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Issue 41: Spring 2021

EDITORIAL

Spring has sprung!

Welcome to our latest newsletter, we would like to remind everyone, that there are new beginnings and new opportunities. We hope you embrace everything Spring has to offer.

What new ideas have you found recently? Though a second lockdown has been an unusual time and has introduced a lot of uncertainty. One thing's for sure, along with the uncertainty, are the new buds of Spring, people have discovered new creative ways to express themselves and make the most of the situation we're all in.

Exilian's wonderful commuity is continuing to expand, with every vistor bringing their own unique input that adds even more colour to the already brilliant work that everyone does. Hoepfully, we'll back to our usual activities, but for now, enjoy the sun, wildlife and we've got some lockdown ideas to keep you busy until then.

We've got lots to talk about in this issue, let's get straight to reading more about it  :)

Always, make sure you: 'Enjoy your stay!' and tell others about it too!

CONTENTS:

  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • Devlog:⚔️ RAIDBORN [Action-RPG] Skyrim meets Dungeon Crawler
    • Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art][DEMO]
    • [Dev Log] Tourney: The medieval tournament sim
  • Arts & Writing
    • Dubsartur's crafts
    • BagaturKhan's Revenge of Tyrants
    • Jubal draws stuff!
  • Miscellany
    • Exilian's Birthday
    • Playlist
    • What to do in lockdown?
    • Funny Picture Thread


GAME DEV



Devlog:⚔️ RAIDBORN [Action-RPG] Skyrim meets Dungeon Crawler


Markus, is the developer of Raidborn and is the person behind Phodex Games. Games like The Elder Scrolls and Gothic inspired Markus, with their atmospheric fantastasy worlds, which helped Markus through some dark times.

Using this inspiration, a new game with personal interpretation of an atmospheric fantasty world has been made, adding well liked elements from other games like Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic, dungeon crawling and Ultima Underworld.

Markus finds game design a "true passion", maybe you'll find that this jouney interests you too?




Roadwarden [Fantasy/RPG Elements/Pixel Art] [DEMO]



Roadwarden is an interactive fiction, in which you explore and change a hostile, grim realm.

Would you risk a lonely journey into the wilderness? Roadwardens embrace this a struggle worth taking, delivering messages, assisting merchants, getting ris of beasts, highwayment and even more gruesome taks.

Dangerous work, respectable and it pays well. Why not check out what Roadwarden has to offer today?





[Dev Log] Tourney: The medieval tournament sim


Tourney is a tycoon style simlator, simulation PC game. You'll take control of a medieval noble house and then build a a tournament or "tourney" ground, where you'll watch champions viying for victory or diving in to get involved in combat!

Gamplay Tourney features:
* Build your tourney ground. Event areas for jousting, melee and archery; and buildings such as apothecaries, blacksmiths, stands, ale wagons, hog roasts and more
* Choose your champion. Build their skills. Buy them the best armour and weapons.
* Fight your way to the top and win the tournament
* 13 playable houses with unique heraldry, traits and heroes
* Keep the peasants and nobility happy to keep the gold rolling in
* Hire staff members such as jesters and troubadours
* Lots of parody and hidden references!

The game has great graphics as well, would be good to hear what you all think pre-release. Let us know in the comments below?

Estimated release date is Quarter 3 of 2021, we'll see you there!




ARTS AND WRITING


Dubsartur's crafts


Exilian member Dubsartur has recently finished making a medieval garment - a round embroidered mantle.  Mantles, an overgarment in a similar category to shawls or cloaks, were fashionable in western Europe from the 14th century into the 17th. They varied according to style and length, with slightly longer ones for men and later examples moving to more open fronts and fake-sleeve additions. Dubsartur's gorgeous example, as well as the intricate embroidered neck decoration shown close above, was done in deep blue with a white star pattern around it.

The next project on Dubsartur's list is a doublet, and the thread is replete with pictures of the craftwork and historical reference images, so if you fancy learning about some bits of historical costume and tailoring it's a good time to head over and take a look - perhaps even post your own attempts if you feel like getting involved!






BagaturKhan's Revenge of Tyrants


The year is 20,000 BC, and the galaxy faces a crisis. The vast Empire of Hyperborea stretches over thousands of star systems, but on the planet Zabergan Prime, events are unfolding that will be of huge significance to the stability of the whole Empire. The Lord Governor, Zholt Krazhinsky, has been trapped and overthrown by his Nicomedian military forces and former allies. Will the Empire manage to rescue him and stop the rebels before the galaxy is pitched into all-out bloodshed?

This epic science fiction tale by BagaturKhan has just started being posted and promises many more thrilling installments as Krazhinsky's perils and tale unfold for the reader. BagaturKhan has graciously reduced his fee for reading this story from 2 billion euros and a chocolate pie to it being absolutely free, as he says in the thread, so do take a look and let him know what you think!






Jubal draws stuff!


Jubal's been foraying outside his usual grounds of writing and music to try producing some character art for his World of Kavis RPG setting, an early medieval fantasy world of mysterious fey spirits, unpredictable magic, wandering holy men and clashing shield walls. In this thread, he goes into notes about his methods and asks for feedback. If you want to see the miscellany of characters and cultures portrayed from around Kavis (and there may be monsters coming later too if there's interest), or if you're an artist yourself and can make suggestions to improve, why not head over and check the thread out?



