit the airwaves. In fact, one day we were visited by J.D.Roberts, one of MuchMusics's initial VJs, to look over the operation. Many Americans may know J.D. as John Roberts, heir apparent to Dan Rather and one of the 'embedded' reporters during the Gulf War.

I attended an extraordinary amount of rock concerts, back when musicians knew how to play their instruments instead of looking pretty and bouncing around stage. I can claim fame for attending a Beatles concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in '65. All I remember is the screaming, though...

I did the SF convention circuit for several years, meeting Isaac Asimov, Anne McAffrey, Robert Silverberg and a bunch of other writers much better than I’ll ever be. One funny moment was having a friend of mine mistaken for David Gerrold at a Toronto SF convention. We milked that one for a while.

I walked away from a plane crash back around the summer of 1973. It was some experience, and one I wouldn't recommend to anyone. It gave me a rather interesting view of life, though, and how fast it can be snuffed. Oddly enough, my life never flashed before my eyes – though it did take me about a decade to get back on board another plane.

Still young, and with no foreseeable future with the film industry in Canada, I ended up on the technical side of the CATV world – it paid well. It was to be a temporary thing, or so I said some 30 years ago. I'm still here, though now I’m writing R&D technical papers that people with expensive suits and big cars take credit for. C'est la vie.

I've run hockey tournaments and baseball tournaments as well as investment groups and workplace social clubs. That probably explains my involvement with the Paradox AAR forums. I've always considered myself proactive – a doer, rather than a talker. I like challenges. And generally I find these forums a perfect outlet for my energy – not to mention the great people I have met both on-line and in person.

Thanks for the interview.
 
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Amric

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The Eye of the Hurricane (Amric)

Styles of Writing



I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I would say in my second AARticle. I managed to keep myself awake thinking about it. For those who don’t know me, if thoughts are rampaging through my head like drunken Vikings eager to pillage a lonely monastery, I can’t sleep! It’s not a pretty picture, believe me! So I had to sit down and start on this so I could get some well earned rest before my children woke up and wreaked havoc. But that is another story altogether!

So what is the topic? AAR styles of writing, of course! There are as many styles of writing as there are members, I think. Yes, there are similarities in some ways. But every time I think I’ve seen every style there is, someone comes up with something new. So I am going to try and describe a few of them.

The first type I want to tell you is the basic log style type of writing. This is really two different styles, actually. One is a very basic cut and paste method of just putting the History Log from the game and placing it in a thread with a title. This is about as basic as it gets, and you really don’t see it that much anymore. The other basic log style is writing briefly using the date and saying something like,” My army marched into Ile de France and defeated the French and have now laid siege to Paris”. Still pretty basic but doesn’t use the history log directly in a cut and paste method.

The first type is not really writing. I’m sorry, but it isn’t. You are only giving us precisely what the game gives you with minimal effort. Again, this style is pretty much gone. The second type of this style can work well when infused with humor or comments along with the cut and dried facts. Some people like this style of writing, but it’s BARELY writing, in my own opinion.

Then there IMPROVED history log type. This is where dates are used somewhat, but the detail is greater. Instead of brief descriptions there is detailed information of what is happening during the game. It is more informative and more creative when the author uses some dramatization, such as, “ The Vendee Army crossed the Seine River to engage the invading army from the Netherlands. My troops have placed themselves along the ridgeline and dug in. My cannons are placed carefully on the wings to allow for maximum cross firing opportunities. My enemy is approaching with great arrogance and marches to his doom…….” Etc. There is no need for me to go on, as you get the general idea. Now this is writing! It is still somewhat basic, but it is where true writing really begins, again in my own opinion.

Then there is the Storytelling styles. These are the best types of writing, in my opinion. Whether it is one with limited to no characterization, such as having no real characters with dialogue, but still telling a story and has a plot that threads through the game details. Some of these have a LOT of game details mashed into them, while others use the game details far more subtly where you have to think about it a little more. But if you look, you’ll see the details of the game intertwined so skillfully that you might miss some of the details involving the game but it doesn’t matter as it is a great tale being told.

Then there is the master storyteller who not only has plot, but characterization as well. Fully fleshed characters that live and breathe, interacting together with dialogue that engages the reader. Game details are hidden more skillfully than ever, and the descriptions of events and locations are so rich and varied that it is really like reading a wonderful novel of historical fiction. Among such can be humor as well. Take heagarty’s Tales of the Gluttonic Knights as just one example. Fine detail of scenes, events, locations and wonderful dialogue among the characters in the story. It earned an OscAAR and it was very well deserved! In fact humor throughout an AAR, or story, is very difficult to achieve. In many ways I may say that a master storyteller who manages to infuse humor all the way through the story has done the nearly impossible and crafted a tale that deserves to be considered one of the best as in my opinion writing humor throughout a masterful tale is incredibly difficult!

