Saturday, January 30, 2010


Rented myself a truck and plan on heading out of town for a few days.

I always stress trips like this until I'm on the road. Being me, I run through every scenario, make sure I have everything I need, and try not to be jittery. The road getting somewhere is always longer the first time, while it seems to go by too quickly on the return trip. Here I sit, generally pissed off for no reason hoping tomorrow goes well.

Everything I've written lately screams of ultra-violence and I've been thinking my SS System needs some tweaks to bring it up to the proper level. When I sit and think about combat and the powerlessness everyone involved in a gunfight has relative to the circumstances, mechanical reinforcement within a fictional setting seems to romanticize that violence. When a character is fighting for their life in the story, I marvel at how often it is portrayed casually, as though the outcome were certain.

Even in stories where the bad guys often win, the formula is often designed to satisfy the audience's desire for a sort of flawed justice. Even in my own readings I'm drawn to crime stories where there are consequences for the antagonists and the protagonists for every action they take to thwart or outdo the other. The visceral, frantic, dirty, panicked movements of real life combat are often completely lost in fictional representations.

Take all that and add it to a modern audience already heavily desensitized to graphic violence.

- Protagonist is forced into action by Antagonist by some means.
- Protagonist swears to acquire vengeance, justice, resolution.
- Protagonist exchange physical blows and snappy catch phrases.
- At some point the Protagonist will have to walk toward the camera with an explosion or burning structure in the background.
- Protagonist and Antagonist clash in a mighty final battle with one forgone conclusion.

So tired of this canned crap approach to stories with violence.

Captain Sunshine vs. Doctor Evilpants type stuff has its place in camp, but not when talking about a serious story of conflict where it is regular folks risking their lives which make the difference.

I really dig...

... protagonists who find violence abhorrent, using it as a last resort, fighting when there is no other choice.

... when the Antagonist is someone the audience (me) can empathize with and even mourn if defeated.

... stories that approach conflict as though they were tragedies that give Protagonist and Antagonist pause for introspection in the aftermath.

... everyman heroes who made the choice to confront injustice for its own sake.

... villains that could be anyone, utterly lacking manufactured or contrived circumstances for their motivations.

... supporting characters that grant the story and everything in it a separate perspective that forces me to reconsider everything happening in the story at regular intervals.

I should print this out to remind me as I continue down the road of developing characters and locations for my works. This is something my Dad does all the time, makes lists to remind himself.

I'll add these to the list just for good measure:

Learn to relax.

Love yourself.

Seek Solace.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The nature of the creative mind induces one to consider various scenarios. Indeed, to craft the circumstances that the characters of a story would navigate, conjure the colors of a painting, or the arrangement of stones in one's garden requires this sort of evocation. With everything we do, it is human to seek validation.

I think to presume too much? Or something like that.

The nature of this blog precludes my most private thoughts on the matter from being displayed. I have chosen to seek a sort of creative acceleration through certain methods, ways of granting my mind a contrivance both social and convenient of garnering creative impetus. This involves risks, and that I trust the people I choose to share my material with.

A recipe for disaster if I step wrong, even once.

Not everyone delights in risk-taking and putting themselves in potentially perilous situations. It is not in my own nature to trust other people. Generally, people just mess up, let you down, and engage in things both stupid and futile. Thinking you've found people devoid of the same human weakness is as blind as assuming that anyone (self included) is immune to such weakness.

So one takes the paranoid road to create in seclusion or they choose to believe in people like they would want to believe in themselves.

Would this lead one to consider the tangible elements of Faith? I love to put these things into context when I write. Sort out my feelings and look for answers by seeing things through the eyes of fictional characters, people without a stake in the real world. To totally escape. More to the point I often consider if anyone gives what they do this much thought. From the outside the appearance of such can be deceiving.

Most seem to operate purely out of a motivation for money.

A few seek to be validated by someone that is supposed to love them.

Yet more want desperately to be recognized for their efforts.

Approval. All.

Does this make everyone who would create something beautiful to watch, read, or view an attention seeking reprobate with a hole inside that can never be filled? Probably. Even if someone seeks to achieve some ethical high ground beyond those simple desires, it is itself a product of someone seeking the attention of a higher power?

So, the desire to create comes from emptiness? Because someone sees an empty space, of feels one for that matter, they are driven to make something to fit? Perhaps sorrow isn't the creative fuel I thought it was. More to the point, sorrow is probably just the sidecar to whatever is driving a creative person to make whatever they desire to make.

