The SolAARium: Discuss the craft of writing - Alphabetical Index in the 1st Post

stnylan

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Use of thought

To what degree and for what purposes is it advisable to write a person's thoughts, and also for what purposes is it not advisable to use thoughts?

I have been mulling this one over for a while and I can't come up with any real answers. Anyone?
 

Secret Master

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You've asked a pretty tough question, stnylan.

A general rule to follow is that the more you focus on the thoughts of a particular character, the more intimate the writing will be with regards to the character. For example, first person stream of consciousness is by far the most intimate way of dealing with a character, whereas never writing the thoughts of a character at all is the least intimate.

If you don't want us to be too involved with a particular character, than you should likely limit the amount of time we get to hear their thoughts. However, this is not to say that the thoughts of the character are the only way to establish intimacy with the character. There are other ways.

This probably does not fully answer your question, but hopefully it is a start.
 

unmerged(6777)

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Another interesting aspect of using people's thought to communicate your story is that it leaves you free to avoid revealing plot elements that you want to "save" for later. With the bird's eye view approach to writing, you're cheating if you describe a scene where someone it walking through a forest and you don't happen to mention the legion of natives hiding amongst the trees, ready to kill him. On the other hand, the same scene can be described through the soon-to-be victim's eyes without any problems at all since, until he notices the arrow speeding towards his chest, he doesn't know he's about to be ambushed.

This is, of course, in addition to the intimacy that SM mentioned and the ability to convey deeper aspects of the character's personality than a description of his actions would normally allow.
 

Director

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One common device that allows the reader to know what's going on in the character's head without literally writing the thoughts is to allow the character to 'think out loud', or to express through body language.

It's also difficult to delve too deeply into a character's thoughts without going all the way to 1st person point-of-view. After all, I may believe I know what you think but only you truly know what your thoughts may be.
 

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Originally posted by MrT
I hope some of that was useful…

It was indeed, Chris. Gaijin will be guest-writing a scene in my Berliner AAR in a little while and I gave him quite free reigns, partly because I'm confident that he'll pull it off beautifully, but also because he has bigger knowledge of the subject than me (can't reveal anything more than that)...

In this case, what made me ask him in the first place (apart from being a marvellous writer) was that he had greater knowledge of a certain part of the world (guess :p) where my AAR has taken some interesting turns. I think that is an important advantage of guest-writing I'd like to point out, making use of another person's knowledge, so to speak. It's a win-win situation. :)
 

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Ok, folks, Chris and I had a brief discussion :D regarding a certain topic, and I thought it would be worthwhile to bring this up for everyone to talk about.

My question to Chris was how much preference was given to historical detail/facts over the content of the story he is writing in his Palatinate AAR. If you haven't read it, then read it... But, the long and short of it is that Cris has done roughly the same level of research one would put into a graduate thesis looking up historical information to make use in his writing. But with such a preponderance of historical facts hanging around, I wondered how he handled historical facts being in conflict with his story.

I have a very specific reason/agenda for asking this question (hey, I am a Secret Master, so bear with me on the whole ulterior motive thingee) but I thought we could all discuss this. After all, the story/literature is very important. On the other hand, the historical details/facts are also vitally important to what we do here (and in general, if you are going to set your writing in any setting before today).

Chris, if he so chooses, can copy and paste his reply here, but I will refrain from commenting until I get some more feedback.
 

Craig Ashley

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I'm just about ready to launch a grandiose AAR in which I have spent a lot of time researching. And I ran into a problem with history and the game not always jiving. Also it turned out, some of my plot ideas did happen in RL, but not at the time of the AAR. Lastly, I've found some conflicting reports about a variety of things. So how I did I manage to map out my plans for the AAR?

First, if I got a two versions of history, I dug in deeper. Sometimes more research made it clear that there wasn't a conflict at all, just a lack of reporting. If two things were in stark contrast, I would have picked whatever I believed to be the more reliable source. If I thought both sources were equal, I went with what worked best for the story I plan to tell.

That said, this AAR will take many of the major events in Ireland from the middle of the 15th century and squeeze them (some times ahistorically) into a few years. I needed a good rebel leader, but the last one was about 20 years too early. I needed a martyr but the real one was 10 years later than the story. I needed the triumphant king, but the closest thing was 20 years in the future.

