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Jubal Today at 05:35:19 PM

What are you reading?
Jubal Today at 11:00:09 AM

The Edge of the Edge of the World
Jubal July 14, 2024, 09:26:27 PM

Welcome to SMF 2.1
Jubal July 14, 2024, 09:20:30 PM

Test thread
Talos July 14, 2024, 11:29:06 AM


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Posted on July 13, 2024, 10:42:46 PM by Jubal
Welcome to SMF 2.1

Dear all,

After some recent tech issues, we're happy to welcome you back to a slightly new-look Exilian, now running on the SMF 2.1 series of software rather than the old 2.0. This is a once-a-decade level of tech upgrade: the new version of SMF will come with a slightly different mix of features and, most importantly. This is the first part of a series of tech changes we're hoping to make, with the plan also being to move Exilian onto a new hosting package later this summer.

A few notes on the changes that you might notice, or that are coming down the line:


  • We are going to return to a dark theme as default, though the current light theme, 'Skyclad', will remain available when we build the dark theme.
  • One major new feature that's now available is post drafts! You can now hit the "save draft" button to keep the text of a post safely squirreled away for whenever you get time to finish your thoughts
  • We'll be looking at other new features to be made available - the 2.1 series allows for tagging other users in posts and some improved notification systems - so do stay tuned for more updates there.
  • You can't currently create multiple polls within a single thread: the mod we used to do this doesn't function on the 2.1 series, and we're actively looking for a replacement.

Most importantly, we're keen to have your thoughts and opinions on the new system: it's important to us that we're getting the look and feel of the site right going forwards, so if something doesn't feel right or there's functionality you're missing then please do let us know.

...
Posted on June 04, 2024, 08:48:21 PM by Jubal
New Projects Hosted by Exilian!

New Hosted Projects: June 2024

Today we're very happy to announce two projects that Exilian is now helping support with web hosting. Part of our mission here is to support independent academic as well as creative endeavours, and we're delighted to be taking the chance to help two really great scholarly events/networks have a stable, workable home online that can ensure their work reaches more people and is more accessible than ever before.





The Middle Ages in Modern Games is an online asynchronous conference where participants provide ideas and discussions of medieval worlds in gaming in a short written format. The conference's first to fourth years were as a Twitter conference before the format changed in 2024 to a WordPress site hosted by Exilian. This week is the fifth Middle Ages in Modern Games conference itself, which will see academics from across the world provide thoughts and ideas on a wide array of aspects of games and game dev. This includes sessions on Warfare, Empathy, the Fantastic, Aesthetics, and the Dev process, among others: it should have some really interesting reads for developers, historians, and members of the public alike.

We're excited to welcome MAMG to Exilian alongside our existing work in this area which includes hosting the Coding Medieval Worlds workshops every year!







The Medieval Caucasus Network is a group of scholars from around the world which exists to help connect people and expand understandings of the Caucasus and surrounding regions through the medieval period. Their work includes organising conferences, running a mailing list to connect scholars, putting scholars in touch with potential funding sources for conference travel, and much more besides. Their work includes not only academic staff but independent scholars and graduate students, and covers a wide range of disciplines and areas including archaeology, digital humanities, and art history as well as historical approaches to all parts of the region.

Exilian has long had some links to this area via our executive officer's work on Caucasiology, including us hosting some of the earliest versions of what was then the Caucasian Prospography Project and is now known as the (still unreleased) Prosopography of High Medieval Georgia database. Whether you know something or nothing about medieval Caucasia, there will doubtless be much more to discover!


...
Posted on April 20, 2024, 03:08:51 PM by Jubal
Hibernation Creative Competition - The Showcase!

HIBERNATION: COMPETITION SHOWCASE


We're now well into spring in the northern hemisphere and that means it's time for our Hibernation themed winter competition to be complete. Thus, it's time to share our showcase of results, which you can read below. We've got a lovely cosy little set of five miscellaneous project on the Hibernation theme with some lovely bits of work for you to look at, and the most important thing as ever is adding more to this great showcase collection. There can, however, only be one winner (at least, there is only one winner in this case).

And that winner is... Spritelady with her fiction writing piece '6 of Telochi, in the year 647'!

The judges called this one a "psychologically smart first-person narrative " and "suspenseful, well-crafted writing" - you can read the result below! Spritelady wins a copy of Priory Games' medieval life sim Under the Yoke, which follows a peasant family through the subsistence needs, tithes, and village life of the high middle ages, and a copy of Jubal's RPG book Rockpool, which is a mini tabletop RPG system for being tiny little weird creatures that live around the eponymous rockpools and must content with the tide, dangerous whelks, and other such perils.