MISCELLANY


Recent Events and Exilian's Birthday!

Exilian has just had its 13th birthday! We're hoping this won't be an unlucky year though despite the numbering! We had a good time celebrating at our "virtual pub" meetup recently - for those who don't know about that, we've been doing regular meetups on a monthly basis via jitsi which have led to some really great conversations and will hopefully lead to some nice collaborations and neat new projects in the future. If you've not heard of those and would like to come, please let us know (in the comments below or via email at exilian@exilian.co.uk) and we'll get you added to the mailing list.

We also had our workshop, Coding Medieval Worlds, which brought together nearly thirty historians and game developers from across four different continents to discuss problems of how to use medieval ideas, concepts and images when creating the fantastical and historical worlds that are used in computer game settings. We were delighted to organise the event in collaboration with the University of Vienna's Digital Humanities unit, and with kind support especially from Vienna's Daniel Knox and from our fantastic speakers, and we hope to bring more of those workshops out in the coming years. Also, keep your eyes peeled in the next few weeks as we soon hope to be able to process the videos of our keynote talks and get those to you as well.




Playlist

It was difficult to pick which songs to add here, but we went with the last two on the thread, to make it random!

Jubal's recommendation's are:
"I've been enjoying Hades, and one thing I have to say among a number in its favour is that it has some absolutely cracking songs:"



"After having been bombarded with sub 60 second clips of this for months, having a full length version is somehow really really nice to give the song a sense of a closure!"






What to do in lockdown?

Pentagathusosaurus rex asks "What have you folks been doing to stay sane?"

Jubal's been TTRPG-ing more, looking at creative projects. tinkering with RPG notes, various online things, and game design. "You should come to the next Exilian virtual pubmoot" - Tusky has seconded this invite.

Tusky's similarly been getting involved in creative projects, and Tourney. It's been a great time to spend time using other things that Tusky would not usually have the time for day to day, like using the grpahics tab to draw things and playing more of the guitar. "Also finding a nice long game to enjoy is a good time sink."

dubsartur's has a blacklog of books to read, looking at articles to write, and is also getting involved in sewing projects. Another good thing dubsartur has been doing is talking to the Exilian community about how it is that they feel, you may find it in helpful to read through these posts and comment on as well? We'll be back to our usual activities soon, we're nearly there. Until then, we will keep ideas here for you all!


Quote
Books are good, books are always good. - Pentagathusosaurus rex




Funny Picture Thread

Here are some funny pictures to round up our newsletter, hopefully you'll smile and laugh!

Jubal: Meanwhile I am back at work this week and feeling very much like this cat. (Not that I have lied on any applications obviously, I just *feel* like an impostor)







That's all for this issue, folks - we'll be back in summer and look forward to seeing everything being a bit brighter with you then! See you next time...



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Something I've been intending to post but keep failing to: my sketching attempts to go with my TTRPG campaign set in Kavis. I started on this late last year and have been trying to slowly improve my skills, with varying levels of success.

I know that there are some obvious problems with these, especially in the proportions: I always do legs a bit too short, hands not wide enough and sometimes lacking good proportions too, and I find limbs tricky especially when they're not flat-on to the "camera" (and who really wants to see all characters with their hands at their sides all the time?) In terms of the style, the way I do them is sketching on a rough paper, and then the colour is added digitally with a low-opacity layer and a soft paintbrush tool in GIMP. But anyway, I'd really appreciate other feedback if anyone has any and what you think overall :)

So here are a few of the characters and NPC types my players have recently encountered - this output is from the last couple of days. I've got a big stack of older stuff including quite a lot of monsters already too, I mostly use them to make play tokens for gaming on Roll20, so I may post more and some of the nonhumans at some point.


Biriir, leader of the Francolin mercenary company.

Enwain, leader of the mercenary Ox Hooves from Nistria.

Heatherling of Smew's Isle, the Reeve's advisor & wizard.

Mosser, a flamboyant Hanau pirate.

Little Ryfe, the guard captain. He's 6'10.

One of the Black Feathers, partisans of Mocra the Bearded.

One of the Francolin mercenaries.

One of the Ox Hoof mercenaries.

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A catch-all for countries that don't have their own threads.



The interesting one that's just happened has been two elections in southwest Germany - both were really bad for the CDU (centre-right), which is suffering badly after some corruption scandals relating to COVID procurement. Unlike in Britain, in Germany it turns out that politicians can't just ignore that sort of thing. The CDU still has a lead in national polls, but both the states that just voted, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wurttemburg, can now have "traffic light" coalitions of Greens, Social Democrats, and the right-liberal Free Democrats running them. This coalition might be functional enough to work at the national level if the CDU keeps slipping. Also, in really nice news, the AfD fell back pretty hard in both states: that's especially interesting because often if a hard-right party falls back it tends to be the conservative party that picks up the votes, whereas here both the centre-right and far-right lost out and the centre & left broadly gained.