Many of things that happen in this AAR will be actual historical events, only they occured at different times and sometimes by different people. Other things will be based on the game details, the location of battles, my allies, and the begining and end of the war. Not only that, but I will be adding a fantasy element to the story that helps me explore a few themes.

I wanted the history for the flavor of the times, so I feel fine subverting history at times to favor my desires. Also like MrT, I ran I ran into the name problem. It seems nobles like to cling to a few select name and recycle them throughout the generations. I have way too many folks named Thomas, John, and James. So that helped me pick with Earl of Desmond or Kildare would make it into the story.

All in all, this AAR will be a combination of real historical events and figures, the game, and my imagination.

Oh by the way, the name of this AAR (plug plug) is The Last Son of Lugh. Keep an eye out for it.
 

Lord Durham

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The main problem I've had with this game is that it's forced me to dramatically increase the historical portion of my library. My 'safe' period has always been Classical Greece, Alexander and his successors, and the Cradle of Civilization era. (anyone who buys 'Chariots of War' will see where a lot of my creative writing time has been spent for the past month :)

My Austrian and Napoleonic Wars AARs are extremely historical, and involved lots of research. The trick though, is what to include and what not to include. A rule of thumb I heard once was that for every ten hours of research you gather, perhaps one hours worth will actually be utilised. The rest will be filed under trivia, or carted out for the next AAR.

The FC takes place around historical time periods, but for the sake of storytelling some of the technology and tactics have been advanced dramatically.

Portugal tapped into my love of movies. History be damned. :D :D
 

HolisticGod

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Lewis,

Short of mechanical and technical rules, this is unquestionably the foremost basic element of creative literature. Emotional and ideological development in characters and groups (particularly) is important to action thrillers and mass market science fiction, as evidenced by the fact that a lot of the narrative is relayed through shifting first person internalization. It's often presented in the most upfront, simplest manner possible, because it's a primary storytelling device. This is fairly easy, for that reason, and not actually all that vital, if you can find a more active means...

In serious fiction, however, it's the first stumbling block to be overcome, and, in my experience at least, the last to be mastered. Rather than offering a means for telling the story, it is[/i the story.

Examples of this would range from the functional but uninspired---

"He knew what was happening as soon as Zothron pulled his blaster. For the past five hours, he'd thought long and hard on the missing pieces to the murder on Aristra, and the reaction from the Government. It was inconceivable that the authorities hadn't known-Ulron had told him as much in the bunker, before he died-but equally inconceivable that they would've let him get this close if they could be implicated. Now, though, he didn't even need to see the dozen blue-cloaked agents filling the square wall around the courtyard to know they were from the Imperial Service. To know why they were taking him to the Legionary Prison, and off planet at dawn. To know why Ambassador Nuybei had been assassinated. To know why Zothron had betrayed him.

Betrayed them all."

to the difficult, elaborate, but subtly powerful (Marquez does this very well)---

"But as summer wore on under the verandah four girls in the throws of youth ate mangos and nursed their private cockatoo into oblivion, forcing spirits and hard tack down his throat every morning at nine and every afternoon at three, a schedule Zora enforced with the gold watch and Mother's Voice.

The reason for the whiskey was Zora's Pretty Much Dead Englishman of a Grandfather, who had been a sailor in Napoleon's day. Back when he was just Zora's Englishman of a Grandfather, he liked more than anything to tell stories about the time Admiral Nelson himself fired a blister into his leg from across the Victory, for insobriety at arms. When asked about how they healed him, a question that began as childish curiosity and soon became venerated tradition, he would slap the leg in question with a roaring laugh and say, grumbling:

"A week below decks and all the whiskey I could drink. Startin' with that first bottle."

Zora said her Pretty Much Dead Englishman of a Grandfather was a "brigand," a word she learned from her grandmother and never defined for the gang.

"If you won't educate yourselves, don't expect me to waste my time educating for you," she'd shout, beet faced and quivering. The other three didn't like to bring it up, because she'd always stomp off home in ebulliently righteous indignation and shut them out for the day. This was miserable, because she was the one with the verandah."

The latter, I take it, is what you're aiming for...

