Archive for March, 2009

Post 99, AKA Future Character Creation 4, AKA The Week to Come

28 Mar

This week marks my 100th post on Chocolate Hammer. Which, you know. Is an enormous screaming deal to me.

Before I continue, I’d like to just thank every single person reading this. When I started this blog, I was highly skeptical that I’d reach the kinds of critical reader mass I’ve been getting. Plus, this is only four or five months in: who knows where I could be in another couple months?

So keep on reading/commenting, peoples. It really means a lot to me.

Why am I talking about this now, instead of on post 100?

Well, for the 100th post, I had something planned. A major announcement, in fact. Unfortunately, I need to prepare more for it–it probably won’t be ready until, say, Wednesday morning.

And so, to conserve the critical number for said post, I’m going to post tomorrow’s Character Creation in this spot. I’ll tack a visible notification that the post’s been edited, so you’ll all know right off the bat.

Here’s the week to come, then:

  • What’s the Story, Rutskarn?
  • Mega Double Plus Huge Wednesday Announcement
  • That Picture Ain’t So Pretty
  • Vatsy and Bruno Campaign X Update

Fun Fact for the Week: There have been over 500 comments by now. The majority of those are authored by me. Remember when I compared a blog without comments to talking to oneself? Yeah, about that.

EDIT: Character Creation Post is now up in this space. Click below for more.

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Mary-Sue Litmus Test Results

26 Mar

Perhaps some of you have heard of the Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test.

The Mary-Sue Litmus Test, found here, is a sort of catch-all test to determine whether a character is a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is, essentially, a character who is typified by an overwhelming amount of good traits, a criminal lack of negative ones, and an inability to make enemies. A Mary Sue is well liked, well bred, and as awesome as the author dares. Symptoms typically include having exotic names, styles, or powers–usually to a degree not possessed by any other character in the setting. Mary Sues are often sickening to behold–a character who’s beyond reproach, limitations, or even mundanity. The laws of the universe will be broken at every step to accommodate the glorification of this character.

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Pretty Pictures: Vatsy and Bruno Cover Mockup

26 Mar

Today, I’ll be showcasing a sneak preview at the “cover” for Vatsy and Bruno. This piece of promotional art will be used to promote Vatsy and Bruno webwide.

Without further ado:

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Ghost of the Machine, Part 1

25 Mar

The rail-car seemed like limbo, the cool and unmoving shadow within in stark contrast to the blistering desert that raced by the window. Brahne Avari waited patiently at the table, the room’s only feature, letting the intense rattling of the rails and the scorching winds that fought their way through the cracked window be his only companions. Avari had learned, when training at Outreach Special Training Academy, that solitude should be a time to reflect on the tasks ahead of you.

But since he had no idea what the task ahead of him was, and wouldn’t know for another (he glanced at his pocketwatch) three minutes, he might as well just idle.

Brahne Avari looked every inch an Outreach Agent. He was tall, straight-backed and muscular, but not the muscle of a laborer or farmer—the trim, hardened muscle of a career soldier. His facial features were bold and strong-looking, with a set brow and a masculine jaw. His skin was the color of coffee, and his wiry black hair was cut down to less than an inch in length. The only thing about him that was unlike an Outreach Agent was his simple working clothes—the first clothes besides his uniform Avari had worn in months. Not wearing his uniform made Avari uneasy, like part of his strength had been taken away from him.
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Vatsy and Bruno: Campaign X

24 Mar

(Note: This post isn’t late, it’s actually early. Because my schedule techincally allows me to call it that.)

Those of you who came here from the Giant in the Playground forums noticed something that I didn’t do.

Namely, I didn’t advertise on the forums when I’d just started the blog. Instead, I built up a buffer of about 20 posts–20 individual chronicles of an inspiration lacking the purity of the divine and the craft of the infernal, grounded squarely within the realms of mortal insanity. Those who followed my links found not an empty field, but a sprawling, grungy city of my creation, one to explore, gawk at, and take pictures.

The idea was that you might lose interest if there wasn’t already something established to look at.

