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Messages - NinjaRaptor

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Writers' Corner / Re: Fantasy Maps, and drawing mediums.
« on: December 28, 2017, 06:47:35 AM »
Although I do most of my other artwork on Clip Studio Paint these days, for maps I prefer to use Photoshop since I like the ability to create custom patterns and "paint" them. Here's a recent example of a map I made:

Writers' Corner / Re: Is the trope of evil monstrous humanoids problematic?
« on: November 20, 2017, 08:30:50 PM »
Tbh, given how frequently Tolkien/D&D style Orcs are found in the same setting as D&D Dark Elves, I'm curious as to what books you've been reading with evil monstrous humanoids.
Well, one self-published book I've read (which I otherwise really enjoyed, by the way) had antagonistic lizardpeople fighting tribal humans. In that case, they were serving some kind of evil god. Another book I remember, which had the Warhammer brand on it, had human antagonists defending their realm from evil orcs and goblins.

 But when I wrote my OP, I didn't have only books in mind. I was thinking of a cliche I perceive in fantasy media in general.

Writers' Corner / Re: Is the trope of evil monstrous humanoids problematic?
« on: November 20, 2017, 03:15:54 PM »
I am curious about the fact you've tied this to monstrous looking races and the whole ugly thing though (not that it hasn't been a way of making people seem subhuman). Would you consider the various breeds of batshit insane psycho elves to be less problematic because they're super pretty?
I am less familiar with those portrayals, to be honest. But I guess they're still overly simplistic and one-dimensional, so no.

Writers' Corner / Is the trope of evil monstrous humanoids problematic?
« on: November 19, 2017, 10:59:43 PM »
I don't necessarily intend to discourage people from writing stories about evil orcs, goblins, lizardpeople, demons, etc. threatening human civilization if those truly are the stories in their hearts. But I've come not to care for that trope personally. The core idea seems to be that the forces of evil must necessarily look monstrous, ugly, or otherwise unattractive (by conventional human standards). In other words, subhuman.

The reason I'm bothered by this is that, historically, a lot of the evil that people have done to each other has been motivated by the perception that the victims were the subhuman ones. Very often, denigrating those people's natural beauty has come hand in hand with this dehumanization. For example, look at Jim Crow portrayals of African-Americans, or Nazi portrayals of Jews. They always make the subjects look hideous in addition to threatening.

Of course, orcs etc. aren't actually supposed to be Homo sapiens, let alone representative of any real ethnic group. But since they're traditionally depicted as monstrous in appearance as well as behavior, couldn't that reinforce the prejudicial link between evil and ugliness? Because, ironically, a lot of very real evil has been driven by that belief.

Writers' Corner / Re: "Murky middle" problem with outlining a story
« on: September 23, 2017, 05:23:19 PM »
Or you could keep it simple, the almost got you, missed, recovery period, almost got you again, missed again (and badly this time), and is now maybe forced to rely on the decency of some of the Chinese natives in order to help her finally overcome. This might also add a nice touch to help avoid people jumping to the conclusion that the story is a punch at the Chinese culture as a whole, where the emperor's obsession with the power of the staff no less of a grave threat to his own people as much as it is to hers.
I like this one. I think I even know which character is going to help her out this time. Thanks again!

Writers' Corner / Re: "Murky middle" problem with outlining a story
« on: September 22, 2017, 06:31:53 PM »
From the details you've given, I would presume the climax of the opener is the Chinese emperor getting his hands on this magical staff. For the quest you probably want to just have him obtain it through nefarious means, and her proclaim her intention to reclaim it. For a chase, you could have her catch him in the act, fail, and as a result to redeem herself she goes after him. If you went revenge, you could give her some real power to her mission by also having her father be killed as a result of that coup so she also has the protection what are now her people on her mind.
I particularly like this one as a motivation for her. Thanks! Though the father also getting killed in the struggle could also add some extra emotional weight to the heroine's desire to redeem herself.

As for the final act, it's basically...

Spoiler for Hiden:
The villain's goons bring the staff to him, and he tries to use it as a weapon. The heroine defeats him in a violent struggle, establishes a peace treaty between their countries with whomever fills in the "Chinese"
 power void after the villain's death, and returns home as queen.

Writers' Corner / Re: "Murky middle" problem with outlining a story
« on: September 19, 2017, 06:36:21 PM »
Is the problem that you're plotting this out and aren't sure what should be in the middle, or you're writing it and finding yourself in a muddle? Different answers to different problems.

In any case, 9 times out of 10 you can't ignore a writer who hasn't come across murky middles as either a bald faced liar or not actually a writer.
At the moment I am still in the plotting stage.

Writers' Corner / Re: "Murky middle" problem with outlining a story
« on: September 18, 2017, 09:46:33 PM »
The most useful sounding advice I've come across is "Make protagonists who have a goal. And then think about a reason why they can't have it (yet)."

Preventing the kingdom to be conquered is a task, but a task that anyone could do. It's something that the protagonist can work on, but it's not the fulfilment of a personal desire. Preventing the conquest is not the real goal of the story. Rather the threat of conquest is the obstacle in the path to that goal.

