Monday, February 4, 2013

Secret Sauce

This will appear a little later than twelve a.m. because I completely forgot that I didn't have a post prepped and scheduled to post today. Got kind of used to have all the Mercenary posts done several weeks in advance. Oh well, these things happen. Sorry.

Secrets are what I'll be talking about today. My campaign setting has kind of a lot of them, and not for any particular reason, and they're not really secrets anyway. They're more like stuff nobody knows because no one could know it and because it is irrelevant to the campaign setting. Which I guess is a secret, but the intent is not to keep information from people or create mystery, it's just that the information isn't anywhere to be found anymore. Even if it was, the majority of it would have no relevance to the current Hekinoe campaign set in Orcunraytrel. Actually, that is a bold lie. Some of it would be relevant. 

So Jason and I were talking early in January about the how and why of magic being messed up in his campaign world, and feeling it was only fair, I gave him a TL;DR version of why magic is wonky in my campaign setting as well. It was a very freeing feeling to kind of explain why things were the way they were in my campaign world. I kind of liked it. This isn't the first time I've done this kind of thing though. Over the years I've managed to share little bits and pieces of the background material of the why and how and when of my campaign setting with Eric and Jeremy, and there are little bits and pieces scattered across  the blog as well. It got me thinking though, as I kind of enjoyed explaining an aspect of my campaign without holding any of it back for once. 

So a few days ago I texted Fred and asked how he would feel if I sent him an email that just laid all the secrets of my campaign setting out on the table. Not hints and scatterings of information, just flat out black and white here is the why and how and reason behind everything. He was intrigued by the concept and I felt like Fred would be a good choice for this kind of diversion, as he does not currently game with us and we work opposite weekends so he can't ever really game with us anymore. So I started at the very beginning and started typing. He asked if I wanted feedback or just for his enjoyment and I told him a little from column a and a little from b.

Now, this stuff isn't exactly difficult to write, as I pretty much have it all rattling in my brain. A lot of it has been floating around in my gray matter for close to a decade. I honestly cannot remember when I precisely came up with the Elder Races, but I have a Microsoft Word document detailing some of their characteristics (when they were known as Planar Powers rather than Elder Races) in 2nd Edition AD&D stats with a last modified date of 7/16/2002. Granted, the Planar Powers only vaguely resemble what the Elder Races are nowadays, but the intent with them at the time was the same as what I've utilized the Elder Races as. So that gives you an idea about how long some of this has been in my head, and looking at the date of the file and recalling what year it is just now, it would seem that some of this stuff has been in fact rattling around my head for just over a decade. 

So I started typing an email to Fred detailing this stuff, and then I decided to scroll up and gauge just how much I had written. I then copy and pasted it all into an OpenOffice document in 10 point Arial font with .5 inch margins and saw that the document was just under five pages long. I texted Fred to see if he was still down with this sort of thing, as for some silly reason I had not expected it to run that long. He was like, yeah sure whatever. So I continued. It is now five full pages long and I still have not even touched upon Hekinoe, and when I do it will be a while before I get to anything truly related to the events of any of the campaigns he has participated in. 

As I've said before, despite the length, the writing flows very easily because it has all been in my head for some time, and I'm not really writing a story per se either. I'm just telling Fred how things came to be the way they are. It's definitely a lot of fun to write though, despite the amount of effort that goes into typing that much text out. I've never sat down and actually written any of this stuff out sequentially before. This is for two reasons. The first reason is that the second I write something down and someone reads it, I can't change it. If it is held in my head and no one knows, it is still mutable enough that I can adapt it to whatever purpose I so choose. It still gives me wiggle room to allow the ideas and concepts to evolve as I evolve as a GM and the game evolves through play and interaction with my players. The second reason is that writing it down, for the most part, serves no purpose. It is all in my head and completely memorized. I know it by heart. There's never been a moment where I'm like "What did Kern Yew'nose do that for?" or "Why is Keroen Skathos on Hekinoe?" This stuff is ingrained into me and has been for a long time. It is the mythology of my campaign setting, my holy text, my Bible. Call me arrogant or an anti-theist, but I know it a lot better than some fundamentalists know their own holy texts. 

So, long story short, I'm really enjoying writing this stuff down. Even if I have all of this perfectly stored in my head, it is still a fun exercise to kind of plot it out and write down all the history and mythology of the campaign setting into a format that breaks it all down and goes from point a to point b explaining what it all means and how Hekinoe got to be the way it is and why it is the way it is.

Edit After The Fact: Did some writing before bed and doubled the length of what I have written down. Just now getting to the parts of the background that are focused completely on Hekinoe. I've touched on how aspects of the background have affected Hekinoe a few times for a paragraph or three at a time, but what I'm writing now actually focuses completely on Hekinoe rather than on much larger scale events going on. Sigh, I'll probably double the length again by the time I get done with this section. Sigh. Bed time. 

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