Updates from the Forge 49: Spring 2023

Started by Jubal, April 02, 2023, 02:05:25 PM

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Issue 49: Spring 2023


Welcome back to Updates from the Forge! It's time for another issue of your favourite Exilian community newsletter (a fact we can rely on by the fact that nobody else is producing such a newsletter). Your regular correspondent and your regular imaginary editorial llama welcome you back for another issue packed with exciting projects - but first, we've had a wave of news from the site:

The last few months have been exciting ones for Exilian - among other things, this site has now turned fifteen years old, something that was rather unexpected for a forum originally meant to be up for a couple of weeks until its precursor Mixed Mods came back online. We had a lovely fifteenth anniversary virtual meetup on March 18 that ranged from music to reminiscences to the range of plush toys sold by popular Scandinavian furniture outlets to debating the historic definition of statehood. Back a little further, in February, also had the results of our Winter Competition, Snowstorm, won by Vicorva with an interactive-fiction game called Avalanchia and resulting in an absolutely wonderful showcase of writing and art that you should definitely go and check out. Our Coding Medieval Worlds 3 workshop was also a success, with more on that below.

In other site news, we've launched a bursaries scheme for Exilian Articles, where we can pay small 'thank yous' especially for writers who are in under-represented categories. If that's you and you have thoughts on worldbuilding or some quirky information you're desperate to dump on someone, then please check the bursary scheme documents out and get in touch! We've had some exciting new pieces in that section recently too, with a travelogue from rbuxton and pieces on goblins for your fantasy settings and building chimeras by Jubal that may be worth your while - just head to the Articles section to have a read.

We also saw two volunteers leave staff at our elections, with GMD and Lizard not re-standing for the positions of Spatharios (moderator) and Technikos (tech staff) respectively. Thanks to both of them for their services to this community over the years. If you'd like to help keep Exilian going or you think you know someone who'd be a good fit among our volunteers, please remember we have a thread open here detailing various volunteer posts that we'd like some support with: we're always very happy to provide the best training and support we can for our volunteer positions.

And whilst all this has been going on, have the good people and citizens of Exilian been idle or distracted? They have not, dear reader, or at the very least they have certainly been producing marvellous creations at a rate of knots while distracted. With several new projects, some very welcome returning faces, and everything from medievalisms to mushroom problems and claymores to canapes, please be regaled with Spring's Updates From the Forge!


  • Editorial
  • Game Development

    • Discover the Legends of Castile!
    • Whispers from Windy Meadow...
    • Highland lore from Norbayne
  • Arts & Writing

    • Veo Corva's The Beautiful Decay on Kickstarter!
    • Storydragon's Poetry
  • Miscellany

    • Coding Medieval Worlds 3: Videos Now Available
    • Crusts, Cheesebreads, and Canapes in Exilian's Kitchens
    • Free images for your projects from Eric Matyas


Discover the Legends of Castile!

New Exilian member Torrezno Entertainment has posted about their upcoming game Legends of Castile, a point and click about a girl called María who leaves her small Castilian village for a convent in Burgos, hoping to become a nun after believing she sees a vision of the Virgin Mary. However, her path gets intertwined with those of many of the region's folkloric creatures, for her prospective Mother Superior assigns her the task of finding proof of their existence to persuade the local Abbot to take action against them. María will then find herself entangled and interacting with a wide range of some of Castile's strangest inhabitants, and working on solving various puzzles to continue her quest...

The resulting madcap adventure, with a sense of humour inspired by Monkey Island and the Discworld books, will take players through many of the legends of Castile with over thirty mythical creatures to meet and as many lovingly hand-drawn environments to explore. Focused on core item and point-and-click gameplay (the developer promises that annoying mechanical minigames will be absent), this game looks pitched to appeal to fans of the classic genre, though also anyone interested in a good quirky tale and in the folklore and legends of this fascinating part of the world.

The heart of Windy Meadow: will the rain dampen villagers' spirits?
Whispers from Windy Meadow...

