A Summer of Ethnis 2019
The ScopeLast year, I spent most of my Summer Camp trying to find a single place to fill out. I wanted operate within a planets scope to help me relate all of my work together and give a better final product. The Product of that Summer Camp was the planet of Perduro which has brought a lot of eyes and favorites into Ethnis. It is currently one of the most fleshed out planets in Ethnis. Because of that success, I decided to the do the same this year.
Choosing VictorianaTo chose a planet this time, I used the fantastic Ethnis Discord. I set up a vote for a couple of planets to focus on, letting the community decide what I should work on. They chose Victoriana, the homeworld of the Jupiter Syndicate. A subpoint to this planet-based limitation is to let some topics push away from the planet. Flexibility is crucial, and if there is a topic that really sparks my interest, I won't hesitate to swap it out for a planet-themed prompt. I have a scope, and now it comes down to making a plan.
The PlanOne big difference I have from last year is that I am a much busier man that I previously was. With my Master of Games and other Enchanter duties, as well as the delivery of the Ethnis Light RPG on the line, I have to do these thirty prompts quickly. That's why I think I am going to do a writing blitz instead of systematically making a full article at a time. There are thirty prompts, and my first goal is to get every one filled out. Once I fill them out with the basic information, then I can choose the ones I like and flesh them out to something special.
Building the CoreIt is my single-minded goal this year to build onto what I've been thinking of as the Core 100. Ethnis has 705 articles at the time of writing this, with an average of 660 words per article. That's a lot of content, especially for a newcomer for Ethnis, and especially to give away for free. It's always been a part of our plan with World Anvil to pare the public articles down to exactly what we would print in a Core TTRPG book. The Core 100. Everything else should be either private for the sake of future projects or patreon-only—stories and modules for our supporters. Part of this is because we believe in our right to expect compensation for the stories, art, and games we are putting out, but it may surprise you to learn that the main motivation began with a recurring piece of feedback we get with Ethnis:
Ethnis is dauntingly huge. I get lost too easily, and am intimidated by how much is there.Our Core 100 needs to be lazer focused, informative, and entertaining, and it needs to leave you with a sense of having a footing instead of being totally lost. My aim is to get 30 articles closer to that point. For Summercamp, I will be focused on fleshing out 30 of the Core 100 and organizing, tagging, and setting the privacy and subscriber levels of the remaining content. Wish me luck.
Mandatory Sanity Incentives (Rewards)We will reward ourselves with these for each milestone we reach.
10 ArticlesDigital Recreation Night
An evening of Co-Op Gaming
20 ArticlesCommunity Movie Night
Drinks and a movie with our Discord server.
30 ArticlesLuxury Evening
Make an inspiration board on World Anvil, share anything that helps keep you going and sets the tone for your world!
Summarizing the inspirations of Ethnis is a challenging notion, to say the least. It is 21 years old, and began as the childhood ramblings of Ademal. It has grown since then, both in maturity and scope, but the seeds (and some of the characters) of those early editions remain. Add to that a lifetime of media, and the 10-year involvement of Barron as well as a whole crew of vocal fans, and there is a lot of sources pouring concepts and inspiration into the setting. What follows is instead a laser focus on the core content of this Codex—the slice of Ethnis put forward at this end of the timeline, and our mentality when working on this Codex.
The NarratorThe sections below are broken into Themes and Tone, a choice which reinforces the setting. These are two of the three attributes of Narrators, a major mechanic of the Ethnis Lite RPG. In that regard, the below is a summary of the Narrative voice of this Codex.
ThemesOne of the critical organs of the entity which is Ethnis is the adventures within it. Ethnis is not solely a narrative experience meant to be shared, it is also a setting for a game, and crafting such a setting requires the addition of intrigue, hooks that pull you into the universe to explore it and yourself. In designing these adventures we want two very specific feelings to be reached. One at the beginning of the adventure and another at the end. The first video below is what we want people to feel at the beginning of a narrative or adventure—the wonder of the unknown, the wanderer's itch. At the other end of the experience, looking back, we want them to experience a nostalgia, a gratefulness of the experience had and a longing for more of it.
Beginning the Journey
Ending the Journey
Stephen King, for his ability to portray characterization in a real and gritty way, and to let them carry the story. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for blending multiple visual and emotional themes together across separate stories and conjoined ones alike. David Cronenberg, the king of body horror, for his use of the physical and the grotesque as a mirror into the mind. Studio Ghibli, for its ability to make any tale feel grand, fantastic, and important. It's a reminder that wonder can be found even in the mundane, and in the fantastic there is so much left to explore. Warren Ellis, specifically for Transmetropolitan, which is one of the most quintessentially cyberpunk worlds out there. His absurdist approach inspired our own. Kill Six Billion Demons, for its rich and sprawling world and constant sense of brutal spiritualism. Our struggles with Identity, relevance, productivity, etc. Ethnis is highly introspective, which gives rise to many LGBT and existential themes.
The tone of Ethnis can be difficult to nail down due to sheer scale. One story will be sharp wit and adventure, another will be gloom and melancholy, another will be introspective and hopeful. Each different expression is just a glance at a larger tapestry tied together by central Tones. Anticipation in the way we look to the future through the lens of today's madness. We want to know what challenges we may face tomorrow, and so there is is as much dread as it is excitement. This is expressed in the research we do. Liminality. To be liminal is to exist on both sides of a threshold. In Ethnis, this means the threshold between anticipating the future through the introspection of the now. This is expressed through ethereality, poetic prose, and themes which connect the material world with the immaterial mind. Introspection We use the word introspection despite it being aimed at the world because Ethnis cares more for the existential crises of the future over the material ones, which requires evaluating our own existential issues and playing them forward through the future to decide what technology will address, what will remain, and what new issues will arise.