Now we shall see if the mocking critic can actually answer any of his own criticisms.
For the past month or so I have been building a world, and not just a normal world like those I build pretty much all the time in books or on the blog, this one has been validated by the Gods of Capital (pending on Kickstarter success).
Let me introduce you to Eldritch Foundry;
They also have a Twitter, and an Instagram.
If you are familiar with Hero Forge, you know the basic concept. An online service with menus that allow you to select, arrange and print out your own heroic miniature, which is then sent to you in the mail.
And if you are familiar with Hero Forge you will know about the descriptive text that comes with each option - "Goblins are sneaky and cunning creatures" etc, or something like that.
But, what if, when you hit the menu button for 'Fighter' instead of;
"Fighters are brave and doughty individuals accustomed to all forms of combat they hold the line and protect their friends".
You got something a little more like this?;
(not final text);
"You can call it something else, wrap it up in plans and analysis, say violence is a stopgap or that a stabbing never solved anything, but it all comes down to blood and bruises in the end.
Someone has to be ready to take the hit and deal out hurt, and if nobody is, then you have already lost.
And of all the people set to do harm in this world, there are few as prepared as you are to eat the consequences and take back some of what they fork out. That’s honest.
Tongues lie and minds deceive, but the body is the truth. If you underwrite your actions with your flesh, if your currency is your own blood, you are True, no matter what they say. The truest thing in this uncertain world.
You might be a walking catastrophe in every sense but this; socially, mentally, financially and, lets face it, probably morally, but your deeds are true, no matter how dumb, corrupt or crazy you might be.
And where on Udd is there any good thing not clothed in violence and hiding somewhere on the Path of Blades? Honour, truth, charity, love, the past, the future, even hope and the breath in your lungs, either someone is willing to fight to keep them, or someone worse will fight harder to take them away.
If you want these things, or say you do, and you are not fundamentally willing to start some shit, now, and I mean right NOW, this instant, then you get nothing. And if you have them already, you get less than nothing because someone’s coming to take them away, and most of whatever else you have along with it.
People say violence never ends well, but things are bad for you right now. The world is bad. Everything is bad for everyone. And what are they going to do? Write a book about it?
All those schemes and plans, kingdoms and empires, every grand idea and noble cause, all they are is levers, and every leaver has a nasty, dirty, torn-up tip where the pressure goes, where the weight is lifted. The part that does the work and takes the hurt.
That's you, or someone just like you, and if you don't work, then nothing does, you dirty wedge. You are a lever with a lever in its hand. This one with a metal bite or a piercing point where the pressure enters in.
And there it is, existing for a tenth of a second when the impact shock runs through your bones and your body realises it is still alive, with all its organs still within the skin, that you were a slim slice of a moment faster, or stronger, or smarter or just lucky, it doesn't matter which – it’s a hit. You got them. Steel bites and for that exact fragment, wound and weapon are the axle of reality, everything, every dream and plan, every past hope and possible future, all of it, wheels like stars around the singular, certain and absolute fact that metal entered flesh. The war at the heart of things flexes and the pulse of reality beats, once.
Now do it again.
And again and again. Keep doing it. Keep fighting till you claw through time. Kick Deaths teeth out from its skull, sow those teeth like corn to grow new Deaths, and kick out their teeth too.
And if you can't win, survive.
And if you can't survive, then make sure you leave a big goddam mess on the way out."
And what if you had that for every single option available? (Except body types which I think are going to be a slider or something and I couldn't think of anything really good to write about them).
And, what if, instead of describing generic beings, from a generic world, and generic swords and generic armour, every entry gave you little fragments of world-lore, that slowly built up into a picture of a coherent culture. So the entry for Chain-mail might be like this;
"The best protection you can wear without anyone realising its on you. Chainmail is s step below scale armour in raw physical protection but a step up socially.
Mail wont stop you breaking your ribs. It won't stop your skull being smashed in. It won't keep the cardioid artery in your thigh protected. But will (usually) stop you being cut and stabbed in the upper body, by most things, most of the time, which is pretty good and in the murky environment of Blackriver this will stop you dying of infection the cut gives you.
Chain breaks down into broad types depending on its use;
“Over-mail” is thicker, heavier, often cheaper and made of iron and meant to go over a gambeson, this needs to be held up by a belt and is considered military or combat wear. You can still hide over-mail under a coat but its not hard to spot.
“Under-mail” or “Court Mail” is lighter, finer and more expensive. Its often Deoth or mountain work. It can be worn easily under armour or secretly under a shirt (or leave the collar popped open for a touch of violent glamour). It’s for nobles, secret agents, courtesans, masked figures of mystery or anyone with too much money.
Aeth often eschew any but the lightest and most tailored mail as it destroys the shape of their body and hangs from their narrow shoulders like a curtain
"Shady Mail" is associated with crime, smuggling law-enforcement and penumbral dealings. Shady Mail is essentially exactly the same as ‘under-mail’ except worn by someone poor or suspicious in questionable circumstances. Just being found wearing concealed mail can be very bad (if you are poor).
Iron chain is common, cheap, heavy, black and smells of iron and rust. It still works though.
Steel chain is usually Deoth or mountain work. Its lighter, more expensive, can be cleaned to a shine and rusts a lot less.
Titanium is even lighter than steel and is almost always custom Deoth work, made for a particular person rather than adjusted from a template.
Copper is for swamp-stalkers, allowed to oxidise and turn green to prevent rust taking the metal.
