Toy Soldier: A Spelljammer Saga

A series of novels set in the Spelljammer® fantasy universe

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No Longer Posting to This Blog Page - Website Moving Project

Posted on June 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Please note that in accordance with the website moving project, I will be posting no more new entries to this blog page.  All updates will now come through the new website, http://toysoldiersaga.wordpress.com/.  If you are a NetworkedBlogs subscriber, I should already have successfully transfered over the rss feed to the new site!  Thanks for your understanding and patience.  New updates posted just today!  BB

Stage One of the Website Move Completed

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Stage One of the website move is finished and you can now read all the novels so far at http://toysoldiersaga.wordpress.com.  Stage Two begins, which will involve moving over the character art and other bonus material.

Stage One of the Website Move Completed

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Stage One of the website move is finished and you can now read all the novels so far at http://toysoldiersaga.wordpress.com.  Stage Two begins, which will involve moving over the character art and other bonus material.

I See That the Toy Soldier Website is Back Up . . .

Posted on May 21, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

. . . But moving plans continue anyway. It is a sorry state of affairs that it takes Webs more than two weeks to fix a massive, total-site problem, and the only reason why they did so is because somebody who is *paying* them complained. The forums have been discussing the sites since they first went down.

 

The moving plan is proceeding on schedule, or perhaps even a little ahead. The main page, the links to the novels, Book One and Book Two are up and running. I will need to figure out how to create a Gallery (something I have never done) to transfer the art, but that is still well ahead in the moving plans.

Development Notes for Chapters 14 and 15 of Brothers in Arms

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Writing these chapters, I found that the story of Shaundar's entrenchment in the Bloodfist family was falling flat.  I didn't know what the missing piece was, but it was frustrating the hell out of me.  I slugged through the writing of Chapter 14 stubbornly, even after my initial re-write.  And then I figured it out; I had Shaundar with the wrong woman!  It took me until after I wrote a scene in the middle of Chapter 15 (no spoilers, so not telling) to figure it out.  I decided there was no reason why Shaundar wouldn't fall in love with Targ's wife, and I could see no reason at all why he would fall in love with Corin's wife.


This is a departure from the events of the game that I based all of this on, but it fit the story better, so I changed it.  I also changed around the names.  So for those of you who were following the story, Shaundar still falls in love with Y'Anid, only Y'Anid is married to Targ, and her twin sister Ynga is married to Corin.  Skim over those parts to re-acquaint yourself and it should be easy enough to follow.


Keeping in mind the Bechdel test, I realized that I also needed to flesh out their characters much more in the book in order for them to be believable and interesting (what is going on in my head is another matter; I know them pretty well there but they weren't coming across as I liked.)  So I got them actively involved in the scro polltics that I'm beginning to introduce in earnest in these two chapters.  Again, I'm not going to spit out any spoilers, but the scro government is hardly monolithic, and many complex factions are competing for control of events.


For the first time I also got into the head of our illustrious Scro Overlord.  I also allude to what Yathar had been up to during this time - I know some of you readers have been asking. ;)


I have also tried to fit events into the context of canon Spelljammer events.  The astute will be able to take note.


The first fight scene in these two chapters is entirely the product of my imagination.  The second was carefully blocked out with a martial arts teacher, my SO Jamie, who is an active consultant for combat scenes in these books, and has been now for several months.  I used pictures of the HMS Warrior ironclad ship to get a feel for the deck of a Scro Mantis, which is not well pictured anywhere in the official Spelljammer products.


Events take a sudden turn here, partially political and partially personal, in the Bloodfist household especially, and these events I have been waiting to write since I started the book.  Most of that is in Chapter 15.  This concludes Part Three, and in Part Four, I return to the world of elves for a little while.


Forward and onward!

Updates

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I've had a lot of deadlines on my plate lately which is why you haven't heard from me.  They're done now and I'm back to work on Brothers in Arms.  And now I'm in another re-organization of things; so I think I reasonably have to say that there will be no more Spreecasts until it's actually finished.  It's just not fair, as I seem to have a much more fluid process with this book than I did with the first one.  I'll explain in the next Development Notes post.  Sorry guys, for the confusion and I hope I'm not being too disappointing!


I submitted the first chapter of Sable's Privateers as an entry in a prestigious short story competition; I'll let you know what comes of that when I know!


Off to work now; I'll keep you posted as things come up!

Development Notes for Chapters Eleven Through Thirteen of Brothers in Arms

Posted on January 18, 2014 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This was quite the task as far as writing goes.  First of all, I lost the entirety of Chapter Thirteen - twice!  How, you ask?  By writing it on my Smartphone between editions and saving it on Dropbox.  Because Polaris, the program for Samsung phones, is different from Microsoft Word; and because it's a lot of data and it's slow to upload, the conversion completely screwed the file twice (and I also think it had to do with going from my cellular reception to wireless while it was saving).  If it wasn't for the fact that I have been publishing the novels chapter by chapter as pdfs, I would have lost the whole thing entirely.  As it was, twice I had to convert a pdf back to Word, reformat the freaking thing, proofread it in entirety, and then restart my chapter.


