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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:24 pm 
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Explosive Venture
by PD
Status: Public :diamond:

Content warnings: Extreme violence. Violence against children. Bodily fluids. Drugs. Guns. Torture. War crimes.

4:00 in the morning.

The laborers are changing shift from the night shift to the morning crew. Working for eight hours a day, there are two supervisors per group. One that comes and leaves early, the other comes and leaves later. These workers aren't here to provide simple labor, but also security. They watch over the green sluice over the night so that saboteurs can't damage their crop. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the dangerous practices of their distant neighbors, the Advectix.

The Advectix have troubled these people through their stupid practices in forcing children out of their homes and into the jungle for a mandatory research assignment. Those who succeed are mentally scarred, and those who fail are condemned to the rest of their life in hard servitude towards their nation. Many attempted to leave through this window of opportunity, but most get traced and returned back home. A sizeable number however, turned "feral", driven insane by the hardships of the junglescape and attack everything that merely resembles civilized life. Scouts who attempted to catalogue this wilderness come back empty handed and with barely any sanity left.

Attempts to clearcut the jungle leads to sinkholes, natural disasters, or even more sanity-destroying places, such as the cyclone circles that the Prunvi only know of from Commonwealth sources. Because of this nobody attempted to "tame" this wilderness and few venture into it consensually.

The territories wanted to increase their economic influence through the energy industry, digging up old schematics and technology to make a cheap, renewable source of energy. This energy is harvested through the cultivation of algae pits, filled with specific species of algae, and processing it through a compression machine to get out a substance that can be made into a wide variety of fuels and products. However, the Prunvi didn't have the specific species on them and had to outsource genetic engineering technology to start making a viable algaculture.

||See below.
"Even with all of this money spent..."


The manager turned around. It was a grey-skinned troll, signing off from duty.
||Head Guard
"The amount of energy needed to keep this place secure surpasses what would be made off of the newest batch."

||Head Guard, Boss - - Respectively Gold / Teal
"What are you trying to say? I mean, this is an emerging industry after all. It's not like we are going to be rich as soon as the plant starts rolling. Breaking even isn't going to be easy but I'm sure we could do it."
"Well, the sheer power of those monsters..."
"They're children."
"Dangerous for a group of kids. I think they are getting organized or something which is really, really bad for all of us. I know you don't like government intervention but can we just make an exception?"
"No. Tomorrow you can either get back to work or find another job. If you can write a cohesive and effective report on the neighboring-"


KABOOOM!!!
Bang! BANG!


Soon, the office is lit by a bright orange light, easily suppressing the dim light that came out of the office's main (and only) light bulb. Automatic fire overpowers the sounds coming out of the office. By this time though, the disheveled guard went for one of the spare guns and started to search for the perpetrator.

By the time he got out though, a wounded, unclothed animal was lying on the floor.

The guard wasted no time. Using psychic force, he overwhelmed the poor victim's mind, eventually discerning that the animal was suffering from some mental disease, turned feral by the horrors of the jungle. Diving past this experience drained all of his mental stamina, and once he was done, his dinner evacuated his stomach.

He quickly discerned that this boy was formerly an advectix student, and ordered the guards to get some flammables to create a circle of flame around this kid. It was a technique he learned from the Zaevola order of pyromancers called the Ashwood. Flame is a natural repellent to those with unstable minds, and especially effective against those that lived in the jungle for most of their life without much exposure to fire. Using a powerful combination of herbs and tobacco plant, he spread this smudge around the feral student, which quickly awakened it but slowed its body down.

His boss quickly acknowledged that his guard was about to do something dangerously medical that is not in the boy's best interests nor in the boy's consent. This procedure is highly illegal and he could have stopped it with one word. Instead, he gave a simple command.
||Boss
"If anyone is uncomfortable with what is about to happen here, shoot. I won't stop you."


Nobody fired any weapons.

With the approval of his colleagues, the pyromancer quickly used mind magic to overwhelm the child's brain. The effects of this magic became clear to everyone around him, as we are about to observe.

AAAAAAAAUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!

The kitsune created a pool of bodily fluids he attempted to use to extinguish the flames. This only made the treatment worse. Pungent smells of ammonia and evaporating benzene started to pollute the air. The pyromancer's response to this pathetic countermagic attempt was to increase the oxygen supply to counteract that.

