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Messages - RobertS

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Writers' Corner / Re: Is the trope of evil monstrous humanoids problematic?
« on: November 28, 2017, 07:54:23 PM »
Yes, I think the trope of evil monstrous humanoids is  problematic. Race and stereotype will always be problematic but they also can present us with an interesting range of of options.

Races in fantasy are kind of like animals in Aesop, black hats in Westerns or zombies in horror. They can allow us to say things about society that we cannot say out loud. They can let us ignore moral ambiguity and lash out violently while still being ethical beings. They can be used to get quickly past depth in world building, cultural issues and even character development. Sometimes a story can be built faster using existing building blocks. Sometimes, by using a monstrous humanoid, you can borrow from a tradition. As an example, I just made up a flesh eating humanoid creature that sees in and prefers the dark. I haven't really been all that creative have I? Giving it a classic name may be a quicker way to let the reader get up to speed. It is also possible that there are associations that I want you to draw from the name. If the origin is modern I may have to make up a name like, CHUD. Otherwise I have a range of names from fantasy that might do fine.

One theory that I hold as likely to be true, is that fantasy races allow us to discuss things that we may not even allow ourselves to think. Like a dream symbol that we get on one level but mostly ignore. As an example, modern zombies are the stupid masses, vampires are the powerful, old and wealthy.

If you think of Fairies as nobles or royals, this matches as a possible ancient pattern of telling truths without saying them outloud. If you address a noble directly, expect gratitude, witness their doings or even give them something you consider valuable, it can go badly. If you join their courts and revels, years may pass and when you return  home you will no longer fit in and everything will have changed.

In Norway, the Elves were hollow inside. With the appearance of beauty they were cold and dangerous. Ogres where often beautiful women at the start of the story and then showed that they were evil, strong and ugly after they gained access or control. It is hard to warn a friend about the selfish person they are enamored of. Perhaps these were ways to make more subtle references.

In the Western genre there are formative books and movies with great depth and moral ambiguity. High Noon doesn't have black hats to tell you who is a bad guy. Some of the bad folk are obvious some are more subtle. A lot are mixed. While the typical Western has black hats, white hats, drunks and gamblers, some Westerns use the basic building blocks to craft stories that tell us more about ourselves.

As others have said, it depends strongly on the writer and even stereotypes can be made new or even transform. Star Wars and Indiana Jones are both examples of stereotypes being made fresh. While I cringe when I see a stereotype being used badly, stereotypes are at the heart of the incredibly flexible fantasy format. If, like many great fantasy authors do, you are going to reinvent the wheel and even the rules on how wheels turn, it does not hurt to have a few set building blocks to borrow.

Writers' Corner / Re: Is your reality fantasy?
« on: November 27, 2017, 04:29:08 AM »
I'm slightly confused by your question Robert, are you asking if we were to create a setting we truly believed in, or matched those of our beliefs. Would it look like fantasy to another reader, like a work of fiction or a product of our imagination?

[NOV 2017] Water / Re: [Nov 2017] - Water - Discussion Thread
« on: November 22, 2017, 11:39:02 PM »
Ugh I wrote a story but it's not fantasy.
Trigger warning my friends, this is very well written. Bradly is pulling heart strings and hitting hard.

Congradulations Eli!

Ice in Texas is really deadly. No one has a vehicle prepared for it an no one knows how to drive on it. Even if you are an expert who is equipped and ready for it the roads are not safe. Even if you know how to drive, you are surrounded by people who have no clue.


Announcement time!
Linus will be a big brother by the end of May. :)

A) Congratulations!
B) You thought your free time was limited now, just wait....
Haha, thanks! You're not the first person to say this. But as so often knowing a thing and experiencing it are two totally different cups of tea.
My reading time atm is 90% commute to work, so it's not likely my reading will be reduced greatly. :)
1) Congratulations!
2) You will be catching up on sleep during the commute so reading time may go by by. :)

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: November 16, 2017, 06:13:34 PM »
On a more positive note, doctors are now making the first attempt at curing a man's congenital illness through gene editing. We're entering an exciting era in medical advancements.


If we want the species to continue, first we have to master and get the bugs out of parthenogenisis before we can cure man's congenital illness. :)

Writers' Corner / Re: How to write a royal proclamation
« on: November 16, 2017, 01:16:09 PM »
I agree with Skip and The Gem Cutter. May I suggest a garden party? This gives an opportunity for announcements, entertainers mingling at breaks, private talks, and public ones.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: November 16, 2017, 06:10:12 AM »
I swear to god we live in an alternate universe where a Biff from Back to the Future becomes President and Cards Against Humanity rises up to stop him using kickstarter.  I don't even know how to process the absurdity that is America at this moment.  Thought I do know what to buy @tebakutis for christmas...



My theory is that we don't live in the main timeline. Travelers who switch between dimensions know to quickly get out of ours. We don't have zeppelins and that is a clear sign of inevitable doom.

Writers' Corner / Re: Swords!
« on: November 15, 2017, 11:09:11 PM »

Bronze weighs 541lbs/ft3 Steel 490lbs/ft3 (sorry not feeling clever enough for metric atm) not enough to make a difference. Whether a sword weighs 3lbs or 31/4lbs is not really relevant.

