Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Maps of the Mermen

The road is the geography

On the surface of the earth the hills, rivers and valleys are important to us mainly because we walk everywhere we go. The exact height and incline and the condition of the ground, anything that makes it easier or harder to get where we want.

If we were birds, how would we think about geography? Well, it would be pretty complex. They live their lives in close connection to the ground, they eat and sleep there and most of their threats come from there so they would certainly keep a close eye on what’s happening. They probably wouldn’t care about short but steep shits in inclination that can define human life. They would notice a hill but a fence, wall, or a fortress, would be nothing to them really.

What's really going to fuck up a birds day is the wind. If the wind is in the wrong position or going the wrong speed or at the wrong height or full of hail or whatever then that has a massive degree of control over where the bird can go. So the mind of the bird is split. It has a huge degree of choice over where it goes, and it needs it because its probably burning a huge amount of energy to do anything and is only ever a day away from starving to death in most cases, but that freedom is based on the condition of another element of as great complexity as the earth yet less predictable.

If we could move though space in our dreams and wake up on the other side of the world yet could never fully control exactly how those dreams would go then we might begin to understand a little of the life of the bird. Two worlds, fluxing, interlinked.

But the key point here is that shit on the ground matters because we are on the ground and it matters to birds because they also interact with the ground.

Now, do fish fucking land at any point?

Not really. A few live on the surface of the bottom of the sea. Most float and swim. Several interact with that surface. Almost none that I know of land on the bottom of the sea.

And in the sea, food doesn’t come from below but from above, or all around. The system of the sea is that generally stuff comes from above and is collected in larger and larger animals and at some point, if you are a fish, one of the will interact with you by either being eaten or trying to eat you.

We would have to say that as much as birds interact with the surface of the earth then fish must interact with the bottom of the ocean much less.

So we come to the maps of Mermen and Tritons. How much would these maps show the bottom of the ocean?

The answer is not that much. An earthbound fortress has much less utility if anyone can attack from the 'air'. Walls are almost meaningless. Hills and valleys have some effect. There are various complex and interesting things happening on the ocean floor that must be accounted for. Lava flows, rivers of ultra dense saline water etc.

It’s the other way round from on the surface, in the sea, civilization is a pattern of movement, poverty and rebellion are still because stillness is bad. If you are trapped in a still piece of ocean then nothing is brought to you and getting anywhere is as hard as it is going to get so pirates and the Orc equivalents of the sea will hang out in flat still central patches of sea where there is not much going on, the deserts of the oceanic world. They will raid from there because its always going to be difficult for an organised people to reliably project force outside its accustomed routes.


In addition, on land we would consider the nature of the soil and environment as of prime strategic significance because that decides how much life it can support and what your population density might be, but in the sea the ocean floor has very little effect on that, what matters is the salinity, density, temperature, light levels and any confluence of currents, along with the migratory habits of any animal life, these are the source of your crops and these will define your population base.

On a coast or in a reef this might be different but think how small these places are when compared to the great deeps of the ocean.


What really matters is the speed and direction of the current because more than anything that decides where you can and will go. In a strong North-heading current any attack moving north will be rapid but almost impossible to retreat from, any attack moving south will be very difficult and unexpected but super easy to retreat from if you need to.

Add to this that probably everything is moving. So what matters is not position but vector.

Forming a local, or global 'loop' in which a current feeds back on itself is  of tactical and strategic value because if you control the whole thing then you can reinforce yourself from any point by simply feeding military force into the loop. In the same way, breaking or interrupting such a loop would be something wars were fought over.

A small coastal or in-ocean loop is a duchy or nation, a gigantic global one is an empire. The emperor of the Mermen has, not a palace, but a migration. Actually he probably has a migrating palace in or around a migrating city.

(The city will be modular and the high status parts of it will be towards the 'front' or head of the flow so everything they drop and discard will drift past the lesser areas, the slums are at the back and rubbish and bits of crap from the whole life of the city drifts past there in a continual stream.)


If two great interacting oceanic loops are in a state of conflict, then the area where they meet may be a chaotic 'border princes' area with tiny bubbling kingdoms carved out in the midst of disorder.

So if there are ruins, they might be built on the ocean floor, or moveable cities that have sunk, but they are probably still floating around somewhere, far far away from the civilised paths, or deep in the cold zones.

The maps of the mermen will have ocean floor features mainly as navigational aids, in the same way we use mountaintops, or stars, as means to make your position, not as places to go or the means to get there.