This is not to say that other master storytellers who don’t put humor all through their stories aren’t as good. They are, and don’t get me wrong about this! I just think it is more difficult to infuse humor all through his story.

Then there is the Humor AAR. This is the type such as haaf’s Oh Man which was very funny, but used many ahistorical things in it. Such as tunnels under straits, aircraft and so forth. Still a very good story and wonderful interaction between the characters of the cute little black bunny and Dennis. A wonderful story, and quite masterful in it’s own way, but still a different style than others.

Let us not forget collaborative AARs. Which break down into multiple player games which have the various players writing in the AAR from the point of view of their particular nation. There are quite a few of them, and those that make it all the way to the end of the game are quite entertaining and interesting. Then there are those which have players handing off the game at various points to each other. They will take a block of time and write about that before handing it off to another player. These can be very entertaining as well, but just as in multiple player game AARs the quality of the story can rise and ebb depending on the writing skill of the player. Therefore it can be very difficult to have a broad high quality to the entire story. It can, and has, been done, but it is a difficult endeavor to not only attempt, but to complete!

Then there is the collaborative story where one person will play and write most of the story, but ‘guest’ writers will write in a character reacting to things the originating writer has in the story. This can be very difficult to accomplish, but Gaijin du Moscu has managed it a few times with grand help from people like Commandante and numerous others. Nalivayko had a wonderful story about the Ukraine that was sadly abandoned, but I myself made ‘guest’ appearances with a recurring character that interacted with the Cossacks of his tale. That is the real last type of collaborative AAR writing.

But we can’t finish collaborative writing without talking about the Free Company. Started by Lord Durham a couple of years ago it isn’t an AAR tale. It is SET during the time of EUII, but there is no ‘game’ going on. Just LD, Valdemar, and The_Hawk as the powers that be who have crafted a story outline and preside over the story, keeping it on track and nudging it when necessary. Many people have come and gone in the SIX, yes, six books of the Free Company. But there is always stalwarts who have stayed for the long term. Interacting together and crafting wonderful tales about a fictional mercenary company and it’s struggles in Europe for those who have hired them.

This is the most difficult collaborative effort possible, in my opinion. For you have various writing styles, personalities, and time commitments all merging together to craft a tale of war, glory, intrigue, death, destruction, passion, love, and the brotherhood of men<and yes, women> who make up this glorious company. I have to admit I am somewhat biased about the FC, as I am a member of this wonderful interactive, collaborative story. I make no apologies for it.

There has even been AARs in Haiku, or even ‘normal’ verse. Which is on second thought, even more difficult than a full blown master story infused with humor throughout. I suppose I misspoke myself earlier when I said that, for I had briefly forgotten this form of writing. It is EXTREMELY difficult to write an AAR in verse. You have to rhyme, and you have to impart enough information so that the story can be followed easily. I have great respect for those who can manage it. I must sadly admit that this style is far beyond me.

Now there are more styles, but I really only have a limited amount of space to write each AARticle, and I am rapidly approaching it. This doesn’t even start to explain the TYPES of AARs that are out there. Such as World Conquest, or conquest in general, or massive colonization, or a game depicting a trade empire, or survival against overwhelming odds, or a megalomaniacal story, just to name a few.

Hopefully you have been informed and entertained by this, and perhaps inspire you to try to write one of these types of stories about a game you are currently playing, or thinking of playing. Good luck, and GREAT writing!
 
Last edited:

coz1

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The GenAARal Idea (coz1)

On Comments


“To view is human, to comment is divine.”
-stnylan​

How many times have we seen someone begin an AAR and after a few posts with relatively little commenting done by others do we hear “anyone reading?” or “should I continue this?”

It has been an endeavor of this forum, for at least as long ago as 2002 to encourage feedback. Many different initiatives have been attempted to address this issue and yet still we hear this same refrain.

What is a comment? What makes people decide to post or not? What can be done to encourage more? I shall attempt to look at these within this AARticle.

First, we must look at what constitutes an appropriate comment. There are not many, if any at all, that find pleasure in denigrating someone else’s work. Further, it goes against our standards to comment just to be mean and nasty. So any comment given is usually of a positive nature. They can range anywhere between the simple “great update” to a long list of things they enjoyed, improvements suggested if requested, perhaps an inside joke or two and lastly things a readAAR might like to see happen, especially if the writAAR had requested such interaction.

Though there has been polling done on replies and the like, I do not believe we have ever seen a poll dedicated to the types of replies given. I dare say, however, the bulk is generally of the “great update” variety. Some individuals will go into further detail, especially if they are familiar with the author, but more often than not, it is a simple “atta-boy.” And there is nothing wrong with this, to be sure. For what is the point of a comment? To this writer, it boils down to letting the writAAR know someone is reading. Of course, one is more likely to post if they particularly enjoyed an update or AAR, but many times, a comment is given simply for encouragement. And this is, more than anything, what the writAAR craves.