Aure, creator of the highly acclaimed Roadwarden, has returned to his previous story, Tales of Windy Meadow, giving the story-game a major overhaul with an upcoming release that promises to realise new potential from the game and its story. With the vast majority of dialogues changed, deepened character interactions, and the lore updated to better reflect the version of the Viaticum setting presented in Roadwarden, this promises to be the sort of re-release that gives whole new life to a game at every level. Whilst the core story beats will be familiar to those who played Windy Meadow before, the main characters have more and different conflicts to deal with, and some of the themes and outlooks of characters throughout the game have been changed to give them a deeper and less dogmatic outlook on the difficulties of life in Viaticum.

From Stabulus' Tasty Claw Inn to Salvia and Iudicia's cabin in the woods, the setting of Windy Meadow offers an everyday, slice-of-life vision of a fantasy world where nature is stronger than mankind. Its protagonists may live in a world where the Wrath of the Herds looms as a real threat, and the palisades of a village are a vital line between it and the surrounding wilds - but, even so, the everyday and human problems of growing up and working out their relationships with those around them are still very present. They must work out how to make their way through the world, and we're very excited to see their intertwined tales being revisited and deepened.

Highland lore from Norbayne

Some of the heroes of the Highlands from Phoenixguard's Norbayne campaigns.

In the Norbayne section, Phoenixguard has been posting more lore for his standalone RPG Norbayne. In particular, we've recently had an update on the ancestry of the Midlanders - the people we might most recognise as humans - and especially the Highlander lineage of this ape-descendant species. The celtic-themed Highlanders have played a particularly key role in Phoenixguard's playtests of the game, with the McFyfe clan in particular contributing multiple player characters to the tales of Norbayne already. Their serried ranks of kite shielded foot spearmen may be the core of highland armies, but as individual warriors brutally spiked targe shields, claymores, dirks and of course magic spells may all be part of a Highlander character's arsenal for taking on the world. Their insistence upon traditional thick furs and leathers even in tropical environments may not be what those of other cultures might consider sensible, but some things are a matter of pride.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Norbayne content in the near future - the team are hard at work, and a little birdie spotted them chatting to the Exilian Articles section as well: stay tuned!


The Tombtown books. How to try and improve through a series: ensure book 2 has an additional cat on the cover.
Veo Corva's The Beautiful Decay on Kickstarter!

Author (and Exilian winter competition winner 2023) Veo Corva has their latest book, The Beautiful Decay , on Kickstarter! The sequel to 2019's Books and Bone, this second Tombtown book The Beautiful Decay is a tale of pet zombies, secret libraries, queer romance, fungal horror, and a Very Good Cat. In a book that sees things more from the perspective of the outcasts and mixes dark aesthetics with personal warmth, characters often casually killed in other fantasies get to take the forefront. The community of necromancers Veo has penned into existence in the rambling secret crypt settlement of Tombtown must face up to one of the things most dangerous to the undead themselves - fungi, the embodiment of life as decay.

The kickstarter is already fully funded so you can back it in the guaranteed knowledge that you'll get your rewards - ebooks at the cost-efficiency end, but you can also preorder paperbacks and get bundled sets including Books and Bone. There's also a chance to get V's other works and stories, including the TTRPG Kin and the novel Non-Player Character. If you want to find out more about Veo's stories, they are also currently doing a regular read-through of Books and Bone on Twitch every Sunday, so you can check out their channel if you want to listen in on that!

Storydragon's Poetry

StoryDragon is another new member who arrived with the snowstorm of our winter competition, bringing two lovely pieces of writing to add to the snowfall. Now he has his own poetry thread, where he's posted a first poem, The Eyes of the Universe, with an intriguing interweaving of the cosmic, the referential, and the down-to-earth in how it views the night sky...

The eyes of the universe
Look down towards earth.
And while you fiercely curse
Your network, (that's fast as snails,)
I search the western sky;
Where I spot, up high...

Do go check out the rest of the poem in StoryDragon's thread, linked below: more details about the poem's background are also available to subscribers of the StoryDragon Ko-fi. Several members have said they're looking forward to seeing more work from our newest poet, so hopefully that will be forthcoming in future weeks and months!