The Dutch election will be in the middle of this week, after the government resigned over a scandal of failing to pay people benefits they were owed (again, something I can't imagine happening in UK politics any more). That looks less interesting, though it's hard to read much into the myriad small parties of Dutch politics: the left parties may reshuffle the deckchairs, with the Labour party recovering a tiny bit since the last election at the expense of the socialist left and the Green Left, but none of them are likely to be in power. PM Rutte's conservative-liberal party, the VVD, looks like it'll easily come top, with the Christian-Democratic CDA and the centre-left liberal D66 looking like they'll retain enough support to continue in the PM's coalition. The far right PVV look like they'll do about as well as in the last election. Polls are also suggesting that Volt, a rare example of a pan-European political party, may enter the parliament for what I think would be the first time in a national election: they're hardline European federalists.

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Sharing in case this is of interest for people :)

Quote
A workshop for existing writers with some experience in “traditional” linear fiction, exploring how to effectively build a fragmented interactive narrative.

Closed Hands is is a groundbreaking work of interactive fiction by PASSENGER, directed by Dan Hett. The game follows the deep intertwined stories of five people thrown together by their involvement in a fictional terror attack.

Join the game’s director and lead writer Dan Hett to explore both the tools and techniques used in Closed Hands, and how you can write and create interactive stories yourself.

Link:
https://homemcr.org/event/closed-hands-workshop-interactive-fiction-for-writers-intermediate/

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AURORA - COMPETITION SHOWCASE


Our Aurora competition is over! We had a range of exciting entries, some judged and some submitted by our admins for fun, and we're really pleased and excited to be able to share them with you at last! Thanks especially go to Marie-Therese Sauer and Samuel Cook for being our two excellent and very able judges, and to Tusky Games and Bigosaur for providing prizes.

And speaking of prizes, THE WINNER IS...

Phoenixguard09 with his piece 'Our Light'!

With a combined score of 32/40 from the judges it scored well both on execution and closeness to the prompt, making it a well deserved winner as you'll be able to see by reading it below. Phoenixguard now gets the grand prize including copies of Tourney and Son of a Witch and a custom-written song of his choice - and, of course, our warm congratulations. We hugely value all the pieces we get in for our competitions, though, and as such here's the showcase, with poetry, art, gaming and hopefully inspiration for your own future projects. Do leave a comment and let us know what you think!



Entry Showcase

WINNER: OUR LIGHT - Phoenixguard09

Quote
My eyes open.

The night sky wheels by overhead, the softly glittering stars like a scattering of diamonds strewn haphazardly across a stretched bolt of midnight black cloth. I lie, face up on the cold ground. I can feel the chill which has begun to set deep within my mortal shell. I struggle to shift.

I cannot.

My eyes close.

I remember.

Before our arrival, there was little of note on this world. Ferocious storms wracked the land, leaving nothing but jutting outcrops of bare rock, torn forth from the treacherous dark oceans. Great winged beasts ruled the sky, warring amongst themselves and preying upon the weak, lesser creatures which could only manage to eke out a pitiful existence in this inhospitable landscape. Beneath them dwelled the many, varied denizens of the roiling seas, which, dangerous though they were, bore a far greater variety of life, including some, though not many, who could challenge the primacy of the Sky-Lords.

It was not naturally a world upon which to properly nurture life, the true calling of my kind.

We came here in scattered groups, driven across the breadth of creation, seeking a haven after our home was destroyed by the Terrors in the Void. Finding this rocky, storm-lashed world, my people settled upon it, using the faintest touches of our power to calm the fierce gales, to shape this new world to our liking. Needs must we were careful and selective in the way we unleashed the words of creation. Finally, we hid in the secluded reaches of this newly becalmed world and granted enlightenment to but a few of the endemic species.

For countless rotations of the stars, our creation existed in peace, as we slowly but surely guided it into prosperity.

Our downfall was swift, sudden and entirely predictable.

As the millennia rolled on and on, the gathered magics we had worked swelled ever greater.

The Terrors came once more, and this time there would be no escape.

My eyes open again.

The night sky still wheels by overhead, the softly glittering stars like miniscule needlepoints piercing a stretched bolt of midnight black cloth. I lie, face up on the cold ground. I can feel the chill which has set deep within my ragged mortal shell. Lifeblood, brilliantly shimmering in the pale starlight seeps into the alabaster snow beneath my form. I struggle to shift.

I cannot.

My eyes close once more.

I cannot remember.

I hear a sound, a deep reverberating growl which causes the very ground beneath me to shake and quiver. Something approaches.

One of them, swollen with the sheer power it has absorbed from my brethren, the ones it has already hunted, brought down and consumed. The ground trembles. The air shivers. Reality bends around it as all the works of my people react to the presence of this thing which is anathema to us.

I won’t let this thing take my power for itself, for I have seen the things these creatures do with their prey, the torturous agonies they inflict.

My eyes open, one final time.

The night sky wheels by overhead, the softly glittering stars like a host of fell eyes glinting in the darkness. I lie, face up on the cold ground. I can feel the chill which has finally set deep within what shreds remain of my mortal shell. The fire of my life seems all but stolen away.

I intone, the words of creation spilling forth from the spirit within my ruined form. The predator growls once more, and attempts to move closer, but it cannot, buffeted now by waves of force which surround my failing shell.

My eyes fix upon a distant star, high above in the night sky. Home, perhaps? It pleases me to think so. A place of love, light and laughter, an unreckonable span of time ago.

