Curiosity may well be the death of me someday. My Character – Visiting AA piece (found at fav.me/d4be4a8
) is not an uncharacteristic portrayal of the way I act sometimes, asking questions that might or even should seem rude to the people being asked, but I don't mean it that way. I even understand on some level that what I am asking is uncomfortable or taboo, but I need to know. And since I am always awkward, no matter whether the question is welcome or unwelcome, I have learned somewhat to ignore that mental barrier and ask away. To be very honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. The great challenge of writing is to know as much of the world as possible, to ask questions and learn and be eternally curious, if only so as to best represent this world and others in prose. This world itself is the writer's muse and subject, a story must be set in a world we can know to be understood. In this piece I write about an AA meeting; I have never been to an AA meeting (my thoughts on and my history with alcohol are pretty well represented in this piece) and yet I can write about the meeting because I have seen such events in movies, read about them in books, heard about them from people who go or people who would know. Part gospel church Sunday service, part share and tell time, full of people who each have different answers to life's questions and yet all the same desire to help themselves and others. Do I like this piece? No, the second half with questions and answers still feels weak to me, there's some amusing bits in the first half but honestly I'd like the piece more if the protagonist really did just make a run for it at some point. What did I learn? The raucous energy of the crowd feels right, I could learn from that.
This week it's the beginning of High War's chapter 11! We take a break from our heroes to see what the villain is up to, and find someone in trouble! Stuck in a magic-warded room, cut off from friends and in danger of losing herself … though it's better than being dead! Next week, who knows! This weekend I'm at SakuraCon!
by Tallulah Cunningham
How much creativity does it take to make something feel original and fresh? Consider the prototypical story, a knight goes on a quest to save a princess kidnapped by a dragon. This has been done to death, and yet people still want to write that story because it's a good one. Then they add creative flourishes to make it their own: the dragon is a lie, the princess rescues herself, the knight isn't so shining. Writers add these things to make the story unrecognizable from its basic form, and when they succeed it's what we call original and fresh. If they don't add enough, the audience will complain the story is cliché; the audience will be right, but that doesn't matter if the story was interesting to read. If they add too many, the story might end up feeling bloated, awkward or pointless; if the princess rescues herself from a dragon that didn't exist and then the brooding knight shows up to rescue her, the ending will just be an awkward conversation where the princess explains that she's fine and nothing actually needed slaying. This webcomic strays a little in to the too many side, but you wouldn't think so at first. We start with a merry band of adventurers; the old friends buddy comedy strong warrior and clever rogue are soon joined by more fantasy staples like the archer, the bard and the cleric, and together they have adventures through a many-cultured vaguely-medieval world. The twist? They are all animals walking on their hind legs and acting like people, except for the part where they have animal-like diet restrictions and habits. Humans exists in this world as well, and confusingly enough there are also “normal” animals of many sizes. The other twist? Our heroes are basically just meandering, they have the occasional goal that tends to revolve around finding a MacGuffin but it's all background. So the comic works when its characters are exploring their anthro-fantasy world, the random adventures and shenanigans they get up to are indeed entertaining, but with no big bad to foil the comic just sort of keeps going on and on from one adventure to the next. The art was a bit rough at first, made better with revisions, but it's still mostly simple and without color, other than a few occasional and interesting exceptions.
Why you should read this: There's plenty of ideas here for a game, everything from the big world building to the small encounters. The group gets along with each other very well and they feel like they would do anything for each other, even the ones who joined recently, so to see how a group should interact. Another bit of creativity is how the characters often have hand-lettered dialogue with unique font cues, though it can get hard to read.
Why you shouldn't read this: Several of the comic pages are missing due to old website issues and sometimes without any explanation, meaning that the plot sometimes skips. Most everything is named from fantasy adventure tropes but the visual doesn't match, for example the small mouse-looking character was called a halfling once and everyone calls the raccoon an elf. A few tired cliches, such as the peasant warrior not knowing how to read until someone in the party kindly teaches him.
Other cool stuff: It's a new website, so not everything from the old one has been transferred. The blog shares some interesting stuff, such as most recently some pretty sketches and a map of the region. The About the comic page details the loose origins of the comic, along with almost a full wiki of geography (including towns and cities) and races and a whole ton of gods. The Bardic Guildmarks section is pretty interesting, while the costumes page is short but could have more later. And each of the main three characters has an RPG-style character sheet writeup, complete with histories and their opinion of the others in their group.