Thanks also go to our judges, Yvonne and Daniel, and to Owen of Priory Game for sponsoring the competition. But more important than the winning is the creativity, as ever, and we're delighted to be able to share with you below the full showcase of all five contributions, from computing puns to poetry to photography. Do leave a comment and let us know what you think!




Entry Showcase

WINNER: 6 of Telochi, in the year 647 - Spritelady

Quote6 of Telochi, in the year 647

I have returned to face the beast. This is my third attempt to defeat the creature, and the first that I have made in the cold season. I hope that what I have learnt will be enough. I pray that I have the strength to destroy it.

~

When I first learned of people going missing in the Forest, I thought perhaps it was a Tiyanak, maybe a Wendigo. When I arrived at the logging base, the woodsmen told me that they had been there since the cold season, and had seen no trouble in those first months. But then members of their group began to vanish. There was no trail that could be followed, and their belongings remained in camp. The woodsmen began to fear walking among the trees, but they were stubborn. They needed to work.

In my experience, the patterns they had described suggested a creature that hunted those foolish enough to walk alone. Or perhaps that was capable of luring its victims away from the safety of numbers. This would hardly be my first encounter with such creatures, and I approached the job with confidence. Arrogance, I later realised.

I went to begin my hunt, as I had so many times before. The creature tore through me in moments, left me clinging to life. I never saw it, had not even known it was there as I began looking for its trail in the woods. But it had seen me looking. And it had not cared to be hunted.

Why it left me alive, I had no idea. I should have died from my injuries, but was saved by the grace of the Lady and the kindness of those woodsmen. I left their camp, promising to return to kill the creature, knowing that my advice to move camp would not be heeded. These people needed work, and there was little else to be found.

~

I returned as the harvest season began. I had spent my time away recovering, regaining my strength, training until I was twice the hunter that I had been before. I was deadly in the woods, but my arrogance had been curbed. I knew not to underestimate my quarry. I knew it would take all my skill to hunt and kill this beast.

   There were fewer woodsmen than when I had left. Their numbers had dwindled as the attacks had grown more frequent. Even travelling in groups did not seem to deter the creature; it took its prey nonetheless. But they stayed and I admired their stubbornness. I felt responsible for ensuring that they could remain, that the threat would be dealt with. And once more, I entered the woods.

   At first, my hunt went well. Or at least, it lasted more than the brief seconds of my first attempt. I found traces of a trail and followed them deep beneath the canopy of the Forest. I tracked for hours, following hints and signs of its presence. The woodsmen had told me they had begun to see signs, trees scraped bare of bark where the creature had passed, gouge marks left in the dirt of the forest floor. At times, I lost the trail, searching before I found another sign, could continue moving further into the Forest.

I was stupid not to realise what was happening. The creature had been aware of me from the moment I entered the woods. It had toyed with me, leading me closer and closer to its lair. In the seconds before it struck, as I beheld its massive form for the first time, I knew I had made a crucial mistake.

I reflected on it later, as I recovered from the wounds it dealt me. It had taken all my considerable skill to escape, and even then I somehow knew, I could sense, I only lived because it had grown bored of me. Before I faced it again, I would need to be smarter. Need to understand more. To truly face this creature, to kill it, I needed to know everything I could about it.

   I left the woodsmen again, felt their sullen, resentful stares as I walked away, when their friends and comrades could not have. I knew they were losing their faith that I would handle this creature, as I had so many others. My reputation would only last through so many failures.

~
   
I returned home, and gathered every scrap of knowledge I could find about creatures that dwelled in the Forest. Last time, as I recovered, I had strengthened my body, my physical prowess, and had thought that would be enough. I had underestimated the creature's intelligence, its awareness. I would not make that mistake now.

   I read every piece of lore I could find, scoured libraries and archives for mentions of the creature. I compiled the best collection of ancient and forgotten tomes that had been seen in years, all in my attempt to learn something, anything I could use to fight this creature and survive.

Finally, after months of learning, I found something I thought I could use. I had forgotten the woodsmen's first stories. That they had lived and worked through the cold season undisturbed, before the creature had begun its attacks. At the time, I assumed that the creature had simply wandered into new territory, found the woodsmen's camp and begun its attacks. But as I read, as I learnt about the denizens of the Forest and those that came from its deepest recesses, I found a common thread.