Eventually, the child collapsed, and the pyromancer ordered the flames be put out. During this time however the burning fuel pit was being extinguished with an emergency fire tarp so few (just enough) people responded to the order and the fire was put out quickly.

Assured that the child was safe enough to handle, he bound the kid in strong ropes and moved him to the infirmary. Just when everything seemed fine, another kitsune, and even worse, a rhox, came out of the jungle and started to destroy the property.

The boss is having none of it. He quickly grabbed the bound kitsune and pointed a gun at his head.
||Head Guard, Boss - - Respectively Gold / Teal
"Sir, don't do that!"
"Why?!"
"I don't even want to think about the side effects of doing that to a kid after I blasted his mind like that!"
"So? If these things keep trying to kill us all..."


KABOOM!!!

...
SKREEEE!!!


A viashino already beaten them to handling the situation. An explosion near the two assailant's legs flung them to the ground. One employee kicked a steel box over onto the kitsune, but the rhox remains.

Wasting no time, the pyromantic troll probed the rhox's memory and threw his emotional stability into the ground. The rhox responded by staggering up and bolting for the jungle. The viashino shot his legs in response, and he collapsed, writhing in pain.

The troll started.
||Head Guard
"This is the thirty-second time I lost my lunch over riff-raff like this. If you want me to stay, which I assume you do, I want more muscle and better-trained muscle to boot. The government should have been supporting us because this is an externality of some psycho from the other side of the planet! I don't care how much more regulation we are going to get from this, I don't want to be stuck here getting my mind twisted in half by people I'm supposed to be knocking down!"


This time, the boss was willing to accept his terms.
||Boss
"You did more than enough today. Take a vacation. All expenses paid of course.
I promise you by the time you come back the police would give a solution to all of this violence and trauma.

Oh, and you were right. They have gotten organized enough to become a danger to our business."


Once all is said and done however, the boss didn't call the police. He called the local newspaper to cover his story but give his company a degree of anonymity. He needs pressure on the external powers to start the emergency plans he had in case something as severe as this happened.
Spoiler


Last edited by preadatordetector on Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:59 pm 
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So, I undeleted this post, finally. I have gotten interesting discussion regarding how I am going to continue this story, and established some continuity to develop on.

1) The protagonist of this story can't use fire magic without some source of fuel and oxygen.
2) Electricity-based powers aren't outside of this character's reach.
3) This character's powers should follow the rules of equivalent exchange or worse. None of his powers are "free".

If you guys like this story I would be more than happy to continue it.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:52 am 
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I don't feel this is appropriate for the M:EM or even Magic: the Gathering at all. I'll leave it at that because I couldn't finish it and I missed my chance to advise you in the other thread. Suffice to say, I don't like it.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:28 am 
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I gave it a quick read and it has a number of problems, none of which originate from the rating. To name the most glaring:

-I'm going to echo Luna and say that as is the piece has little to tie itself to Magic; the few MtG-specific terms are of basically no weight at all, which is problematic when the setting shares nothing with the modern MtG fantasy settings.
-Since you don't describe the characters once, it's often difficult to follow the action. Making all the significant characters male means that even pronouns muddy the waters further (Joker knows how quickly I resort to pitting men against women when I have to write fast-paced combat)
-The opening exposition is not organic at all, and the formatting makes it stand out even more.

I can be more detailed if you want; I wanted to give relatively swift feedback first and foremost.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:58 pm 
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nah this is more than enough to tell me that I shouldn't bother making another story

Image

Maybe I would try to fix the combat a bit but most of these complaints tell me nobody wants me here so I'll pack up.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:57 pm 
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You aren't unwanted here, we're just expressing the dissonance we see in the vision you have with the system Magic created.

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Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:59 pm 
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most of these complaints tell me nobody wants me here

Nope, those aren't complaints, I apologize if my intent was butchered by the necessary (on my physical end) brevity of the post. I'm no spokeperson for the M:EM authors, but I'd be willing to make a detailed response to your piece (which may end up longer than your story, I can be a bit long-winded) and have a discussion with you about the fundamental aspects of your vision, the reasons behind your stylistic choices, what you're willing to change, what connects your creation to the M:EM in particular and to M:tG in general, which aspects that could be seen as problems do you claim as integral part of your narration/narrative, and so on.