Lesser women would have given up, but I am not a lesser woman!  Iron ovaries, that's me!


In the meantime, NaNoWriMo drew nigh upon me, and because the rules say that you must start a new novel, I started Sable's Privateers (Book Three).  I am happy with my work there and I succeeded at the 50,000 word challenge.  Then my store went out of business and I had to spend most of my time closing it.  I finally got back to Brothers in Arms properly in January.


By that time, writing Sable's Privateers told me something about where I was going with the novel and what I was doing.  I now had the destination; I just had to get there.  But I realized that I was losing some of the high-action element of A Few Good Elves.  Then either because my men suggested it, or because discussion with them inspired the idea (can't remember which, but either way they are due the credit and recognition) I decided to do a massive re-write, such that I began with an event of high action; the end of the Borka Manoeuvre.  The idea was to start by describing things from the scro perspective, and only at the beginning of the first sequence, to reveal that Bolvi Bloodfist was actually an elf.  Doing that, I think, created the "hook" that most modern fiction writers are urged to create.


In this re-write, I realized that I was now free to leave out a bunch of things that were adjoining text to progress things to the next point chronologically; and this led to a 7000 word cut that I mentioned in a previous blog entry.  There may be more, but for now I'm going with what I've got.


The Borka Manoeuvre is an event that is canon in the Spelljammer universe, and I will describe it in more detail at a later point, when I actually write about it (or lead up to it.)  As far as Development Notes go for the rest of the new material inserted before the present chapter: the details of Borka's odd physics are also canon (out of the Greyspace supplement,) but I invented the spelljammer ship formations whole-hog, based on three dimensional combat, numbers, weaponry, and the physics of the Spelljammer universe.  I doubt they would work in any other setting.


Chapter Eleven is the first in Part Three, "Blood Brothers."  This is a complex part that's largely about developing relationships and world-building Dukagsh and the scro culture.  Hopefully I've done it well and it's convincing and not boring; but you tell me.


I considered the culture and society of the scro at length.  The fact is that even in a warrior culture, somebody's got to do the farming.  Somebody has to do the smithing.  Somebody has to raise the children.  Who is going to do all of these things?


For the answers, I built on established orcish and scro material in the D&D universe.  They are a lawful evil culture.  I've written before about how the writers of Spelljammer seemed to work very hard to compare them to Nazis.  So I worked with that.  In a fascist state, there is a firm caste system; and the warrior is the highest caste.  In that, I have borrowed much from the Romans and from feudal Japan as well.  Those who contribute to the economics are the second highest caste; but all must work for the well-being of the state.  Everyone is told through propeganda how much their contribution is valued and how they are all greater than the rest of the universe.  There is a race that is considered to be the ideal (in this case, the scro) and everyone else serves them because that is the ideal being.  But being able to trace a genetic connection to that race, no matter how thin, gives you an edge up on everyone else.


The Japanese (and indeed, all feudal cultures) answered this challenge by creating a fighting aristocracy who separated themselves from the common class.  Feudal obligations and tithing supported this military caste.  The Romans answered this challenge by the process of citizenship and slavery among their conquered peoples, who were required to send them tribute.  This helped to fund their vast armies, who then went forth and conquered other peoples.  The scro have both; the Twenty-Four tribes are the aristocracy to the common scro, who are the rest of the warrior caste; then the other goblinoid races can earn some recognition as soldiers if they are suitable, while the "weaker" races hold up most of the serf-like jobs.  I reasoned that the scro, in the desire to build their empire, have been conquering or politically aligning with other goblinoid races over many worlds for the past four hundred years, avoiding the elves until they felt they were ready.


Fascist systems need enemies, and they also need a scapegoat.  In this case, that's the elves; though I would argue that the end of the First Unhuman War was directly responsible for the scro, much in the same way that the end of the First World War and its decision to make Germany responsible for everything economically directly resulted in the Nazis.


Fascist systems are also, as a general rule, sexist.  I once thought this a result of patriarchy (I am a Witch, after all) but I now believe that the patriarchy may be a result of the fascist or feudal state.  Here's the fact of the matter: Warriors die.  They die a lot.  If your women are warriors, babies don't get made and the state ceases to exist.  That's biology; nine months to brew a baby, two years of total dependency on the mother (at least.)  From a biological perspective, all a man has to do is show up once and get himself off.  It is in the best interest of the fascist or feudal state, which wants to make warriors so that they can conquer everybody else, to make sure that the primary duty of women is rearing the warriors.  (Consider that and think about the political right's constant attack on women's rights in the Western World as of late; food for thought, hmm?)


If all the men are fighting all the time, then it is to the women that the forming of society and civilization falls; as World War II taught us.  And the need to limit women to specific roles runs into a snag when women have reproductive freedom (again, I cite the recent policies of the right-wing factions trying to limit or steal that in Canada, the US and Britain as of late . . .)  If women can decide when they will bear children and how, then suddenly there is a shift in the power balance.  As a direct correlation to this, a fascist state tries to demonize any sexuality that is not going to directly result in the making of new warriors, proper inheritance, etc.  (And now the political right is going after prostitution under the guise of protecting women from exploitation; nice try, guys.)