So if he craves it, what can he do to make someone comment? There are many things the writAAR himself can try for additional feedback, among them are reading and posting comments in other AARs and thus asking for a bit of the old “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” Further, the author can make it plain from the beginning that they would like to see comments, as well as detailing what types of comments they would enjoy. And lastly, the writAAR can make it a point to thank those that have taken the time to comment rather than taking them for granted. But it is not the aim of this AARticle to talk to the writAAR as much as it is to talk to the readAAR.

What makes a readAAR comment? It is difficult for me to make assumptions about why one comments, as we all have our own reasons, but allow me to look at some options. For any readAAR, who has taken the time to look through a particular AAR, there are three things he can do. One, simply not comment. Two, they can comment with a simple “click subscribe” at the beginning of an AAR or offer a “great update” or “atta-boy” along the way. Third, the readAAR can offer something with a bit more substance, whether that be an answer to a posed question, advice on the next move or a question to the writAAR about why a move was made or why a character acted a certain way, or even constructive criticism of the writing method, characterization and plot of a piece. Many times, these types of comments, if anything, show the writAAR that someone read through an update fully, rather than simply skimming through.

Now, why do any one of these three over another? If one decides not to comment, it may be because they did not like what they had read. This, I dare suggest, may be the assumption on the writAAR’s mind when they are faced with a lack of comments. But further, allow me to quote just a bit from the results of one of MrT’s polls* (this comes from question 4, of survey 3 and the question was “As a reader, do you feel reluctant to post to a thread for fear of ‘cluttering’ it up?”):

“Here we discover a degree of schizophrenia in the forum. The community is split about evenly between people who have no qualms about replying and people who sometimes feel a reluctance to reply. Three people generally don’t (though one will PM the author instead).

Of the comments relating to this question, the reluctance seems to exist primarily when the reader doesn’t have anything specific or constructive to say that hasn’t already been said. A few people also mentioned that if the thread has been going on for a while then they’re a little nervous about suddenly “appearing” out of the blue mid-thread.”
(Results by MrT)

So by the above calculation, many do not post either because they are new to the “group”, as it were; for fear of cluttering the thread, which has been a concern of some and thus the reason the question was orginally posed; or because they simply had nothing to add to what had already been said. I might add to this that sometimes one may hesitate to post after each update at least, because they have not been presented with enough material to comment on.

This should be addressed before moving on. As stated in another area of the same survey, MrT expresses the following,

“The overwhelming response from authors is that they want – nay, CRAVE – replies to their work. Many expressed a distinct preference for “quality commentary” as opposed to “atta boy” posts, but authors still liked the latter. Only two authors only wanted a few, and another two said they didn’t really care if they got replies or not. No one expressed a direct dislike for them.”

If no writAAR expressed a dislike for comments, then why would any readAAR dislike giving them? Perhaps the readAAR is not among the writAARs as happens with the lurker crowd. Perhaps the readAAR, as suggested had nothing to say. But if authors like the “atta-boy” in place of nothing at all, then there seems to be very little situations in which no commenting should be the rule. Ah, but if we must give a comment, what type should we be giving? Let us look at the different types of comments.

Why would one simply only give an “atta-boy” or “great update” comment rather than something more substantial? This, I believe, can also be possibly attributed to the “nothing further to add” meme, or once again, there was not enough to warrant such a detailed comment. I might also add, that many times this type of comment will be given simply to let the writAAR know that the readAAR is in fact reading, or possibly to encourage the writAAR to keep going or to stick around. This is quite appropriate. For after all, if we crave comments, then we must, first and foremost, want to know that someone is reading. Once we have established this, we can move on to further worries of whether or not the piece is any good.

Which brings us to the more substantial comment. Many times, our writAARs are not professionals, but simply amatuers trying to perfect a craft a bit more. In this vein, the comments given here might be along the lines of, use more spacing, try not to use the cliched phrase, work on your dialogue, etc. However, many times a readAAR might be reticent to offer up such criticism, even if it has been explicitly asked for. I might suggest the PM function for this, but let us move on.

More often than not, the type of comment that makes up this category is the suggestion in game-play, or to express satisfaction regarding a certain series of events and how they were written, developed or researched. What this type of comment accomplishes is letting the author know that his piece has been read with care, that it has been understood and mostly that it has been enjoyed. This is the comment most writAARs want to see.

Now, you may ask, what is really the difference in the end as long as the writAAR is getting some feedback. On a simple level, none really, but on a more complicated level quite a lot. When trying to follow many AARs, it can be difficult to remember back to a previous update, especially if the author has tried to build a theme over time. If he is successful, the latter is more appropriate than the former as it lets him know he has done his work well.

