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Nicely done, I liked the format and was surprised (in a good way) when the letters switched perspective to steph. This is a good read and nice way of communicating information. You don't quite pull off the changing tones of a maturing mind in such away that you could write this without the ages beneath the letters. Still a fun intro for an RPG game.
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Upside of keeping the tone earnest and consistent through out is it suggests that the hero maintained his innocence through out and thus he is still that scared 9 year old boy when he gets pulled off towards the aliens. Who was it said that the key to sci-fi was to present a situation in which the youngest of men believe they could go as they are now and save the universe? That sci-fi has to provide a reality in which the pimply face round bellied boys felt like they could transcend all without the painful and compromising process of actually becoming a man.
I haven't noticed any problem with your action sequences. Thus far you have only had Botari's chase with kidnappers, and I thought you handled that well.
My advice for what to write next is to put in a complete mini-arc. You have your group together, and it seems to be that you are shooting for the classical-on the road-fantasy story. During the complete mini-arc you can continue your over arching story, but put in some conflict that gets slaughtered, cooked and devoured.
Let us say it is a wrestling Mini-arc
1) Temujin and gang meets a guy that has been and is a social and physical rival to Temujin. Botari remembers him from her past life, remembers how her Temujin told her a story that this rival was arrogant and distrustful of him until Temujin beat him in a wrestling match.2) The guys is disruptive to the group, he and Borochu get into a little scuffle. Temujin breaks it up and tries to talk it out.
3) Borochu gets huffy and Botari thinks Temujin is handeling things wrong. HE IS NOT DEALING WITH THINGS THE WAY HER TEMUJIN WOULD HAVE.
4) She encourages Temujin to challenge the rival to a match, she is confident he will win and that this will improve Temujin's relationship with this man.
5) Temujin loses the match and Botari, as a result is filled with doubt. Temujin is humiliated and no doubts Botari's advice. Botari now doubts whether not her intervention was helpful. She wonders who this new young Temujin is really? She wonders if her old Temujin was telling the truth when he described beating this man in a wrestling match or was it just the tall tales of a proud man? Losing in a wrestling match also might make his tribe look week.
Here you would have a whole arc. There is a conflict, there is a build up, there is a resolution, all these steps relate to the larger plot points but do not define them. But keep the focus centered on this mini-arc for a while. You haven't kept things on focused on any sub-plot points thus far.
This chapter has nothing to do with the thought stone or the tribe they just left. Try resolving smaller plots as a way of advancing the larger plot.
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I am all for wrestling.
I enjoyed this chapter. I found the description of to be Nalan Kahn to entertaining and clear. I found a lot of the discussion about what future Botari can expect was interesting. Lines like "There was no reason to fret over a none-too-stringent conflict not to come for years."
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It is very interesting that these she is looking at all these things both backwards and forwards. But what does Botari want for the future?
Serious font for two seconds: I did really struggle with the first paragraph. How much information was too much, and I agree the second sentence needs to go. Maybe the first paragraph all together. I also wasn't sure the gag about this guy thinking his gun and truck would be any use to him worked. I agree they sort of stall the pace of this.
But your comment made me also realize that this post is more or less what and where it is meant to be.
You see crucifiction, as you are new to site, what you need to understand is that I am the type of writer that quite simply....
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hang on there is something going on outside, I will jus......
Moon I can't tell if this post is funny or not, but I was going for funny. I also can't tell you the difference between a joke and satire, and that may mean I was going for both. But I didn't want to be mean, I just wanted to be funny. But I would like to make this post better at communicating the ideas and gags that are already in there. If you don't mind lets go over the first paragraph.
I wanted to convey three things. First the Eugene character’s lack of success in other fields of his life, thus mentioning the divorce and that he only held this job because of nepotism. I was hoping that these apparent failures would contrast with his arrogance and paint a self diluted and humorous caricature. Second, I wanted to communicate his relative age. By mentioning a divorce in particular it signaled that he was an adult, and his literal adulthood would contrast with his true child-like state that required he ask for his mother’s permission and explain his actions to her. Finally, I wanted to set up some geography of the location. There only two things in the picture, the demon and the church. So I was trying to place the church in a bit on context with regard to location in space and time. When writing something on the Citadel you cannot take for granted that your audience will place the events in a modern setting. A church in the Citadel could be anywhere from Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France in 1412 to the dreamscape of a Martian Cyborg as he travels back in time from the year 3000 to 13th century France. So by mentioning things like driveways, Okalahoma, Lutherans and divorce I placed the scene more or less in modern times.
