Incident

Discussion in 'The Workshop' started by Kommander, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. Kommander

    Kommander Substitute Conservative

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    For the past few years, I've been working on a fictional world and developing characters with the intention to eventually write novella/novel-length stories. I wanted a certain amount of uncertainty, so instead of of just writing, I made up some D&D 5e character sheets and roll dice to see what happens instead of just deciding what happens like most writers.

    Writing novel-length fiction is a lot of work. Adding in extra steps like trying to run a D&D campaign by myself, and changing D&D 5e so it suits my purposes... it's a challenge. After about five years of work, I think I've got things worked out so I can get to mostly writing.

    Also, I just want to write. I considered scrapping the D&D stuff and just writing, but it wouldn't be the same. Even if I did, I like writing in first-person, but for the main body of the series, third-person limited works better. First person doesn't work very well when one is jumping between characters. I've seen it done, but I'm not sure I can pull it off.

    So, I wrote a short story about one of the characters. Once I finished the rough draft, I decided I wanted to write similar stories about some of the other characters. So, I'm going to write a collection of four short stories and release it on SmashWords before I get into the main novella/novel series. It might get me some readers before I finish the first book, and having a short story collection series on the side will give me something to do when I get burnt out working on the main series.

    I've decided to share the rough draft of the first story with you guys. First link is PDF, second is epub:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1L-8lNiB8ntv3Y7Hu2t_IKIDem9l7TOk6
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pW8Tlxhy8NEsA-CWTHqCrCjGUKf610EJ
    (I used an online converter to make the epub. It's... mostly formatted correctly.)

    Half-assed summary: Some guy is brought back to life a century after he died. Most of his personality and memory were recovered, except he only has vague episodic memories. He's warned that the world is very different than the one he came from. Which, makes sense, it's a century later. As he learns about the new world, he discovers that "a century later" is only the beginning of the changes.

    The working title was Holy Fucking Exposition, but I later changed it to Brash Decision.

    The main series is called Incident. There was an event that happened called the Incident. It's called that because everyone knows what incident it refers to. What was the Incident? No one knows. The only things that are knows is that it happened, and that it changed everything.

    The anthology I'm calling Tangents, because they're tangents from the main story. I'm creative.

    Read it or don't. Tell me what you think, or don't. If you decide to offer criticism, please do your best to tear it to shreds. Can't fix things if I don't know what's wrong. If you read it, I hope it gives you some entertainment. The ending I'm probably going to completely re-write, I got more monology and telling instead of showing than I care for.

    I want to monetize the series, but I don't really want to just sell ebooks. The short story anthology I'm releasing for free, and will probably do the same for others. The main series, SmashWords has a "buyer decides the price (including free)" option, which I'll probably use. Might start a Patreon as well. I already know I'm not going to make decent money writing fiction. If people want to read my stuff for free, I want them to be able to. If they want to pay me, I like money and I'll take it.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
  2. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Interesting concept. You’ve some typos in there but nothing majorly distracting.
  3. Kommander

    Kommander Substitute Conservative

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    After I wrote that first story, I started on the second, but I was out of steam, so I let things bounce around for a... half a year. I started writing again about a week ago and I'm 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through the second story. I'm hoping I don't lose as much steam from here out and can get the anthology finished by the end of the year, and the first book of the main series finished before the end of next year.

    Half-assed summary of Story #B: After being semi-wrongly convicted of a crime he sort of didn't commit, some dude (a different dude from last time) finds himself released from his virtual prison stasis pod a year early. He then meets a noble with a similar past who had arranged for his sentence to be commuted, if he agrees to attend a new school for those with natural magical abilities. After arriving at the school, Some Dude begins to suspect the headmaster is up to something, and he'd determined to discover what that something is so he can decide if he wants to help or put a stop to it.

    The working title was Holy Fucking Foreshadowing, and then Some Kind of Satirical Take on the X-Men, but Also It's Hogwarts or Something, but for now it's Edgelord. I'm trying to make the titles relate to the main characters. The first one is called Brash Decision and the main character is named Brash Johnson, the second the character is named Xaren Edgeward.

    Links for story 2 probably in a week or two. Maybe longer because the new Dresden Files book come out on Tuesday and I'll probably take a day or two off to read the hell out of that.

    Story 3 and 4 I only have basic concepts for at this point:

    Story 3: Female lead, she's a lieutenant on a pirate airship. After a new captain takes over and she finds out he's very into human trafficking, she's all kinds of pissed and ready to kick ass. The character is named Solana Drake, so the title was easy: The Drake Equasion, although I'll probably joke about the working titles being Holy Fucking Feminism and If I Want to Keep My Progressive Cred Intact At Least One of These Stories Needs to Pass the Fucking Bechdel Test.