Further, a more detailed comment can let the writAARs know what needs to be improved, what has been left out, what worked and what did not – in short, what level of understanding has he built for the readAAR and has he achieved the goals he set out for himself when he began.

I should also add, that there is another factor that plays into all of this. As we now have five different areas of AARs going at once, not to mention the foreign language AARs, it can be quite a daunting task to keep up with more than a few at any one time. This is far from a complaint, it is simply the truth. Some, however, are better than others at giving this area of their membAARship its full attention.

From experience, I can say that a simple “great update” allows the author to at least know you are trying to keep up, while confirming this with the odd detailed comment. No one likes to see someone post at the beginning and then never return. Nor does it do the writAAR any good to only give “great update” all the time. If one begins to follow an AAR, then they should try to stick with reading it just as the author tries to stick with writing it, especially on the longer ones in EUII.

Now granted, every membAAR has their own lives outside of this forum, and every membAAR would most likely not be here if they did not first play one of the games and thus it would makes sense that they would like to utilize some of their free time towards those endeavors. But if an attempt was made for each writAAR to read or keep up with at least the people that have taken the time to comment in their own AARs, we might see further improvement. If you are not a writAAR yourself, then pick 10 AARs and stick with them. The more you post, the more likely that writAAR will keep giving you something to read.

Yes, we all get irritated when someone begins a story and then does not complete it. Indeed, many times we wonder why updates do not come so frequently. And, to be sure, it can be difficult to keep up with an AAR that is posting every single day and then return to find five updates to read. Plus the pressure of trying to make sure we are keeping up with our own work, home life, play, etc., but part of the membAARship of this forum is the interaction, and there can be no interaction if we do not regularly comment on each other’s work.

And this brings me to my last point. With five different games to choose from, where do we begin when we want to read something? I do not wish to get into the nature of the AAR forum itself right now. But suffice it to say, the original intent was to provide players with guides for playing different scenarios or countries. Thankfully this blossomed into the rich history that is the current AAR. However, as each new game comes out, there will still be those that come lurking to figure out certain strategies or ideas about their own games.

With this said, we can certainly agree that one is most likely to read an AAR that details events in a game that they are familiar with. It is difficult to read about a game in which the mechanics are foreign. But the blossoming of the AAR mentioned above was not simply adding new people to the mix, or even the interaction that ensued. That blossoming was the style and type of AAR written. No longer is the log-style AAR the norm. Most are written with great care to intertwine both history and personas, fictitiously if need be, or even in fantasizing about a certain historical figure or event once the game has gone far off the historical path.

We would not still be here if we did not enjoy that type of thing. Thus, it cannot be that hard to read and enjoy an AAR from a game in which you do not own. The AAR blossomed in EUII, but not all of those players remained EUII players. Many have gone on to Hearts of Iron and recently Victoria. Now, with the release of Crusader Kings, I dare say that AAR forum will fill up as fast as the game becomes available. We must make an effort to move around and see what the other games have to offer. I dare say, if you have not, they will surprise you, and pleasantly at that.

I chose this subject as my first true AARticle as this was my prime hope for the initiative that is the AARland Gazette. We wish to promote AARs across the forum, and make sure that all of our membAARs are just that. To me, membAARship carries with it a responsibility. The writAAR certainly gains pleasure from creating. The readAAR, one would hope, gains pleasure from reading. But the added duty is for writAARs to read and for readAARs to write. All of you, from moderatAAR down to lurkAAR, spread yourselves out, gain different perspectives, let those around you know that not only are they welcome, but that they are appreciated and enjoyed. And really, the only way to do that is by comments.


* The Great AAR Project - this is the thread discussing the polls mentioned above.
 

Estonianzulu

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O’er the hills & fAAR away (Estonianzulu)

Look not mournfully into the past
(quote from H. W. Longfellow)​



I remember, some years ago, wandering blindly into the world of internet games. As the internet does, it led me from one link to another. And eventually I found myself in the blossoming world that was EU. I became entranced. There was so much to see, so many people, it was a great opportunity. Little did I know that four years later I would be able to look back and see how far we have come.

Well, back on topic, I kept at the forums and discovered the AAR. I thought the idea was great. A retelling of the EU-1 game, what an entertaining way to learn to play better I thought. That is how I saw it. The AAR was merely a rehash of the game and a story of how you got from point A to point B. But as I read more and more, the AAR began to evolve. When once the game was the center of all our stories, it slowly dawned on the forum that the AAR could become so much more.

The AARs of the time were simple, especially compared to todays. I am sure few people remember such traditional AARs as “1492 Campaign – Turkey” by Graham Dodge? I don’t. It was before even my time. But these are what we started with. Sure, it’s no “l'éminence grise”, but whose to say it wasn’t as good? These game-driven AARS laid the foundation for the years of enjoyment we have had.

