Update 64

by David Meadows 18. August 2019 22:45

This week I'm adding new places to the world Gazetteer. First, New Pittsburgh circa 2350 AD, which featured in the recent "back to the future" epic storyline. Second, Egypt circa 1450 BCE. And it has a map!

Astute readers may notice that Egypt has never featured in the story, let alone ancient Egypt at the time of the New Kingdom. Never fear, all will be made plain next week. Well, maybe not exactly plain, but at least you'll see why I wanted to included it now.

And that's all. I know two pages (and a map!) is pretty pathetic, but while I was looking at the gazetteer pages I realised that at some point I had changed my style sheet so everything was looking very inconsistent, and I'd changed my mind about how exactly to structure the information. So I've re-done every page to make it all look consistent and I think present the information more clearly.. You can go and (re-)read all the pages if you like, the index is here.

The pages are now tagged with the era they belong to, which I think will become more important as I start to document more different time periods, and I'll roll out this idea to biography and encyclopaedia pages too. I'm thinking that at some point I might want to colour code things, but that sounds a bit ambitious at the moment.

Anyway, that's too much waffling so I'll stop and let you go and read the new pages.

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Update 63

by David Meadows 11. August 2019 21:38

I know, it's months late, and I have no excuses, it's entirely my fault.

But, finally, I have written a new chapter of Strikeforce. Chapter 27: Red Alert (PDF) is now on line.

This is what, in comics, they call a "jumping on point": if you have never read any of the story before, this would be a good place to start. It's a self-contained chapter, not part of a long storyline (though inevitably it touches on several on-going sub-plots, because that's just the nature of serial fiction), and I've done my best to explain everything you need to know about Strikeforce in this chapter.

Of course, the entire story is on line anyway, so if you really are new then there's no reason why you couldn't just go back to the start and read the whole thing. But don't feel that you have to.

Anyway, that's it for this update. I would normally put up several supporting pages, but for now I'm just counting this one short chapter as a major victory. I'll try to get back to more chunky updates next time.

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Update 62

by David Meadows 21. July 2019 21:53

I've written an encyclopaedia entry on the Big Munch burger.

In all seriousness, did anyone really need an encyclopaedia entry on the Big Munch burger? Dear Lord, have I completely lost the plot?

Other pages in this update include biographies of some minor characters: Greywolf II (brother of the original (deceased) Greywolf), Viper II (alternate timeline version of the original Viper), and Karl Zod III (alternate timeline version of the original Karl Zod and possible ancestor of Karl Zod II (are you confused yet?))

And that's it, I'm still westling with getting some more story chapters finished but at least I'm still writing something. Even if it is burger encyclopaedia entries :|

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Biography

by David Meadows 20. July 2019 23:08

Character biographies are a bit of a problem.

The original idea of the "Who's Who" was to fill in background details that didn't naturally arise in the course of the story but were still important to me in understanding the character's personality and motivations.

The problem is, I didn't just write background in the bios, I wrote what was "currently" happening to, the details that were documented in the story.

But I couldn't document a character's' "future" (even though I know it), because it would spoil plots for anyone who was reading the story. So the bios went completely out of date for recurring characters.

This is a long-winded way of saying I'm going to stop writing bios until I figure out a better way to do it. I have some already finished or in progress, so I'll release those in the next update or two, then I'll stop and concentrate on other things.

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No Update

by David Meadows 19. July 2019 22:42

I am officially moving the weekly update to Sundays. This makes a lot more sense in my typical weekly schedule, and I should always done it. The only reason I started on a Friday was so the launch could be on May 27th (which is a significant date in the Game universe).

I was actually going to to do this last week, but I was away last Sunday. So regular updates will continue on Sunday 21st. See you there.

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Update 61

by David Meadows 12. July 2019 22:00

Bit of a strange update this time, as it's all history pages. There are five new pages that document the events of the alternate 24th century timeline. Working out who did what when took so long that I didn't get around to creating anything new. But the important thing is, it's an update for the second week running. Which is a positive sign.  

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Update 60

by David Meadows 5. July 2019 21:31

Restarting something after a long break is hard. But I'm going to try.

Not a major piece of writing, though. I'm going to add some fairly short and simple pieces, kind of easing back into it. So this month you will find pages covering:

I have five different fiction chapters half-written and I will try to finish one of them to upload next week, but no promises. But I'll do my best to upload something, even if it's just a one-paragraph addition to the history timeline.