Misery loves company.

I love those studios, jewelers, and similar that have windows open to the street. There was a place in Portland where you could watch, from the sidewalk, the short order cooks flip flap jacks. As much as people likely enjoy the outcome of the creative pursuit, watching the graceful agony of creating things of worth is likely just as enticing.

Am I my own all consuming train-wreck? A vision I cannot take my eyes off of?

These thoughts swirl in my mind questioning the format of everything I've done in the last four months. I wonder if my methods are granting me short term clarity while obscuring my somewhat longer term future. The paranoia and stress that comes with working with people, my own eating and sleeping habits, the scrutiny (or lack thereof) that comes with involving those close to me in my most personal affairs.

I have made other people carry my burdens too much already.

Writing some stories should not carry this level of complexity. Grappling with the process of creating fiction shouldn't make me doubt the very essence of Truth. Finding the final medium for my work shouldn't require that I strain my relationships, my time, or my sanity the way it has lately. The endlessly delaying the distribution of simple world building exercises from people that likely just want to help me? In exchange for a few hours of being entertained, warm laughter, and hotter coffee?

Doubt setting fire to paranoia, fanned by the winds of anxiety, tainting everything I do.

Making me write pointlessly circular entries to my Blog. Never getting answers to questions that probably have no business being asked. Seeking solutions that only peal back the layers of a flawed methodology that somehow works without such blackened examination. Considering courses of action that are themselves a quiet violation of my own life long means of operation.

Doing things just to do things. Giving meaningless things meaning. Talking to hear my own voice. It just seems to get more pathetic the more I think about it. I couldn't even isolate what "it" is if I tried.

Oh well, merrily on my way.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Confronting the iPad Naysayers

I've read a number of complaints, and the web is already abuzz with naysayers shoveling their reasons for why the iPad is a bad thing. Here's what I have to say to them.

[Advisory: The following is mean. Very mean. If you get your feelers hurt easily, do not read.]

1. Closed App, 3rd Party Access

Apple is screening the Apps that they wants sold to their consumers? They are making sure I don't get buggy rip-offs flush with viruses? Apple is actually making sure that extraneous means of communicating off-the-grid are not being circulated on their devices protecting the revenue of their partners and allies? Oh no, say it isn't so! How dare they!

2. Too many Adapters

It would have been better if the thing was riddled with every port under the sun? That just opens people up to making yet more 3rd party devices, sort of defeating complaint #1 in the hardware end of the pool. Not everyone needs an SD card slot, or USB port on their tablet. Therefore, it doesn't need to be included as a built in port. Funny, the only ports the iPad has... are those needed by every user of the device... no more, no less. Like someone really thought about this issue.

3. It's not Widescreen

So what? That's why I have a TV, an iMac, or a laptop. If I'm watching video on the go, that's not really my concern. This wasn't meant to replace a home entertainment setup by any means. People actually thought this was going to be a 16:9 screen setup? With a tiny 1GHZ processor? It has nearly 30FPS for $500, I'll take 4:3 and smile about it.

4. No HDMI out

This complaint is simply proof that people are stupid. I mean really. Really? If I'm Apple, there's no way I'm going to put something into the iPad that wouldn't be useful to every single user. Such raises the price point losing more buyers than gained. This complaint came from the same mook that says the device has too many adapters.

Like no third party manufacturer isn't dreaming up a home theater docking device with HDMI out? Let em'! For the people who actually want it.

5. Touch Keyboard

People complained this was the same big ol' clunky on-screen keyboard every other device has. In this, they are absolutely correct, until you turn it around from landscape to portrait. Then it shrinks up nicely at the bottom of the screen. A professional reviewer missed this little fact.

6. No Flash

Yet more proof people are stupid. Claiming the iPad sucks because it doesn't have Flash Support is pretty standard. It's the same logic that allows people to blame the Police for writing people tickets. Cops don't make the laws of the land anymore than Apple writes the software for Flash. If people are mad there is no Flash Video support, they need to hold Adobe responsible. (It's their baby, let them teach it new tricks.)

(I'll refrain from mentioning the security issues with Flash at this time. Oops!)

When Steve held it up, the icon showed that it knew it needed Flash support for a given item on the webpage. This means the device knows what Flash is. One could then assume Adobe was waiting to develop this sort of support until the SDK was released.