    Story 4: Elf vampire lady doesn't want to be a vampire anymore, and thinks the resurrection research going on at Detroit University may hold the key, so she infiltrates the university with thievery on her mind, also the return of Brash Fucking Johnson! As of now the vampire elf's name is Kaeya Xylohn. I don't know how to turn that into a stupid pun title so I'm probably going to change her name to Heisty McGaffle or something.
  4. Kommander

    Kommander Substitute Conservative

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    As for the D&D stuff going on behind the scenes...

    I used a standard array for ability scores: 16, 14, 12, 10, 10, 8. I wanted them good at one thing, not so great at one thing, okay at some things, and average at some things.

    The main characters start off at 1st level, and they'll just be hitting level 3 at the end of the first novel. For the prequel stories they have some of their first-level abilities, but those don't matter so much because I'm only using the D&D mechanics for the novels. While in playing D&D level one is typically somewhere around "very inexperienced," in this setting, it's more "competent but not an expert." On the version of "Earth" in my story, the baddest of motherfuckers are like level three or four.

    Trying to write a novel, DM a campaign, and play four or more characters is complicated, so I stripped out some things. The first thing to go is experience points, because fuck that. When it makes sense plot-wise for the characters to level up, they level up. I'm also keeping all the main characters at the same level. As new ones are introduced, they start at the level everyone else is. I'm not a fan of XP in regular D&D either. I find it limiting and it encourages players to be murder hobos. If I ever manage to get a group together I'm going to give them goals to accomplish in-game to level up. I'm going to try anyway, they'll probably be all "NO! You're supposed to do XP and if you don't I'm not playing!" Hell, the whole reason I'm bothering with this whole complicated concept is because I like the idea of roleplaying, but every time I sit at a table with others I have a terrible time because I'm the only one who wants to roleplay and create a story, while everyone else wants to collect loot and XP. Personally, I think MMOs and such are better for that, but if people have fun with that play style, good for them, but I'm not into it.

    Instead of micromanaging equipment, I created a kind of Preparedness DC. Weapons, armor, magic items, and plot items are the only things in their inventory. For anything else they might need, I do a wisdom or intelligence check to see if they thought to pack it and if a reasonable person would think to pack it. A flashlight? DC5. An evil baron demands a DVD box set of Breaking Bad in exchange for releasing the prisoners you were sent to collect? Roll three Nat 20s in a row. I'm also only tracking bankroll for the first novel. After that, I'm going to establish a certain amount of wealth at certain points, sort of a basic version of Wealth DC from D20 Modern.

    As far as describing combat scenes, hitpoints have become more of a plot armor meter. If a creature has at least one hitpoint, they're uninjured beyond maybe a few scrapes. A regular hit is describes as a miss, or a parry, or glancing off armor. A crit is either a demoralizing "that was a close one" situation or a graze, depending on circumstances. When reduced to zero HP, that's when a creature's luck has finally run out and they're seriously injured.

    Instead of having magic weapons/armor with +1/+2/+3, I'm just going to have magic stuff and the plus is level dependent. Characters constantly upgrading their equipment is good game playing, but poor storytelling. A sword is enchanted, it grows with the user, and they keep it throughout the whole story arc.

    Magic is probably the biggest hurdle, because in my world the mechanics are very different. Magic is abundant, and it's understood very well on a theoretical level. Magical devices are easy to acquire, and anyone who wants to cast a spell can look one up, and if they can read the markup language, and follow several pages of instructions on hand movements, mental exercises, and command words, they can cast a spell. Without training, if someone can follow the spell perfectly, it'll take about ten minutes to cast a cantrip, and for leveled spells about one hour per level. Anyone can throw a fireball if they know how, but it's going to take them three hours, and it won't work if they don't follow the instructions precisely. People who can fire off spells relatively easily are mostly innate casters, and they are extremely rare. Pretty much all spell casters of first level and higher on the planet are characters in the story. The "school for magically gifted" I mentioned in the previous post, most of the students can cast one or two cantrips, maybe a first-level spell, and they have two hitpoints. A wizard with a master's degree or doctorate in magical studies can do amazing things if they have a lab full of equipment, but out on the street, they can probably cast prestidigitation and maybe another cantrip or two. I also broke down Prestidigitation and Thamaturgy into their base effects and labeled them Utility Spells. Lots of people can learn simple things, like turning their index finger into a cigarette lighter, or cooling or heating a beverage in the palm of their hand. A single effect of the two previously mentioned spells takes a month or two to get down.