Probably, considering the difficulty of producing even basic 3d maps the oral culture of mapping will be much more powerful. The song lines will give linear routes exactly as they would for non-literate human cultures and the shifting intersections and layers would be given by changing ‘decision points’ in the structure of the song. Information about depth, salinity, light, current etc could be given by rhythmic and tonal variations and shifts in poetic construction, which can pack a huge amount into a very small cognitive space and still be remembered and transmitted.  (So, for instance, a shift in oceanic depth for a route could be signalled by an actual shift in tonal depth in the song describing that route.)

And that is why mermen and mermaids and whales are singing all the fucking time, they are trying to work out where they are, running through the map of a complex shifting three dimensional environment in their heads.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hwæt Mike Mearls



Ok, Mike Mearls here is a way to manage the inevitable crushing system bloat of 5e without it making the whole thing both byzantine yet also somehow bland.

We all know player options sell more than GM options. So any corporation is going to end up overproducing these and jamming out splatbook after splatbook with crap you can add to your character. This will both increase the amount of complexity and powergaming and yet also, somehow, make everything a bit more vague and woolly.

A game where everyone playing is a weird living crystal of some kind might actually be kind of good. But a game where a living crystal teams up with a Minotaur and a Doppelgänger  and a Hill Dwarf probably won’t be. It takes a kind of pressure off the creation of the world. None of these things can be truly strange or 'other'. The charge of their discovery is lost. The fusion-like power you get when you introduce something utterly unpredictable into a coherent world system is lessened.

But this is a tide in the hearts of men and especially in the hearts of Americans. Because in America everybody must have access to every choice. Taking away or limiting choice can never be considered a good thing. Oh, small groups of individuals might cling together on a temporary basis to play games with highly-focused limited options. But doing this makes them perverts and they know it. They will always be the minority for such a thing works against the spirit of the land. Why can't you be a Ninja in FauxEurope? WHY? THIS IS AMERICA AND YOU CAN BE ANY DAMMN THING YOU WANT.

In the same way, for a variety of reasons, people, and  Americans in particular, will never be entirely comfortable with the 'Other' as a powerful presence in serial fiction. The Borg can be terrifying once, but then you get a sad Borg, and a sexy Borg and a conflicted Borg who feels odd about being a Borg and Borg babies.

Can Orcs be 'evil'? It’s a stupid question in some ways but it will never ever be gone from the communal mind, partly because its the West* and partly because its America and you just said that an entire race/species can be evil. And it doesn’t matter how far the representation gets from reality, it nudges a wound in the nations soul. It will never be an entirely comfortable idea. There will always an exile Drow, there will always be a Noble Savage Orc there will always be a bad guy that it-turns-out-has-a-point-and-who-are-the-real-monsters-anyway-could-it-be-MAN?

And the corruption, or, in this case, blandification, or humanising of the 'other' makes for bland boring stories of adventure because the whole point of adventure, its central charge, is to come face to face with Something Else, something from Outside.

So, to recap.

1. Hasbro will be producing lots of Player-Facing stuff.
2. Everyone must have MAXIMUM CHOICE because FREEDOM.
3. The charge of the Other will always be lessened.

This is a way to ride that wave in the least frustrating way. Instead of turning the wheel of liberalism half-way round to its customary middle-volume position. Spin that motherfucker 360.

Instead of producing books about other worlds or realities where the Player Races are different but the Others are the same array, produce books from other moral worlds and cultural realities. Produce books from the perspective of these cultures where they are the heroes and we (and elves, dwarves and hobbits who are our aspirational shadow selves) are the other.

Lets look at how this might go.



SAVAGES**

Player Races;
Orcs, Goblins, Gnolls, maybe Thri-Kreen

Normal D&D is the points of light pressing out into the surrounding darkness like a spider web.  Instead, this would be a collapsing natural world. A world of tundra, mountains, forests and ancient sacred deeps slowly being strangled by an encroaching and consuming civil order. The races that live here are not reaching out, but being pushed back in irregular patterns. They are martial, vital cultures who, yes, might eat a guy but it’s nothing personal.

Adventures are, instead of going into dungeons: breaking into villages and towns, and even cities in the end game. As well as dealing with monsters and all the usual D&D stuff. Treasure could be food or land. There could be multiple civilised peoples with different attitudes and a patchwork of old/new lands with different challenges.

'Monsters' sneaking through a semi-civilised area is like Heroes sneaking through the wilderness.