What does she want to accomplish for herself? How can she benefit as a person from her fight against the conqueror? What developments will she have to make to arrive at the state that was denied to her at the start of the story?
Good suggestion. I would say my heroine's personal goal is proving to her father that she's qualified to defend the kingdom, since early on in the story he threatens to deny her the throne as punishment for her neglecting her studies and getting herself into trouble. At least that is what I have got so far.

Writers' Corner / "Murky middle" problem with outlining a story
« on: September 18, 2017, 07:37:53 PM »
Several weeks ago I hatched a concept and a few characters for a fantasy adventure story I would write. The setting drew influence from ancient African and Asian cultures, with the main conflict pitting an Egyptian- and Chinese-based civilization against one another.

The protagonist was going to be a warrior princess from the Egyptian-style culture, who was quite anxious about following her father's footsteps as Pharaoh and had a tendency to neglect her studies in favor of sports such as hunting or chariot-racing. The antagonist, on the other hand, was the Chinese-style culture's vengeful emperor, whose father died in a battle with the pseudo-Egyptians. What he wanted to do was steal a magic staff from the protagonist's country and use it as a weapon to conquer and enslave her people, and the protagonist's goal was to retrieve it.

When outlining the story, I ran into a sort of "murky middle" problem. I had some idea how the story would begin and end, but the middle act remained nebulous. All I knew was that it had something to do with the warrior princess heroine traveling from her country to the antagonist's. Oh, and she had as her companions a rambunctious little brother and a nerdy inventor who had the hots for her. Subplots involving these other two characters might fill in some of the blank spots, but the heroine needed an arc to pull her through as well.

I would very much appreciate suggestions on how to get myself unstuck here. Also, has anyone else encountered this kind of "murky middle" situation?

Writers' Corner / Re: Farmboy of Destiny
« on: August 22, 2017, 07:17:34 AM »
I don't see myself ever writing one of these "Farmboys of Destiny". Give me a warrior princess who's already received substantial education in the martial arts (and other skills pertinent to adventuring) any day.

I suspect FoD-type characters are popular simply because they have the most obvious character arcs. It's easy to imagine where a character has room to "grow" if they start off immature and unskilled, and the coming-of-age experience is something most adults can relate to on some level. With a character who's already badass from the beginning, you have to dig deeper to find potential arcs since you can't do a coming-of-age with them.

This is something that had bedeviled me for some time now. I see the three most important axes of storytelling as being setting, characters, and plot, but I am not sure which of these aspects I should work on first when planning a story. They all seem to be intertwined with each other to the point where each influences the other two. Setting can shape characters, and characters in turn can shape the plot. However, you also need characters that are suitable for the plot you design, and what you put in the setting can be affected both by the story and the characters that drive it. So it ends up being a chicken-and-egg dilemma.

Personally, I find settings and characters easier to brainstorm than plots, and part of me wants to go with those instincts. The other part of me doesn't want to catch world-builder's disease or create characters that don't suit the plot very well. So what are your recommendations?

So I self-published an anthology of my short speculative fiction on Amazon.com for the Kindle:

Dinosaurs & Dames
This is a self-published anthology of short stories by amateur writer Brandon S. Pilcher. By and large, they are action-packed speculative-fiction tales featuring dinosaurs and other savage beasts, fierce female warriors and huntresses, and African cultural influences. So if you like adventure, strong heroines, prehistoric wildlife, and non-Western settings, these are the stories for you.

Fantasy Art / Fan Art / Re: NinjaRaptor's Art Thread Redux
« on: March 11, 2017, 04:46:25 AM »

Around a year ago I drew my version of the Egyptian goddess Isis as she was portrayed in the RTS game Age of Mythology. But since I've grown embarrassed at how I drew people and their anatomy back in those days, I've opted to take another shot at the same theme to showcase my current skill level.

This is an illustration for a mod I made for the game Civilization VI. It adds the Pharaoh Hatshepsut as an alternative leader for Egypt (the default is the Ptolemaic Cleopatra).

You can download the mod from the Civ VI Workshop on Steam here.

This young warrior queen is resting on the back of her tame elephant during a warm African afternoon.

Fantasy Art / Fan Art / Re: NinjaRaptor's Art Thread Redux
« on: February 04, 2017, 09:55:47 PM »

Character design for an Egyptian warrior who has the special responsibility of protecting the Pharaohs' tombs from robbery and vandalism. Her black jackal helmet is of course an allusion to Anpu (Anubis), the jackal-headed god of embalming in the Egyptian religion.

Tyrannosaurus rex gives its legs a wash with its own tongue. This was inspired by photos of tigers cleaning themselves that same way, though admittedly I have no idea if T. rex would have possessed the anatomical flexibility to pull the same trick off. If not, it probably would have either immersed itself into a body of water or maybe entrusted smaller creatures to peck the bugs and parasites off its hide.

Fantasy Art / Fan Art / Re: NinjaRaptor's Art Thread Redux
« on: January 29, 2017, 01:05:31 AM »

It's so easy to
destroy and condemn
the ones you do not understand.
Do you ever wonder
if it's justified?

--- "Destroyed" by Within Temptation

Suffice to say, recent happenings in my country brought both this image and the song to mind. That is all.

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