I wouldn't say that one presentation is superior to the other, and I happen to prefer a more intermediate style both in reading and writing, but, as with everything, the clincher is consistency. Rambling inner-monologue in the midst of sharply cut narrative/dialogue is extremely off-putting, and almost never works.

The decision ultimately comes down to the willingness and inclination (and ability) of the author and reader to communicate wordlessly. Even Faulkner, whose work is wholly internalized, didn't dabble with navel gazing. Nor did Hemingway or the other northern modernists avoid portraying well-defined characters with abundant inner lives.

The thrust and theme matter less than the form. Either way, even very active text unavoidably says something about what someone is thinking or feeling. The question is how much you want or need to give away.
 

Syt

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I'm afraid my approach is less scientific than those of other, more revered writers on this forum. ;)

Usually, I try to get a feel of the places where the plot takes place, looking at pictures and paintings of the era, maybe look a few items up, like uniforms, and have a look at one or the other anecdote. I did that mostly for the Klausens so far. I also try to draw some inspiration from those infos.

Nevertheless, I am aware that I take great liberties at times, but I always try not to make them too obvious, so I'd e.g. not have the cathedral in Cologne finished in 18th century when it was in fact finished over a hundred years later.

Actually, I think I am avoiding too much research so that I don't feel too tied down. Was there a French envoy in Cologne in 1700? I don't really care. Does the title I give to that envoy exist? Secondary. Does his conduct, or that of the French, coform with the way they behaved historically? Perhaps, but don't bet on it.

I admire those putting great effort and research into their tales, putting them almost into the ranks of Peter Berling or Noah Gordon. I, however, am not necessarily one who writes historical fiction, but rather fiction before a historic background.

Hm. I also hardly have problems with "historical" Hollywood movies which have glaring mistakes. For me it's story first. Historical background is for flavor. ;)
 

Bismarck

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Beginnings to me are the hardest part in terms of historical details... so I try to get enough information into my head before I start... and it is slow going at the beginning... but as I move forward, I can make changes, while at the same time maintaining the feeling on historicism.... I have a background in intellectual history, so I like putting references to works that would be possible in my timeline....

M
 

stnylan

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If one is trying to write a historical AAR I think, when the game progesses ahistorically, either because of in spite of the player, and as a result historical details go awry keeping historical flavour is the way to go.

For example, in Havard's Knight's AAR he has those little bits of Tuitio Trivia whereby some of his research that would otherwise go unnoticed gets a showing and helps create an atmosphere. And of course that AAR is heading along very ahistorical lines. :)

Also perhaps adding small side-stories that have nothing to do with the main plot per se but illustrate or 'observe' historical details that cannot be included in the main story. In the Gap series by Stephen Donaldson, which is a sci-fi 5 book series, in books 2-4 (I think) he includes scattered throughout the books small 'Ancillary Document' sections that provide information about the setting he has used.
 

unmerged(6777)

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Thought I'd paste my reply to SM's question from RRR here...

Originally posted by Secret Master
You know, Chris, it is amazing the sheer volume of research you have put into this. You know, rather than write the AAR, you could just take your research and do a graduate thesis in 15th century German history... :D

I do have a question for you. Actually, this might be a question for the SolAARium, but since you have been doing so much research for this one single project, I thought I would start here. In your experience with writing this saga, how often has your historical research forced you to rewrite something you would have wanted to write a certain way for literary reasons. Perhaps to put it another way, how often have you had to sacrifice a good story idea due to it being grossly out of whack with the facts?
I’ve now made a couple different attempts to “generalise” my response to your question so it addresses the issue in broader terms rather than focussing on this AAR in particular. The more I try to do so, though, the more I find that I have to keep qualifying what I’m saying – which leads to some pretty long and unwieldy paragraphs. What follows, then, are my thoughts as they relate to this work and probably wouldn’t be as applicable to anyone else’s work…or even to the next AAR I write.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, this AAR is a departure from my previous ones – and in many respects from the “normal fare” on the forum – in that its principal goal is to explore a series of themes using a character-driven story set against the framework of a portion of an EU2 game I played. This establishes the overriding pair of “priorities” for all aspects relating to its writing:
  • Does it further one of the themes? (“Friedrich’s Ambition”, “A Coming of Age”, “Sacrifice”, “A Study of War”, etc. being the primary ones).
  • Does it further the story? (This being in terms of character development, mood, entertainment value, etc…i.e. does it make for a book that someone would want to read as opposed to being a thinly-disguised essay on each of the themes?)
More or less everything else is secondary to those. Since this is the AAR forum I’m operating on the premise that the underlying sequence of events should be based on the play of the game, as opposed to presenting it elsewhere where I could treat it as historical fiction. Nevertheless, I am very leery of making too great a departure from history since the further I do so, the harder a time the audience will have with their suspension of disbelief.