7. Doesn't Support T-Mobile 3G

I use AT&T. I can get a cheap data plan. Nyah-Nyah-Na-Na-Na-Nyah!! While I don't generally delight in laughing at the misfortune of others, this is one of those times where I feel it is appropriate. This is like being mad because you can't get a tree that'll grow pink poke-a-dotted oranges.

8. No Multitasking

My iPod accepts pushed data from various apps (Facebook, Mail, etc), plays music, and allows me to surf the web/play games at the same time. However, because the iPad is larger, more powerful, and operating on a hybrid OS it somehow... can't? Oh, that's right... Apple would put out a more powerful device that can do less in situations critical to the consumer where they might be competing with themselves? Riiigghhtt...

9. Big ugly Bezel

Uh, what? Hello!? You need SOMEWHERE TO PUT YOUR THUMBS WHILE YOU ARE USING THE DEVICE! I HAVE BIG THUMBS! Not everyone is a geeky 99 lb. tech reviewer. It's a multi-touch device. For people who don't understand English, that means it reacts to your fingers. For those of us who aren't inbred mutants with suckers on our fingers, it means our thumbs will likely rest on the front of the device. They'll need somewhere to go where they won't trip off the sensors.

10. No Cameras

Good! This would have raised the price point for a feature most people would have no real use for. See complaint #4. Anything that discourages people from video conferencing in public places, such as my coffee shop, is on my high on my list of 'good'. Then there's the thought of turning to look at someone in traffic and seeing them talking to their crotch... while it was glowing. Yep... people using Skype while driving. People are already stupid enough to text and drive, why not?

11. The name iPad

Yep, the name is extremely silly. Just like every other device Apple sells making them the #1 supplier (by revenue) of mobile devices. I'm sure Apple is laughing too... all the way to the bank.

12. All the things people should grouse about

It's probably difficult to replace the battery on this thing. Lots of people take long trips where this thing would be really handy to have, and in particular, the ability to swap batteries. That's a standard complaint on the newer Apple Laptops too. I mean, no one is going to make money by developing a 3rd party car/airplane adapter right? Huh-huh-hu-huh-huh...

Also, it doesn't make coffee (not even hot chocolate) or remotely destroy idiotic tech reviewers.

Finally, it doesn't have a 3.5 Floppy Drive. How am I going to load up King's Quest II or Sentinel Worlds 1? I mean seriously Apple? What the hell were you thinking?

13. All Crankiness Aside

The iPad isn't for everyone. For people who already have a Laptop or Netbook they're happy with, there isn't much of a point to this device. If you have an eReader and an iPod touch already, there seems to be no point. Yes, there are lots of people who DO NOT need this device and for which it would serve no ready purpose.

Apple makes a decent living only being like 8% of the market share when it comes to computers alone, and they have a specific target audience. The make or break for me, and many people I imagine, is the relative success of the iBook store, its relative access to the market, and the pricing associated with it. If it turns out to be an awesome eBook reader and lets me check my email without reaching for a second device, I'll be happy. More than anything it is the storage that really intrigued me. It has twice the maximum storage the other device I'd been looking at had.

There are lots of reasons to avoid the purchase of an iPad.

I'm with my uncle Mike though, it's thin, shiny, and I must have one.

Apple iPad vs. Sony Daily Edition

What I've been waiting for has happened. Apple announced their new device and the time has come to make a decision about an eReader. Previously, the Sony Daily edition was the contender and I probably should hold them up next to each other and see if one comes out the clear choice.


Sony DE $579.97 w/ 32GB Flash Memory
Apple iPad $699.99 w/ 64GB Flash Memory

Sony appears to have a slight advantage in this department. Let's see what I'm getting for my money though.


