Archive for May, 2011

World Creation II: Tribal Belt

31 May

This week, I’d like to throw out a bunch of ideas for the jungle tribes. Some of these will be ideas for general trends amongst tribespeople, some will be traits only a couple tribes will possess, some will be bad ideas I will retcon by the time I get around to doing another post. Here goes:

1. Massive pythons are a common food source

2. Huts made of woven, waterproof leaves that can be easily folded and transported

3. Riding lizards that can climb trees

4. Insects, also a common food source

5. Brutal ape-like creatures with bladed arms…people that manage to kill them wear their skin and weapons to frighten off predators

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30 May

Below is a short story written for a writing class. As a result of the guidelines I was operating under, the tone and content of the piece is significantly different than the majority of the fiction I post on the site. Be warned that this story contains strong language, realistic violence, and mature themes. Also, it was necessarily written in a bit of a rush. And it’s not fantasy or sci-fi or anything. So, decide for yourself if you’d like to read it; either works for me, and there’ll be World Creation as usual by tomorrow, so don’t feel you’d be stiffed on content otherwise. Fair warning.

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Fickle JaR

28 May

Make sure you turn down the volume a bit for this episode. I used the wrong mic, and my voice edges on harsh and peaking; the game audio’s not so loud,though, so if you cut it down a notch you should be fine. And I warn you when it’s about to get a bit screechy.

Frankly, your ears are safer than your eyes. What Jibar hath wrought is beyond God and Science.

(And yes, this episode is uncut. And, if you’re watching this ~2:00 AM PST, probably still uploading.)


The Pig Girl: Section 2, Part 5

25 May

Something had gotten into the batch of powder. Dieter’s stomach felt like some rodent was eating him from the inside, and moving around just made it worse. So he sat in the gutter and waited. His condenser rested in his lap, and his gun was cradled in his arms, and he sat and he waited for something to happen.

Waning sunlight. Gunshots, far away, farther than Dieter needed to think about. Then, urgent: footsteps coming around the corner. Dieter raised the gun up, and sucked his teeth at the pain, and watched through half-lidded eyes as a man turned the corner and approached him.

“Hey there,” said the man. “Name’s Wallace. Lower the damn gun right now.”

Dieter blinked. New man was pointing a pistol at him. He didn’t need this right now. Slowly, he lowered the barrel of his rifle.

“Thanks. Where’s a door to get into this building?”

Dieter frowned, and he jerked his head backwards towards the alleyway with the side door.

“Thanks. Hey, ever get tired of sitting in a gutter living off eight-year-old processed birdshit and drinking recycled water? Ever want to actually get off your ass and accomplish something, and help your fellow man, and rebuild some shaky semblance of modern society? Huh? Do you?”

Dieter let his eyes droop away.

“I guess not! I guess nobody on this block wants to shake the status quo. Living like urban hermits and getting shot at by assholes with machine guns, that’s the life. That’s the dream.”

Wallace walked past Dieter, who didn’t follow him with his eyes or try to stop him.

“Keep living that dream, friend. Keep living that dream.”

A second later, two men in jumpsuits followed after Wallace, talking interestedly amongst themselves. One made eye contact with Dieter and motioned as if tipping a hat. The other just looked at him and waggled his eyebrows. Then they, too, were gone, and Dieter’s life went more or less back to normal.

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World Creation II: Cortezpionage

24 May

One of the most significant conflicts in this setting is between the explorers from the valley, who have advanced technology, a holy mandate, and decent numbers, versus the unfortunate tribals of the jungle. To establish this, I need to establish what a typical trailblazing party looks like, what a typical tribe looks like, and under what circumstances they would interact.

I’ve already determined the philosophical stance of the trailblazers. They believe that everything in the world has a purpose, that God wants all things put to that purpose, and that He (or She, or neither, still not entirely sure how they personify the world) has appointed the men of the valley his instrument in this cause. So there are probably at least a couple explorers who are driven by pure religious fervor. But that’s a pretty significant oversimplification, especially given that there are a lot of reasons the average person wouldn’t want to blaze trails:

1.)    No guaranteed food. Anyone out in the jungle is forced to hunt and forage for their meals. Most citizens of the valley would have gotten used to agriculture providing a semi-regular food supply, and many will not be experienced at hunting or disposed to rely upon it.