This has, most definitely, presented some challenges along the way. I’ve often found myself trying to balance game history and real history and in most cases I’ve elected to place slightly more weight on the game than on history. I have, however, made adjustments to both of these in order to better support the overall literary intent.

There have also been cases in more recent months that I wish I’d known something – some small tidbit of historical note - before I’d already written it (or begun to set it up) based on what happened in the game. There have also been moments where I decided to stick closely to history and am now kicking myself for it (and example being the whole “name thing” where there are far too many character names held in common). I also find myself thinking on occasion, that I could have made my life easier if I’d made some “tweaks” to ranks and titles here and there.

In general, though, I’ve followed a rule of thumb where “events” and “action” should be governed mostly by what happened in the game; whereas “people”, “places”, and “history” should be more closely aligned to real life. Before I’m finished, I suspect that I will introduce a few accidental (and glaring) inconsistencies somewhere. I’m also hoping that historians will forgive me for taking liberties with reality since I’m doing so in the interests of the themes and am not trying to present an accurate account of the history of the era. I don’t have the same problem when I “corrupt” game events since I’m the only one who has read this particular game’s history log or watched things unfold on my computer screen.

Luckily for me, I did the vast majority of my major research before I began writing and most of the research I’m doing now is geared towards enhancing the flavour of the story and maintaining the aforementioned suspension of disbelief of the reader. I’ve found, reading other AARs or reading historical fiction, that the one thing that an author can do to jar me out of their narrative is to introduce something blatantly ahistorical without justifying it somehow. If I have Charles VII suddenly deploy ICBMs against the Pfalz, for instance, then I know I’ll get a flurry of comments asking me what the f*** I’m doing. A less extreme example would be having his soldiers set up their muskets (which, of course, they are just as likely to have had as ICBMs in this era).

The more detailed the research I do, then, the more historically accurate and consistent the story will be. I tend to think of it in cinematographic and continuity terms, really, so I my goal is to make sure that none of the background or peripheral things look fake to the eye. I may be throwing a very large spanner into the gears of the real historical timeline, but the audience here expects this because that is the nature of writing an after action report about an alternate history game. In effect, they grant me artistic licence to manufacture a plot that isn’t historically accurate…but that license only extends so far.

The more real (and accurate) the history I include, the more willing a reader may be to accept the instances where I must depart from it – with the proviso that it’s rationalised somehow. The greater the care I take to present my almost-historical world, and the deeper I can immerse you in it, the less likely I am to accidentally shatter the effect.

As I write, then, I try to maintain this balance of conflicting histories while using them to further my greater goals of thematic development and literary interest. If real history conflicts with my needs then I try to make a compromise if possible, but if that isn’t possible then real history will be sacrificed unless a minor change can be made to the plotline that won’t introduce problems later.

This is not to say that I haven’t adjusted my storyline to bring it more into line with history. I’ve also made some very significant changes to the exact dates and order that some things occurred during game play…adding a little bit here and subtracting a bit there. I cut all sorts of game stuff out, in fact, since I’m sure that trying to detail (or even mention in passing) all of the log would drive me insane and bore you all to tears. There was one period, for instance, when I fought a large number of mini-battles in succession (the ol’ AI sending 1k recruits against a large besieging force) that I’ll pretty much nix altogether. I also moved Christoph’s crowning from it’s historical (and game) date…for reasons that will become apparent in a while.

But there is one extremely important point I should emphasise: any major changes like that were done before I’d written a single word of this AAR. I have had a complete and detailed outline of the entire AAR since mid June, and even a post-by-post “here’s what the reader needs to know by the end of this post” summary that stretches approximately a full chapter ahead of the point where I am now. It isn’t carved in stone, but it’s not too far from it. All of those decisions were based on doing the research and looking at the log before I decided on the plotline. All three were then put into a “soup” to try to make it “taste” as good as I could possibly get it to taste. I’m just tweaking the seasoning now.