I will give this world our light.

The words pour out in an ever greater torrent of creation as all I am, all my being, is projected up into the cold northern sky. There is a blinding flash, and years of the world roll by in an instant. The world-shaping energy crackles and tears at the very air around and above me as the words rip into the sky. The predator shies back, waiting for me to expend the last of my strength. It wants to feast.

I will not let it.

With one final invocation, silence falls, like the pale grey ash which drifts down and settles on the snow.

My mortal shell is gone, only a shimmering pool of lifeblood left behind to mark its presence.

I am free.

From above, the tattered remnants of my spirit beholds the predator below, sees the ephemeral fangs it bears, dripping with gore and power. Its eyes blaze with a dark hunger, but it cannot understand me now. I can see in its eyes how it perceives me now, a glimmering ribbon of pale light, wavering and flickering in the night sky. Eventually, it turns away in defeat, its great shaggy head dropping as the excitement of the hunt leaves it. It pads away, long, sinuous, bladed tail flicking despondently as it goes.

I am free.

I am light.

My people may be gone, destroyed by the Terrors from the Void, but I remain. I alone of my kind, endure. My consciousness exists now in the so-called northern lights. I have seen many an age of this world come and go, but I will always be there, in the night, watching.

Giving you the aurora.

Giving you our light.


ON A BRIGHT AND TWISTED NIGHT - Agaming

Quote
You shoot awake, the cold sweat dripping down your neck, your heartbeat echoing in your mind. You feel the urge to look out of your tent or building and, as you do, you see a bright flash of light emanating from the north of the island. Emerging from this light is a ship plummeting towards the ground, wisps of flame and smoke trailing from it. You watch it as it falls, almost in slow motion, until with a large, fiery explosion, it makes impact with the ground. Whether or not your better judgment agrees, you feel that you should investigate it...

On A Bright and Twisted Night is a D&D scenario by Agaming with chases, unexpected interlopers from the stars, and a dash of insanity besides. Split into two parts - The Broken Sky, and The Twisted Wreck - it sees the players venture north through increasingly unsettling adventures to investigate a mysterious eldritch vessel that has fallen from the very stars, and then reckon with the strange terrors they find within. Complete with map and puzzle sections, there's plenty here for you game masters out there to use!



BOREALISES - Jubal

Quote
The serpent breathes
Out into infinities
Its bloodless sangunity
That winds between pines and the moon in the sky

The dancer shines
On upward and heaven-bound
Her shimmering world abounds
Nothing but dancing: no smile, tear, or sigh

The trapped god strains
On mocking bright prison bars
Caught between salt and stars
Wrapped in auroras that ravel and tie

The ink it flows
White-greens and icy blues,
Teals, pinks, a thousand hues,
Writing its truth, obfuscation, and lie

The Northern Lights are,
A consequence, nothing more,
Of gas, sun, an earthly core,
And still! They are myriads
And still delight I.


AURORA - Tusky






And that's all folks! We hope you enjoyed all these great pieces - and we hope to be back with more fun community projects for you to join in on as we carry on through 2021.

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A fun little thing that does what the title says:

https://joshdata.me/iceberger.html

Allowing us to answer the important questions like "how would a duck shaped iceberg actually float?"

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General Chatter - The Boozer / An arboreal curiosity
« on: February 19, 2021, 10:12:59 PM »
An arboreal curiosity here...

SO, I bought myself a little Christmas tree thingy at Christmas. It was all wrapped round with wire, so I assumed it had been somehow strapped together out of bits of branch: it was also stuck in some kind of plaster/concrete effect stuff. In order to try and get it to last longer, I pulled out the bottom of the plaster, and did a diagonal saw cut across the botton of the two protruding branch sections I found. I then sat it in soil and add water: the theory was that it should then take up water, in a good outcome, and last better - or in a bad outcome it just wouldn't and the needles would drop fast.

Dear readers, that was not what happened.



This is the (dying back now presumably due to lack of roots and winter light, sadly, I don't think it'll last) sizeable shoot of what looks very much like some kind of willow. Which is... weird. Clearly the core stem is something like willow rather than pine, and the pine I guess is a graft of some kind? It's a really odd thing, and I'm not sure why it's been done that way at all.

Just thought I'd share and see if anyone has thoughts or comments :)

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Announcements! The Town Crier! / Happy Cyril and Methodius Day 2021!
« on: February 14, 2021, 11:14:33 AM »
Happy Cyril and Methodius Day!


That's right, it's Cyril and Methodius Day, February 14 - the day each year when we celebrate language and learning for everyone around the world to take part in! It's easier to do in lockdown than any other festivals people might be celebrating, and it can do some good for the world as well - today's a day to read a good book, discover a new language, learn a new alphabet, and tell the linguists in your life how much you appreciate them. As usual, we're raising funds for Room to Read, and we hope you'll chip in to help bring the wonderful opportunities of writing and language to more people around the world. Have a wonderful day!


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General Chatter - The Boozer / Cyril & Methodius Day 2021
« on: February 14, 2021, 11:13:24 AM »
It's Cyril & Methodius Day 2021! Here's a thread to tell you what this festival of languages, learning, and international friendship is about, and how to celebrate it if you want to! Use this thread to wish everyone a happy C&M day and all such similar chatter :)

If you want to donate to charity today, Room to Read's direct donation link here. Please donate to them, they're a very good cost efficient charity for supporting literacy in developing countries.