A 24 oz vs 26 oz may not seem dramatic but in bicycle parts a 2 oz difference can equal a lot of money. As far as speed goes, 2 oz added to a 1.5lb sword with the same center of gravity and length is like night and day in my hands.

Writers' Corner / Re: How to write a royal proclamation
« on: November 15, 2017, 03:45:09 PM »

Someone suggested that I switch a dinner-party chapter with a royal proclamation scene, unfortunately I have no idea how to write one of those or what it would look like.

Are there any scenes from movies/TV series with a royal proclamation (that isn't campy) that I could look at? or an excerpt from a book? I can't think of any off the top of my head.

As often as not, proclamations where written and often discussed and edited strongly before being announced. A lot of them had illustrations and tables. Without radio, these works were normally succinct and often posted in public places for reading.

In movies, these proclamations are posted, and read while the folk listening react. This gives the feel of public opinion of the rules and of the leadership making decisions. It also give the chance for the audience to see public agitators trying to influence the reaction of those present.

Old Robin hood movies and that sort will often have royal decrees or proclamations.

Here is an example of a proclamation that would effect quite a few people and still be a work that would still need to be read for full understanding.


Here is an example of an announced proclamation. It is more modern but these things follow ancient patterns.


While heraldry appears to have had a certain level of consistency, few other practices hold for all nations and all times.

Here is the Royal Proclamation, By King George, of October 7, 1763. It strongly effected the Americas, but it was given in court at St. James. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/proc1763.asp

My memory is shaky on old movies with proclamations, but as I recall a man would ring a bell or horns blare as a crier walked with guards to a square or raise pavilion in the market. He would shout something like, "Oyez!" as he got peoples attention while marching. A large sheet would be posted and then the crier would read from a large document held like a scroll. Crowd reaction or the reaction of the hero would be seen.
Often this would be followed by a montage of shorter and harsher documents being put up and carts in the market being turned over by guards.

If you watch a few good historic Kdramas you will get to see kings give proclamations. The setting is typically a long closed hall with a group of seated scholar/leaders. The setting could also be in a huge court with men seated on the stone courtyard while he sits up at the top of stairs, or by a large gong on a high stone platform in a large open courtyard.

A lot of the form in fantasy will depend on how large the kingdom is, how close the king is to the people and how scared of an assassin the king might be. A powerful king might be remote from the reading. A really weak one might have people gossiping in front of him while he read his own words.

I love an ironic twist of humor and I like to bash the powerful when I write. So I love the balcony over a square as a setting for the king to declare things. This works well for dictators, puppets and cowards. It works well for the over-dramatic and the egotistical. This is perfect for having people rounded up so there will be a crowd and then punished if they don't pay attention. It also allows you to set up someone out of the sight of the king to motion for the crowd to cheer. In a Potemkin setting this is a good way to keep the king from seeing any part of the village that might let him know how his country is really being run.


Writers' Corner / Re: Swords!
« on: November 15, 2017, 06:47:34 AM »
War fighting weapons are invisibly shaped by things other than combat, so be careful how far down the "realism" hole you let yourself go. Half of these issues relate to economics and scale - fielding an army of katana-wielders is impractical given the time those swords need to be manufactured in the way they historically were produced, for example.
100 men with iron weapons will beat 20 men with bronze weapons. Even if their weapons are slightly inferior.
Humorously, people go on and on about how steel weapons are superior to bronze because of their strength. Sadly they are correct but for the wrong reason. Bronze can be quite strong, it is often used in guards on swords. Not the place you want weakness. The reason that bronze is clearly inferior is that bronze weapons are really, really heavy.

Writers' Corner / Re: Swords!
« on: November 15, 2017, 03:48:36 AM »
War fighting weapons are invisibly shaped by things other than combat, so be careful how far down the "realism" hole you let yourself go. Half of these issues relate to economics and scale - fielding an army of katana-wielders is impractical given the time those swords need to be manufactured in the way they historically were produced, for example.
Real war weapons tend to be simple and devoid of any style or fanciness. They tend to be ugly and practical. Ugly, intimidating-looking weapons are effective - this is why most bayonet kills are to the back as one man flees.
Real weapons tend to be durable, even to the expense of their lethality, to certain extent. For example, many modern assault rifles use small bullets - allowing soldiers to carry 200+ bullets, instead of only half that many if their bullets were larger (and more lethal, with longer range and better accuracy and penetration).
And lastly, real war weapons are often not ideal - made in large numbers with often questionable quality. Now, a rich man's weapon might be his own, and that would probably be better than average - sometimes a lot better.
Swords break all the time. Real fighters carry spares and although they spend their time 90/10 favoring their "normal use" (i.e., using your best hand), professionals practice using their weapons in the weak, as well. For example, professional soldiers switch their use of the rifle to match the corner they are going around, allowing them to expose less of their bodies before their weapon comes to bear.
Lastly, real weapons tend not to be multi-functional. War spear, fighting knives, etc., are generally not very throwable because designing them to be so is impractical on several levels. And in war there's lots of baddies about, and they throw things back.

