Half way through the November projects

So, I'm halfway through, as are most of the other guys...

My feedback from this point is:

I'm not sure I like this format. I know the point of NaNoWrMo is that you should just get it down, and worry about quality later, but it does tend to mean that readers are getting a first draft that looks like a final draft. It seems to be that one idea a day is compulsorary, and if you don't have a good one, well, Heaven help you.

It wrecks your web life. I mean, I'd like to be over on Matt's blog commenting on his faeries, but I don't have the time to enjoy his stuff now because I'm busy with mine. That does sort of suck. It means I haven't podcast a book chapter in months, I haven't researched any proper, paid writing for a couple of weeks...it kind of steals a lot of time you'd like to spend on other endeavours.

On the positive side, I think it forces you to write in a way that leaves you loopholes for future ideas, which is interesting. There's this tension in Ars books: sometimes as an author, you lay down a beat, and you hope someone will pick it up eventually, or you yourself pick it up a few years later and say "See, I played for that. I passed the ball to myself, there. Tricky, eh?" but on the other side, there's the attitude that if you have good material, you should just go with it, because who knows when the book that better suits your ideas, on say, theatrical masks as magic items, will come up? You might as well just use your best gag, because you don't know when you'll next be at the microphone. This format lets you play that game in minature, and its a very interesting way of writing.

It also forces you to make do. I've been watching a show called Mastercrafts, which is about people learning to carve stone, or blacksmith, or make stained glass windows. The thing I keep taking away from it is that its the artsy ones who generally fail to produce useful work at the end. Writing's like that: there's an element of actually needing to hit the deadline, even if the work has less research in it that you'd like. Fortunately I have a sort of reflex so that I come to loathe reading my books, so I stop fiddling with them. The thing about NaNoWrMo is that it hits you with a deadline each day. Now, this forces you to publish stuff, even if its bad, which is bad, but at the same time, it does get you into the mindset that the book is a product, and it has a deadline, and its not about making the perfect book, its about working the various resources you have so that when the deadline hits, you have somethign which is about as good as you can hope. The mindset is interesting, even though it means you, the reader, are getting the sort of first drafts I leave for a few weeks before reading again, then rewriting, then circulating for comment, then rewriting, and then sending out to playtest. I can see that for new writers, particularly, this "perfect is the enemy of good" situation is useful training.

If I did it again, I'd cheat harder. I'd research more before the kick off, and have more pieces prewritten*. Earlier I was a couple of days ahead, and because I laid down some beats I'm going to be able to take it easy in the last week, since those objects have some sort of idea behind them, but the halfway point is a sort of annoyingly humpish bit I need to get over.

Also, of course, only a handful of people are reading them. I'm going to finish them, but at the same time, I could have been podcasting for my Year of Reading project, or reading up on some other folklorish thing, or writing my new game about failed colonisation attempts, so there's a bit of a tension there as to how self-indulgent I should be with my writing time.

*I wrote a couple on Halloween...but given I've said I'm not following the strict rules, I don't much care. 8)

I'm not sure I like this format, either.

One, there's a lot to keep track of, from many different sources. Two, I don't find all of the ideas immediately useful, but that's about standard from any sourcebook I get. I pull ideas, use bits here and there. Players will find something and want to pull it in, and I'll work on it. Or I'm out of ideas and let my mind wander. I guess what I'm saying is that these can't possibly be consumed as quickly as they are produced, much like a sourcebook can't be used as quickly as it is read. Of course, none of these are stitched together into a complete package like a sourcebook is, which is probably my last issue.

There is something to be said about forcing oneself to write. It's one reason why I jumped into PbP play. It forces me to write. I've been contemplating doing one of these thing a day exercises, perhaps more for myself than anything, but I want to time it differently, because I would want a bit more feedback. I think, perhaps, having separate place for commentary on these items would be useful. I'm reluctant to comment in any of these threads, because I think it detracts from the purpose of the thread.

That being said, I want to think everyone for writing these. They will be useful over time.

I WILL be reading them later on when it´s done.

Look at it as practise, which it is. It gets a bunch of material out quickly, pushes out ideas that otherwise probably would never happen and forces writers to practise writing in a way they´re usually not used to, and even if some material isn´t good(not saying it isnt as i havent looked yet, just basing myself on your comments) it can still be very useful anyway.

I would never demand or even ask someone to do it, but i´m happy that you folks ARE doing it.

For me it was a matter of jumping on the band wagon because of the other "something something a day in November". As a test to see if I could drum up so many story seeds, to try and get my mind working, to cover a lot of different segments of mythic europe I hadn't done before. And also because I thought I suddenly had lots of time...which I really don't.