Sony DE 7" 600 x 1024 Monochrome e-Ink
Apple iPad 9.7" 1024 x 760 IPS LED-backlit Full Color


Sony DE G3 for free, for downloading product only
Apple iPad Wi-Fi 802.11n, and G3 Capable (affordable data plan!), Bluetooth 2.1

Extras (The stuff that interests me):

Sony DE

Built in Dictionary
Free Hand Highlighting & Annotation.
Battery Life: 7 days normal usage

Apple iPad

Access to 140k Apps from the Apple Store
SDK release allowing for iPad specific Apps from 3rd Parties
Syncs with my iTunes Library (Music, TV Shows, Movies)
Plays/Displays everything in my iTunes Library in full color
Photo App syncs with my iPhoto Library
Runs iWorks app (!!!) (Individually or all 3)
Built in Calendar, Contacts, Location/Map, Note Taking Apps
iBook App making it a full color eReader
Safari for web-browsing
Mail for email
Search App for finding stuff stored on iPad
SD Card Reader Accessory
Keyboard Dock Combination Accessory
10 Hours of Battery Life (decoding HD video the whole time)

The Apple iPad loses in the price category. However, would I pay an extra $120.00 for all the other things it would allow me to do? Without a doubt. I've already waited more than three months, what's another 60 days until Apple starts shipping their iPad? Honestly? It'll feel like a lifetime, that's how excited I am.

It's literally like Apple was reading my mind. No, I didn't get my etched OLED screen, but I was half joking anyway. It would have made the darn thing $1500! Also, the thing has NO CAMERA! An absolutely brilliant move... if I'd seen someone holding one of these things up while asking a friend to say cheese, I'd literally have throw a 9.8 category nerd fit. The thought made my pocket protector itch. It's bluetooth capable, just snap the damn picture with the camera phone (everyone already carries) and upload it via Bluetooth to the iPad.

iWorks for iPad? Brilliant move. It also has a docking port to VGA adapter allowing you to plug the thing right into a projector.

Apple has literally thought of everything.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not Competent

I can't make a decision.

I have so many irons in the fire right now, and none of it will likely get resolved before I leave for vacation on February 1st. I know I need to, but like when I was regular working Joe, that week leading up to some time off seems worthless. My ability to make excuses seems unhindered however... hmm.

I've really enjoyed what I've been writing lately though. I'm doing a small booklet just on Chitterlings from my Dreams & Echoes scribblings, and like what I'm seeing so far. The world building exercises have been worth every moment just for the confidence it gives writing about characters in an alien and complex world. I wonder how many other writers have gone to these lengths to prepare to write their works?

In other news I ordered myself some new gear.

My Wacom Intuos4 Medium Pen Tablet and some sketching software should arrive Thursday. As I'd written previously, I'm really struggling with seeing certain elements of the stories I've spent the last four months writing. I really want to have a concept of their faces, the gear they carry, the interior of their homes, the places they visit, and the adversaries and obstacles they face.
I've thought about getting more serious about my artwork. My stuff isn't great, but its not bad for someone with no formal training who spends less than one day a year drawing. I generally only sketch very simplistic things to give my self a sense of scale or balance. If I had some tools I think I might be able to develop a talent and put pictures in the books that would at least give the reader an idea of what's happening.

Even if it was just a small picture, at the head of each chapter, that would probably be enough to set what I'm envisioning firmly in place for my readers. To that end I've spent some time drawing in Illustrator CS4. Some of what I created was neat, but it felt like I was making logos and designs by drawing with a piece of soap. I want something where I have a certain measure of control without it auto-correcting and straightening every line.

I need something that translates the raw feelings I have from my hand to the screen. I hate scanning my work because it always requires so much cleanup. I have to pick up smudges from the paper, correct the color on screen, etc. Hopefully drawing from the tablet into some software designed specifically for sketching will do the trick.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Having resolve to do what you set out to do takes perseverance... obviously.

After my panic attack yesterday, I spent the day resting. Also, I wrote a few pages I genuinely like, and had a rewarding sit down with my Apotheosis (Sci-Fi) setting folks. My ideas were well received and the benefit of working outside of the bubble paid off.

The days when I'm just not feeling it, I need to spend the day drawing, writing letters, playing video games, anything but working. I end up with 15-20 pages of drivel that makes me feel bad about what I'm doing. Those days have been rare of late, this really snuck up on me. Usually I feel the rhythm of my own voice and all is well. All I could feel yesterday was panic.

The whole episode has made me introspective, more than usual. Having largely conquered the anxiety that had all but crippled me in July and August of 09', I had myself feeling invincible again writing in quantity. For anyone who knows how it is to feel fragile, it comes with a certain acceptance over time, and I'm just not there yet. I'm too stupid, stubborn, or both to give myself the room to put my work aside when the situation warrants it.

