The Vision Thing

From: Jimbruce <john.hughes_at_...>
Date: Thu, 04 Mar 2004 10:41:22 -0000

After some interesting discussion on the Heroquest mailing list, a suggestion was made for a dedicated Whitewall group to discuss the siege and to prepare a background document that might be useful in helping folk write scenarios or stories set against this epic event.

Here's my post to that list, laying out the vision thingee. :)

I hope it will be fun for all concerned.


To: <>
Subject: Re: [HeroQuest-RPG] Warriors Went to WhiteWall

[To be recited aloud, slow and measured, like Sean Connery after a few drams. Roll those vowels now...]

Warriors went to Whitewall ||| Came to Kallyr's calling Kheldon Queen called clans ||| True champions came.

Warriors went to Whitewall ||| Brave Broyan the bold bade To stand strong in Storm hold ||| Orlanth's last altar.

"Come to the wind rock ||| cloud-height most holy Stormhold of southland ||| Highking's hallowed hearth."

The Other Jeff ...

> Anyone else interested in playing around with this as a potential
> scenario?

What follows is a little premature, for all its length, but since we've been talking about Whitewall, and since Jeff R is exploring scenario options, let me toss this one into the air and see if the winds bless it...

Some of you have probably noticed how I've been 'talking up' Whitewall for the last few months, and how I see it as an incredible epic locale, event, and story background, a kind of Iliad-with-kilts and tight-packed-Gododdin ('Warriors went to Catraeth with the dawn....') all rolled up into one. I've been reading and rereading the little background that we have on the siege, scouring Joerg's old but good website for tidbits, and reading up old posts by Jeff, Joerg, Jane (am I sensing a pattern here?) and others, trying to get my head around the Heortland background. I have my own plans for some writing, and am also eager to establish Whitewall as a 'storytelling nexus', and have made a few tentative beginnings.

What do I mean by a storytelling nexus? Well, Whitewall is 'hardwired'  into the Hero Wars arc. We know how it begins, sort of how it progresses, and definitely how it ends. In some of our campaigns, its already in the past.

That puts *some* constraints on treating it as a scenario - though I wouldn't want to overemphasise this - flashback is after all part of our toolkit. What I'd like to do is describe Whitewall in a broader way that acknowledges our gift for communal storytelling - whether by scenario, character, kenning, short story, or artwork, in a sense providing a broad framework that invites further elaboration. The Iliad describes events over ten or twelve days - the siege of Whitewall extends over more than two Gloranthan years! And while we mightn't have any blind poets, we *do* have a mighty clan of talented storytellers and shapers.

What does this mean in practice? It means a document, a document open to community expansion, a document that is available online. Basically, it means creating a 'series bible' like the one writers get for series with definite arcs like Babylon 5. It means creating a document in three stages.

STAGE ONE: is an editorial/guiding framework. A briefing document, probably by a single editor or a small team, will provide:

  1. a brief background to the siege.
  2. a list of the known major protagonists on either side, and some of the many who stopped by to watch or join in with whoever was losing on the day, and suggestions *when* they were around. Broyan, Kallyr, Fazzur (in the background) Tatius, Jorkandros, all the Heortland players...
  3. a list of locales, not so much a map as a series of backdrops. The Iron Gate. The Sacred Wood where no weapon can be drawn, and where enemies talk. The Outer Wall. The Burning Ground....
  4. a broad timeline/sequence of events, with a one sentence description, and perhaps a few guiding notes about the overall tone of each season/year.

('Sea 1620 - BAD. Fire 1620 - WORSE. Earth 1620 - MORE WORSE. Dark 1620 - B5 Season Three, plus Hunger. Shadows are on our side though'. I've done some very preliminary work here. By way of example...

....Earth Season 1619

  1. First Defeats. Lunar cavalry cut down foragers.
  2. The Charge of the Jarls. Three Berserkers turn the tide. One survives.
  3. The Coming of the Three Kings. Three feuding Sartarite chiefs make peace and come with their thanes to the city. Each later a king.
  4. Kallyr returns in secret. The Jealousy of Hero #7.
  5. The First Champion's Battle (seven days seven battles, seven deaths).
  6. The Ever Burning Pyre. The First heroes are burned. The first Lunar death ceremonies.
  7. The Vingan in The Tower. Her mile cast javelin brings death. How the Lunars silenced her.
  8. Demons on the walls....

(Now you may notice my slight Heortling bias evident in the above. :) I would hope though, that the framework is balanced and provides enough light and dark for heroes on both sides of the conflict.)

4) A listing of the major themes of the story. Most of these are already clear. They're listed below, because they're a bit of a distraction from my description.

In STAGE TWO this framework is thrown open to the lists. Everyone is asked to contribute *something short* to the story. It might be just the names of campaign heroes or npcs who went to Whitewall for a time, with a one or two sentence description of their exploits. It might be a two-or three- sentence story seed, or a scenario spark -  'Rations running', 'the trollkin in the basement', 'Forbidden lurve'. It might be the outline of an entire epic that unfolds during the siege between major protagonists. The editors will add these stories to the main outline.

STAGE THREE: the expanded document is made available to the tribe. The framework, a common reference, becomes a baseline for further explorations through scenarios, NPC guest spots, short stories, kennings, three part fantasy films, whatever. We might try for a short story competition, or even a book. The nice thing is that we have a common framework, that has been built for the tribe, by the tribe.

Now I'm a veteran of enough failed schemes (not a few of my own devising) to see the pitfalls in planning grandiose communal visions. I *do* think this one is well worth a shot, basically because its replicating and making public what I'm already doing in planning out my own Whitewall writings. I'm working on an expansion of the Kallyrkala centring on the siege, featuring a miscellany of prose, kennings, descriptions and, no doubt, a large smattering of doggerel like the opening runes above. Bits will be surfacing in various places over the next few months.

I think the advantages of a communal storytelling nexus for Whitewall would be *incredible*.

But I'm wondering what you think.

Now, why do I Whitewall is so important? I've got a little list...

The New World is born on the walls of Whitewall. Come the Hurricane.


nysalor_at_... John Hughes

My kinsmen, my comrades, they budged not in battle Brought courage to combat, feat-strong and fierce. Like berries in harvest, bright red their bounty they made shame of armies, caused red moon to flee.

Until I am old and ailing,
waiting for the final journey,
I shall not be true to the winds
if I do not praise Kallyr.

KallyrKarla: The Song of the Betrayed.  

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