Toy Soldier Saga

A series of novels and stories in a fantasy space opera universe.


Development Notes for Chapters Eleven Through Thirteen of Brothers in Arms

Posted on January 18, 2014 at 8:30 PM

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.

Categories: Development Notes, Character Notes

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