From the dawn of the AAR, with its simple time-line structure and basic fact statements, the game of writing AARs changed. New styles began to emerge. Maybe we could follow the life of a famous general, or discuss a single war in great detail, or analyze a single royal line. This multitude of topics and choices would lead to the modern AAR. It is interesting to see how things have changed. Even AARs which are now considered low on detail and mostly an analysis of game play would be considered in depth in the early years.

Well, the AAR was moving on up. From an offspring of the general forum, the AAR found a home of its own, buried deep within the EU forum. Where once the AAR was merely an extension of the game, it was now a world of its own. People would join the forum and live exclusively in the AAR forum. "Novelesque" AARs became the idol of all AAR writAARs. Everyone wanted to attain that golden status, and claim title to a great AAR. However, from my point of view, this had a darker side. It appeared to many that the AARs merely repeated themselves endlessly with different names. This all changed when a new game was released.

EU 2 started the true revolution in the AAR world. Beta AARs teased not only the diehard EU1 players, but the EU1 AAR’ers as well. EU2 AARs became the thing to do. With hundreds of new choices for games, new variations and all new times, the possibilities were limitless. And so the center of AAR activity shifted from the old to the new, and the AAR now encompassed so much more. So popular were the AARs that they were given awards, and soon enough the need for its own organizational device, the LibrAARy.

It is no surprise then to see what has happened. New games always spark more interest. But in the case of Europa Universalis, this sparked more interest in the AAR. Where once the forum had maybe a hundred members, there were now hundreds. Where once an AAR would be released once a month or so, now we could see a new one almost every other day. This has led to the explosion of the AAR into what it is today. In HoI and Victoria, we find an even wider audience and an even greater author base.

This is how the AAR has evolved. From a simple retelling of a game it has become a new world of gaming as well as writing. From a timeline listing all the wars and battles, to a detailed and often very deep portrayal of history replayed. And what keeps the AAR forum so strong is that nothing is ever old. Sure a game may seem similar, or a telling may seem familiar, but just as no two snowflakes are ever alike, no two AARs are ever identical. Novelity is a term that all AARs can be described with. No longer will a writAAR new to the forum and unsure with his writing be scared off by lack of response. A readAAR for every AAR exists. And it truly has made this forum great.

It’s interesting to sit back and look at how far we have come. That’s really what this article is all about. Every once and a while you have to, like the old saying goes, stop and smell the roses. Well, I’ve done it more than once, and every time I look, the forum gets bigger and better. It’s a good feeling to be a part of something so great, so enjoyable. I’ve seen a lot of AAR styles come and go, but the one thing that has remained is the determination to enjoy what we are doing here.

So, as I look back over the four long years, I see many things. I see authors who have grown and evolved (myself for example…) and authors who have set the standard for greatness in literary talent. I have seen authors come and go (me again…) and others remain as pillars of what an AAR’er truly is. From geniuses of AAR writing, to the simple gamer who retells his story to the every reading fans of AARs, this forum has become its own world of literature, and all of it is appreciated. So now I look back over the AARs of old, and the newest update to the CK forum, and enjoy.

~Estonianzulu
 

Voshkod

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From the LurkAAR’s Den (Voshkod)

Finding a Voice

A single match flares to life in a soot-black room. In its light, the vague outlines of a face, reflections off glasses. The match touches a small candle, and the darkness retreats grudgingly. It is a small room, with one comfortable chair, and the candlelight flickers off the gilt titles of books lining the walls. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Tuscan Empire, Tolstoy’s War and more War, Ryan’s The Shortest Day. Over the one door out, there is a pallid bust of Pallas and a small wrought-iron sign with a cryptic Latin inscription: “Cave Grue.” There appears to be only one occupant in the room, and he takes a seat.

Hello. My name is Voshkod and, until quite recently, I was a lurkAAR (as they say around these parts) at these fine fora. I have been asked by the editAARs to write a piece for the AARland Gazette. Their original suggestion was a piece on the “State of the Victoria AAR.” As I’ve only completed two of them (one that only lasted four years), I am as unqualified to write on that subject as I am to write on the “State of the Marine Porifera.” Maybe more so (as a lawyer in real life, some would argue I have a natural affinity toward sponges).

Therefore, I countered with this suggestion: As I am so recently a lurkAAR, I would write a note to the other lurkAARs out there. And here we are. So, the established writAARs may leave, if they see fit. Let us dwellers in darkness discuss the nature of the AAR in peace and darkness.

I. Why I stopped lurking, or how to enjoy exposing yourself to strangers

I first started lurking on these boards in February 2003. If I recall correctly, I had just purchased Heart of Iron, patched it, and made a few posts, all of which were answered quickly. I reinstalled Europa Universalis II and patched it to the hilt. And remembered how much I enjoyed that game. And posted some more. But I only posted on small technical subjects. If not a total lurkAAR, I was a bit player at best.