Waste-Walker chain contains links of iron ferrum which are said to blind or disorient some creatures of the Waste.
“City-Links”- Each of the Grey Cities has a signature pattern of links particular to its armourers. Those experienced in the craft can always tell the origin of such a shirt.
“Shadow Coat” - Even though every link in a mail coat can be replaced over time, the pattern of the original remains the same. A coat in which every individual link has been lost but the pattern of the origin remains is called a “Shadow Coat”. Mercenaries and adventurers often like to wax lyrical over the implied identity metaphor of these items.
“Iron Shadow” – This is a chainmail coat which, when purchased consisted of only shining steel links. Constant repairs due to damage, and a condition of poverty or limited resources leads to the shining steel being slowly interspersed with black, heavy, rusty iron. This is called an ‘Iron Shadow’ and is a common condition of dirtbag adventurers.
“Iron Petticoats” – Refers not to the armour but to the rust-stains of poorly maintained or over-used iron mail. Exposure to rain and bogs leads to the rust of the mail seeping through clothes and into skin over long periods, leaving red stains down the trunk and legs.
Whenever you buy your mail, don’t forget the wire brush for the endless cleaning and the oil for the endless oiling and polishing."
And what, if the entire structure of that world, and its reality, was created to make the act of building a character, choosing form, object and identity, an actually-heroic act, as if it were taking place within the described world, and that whole world was set up to have adventures in, with your freshly printed and unique character?
Something like this;
"The world, Uud, is eldritch, lost and lonely, wracked with slow glutinous storms of soft grey ash. Night falls like a suffocating pillow and day reveals a sky like dirty glass smeared with the hoary phosphor of another grey dawn, the sun pale and blinking through fume-coloured clouds like a cataracted eye.
Its lands and histories are lost, or changed, dulled and blurred by grey time. Even the boundaries of continents or the courses of slack and trickling rivers are smeared on maps, ignored by an indifferent culture.
But, beyond the boundry of this cracked and bleeding reality, strange new forces gather.
In the spaces beyond what-is the gears of a cosmic engine move. The Great Constructor, the Seraphormer, an engine of souls, grinds its hyperdimensional gears. In the uncountable ultrasphere beyond all things, soul-stuff boils, post-ontological workings spring into action and, somewhere inacessable to Time, Souls spew forth, and, like a sleet of glass arrowheads fly towards Uud.
Past the splintered marrow of the world-root, where Yggssthramall the Grey, mother of Entropic Wyrms, licks at the pale blood of reality, fresh new spirits pass invisibly into the world.
Pin-pricks of half-seen spectral light glimmer like forgotten stars, momentary, mistaken for comets or dancing insects.
The spirits of inspiration and new thought, piercing the grey skein of what-is, looping through moments of time. And where they land, new forms and new people are born, like yet unlike anything in living memory.
In shape and species they bear similitude to those who have come before. Yet their moulds are many, and they are born as, or become, diverse shapes and many forms most wondrous. In spirit they are as sparks of glowing fire, impetuous, bold, unwilling to wait or be bound by the tired rituals of a worn and gasping culture.
They are not shaped by the world, instead, they shape it.
They walk without masks and bear their names proudly.
And where they walk, the world shifts on its axis. The grey haze is pushed back, the Children of Yggsstraamal retreat in fear. The Ash falls like rain and is treaded into earth. The sky clears. For the first time in memory, stars are seen in a night sky, no longer smeared dark-grey, but celestial black.
It matters little to many of these spark-born souls whether they walk with the sword or the healing hand, for wherever they go the world springs into life, the old terrors of the wastes are driven forth in fear and new, more awful monsters are discovered ruling in long-blinded lands, and these also are fought. Ancient treasures are rediscovered, old magics reborn and new enchantment forged. Cultures long somnlescenet are shocked into life with recovered legends and fresh dreams.
These freshly-formed spirits are not always loved.
The crepuscular Gloom Queens of the Mountains of Reality, and the Hoary Bureacrats who rule the Grey Cities, loathe the new adventuring kind for bringing lively chaos to their settled hierarchies of cultural compost.
The awful Monster-Titans and hidden Teratarchies of the Wastes, likewise despise them, for the comatose cultures of the Dreaming Peoples have been shocked into new life and a fresh spirit of defiance kindled in the hearts of dreaming beings which, if it were allowed to grow, might one day throw off the awful Monsters rule of dark predation.
And curled at the root of reality, Yggssthramaal the Grey, first and most awful of the Great Entropic Wyrms who lick the blood of the world, and ultimate mother of the Memory-Eaters, Name -Thiefs, Face-Takers, and Dream-Stalkers that haunt the edges of the world, howls in anger, for the blood of reality has gained a bitter taste to that cosmic parasite, and like a cancer shrinking from radiation she writhes and curls in the hidden angles of creation, gathering her forces and plotting her revenge.
Yet the most immediate threat to the newly forged is simply each other, for they are impulsive, outrageous, proud, violent, imaginative and utterly unwilling to be ruled, as likely to battle each other for honour, glory, love or simple cash, as they are to band together to raid some forgotten city, save or threaten a kingdom or battle a monstrous titan or dementia-corroded godling.
The long, blurred, shadow-paralysis of Uud is coming to an end and a New Age is born."
Well, that's what I'm doing with Eldritch Foundry. Look out for a Kickstarter some time around May.
*Remember Ulric? What happened to that guy?