Media
Here's a video I made way back in 2015 which explains some of the details:

FAQs

What is Cyril and Methodius Day?
As celebrated by Exilians and many others, Cyril and Methodius Day is a festival of literature, learning, languages, and linguistics. It's an alternative or additional celebration to the feast day of Saint Valentine - not as an "anti-Valentine's" project, but providing people another choice of celebration for the day.

How do I celebrate it?
  • Read a book.
  • Hug a friendly linguist, and tell them how much you appreciate alphabets.
  • Tell other people it's Cyril and Methodius day. Spread the word!
  • Recommend good books to a friend. Make ALL the reading happen!
  • Celebrate and discover more about European, and particularly eastern European, culture, writing, food, arts, and more.
  • Do some work on learning a language.
  • Talk to your international friends from Europe (and beyond).
  • Do conlanging/make a new alphabet!
  • Donate to a reading-related charity

So, uh, why do this?
  • It's fun! It's that extra bit of excuse and motivation to get on and do the language learning you wanted, or finish that book chapter.
  • The world needs people learning about, and reaching out to, each other more than ever. Now is absolutely the time to do that.
  • For people who are alienated by the commercialisation of Feb 14, or otherwise don't want to or can't celebrate it, finding something else positive to do and celebrate is SO much better than just sitting around being glum.
  • It's inclusive: not everyone has or wants romantic partners for Feb 14, but just about everyone can communicate and learn.
  • It helps people. Raising money for charity has been a part of how we celebrate Cyril & Methodius day for some years now, and that's raised worthwhile sums to help spread education to those who need it most.
  • It shines a light on two really interesting historical characters who, whilst little known in many countries, had an impact that especially in the form of the Cyrillic alphabet, named after Cyril, is noticeable to this day.
  • Books really are just plain excellent.

Is religion important here?
We've claimed Cyril and Methodius' Day in an entirely non-denominational fashion, as has happened to many other Saints' Days, so there is no religious prerequisite for celebrating it. Cyril and Methodius were of course Christians, as were almost all people in their cultural place and context, but their work included many fields combined with or outside purely religious functions including diplomacy, law, and languages. We of course respect that these saints do have a particular religious context and function for people in some traditions, but we think it's possible to celebrate some of the ethos of the things for which they are patrons without being disrespectful to those contexts.

You've got the date wrong!
Cyril and Methodius' Day is celebrated on Feb 14 in the Catholic and Anglican traditions - the Orthodox church and others celebrate their feast at other times of year.

Why can't you just celebrate Valentine's Day?
Not everyone wants to, for all sorts of reasons. Valentine's Day tends to involve heavy commercial promotion of a certain type of romantic relationship that just doesn't suit everyone - some people are happy being single, or indeed are aromantic, or asexual, have other reasons for not wanting to celebrate, or just don't want to define their relationships and celebrate them in the way that Valentine's Day now has a tradition of promoting. Other people may just decide that Europe, reading, and languages are something they value and want to celebrate more than the alternatives. Cyril and Methodius day offers a choice of festival that embraces this and can give people a fun and interesting rationale for something different to do on Feb 14.

Who were Cyril and Methodius?
Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs, were Greek saints in the ninth century AD. They're primarily known for the creation of the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet designed specifically for slavic-family languages, and the ancestor of the modern Cyrillic (which is named after Cyril). They accomplished numerous missions on behalf of the Byzantines, including to the north of the Black Sea, though most famously to Moravia (modern Slovakia). There they worked to create and spread a uniquely Slavic Christian tradition, drawing on both the Latin and Greek traditions of learning but with many unique elements. Despite Moravia moving into the Latin sphere after their deaths, their followers moved to other Slavic nations, especially Bulgaria, from which their work influenced many eastern Europeans to this day. They are patron saints of Europe in the Catholic church.

10
Pangolin Games / Amiran: A game I don't have the capacity or time to make
« on: February 03, 2021, 11:36:37 PM »
So this is a cool idea I don't have any time for, largely inspired by playing Hades: doing a singleplayer-roguelike-RPG type game based around Amiran, the legendary hero (though questionably heroic) of the Caucasus.

Backstory

Basically in the Amiran stories (excluding the medieval Amirandarejaniani which is for all intents and purposes about a different character), Amiran is the greatest, in terms of prowess, man who ever lived, and is often portrayed as half fey or something like that. Anyway, he basically goes around and fights everything, and ultimately breaks his vows so many times and/or beats up everything in the world until eventually God decides something must be done. So Jesus descends to tell Amiran to stop, and Amiran challenges him to a wrestling match or contest of strength. This goes badly for Amiran because an omnipotent opponent can, it turns out, just say "sure we'll have a rock lifting contest" and then command your rock to not move, which being part of creation it is cosmically obliged to do. Amiran is then chained to the rock and buried in a cave deep under the mountains. He does have company though in the form of his pet flying dog, Kursha.