I thought about taking what I posted down, but I think it needs to stay as a reminder to cut myself a little slack. Think I'll do some writing tomorrow, unless I'm cloudy with a chance of rain.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dreams Disturbing

This blog has become like my journal but looking back I can't even see the person who wrote all this stuff right now. It's like a stranger has been posting here, someone that has little right to exist. I used to be able to look at my own writing and get some perspective of where I've been and where I'm going. Even as I seek to make the process of polishing my work more complex, I find all sorts of reasons to disconnect.

I think about how lucky I am to be able to do this while I'm looking back at the few thousand words I typed last night. I have this wondrous opportunity to seek this thing out, and yet I hate everything I did last night. Every sentence feels really lazy, like I was walking in a fog, beating myself with the stupid stick writing this stuff. I used to believe that the opportunity was enough to sustain me, but I really want to achieve some measure of success. I'd like to write something I really like, even if no one else does.

I pick up the the role of critic so easily, and I probably don't even deserve to be there. How can I attempt to judge the writings of another when I can't even be satisfied with my own? I doubt my creative direction all the time, this shouldn't be a new or scary feeling. Somehow, it's managed to wander up past scary to terrifying. I think I've been fooling myself thinking I could do this the way I envisioned. I'm not that kind of writer. I'm like a five-hundred pound bus driver thinking he could just pick up figure skating, utterly doomed to fail.

I set out in September to write fiction. Nothing I've done in the four months since fills me with the joy I hoped it would. Maybe it'll all look different in the morning. To think only a few hours ago I was telling my brother to lighten up and not be so hard on himself.

Brutal introspection is in the blood I reckon.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Apple Tablet Anticipation/Anxiety

(Concept Photo)

Not since I was in the 3rd grade did I hold such anticipation for a technological device. I remember my first techno-crush, the original Nintendo Gaming System. I had high expectations, and a long list of expectations.

1. It would allow me to play Super Mario Bros. on my TV.
2. It would make me the envy of the neighborhood, and I could talk with the other technologically savvy kids on the playground with authority.

Now with less than a few days later, I'm feeling that same childish glee in anticipation of Apple's Tablet device. I've read through every website I could find that carries rumors on Apple's products and I've heard a number of very good things. I've also heard some things that would be likely deal breakers for me.

1. It needs to be Wi-Fi (2.5 ghz will do) and Bluetooth 2.0 capable.

There is talk of making it 3G capable, like the iPhone. Depending on how they handle it this could be a really good thing. If I can use it for free to download ePubs allowing my tablet to double as an eReader, that'd be great. If they handle it like they did with the iPhone, not a snowballs chance in hell. Telling me I gotta pay $30 bucks a month for a data plan for 3G internet access on a Wi-Fi capable device is insulting to my intelligence. They told me the iPhone was an iPod touch that made phone calls, they didn't tell me it robbed me blind at the same time.

2. I'd like the option of a lightly etched glass oLED screen that's 10" or larger. Yep, I'd pay extra.

I've heard the tablet will have an aluminum case with a glass screen. This would look really slick, but it would seriously hamper the ability of the device to find Wi-Fi signals. The logo on the Macbook Pro are plastic for a reason. The logo on the iMac seem to be the same way. For a Tablet device this presents a unique problem. It needs to have a bit of plastic on it somewhere, probably on the back. A plastic Apple Logo on the back of the device would get scratched all to hell as yuppies passed it back and forth across the table at the coffee shop. Can't have that. I gotta wonder how Apple is gonna handle the situation without making the device ugly.

3. I'd like to see Apple take a stab at a multi-touch capable version of iWorks.

There has been rumors of one in the works. Yep, I'm a big dork and I want to be able to view, alter, and add to Pages documents on my tablet device. I would put up with a lot of crapola on other fronts if this was the case. Yeah, I'd like the option to work from a bluetooth keyboard if I took it on the road.

4. Ports, top and side?

Say I want to use the device while it's charging? I'd like to be able to plug it (headphones, etc) in while holding it in either portrait or landscape depending on what I'm doing without the cords getting in my way. Given Apple's propensity for simplicity, I doubt this would happen, but you gotta wonder if they've even thought about it. If they did do it, I'd probably complain later about too many ports.

5. 7+ Hours Battery Life

As thin as this device is, it'd be hard to get that kind of time with active use. The newer chips and screens are supposed to be really energy efficient though, making me think such a thing might be possible.