Meh, if even just a few people get inspired it's worth it. I see a lot of hits on the thread, but don't expect too many to be reading them all in detail, let alone using them as written. They're just ideas, not ready to use adventures.

I agree with Timothy. There are aspects of this exercise that I like and those I don't. However, I like that it is exercise, and that it has forced me to think and write creatively every day. Knowing that this is unpolished work, I have to say that I am really enjoying reading Timothy's, CJ's, and Christian's entries, as well as the spell/botch/magus a day entries.

Another thing this shows is how important editing and rewriting is. I wonder how many of my faeries would make it into a polished supplement. 50%? 25%? While it is certainly fun to vomit these up and let them splash unedited all over my blog, I have my doubts as to how many would actually make it through the feedback-edit-rewrite-feedback-edit-rewrite process.

I don't expect to do anything with the faeries I've made after November except maybe use them in play. I really like today's Oakmen, I might use them in a little number I've got coming up soon.

Lastly, and I should have done this firstly, I want to congratulate everyone who has made it halfway through their "Ars Entry a Day in November" challenge.

I'm not contributing to the "a day" projects and I'll freely confess to not reading even half the entries provided so far (I have my own November challenge - fair to middling, thanks for asking) but I'm really looking forward to December and having time to plough through these.

I'm really enjoying the NN-a-day activitities across the forums, and trying to check in regularly to see what is new. I admire the guts it takes to declare yourself to performing the challenge. Keep 'em coming.

Are you allowed to be helped? or to take contributions from others?

Depends on the originator, I'm sure. I started "A botch a day" kind of as a joke (since botches are a lot easier to come up with than fully statted out faeries or saints!) and rode the fun while it lasted, but we (hence I) seem to have lost interest in it, which is fine. But for that thread, I'd be happy for anyone to add their own botches anytime they want. Think of it as a warm-up activity for whatever serious Ars Magica thinking you need to do that day :mrgreen:

It's harder than it sounded :slight_smile: The saint a day aspect has run in to several problems -- I feel vaguely impious in presenting game mechanics for the saints cultus, and am uneasy I may offend good pious folks, or pagan folks, or radical atheist folks, or just folks really. I'm even more concerned i may offend the saints. Religion is a touchy subject. I'm trying to treat the saints with respect, which is actually rather easy as they generally have many admirable qualities.

The second problem is research; this is a mechanics light (there are some though, as I felt that important) project. I'm trying to read the medieval lives where i can, and in some cases there is so much material that's a long and heavy process; in other cases there is far too little. I'm having to make choices between variants of the story, and resist the temptation to "modernize" or "rationalize" the stories. In some cases, I have been pretty sure the saint (like Winifred) may have come from a very humble background -- but in 1220, the saints are nearly all of high noble birth, or sons and daughters of kings. I have touched on this in my writing in The Church - 13th century saints are much more "democratic", coming from all classes of society.

I have also so far not really touched on the Eastern Saints, as I am much more familiar with (an am an adherent of a ) Western Church. I don't see this as a weakness really, as many sagas are set in the west, and I have already I think covered every Tribunal at least twice, and some areas outside of the Order of Hermes territories.

I have also avoided the big Biblical Saints, though I may well close with the Four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Andrew will certainly get a mention I think. I think this is largely owing to the vague discomfort i feel in writing about real saints for the line: but again I stress, these are the medieval Mythic European versions of the saints (though their stories are as accurate as I can manage).

The powers they intercede for are also difficult. I have sometimes taken the path of last resistance and used ones straight from ROP: The Divine: I know Matt did some wonderful new ones for the Byzantine Saints in The Sundered Eagle so I need to look through those, but I have not listed any so far as fewer people may own that book. Otherwise I have used the ROP Magic rules to design the Saints invoked effects, using the design notes i published on an earlier thread in response to a request from Lucius T.

I'd never try and write a novel (or Ars Magica book) in a month: I would end up starting on Day 27, and finishing on Day 33! I'm not actually a good writer (David Chart frequently mentions how bad my first drafts are at Grand Tribunal, and holds me up as a dreadful example) but I am I hope a good researcher. I also like to think I have an eye for a story, and present the saints in a readable manner, but really I am always thinking in terms of game and story, and not in terms of writing good narrative fiction. So I know my writing "sucks" in that exquisite American phrase, and whether it sucks donkeys or goats, (or other appendages) I hack out a reasonable number of words rather quickly.