Coding Medieval Worlds 3: Videos Now Available

February's Coding Medieval Worlds was a great event for many of those who attended - but if you missed out, then you can catch up on the panel and talk highlights of CMW via Exilian's YouTube channel. Four keynote sessions from the weekend were recorded. From the Saturday, we had a panel on Medievalisms and Soundscapes with Clio Em and Prof. Mariana Lopez with some fascinating insights on sound and worldbuilding, and a fireside chat where Kitfox Games captain Tanya X. Short (of Moon Hunters, Boyfriend Dungeon, and Dwarf Fortress fame) had a great conversation with Tess Watterson covering setting design, historical inspiration, and hints about their next planned release. On Sunday, meanwhile, we had a panel where art historian Madeleine Sterns, environmental historian Acer Lewis, and archaeologist Maria Vargha talked medieval space and how it's represented - and could be represented differently - in games. And to finish off, our final keynote was by Zoe Franznick, one of the narrative designers on medieval murder mystery Pentiment which has had a lot of success since its release last year. Coupled with the breakout discussions this all made for an exciting event and we're delighted to be able to share the videos with you!

Coding Medieval Worlds is a joint event run by Exilian and the University of Vienna's Digital Humanities unit, who kindly provided the funds for the online venue this year, so thanks are due to them. It's also a major volunteer effort, so thanks in particular to Jafeth for his camera-work allowing us to get high quality recordings of all these panels, and to him, Tess Watterson, and Sarah-Nelle Jackson for their work as panel chairs. You can access all the videos in the linked playlist below - including those from previous years. We hope you enjoy them, and do share them to friends and colleagues!

Crusts, Cheesebreads, and Canapes in Exilian's Kitchens

It's homemade bread! Like bread, but made at home!

We've seen a flurry of recent posts in the Jolly Boar kitchen, where Exilian members post their food ideas, inspirations, and achievements. All comers are welcome to share interesting recipes and ideas, making the best use of our wide array of members and their global food interests. Why not head over yourself sometime?

To whet your appetite, recent foodstuffs include Spritelady's bread-making, after inheriting a wide arrayof baking paraphernalia and deciding to experiment with it. We have it on good authority from our European correspondents who've ventured to the island that British bread-making does not have a good reputation, so perhaps Spritelady's valiant efforts as one of our UK-based members can improve matters! We've also had Jubal's advice on salads, with a thread on Georgian salad-making (and the importance of walnuts therein) which has also spread out into discussing Persian use of oranges, olives, and red onion, the possibilities of portulaca, and more besides. Canapes, fried khachapuri, turnip tarts, and savoury strudel are all also part of the recent kaleidoscope of foods being posted about: plenty of food for thought! And, also, food for eating.

Free images for your projects from Eric Matyas

Just some of the textures SoundImage can offer for your upcoming creative projects...

Whilst Eric Matyas is perhaps best known for his vast array of free-to-use music, his SoundImage website includes the latter as well as the former, and recently there have been new additions to his tile-able textures selection! The SoundImage texture library contains many hundreds of high quality images that you can use in tiled format for a wide range of projects and applications. Like Eric's music, they're available as-is for use in both hobby and commercial projects with attribution, and commission variations and non-attribution licenses can be purchased from Eric if you need something a little more fine tuned for your particular work.

The Skills and Resources Offered section on Exilian is always worth a look more widely: there are tons of links there to free art and music to use in your creative projects, so if you're tired of re-using the same stock assets but aren't able to pay for commissions, there are plenty of great options out there - head over and take a look!

That's felt like an even more packed issue than usual of Updates from the Forge - and I hope you, dear reader, will check out the threads of some of these great project creators and let them know what you think of their work. Getting support and constructive feedback as an independent creator is hugely valuable, and it's an important part of Exilian that we try to provide a healthy space for those discussions. The more we engage with one another's work, the stronger the community becomes and the more worth it is other creators starting to spend time here, so do head on, explore, and get inspired for your own creativity as well. Perhaps some of that will be in our next and fiftieth issue? Until then, take care and keep creating!
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...