Those are the things I wanted to communicate. I went back and added the first paragraph after I finished the rest of the anecdote. But I made one of the classic blunders. I assumed that my readers (all three of em) are paying attention. The better assumption is that you have to catch your reader’s attention. I think perhaps I failed to do that with the first paragraph.
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I considered some other intros, that is why I couldn't finish this in 30 minutes. I will post my other intros in the comments section. Tell me what you think of those Moon, and also tell me how you would manage the above points.
Alternate intro one.
Eugene Simons was a 32-year-old man who believed he understood the world far more than his education and professional achievements justified. Despite having no higher education and not having a full time job, Eugene was very pleased with his own intellectual capabilities and often disgusted with the lesser thought processes of most people. Eugene had always had an enthusiasm for ideas but he lacked the self-discipline and stomach for disappointment that was required for true intellectual or artistic careers. This love for ideas but distaste for the reality in which those ideas existed gave Eugene one true life path. Eugene became a Dungeon Master.
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He worked part time as the ground’s keeper at a church to which his family were generous contributors. But of the 20 hours a week they paid him to be there he spent most of it scribbling notes about dungeon maps and wilderness encounters in a spiral notebook. He felt he worked better at the small basement desk they had given him next to the furnace. The rest of his week he spent watching the television or reading comic books. Both tasks he approached with an affectatious seriousness. He considered these endeavors to be important research.
Imagine one could shop for minds the way one shopped for houses. If such a thing was possible a person could not help but be struck dumb when the realtor stopped her car in front of the mind of a 32-year-old custodian named Eugene Simons. Eugene’s mind is enormous. Just in shear scope and square footage it would rival the fabled pad of Mr. Darcy or shame the stage for lazy storytelling that is Dowtown Abbey. The inside is no less spectacular in terms of scope. The rooms of Eugene’s mind are enormous. The size of ideas and concepts that these spaces could hold is absolutely stunning. And layout of this cranial castle is such that all the enormous ideas can run together. Each room opens upon another (Eugene is to old fashion a thinker for anything as efficient as a hallway) and if you were to throw open all the doors you could effectively merge scores of different ideas into one contiguous form.
But those are just the first impressions. Upon second appraisal one would be forced to notice how little furniture and material there is in these room. Yes they can hold huge ideas, but the rooms themselves are almost useless. The space is excellent for party but Eugene has poorly equipped his mental house for the day-to-day tasks of living. Additionally, there is very little light in these spaces. The windows are small and hard to access. The lack of light means that when all these ideas parade through this gigantic house they appear as little more than shadows. Details and depth cannot not be seen when something passes through these dim rooms.
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Finally if one were to look a little deeper you might find something discarded in the corner. That item in the corner is our entire universe, or at least Eugene’s conception of it. Eugene took one look at the universe, and was confident he understood it all from quarks to macroeconomics to marriage to why milk is better with hot wings than beer. Eugene glanced at the universe, felt he mastered it, rolled it up into a small ball and tossed it aside so that he could parade his own poorly illuminated ideas through his great empty mind. Eugene became a dungeon master.
Speaking to that retro feel, that may be in part because this centers on a Mind Flayer which is still a pretty esoteric monster. The Mind Flayer's squidy visage is still a flag for the true geek community.