If you accept, it means you acknowledge there might be some extensive work to be done on your piece. If you don't... well, it seems I'm not the only one thinking there is significant room for improvement. We gladly welcome anyone who wants to hang out, but we also take seriously our responsibility to watch over the quality of the pieces that are aimed to be added to the Archives. For example: my first character's powers had to be edited to avoid interactions with canon characters, and my first worldbuilding dossier (which is still WIP) had to be reorganized after I've been helped to realize I made something that looked unappealing and all over the place.

(also, in the last months the activity has been rather scarce due to meatspace problems among other things; please don't misunderstand lack of time and/or energy for lack of interest)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:14 am 
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I could give you a more thorough examination of what works and what doesn't in this story, but I didn't feel it was my place since most of what I have to say was already told to you in the other thread you made; e.g. the big one about the aesthetics you're going for fits more with Shadowrun than with Magic.

Nobody's saying you should abandon this completely, just that you should take a hard look at it, and decide whether you want to make the changes necessary for it to fit in here. I don't think our standards are sky-high, but we won't accept just anything, so if you want to submit something for our consideration, you're going to have to meet a minimum, one that mostly has to do with aesthetics because writing skill takes time to develop and most everyone here is wiling to help you improve on that front.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:04 am 
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Yeah but the thing here is my story is generally in a drastically different ballpark than what most stories here are like, and I can't really think of ways to make it seem more like a story that would fit in with everything else here without drawing on ideas that I have no experience or confidence in.

If my story needs a "hard look" in order to improve then that's a sign that a new writer can't fix any of the problems in the story whatsoever and therefore a new writer should scrap the idea and not bother to elaborate further.

My aims were to draw upon a large array of cultural and technical aspects that I am familiar with, as well as research that I have a passion to do in my spare time. Because of this there's a lot of concepts such as dangerous aspects to traditional medicine, mental health, (bio)chemistry, macropolitics, (not politics as in democrats vs republicans tyvm) and even a fictional dogmatic cult as the primary antagonist. The first two of those are the main aspects to the magical influence that the plane has, and the use/existence of mana is not treated as benign in the world that is constructed.

For those reasons and more I don't think it would be possible for me to write a story that would fit within the functional requirements given by these people and therefore I won't attempt to do more on the story.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:57 am 
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Ok, this might be my last contribution to this thread because I won't drag you kicking and screaming to do something you don't want to do, but I'd like to make a few points. I may end up being a bit rough for personal reasons.

Yeah but the thing here is my story is generally in a drastically different ballpark than what most stories here are like, and I can't really think of ways to make it seem more like a story that would fit in with everything else here without drawing on ideas that I have no experience or confidence in.

I can help. We can figure something out. Maybe you need time to think on it, and that's alright. It may not be always true in general, but in creative endeavors where there's a will there's a way.

Btw, and I'm not being sarcastic: how many stories have you read from the Archives? Even if your focus is different, they're bound to have (or inspire) a few ideas compatible with your vision.

Quote:
If my story needs a "hard look" in order to improve then that's a sign that a new writer can't fix any of the problems in the story whatsoever and therefore a new writer should scrap the idea and not bother to elaborate further.

This is not a logical argument, this is a justification for giving up. If you don't want to work on your approach to narrative, and to M:EM narrative in particular, that's fine, I just ask that you consider the following points:
Quote:
If my story needs a "hard look" in order to improve then that's a sign that a new writer can't fix any of the problems in the story whatsoever

Why? Even the best writers can botch their first approach to a story from time to time. Generally one of the differences between new and experienced writers is the skill of distinguishing what aspect are likely to work in a story by themselves; now, you can try and go for the self-taught way, but even then you can generally only get so far without external feedback. If you (maybe) can't fix it now and by yourself, does it mean persevering is wrong? If you care about your story, that should be a hard "no".

Now, maybe you feel you have to do everything by yourself, with us just being a yes/no jury; it's understandable, but very unnecessary. A few pointers can go a long way.

Quote:
My aims were to draw upon a large array of cultural and technical aspects that I am familiar with, as well as research that I have a passion to do in my spare time. Because of this there's a lot of concepts such as dangerous aspects to traditional medicine, mental health, (bio)chemistry, macropolitics, (not politics as in democrats vs republicans tyvm) and even a fictional dogmatic cult as the primary antagonist. The first two of those are the main aspects to the magical influence that the plane has, and the use/existence of mana is not treated as benign in the world that is constructed.