    Example in the story linked in the OP:


    That... may not have made much sense, but I don't feel lire retyping it. What I'm going for is, magic is mostly technological in nature. In real life, I can easily lift a car and move it several meters... if I use a forklift. If I try it with my bare hands, I can lift the bumper up a few inches. Under extreme circumstances, I might be able to lift one end off the ground for a few seconds. A few rare individuals, with enough training, can consistently power lift one end of a car. A person who can lift a car with their bare hands as easily as a forklift can has super-strength and no one can do that in real life as far as anyone knows.
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  5. Kommander

    Kommander Substitute Conservative

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    More D&D changes stuff. I'm not going to type out everything here, because there's a lot, but there were some things I meant to mention in my last post, but didn't because I was tired.

    I wanted to streamline inventory management and logistics, so I just gave all the characters modified bags of holding. The basic ones are the size of a messenger bag and unfold into a 2m x 1m x 1m box. When folded up anything in the box is weightless and inaccessible, but it still functions like a normal messenger bag. More expensive ones come in various sizes, on the larger end meant to store vehicles, and fold into a coin purse-sized pouch. Essentially, the characters can fit anything into a messenger bag as long as it's smaller than the average house. Also I don't want to be constantly typing things like "Solana spends three minutes unstrapping her massive backpack and then takes it off so she can fight the paladin without looking like a total jackass and probably losing because she has three hundred pounds of useless shit strapped to her back."

    Platinum coins are $100, gold coins $10, silver coins $1, copper coins $0.10, and aluminum coins $0.01. One dollar has the same buying power as about US$10-15 currently, depending on what's being bought. Although, some things are cheaper and others more expensive due to supply and demand. A new car still costs $20,000+ because they're not mass produced, whereas the smart phone equivalent devices cost $10-20 but do a hell of a lot more than smart phones.
  6. Kommander

    Kommander Substitute Conservative

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    I finally picked up the 5e-compatable version of Dark Matter. I wanted it for normal D&D stuff but I was hoping it would also help with this project. Although, after looking it over, it's of limited usefulness at this time. I'm probably going to do more sci-fi stuff later in the series, but until the main characters hit level 10 or so, it'll be mostly modern fantasy. After I bought the Dark Matter PDF, I noticed Mage Hand Press had some cheaper PDFs and I bought Complete Gunslinger as well, which will be a major help. I made up an expanded list of firearms based on the stuff in the core rulebooks, but Complete Gunslinger is probably better as it's meant for normal gameplay guns instead of super-overpowered special guns.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
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  7. Kommander

    Kommander Substitute Conservative

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    Edgelord is currently slightly longer than Brash Decision, but I'm only about half way through the story. The rough draft will probably be 25,000 - 30,000 words, whereas the Brash story is 12,000.

    Instead of being the origin story of one of the main characters, it's the origin story of three. Since it's about a school for people with innate magical abilities, and the only such school that exists in the world at that point, it made sense for some of the other characters to be present. Brash Decision is the origin of two main characters now. Tatiana was meant to be a throw-away character, but I decided to upgrade her to a main character. I also renamed her Dr. Tytiania Oakgrove so her name sounds more elven. With the third and forth stories, I think I can include most, if not all, of the main characters I've developed so far. I'm also thinking of including a fifth story from the perspective of Dr. Oakgrove that gets into some more of Brash's backstory, but I'm not sure yet. The original concept for Brash was a reformed conman/cult leader, and I don't really want to write about that part of his life. Although, in Brash Decision I already presented him as a different person than he'll be in the main series, and in the final story of the anthology he'll appear as he does in the main series, so it would probably be a good idea to include "during" with "before" and "after."

    In my first post I said the main series would be written in third person limited. I think I'm going to do everything in first person. Most fiction is written in third person, and lots of people have told me that it's easier than first person, but I like writing in first person, and I have a lot more experience with it, so it's easier for me. I prefer reading novels written in first person as well. I feel more connected to the story if it's told by someone who is front and center, participating in events rather than by someone who's just observing. Before I started writing the prequel stories, I had written the first chapter of the first novel. Writing in third person was slowing me down and was annoying. The only reason I had decided on third person is because I was planning on switching perspective between characters. However, I think I can keep it to one character per chapter, so there's really no reason to write in third person.

    The dark elf vampire I renamed Kaeya Swift, so I could title her story Swift Action and have dumb name puns for all the titles, now I have to make a fifth. Tytiania goes by Ty so that should be easy. Ty-ing the Knot, Ty Up Loose Ends, shouldn't be too difficult.