Recently, I finished what equates to the rough draft of Vatsy and Bruno. I’m very close to having, on my hands, the largest finished draft of any single work I’ve ever done.

With this in mind, I’ve devised a plan to advertise the everloving crap out of it. And I’m not going to spend a thin dime doing so. I’ve decided to call it guerilla advertising, because that’s a little more glorious than cheapskate advertising.

And I’m going to need your help.

Here’s my plan of battle.

  1. Edit, edit, edit. For my part, I’m going to alter my master draft of Vatsy and Bruno to make it a bit better. For your part, should you be so inclined: go back over the Vatsy and Bruno entries and find typoes/grammatical mistakes. Post comments lambasting my obscenely poor composition, and I’ll make the necessary corrections.
  2. Post a finished draft. I’ll post a finished, complete draft of Vatsy and Bruno into one of the pages.
  3. Create promotional material. Art, taglines, etc.
  4. ONCE ALL OF THIS IS DONE: I’m going to create a Vatsy and Bruno article on that bloated, sinister entry TV Tropes, complete with cross referencing on every possible trope I can make excuses for. For your part: if you have experience with the Trope board (god help you if you do), you can contribute to the effort. I’ll link the relevant page once I’ve established it.
  5. Shameless attention-grabbing: This one’s mostly on you guys. If you have a friend, family member, guardian, forum buddy, stalker, assassin, hated enemy or talking inanimate object in your life that might not hate Vatsy and Bruno, send ’em on over.
  6. Anything else that strikes you, or me. If I get any brainwaves, I’ll let y’all know.

If you want to volunteer for any part of this effort, let me know in the comments. If you have suggestions that don’t involve any conspicuous criminal acts, let me know in the comments or else e-mail me at Rutskarn at Chocolatehammer.org.

Let’s do this thing. First, some conscientious editing…then, THE WORLD.

 

Character Creation 3: Meet Trev

22 Mar

Welcome to this week’s Character Creation, in which I explore archetypes, balance motivations, and generally weave unsettlingly intricate backstories for characters I’m never going to use.

When we left off last week, we had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to go with our One Man Army character. Now, I’m going to go through his personal history from start to finish, looking at what would make this character tick.

As I stated last week, my idea was for this character to be something of an outdoorsman. I didn’t really come up with any specifics on that front, but I would like to do so now.

As I’ve labored to demonstrate, the outskirts of certain parts of the Great Machine are filled with unsightly beasts. These freaks of nature have little difficulty killing an unsuspecting human, and are often more than a match for untrained and badly-equipped rangers.

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The Week to Come

21 Mar

The choking haze of dust and artillery smoke settled over Rutskarn’s Immune System like a shroud, a cold remembrance of the uncountable, unburiable masses that scattered the throat like grim confetti. The campaign had been long, and it had been brutal, but the end was well within sight.

A grizzled antibody pulled himself to his feet, yanking his massive blade from the shattered back of a traitor cell. Bitterly, he wiped the membranous tissue from its length. How many of his former citizens had he killed today, to save the rest from a similar fate? How many more would have to die before the battle was over?

He gazed out over the horizon. As far as the eye could see, the wreckage of shattered cells was apparent. The white blood cell’s bombing runs had taken its toll as well–and not just of the enemy, not just the traitor cells. No, innocents were lost as well.

But this was war. And war had to be won…for The Week to Come, and all the Weeks that would Come after that.

He surveyed the campaign map. The road was clear:

  • Character Creation: The Involved Backstory
  • Vatsy and Bruno Guerilla Advertising
  • Ghost of the Machine, For Real This Time
  • Maybe Some Art or Something

Fun Fact for the Week: Bears have excellent rhythm, but have a problem with some of the critical steps of modern dance numbers. The only ones they really excell at, in my experience, are the Samba, the Twist, and the Turning Against Your Trainer and Removing His Kidney.

 

Vatsy and Bruno: Epilogue

20 Mar

A week later, the air in the apartment was still as death.

Vatsy had barely moved since the manuscript had gone into the mail, sitting stock still, limbs quivering with anxious energy. Bruno began to watch him cautiously, regarding him with the air of a discarded time bomb whose clock hands seem to twitch when nobody’s looking. For long, empty days, they waited silently in the office…until one morning, when Bruno went out to get some food, he found a battered crate lying on their doorstep.