You are aware that some of those are pretty ambitious themes, right? That, coupled with an aesthetic choice that's not immediately compatible with M:tG, requires a certain amount of skill to pull off. And I'd have a couple of ideas for that too, if you decide that your story is worth the effort. Because this is the core of the question. The piece has problems, and the ones tied to aesthetics are the easiest to solve in the long run. If you want to become a better writer, sticking around (or finding another writing community willing to help) would be the right choice. And also the easiest, if you accept help, and that's from my experience.

Quote:
For those reasons and more I don't think it would be possible for me to write a story that would fit within the functional requirements given by these people and therefore I won't attempt to do more on the story.
Image

Again with the self-defeating speech. It's not unfamiliar, I use it a lot myself. Skipping the dismissive "these people", I'll just reiterate a last time using a more quotable concept:

It's not that you can't. You decided you won't.

But I'd be very glad to be proved wrong. See, I have an easily bruised ego and I can be awfully afraid of rejection, but I still came to this place and offered my first story to (in my mind) the judgement of others. Because my passion for writing, and the joy of sharing it, are more than worth it. If you don't want to join us, that's fine, you can hang out and/or comment on other stories or leave this place altogether, but please take some time to think about the reason why you're giving up on this, because something tells me there's more to it than what you wrote.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:40 pm 
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If my story needs a "hard look" in order to improve then that's a sign that a new writer can't fix any of the problems in the story whatsoever and therefore a new writer should scrap the idea and not bother to elaborate further.

This is not a logical argument, this is a justification for giving up.

QFT

If you'll forgive my rudeness for the moment (I'm still immensely tired from a sickness, vacation, and another sickness, so I have a lack of **** to give at the moment), were you raised Roman Catholic or something? Why are you so convinced that you are incapable of solving the issues in something you yourself made? What sin did you commit that you cannot possibly recover from? Stop being so self-defeatist and actually give it some effort. Nothing is going to come out good on a first try. You know how to improve something? You keep at it. You work at it, you revise, you trim, you learn, you add, you repeat. You don't just give up when you get a grand total of three negative voices that haven't even given you concrete critique as to where you actually need to improve.

If you'd like some actual constructive criticism, and more than likely a small but dedicated group to give you consistently positive but frank feedback for years to come as you write and/or rewrite story after story, then you've come to the right place. But you have to stop crying that "they didn't like it" and actually ask for some help.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:22 pm 
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There's an interesting kernel here, but it's having a hard time shining through. We almost get a sense of the troll's character and abilities, for example, but it's a bit obscured by some ambiguity in who's talking and what's going on. It might help to take the viewpoint far closer to a single character; as it stands, the troll guard seems to have the lion's share, but that last paragraph is the boss's viewpoint, and much of the introduction is omniscient.

Curiously, the organizations involved have names, but the people don't. Each seems to have a different race and job, which offers tags for them, but leaves me feeling somewhat disconnected from them. Meanwhile, the different ways to mention someone can be a bit confusing when more than two characters are involved. Speech tags would also help; in one or two places, it takes effort to identify who's saying what.

On the worldbuilding, I'm reminded of the Riftlands of Adrisar, as described in 36 Hours. I don't know how much your vision can be squeezed into the same place, but it would be an interesting exercise. Alternatively, the Vorst is already known to have mental effects, though its locale is far less technological than the world presented here.

Meanwhile, the M:EM tends to hold guns as unique to Jakkard, largely because most planes would use some sort of spellcraft instead; fortunately, the guns aren't essential to this story or world as described, and could be replaced with other weapons, magical or mundane. Some sound effects would have to change, but the explosives could be justified by magic, and the return fire could be simple crossbows. The boss's threat to the bound kitsune might be a knife to the throat, unless the troll's main objection was about brain injury specifically instead of just death.

Personally, I don't have any objections to the storyline itself, nor to the idea of algaculture; it's more the trappings and wordsmithing that need refinement. In particular, I'd like a better sense of how much the troll's life changes due to this event.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:48 pm 
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For the record, kitsune ONLY works if this is going to have Japanese tones to the world as well.

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Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:37 am 
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Brentain

Barinellos wrote:
For the record, kitsune ONLY works if this is going to have Japanese tones to the world as well.

