World Ember Pledge 2022

Disclaimer for Russian-speakers
Дисклеймер для читателей
Это техническая статья, нужная для подготовки к участию в конкурсе World Ember. Контент этой записи не важен для развития сеттинга, это скорее способ собрать мысли и приступить к работе. По этой причине, перевода этой статьи не будет.

Hi, everybody! To those who don't know or don't remember me: my name is Teyvill, I'm a historian and a narrative designer for games (mostly, mobile visual novel type). Here on World Anvil I'm worldbuilding my campaign setting of Fringe Earth, which is built around three pillars - History, Time Travel and D&D.  

Foreword

This is gonna be one very weird WorldEmber experience for me.   If you're interested in reading why, feel free to open the spoiler. Inside you can find some self-reflection and thinking about how some recent events affect my creative work. But that is 100% skippable, absolutely not required for reading the pledge.   How I got here
I've been on World Anvil since about August 2020. I participated in WE 2020, had to skip almost the entire 2021 because of my workload, and planned to return at some point in Spring 2022, but...   The war started.   The country I was born in and lived most of my life wasn't heaven on earth by all means, even considering I was in quite a privileged position. There was a type of social contract between the government and the population: they don't interfere with our lives, we don't interfere with their politics. I always rejected this social contract, but me being a journalist at the time created a conundrum. I thought: either I become an activist and lose the integrity needed to do my job, essentially becoming another propagandist, just for "the other side" of social discourse, or vice versa.   The year 2018 changed the situation. I quit journalism. I wanted to write for games. And I've succeeded, scoring a job as a Narrative Designer next year. And all that time, I felt absolutely exhausted by politics, I didn't even want to discuss it with my friends! Well, that was a mistake. While I stayed hidden in my bubble, trying to get my gamedev career going, I skipped a lot of instances of blatant human rights violations (even more blatant than earlier) and a bunch of oppressive laws that should've tipped me off about what's gonna come. Then COVID came and put everything on hold.   I was coming to an understanding of what's going on. Military exercises on the border, that whole energy crisis in Europe, the NATO ultimatum. Unfortunately, February 24, 2022 became a total surprise for me, even though it shouldn't have. The country I lived in for thirty years straight up invaded the neighboring one.   I hoped that would become the straw that would break a camel's back. I bickered a lot over the years how since 2012 there were no proper protests in the country. A state run by literal bandits laughs at peaceful demonstrations of disagreement. To enact change, those who opposed the regime had to be more... Violent isn't the right word here. I'd say, more assertive. If they strike you, strike back, don't just stand there and film it on your phone. Assault government buildings, don't just walk with a banner in a "permitted space". But whatever the government did, be it building a palace using stolen money, poisoning their main political opponent, or marking a bunch of dissenters to be "foreign agents”, it always ended one way. A small bunch of people goes on the street, angrily walks and yells slogans, gets beaten up by police and gets dispersed. Some criminal cases follow, protest dies down.   I did hope that such an obviously unethical, stupid and self-destructing move as invasion would prompt a huge response from my compatriots. But turned out it wasn't so obvious to many, and it defilitely wasn't regarded as a self-destructing one by most of those who wanted to fight the regime. I've been to a several protests in February and saw a small mob of frightened young people which ran away and were hiding at the first sight of the police appearing down the street. It was wrong. I've been to Thailand, Turkey, Armenia in their times of struggle between the civil society and the government - and what I witnessed back home wasn't even remotely like that. Many of my thoughts on the matter are reflected in a piece of prose I wrote here on World Anvil - Snowbanks of History.   And then it dawned on me: I can't, for the life of me, ever stay. Everything around me made me feel despondent. Useless. Definitely unsafe: I wasn't careful in my evaluations of the situation online, as well as I was on the radar of a certain government agency since I served on one of their military bases when I was conscripted 10 years ago. Together with my beloved wife, I left.   Now 9 months have passed and I more or less rebuilt most of my life in a new place. I'm more lucky that many of my anti-war compatriots: they rarely have living permits in the countries they ran to - Georgia, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Thailand. And I'm a citizen of another country already, and I even voted during the last election.   Though I wouldn't really brand myself as "anti-war". Since the very first days, even before it became apparent that the aggressor can't win the war, I was openly pro-Ukrainian. Daily speeches by Volodymir Zelenskiy were like an injection of sanity while I was still in Moscow. And after I left, the only form of active protest available to me was trolling "Z-patriots'' on Telegram, going to their internal chats and posting the most repulsive body horror (thanks for the inadvertent indirect tip, Qurillion!) images I could find online, forcing them to stop gaggling and gloating for a minute and trying to cope with what they just saw. That was almost as legendary as seeing those very people whining about the Russian army running away from occupied territories all the time.   I plan to write articles about these current events and how they're going on in my world. They'll be full of reflection and wishful thinking xD Gotta do something with all that creative frustration!   Slava Ukraine! Russia delenda est!
  Anyway, with that out of the way, let's move on to the actual pledge!  

