November Project : Hermetic Museum

Hi all,

Each year for the last three or so, the Ars Community has worked on various projects as part of Nagademon, which is a blatant ripoff of NaNoWriMo. In the early years we all just did our own thing (I did Thirty Objects of Desires and the Tales of Marco the Liar). Last year we rallied together to try and write some vanilla covenants. Those are not all the way done, but a great deal of useful material has already been generated and I hope that a free web supplement will be ready from it eventually. I'd like to propose we do something similar again: all chip in to a single project. I'd like to further suggest that if the pieces were each smaller, that people would be more likely to participate.

My suggestion is as follows:

In emulation of the book "The Museum at Purgatory" by Nick Bantock, we each take a real object (from the free image collection at the Met ... ion-online) and we write it up Ars style, with a history and plot hooks and stats. These works are all put into a central blog, and that becomes an enduring resource. People who have personal blogs like me can double post if they like, because this is a non-commercial sort of project.

I am going to kick this off early, because I won't be available for November this time around. I'll be hosting a visit from the Ciconiidae.

I'd like to use this thread to thrash out ideas like
"What do we call it?"
"Do we want a frame narrative?"
"Do we want multiple frame narratives?"
"How about a free Wordpress blog?"
"What theme do you want?" (Off the top of my head: Spun)

and so on...

I'm hoping if we do this well we can then flash it around the Met's social network, which would be cool for the game.

So, my goal (and remember with Marco I didn't get there.) is 30 items. Other people are welcome to grab items, and commit themselves, or just promise stuff and then wait until convenient.

I believe congratulations are in order?

I'll nose through and see if anything grabs me.


First Thimothy, I would like to say Congratulations to the upcoming avian visit.
Secondly. I think this is a great idea!

Darn good idea, and especially clever use of the wonderful benevolence by the Met museum too. I'd love to assist, even if only in editing or any other grunt work that might be needed (I can edit far faster than write new material these days). Or the very least links from blogs and such to fiddle with the search rank.

In terms of name/where/frame - while I have a few opinions, I'd think the folks who primarily contribute should dictate that; perhaps unto themselves. I'll only suggest that if a pervasive frame is used then please consider that SGs will probably wish to lift the material and some alternatives might be handy now and then.

Cool idea.

BTW, Bantock's "The Museum at Purgatory" is one of the things I was thinking of when I wrote the oppidum of Tablinum for Against the Dark; the other thing I was thinking of was Ballard's "The Atrocity Exhibition".

I think multiple frames would be good. The museum would presumably be organised into collections, perhaps based around who gathered the particular artifacts.

Then, individual authors could choose to either write up a few artifacts collected by a particular magus that another author has already started (and so continue that collector-narrative), or could choose to start a new collection (and narrative) based around a new magus-collector. And, of course, as writing progressed cross-overs between the different collector-narratives might/should develop.

I did wonder if you'd seen it. I thought of just calling this Tablinum, but didn't want to tie it in narratively, in case, for example, we suggest that the Museum is in the Mythic 1400, or collected by aliens or demons or something.

If we can work on a name, I can work on getting a blog set up... "Hermetic Museum" already exists: it's the name of a book of alchemical formulae published in 1625, translated into English by Arthur Waite of tarot deck fame.

So, any suggestions? I originally thought of calling it the Cabinet of Hermetic Curiosities, but that seems a bit long and a bit "English gentleman in his study" for frame narrative.

I nosed through the images and scooped out a few as ideas.

How about "Hermetic Legacies"
or "Vault of the Order"
or "Hermetic Gallery"

could all work.

These pieces would need, what? The image, the item's mechanical description (maybe), the item's provenance, the item's history, and then potential story hooks for the item?

If we used a quarter page image, we could do these as 2-page spreads with about 1350 words for each entry. Single pages would be about 560 words, but if we reduced the image to 1/6th, we could do about 625ish words.