(If you want to be extra-sure to not offend the parents, make the evil empire extra evil, fascist, racist and nasty even to its own so when you take it on its all right really dad.)


UNDERDARK

Player Races;
Drow, Duregar, Svirfneblin, Myconid, Olm, Kua-Toa? Quaggoths?

Ok even with a lot of fudging this one is going to be a bit evil. But, all you need to do to make it acceptable is have the players face off against things that are even worse and do it in ultra-dangerous circumstances. World-conquering daemons, Mindflayer Crusades.

Cunning members of ancient hidden cultures battle and destroy immortal evils deep beneath the surface of the earth. Decadent but brilliant badasses pull mad intrigues against even-badder scum. Or just: a mixed group of low status adventurers put aside racial resentments and, to everyone’s surprise, become ultra-competent league of problem solvers. It would be a bit like mid-run Breaking Bad crossed with the A-Team.



THE DEAD

Player Races;
Skeleton, Vampire, Revenant, Ghost? Lich? Mummy?

Skeletons level up into Skelton warriors and Death Knights, or become Liches if they get good enough at magic. Non-corporeal is tricky but could give them increasing abilities to affect the world as they get stronger. Basic spirit can level up through poltergeist, to shadow or ghost.

A city of the dead like Mievilles High Cromlech. Obsessive ritualised timeless society.  Missions based on memories or sorrows or requests to retrieve particular relics and fragments of the dead. Down time periods take place over centuries, not years. Char Gen could be you are all made in the same dungeon by the same necromancer, then heroes attack.



THE BLUE WORLD

Player Races;
Tako, Triton, Merman, Sea-Elf?
(Ok I read through all the 'good' underwater player races and they are rubbish.(Except maybe Tako))
Ixitxachitl, Sayhuagin, Locathah.

No-one ever does the ocean as it is meant to be done and that’s because they treat it as a big dish. Like an alternate map, but underwater. It's a complex, fluid three dimensional flowscape. The real continents and nations are not the shape of the land beneath the sea but the currents and layers of the seas itself. The different trophic zones are like bordering countries, the great oceanic flows that bring warmth and cold around the globe are like continents.

Different races and cultures dominate different vectors and layers. Many of the cities move. Everyone underwater thinks of it as the 'real world' not as an addendum to the land. Because you would if you had access to the majority of the planet.

There are numerous deep-sea caves, so that solves that problem. Missions could be to the ruined palaces carved upside down under the arctic ice, to the lightless trenches, to the undersea volcanic borderlands where fire and water meet. Plus, numerous sunken cities. Floating cities built underwater and lost or abandoned, drifting, full of ghosts and a thousand years of accumulated clumped together history. Like undersea Space Hulks. The cursed city of Repak-Noh appears drifting silently on the borders of the Troposphere, before it inevitably falls back into the midnight zones and is lost for another millennia. Who shall investigate its gleaming portals? You. You shall. Underwater D&D, not as a holiday, but as the main game.


OUTSIDERS

Player Races
Ehhh, Githanki aaannd the other space/psionic ones? Shardminds? Ok this ones a bit of a reach.

I suppose your base is the realm of madness and dreams and reality itself is the dungeon. A nest of freezing time knotted space inhabited by strange beings.





Anyway. To sum up.

The point is that you could have all of these in the same world, but they would remain different and powerful to each other because the each inhabit a different kind of moral and experiential universe. Yes, you can do crossovers, but the dead are always strange to the living. The sea is always strange to the land. The 'savage' is always strange to the civilised.

They are all heroes but they are heroes inside their own worlds like everyone is, and the difference between those worlds lets you have difference and diversity whilst keeping them strange to each other, so when they show up in each others stories they are still reasonable monsters.

Kids are used to this because they know it’s from Warcraft and its ilk where everything is playable, yet separate.

Each would be a different kind of game, but all you would need for each one is a new players handbook. The basic engine underneath would remain the same. Maybe new ideas for missions and xp. And your items and treasures from one book can be the treasures and monsters for every other book.



*Yes I'm sure they have this kind of thing in the 'East' as well and that 'West' and 'East' are troubled concepts, thank you Richard.

** I know Richard, I know.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

5e Underdark Background

Here is an experimental 5e Underdark background that might actually be useful to someone.

You are FROM BELOW

SKILLS

You are proficient in Athletics when the test is for a climb. If you are already proficient in Athletics, you are doubly proficient (count your bonus twice) but only when the test is for a climb.

