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Canon Discussion and Debate 
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Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:47 pm
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 Canon Discussion and Debate
In the beginning God did plant into man the seed of creativity. This lead to the creation of the wheel, the gear, the computer....and World of Darkness. Man created WoD to be dark, to be gritty, to at times have a noir quality to it. Several years ago myself and many friends got together to explore this world through the eyes of Mage: The Awakening. This was also around the time that the Dresden Files had its one and only season (epic sad). We began full of hope, we gamed hard, we enjoyed it...and then the realization hit us. Mage, with all its potential, was kinda shit. This project will be an attempt to take Mage, and modern fantasy in general, beyond the conceptions that are barely realized in WW games. So strap in and prepare for a (hopefully) awesome ride. I hope it will be enjoyed. Mainly because if its not Ill probably hunt a few people down and wear their skins like a suit. So, on to business then.

The following is the way the story will be brought together from the ground up:
Theme-->Style-->Setting-->Plots/Characters

Theme:
Thus far there are many theories on the theme of this project, some will come, some will go...but the over all arching will be "Does power corrupt?" Now most people would look at this and nod thinking yes; but does it really? What is REAL power? Where does that line get drawn in the sand and when does a little benefit to ones self lead to true corruption? Is it a slow fall as power grows? An unknown reality that is seen only when its far too late? Or is it a conscious choice to dive into darker places and methods seeking an edge in power. To that end, again, what is power? Power over life and death? Money? Sex? Strength? These are the most basic questions, and some not so basic, that will be played upon to create our lovely tale of survival.

Style:
Do you remember the old PI movies, the ganster films, Casablanca? Film Noir. The somewhat dirty, needs to get done, tongue and cheek feel of such an old film is the style this will be written in. Of course added in will be healthy doses of apathy and depression. The world is a dark, unfriendly, uncaring misteress who will just as soon kiss you as kill you. The world, the people in it do not care. Life may very well be a meaningless, but what else have ya got?

Setting:
The world is modern. No shit. Magic, vampires, weres, fae, yep that shit happens. What is the world as we know it? What world do we know? Do we know it? The setting is dark, gritty, Noir, apathetic, and laden with depression. Mind you Im sure there are still some hippy hold outs. Feel free to kill them.

Plots/Characters:
We will revolve around several central characters, a Cabal if you will, and they will be taken through various major player and story archs. Characters may make the plot, and the plot may make the characters. The two are, to some degree, interchangeable. Some of us may take the view points of certain characters over others, the story is still the same. As in chess...Im a knight, someone is a rook, another a bishop. We're all awesome at what we do, and we're all still playing chess. Any character will be available to w/e writer wants to use them as long as it makes sense. If we have a vegan and she is suddenly wolfing down a steak there will be issues. Simple enough?


Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:33 pm
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Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:22 pm
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Post Re: In The Beginning.....(An overview thread)
Additional Themes discussable should include "What would you be willing to sacrifice for power?" and "Is Evil real, or just a good guy with a different point-of-view?"

On that I'd like add myself is "Would a true friend sacrifice his friendship with someone to save that person?"

Stylistically we should also include a healthy dose of black, tongue-in-cheek humor.

As for how this all fits together, think of it as a house of cards. In the foundation you have the themes. The themes are as mutable as anything else, but unlike everything else, the themes will easily change how everything else operates. Everything.

Up from there you have the Style of the story. The Style really needs to be informed by the themes, a happy, cheery informal style doesn't inform well darker more serious themes.

Once you get the Themes and the Styles hammered out, the setting emerges from there very rapidly. Thought and ideas take shape, the trappings of a world where these themes are real take shape and the color and flavor coalesces from the Style you've created.

One step up from there is both the characters and the plot - both are intrinsically the same type of thing. Pieces within the story moved about on the stage of your setting by the impetus of your themes, interacting as prescribed by your styles. Characters do this by giving us people to identify, talk with, and watch their lives unfold. Plot pieces do this by creating the testing ground of the themes, the living breathing creature that we're poking in our lab, trying to see what it does in different experiments.

Easily this allows, once it has been put down, for each step to build upon the next.
Any piece of this shared fiction created should reference the levels supporting it. Any character or plotline suggested should reference how it plays into the setting, style and theme. Any setting element should reference how it supports (or is supported by) the theme and style. And the style shouldn't create a flavor that creates dissonance with the themes.


Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:42 pm
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Post Re: In The Beginning.....(An overview thread)
One other theme to add on at a personal level: "If given power, what would you do? Would you seek revenge knowing it might cost you?"


Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:16 pm
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Post Re: In The Beginning.....(An overview thread)
The only thing I have to say on that one, is it's a bit too specific possibly. Unless the entire plot's going to revolve around revenge...is it?


Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:12 pm
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Post Re: In The Beginning.....(An overview thread)
For one character it will come up. Harshly.

Now below is a part of a conversation had between Reithan and I that should help with what we are attempting. Perhaps issues listed not yet addressed can be.

Theme is like...what picture we're painting
Style is the color palette we're going to use
Setting is where we start brainstorming and sketching the layout
And Plot/Characters is where we actually start putting down details and drawing everything together


Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:37 am
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Post Re: In The Beginning.....(An overview thread)
Basically, the conversation we had was just a thought process on the paradigm shift we need from our usual endeavors (PNP RPG) to this current one (Free-form group writing). Anatole seemed worried about 'power creep' people 'running amok' and the general sorts of things a GM worries about with unruly players or munchkins about.

The thing is though - we're not playing with dice, or character sheets, or even rules, really. So those concerns are all in the wind.

All we really need to do is make sure on each level of our paradigm we come up with sufficiently clear guidelines, and that the collaborators stick to them, and call their fellows on it when they catch them deviating. The requirement we already laid down of sourcing your breadcrumb trail will help with this alot. (Ex: You want to create/edit a character or plot element, you must cite how it works with the setting and the style AND the themes, or it's a no-go.)

That being said, it seemed like we were getting really in-depth and caught up with certain 'setting' elements, and that seemed wrong for that level, because the things we were coming up with starting turning into in-detail schools of magic, in-setting organizations and political systems...

I think Setting in this paradigm might even be better described as "Meta-Setting", because getting that in-depth at that step seems to really step on the feet of the Character level. An organization and it's goals and rivals should really be in the Character step not the Setting step.

To that end, the Setting step was clarified a bit: Setting only includes the broad strokes of the setting. How does magic work? Not the individual schools or people, viewpoints or schools involved. What is the political environment like? A few of big players? Lots of small ones? Should power players exist? NOT the names and details of those groups or people.

Once you get the broad strokes of "How does the Setting operate?" The people, places, groups, history etc, those are all "Character" pieces.

Hopefully this helps in developing the story and in creating coherent breadcrumb trails for use in our progress.


Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:12 am
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Post Re: Canon Discussion and Debate
Disputes on inclusion/exclusion or changes to aspects of the story can be easily vetted for us based on these. Basically anything included must be supported by at least one element from each level preceding it. So any character/plot element must be supported by at least 1 theme, 1 style and 1 setting element. Any player may then dispute this edit, by citing any element on any of these levels that contradicts it.

I was also thinking that you could possibly 'cancel' a dispute by citing other elements on the same level that also support it, sort of 'out-voting' the dissenting elements. I don't know how well this really works, though. Because we can't rally allow a character that totally breaks a Setting rule, just because it follows 2 others.

There's also the issue of the inclusion of changing of something being disputed just because someone dislikes it, even though it 'works' with the elements we're using.


Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:45 pm
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Post Re: Canon Discussion and Debate
Discussion notes from Skype (Anatole & Xanthus):

Setting points:
  1. modern setting
  2. no deviations from real life in broad terms
  3. slightly less regulated travel, such as pre-911
  4. normal history - non-altered
  5. shadow history? i.e: not all 'accepted' mainstream history is the 'real full story'
  6. how we want magic and supernaturals to operate in general terms
    1. Casting is will/training based, rather than knowledge/learning based
    2. Casting may be short and simple or long and complex
    3. casting can be without implements or with tons of tools and trappings
    4. Human casters are at a sort of 'cold war' state with non-humans
  7. many different types of supernaturals exist
  8. pretty much all the classics are real
  9. it's not limited to 'just' the classics
  10. the classics may or may not be 'by the book', depending on who's book we're going by...


Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:24 pm
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