2.)    The jungle is dangerous. There are few predators remaining in the valley, but the jungle is full of nasty things. There are bugs that can shred a man’s arm off, diseases that can caused organs to melt, jungle cats that can smell human flesh from miles away, lizards that spit acid and poison, and, of course, tribals who have learned to take their meals wherever they can get them, even if it’s off the bones of travelers. Why leave the farmstead to go get murdered in the dark of the jungle?

3.)    There’s no guarantee you’ll find anything. You’re chancing starvation and violent death, and to what end? If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll find a flower that (when ground with another kind of flower) dulls the symptoms of a disease none of your people had heard of until you caught it off a toad last week. Or maybe you’ll get insanely lucky and find a mine, and also the nice folks who happen to be living nearby and don’t like you intruding on their hunting grounds.

4.)    The reward for finding something really good is…gratitude? Without currency, the only real way the elders have to reward you is to set you up with a food supply, which is a cushy-but-usually-impermanent setup, or to give you a public commendation. And that’s if you find something really, really cool. Otherwise, chances are good all you’ll get are some thanks and maybe extra consideration if there’s seats to be filled on the council.

With these in mind, it makes sense that trailblazers would be one, or all, of the following types of people:

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Seventh House

23 May

I’m nearly done with the World Creation, although it–and the Pig Girl–is taking unusually long. I’ve been going back and forth on some of the tribe concepts, and have thus far proposed and scrapped quite a few ideas, some of which I’ll briefly share in the finished post. But while I have your attention, a reader has produced a website by the enviable name of Seventh House that I said I’d give a linkin’. He’s shared a few ideas for series he’d like to have on the site eventually, and they’ve sounded solid; right now, there’s some insight into the design philosophy of Firearms: Source, an analysis of the villain Alma from the FEAR series, and an itemized list of the politicians and religious figures who shall be stoned to death once Lord Nixon returns from his midnight grave to claim the Sepulchral Emerald, although friends and handlers are now informing me that I’m the only one who sees this post and that perhaps I should lie down for a while. Anyway, head on over and give his site a warming up.

One other thing I wanted to mention: there’ll be a bonus story posted to this site later on in the week. Self contained, around four thousand words, and probably a bit different from the fiction that’s been on here thus far. Stay tuned for more about that.




19 May

Behold; Insurance Fraud, uncut. You guys wanted an episode without edits, here’s an episode without edits. I didn’t even check to make sure neither of us said anything that can’t be unsaid.

If you feel like our commentary is enough to carry a half hour, let us know. If you don’t, let us know. If everything you are and have ever claimed to be is a lie, let us know. If you want to see your wife again, let us know.

(The episode won’t actually be uploaded for an hour after this post goes live.)


The Pig Girl: How This Will Work

17 May

There was some confusion a while back when I posted on Twitter that there’d be six remaining Pig Girl entries, posted on the site that there’d be ten, and whispered to the hidden microphone in my sock that there would be a rain of frogs that would block out the sun and herald the arrival of the Great Woodshaper. Naturally, these items are all mutually exclusive. Let me go ahead and clarify the game plan from here on out.

I’m going to work to produce about six to ten extra-length entries in the serial. I will try to post these on the agreed upon weekly basis, but as these will be a little lengthier, this may be difficult. The final entry will conclude the series entirely. There will be no follow-up series, and it will probably not be aggregated in a manner similar to Vatsy and Bruno.

After that, I’m not sure if I’ll jump into another fiction serial right away. Not because it hasn’t been a useful exercise, and not because I don’t want to host/write another one, but because recently my most valuable practice has been in stuff I can sit on and edit for a while, not a long-running series I write as I go along. So, there’ll probably be another serial, but it’ll be the kind that’s written first and broken up into chunks second.

I’m working on an entry that will be done within this week. The next entry will most likely be done by the Wednesday morning of that week. I’m drawing close to the end of this thing, and I want to take the time and make sure I’m getting it done right.



World Creation II: What’s Mine is Not Yours

16 May

I really do need to start filling in some of the rest of the corners of this map, but there was one question I left open in the previous entry that I feel I need to resolve. I put forward the idea that the individuals most opposed to expansion are iron miners, and that they don’t like the idea of other sources of iron becoming available. This is a little more interesting than setting up a stock We Hate Any Change For No Reason faction, but it does beg the question: what makes iron miners different from the rest of society so that this would be an issue?