There's rumors of front facing cameras and other extras that would make the device nice, but more than anything, I'm waiting for something smaller than my laptop but just as useable. Guess I'll have some more answers in 4 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes... not that I'm keeping track or anything.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pictures and Thousands of Words

I had some folks ask, and yeah...

The vast majority of the pictures posted above my blog entries I took myself. Even some of the abstract stuff are pictures I took around town of odd things. Out of all the posts, there's probably two that have pictures I didn't take, make, or draw.

Lizzy and Tara have always been welcome supporters of my endeavors, sneaking in front of my camera together more than a couple of times. So much of what I do, and what I've done, would have been far less rewarding without you guys. Thanks.


For the people that know me, there is little within me that does not question, analyze, dissect, doubt, and challenge everything I encounter in life. I feel like I have a hard-won faith and a more than basic grasp on my spirituality and my relationship with all things beyond the scope of the temporal. The more I sit in front of this computer and write my books, the more I seem to lose touch with the tangible things in my life.

The temporal elements of our existence generally amount to our relationships, personal hygiene, balancing a checkbook, keeping our living space clean, and similar. The writing I do seems to lack these elements relative to the protagonists acting to drive the story forward. That off-hand conversation with a significant other while brushing one's teeth. Seeing an odd bug on the screen door as you head out to get coffee with friends. Looking into the sky and seeing faces in the clouds. Everything I write seems to be as minimalist as I'd hope to be and devoid of fanciful diversion.

So how does one waste words without turning an entire chapter into a tangent unrelated to the larger story? While more than a few would attempt to perpetrate such under the guise of character development, its one of the things I hate passionately about the canned crap modern writers have been foisting off on us for the last four decades, or longer. The allure is to appeal to my own humanity and seek out comfortable things to write about, granting myself respite from the bloody grind of a book like Dreams & Echoes.

When you pick up The Odyssey, or 20'ooo Leagues Under the Sea, you'll find the pages utterly devoid of such contrivances, each page driving the protagonists toward something. No one stops to smell the flowers, ponder their navel, or fix their hair in the side view mirror of a Subaru hatchback. The story drives forward like an inky literary juggernaut chugging through the slick viscera of a thinly sliced tree-corpse. There's no flowers anywhere.

To mix genres as I'm want to do is like inviting a certain amount of irreverence about the territory I unapologetically trespass into. I like the idea of someone dressed similarly to a Roman Legionnaire standing next to someone dressed like Steve McQueen's character from Dead or Alive... in the same story. Mare's Leg and all. Oh, and why not through in some magic and monsters while I'm at it. Visually I have to wonder how it would all look together. I'm seriously going to have to sketch all this and hold it up beside one another.

With irreverence comes laughter. When I think of the movie Gran Torino and what really made that flick memorable, it was definitely the irreverence of the whole thing. The casual indifference to society's skewed moral code, and a willingness to not only mock it, but laugh at it as well. I want that same awkwardness to mix with lopsided characters that don't always sound like polish-perfect spokespeople for the story. I think my social life will likely suffer in the wake of my attempt to embrace my own awkwardness to that end.

Energy in.

Energy out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

House Paragon

As I slowly inch towards the end of this second book I really think my collaborators would like a peak at House Paragon. I already have Passive and Reflexive Arcane Abilities for Tenebriomancy and it wouldn't take much to flesh that out, put some Stygian Gear in the book, and slip the rules for playing House Paragon in there. I hesitated because I wanted much of what they were about to be shrouded in mystery, but that hasn't always served the story or the telling of it particularly well.

I'd previously thought that allowing people to portray House Paragon characters at my table would be difficult to explain in the context of the Story sans other obvious issues. In the pursuit of building more social complexity into the Penumbral Society it has become increasingly evident that having loyal members of House Paragon involved is a necessity. It will give people a strong sense about how tragic losing Paragon and the majority of his followers to the Tenebrion was and why it was a groundbreaking event in the history of Dreams & Echoes.

My notes on House Paragon are extensive and I've revised their abilities several times. They are frighteningly powerful when roaming the Tenebrion but lose many of their abilities when they pass into the Penumbra or the Cities of Light. Indeed, they would feel pretty helpless in the Wraithsmarch, or anywhere the Tenebrion wasn't present. Most of their abilities have to do with the manipulation of Dreams or the Tenebrion. Aside from the obvious benefits, this makes them extremely different from the other Penumbral Houses who view the Tenebrion as an enemy to be destroyed.