Then, during slow times at work (I know you’re shocked that a government worker might have “slow times”) I started to read some AARs. Some classics from EUII, such as Mr. T’s l’Eminence Grise,[1] Peter Ebbesen’s It Came from the Mountains,[2] and Heagarty’s Tales of the Gluttonic Knights.[3]

From HOI, I browsed Rustican’s The German Risk AAR[4] and Mettermrck’s ‘I Refer the Right Honorable Gentleman’.[5]

And from Victoria, I perused Ebbesen’s Blood to the Ankles – and Rising[6] and Elmokki’s Republic of Krakow.[7]

It was these fine pieces of work, among many others, that inspired this lurkAAR to try his own hand at AAR writing. At the time I was playing Victoria, and that was the game that did it for me. I knew the time period well enough. And it didn’t feel like everything had been written already (which can be intimidating when browsing the EUII forum). So I found a hook – a United States destroyed by the Civil War - and started my first AAR: A House Demolished,[8] which dealt with a secessionist New England. And the feedback was great. I had suggestions, offers to host screenshots, and general complements. It is a great feeling to offer something creative to a creative community, and have them reciprocate with their comments.

I followed this first AAR with The Conquests of the Norton Dynasty,[9] a California AAR (which is, sadly, on hold) and Red Flag Falling,[10] which dealt with the defeat of the Manhattan Commune.

The following is what I’ve learned so far, and what I recommend. I hope it is of some use to the other lurkAARs out there that just need a nudge to write an AAR themselves, or to otherwise participate in this fine community.

II. Things to Think About Before Jumping In

The first thing the lurkAAR should know is simple: This board has the most erudite and polite posters I have ever seen, even when compared to various academic and professional boards! The moderators kill spammers and trolls without mercy. No one is likely to make fun of you, your writing, or your ideas. If you ask, they’ll give you advice and criticism. As a tool for improving your AAR writing, and your writing in general there is nothing better than the advice of your readAARs.

As a corollary to the above, don’t put your AAR on the boards if you can’t take constructive criticism! People may not like your work. They may have some ideas how to improve it. And they may not be shy about telling you. If that sort of input is going to bother you, just keep lurking, for everyone’s sake. No one needs an AAR to go down in flames over some well-intentioned suggestions badly received.

The second most important point: Make sure you have the time and inclination to finish what you start. If you’re going to start an AAR, you owe it to your readAARs to finish it, either by endgame or some other satisfactory conclusion. The time investment will vary for each lurkAAR; for me, each part of an AAR takes about 30 minutes. So my Manhattan AAR was an investment of about five hours, which is a bit sad for a game that took 25 minutes. Remember, though, short updates are better than no updates. And if you’re going to be absent for a while, or can’t even put in a short update, let your readAARs know – it will keep them from wandering off like dazed lemmings.

Third point: Don’t worry about your writing skills, your historical knowledge, your screenshots, etc. Just do your best. After all, you are offering a free story – no one is coming to these fora to read deathless Pulitzer prize-level prose. Yes, some of the posters are great writAARs, but a lot of them are workmen who have good ideas and good game play. Lord John Julius Norwich, Stephen Ambrose, and Barbara Tuchman don’t post here (although, given the number of Byzantium AARs you’ll see, you may wonder about Norwich).

Fourth: You don’t have to be that good at the game to do a good AAR. Losing can be interesting. A Prussia AAR which ends in a French triumph, or the United States losing to Mexico are different enough to get attention.

Fifth: Don’t listen to me. Come on – I’ve only finished two of them.

Sixth and last (for now): You don’t have to write an AAR to contribute. AARs can be a major investment of time. If you don’t want to go that route, there are still lots of ways you can be a player in this community. There are the various RPG threads, the off-topic board, and the history boards, all under the under Fun Forums). You can post game-related topics to their respective boards. Dig deep and find bugs to post. Stop just reading and start communicating. It can be very rewarding.

Well, that’s about it for now. If I still have this soapbox for the next edition of the AARland Gazette, I’ll talk about how I started and wrote my AARs, and touch on issues of research, style, and other important elements. If you have comments on what I’ve written, please send me a private message or post to the comment thread. I hope some of what I’ve written, and will write, may be of some . . . .

The candle gutters out suddenly, plunging the room back into Stygian darkness. “Oh, hell,” he mutters, and the sound of hands fumbling with a matchbox are suddenly overwhelmed by the noise of slavering jaws, a struggle, and the sound of the bust of Pallas Athena smashing in the gloom.

ENDNOTES

[1] l’Eminence Grise

[2] It Came from the Mountains

[3] Tales of the Gluttonic Knights.