So there you have it…in my usual verbose and rambling way. RL history is largely subservient to my established framework, but as I’m doing my ongoing “flavour” research I may tweak it a bit here and there to improve the AAR’s presentation. It sometimes suggests slight changes in my approach to telling the story, but it hasn’t made any changes to my plotline since the original planning phase.

Err….what was the question again? :D
 

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From Webster’s Dictionary: Research – diligent search or inquiry; scientific investigation and study to discover facts; to examine with care.

To turn the subject somewhat on its head, is research necessary or useful, both or neither?

I believe it is possible to write a good story (necessarily thin on details) that reveals no single point of reference as to its era or physical setting. I say this only because human nature doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last few thousand years. The characters in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh do believably human things for very human reasons.

Nevertheless, I should not care to write such a piece (except perhaps as a technical exercise) and doubt I should care to read it. Research is, therefore, not strictly necessary.

Research is useful (in a literary sense) to me in two ways: the establishment of sufficient background detail to give a gloss of realism to the story, and for the education of the audience. And in both categories, I think it is of enormous value.



In the first category of realism, research is primarily useful where it allows the author to work at two tasks, those being the inclusion of useful detail (and its obverse, the avoidance of harmful or incorrect facts) and the provision of information that will be needed for an understanding of the actions of the characters.

The author must – must – avoid jostling the reader while said reader is suspending his disbelief. No anachronisms, please, whether glaring or subtle – and remember that modern ideas and ways of thinking (such as scientific proof, economic theories and religious precepts) may be anachronistic. No glaring great errors allowed in descriptions of people, buildings, countries and battlegrounds – just to name a few. The writer must use a ruthless rule: If you can’t prove it, leave it out!

I am flexible enough to admit that ‘proof’ may consist of nothing more than ‘reasonable expectation’ and ‘lack of proof to the contrary’ in many cases. It is not necessary for me that dogs be proved to have existed in China in 1450; it is reasonable to expect that they did. Naming and describing a particular breed of dog means that the author had better have proof – otherwise, call the dog a dog and go on with the story.

Minor jostlings are, I think, excusable, such as moving dates around a bit, or attributing one person’s words and deeds to others. And certainly the wider a EU2 game diverges from actual history, the more flexibility an author should be allowed. Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London would probably have been completed in most histories, but its date of completion might vary widely across the possible timelines. A useful rule here might be, The more unusual or extra-ordinary the detail, the greater the need for an author’s explanation of it.

Just as an aside, I find that the more trivial and ‘throwaway’ a detail is, the longer I am apt to spend researching it. Time, paper and literacy were all precious in earlier days, and few chroniclers spent much time on the details of everyday life. I expend the effort because ‘small’ details can add a depth and richness to a scene that is worth the trouble.

The second task on which the author should labor is the accurate depiction of the moral, ethical and behavioral codes of the country and era in question. Human problems may have remained unchanged for millenia, but the permitted ways of expressing and dealing with them vary over places and times.

An example of this would be attempting to apply modern ideas on slavery, colonialism, constitutional government, money theory or religious tolerance to 16th century China or to Germany in the Thirty Years War. If anachronistic ideas or behaviors are employed, they should be used intentionally – and explained.



In the second category of education, research is best used in moderation. The audience in this forum is more fond of educational material than most, but a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down, to paraphrase from ‘The Sound of Music’.

As a reader, it really does matter to me that I learn something from what I read, even if the piece is fiction, and as a writer I feel a missionary’s zeal to convey to my readers what it is that I find so interesting about a subject. I am intrigued by the ‘why’ of things, the why of decisions and actions and consequences. If the author can explain to me why China turned inward, or why Richard III was so hated, or why the Arabs used scimitars instead of straight swords – then I want to know!

When writing, I take it as a given that the reader needs some guidance as to what was possible (or feasible) and what was not. As a gamer, I tend into the ‘what would an actual person do in this situation’ school, and I carry this attitude into my writing and research. It matters to me that the reader know what the characters are thinking, and what their options are and are not.