(Goes to check etymology.)
Ok. While I could attempt to use kamigawa themes for the Advectix it would conflict with the rather greco-roman-sounding name and would give even more things to check off the worldbuilding for this faction. I abused the word as a stand-in for foxfolk/foxkin but realized my ignorance right now.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:38 pm 
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I'm a fan of the "show, don't tell" style and the omniscient perspective.
"Show, don't tell" is easy to say, but hard to do. Your first five paragraphs, for starters, are entirely telling, with no showing.

Meanwhile, I'm a fan of third-person limited perspective. I hadn't really thought about why before, but Reedsy has an interesting take on it. This community in particular is very focused on character, and the limited perspective helps communicate that.

I also hate focusing on characters only to have them do nothing for a period of time afterwards when they are supposed to be doing something. I also don't like a character doing nothing but attempting to write a coordinated effort without going all catalogue-y is really, really hard. The really unfortunate side effect is that I have one individual taking up the lion's share of the story, and it seems like an extremely one-sided narrative on top of that.
In this case, you have a single character with most of the action, and a real need to go into his head while he uses psychic abilities. That's a perfect place for the limited perspective. Simply trimming the parts from other perspectives would be an improvement.

You're right that group actions are hard to write well, and a limited perspective can make it even harder. Among other solutions, you could write from the perspective of a coordinator, you could switch perspectives (with strong break markers between), or you could let the viewpoint character assume that those things are happening as planned. (That last has potential for surprises when someone's late.)

If I were to elaborate on the perspective of the assailants it might address the needs that I have, but considering that the story is confusing already I should not do that anyways.
That may well be a good exercise anyway, to ensure that their characterization and actions are coherent, but probably wouldn't make the final cut. There are times to switch viewpoint characters within a story, but it always needs to be clear that such a switch is taking place. With this change, I'd expect clear section markers and a strong tone change, probably to short action-based sentences with strong sensory details and little forethought.

I added some text to make it easier to figure out who is saying what, but it ruins the pacing.
You're right, the stage markers don't work well with the prose. Part of the issue is that every quotation is in its own paragraph, completely separated from the action, without a speech tag in sight. For example:

"Even with all of this money spent..."

The manager turned around. It was a grey-skinned troll, signing off from duty.

"The amount of energy needed to keep this place secure surpasses what would be made off of the newest batch."
Because the troll's actions are placed in a separate paragraph, one could assume that he's the one being spoken to, not the one speaking. The fact that the other conversant is never identified, while the troll is clearly a manager, seems to support this theory, because the last line is spoken with authority. Conversely:

Quote:

"Even with all of this money spent..." The manager turned around. It was a grey-skinned troll, signing off from duty. "The amount of energy needed to keep this place secure surpasses what would be made off of the newest batch."


His boss scowled. "What are you trying to say? I mean, this is an emerging industry after all. It's not like we are going to be rich as soon as the plant starts rolling. Breaking even isn't going to be easy but I'm sure we could do it."

Having an action in the same paragraph as the speech makes it clear who's speaking. (Just make sure not to place one character's actions in the same paragraph as another's speech.)

And don't be afraid of an occasional speech tag. To be fair, I personally don't use many, but they can be very helpful. With only two people in a conversation, you can usually get away with a line or two without an indication of the speaker's identity, but rarely more than that, and almost never in the first two lines.

Quote:
I kind of wanted the names of the characters to remain ambiguous until I have proper names to give them. Obviously it's far from likely that naming these characters might happen any time soon.
That makes sense for initial drafts, but it can leave your story feeling unfinished unless done for a reason. A limited perspective, for example, may well have the viewpoint character not know the names of others. In this story, the troll would know his own, his boss, and most of his co-workers, but not the assailants.

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I noticed that I put two foxfolk in the story and that is very, very bad.
I disagree. Granted, it can make quick descriptions harder, but a fully-realized world would have multiple people of the same race in an organization like this.

Quote:
Advectix aren't warmongers nor isolationists, and their ideologies aren't compatible with any of the three other civilizations. Many of the themes that are present among the Advectix are in part an immense lack of understanding regarding how child psychology works, a neglectful and in fact abusive education system, and a scientologist/naturalist dictatorship with stifled freedom of speech and, in the future, immense infighting between a communist ideology and the scientologist ideology.