[4] The German RISK AAR

[5] ’I Refer the Right Honorable Gentleman’

[6] Blood to the Ankles – and Rising

[7] Republic of Krakow

[8] A House Demolished

[9] The Conquests of the Norton Dynasty

[10] Red Flag Falling
 

unmerged(6777)

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Dec 10, 2001
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The CrusadAAR (MrT)

Why I Can Hardly Wait…

Last issue, I wrote a quick one-paragraph run-down of Crusader King’s amazing AAR potential. At the risk of pushing the NDA envelope a bit, I thought I would delve a little more deeply into this facet of the game.

It does not take very long for a new player to discover that CK is all about relationships – in fact your game will end rather rapidly if you fail to make this your one over-riding purpose. Without a spouse it is highly unlikely that you will sire a child, and without a child you will have no heir to continue your dynasty. If that occurs, your game will end with the death of your current character. Yes, there is the possibility that you might stray from the righteous path and produce a bastard who can - under very exceptional circumstances - become your heir; but this is not a chance you would wish to take under any circumstances.

Therefore it is imperative that you find a spouse for your current character - someone suitable who is of childbearing age, is in good health, and has attractive genes to pass along to your future offspring. While an attractive candidate might come from your own court and therefore be well-disposed to marry her liege, it is equally as likely – if not more so – that you will widen your search to more distant realms. This broadens the gene pool while at the same time opening up the possibilities of territorial inheritance if the appropriate laws are in effect.

To secure this critical mate, your relationship with other rulers will become increasingly important, and these relationships will be affected by numerous factors: the personality traits possessed by your current character and by your chancellor, the traits of your “target” court’s ruler and chancellor, your overall level of aggression and power, your culture and religion, and other factors that must remain undisclosed at present. Considering that there are in excess of seventy unique traits, of which a character may possess a changing and growing number over time, as well as you basis “stats” (think along the lines of D&D here, though slightly less detailed) and your ongoing actions, this alone can present a phenomenal variety of possibilities for the progression of the game. In fact it would not be a stretch to say that if you play a hundred games beginning with the same starting character, you will have no two games that are even remotely close to being the same by the time a handful or two of years have elapsed.

This is just one of the many relationships about which you will be concerned. Ensuring you line – and beginning to manage the succession of the next generation – will go hand in hand with arranging suitable marriages for your courtiers, keeping tabs on the relationship you have with your demesne’s peasant, burghers, clergy and nobility to ensure that they do not rise up against you, ensuring that your vassals remain closely tied and loyal to you, and maintaining a suitable standing with foreign rulers and (if Catholic) the Holy Roman Church. You will also be expected to participate wholeheartedly in crusades, provide for the needs of your subjects, respond to the mandates of your liege (if you have one)…and more. Choosing to walk your own path is always possible but may not, in the long run, benefit your chance of furthering your dynasty all that much.

With a game that can last for more than four hundred years and in which each generation will be forced to meet a myriad of challenges, the replayability of Crusader Kings will only be surpassed by the number of ways that an author may chose to relate his adventures – something I am sure that many of you have already glimpsed from the two beta AARs that have been released to the public to date. The possibilities are endless – even more so than with EU2, HoI or Vicky in my opinion. I already find myself torn between writing an “active” story, where the focus would be on wars, plagues, succession and accomplishments, or perhaps a story that treats the activities of the realm as a backdrop for an intimate exploration of the relationship between a couple of characters, or perhaps a Machiavellian study of a court and its struggles against adversity. Do I confine myself to the exploits of a single reign - or even just a small portion of one – or do I follow the succession of a dynasty through the centuries? It’s almost paralysing to be constantly having ideas springing to mind for each of them.

A comedy? A tragedy? A history? A sweeping epic saga? It’s so very hard to choose…and it’s also so very much to look forward to in the coming months as the many talented forum authors begin to tackle all of these - as well as ideas that haven’t even occurred to me yet. And that it why, despite the fact that I am involved in the beta and can already play Crusader Kings, like you…

I can hardly wait!
 

Cow Pie

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Europa Unviersalis AARland News

The News for the Week of April 4th - April 10th​




Lately a new project has been picked up in the EU1 Scenario Editor, a World War 2 scenario masterminded and being worked on by klas_knas. Recently the first screen shot of Europe was unveiled, more news as it comes. WW2 Scenario

Newest AARS

The Great Knights by Klas Knas

France by Languish has restarted.

Poland-Lithuania - czerpack’s AAR of his very first game


Most useful thread/patch

Enhanced IGC AI Enhanced IGC by Languish

AAR You should be reading

Between Kingdom and Empire, A Duchy of Burgundy AAR. An Interactive AAR by Braedonnal
(A special thanks to the EditAARS for allowing me to do this)
 
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Amric

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Free Company Interview Series


Valdemar​






This is the second of the series of interviews with membAARs of the Free Company. This one is with Valdemar, one of the Powers That Be that guide the storyline of the tale. A moderator of the AAR forums he has been a hardworking man. Not only in EUII, but in HoI, EUI, and the Vicky forums as well. Given that task and his excellent writing with his Byzantine solo project, he still has time to work just as hard for the Free Company. So let’s get on to the interview itself, shall we?