Bruno glanced back over his shoulder. Vatsy was still sitting in his chair, thinking whatever his unfathomable mind thought at such times. Bruno turned back to the box…then, as quietly as possible, closed the door behind himself.

Bruno knelt down by the crate, examining it. On the top was pinned a scrap of paper—on the paper, in floral script, was written To Vatsy, From the Guild of Writers.

Bruno hesitated, then opened it.

Vatsy heard the sound of freeing nails, then a quick exhalation of breath and the sound of frantic movements.

Vatsy shook himself, squinting towards the door. “Bruno?”

Bruno opened the door, adjusting his hat. “Package from the Guild of Writers, boss.”

Vatsy sprang up, hyperventilating. “Yes? What did they say? What did they say?!”

Bruno coughed, shrugging sympathetically. “’ppears to be a ‘no’, boss.”

“What do you mean, “appears”? Read it to me!”

Bruno glanced down at the dead cobra in his hands. “It, um. It wasn’t exactly a letter.”

Vatsy sprang down from his chair. He threw down his hat, sighing in frustration.

“Another rejection! What was wrong? I had it this time! I know I did!”

Bruno stepped inside, taking a seat and watching appraisingly. He nodded and spoke at all the right times, automatically, but his thoughts were elsewhere. He watched as Vatsy’s dejection bled into rage, and then as the rage bled into despair. Almost unconsciously, he began to count…one minute, a minute and thirty seconds, two minutes…two and a half minutes…two minutes, fifty-nine seconds…

Vatsy pulled himself up. Silently, he replaced his hat…and then turned to Bruno, shrugging.

“Eh well. Any eating on that cobra? I’m peckish.”

Bruno breathed out. It had been a fluke. Vatsy’s golden moment of reflection, where the mistakes of his past and of his present were laid bare to him, where he managed to capture just an instant of clear thinking, was over—never again to be repeated.

Bruno pulled out his skinning knife, going to work on the dead cobra.

Thank goodness.

 

Vatsy and Bruno, Part 9

19 Mar

The lab-coated figure looked down at the fallen trenchcoat man. His features contorted into an expression of pure terror, and he clapped a gloved hand over his mouth.

“Oh dear!”

Noticing Vatsy and Bruno standing meekly aside, he jumped back, startled. “Oh! What the devil are you two doing here?”

Vatsy raised a claw. “In theory, investigative journalism.”

The lab-coated man’s expression of horror melted almost seamlessly into one of cold terror. “Oh, uh, the…the press. That’s…wonderful…” He turned back towards the portal, which was beginning to crackle shut. “I, uh, I should be…”

Vatsy flipped his notepad open. “Bruno, be so kind as to detain our friend the scientist.”

Dutifully, Bruno leveled his shotgun at lab-coat, who squeaked like a goosed mouse before raising his trembling hands in the air.

Vatsy readied his pen, thinking for a moment. “Now,” he began, voice cheerful, “kindly illuminate the situation once and for all, yes?”
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Vatsy and Bruno, Part 8

17 Mar

The anguished screaming from the rooftops continued, unabated. Vatsy and Bruno listened in silence as the howls grew louder and louder.

Vatsy clucked his tongue, eying the rooftop appraisingly.

“I…hm. That’s going to be difficult to work into the story. Bruno, did you…see what happened, up there?”

Bruno squinted upwards, lowering the brim of his bowler hat to cut out the glare. Finally, he shrugged apologetically. “He’s out of sight. No idea, boss.”

Vatsy glanced upwards, then shrugged, scribbling contemplatively in his notebook. “I’ll just say that his facial hair finally turned on him after years of abuse. Wraps it up tidily.”

Abruptly, the screaming shot up in tone and volume, resembling less a scream of pain and more a primal, animalistic shriek. Vatsy, intent on his writing, merely muttered “screamed…like…girl…” under his breath as he finished up his notes. Bruno, on the other hand, took a slow step back, gaze transfixed on the ledge.
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