Redecoration

 

Motivations

Week 1 homework suggests working with world meta. I've decided to go one step further and, firstly, examine why am I participating in World Ember at all? My Russian-speaking audiences rarely read WA, and I have no clue whatsoever how to widen my English-speaking audience. Well, the answer turned out to be rather simple: I love writing, and I've got a lot of things to write about, especially now that I have some spare time on my hands.   Then, I wanted to check out new things on World Anvil - and oh my God, Dimi, Janet and the team finished working on Project Chronos! We've got Chronicles now! That is the best format to navigate Fringe Earth! Though, upon some careful examination, I realized that making the setting's chronicle would be a daunting task, and it would need some serious prep. I'm sure WorldEmber will help me with that.   The final reason to do it is Vicissitudes of Time, my D&D show on Youtube. I'm planning to start releasing it's second season in December, and it would definitely need some supporting articles!   Vicissitudes of Time 2 trailer (English Captions)
     
 

Requirements

  What Fringe Earth really needs is redecoration! That concerns both content and design. Content-wise, right now I've got a bunch of categories.  
  • Introduction
  • Magic and Wonders
  • Fringe History
  • Time Travel
  • Fringe Society
  • Inhumans
  • Game Design
  Design should also probably be changed. Right now it's a clustertruck of different bunched-up CSS scripts written without real knowledge of the subject matter over the original design.  
 

Content solutions

  In hindsight - two years after I've created the categories - they don't look like they're the best way to organize a world based on time travel. Instead, I'm gonna opt for Ages.  
  • The entirety of the history of the setting will be divided in a small number of ages.
  • Every age will have their own chronicler or chroniclers attached to them
  • Chronicler is a person whose perspective will be used in narration. They might be biased or unbiased, reliable or unreliable.
  • They will also have their own style of narration.
  • That also means I'll have to eventually rewrite and/or reorganize practically every single article I wrote before. That'll be bigger than just WorldEmber, though. It's the plan for the next year at least.
 
 

Visual solutions

  The design is clunky as hell. I still haven't learned frontend properly, but this time I want to fix it by minimizing my interference with the templates and see where it brings me. Here's the list of changes I wanna try and implement.  
  • First, I'm going to move all the main page content to a separate place, leaving the link to it on the main page. For all intents and purposes, it'll be a "main page under construction". In addition to it, the link to this article will be left there.
  • I want to try and find a more elegant solution to the bilingual problem before some kind of multilingual mechanic is added to WA. That goal might be unattainable, though.
  • I've got an awesome art made by commission for Season 2 of Vicissitudes, around which I want to build the design up. It's the White Tower of The Dreaded Time | Время Ужасающее and I think it would be a great bedrock for Fringe Earth.
  • Instead of icons I used previously, there will be blocks of Ages as articles.
  • The introduction will stay the same, though. I still like it.
  • Or maybe I'll change it a little bit.
 
  Now, I know that all of that sounds like a least WorldEmber activity, which should be all about worldbuilding! Well, however it is painful to admit even to myself, I'm from Russia. New Year is the time of great renewal for me. Not resolutions, but actual, proper renewal. We get our apartments as clean as possible, buy the best food possible, finish up all fundamental tasks before the blasted clock on one of Kremlin's towers strikes twelve. December is the time to set up the redecoration.   That doesn't mean I'm not worldbuilding in December, though! This month will be all about Vicissitudes of Time!  