This is exactly what is going on in the Scro Empire, as you will see in subsequent chapters.  Priestesses of Luthic can determine when (or if) they will bear children and with whom.  That dichonomy of power informs their social behaviour and their politics.  Some clans are right wing and others are very not.


All that is said in the canon material about the Tomb of Dukagsh is that it is a large rectangular structure that is set in orbit around Dukagsh so that it is always congruent with the world's North Pole.  I extrapolated the rest and made some stuff up.


I guess that's about all I have to say about Chapter Eleven.


In Chapter Twelve, we see that women have claimed a certain level of power they do not have in other orcish cultures.  They are able to do this through sacred sexuality.  The tradition of the qadesha, or sacred whore, was reputedly part of Babylonian society, and when I was taught about women's spirituality, we were taught about it as a way to empower our own sexuality.  Luthic is an ideal goddess for this to work; especially since she is the only goddess that the orcs have.


I also introduce the members of Corin and Shaundar's little orcish warband.  I hope you find them interesting.  I establish the relationship between Corin, Shaundar, and Y'Anid; I introduce a new element of orcish marriage customs; and I establish how the orcish military works.


In Chapter Thirteen, I made it much more brief than both of my original drafts.  You get to meet Admiral Belryn and you get to see - and so does Shaundar - that the scro have a Witchlight Marauder.  This material comes from the Spelljammer module that introduced the scro, "Goblin's Return."


The attack on Trinhea is also relevant in some major plot points, but I won't point them out to you.  That would be a spoiler!


That's it for now.  Writing forward and onward.

Honouring a Fan Request: Sunfall / Durothil Family Tree

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

David Shepheard, known in the Spelljammer fan community as "Big Mac," has been listening to my Spreecast readings of "A Few Good Elves" and he suggested that a family tree might be helpful to keep track of how people are interrelated.  So I made one!  Here it is, and if you click on the photo it will take you to the link where it is posted for future reference.  Significant characters missing: Captain Madrimlian, because while the boys call him "Uncle" he's really just an old family friend who served with Ruavel Sunfall during the First Unhuman War; Admiral Lord Zaressti Alastrarra and his daughter Narissa, because they are not related to the Durothils or the Sunfalls (except perhaps distantly through noble intermarriage somewhere, but it's so distant if so as to be irrelevant,) and the Oakheart family because they are also not related.

 

Blessed be,

Sable

 

 

Development Notes for Chapters Six & Seven "Brothers in Arms"

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

So, it was necessary to get Shaundar and Yathar to the Blacktusks, and Skullport seemed the logical place to do that, so that's really what the very short Chapter Six was concerned with.  I liked the idea of the tressym so went with it for a little bit of comic relief in what is otherwise a pretty grim novel up to this point.


Chapter Seven turned out to be much longer than originally intended, however.  Shaundar and Yathar spent more time with the Blacktusks than I had expected them to.  I think that it was important to me to provide a contrast.  The Blacktusks are everything you expect of orcs, save their intelligence.  They are nasty, brutish people.  Not to put in too much of a spoiler, but the scro they will meet later on are not so much.


I also wanted to impress upon the reader the horrors of lifejammers, which you know I'm going to bring up somehow later, and the harshness of shipboard life.  I also wanted to throw in some details of navigating Scrospace, and why it is that the Imperial Elven Navy, whom I do not believe are completely incompetent, have been unable to discover the location of the orcish homeworld Dukagsh, nor find charts to show them the way.


This diagram of the points of aerial navigation is provided for reference, since I use these terms in this chapter.



Sources for this chapter included numerous D&D® official books, most of which were from Second Edition: "Skullport" and "Realmspace" mostly, and an article on portals in the Forgotten Realms® called "Perilous Gateways," originally published in Dragon® Magazine.  The rest of it I invented, except for the details, once again, of Spiralspace, and you can find that information on my Appendices page.


Enjoy!


Blessed be,

Sable

Development Notes for Prologue & Chapter Five of "Brothers in Arms"

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I don't really have a lot to say as far as Development Notes go this time.


The long absence gave me a fresh perspective.  I decided that we needed to hear the backstory; namely, what's going on with Narissa, Laeroth, and Sylria?  And we needed this whether Shaundar knew it or not.  I like a very personal third person perspective, so to do this at the wrong time would just be distracting and irritating. The beginning of a book, or at the very least, a section, is the ideal spot; it's the least intrusive.


Most of my research in this section is based in the flavour of the Forgotten Realms setting, rather than anything real-world based.  But it has been as extensive as any other research I've done!  This will also carry on into Chapter Six when the boys hit Skullport.


The challenge of this chapter was to get the boys to Skullport quickly enough that the Blacktusks would not disappear into the ether; and it had to be plausible and logical.  I hope this has succeeded!


Blessed be,

Sable


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