This question runs a bit deeper, actually. I’ve already established that this is a fairly prosperous society. Its yields exceed its population by a very reasonable extent, to the point that it can sustain classes of workers that never touch a hoe or feed a beast in their lives. Smiths and metalworkers do a respectable trade with farmers repairing tools and selling amenities, mostly worked from bronze and similar alloys. But I’m having trouble picturing that leaving them with enough of a margin to also sustain the miners bringing them stuff. Forget how the mining corps gets to be so special; how do they get to eat at all?

The faction that’s got the strongest ties to this culture’s tradition of experimentation and technology is the council of elders. They may or may not feel the strongest about it, but they’ve got the power and assets to patronize it. Theoretically, they’ve got the power to commandeer surplus crops as tax and redistribute it to certain specialized workers. Farmers probably don’t like this too much, but the elders have been a part of their culture for centuries, they’re using the surplus for things this culture’s tradition reveres, and the elders have got some muscle in the form of the militia, so the farmers probably don’t sass back too much. The surplus ends up being enough to feed the full-time members of the militia, inventors, and miners. It’s becoming clear that all of these groups would be people selected by the elders.

I hadn’t really built the elders up as being that powerful, but it’s becoming obvious that someone needs to be performing all of these functions and the elders are the most obvious power center. I could add another political role, but that doesn’t seem strictly necessary. Plus, I kind of like the idea of a society that advances technologically and agriculturally much faster than it does politically, leaving them with an early-Renaissance tech tree organized under a tribal system of government.

Back to the system of appointments. The process of selecting militia and inventors seems pretty straightforward. Look for the tough, loyal guy and give him a club. Look for the smart kid who’s tinkering with herbs and offer them a position if they can come up with something useful in between mucking out the lizard stalls and digging trenches. The mining, however, that should be something a little different. This is a profession that has great significance for the valley dwellers. Water and food are the blood and bones of this society, but metal is its soul. Without iron and copper, they’ve lost the trappings that set them apart from the damned.

Iron mining, in particular, is a sacred profession. There are precious few known iron mines, and all of them are manned by men and women (mostly men) that the elders specifically select. Being appointed to be an iron miner is like being chosen to be a representative or a bishop or something. They’ve only got a couple mines, so they only trust people of stout moral, physical, and intellectual fortitude to do the job. Though it’s backbreaking labor, the position is romanticized and glorified enough by this culture that there are always people grappling and fighting to prove themselves worthy. In an odd way, doing a stint in a mine is a reward for exemplary behavior.

So when explorers discover that there are iron sources outside of the mountains—something that had previously been considered improbable and even blasphemous—mines spring up there overnight. The elders hastily run out of truly deserving candidates to staff these mines, and even a little low on moderately deserving ones, and all the while, more and more mines are being founded. This causes the old miners to throw hissy fits. Enough is enough, they say. No more of this iron tainted by the rocks of the damned and the hands of the unworthy. No more disrespecting of their position.

Now, there’s more to explore here, but I also did want to get into the grander scope of how this civilization’s expansion is affecting the rest of the world. I mentioned earlier that there really aren’t many permanent settlements outside of the valley, but there are certainly grounds that belong to a tribe or small group of tribes—hunting and gathering areas that develop semi-permanent settlements, sometimes in caves or near the river. These peoples might well have things explorers would want. Plants used to make tribal medicine, for example. Animals fit for domestication or farming. Or maybe just a rich source of (X) that happens to be directly under the chief’s hut. These wouldn’t always mean conflict, especially with plants that can be plucked and replanted elsewhere, but they could conceivably get into situations where they would run afoul of expeditionary parties.

And what are these explorers like? Next week, we find out.


JaR: Season 2, Episode 2

13 May

Rutskarn’s Favorite Moment: 8:36 onwards

Jibar’s Favorite Moment: is irrelevant because he is literally the worst person, and deserves everything he gets

Phase’s Favorite Moment: the part where videogames

Rutskarn: is going to sleep now.

(Also: there’ll be an uncut bonus episode that’s just us screwing around doing the Insurance Fraud activity. No point editing that, as it’s pretty much all insane.)