WorldEmber Prep Homework

Week 1 - World Ember Motivations

  1. 1. If you have more than one world setting, which one is the most important to you right now? Why? - Right now, Fringe Earth is the only setting I have and want to develop. It is important to me as a conduit for my creativity that doesn't have another outlet at the time being.
  2. 2. Which area of that world setting will allow you to achieve your goals - I'd say that's all areas, but that sounds like cheating. I'd say the main focus right now is worldbuilding related to Vicissitudes of Time 2
  3. 3. How will it help you achieve those goals? - Supporting articles for VoT2 will allow me to produce a continuous stream of articles which in part won't let me get lazy about the redecoration and stop writing without any external reason for it.
  I realize that it's more like "writing for the viewers" rather than "writing for the setting", but that's an approach which will be ever present.  

Week 2 - The Mini-Meta

 

Scope

"Vicissitudes of Time 2" takes place in 2021 and two other time periods, but in limited locations. I won't spoil it, but, well, that's quite a small scale. We'll be following the Bureau of Temporal Investigations - Sesostris | Сесострис, Maxim Kunitsyn, Remy Dalton and Damien Sinclair - on their new adventures. Last time we saw them, they were about to go
Show spoiler
save Jeanne D'Arc from her demise on a stake.
Will they do it? And what about the The Brooch of River Neman?   Additionally, there will be a small number (at least one) article that I feel like I need to write to alleviate some of the pressure from the recent events in my life.

Theme

We'll have a rather pensive mood throughout the months, focusing on the following themes:  
  • Adaptation
  • - hardship of getting used to a new way of life, in a new place. Relevant both to my life and to the events of Vicissitudes 2
  • Perspective of defiance
  • - the idea of standing firmly and fighting against a seemingly overwhelming enemy. Applicable to Vicissitudes 2
    Show spoiler
    and to what the Ukrainian freedom fighters feel about the Russians. In case of the latter, though, the "overwhelming" enemy turned out to be a very vile but incompetent one.
  • Healing humor - I'm planning to use an ironic narrative voice in some of the articles, something akin to the writings of Terry Pratchett. It's also mirrored in Vicissitudes 2: we haven't laughed as much when we've been recording Season 1.

Mood

I'm not making a moodboard due to spoilers, but the main mood I'm aiming at - Sustainable Renewal. Week by week, Fringe Earth itself as a Campaign Setting will change piece by piece, without stopping again.   Well, I'm going on a vacay to Italy for 4 days in early December, but other than that... :)
 

Week 3 Homework

  Create or review your category tree. Check that all articles are in a category. Create a tag system to better organize your articles.   Boy oh boy, nope, not doing that. First of all, most of the articles are still categorized and tagged since WE2020. Second, that's one of the overarching goals for WE2022 and beyond, with all the redecoration I'm planning. It's a-coming! Not now, though :)   Let us know if the homework has been helpful so far! - quite a lot helpful, actually! It helped me understand that I can focus on a certain part of the setting while rebuilding everything else from scratch.  

Week 4 Homework

  I'm totally into the whole AI-generated worldbuilding. One of my players purchased expanded versions/licenses/what's it called - for DALL-E and Midjourney, and those already yield some results! Additionally, there is some commissioned art that I did share already and some photos from when we shot Vicissitudes 2 as well!   Art, AI-generated art and photos

 
  And so, here is my pledge! See you at WorldEmber!  

Comments

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29 Nov, 2022 02:03

Current world events just all seem to suck right now...anyways, Good luck with WorldEmber this year! I hope life eventually and fully returns to normal for you

Grandmaster Teyvill
Andrew Belenkiy aka Teyvill Dost
29 Nov, 2022 10:27

Well, it's more or less turned into a "different normal", now that I'm in Israel :)

2 Dec, 2022 17:26

English is not my nattive language and I have no practise at all, but I will try to formulate my thoughts in this way, because it will be impolite to write in Russian. As always I have read all the article, an going to comment it to support your work, but not your politic point of view. It is oposite to mine in many ways, and for the sake of freedom of speach and active civil position, I have to empfhasize the fact, that there are people with another opinion. But it doesn't mean, that we should confront each other. At least here and now. I hope, Fringe Earth's page will be renewed and this project and setting will never die out. Peace to you, and all of us. And let everyone be happy.

Grandmaster Teyvill
Andrew Belenkiy aka Teyvill Dost
3 Dec, 2022 19:16

Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, of course. But you're well aware, in this regard I am quite radically anti-Russian. Let's leave it at that for now :)