As another aside, ‘The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War’ by Davis, Perry, Kirkley and Cowles is a fabulous treasure. You may compare maps drawn by the participants in a battle with the official ordinance maps, and thereby compare what the commanders thought the terrain was with the actual terrain. In this case the maps are not the territory, and the things the commanders didn’t know about the physical battlefield are astounding.

I do not, however, wish to be dropped into a textbook or preached at. An ounce of useful insight is worth a pound of facts.



As differenced from MrT’s method of careful preparatory research, I tend to make an initial overview of the time period and country in question, reading for breadth rather than depth. I do keep files of ‘clippings’ on nations, people, battles and the like, but I use my first research to try to get inside my characters’ ways of thinking. Intensive research comes when I need to establish detail for verisimilitude – not for ‘truth’, but for the appearance of it. Then I ‘drill down’ to whatever depth is necessary, mining for bits of fact that I can use as decoration.

In describing a battle, for example, I begin with maps – as detailed as possible. Unfortunately, it’s usually impossible to get the level of detail needed or to get a distance scale – not to mention that modern landscapes have been drastically changed even since the 1800’s. So the physical battlefield description comes down, frankly, to as educated a guess as I can make.

Mentioning uniforms (or the lack) is useful for enhancing believability, but if I mention them I must be sure the details are correct – or plausible. Details of weaponry are crucial – one may not casually equip Henry V’s English army with scimitars, but you may simply say ‘swords’ and avoid the finer details of appearance and manufacture. In contrast, if dealing with a single character, details of his sword might be essential.

Battle tactics – describing how a unit moves, fires, fights and reacts – can add wonderful realism to a story. Unfortunately, battle tactics are rarely discussed in any great detail, and what we think we know about army operations is sometimes limited to conjecture. For example, the precise employment of Napoleonic infantry is still debated among historians, especially the critical questions of whether they fought in line or in column, and how. The answer seems to be, ‘Yes, sometimes,’ which is of little help to a writer who would like a more definitive answer.

Or take European cavalry, who progress from the heavily-armored shock-attack knights of the 1400’s to the pistol-wielding mercenaries of the religious wars in Germany who substituted firepower for shock. Gustavus Adolphus’ cavalry used shock and were forbidden to fire; Frederick the Great reformed his cavalry to do the same (but in what year!). Dragoons and cuirassiers, carabiniers and hussars, lancers and chasseurs, oh my! If you’re going to talk about them, you’d best know how they look, what they do and how they go about it – or avoid that level of detail.



I rarely need go beyond my city and university libraries, my personal collection (including old issues of ‘Strategy and Tactics’ and ‘Military History Quarterly’) and, of course, Google – which service deserves a Nobel Prize at the very least.
 

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Very interesting debate, gentlemen. :)

I must admit that I rarely do extensive research for a couple of reasons.

One is purely lazyness :) I don't want to waste my precious reading and writing time searching the net. Also I'm fairly lousy at it.

Secondly, I feel a larger need for reaserching tidbits than the overall picture, it may sound a bit pompous, but I feel I know enough of most of the time period to cover the worst mistakes in the large sweeps.

And thirdly and most importantly. I feel anything written, based on this game is so much a product of "another Realitiy" or "Alternative Fantasy" that I find anything but anachronism a waste of time to avoid. and even anachrosnism can be explained if you are 10 techs ahead of your time. If you are militarily advanced, wouldn't it suffice to expect that this couldn't have happened without a similar advancement in philosophy and commerce?

Do I delibaretely ignore history? Off course not, but I don't want to go out of my way to find out if the curved sable was the preffered weapon of this or that type of cavalry unit.

This is written very much tongue in cheek, but serisously, I find it very hard to include too much history, unless you write on a very small part of the GC and have played "historically" (or what could have been realisticly done) or play a short scenario.

Those who DO extensive research have my deepest respect and I love to read their stuff and learn, I was ever the curious one, but you will not find me doing serious well documented detailed research on anything but a few details, not an entire story, not for a looong time.


On another note, MrT, if ever you were to publish an autobiography, it would fill an entire library hall ;) :p


V
 

Syt

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Uncharted WatAARS

What kind of AAR goals or styles that haven't been tried are left to do? This forum ahs been around for some two xears, and we've seen anything from commented history logs heavy on gameplay to long character driven narratives that use the EU2 game world as a colorful backdrop. We've seen stage plays, songs, movies, novels, poetry and a lot more. There's been failed AARs, average AARs, World Conquest AARs, and AARs of various other goals to be reached. Collaborative AARs were here, as well as multi-country AARs, hands off AARs, multiplayer AARs, and, of course, the magnificent Free Company (*kachink*).