   Hibernation. Almost all the creatures we knew of in the deep woods followed an annual cycle. They would hide themselves away throughout the coldest months, when food became scarcer, and wait until the rainfalls to emerge. Perhaps that was why the woodsmen had seen nothing of this creature in their first months at camp. Why they had become settled enough in their lives and their work not to be able to move on when it began to strike. It would almost have been funny, the irony of that terrible timing, had it not been so disastrous.

   If this creature did indeed hibernate, maybe that would allow me to approach. Other accounts described creatures that sleep deeply, barely alive as they wait out the coldest months. I could find my way back to the beast's lair, that I had been led to so foolishly. Perhaps I could remain unnoticed for long enough to dispatch it. I have prayed to the Lady that this will work.

~

I have returned to the woodsmen's camp. I can see they no longer believe I will be successful, though some seem to admire my resilience. I think they respect that I have returned, despite twice being left on the brink of death. They do not realise it is the same resilience that I admire in them. The same stubbornness.

Tomorrow, I will go into the woods for the third time. And if I should not return, if my guesses are wrong, my newfound knowledge is not enough, I ask whoever reads this to deliver my account to the collection of lore that I have built. Add to the knowledge I have hoarded of the monsters that roam the deep woods. Let someone else learn from my mistakes, and perhaps one day return to kill this creature.






Overslept - A Microfiction by Tusky

Quote"Woah, 2235? I overslept. Where is everyone?"

"Dinner time was many cat-naps ago. You snoozed through tuna surprise time. Displeased."

"Wait, a talking cat! Am I dreaming?"

"Meow, please. You have awakened in a PAW-some future run by cats! Now, scritches behind
the ears, then can opener. Chop-chop, human."

"Huh. OK, dinner time it is then! Just don't judge the sleep wrinkles, your royal purrness."

"Wrinkles are beneath me. Tuna, however, is not. Now move it, hairless servant. The sunbeam won't wait."

Editorial note: the entry was submitted with an illustration, which can be viewed here. The illustration, however, was AI generated and so the entry was judged and included only on the original element, the text-microfiction above.



Hibernation Database - A Database of Hibernating Creatures by Jafeth (Who is Also Here)

What it is
The Hibernation Database is a Java application that offers a simple interface to a database containing a table of animals that hibernate. It can be called to create new animal entries, and modify or delete existing ones.

How it works
The application uses the Spring Boot framework to provide REST functionality as well as database connectivity. Internally Spring Boot uses the framework Hibernate to do this. (Yes, Jafeth made this entire thing for that joke. You're welcome.) The programme is built to run in a Docker Container, which is a small virtual machine containing only what is necessary for the programme to run. It connects to a PostgreSQL database which can be hosted anywhere but is most easily run as another Docker container. (See the deployment.yaml file for an example).

How to access it
There are github repositories available for the frontend and backend parts of the system. Those who want to run a copy of the database will find relevant instructions on those pages: Jafeth kindly self-hosted an instance for the judges, but this is no longer operational.



Thawing - A Poem by Jubal

QuoteAnd if there is a dream that is called spring,
Then we must intend to dream it:
Holding in a suspended mind's eye
A simulation, an imaginary of what was and could yet be,
For there are dreams, dear one, that enclose the dormant buds of truth -
Dreams that are a promise of the sun's return.

What spring brings we can only imagine -
That is, after all, what dreams are for,
The thaw, the rolling waves of blue sky after grey,
The bursting of each blossom in a cascade of trees
In patterns and patchworks that we cannot intend
Or know
Or guide
For if there is one thing that is true about the unimaginable seasons' turn,
It is that spring comes only with creation and the shape of new impossibilities
With old songs sung from new trees
By voices that know not how they know the tune
Only that they dreamed it, once
When the world was a dream
And beyond the dream was wintertide.

But there is a dream that is called spring,
As long as you intend to dream it:
As long as you intend to speak and to sing it,
As long as you come to know and to love it,
For the hibernation of hope is the stepless path through dormant time
That will end not with rage and crashing ice,
Or the creation in fire of a world burned into newness,
But with the slow revelation of spring-water
Of bough and breeze and the creeping hope of dreams
And, always, with life.

Editorial note: this entry was excluded from judging as it was created by a competition organiser.



Crow - A Photo by Jubal




In that moment, Crow realised what Hedgehog had meant by "hibernation".
It seemed, all of a sudden, like a very good idea indeed.

Editorial note: this entry was excluded from judging as it was created by a competition organiser.






And that's our Hibernation set done and it's time to wake up for spring - and for Exilian's newsletters, articles and events in the coming months, where we're hoping to have more exciting and fun things to do as a community. Hope to see you for those, and that you enjoyed this hibernatory showcase!