Small steps definitely seems like way forward.

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The Atlantis Bookshop

by David Meadows 9. June 2019 20:52

For plot reasons, I needed an occult bookshop somewhere near the British Museum in London. For meta-game reasons I needed it to be called "The Atlantis Bookshop". And so it was created.

Walking near the British Museum on a visit to London yesterday, I passed an occult bookshop called The Atlantis Bookshop. It really exists in the real world!

Needless to say, I was quite disconcerted.

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A Game isn’t a Novel

by David Meadows 15. April 2019 21:42

 

I have just finished running a section of the game set in 1962. At the rate I’m (not) writing at the moment, it will be decades before I write it up on the web site, so I’m not going to be spoiling anything for readers by discussing it here. And I want to discuss it as an example of how I got the game completely wrong.

 

I started with a few parameters: the game would be set in the 60s, it would involve espionage to give us a change in tone from the war stories of 1940, and of course it would have to have links to the background of the wider universe.

I picked an old set of rules called The James Bond Role Playing Game, which is basically exactly what it says it is. So naturally the players would be a team of British M.I.-6 agents sent on a mission to an exotic locale to spy on a shadowy organisation.

That was the broad outline. From there, I did what I always do: I started to plot the game the way I would a novel. I had no idea of (and no control over) what the players would do, of course, but I could create a setting, a plotline, and a cast of characters for them to interact with.

I started with a villain. Then added a twist so the villain wasn’t who everyone thought it was. Then gave the villain a henchman. Then added six businessmen that the villain was trying to influence, and gave each of them a henchman. Then added three spies from other intelligence agencies that had their own agendas. Then added in one innocent bystander just as a plot hook. So far I have a cast of 18 characters, all of whom have a background, a personality, a set of relationships, a motivation, and a path they will take through the story if the players don’t interact with them.

Then the setting: an island, which needed a geography and a history, an airport with arrival and departure times, a hotel with everybody’s room carefully allocated, a timeline of comings and goings, a weather timetable, phases of the moon...

You name it I thought of it and wrote it down. I could tell you everything about my setting. If I had no players, the story would have run like clockwork, on its own, as all these characters’ relationships unfolded on this island. I could have written a novel with all this in it.

But a game isn’t a novel. It has one huge difference: players.

I put so much effort into making all this background for the players’ characters to interact with, but I neglected to remember that the players also have to interact with it. For an entire afternoon, I have five people that I am solely responsible for entertaining. And because it’s a game, the players need to, well, play. They haven’t come to passively listen to me unfold an awesome story I’ve written, they’ve come to co-write the story with me.

And here’s the problem: spying stories don’t work as team events. James Bond works alone. When you do have an ensemble of characters in a spy story, they split up and work alone. It’s not like super-heroes, where you need to come together to defeat a bigger menace. Spying by its nature is solitary. Go on, think of an example where it isn’t (and I’ll explain why you’re wrong).

So, sure, I knew this. I never meant for all five spies to descend on one hotel room and jointly search it. That’s why I added in so many characters to interact with and a timeline with so many events happening over the course of the story. One player could search the villain’s hotel room, another could be listening in on a bug he’s planted, another could be seducing a potential informant, the others could just be waiting until it was their turn to use their unique skills in some part of the plot.

In a novel, this would be great. You could move from spy to spy, following each for a chapter, unfolding the plot for the reader.

In a game, this is fatal. It means you have three-fifths of your players doing nothing for three-fifths of the afternoon. And that’s the worst thing a gamesmaster can do. Your only job is to entertain your players for an afternoon, and you’ve failed utterly.

I still think the 1962 game is one of the best stories I’ve ever told.

But one of the worst games I’ve ever run.

A game isn’t a novel. It’s a game. Must remember this in future.

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Kung Fu

by David Meadows 28. March 2019 00:10

I'm going to do a kung fu game set in the 1970s.

 

What could possibly go wrong?

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About this blog

The Heroes Universe is an ongoing work of fiction, conceived and chiefly plotted by David Meadows, with help from a group of friends, over a 30-year period.

I am slowly documenting the Universe on this web site.

This blog is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of that history.

If you're new here, the series of posts listed below will explain what it's all about. I hope...

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