At this point with how much damage the Advectix do the question becomes "why don't you just shoot him invade" and there should be a story that would provide an answer to that.
Sounds interesting. Many of the best stories are based around questions without concrete answers.

Quote:
The troll's main objection is against putting his highly disoriented victim into a PTSD-fuelled fit or scar the kid so much that the psychic brain damage would leave a permanent mark and render the victim useless for interrogation in the future.
Oh. Yeah, I didn't get that. I had the vague impression that the boss was going to kill the kid because bigger problems had arisen, and the "side effects" would be on the troll's mind due to some lingering connection.

Quote:
A major theme I wanted to work with regarding the story is limitations and powerlessness and the whole world in question is primed for de-powering important characters in very significant ways. Guns are something that I could take away to give a scenario that normally a character would be competent enough to handle. Feral Advectix and Xerfennex fauna also cannot and should never be engaged in a melee fight; I learned this must be shown in a suitable manner before introducing these weapons. This runs contrary to the intended trope where players get a taste of power before being subject to something as difficult as that.

Another significant objective of making tools a primary "power" for the majority of mundane characters to use is to prevent handwaving these powers. I find that such explanations ruin the pacing and the characters involved.

This also means that giving a character a suite of magical powers makes de-powering them that much harder. It is difficult to make a good Superman story.
Good forethought.

Quote:
Whenever a superpower is used in writing I feel that it could be better if that power doesn't overwhelm the story with a wall of text. If you look at my writing style I don't dedicate one power, mundane or not, to more than 60 words of text at one time, and try to interchange between powers to keep things from getting stale without trying to check every possible character present off the list.
This limitation might be working against you. The "psychic force" description felt particularly stale, partly because it was so quick, but mainly because we have no reference for what that's like. Lingering longer on it, showing us the imagery that he sees in the kids mind, describing the effort it takes, letting us feel the backlash, would be far more satisfying than simply telling us what happened and what he learned.

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The psychic powers that the troll has is going to become a very real obstacle to my ability in writing more to the story but it is facilitated through trying to introduce a broader mechanical suite for trolls so they won't become too reliant on regeneration effect space, for both storytelling and set creation.
In doing so, you're fighting against the Magic multiverse somewhat. A main purpose of the project here is to take something we love and expand it; part of doing so is working with established canon, not contravening it without reason.

Trolls, in Magic, nearly always have some sort of regeneration, and are primarily :g:-aligned, leaning towards :b:. This character has :u: abilities by instinct, and :r: by learning; his thoughts also seem to lean :u:. I don't get why he's a troll on top of that. Perhaps I could be convinced, but pushing one boundary would be more comfortable than pushing two at once.

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"Trappings" is a really, really unhelpful term to describe what exactly is going on here and I am neither comfortable with it nor understanding what people mean. It feels like a generic term that people use to describe "I don't like this" which personally bugs me because it makes responding to criticism really hard.
That's fair. In my understanding, it's used for the parts of a story that aren't directly related to the plot, including the worldbuilding. For example, Star Wars (A New Hope) is a fantasy story (good vs. evil, hero's quest, save the world) with the trappings of science fiction (robots, aliens, space ships, giant lasers). In Magic card terms, it's the flavor elements, as opposed to the mechanical ones; Kaladesh is a world of artifacts and inventions, with the trappings of India.

Here, your plot needs a weapon that can be taken away, with enough range and stopping power to deal with feral children, leaving at least one unconscious but not dead. That could be a gun, as a convenient shortcut, but in a world with magic, it doesn't have to be. In a Magic world, it probably shouldn't be.

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The story was built with the intention to be added to afterwards. The troll had been doing this for a significant period of time already and was about to threaten to quit when the event started. Further stories would elaborate on what kind of misadventure awaited for this character.
Awesome! We encourage multi-story arcs. The archives include several, and most of us seem to have a vague plan for something that might never actually see the light of day.

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Speaking of which, placing limitations on the technology depicted in this story should be done quickly so that it doesn't turn into some Shadowrun rip-off. I don't want to make it so that firearms are totally gone from the story (due to the de-powering objective stated above) but I also don't want to make things too easy for anyone with a good weapon to run around with. WWI weapons technology should be the absolute maximum sans the potential for atomic/singularity bombs (board wipes) and vehicles more advanced than modern day technology with respect to the simple Ornithopter. SMGs don't count because the only practical ones were introduced really late into the war.
Even WWI is disconcertingly far from the Magic feel; it could perhaps be justified, but that would take a lot of work. Solphos is fairly advanced technologically, but in a magical way instead of mundane. If your world is so unmagical that it uses guns more than fireballs, why? Where did the mana go? What happened to the mages? Jakkard has an interesting answer, and even that was nearly rejected by the community.