Every year, Kursha licks at Amiran's chain to try and free his beloved master because he is a Very Good Boy. Every year, on Maundy Thursday, all the blacksmiths in Georgia symbolically strike their anvils to keep Amiran in his chains, reforging the links with this ritual. So, um, what happens in modernity when the last village blacksmith ultimately shuts up shop? (If you think this sounds familiar, I did already write a song on this topic).

The Pitch

So, Amiran finally breaks free of his chains, and here we start our adventure. There's a tutorial/starting section, and then Amiran gets to a hidden valley which will be "base camp" for the game. Here it gets into being much like Hades: Amiran can do a bunch of runs through various levels, if he fails he gets returned to his chains until he can break them "the next year" (in practice, immediate reload).

The plotline is based on pathways and characters that represent different choices that Amiran can make about who he wants to be having spent more or less all of human history chained up under a mountain. Does he want to mellow out and be a peaceful reminder of past traditions, does he want to avenge the wrongs done to him and/or others, is he mostly concerned with restoring his (and others) freedom? My vague mental schema is this trio of main paths - War, Peace, Freedom - each of which gives an ending to the game, with a fourth path, possibly Creation, that wraps them together for a "final ending" and is only unlocked when one rejects the three other endings on a particular save.

As you go through each path, that path's guide character will talk to you about the possibilities and why that path is good, but also the other two guides will point out the difficulties or problems of commiting to that path to the exclusion of other things. So for War one gets the freedom character talking about how war requires authority and likening that to Amiran's chains, and the peace character showing the hurt done to ordinary people, but in the Peace run, the war character will point out that without struggle and fighting justice is never done, in the freedom run you get both war and peace discussing the ways in which individuals cannot be islands, and so on. The final path will be about Amiran trying to draw those strands together and coming to a far less certain but more hopeful conclusion than the other paths.

At the end of each path (except the fourth), Amiran has the option to accept or reject its teaching. Rejection requires that he symbolically reforge his own chain and start over to choose a different path.

Imagined cast:

Character  Role  Based On   
AmiranProtagonistMyths of Amiran
KurshaBeing the Goodest BoyMyths of Amiran
NinoPeaceSt. Nino, the conversion saint of Georgia
VakhtangWarVakhtang Gorgasali, the heavily mythologised C6th warrior king
ShotaFreedomShota Rustaveli, regarded as the greatest Georgian writer
NamelessCreationNobody - as the fourth option, creation represents the future
NikoAdds items to the valleyNiko Pirosmani, usually regarded as the greatest Georgian painter



Anyway, never going to get time to make this and I don't have the ability to make a fighty game anyway, but I'm putting my notes down anyway because I didn't want to forget how much I liked the idea. :)

11
Mods, Maps & Game Add-Ons - The Bazaar / Skyrim modding: The Lost Songs
« on: January 29, 2021, 05:20:20 PM »
So I don't think I'll get this finished, but I started poking around with making a tiny module for Skyrim. My idea was to make an extra bard follower who could stand around and play you some extra songs for the sake of musical diversity.

I had the fun idea to try recording the songs that were in Skyrim books and didn't have tunes - unfortunately, and I think this is one of the largest reasons I won't finish this, there's a good reason those songs don't have tunes and it's that apparently scansion is not a term you need to know to work at Bethesda. Even ones that are explicitly labelled as odes or songs are horrible to try and fit any kind of tune to. I do now have a recording of Song of the Alchemists but it's not great and was like pulling blood from a stone honestly.

My other problem is that the creation kit is really clunky. It's a powerful toolset but it crashes very easily, takes ages to load, and has bugs (one of which means you can't add new dialogue lines properly, which if I want to do a new character may actually be rather necessary). There's apparently a workaround for that but I've not sorted it out yet.

But yeah... not sure whether to carry on with this or not really. I don't know if I can make music that's good enough for people to want it in their games, especially if I'm working with the stuff from the Skyrim books (and if I'm going to go back to writing new bard songs I have about five to write for The Exile Princes still).

12
Someone's made a really nice implementation of the Royal Game of Ur including multiplayer and a fairly decent AI:

https://royalur.net/


I really do like the Royal Game of Ur - it's got a very strong catchup mechanic in that the further ahead you are, the harder it is not to get chased down and captured by the larger number of enemy pieces on the board. It is pretty luck driven but there's a degree of skill and strategy too.

13
Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / US Politics 2021
« on: January 07, 2021, 06:27:27 PM »
Well, we start the new thread a few days into 2021 with the news that Democrats have gained control of the Senate by winning two seats in a state that's been red for decades, on the same day that a mob of fascist rioters broke into the Capitol building and forced both houses of Congress out of session as they were attempting to tabulate and confirm the election results. Just in case you thought that 2020 hadn't been busy enough from a political perspective!



He reminded me of what Penty said late in 2020...
Quote
TBH part of me would welcome some attempt at armed revolt by these "militia" groups, I imagine the reality of fighting against the world's most well funded military would probably cool their ardour rather swiftly. But I do hope these lunatics keep their tin foil hats on and stick to just playing soldiers.