1. So when did you first join up with the Free Company?

Start of book four, while they were still in Italy, Florence to be exact

2. What did you think when Lord Durham asked you to be one of the Powers That Be?

well, he didn't so much ask as becoming it by default, at Christmas break on
Book four I started keeping the thread alive, then at book five I was offered a background character, when a number of key writers went AWOL the plot got rewritten and Hawk and I sort of helped LD keeping things together

3. What do you think is the most dramatic storyline in the current book?

Now that would be spoiling wouldn't it? ;) Not an easy thing to answer as I have the ability to see parts of the future, on a personal level there could be some for Maria and Frederik that I do not foresee, but as a lesson from the previous book we have fewer overall storylines per se, and more interaction. In fact that is the main strength of the FC and the main danger when writers go sparse, its all about the interaction, but with fewer writers the individual writer tend to tangle themselves and their characters in personal storylines, ensuring the plot will be carried through.

4. As I asked LD, did you ever think the FC would make it to a sixth book?

No, and it has been suffocating several times already, like LD all old
creatures can show remarkable resilience though :p

5. There has been a plethora of new writers for each book, but most of them fall by the wayside. What do you think happens that causes that phenomenon?

Well actually we haven't had as many as we wished for, but basically three things happen, the speed at which the posting sometimes occur demands that you think fast and not brood over a post for days. Secondly, the interaction have suffered, thus less aid to carry the new persons through, and thirdly, fewer overall writers makes the demands on the active characters so much greater enhancing number two.

6. What characters are you writing for primarily, and which ones did you personally create?

Frederik, Johan, Nikolai, are all my own creations, in that order.
Ishak Pasha are the main opponent along with Sulyman (LD) and Murad (Storey) and he is MrT's creation.

7. Just as I asked LD, I'm going to ask you. Which people do you feel you interact with in character with the FC best?

It varies actually from Character to character.

Frederik interacts well with Lochlan (now inactive) and Maria (the Hawk) but is generally very versatile. Johan is harder, he was made to create the much needed grunts, but all other Men-at-arms fell through over time, as did the writers for his Commander, Kent, so now he interacts with Chen (redwolf) but only on a pure military basis. Nikolai doesn't really interact

8. As one of the PTB, just how active are you in the decision making process of what is going on and what will be going on, et al?

Well so far the overall story are still covered by MrT and LD's original plans,
modified to the circumstances, usually LD sticks out the over all plan, the
Hawk refines it and I criticize and offer improvements :p

9. Are there a lot of things going on behind the scenes that the rest of us reading don't know about? Let alone the writers involved?

Well a lot of planning, and to some extend making sure all the lines come
together, that’s why personal subplots needs to be cleared preferably by LD to ensure that nothing clashes leaving characters stranded in some impossible situation

10. What is your favorite character that you enjoy writing for?

Frederik are still my favorite.. he was planned for, has had time to develop,
is multipurpose, and not created out of a specific need

11. You have characters in the Heavy Cavalry, Rangers, and what else? Do you find it difficult to write for such a host of characters doing such different things?

I have an agent/spy/merchant, a Heavy Cavalry, a guard, a ranger, a Turk, a few odd persons here and there and occasionally when need be the adversary like fallen angel or drakken. Its not difficult per se, but it can be hard to get in the mood, and I'm sure a gifted editAAR like T or LD could pick my characters out on style alone, even if I offer different perspectives or moods.

12. Of the 'regular' writers, which ones do you do you think have really worked hard to contribute and enhance the FC experience?

Several, both new and old have worked hard, and its important to note that the number of posts in the FC alone does not make a dedicated writer, staying with it and continuing to develop your character is what makes or breaks this thing. Several long time writers have minor characters that slowly evolve and that’s fine.

13. Do you see the Free Company as a community of sorts?

It used to be, now its too small, but on the other hand it has opened up a lot, it used to a number of grizzled old vets that new each other and you could tell that they were FC from the way they bantered in other threads

14. Although I advanced the idea of 'corporals', promoting some of the grunts, do you think overall it was a good idea?

It worked as not enough grunts could interact... simply lack of characters, but needed? I don't know, it gave the opportunity to introduce more NPCs and redshirts though

15. What do you think makes the FC so successful for so long?

The fun of interacting and developing the characters, esp. as it also hones
some writing abilities you do not get by writing solo

16. Knowing what you know now, if you had to do it all over again, would you?

Likely, but I might have kept a tighter rein on the story after book four.

And Finally, who is Valdemar?

well he is one of Several Danish Kings in CK :p
 
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