You are proficient in Survival and doublly proficient when deep underground.

You can never become skilled in above ground Nature, it will always be alien to you.

You know the Silent Speech and can communicate with another who knows through subtle gestures that are not obvious to others.

You have Darkvision but are always at disadvantage in sunlight unless wearing special goggles or some kind of occluding device.



EQUIPMENT:

A small tool or object of your choice, made from human bone.

A small but powerful lamp, made of strange metals.

Strips of a dried but unidentfiable meat.

A secret tattoo showing a specific underground route known only to you.

A fine, strong silk rope.

Any of the weapons acquired through character generation that possess parts of wood, instead have parts of metal or bone. The hilt of your sword is bone, your arrows are thin steel etc.

You have one clothing item of deep blue-black silk. This is regarded as high quality above ground, though you think of it as normal. If anything you are wearing is leather, it is the cured skin of a particular sentient race, you think of this as normal.


Click or look under the break and roll.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Egyptian Queen

On the fourteenth day, as they broke the door to the chamber, there came
a soft gonging from somewhere deep; the ground beneath their feet

rippled, enough to coat their boots with dust. And, touch by touch,
   the light...
Canoptic jars, grave dolls, small flasks that once held honey. The
   catafalque

cracked under their hands; and, when they shifted the lid, a cloud of bees
came out, although...came forth...was what she wrote, the only woman

to see this: unmarried, a known hysteric, soon sent home to 'rest
and repair' , her journal somehow lost. The gateway stela gave clues:

I FED TO THE WOLVES SMALL CATTLE...[lacuna]...CLEANSE ME...
[lacuna]...TEARS OF RA...the locals knocked up a basic counter-
   weight gantry,

then worked through the night by Tilley-lamp to crate
the smaller stuff, before chiseling the image of Anubis off the frieze.

The flasks were etched with a hieroglyph depicting a bee,
which does mean 'bee'...came forth the queen, dark-eyed and tremulous.

- David Harsent

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It was now necessary for the country to die.



Black Lamb & Grey Falcon

Page 582

“But the Austrian Empire had numbers. It had at this moment little else; it had so little virtue or wisdom or even common sense that again and again the student must marvel that this was the same state as eighteenth-century Austria. But what it had it used, and it sent back its armies in September. This time they enjoyed a certain disgraceful advantage. During the first invasion they had laid waste to the country, pillaging the crops, burning the houses, murdering the civil population: at least three hundred and six women are known to have been executed, as well as many people over eighty and children under five. So the Serbian Army had this time to retreat over a devastated countryside which could give it no food and offered it much discouragement, not diminished by the floods of civilian refugees, some Serbian, some from the Slav parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, all hungry and footsore and with tales to tell of the enemy’s malign brutality. There might have been panic had it not been for the spirit of the Karageorgevitches and the higher command. King Peter hobbled up to some troops that were wavering under an artillery fire to which their army had no answer, and said to them, after the manner of a Homeric general, “Heroes, you have taken two oaths: one to me, your king, and one to your country. From the first I release you, from the second no man can release you. But if you decide to return to your homes, and if we should be victorious, you shall not be made to suffer.”

They did not go. To lead them General Mishitch, the grave and reluctant regicide whom King Peter had refused to dismiss, now appointed fourteen hundred young students as non-commissioned officers. Of these boys, who before the war had been studying at Belgrade, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Paris, one hundred and forty survived the war. Arms came suddenly to this army, sent from England. These men who were so spent that they no longer lived by their experience but what is known to our common human stock, these boys who had no experience at all and therefore were also thrown back on that same primitive knowledge, alike they forgot the usual prudent opinion that dying is disagreeable, and valued death and life and honour as if they were heroes who had died a thousand years before or gods who were under no necessity to die. They flung themselves again on the Austrians. By the end of December they had retaken Belgrade. They took down the Hungarian flag that had floated above the palace and laid it on the steps of the Cathedral when King Peter went with his generals to the mass of thanksgiving for victory. They had to thank the Lord for a real suspension of natural law for when the Austrians had withdrawn over the frontiers there remained behind rather more Austrian prisoners of war than there were Serbian soldiers.”