This is very true. As an example, the first guns were a horrible battle weapon at the start. They were just cheaper to make, use and train with. guns allowed poorly trained troops to have good enough results against more expensive and thus less expendable troops. Being able to sacrifice the poor untrained members of society while obtaining military advantage was win win to a lot of countries. It seems like some things never change.

Writers' Corner / Re: Swords!
« on: November 15, 2017, 03:37:35 AM »
Hm How would you think about a character learning multiple weapons? Not like a lot. But maybe three different forms. A sling would be easy to carry around, and while not mastered, maybe something that's just "proficient". My character has been practicing to kill for fifty years. (Magic world created elves instead of humans. Yipee.)

I would think that would be plenty of time, and I think three different styles wouldn't be too much. And the combination of the bow (need to figure out the type), sling, and dagger-sword combo seems like a good thing for a character that relies on speed, stealth, and fighting one on one, or maybe two or three if having the advantage of good hit and run terrain.

Look up the Spartans and how they trained kids to use slings. Before you got to eat you had to knock a small loaf of bread out of a tree. Every day you stepped a foot further back. It isn't long before you have a kid that you don't want to get too angry. The  Spartans practiced with slings and still learned other weapons.

Give a character a crazy parent or mentor that is in love with sparta and you could easily have a fairly young kid even that has learned several other weapons. Your character doesn't need fifty years to learn weapons but fifty years of weapon use will definitely teach a lot of dirty, rotten, sneaky tricks that can help keep him alive.

Writers' Corner / Re: Swords!
« on: November 15, 2017, 02:51:42 AM »
There are many different styles of fighting and many situations not ideal to the weapon at hand.
In an restricted space (pretty much anywhere indoors) a knife is more useful than a sword. A spear is really useful indoors, if you have room to move and are covering a doorway with it, otherwise its pretty much a liability.
A single spear man against a swordsman is going to have a hard time. 10 swordsmen against 10 spear man should get massacred if the spear men have a clue.
with a knife you can take a swordsman if you are within 3 meters and the sword is sheathed. Facing off to a swordsman with drawn blades where he has space to use it with a knife is suicide.
Here's a question. I know duel wielding swords is ineffective, but a sword dagger combo was a real thing. I'm thinking of my main character having a bow with that as a backup, but I can't find much about it since most of the results when you google it is from video games like Skyrim...
These are my own observations so take them as you will. These observations are based on quite a bit of active research using padded blades against live opponents.

I don't count padded weapons as a perfect test. Weights and balances make a difference. But I have tried to learn and observe as I have gotten exercise and had fun. Most enactments have some safety rules that can alter reality and convince people of things that are not actually true. A lot of effective combat methods are not allowed in combat simulations. Combat simulations can teach us things that would not be true if the rules were gone.

Duel wielding is, in my opinion, highly effective. Your mileage may vary though. Duel wielding takes good control of stance, high flexibility, speed and the ability to do two different tasks with two hands. Some one with a shield and a sword will beat a duel wielder every single time, unless the duel wielder is a master. A master at duel wielding will take advantage of how slow a shield is and clean clock on the shield user, no matter what the shield user does.

A two handed sword user that thinks a two handed sword is a hacking weapon will just lose to a duel wielder. If a two handed sword user is aware that the two handed sword is the fastest and in the right circumstances most agile weapon a man can hold, then the duel wielder needs to run for it. Unless the duel wielder is a master. The master will block with one sword slide in and cut the man with the two handed sword while the man with the two handed sword user has no choice but to try and parry or block with his heavy and over long weapon. If the duel wielder is able to force the two handed sword user with subtle use to use the two handed sword crudely, he will win.

Then comes the real problem. If the Shield user or the two handed sword user also has armor, then the duel wielders best option is to leave.

In a passage or in the open, when I duel wielder faces someone reasonably skilled with a pole arm of usable length, no matter how gifted the duel wielder is, he is looking at low odds of winning. If there are curves in the passage or a few trees, things may have gotten easier for the duel wielder. 

Everything is scissors, rock and paper. Don't discount using two swords, while they didn't always use them that way, a lot of samurai found carrying a pair of blades useful.

Let's take the sling as a clear example. If you have room to use it and the skill, it beats just about everything. The ammo is cheap, the mass and velocity is perfection and the rate of fire is pretty darned good. With a sling it is easy to fire a fifty caliber bullet just under the speed of sound. Armor can be pierced and it is hard to dodge a sling bullet. Arrows can be dodged and even caught. A sling bullet is a different thing. The problem with the sling is that it takes years of training. A bow can be taught well in a month or so. A gun in a week.
 A man with a loaded crossbow or someone close by with a club is going to beat the sling user at a quick draw. I would put a sling user against a huge man in armor and expect the sling user to win every time, just like the Bible said.

There is a reason that there are so many weapons. If one was the best in every users hands, then we would only have one.

So until you have watched arnis done by a master, don't sell duel wielding short. Keep in mind that escrima stick fighting is practice for duel wielding. Change those sticks out for swords and watch out.

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