When I spread my wrinkled and coffee stained notes in front of me I come up with a plethora of ideas but the ones I like best relate to two key elements.

- Dreams

They would likely have an additional Dream beyond that of other Shades and eventually be able to change which of the Greater Dreams they could draw power from.

House Paragon would be able to interpret, manipulate, and even repair the Dreams of others using the pure arcane force of the Void.

They would be able to make physically manifest certain elements of their Dreams gaining additional benefits.

As they increased in skill they could 'sleepwalk' allowing them to perform simple actions even while they slept.

- Tenebrion

Obviously, House Paragon would have extensive access to Tenebriomancy, the magic allowing one to manipulate and even command aspects of the Tenebrion.

They would be able to use Stygian Gear without suffering terrible consequences as other Shades would.

- Drawbacks

Members of House Paragon would not be allowed to have any Primordial Attunement other than the Void. Most of those who fell likely were not carrying any Attunement while those attuned to the Void would have possessed the will to resist the worst parts of the Curse.

Because of their more intimate interaction with Dreams they would need twice the sleep (8 hours) a normal Shade would need to maintain their powers. This would explain why members of the 6th House often sleep (and sleep walk) operating normally.

I've put together several ideas for mechanical language describing each of these abilities. Applying values to all these things has really helped me feel more confident writing fiction about these folks. It keeps things more constant from page to page allowing each protagonist and antagonist to interact in ways that are predictable, at least to the writer. I hate movies/books/comics where supernaturally powered individuals seem to garner abilities as it becomes appropriate to the story instead of showing a natural progression following the arc of the story.

My SS tables really have helped eliminate that from my writing. Thanks guys.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Truth within Sacrifice

Every page of this project I write takes me painfully close to difficult emotional baggage I try to ignore. I look at the characters in the stories and regard each decision I put in front of them with some of my own fear. Each of us has a carefully cultivated persona based on our work-a-day world, the carefully controlled interactions within it, and the ethics behind our rule of law. Working forward to the inevitable fall of the United States (all things being finite) I struggle to find my place in a world where I would no longer be bound by the rule or law or the consequences of an ordered society.

Indeed, the Creeps of the story operate outside the protections and accountability of what civilization survived the fall of the Tenebrion. In the case of Grubbs and Nippy they will suffer nothing evil to live, hunting down Tenebrial Horrors, psychos, and other threats to the City of Light, to the bitter end. In return they will not be thanked by a populace who only regrets being reminded that evil can at any moment reach out and touch their lives. No fifteen minutes or fame, no book deal, no medal, Grubbs and Nippy do what they do because they believe someone should.

This element of being a social outsider provides a distinctive edge anyone with a desire to do good. They hope to gain nothing from their actions other than a just conclusion, and have little to lose by society's standards. This is why people often discount the deaths of soldiers, police officers, and citizens who die trying to protect their communities. They are seen as being outside of the normal societal paradigm because they put the lives of others before their own. They get labeled heroes and then quickly forgotten because society at large is uncomfortable being reminded that within their perfect and ordered existence there be evil.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Grubbs & Nippy Concept Artwork

Oh my. Dave Cortie suggested that I take a break writing and draw something. I'm no Elle Phillips or Dave C. in the art department but I wanted to grant myself a clearer picture of what Grubbs and Nippy look like.

[Click the Picture if you can't make out the detail on your screen, it'll pop up larger in the browser.]

Grubbs was a Sheepdog (Police Officer) before he was touched by the Tenebrion during an Inquisition. I wanted him to be a hybrid of what the Police in the Cities of Light and the Creeps of the Creperum look like. I also wanted him to look somewhat heroic at Nippy's (who loves comic books) direction. I drew him with his hands closed because he's somewhat embarrassed about the clawed nature of his hands.

Nippy I wanted to look somewhat demure, almost shy. He's self conscious about his decidedly demonic appearance and does what he can to hide the way he looks. I wanted him to be small as compared to Grubbs who is pushing seven feet tall. Nippy is a mean 30" (including his little horns) plus and a fighter when he has to be so I didn't want him to appear too delicate. Nippy has jaws powerful enough to bite through steel chains but I didn't want to showcase his chompers too much.

I'll have to do something funny for Nippy to show off his teeth. Maybe draw him about to take a bite of a cookie or something. n_n