Granted, you could write a very effective story with guns, and some of us would be happy to read and comment on it, but it would have a hard time justifying itself as a Magic story.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:55 am 
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Brentain wrote:
I'm a fan of the "show, don't tell" style and the omniscient perspective.
"Show, don't tell" is easy to say, but hard to do. Your first five paragraphs, for starters, are entirely telling, with no showing.

Seconding that. Beginning with expositions usually works only when you're describing something so interesting/awesome that instantly grabs the reader's attention and keeps it for the whole time you need to expand on it.
Example: Pratchett (another user of the omniscient perspective) begins multiple books by describing the Discworld or some of its parts; it works because it does that by focusing on either a powerful image (a titanic turtle whose skin is peppered with asteroid marks floating purposefully in the vast void), a funny and intriguing mechanic of this strange world (the dawn being a tidal wave of light, with Australian-like people surfing it for miles) or a vignette of an iconic community that quickly catches our attention because of human interest.

If the exposition is unable to stand alone like that, it should be worked into the narration as smoothly as possible, and trimmed to the bone on the word count. It helps if some of those words carry emotional weight; omniscient narrator doesn't necessarily mean perfectly objective.

Example from your piece:
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Many attempted to leave through this window of opportunity, but most get traced and returned back home.

To
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Many try to escape; most get dragged back with broken legs.

If you want to convey the brutality of this place, show concrete examples/evidence of savage beatings and uncaring torture and use dry and direct language: this will pay off when/if you decide to use euphemisms to describe an event, since it implicitly says "the narrator doesn't care about children with broken limbs, so this must be really nasty". It's a way to characterize the narrator's voice, even when it doesn't directly speak to the audience like Pratchett does.

I also hate focusing on characters only to have them do nothing for a period of time afterwards when they are supposed to be doing something. I also don't like a character doing nothing but attempting to write a coordinated effort without going all catalogue-y is really, really hard. The really unfortunate side effect is that I have one individual taking up the lion's share of the story, and it seems like an extremely one-sided narrative on top of that.

Brentain has offered a few viable alternatives: if the narration is filtered through a character, other players get screen time only when the character notices them/thinks about them, AKA when you need them. Even omniscient narrators work better if they follow one character or group at a time; you can give that character a breather (sometimes literally, when in combat) and sneak in a few lines about the action happening in the background because the character themselves are checking out their surroundings.

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or you could let the viewpoint character assume that those things are happening as planned. (That last has potential for surprises when someone's late.)

This may pay off or come off as stumbling writing if done poorly, so be careful if you employ this.

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If I were to elaborate on the perspective of the assailants it might address the needs that I have, but considering that the story is confusing already I should not do that anyways.
That may well be a good exercise anyway, to ensure that their characterization and actions are coherent, but probably wouldn't make the final cut. There are times to switch viewpoint characters within a story, but it always needs to be clear that such a switch is taking place. With this change, I'd expect clear section markers and a strong tone change, probably to short action-based sentences with strong sensory details and little forethought.

Yes. This is a pretty short piece, so every part must be polished and useful to the narration; you can take a quick break (when the pacing allows it) to show the other side of the conflict, but if you do those few paragraphs must be both smooth and thick with characterization.

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I added some text to make it easier to figure out who is saying what, but it ruins the pacing.
You're right, the stage markers don't work well with the prose.

Stage markers are beyond "telling"; as a Homestuck I'm familiar with color-based dialogues, but they work because A. the character-color pairs are already obvious and B. in those dialogues there's no narrated action, and even when something happens the dialogue alone paints the whole picture, which is next level stuff and one of the reasons why Hussie is as (in)famous as he is.

As Brentain showed, a dialogue can be carried with few speech tags: if a character acts, in a paragraph, the reader will assume that they're the one speaking the lines in that paragraph. This allows you to carry the dialogue forward with maximum clarity AND the option to add small details to the speaker, which is both realistic (people usually don't stand perfectly still while talking) and helps you characterize the speaker even more. If you manage to give all the speakers immediately distinguishable speech patterns you can trim those details even more, but it must be clear who's speaking within, say, the third word of a line.