I was thinking of this as a blog, but a blog in the more visual sort of style, so the layout is less formal than in a book. Since the blog would work on phones and tablet and PC screens, there's not "page length" as such. I can see a benefit in there being a consistent length, though. If there were a lot of short pieces we could collect them as a category.

Since it would be bloggish, we could also use a tag/category system so that if you want all the German items, or all the Brass items, you could just call that up. I can do that for people, if they aren't into that sort of thing. 8)

So, yes, the format should probably include the

Provenance (Creation, collection, collector)

Of these, "Hermetic Gallery" is a problem, because it's trademarked by an art gallery in Milwaukie. "Legacies" is kind of too good, you expect it to be really brilliant stuff like the Legacies in House Tremere or Mercere.

Vault of the Order is good. I'd like to go plural so that if people want to work in multiple narrative and locations they can, and because "Vault of the Order" is a location in Diablo 3, I think.

Any other ideas, gang? The reason I'm asking for this first is that two of my blogs have title/URL mismatches, and I'd like this one to have a title URL match. What I mean is that my work blog is called "book coasters" and yet the URL is gcbooks. Similarly, my writing blog is "Games From Folktales" but it's address is "" This is bad web practice. 8)

If no-one comes up with anything absolutely great in the next day or so, we go with Vaults of the Order. 8) It's better to build and then tweak than wait for perfect.

Yes, a quick hunt shows the singular is a location in Diablo 3. Good catch.

Vaults of the Order sounds good to me, it allows for different wings, more material, the concept of a bigger space. I like it.

While the narrative frame could be based around somebody external to the Order (in the distant future, from 1220, or from another planet, or whatever) who has collected all these bits and pieces about the Order, I think it would be much more useful for players of ArM if the narrative was about either the currators/users of the museum in 1220 or the collectors of the exhibits (whose stories could probably extend from 1220 to a couple of centuries earlier). If the narrative concerns collector-characters active in 1400, say, then all the information about the collectors will need to be replaced/dumped by players using the material for a 1220 saga.

Yes, I do agree it's probably better to go closer to 1220. Simpler is better for collaborative work. You can make a big call at the planning stage on individual work, but it's hard to then get buy-in from everyone involved.

One thing I'm really liking about this is I have a lot of little posts on my blog where I've just found an interesting idea and said "Hey...this is interesting." and I can now go back and work them into fuller items. So, "They used to make clothes out of the threads on seashells" or "Chewing gum existed" or "There was this king who used to sign his name by tracing it through a plate." can now be fleshed out by me looking to see if the met has anything to do with period weaving (if they don't have a murex cloak, do they have a thimble I can claim was used when sewing one?) or a box they could have kept chewing gum in, or a period pen. So it lets me rework a lot of stuff I'd flagged but not developed.

So, site's up

No content yet, just a series of dummy posts to test the theme. Anyone who wants a contributor role (Wordpress technical term) give me a yell. Anyone who just wants to put stuff up there but can't be bothered with Wordpress, just send it to me here, or at my blog, or via email, or whatever.

This is a great idea.

Count me in!

So, the site's up, and Tellus has put up the first post.

I've started on four more, and there are some pictures up to show how the site will look when fully fleshed.

My goal for the project is this: I will write 30 entries, as if this was November and I was doing a post a day. I hope the rest of the community will chip in and we will get over 50 entries.

NB: if you -already- have items, and just want to reskin them with an image, that's A-OK. It still makes your work easier for other people to use. I'll be writing originals because I've sold an awful lot of my items to Atlas, and so I need fresh ones so I can be sure they are still mine, but if you have great items, reskinning is a good way of getting stuff done fast.

Similarly, if you have a creature you'd like to put up, please do. We can just find an item related to its story.

...that potentially makes things a lot easier, as there are a lot of pictures there!

I have an idea for an artifact. Slight problem.
The story I'm conceiving for it ties it to a Jerbiron league/mystery cult.
Not sure if bringing the College of Isadora into is OK though...


Welcome to the board.

What problems do you forsee with mentioning the Mystery cult? I'm not clear what difficulty you think it creates. Fan work like this can be really flexible...