Apparently he spoke too soon :(

Dear god yesterday was surreal. Not perhaps wholly surprising, but surreal. And I think it will be consequential if not in the way it was intended: it, along with the Georgia results, have totally upended any kind of Republican rhetorical strategy for disengaging from the Trump presidency and effect. A solid block of Republicans will now feel emboldedned in blaming Trump for the fact they're now out of office in all three branches of government, having held all of them in 2016. But the Trumpist block is still visibly there and hasn't gone away, and the total incompatibility of the viewpoints "we lost because dumbass conspiracist fascism isn't enough to win elections" and "we have to keep doubling down on the conspiracist fascism to stop the Trump base leaving the GOP" I think might really bite the party very hard in the next few years. (And honestly, devolving into factionalism couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of people).

The Georgia result was heartening though. It's been a really Republican state all my life pretty much (and at the deeply racist end of Democrat ones before that), and having it put a black pastor and a young Jewish guy in its two Senate seats is genuinely nice to see.

14
So, in images/popular versions at least, it seems that helmet crests were massively A Thing in the ancient world: we usually represent e.g. Hoplites, and Carthaginian and Spanish warriors, with crested helmets, some Roman legionary ranks had them, and so on.

What I want to know is:
  • How common actually were they? Would any rank and file hoplite or punic infantryman have actually had a crested helmet?
  • What were all those crests made out of? The way they're presented looks like maybe dyed horse hair, or sometimes feathers? Did it matter/was there any consistency?
  • Where did they all go? It just doesn't seem to be A Thing in the medieval period, occasional plumed helmets as a bit of a fancy later in the period but we do seem to go from helmet crests being semi-normal in antiquity to just Not A Thing in the period I study, and I don't really understand why this should be the case. Could just be fashion, but it seems odd for something to be a major style in the classical world and then just full-on fall out of fashion for a millennium.

Part of this is sheer curiosity, part of it is that I'm wondering how to do the look of Kesrata and Tabnire in Kavis, much of the theory of which is "Punic cultures but if they still had a couple of big city-states with continuous existence by like the 800s". Thoughts welcome!

15
Announcements! The Town Crier! / Updates from the Forge 40: Winter 2020-21
« on: December 31, 2020, 09:58:39 PM »
Issue 40: Winter 2020-21

EDITORIAL

Season greetings to you all, winter is now here! Are you ready for the colder weather? Log fires, hot beverages, gingerbread, comfy clothing and all those winter warmers?  Grab a hot drink and throw on something warm and cosy and we will get to all the topics we've got for you this edition.

We've had lots of great stuff happening on the site recently, including releases for BagaturKhan's mods based on his own sci-fi universe, the successful Tourney Kickstarter for which many congratulations should go to Tusky, and the announcement of our upcoming Coding Medieval Worlds virtual workshop which will see historians and game developers team up to discuss challenges in medieval and fantasy gaming. Our ongoing Winter Creative Competition is still ongoing, too, and has excellent prizes for you to win. Do go and get your entries in soon!

What will you do this winter? With many areas of the world still in lockdown, there might be not very many options. But, that will not matter when you see how much we have for you this edition you won't be sorry!

We have lots to get to, please read on!

Always, make sure you: 'Enjoy your stay!'.

CONTENTS:

  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • Devlog: Project Stormbringer - A Medieval Fantasy Action RPG
    • Son of a Witch - Succubi, Skinpacks, and more!
    • Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
    • Ahowl's Vanilla Extended, Version 19!
  • Arts & Writing
    • Jubal's Poems
    • Tusky's Drawings
    • Mountain Leopards Returns
  • Miscellany
    • Exilian Pub Quiz II!

GAME DEV

Devlog: Project Stormbringer - A Medieval Fantasy Action RPG



Inspired by Gothic I, II & The Witcher 3! Project Stormbringer are bringing to you a Medieval Fatasy Action RPG. Setting the scene, on an isolated island that is tomormented by monsters and magical horrors, a survivior from a shipwreck must quaell an ancient God who will rise again to wipe out the insland's inhabitants.

DEV VLOG
This is Project Stormbringer's first dev log, which introduces the project:

Project Stormbringer are looking forward to hearing what you think!





Son of a Witch - Succubi, Skinpacks, and more!


Son of a Witch has some very exciting news coming up with the announcement of the upcoming Hell level expansion, which will include a whole new range of enemies to fight and provide an alternative route through the game. The new version will also include a skeletal Bloodmage as a player hero, minotaur cultists with a labyrinth to explore, imps, succubi, ifrits, and more besides.

Meanwhile we also have new skinpacks by Jubal which you can download, including Son of a Witcher, which transforms your knight hero into the suitably scarred, grumpy figure of Geralt of Rivia - with all these monsters and demons to defeat, sometimes you need to be able to call in a real professional. If you want something a bit more light-hearted, there's also one that transforms your stubborn boar pet into a more docile friend with the capybara mount skinpack, allowing you to ride the world's largest rodent through your goblin-bashing adventures. All that and more on Bigosaur's Exilian forum below!





Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics



Epicinium has been on the game dev horizon since the 19th October 2020! What makes the game totally epic? Your overall tact in preserving the environment is factored in as you quest throughout the game, making it of an even more challenging strategy game. With an environmental focus, the game encourages you to be mindful of destruction or planned destruction by preserving the surroundings of your citizens by keeping their forests intact for example. This game gets you think about if less destructive approaches are possible and if you can afford to proceed with them. !If you win by having your enemy's half of the map ravaged by firestorm, did you really win at all! as put by Sander, one of the development team members creating Epicinium.