Page 584

“In September the invasion began. By October the Serbian Army which now numbered a quarter of a million men, was faced with three hundred thousand Austro-German troops under the great strategist Mackensen, and as many Bulgarians. It was now necessary for the country to die. The soldiers retreated slowly, fighting a rearguard action, leaving the civil population, that is to say their parents, wives, and children, in the night of an oppression they knew to be frightful. Monks came out of the monasteries and followed the soldiers, carrying on bullock-carts, and on their shoulders where the roads were too bad, the coffined bodies of the medieval Serbian kings, the sacred Nemanyas, which must not be defiled. So was carried King Peter, whose rheumatic limbs were wholly paralysed by the cold of Autumn; and so too, before the retreat was long on its way, was Prince Alexander. The internal pain that had vexed him all year grew so fierce that he could no longer ride his horse. Doctors took him to a cottage and he was operated on for appendicitis. Then he was packed in bandages wound close as a shroud, and put on a stretcher and carried in the procession of the troops. It is like some fantastic detail in a Byzantine fresco, improbable, nearly impossible, yet a valid symbol of truth, that a country which was about to die should bear with it on its journey to death, its kings, living and dead, all prostrate, immobile.”

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

On Composition



 From the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768-71)

“It is with thoughts, as it is with words; and with both as with men, they may grow old and die. Words tarnished, by passing through the mouths of the vulgar, are laid aside as inelegant and obsolete. So thoughts, when become too common, should lose their currency; and we should send new metal to the mint, that is, new meaning to the press...

After all, the first ancients had not merit in being originals: they could not be imitators. Modern writers have a choice to make; and therefore have a merit in their power. They may soar in the regions of liberty, or move in the soft fetters of easy imitation; and imitation has as many plausible reasons to urge, as pleasure had to offer to Hercules. Hercules made the choice of a hero and so became immortal.

Must we the, not imitate ancient authors? Imitate them by all means; but imitate aright. He that imitates the divine Iliad, does not imitate Homer; but he who takes the same method, which Homer took, for arriving at a capacity of accomplishing a work so great. Tread in his steps to the sole fountain of immortality; drink where he drank, at the true Helicon, that is, at the breast of nature. Imitate, but imitate not the composition, but the man. For may not this paradox pass into a maxim? Viz. “The less we copy the renowned ancients, we shall resemble them the more.””

Sunday, 13 July 2014

My Thoughts On Making Adventures


Now I have not only read adventures but published an adventure, I am going to talk about what I think I have learnt from it.

Making things for RPG’s is totally unlike any other form of writing. Because of that it requires a different structure of work to bring it into being. An average RPG book will contain maps, descriptions of people, descriptions of monsters, descriptions of specific objects and descriptions for rules (spells and magic) that specifically alter or subvert the reality that the rest of the work is trying to establish.

In addition to that, we add the element of time. Not only the makeup or ingredients of events are described, but the form or shape of actions proceeding through time is also part of the creation. Some products narrow the evolving nature of events to a sharp and pre-defined point, some allow the reactions of its individual parts to expand without restraint, but all must account for time.

Even to reduce an RPG book to its simplest most abstract form, a list of things, it would be a list unlike any other. To include time makes it still stranger, and we consider all this without the addition of rules to simulate a fictional reality. I’m talking here mainly about supplements and adventures, not rule books or systems.

Because there are so many different qualities of thing that go into making an RPG product, its creation requires a different structure of work. That is, the plan of action and arrangement of work and effort that goes into making it.

The plan of action for a novel might go like this.

1. Have idea.
2. Research.
3. Write it.
4. Send to publisher.
5. Edit it.
6. Publish.

It is an overwhelmingly linear process in which only one thing is being done at each moment, and usually by one person at a time.

What follows is my best guess for what a plan of work should be like when making RPG products. This is not the plan I have used, it’s a utopian guess at what might be possible.


1. Idea

A powerful idea should be of a kind wide enough to encompass and inspire spatial areas, living beings, strange objects and unusual situations of the necessary type. It must have psychic energy. This is the undefinable aspect of a work that in its creation inspires and drives the creators, provides means to harmonize effort and different parts into a constructive whole and, when complete, infects the end user with the desire to construct the idea within their own mind and transmit it to others via performance.

We can say that if a product has psychic energy and almost nothing else it may still be considered a ‘good’ product. It lives within the mind.

It is at this stage that a great deal of vague yet powerful information may be produced. This is good. This is what you show to people and say “its going to be kind of like this”. Imagine it as deeply in your mind as you can.


2. Art

Other than raw text, art is the most powerful projector of psychic energy.  It is the most immediate partner to the raw idea and its influence on both the creators and the audience is almost as strong as the nature of the core idea itself alone. Begin searching for and talking to, artists, right away, stay in contact with them and pay careful attention to the art they produce.