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I kind of wanted the names of the characters to remain ambiguous until I have proper names to give them. Obviously it's far from likely that naming these characters might happen any time soon.
That makes sense for initial drafts, but it can leave your story feeling unfinished unless done for a reason.

This is important. If it's not a stylistic choice adequately supported by the narration, you should probably come up with temporary names: a character's name is the most immediate narration tag. If you find yourself using a character's name many times in a paragraph, it's often better to change that paragraph's structure than use substitute tags as "the troll", which have obvious problems when you have multiple characters of the same race, as you point out. Coming up with a few naming traditions (based on either faction or race/culture) with distinguishable sounds (which should preferably be somewhat compatible with the faction's names, as you noticed) would be advisable.

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The troll's main objection is against putting his highly disoriented victim into a PTSD-fuelled fit or scar the kid so much that the psychic brain damage would leave a permanent mark and render the victim useless for interrogation in the future.
Oh. Yeah, I didn't get that. I had the vague impression that the boss was going to kill the kid because bigger problems had arisen, and the "side effects" would be on the troll's mind due to some lingering connection.

I had the same impression.

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Whenever a superpower is used in writing I feel that it could be better if that power doesn't overwhelm the story with a wall of text. If you look at my writing style I don't dedicate one power, mundane or not, to more than 60 words of text at one time, and try to interchange between powers to keep things from getting stale without trying to check every possible character present off the list.
This limitation might be working against you. The "psychic force" description felt particularly stale, partly because it was so quick, but mainly because we have no reference for what that's like. Lingering longer on it, showing us the imagery that he sees in the kids mind, describing the effort it takes, letting us feel the backlash, would be far more satisfying than simply telling us what happened and what he learned.

That could be a good moment to go bullet time; it would set the parameters of the main character's (?) magic, which I expect we'll see multiple times in the following stories. Setting in stone the rough limitations/consequences of his powers helps understand his place in the untrained bystander/magical god scale.

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A main purpose of the project here is to take something we love and expand it; part of doing so is working with established canon, not contravening it without reason.

Trolls, in Magic, nearly always have some sort of regeneration, and are primarily :g:-aligned, leaning towards :b:. This character has :u: abilities by instinct, and :r: by learning; his thoughts also seem to lean :u:. I don't get why he's a troll on top of that. Perhaps I could be convinced, but pushing one boundary would be more comfortable than pushing two at once.

An orc would be easily to fit into a two-color profile; I imagine he's part of the faction, but he shows nothing on the :g: side. This is a bit weird because it faintly smells of fantasy racism, but if you have a troll which is mostly and shares no traits with the canonical trolls, one could wonder why you made him a troll in the first place.

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Kaladesh is a world of artifacts and inventions, with the trappings of India.

I'm not sure I'd describe it the same way (I'm not a great fan of the word "trappings" myself); Kaladesh, which is a modern M:tG story with a few modern-era themes (research strictly monitored by the government, resource monopoly, a faction that basically aims to liberate the means of production...), still feels deeply M:tG even when a young inventor spends day after day with her assistant testing a new invention with a shower of technical terms. Terms like "government" makes us think of the modern era; names like "the Consulate" feel historic/fantasy.

About weapons:
-I'm not familiar with early Magic, but I seem to remember people having energy weapons. Looking into that may prove useful.
-Atomic bombs don't have to be atomic bombs. In our pieces involving the Dominian Cabal there are Aether Vents (I hope I didn't butcher those names) which destroy whole planes; they are obvious masks for atomic bombs, but they feel Magic. (see the Kaladesh point above) Also, from an optics standpoints alchemy is just fantasy science.
-Jakkard works because it's immediately apparent that it's M:tG Western; the reader's knowledge of both the multiverse and the genre works for the writers so they only need to explain how those two sources interact in a given situation.

Edit: Can you explain your reasoning behind the multiple colors and the comic-like (which is not derogatory, I love comics) sound effects? I personally don't enjoy futurism, and as a very distinctive (and potentially jarring) stylistic choice it needs a solid motivation: almost anything that can be conveyed through colors and sound effects can be conveyed through narration.

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