Food for thought there! 

Why not download this today and try out the game or join the discussion page to let us know what you think!






Ahowl's Vanilla Extended, Version 19!


Nearly ten years after he started modding Rome: Total War, Ahowl11 is still hard at work, with the latest release of his Vanilla Extended mod coming this month. The latest version includes major map changes and rebalances, reducing many of the northern and western factions to more historical single-province tribal starting systems, merging Rome into a single faction and using the historical Chremonidean League as the basis for an adapted Greek Cities faction.

The new factions permitted by merging Rome will be Nabatea, the Bosporan Kingdom, and Illyria, each of which has an exciting new unit roster available. Nabatea, a small buffer state based around the trading hub of Petra, sits uneasily alongside the Seleucids and Ptolemies as its bigger neighbours: the Illyrians, between Macedon and Rome, are based off the historic Ardiaean Kingdom and provide some similar challenges as a historically smaller state between some of the famed powers of the ancient world. The Bosporan Kingdom, a somewhat under-recorded realm on the north shores of the Black Sea, meanwhile adds new interest to the steppes and potentially also the Caucasus by presenting a new Greek power in the north.

With all this and more, there's plenty to check out in the new version and we hope you do so!






ARTS AND WRITING


Jubal's Poems

Poetry is fitting for all seasons, but this one symbolises a distinct arrival and this gave Jubal his inspiration "I came up with the idea for this one after a friend of mine had a baby, to whom the song is dedicated. :) " Here are a few verses from the poem, fitting for the seasons of Autumn and Winter, please visit the link below to read the entire poem. You will be glad that you did!

Little Moorhen
Dedicated to Beatrice Catchpole-Simmons

And you shall find
That the world is wide
And full of flowers

See autumn fall,
Around you, nests of love and leaves
As you grow tall,
By those who helped your wings unfold,
And keep you when the world is cold

So that you can find,
That the world is wide
And full of flowers

Winters will come,
Garlanding the world in frost
A weary sun
Wilts, its petals fall but then
Your world turns and it blooms again

And you shall find,
That the world is wide
And full of flowers





Tusky's Drawings

What do you think of this excellent Christmassy themed drawing from Exilian's Tusky? His awesome artwork has been a regular feature in our Arts and Crafts section for many months now, but we've had some particularly cool new drawings lately.

Tusky's core work is as a game developer, in particular the mastermind behind games like Escape from Biostation and the upcoming medieval tournament simulator Tourney which was successfully kickstarted recently. His fantasy artwork, though, is a perfect reminder both that he is a man with many strings to his bow, and that creators and game designers so often have their work built not just on hyperfocused specialisation but a wide range of creative skills that allow them to realise their ideas in different ways.

Recent entries in the drawings thread include a stony-faced and yet somehow jolly dwarf sorceror, and discussions on how our different arty creatives do their graphical work. Talking to artists and creators is a great way to learn about their process and build your own skills, and thread's like Tusky's drawings are the perfect place to do that! Providing inspiration is equally a hugely important part of art, so even if you're not doing artwork yourself, maybe something for another poject will spring to mind - and of course, it's every bit as valid to just head over there, look at the cool artwork, and enjoy the show. Either way, this is one thread where it's very well worth taking a look.

Check out more at:





Mountain Leopards Returns


Just in time for this issue, we've had the first episoded of Jubal's webcomic Mountain Leopards out in many months! Mountain Leopards is a new take on the by now classic style of humorous fantasy adventuring webcomics, with a strong theme of Caucasus culture and mythology based on Jubal's background as a historian of the region throughout the comic. The story follows Botso K'akhaisdze, long-suffering cleric of the frustrating knowledge deity Otarid, on his travels through the mountain realm of Datvieti. On the way, he meets an eclectic range of characters and finds himself increasingly wrapped up in the machinations of foes he does not yet understand - whilst also having to contend with an annoying narrative voice with a mind of its own, unexpected porcupines, and night-time visits from Eurythmics and their pet cow.

Will Botso and his new allies work out what's going on and save the kingdom? The party seem to have reach new literal and metaphorical lows as they descend deeper into the caves in the latest episode, entitled "Into Darkness"...




MISCELLANY


Exilian Pub Quiz II!

Our own Tusky, besides his abovementioned skills as artist and game dev, has also taken it upon himself to be quizmaster for our new series of fiendish pub quizzes! Leaving some of Exilian's finest minds utterly baffled, the formidable range of knowledge needed for these questions, from medieval royalty to the princes of pop, ensures that everyone's knowledge is suitably put to the test. Florp's astounding victory on the latest one deserves much congratulation!

What's more, even if you missed the quiz, you can go back and play through it now - see the questions and answers at the links below to test your own skills and see how you'd have fared against the forum's finest. Good luck!





Seasons greetings to you all. However you spend your winter this year, please stay safe. It has been an action packed year at Exilian and we are hoping to bring you even more fun content next year. From all of us here, we know it has been a difficult year, there have been many challeges. Your Exilian community is always here and we send our thanks for your excellent support and hope that you stay safe. We will see you all next year, in the spring with more fun! Let us know what you thought of the newsletter in the comments below!



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