From this point on, words and art advance together, in conversation with each other.


3. Informational Architecture/Physical Format

Think deeply about the interrelationship of information in the product. Maps? NPCs? Monsters? Situations? How and when do they interact?

This is an act of great subtlety. The informational architecture of the product must be both useful, expressive of the nature of the thing, and fluid enough to accept changes during construction. A powerful general concept is best.

At this stage, also decide on physical format.  The estimated, page size and rough page count. This relates to both the informational architecture of the product, but also its sale, cost and distribution.

A4 has more information on a two page spread, A5 has less but is more viewable on tablets. How much information will the user need to access at any one moment?

So now you may have up to four people involved at the same time. A writer, an artist, a layout specialist and a printer or publisher.  All of these people are acting in parallel, not in a linear one-after-another fashion.


4. Two Page Spreads.

THIS IS IMPORTANT. Each page and two-page spread should be a discrete chunk of information.

What does that mean?

It should refer mainly to itself and describe a single piece of imaginative machinery. Like a map on one side and key on the other or a portrait on one side and NPC description on the other. Or a complex social situation on one side and EVERYTHING you need to run it on the other.

Work this out during the conception and thinking about layout, then write to the layout.

(This means you are paying someone to layout a book before you have written most of it.)

Some information is good at providing psychic energy, this is the rocket fuel of the product. Some is good at living mainly in the memory.  Neither of these need be utterly bound to the layout schema.

But if information must be referenced, then it should be accessible as one.

Again we are reminded about the difference between A4 and A5. A double A4 spread, if artfully compressed, can contain a huge amount of interrelated information. It can also allow space for art and maps to ‘breathe’, allowing them an greater intensity of impression.

It can also allow space for marginalia.  Small images or glyphs applied to the borders or gutters of a page. If these are used then they should have a use. They should never be simple copied bits of imagery intended to give a book the right ‘feel’. A purely aesthetic use is still a real use but here the creator must be watchful. Space is a resource.

A% likewise has many advantages regarding cost, publication and ease of use. In addition its compression of information may be useful and help to ensure disciple in the writer.


5. The Turnaround.

At this stage, an idea has been worked out, some writing has been done, some art has been done, a physical format has been decided, a method of publishing has been decided, a basic informational architecture has been chosen.

This is the middle part of the process. Not the end.

Now you must look at the art.  Work out what the artist is good/bad at. Re-write or re-emphasise the product to take advantage of unexpected good qualities and minimise the impact of non-optimal qualities.

Allow the good aspects of the art to push the creation of the product in unexpected directions. Did someone draw a servo-skull? There can be rules for that. Did they put something strange on a map? There can be text for that.

How is the informational architecture working? Does it look effective and expressive or should it be re-arranged?


6. Write the Product

Complete the writing. Write with intensity. Over-write and then narrow down. Compress as much psychic energy and usefulness into as little space as possible. Treat each page and spread as a little icon or piece of jewellery.


7. Edit the Writing.

Get all the comma’s and full stops and spelling and basic formatting and crap right before you send it to layout.


8. Assemble.

Combine it all. Since you did most of the architectural work already, and prepared page layouts, this should be simpler and faster than layout usually is. Instead of loading a complex series of interrelated aesthetic and informational choices on one person, right at the end, then waiting while they struggle with them alone, it should be done during the creation.

And then you are done.


Downsides.

Focusing on things in a linear way puts less cognitive pressure on each individual piece of work, if you try to balance many things at once the pressures do not double, they multiply. This leads to the possibility of each individual piece lacking intensity and imagination because the creator was also doing the work of a producer at the same time and they got distracted and stressed out.

 In addition, while a linear design process will take longer it is in some senses, more robust. A parallel process like the one described above works if you can get a bunch of people working on something at the same time. This means that any tiny glitch in the life patterns of any individual actor can fuck up things for the whole process. It’s like a dance, everyone must move at once. A linear process can have delays, the work can simply sit there, waiting for the next person to take it up.

The element of risk of both time and money is also increased with parallel creation. You cannot stop and save up, you spend money in the middle of the process. I imagine this would take some nerve.

So there is much to be said for linear design.

Post-publication.

There is probably a list like the one above, just as long, to be made about what you do once your thing is made. I don’t really know much about that as yet.


I will remind everyone who has read this far that this is not a description of what I have done, but a dream of what could be done.