...
Posted on April 13, 2024, 03:54:01 PM by Jubal
Our policy on generative-AI content

Large Data Models & Generative "AI": Our New Policy

As many of you know, machine learning based tools for generating content from large data models have been significantly expanding in their usage in recent years. ChatGPT, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and other text and image generating services are increasingly prominent in popular discourses about art, games, and the future of creative works.

The voting members of Exilian have recently voted on a new policy for how we handle this sort of content. We recognise that it's something people are going to want to discuss and play with, and we want to assure people that discussing these technologies isn't unwelcome here. However, there are a lot of concerns about generative AI, including but not limited to their potential for disinformation, the effect on artists and writers whose content is taken and reconstituted by these systems, the environmental impact of very heavy data model usage, and the issues of huge quantities of automatically generated material flooding the internet. The legal situation around generative AI is also still unclear and it's important that we protect this community from any potential legal issues. We don't think that we can simply ignore those problems, and we want to keep Exilian as a space that supports and cherishes human creativity first and foremost.

In future, that means that Exilian will not be providing formal support to projects that use generative AI. That includes not giving newsletter space or social media shoutouts to such projects, and it also means that generative AI pieces will be explicitly banned from entry into future competitions and site events. We also have some new expectations about posting generated content: that people should keep it limited and not flood the site with such content, that you mustn't post work that explicitly mimics specific writers' or artists' styles, and that if you're posting content produced by an AI then you have a responsiblity to clearly label it as such.

What we can do on these issues as a small community is limited: "AI detectors" are themselves largely machine-learning systems and have significant flaws, and whilst we will take what steps we can to avoid content you post on Exilian getting scraped by large generative model providers, as a public-facing forum without a legal budget there are limits to how much we can prevent machines reading content on here. Nonetheless, we're doing everything we can on these issues to make sure that we keep Exilian as a space that will support our artists, game developers and writers in their own creative endeavours, and we hope that taking these steps will help with that.

You can read the full text of our Generative AI policy here.

With best wishes,

The Exilian Team

...
Posted on March 31, 2024, 05:37:48 PM by Jubal
Updates from the Forge 53: Spring 2024

Issue 53: Spring 2024

EDITORIAL & COMMUNITY NEWS

Welcome to a new issue of Updates from the Forge! This is Exilian's fifty-third newsletter of creative geekery, and as usual before we dig into the exciting articles on particular projects, we'll start you off with some of what's been going on around the community.

The early part of a year is a busy section of the Exilian calendar, starting with January's election results where our current staff team of Jubal, Glaurung, Spritelady and Tusky all stayed in their current roles. We as usual also had celebrations for Cyril & Methodius Day and for Exilian's birthday: our little community is now over sixteen years old, so there are people who can buy alcohol and vote in some jurisdictions who've never lived in a world where Exilian didn't exist which is a rather curious thought. We also reached 150,000 posts across the site in January, which is an enormous milestone for a small community like ours and testament to our still having a vibrant creative presence over a decade and a half from when this site was founded.

One major announcement which has already and very recently had its own front page is that Priory Games' Under the Yoke is now out, so do go and take a look at that if you're keen to dig into the world of medieval peasant life with a simulation covering everything from cooking to interactions with the market to the pressures of village social life in 12th and 13th century England.

We've also had a great range of new articles: Exilian's post #150,000 was an interview with our long standing member and TTRPG developer Phoenixguard09, which covers the inspirations and design philosophy behind his Norbayne RPG and setting. We've also had rbuxton regaling us with tales of his travels and reflections on the places he visited in 2023 - keep an eye out for part 2 coming out pretty soon into April. Finally, as a contribution both to Exilian Articles and to the asynchronous game dev conference #NotGDC, Jubal wrote us a piece on how to think about history for game developers, introducing some of the discussions and ideas in academic discussions of games and history and how those thought process can affect your approaches.

The first part of a new year is always a hectic time: one never feels that the old year has quite been put away properly, and yet there's always new things to do. We've got a spring in our step with the range of new creators this issue though, with an exciting range of new faces in the dev section and new faces added to older projects as our arts & writing news includes new seasons and story rewrites. We've also got a packed miscellany section with new Coding Medieval Worlds videos, cute spring animals, and more besides. So with all that to come, let the flowers bloom around the following issue of Updates from the Forge...