So why am I lagging behind? My task is not impossible, but I also have a considerable body of other work to complete, often to very tight deadlines, and I also find it very hard to work when my girlfriend is down to visit, so that's a major issue. At times I have felt like giving up. In terms of number of saints presented I'm still ahead of myself, but I then found myself on Day 11 trying to catch up with the " a day " bit when my internet connection vanished. Well it's back tonight, but heck, that has cost me dearly. I'll catch up, but it's going to take a while. Add to that the fact I run three roleplaying games a week (currently Ars Magica, Chivalry & Clockwork and a Gloranthan Runequest game) and do prep for each, and play boardgames one night a week, and have written three academic journal articles since November started, and it's very very hard going to find time.

So why do it? When Matt and Timothy started, Tom Nowell had already decided to write something for the game writing thing. He asked if I would, and it seemed churlish not to, and November 1st was All Saint's Day. I'm a minor writer for the line, with a credit on the cover of a few 5th ed books out there, and it's nice to give something back and support Atlas, the game and the fans. Grand Tribunal the convention started that way, and this seemed a similar initiative. As gerg and Christian and Vrylakos joined in, it got even better! Yet it i sometimes a chore, and I days behind on Matt''s Faeries and Timothy's thing of wonder a day, and have a lot of Christians Story Seeds to read. In December i'll read them all, but till I have caught up I'm losing track of what everyone else is doing. Still. I'll keep going, because i genuinely love these saints, and am learning a lot of history, and getting a real sense of the wonder and enchantment of my faith and Mythic Europe from them. I was brought up in an Evangelical Protestant tradition where the saints were never mentioned, and have long been devoted to St. Edmund (see The Church author biographies) but their lives really do inspire, entertain and edify me.

So I'm doing it really for the saints: their stories deserve telling. :slight_smile:

Does anyone use any of them in their games? I don't know. Ars Magica has dozens of sub-systems in the rules published to date, and i doubt any saga uses them all. I don't know if anyone ever uses the hunting rules i wrote in Lords of Men, the Hermetic Tournament from Lion and the Lily, or the cults from TMRE, or the creating an icon rules from The Sundered Eagle. I wrote. That does not matter really to me oddly enough: they are there if anyone ever needs them in their game, and they hopefully act as inspiration to others to improve, tinker and experiment with them if the need arises in their stories. The Devotion chapter of The Church was designed to make the material in ROP: The Divine more accessible to ordinary characters, grogs and companions, as well as to give a reason for magi level characters to act in accordance with historic pious practice. I don't know who wrote the Invoking a Saint and Saint rules in ROP The Divine, but I felt they cried out for use, but trying to get my players interested was hard. I'm hoping this chapter makes that section of both those books much more easy to see the potential of, and helps reinforce just how alien, beautiful, and strangely familiar Mythic Europe is.

So a tip of the hat to my fellow authors, and to everyone kind enough to make suggestions in my thread, and yes I welcome your own additions to the thread. :slight_smile:

All the best
cj x

My hat is off to all of you writing NN-a-day. I have been trying to follow the threads, and will get back to those entries I have missed. The ideas/drafts/practice you have been posting have been inspiring, both in the content (which sparks my imagination) and in your dedication (which sparks my admiration).

Not everything has to be a pearl, but quite a few were inspiring. They opened uncharted realms and got my game neurons firing. Your work is appreciated, albeit silently, by many.


I've nothing intelligent to add. CJ's post reminded me of the Faith in Art blog that I follow, 05varvara.wordpress.com/, which has some very nice visuals.

So, two thirds of the way done, and coming down the home straight:

I'm kind of regretting this project. It's not that I've used up good ideas I could have used elsewhere, because David and I had discussed one of these a while ago and it was outside the line style (which is fine, I can see why, and no, I'm not telling you what it is...wait until you see it. 8) ) and there are other ideas I'm using which I just know without checking will never make it into a formal supplement. It's that the time it has taken could have been used for something else.

The "post a day" format led me to choose something which is low-stats, because frankly I don't really enjoy using the stat creation system for most Ars things. I understand the need for it so that the supplements have an even power level, and even in certain very balanced games I can see it as a fairness enforcement tool, but when I'm writing I really don't enjoy triple-checking the numbers for some of the creatures, for example. I wanted to keep this project to 15 hours, total, and there's no way I could do a demon a day, or something like that, except by reskinning current creatures. I don't use the Ars software, and so I may have to bite the bullet and buy it, although I'd have to say I'd prefer it as a subscription webpage or phone app.

So, I've tried something a bit arty and impractical, and I know, because Wordpress tells me, that no-one much has read it. Sure, blogging is a long-term game, and who knows how many people will read it eventually, but I could have used that time to write an SR article, or podcast something, and I know people read or download those. 15 hours is enough time to podcast a small book, for example.

As to the work itself, I'm enjoying it. I have pre-written days 23 and 24, and know what I'm doing for days 26, 27, 28,29 and 30.