October 07, 2011

Link Round-Up: Ashen Availability, Fringe History, Sun Surrender, Ferry Wine

If you’ve been waiting for Ashen Stars to show up for sale at RPGNow or Flames Rising, wait no longer.

Nick Mamatas examines the historical provenance of Fringe’s Walter Bishop(s.) (Link good for one week only.)

The Toronto Sun is just phoning it in now.

If I learned that Bryan Ferry could drink wines with ugly labels, my faith in humanity would have been shattered.

A Look Back at Korad I: The Process

Since June 2010 this blog has hosted the Korad experiment, an exercise in group world-building. The final fact we learned about Korad concerns its nominal future. We selected the three candidates for a future ideology which will one day supersede the empire's dominant worldview. As determined by you, they are:
Candlism, a stoic blend of religion and philosophy.
Satirism: a working-class magical movement subverting official opposition to frivolity
Symbotomism: a movement determined to eradicate Aesigil influence, at the cost of also destroying written language
My original intention was to use the world creation as a prelude to another play-by-blog exercise, along the lines of Angels and Operators. As you may guess from the opening clause of the previous sentence, I’ve reconsidered and will no longer be going ahead with that.
It used to be that an ongoing feature, like Korad or Angels and Operators, offered me an acceptable trade-off on the time versus inspiration scale. They took more time to write than the average blog post, but they reliably provided a guaranteed topic for one slot a week. The Hamlet analysis proved even more fruitful, leading as it did to a gratifyingly successful book, Hamlet’s Hit Points, and acting as inspiration for my upcoming new game engine, DramaSystem.
Even more so than a year ago, a blog designed to attract an audience thrives on one-time clicks from social media platforms. Ongoing features did well back when LiveJournal was still a growing concern, and users reloaded their friends page on a habitual basis. Readership for LJ has been slowly deflating over the past year, in part prompting my exodus to the new blog. In the social-click driven environment, which I can now measure with a reasonable degree of accuracy, repeat features lose attention after a while. Those with a play-by-blog format suffer doubly, from what might be called the Babylon 5 effect. They require a high degree of investment and are hard to catch up with if you don’t jump on board from the outset. Given the challenges of LJ’s decline and timing of the move to the new blog, we still had great participation on the world-building end. However, in the new environment or paradigm or whatever it is, I don’t see a play-by-blog series as the best use of my limited outreach time in future.
What I was going to do was have commenters play, to whatever extent they wanted, influential members of the chosen ideology. I’m betting the collective would have chosen Satirism, with few participants rooting to play either stoics or destroyers of literacy. Each play session would present a turning point, where the group would have to decide how to handle a crisis affecting the movement from within and without. Each turn would jump forward in time, allowing for multi-generational play as the ideology adapted itself to changing historical circumstances.
If I had the time to do this, which I’m sure I don’t, I might attempt to do the play over on Google+. It’s new and shiny; its circle feature and discussion orientation might prove more amenable to play-by-blog than a standard comments arrangement.
I’ll do one more blog post, looking at what we’ve learned about world-building from this collective process. In the meantime, though, it’s time to throw Korad’s fate open to you. My final version of the resulting world bible, has now been uploaded to Scribd. The document and its underlying intellectual property are, as always, public domain. You are free to do what you want with it. Peruse it. Change it. Use it as a setting for fiction, your home game, or a published RPG. If you do choose to do something with it, be sure to check in with a report.