So, what's left?

I myself have been toying with two ideas:

I was once thinking of writing an AAR in dialogue form. I would play the same country twice, trying to make the same decisions in the same context as often as possible, to see how big a factor luck and chance play. The two rulers of the alternate realities would have talked about their respective experiences with each other. (copied from my post in Director's new AAR)

The other was a "Kingdom of Love" AAR in which I would try to expand without war, with only the use of diplomacy to take over foreign lands.

What are your "Undiscovered Countries" [(c) W. Shakespeare Inc.]?
 

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Sytass, I am intrigued with your "Tale of Two Countries" dialogue idea for an AAR. But I wonder -- after a large amount of time, there is likely to be a LOT of divergence between the two runs. Let's suppose, for example, that at some point Country #1 wins a major war against X but in the other game Country #2 loses the analogous war. At that point the strategic situation is likely to be very different. I wonder how you could then match them so that you are making "similar decisions" about the game issues.

Even with more minor differences, an action that would be logical for one might not make sense for the other. I guess I am intrigued but skeptical that this could work for very long before the differences became too great. But if I'm wrong, this would make a great story, very fun to read.
 

Syt

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jwolf, that's sort of the point. While starting out similarly, things could develop very differently. It would involve some roleplaying to imagine the same person meeting two different situations and making decisions accordingly.

Think that one Star Trek TNG episode where there's a time anomaly which causes Enterprises from parallel universes to appear, one of them beaten up because they're fighting a losing war against the Klingons (or Borg?) - very well possible to have such encounters in that kind of AAR.
 

Secret Master

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Well, Sytass, its interesting you mentioned undiscovered countries....




When I started Noble Lives, I had no clue what I was getting myself into in terms of length. I thought I would be done by now, but instead I have only reached the halfway point. That meant a bunch of ideas for AARs went on the shelf.

One idea I had (and I still play with every now and then) is to play a game as a fictional country based, as close as EU2 will allow, on Plato's Republic. With a combination of DP slider settings and house rules, it can be done; however, its not too exciting yet. (Either you get annexed in Europe really quickly, or you conquer the New World and then do nothing since the Europeans dont want to fight you...)

Another idea I had was to steal Sharur's idea of building a LotR scenario, and play through it as Gondor or some such thing. I think the game can be tweaked to mimic certain racial advantages and whatnot, but it would require more work than just redoing the map. (New events would HAVE to be written)

A third idea I had was to do an after-the-bomb scenario. This is the easist to do once I figure out how to do climate changes and terrain changes. This had the most potential for fun I think. (Imagine colonizing Normandie cause no one lives there anymore... )
 

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Stay out of my head!

I've just been reading a biography of Peter Sellers and musing on Dr Strangelove... speaking of 'after the bomb'.

Before I started expounding on the wit and wisdom of Herr Doktor Johannes Gropius, I had two ideas 'banked'.

The first is a broadly comic look at a Naples whose Joanna II dies early. The person who is 'on the spot' to handle the crisis manages the funeral, the succession (by keeping Rene of Anjou and the Aragonese at arms length) and eventually runs the kingdom. The problem is she happens to be the Madam of the city brothel. The Pope and the monarchs of Europe are not amused... until her secret files come to light.

Secondly, I've been gathering notes for a 'magnum opus'. Rather than beginning after a nuclear war, this one starts with an asteroid strike only slightly smaller than the 'dinosaur killer'. Most of the world is depopulated (think of a Fantasia with events and 25-30 playable nations). The hero of this one is a monk from the Buren monastery outside Munich; each 'chapter' would be inspired by a movement of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' (Songs of the Buren). Sort of an opera in reverse - instead of a sung story, a story inspired by music. (Putting the CD in and cranking up 'O Fortuna!).

Sytass- you could set your ''Tale of One Country Twice" in a HistoryPark-like setting, running the same country in multiple simulators. The players could even meet during breaks and discuss the events in their respective games.