Monday, 30 August 2010

Project A Day 5 - Our Past Defines Our Future

Wow, so now I'm up to 11,700+ words on the Falling Skies document. I dread to think how many words I've written talking about it on this blog. And today I'm going to add some more commentary, this time about the extensive history of the Raelian Plains (ie the region in which Falling Skies is set).

Timeline (well, part of it)
I may have mentioned I had already written a timeline for Rael, from the end of the previous age through 1150-odd years up to the time when the campaign takes place. I already had a rough idea of what I wanted to have happened during that time and went through, century by century, expanding my notes and adding in new events for detail. There's a mix of major Raelian events, notes of construction of key landmarks and indications of major cultural trends. Each point is only one or two sentances.

The corresponding history
(Oh, for the record, the reason the first event doesn't have an exact year is because I don't know how long the Fifth Age was: no timeline has yet been written for the standard Niam campaign setting.)

In the past couple or few days I have been expanding this timeline into a fully fledged history which adds greater detail and flavour and, I think more importantly, tells a real story. Events are put into context and given motivation. Let's take a specific example:

6.875 - The first open conflict occurs between individual citadels, between the houses of Bael and Tathin. Alhrazad VI steps in to force a peaceful resolution. It does not last.

... becomes ...

The conflict finally exploded into public view in 6.875 when the houses of Bael and Tathin declared each other traitors to the crown and declared war upon their respective houses. Their two citadels were piloted into position to launch barrage after barrage of fire and stone like a pair of great warships. Before either could be brought down, however, Lord Alhrazad the Sixth (descendant of Lord Varell) flew out from his palace-citadel upon his yacht, a fusion of Raelian steam-ship engineering and Caethi magic. He placed his yacht between the two warring families, who daren’t risk injuring their lord and ceased fire long enough for him to force them to come to a settlement.
So as you can see, the timeline note gives the key point of the event and the names of the central people involved. Other notes don't mention people in similar roles, but in this case Bael, Tathin and Alhrazad VI are very important in further events.

The history paragraph talks about the same things but in a much more - cough - dramatic style. It not only tells you that these three figures had a fight but in what manner and why. It gives the event weight, conjures an image (imagine a citadel-war with Avatar's budget!) and helps to weave the story with future events, ie a later all-out war of the three factions.

Of course, not every event or note has been expanded. Doing so could fill a book by itself, but the key events describing the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Rael are included in the history.

Okay, so that's a relatively short post today - thank goodness. It seems likely that the next element I'll work on is general wasteland culture, how people get by day to day. Looks like I'm writing the Wasteland Survival Guide here.

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