Fantasy and Sci-fi is enjoying a golden age now with vampires, lycans, superheros, zombies, wizards and dragon mamas enjoying mainstream success. In 1974 I would wager that the majority of americans did not have a mental image of an Orc. Today you would have to be living on a Roc to not have a least a conception of an orc (yeah they might get it confused with a goblin or troll) but the Mind Flayer is still ours. But as the Dawn Breaks open the markets for speculative fiction a Twilight descends on what was once a Secret Circle of knowledge and learning. Under that Dome we knew what Tenser's floating disk was and we knew it had nothing to do with Disk World. Now though the main stream media is Staking a claim to the undead and the mystical, and twisting them away from the ideals held by the unwashed masses that could correctly pronounce acronyms like T.H.A.C.O. or G.U.R.P.S.. Some things are still pure though; the beholder, the rust monster, the displacer beast and of course the Mind Flayer.
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And until somebody writes a best selling book or movie about a sexy noble Mind Flayer who flatters a small town girl to ruin than we can keep some pure memories of rolling 20 sided dice in our garages. Perhaps that is why Mind Flayers are retro. Mind Flayers are still clean.
8) Street Car:
Newbie: “Wait that was my stop, I thought this stopped…”
Local: “Oh no darling, between 4:47-6:59 the Green Line is an express. You wanted the Purple Line.”
If you want a snap shot of a city this is your train. Sometimes they are subways, sometime they're elevated trains, sometimes they are electric trolleys that move through automobile traffic on rails buried in the concrete. Boarding these trains is no special trick. Any mook with local coin can buy a ticket or token, some cities don’t even bother charging. So what separates this train from just any ordinary train? There are no Strangers on this Train, unless that stranger is you. The people on this train may not know each other by name, but they now each other by feel. If your whatzit is on this train then the trick to making the hand off smoothly or meeting your contact discretely will be blending in with train’s daily passengers.
9) Circus train:
That fist-fight on the over pass goes from bad to unbelievable worse when wrestle your opponent over the railing and on to this train. You could land in car full of lions, tigers, bears or elephants, and those vicious beasts are the passengers that won’t lift you wallet after they gut you.
The circus is full of desperate showman, ruthless capitalists, and discarded outcasts. It should be a community full of danger and promise. These train cars are the inner sanctums of a group that is both extremely public and deeply secretive. This is the place that they strive hard to keep private and personal. The circus won’t be happy to find people snooping or stealing, but they might be sympathetic to fellow vagabond or showman. The only thing you can be sure to find on a circus trains is something that people are willing to spend money to see.
10) Toxic Train
General: “Mrs. Secretary, I have 500,000 millions tons of the deadliest most evil compounds ever known to man sitting in an aging weapons depot in New Jersey that your president just de-funded. And the only place that can dispose of that stuff, really disappear it, is in Arizona. Here is the Map Mrs. Secretary. If we get a clear track and follow this path we put this stuff to bed in a month.”
Mrs. Secretary: “Oh no general, Ohio and Pennsylvania are swing states, if they find out we shipped this through their country side, certainly not Akron. Oh no no no, we send it through Maryland, then Virginia, but stay away from the beltway during rush hour…”
This train is a government’s dirty secret. It could be carrying radioactive material, chemical weapons, mutagens, aliens, or just death. The route of this train is irrational and political. It will be hard to track if that is what people are trying to do, but alternatively it may show up were somebody won’t expect it. It will be guarded, but not too well staffed because this train’s route and cargo is on a need to know basis only.
11) Maximum Overdrive-Train
Little Girl: “Grandpa, is it true people made the trains and use to ride in em.”
Grandpa: “Heck! Use to be they wouldn’t run without us shoveling coal down their gullets and constantly tugging at their innards with wrenches and levies.”
Little Girl: “What happened?”
Grandpa: “Trains got smart, trains got mad.”
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In this hellish steam punk fantasy-scape the trains were the most powerful tools man ever made until they got smart and jumped their tracks. Now the trains are man’s worst enemy, and possibly man’s new overlord. These long steam engine driven trains have steam plumes that be seen for miles as they cross the desert. They are mile long and move in flowing s curves like snakes gliding across the sand. They come to towns demanding water for their boilers and taking goods and material for their cars. They threaten the town with ferocious and ear cutting whistle like roars, before they chug their way over to the water tower. If the town doesn’t comply, then the train crushes the town and moves on until it finds a town that will comply or it dies trying. Trains don’t die pretty either. Capturing a train like this would be worth quite a bit as her box cars are full of plunder.