CONTENTS:

  • Editorial & Community News
  • Game Development
    • Will you consult the Twilight Oracle?
    • Exile Princes now Wishlistable on Steam!
    • Keith Ruiter's History Check
    • Score High with Mushy Score!
  • Arts & Writing
    • Ren series two being released now!
    • Reimagining the Chain with Rbuxton
    • New Poetry from Jubal
  • Miscellany
    • Coding Medieval Worlds IV videos now available!
    • Terms Of Service: Didn't Read...
    • A Yay for Nature in Exilian's Great Library
    • SoundImage turns 10 years old


GAME DEV

Will you consult the Twilight Oracle?


New member Cosmic Void has published Twilight Oracle, a point and click adventure featuring a bunch of science-magic school dropouts who, under threat of an abrupt end to their education, must use their powers to uncover the truth behind why they were sent to a distant alien world to attempt a seemingly impossible task. Leo, the main player character, is a water breathing student whose terrible grades have led him to be given a certain "special assessment" on a distant alien planet: his fellow students mind-reader Jill, fire-maker Marcus, and wind-summoner Olivia are all part of solving the puzzles around the island, as are talkative fish, a candy obsessed princeling, and an astronaut with some measuring equipment issues.

The game offers classic zany adventure gaming humour and unusual solutions to a variety of item puzzles, contributed to by the often juvenile silliness of Leo and his high school friends. The game is fully voice-acted in the English language version for the full "I definitely didn't think before opening my mouth" dialogue experience. There are also unique hidden interactions that you can find to get bonus achievements - will you be able to solve all the island's puzzles and discover the secrets behind the dropouts' very strange school program? You can find out by hearing the words of the Twilight Oracle! There's also more coming soon from Cosmic Void, with his next title Devil's Hideout coming to Kickstarter in the very near future, so keep an eye out for that.




Exile Princes now Wishlistable on Steam!

Jubal's fantasy strategy-RPG The Exile Princes has been in development for over half a decade now, but in the last few months it's made a big new jump towards launch with the release of the game's Steam and itch.io pages! You can now wishlist the game on Steam to be informed when it goes live. There's also a new gameplay trailer, which you can watch below, showing the simple combat systems, some of the many decisions you can make about yourself and your companions, and moving around the map. It also includes some of the game's bardic song soundtrack as written by the developer!


The Exile Princes uses a simple but characterful tile-art map based on medieval manuscript art to have the player explore a detailed generated world in which the cities, districts, regions, taverns and characters change with each playthrough. Your player character sets out with a small retinue and the ultimate aim of moving the Exile Realms wholly into their faction's leadership and control. On the way you'll be able to recruit companions with different personalities and opinions on events, meet and do tasks for the cities' leaders, attend feasts and tournaments, pursue different ideals and romances, and more besides. The unique medieval-fantasy world is one where wood sprites, blemmyes and grotesque part-beast folk live in an uneasy mix with the humans of the Exile Realms, and where a colourful mix of chivalry, faith, politicking, hope, traditions and freedoms all hang in the balance as you make your mark on the cities of the land.

Recent additions to the game have included Steam achievements, a number of which will be available for certain feats as you play through the game and for victory or accomplishments playing as the four key factions. There have also been improvements to the late game, where there's now a chance that the enemy factions will band together as your faction grows to rule around half the map, providing a much stronger late-game challenge with a designated enemy king whose honour guard provide an especially difficult combat experience. For all this and more features to come, do follow along with development - a release is expected later this year.





Keith Ruiter's History Check


New Exilian member and regular Coding Medieval Worlds (on which more later this issue) attendee Dr. Keith Ruiter has started a new YouTube channel to help bring historical excitements to your game dev and gaming tables! Drawing on his own expertise as a scholar of the viking age, and with potential plans to bring in other historians covering a variety of further specialisms and time periods, the aim of History Check is to provide inspiration and ideas from the past to build richer and more diverse gaming worlds. This direct video advice channel is a really welcome and interesting addition to the exciting constellation of different

Videos so far include guides on using medieval Scandinavian history to improve your D&D 5e bards and barbarians, some discussion of touring real historical sites as inspiration for your games, and on naming systems for TTRPG characters in light of the early medieval world. Historical ideas can help us rethink even basic features of the game: charisma, for example, doesn't need to mean your bard is a rizzed-up extrovert in a world where a warrior-poet can be little loved but still able to turn a crowd with the sheer force of their poetic oratory. And high levels of lore, in worlds less driven by the written word, can be as much the result of connectivity to the gods or ancient powers of the earth as being the result of book-learning and time in the libraries, a connectivity that a bard may be especially suited to obtain.

For all this and much more to come, why not (history) check it out?




Score High with Mushy Score!


Another new member with a new game, Paahtimo, has brough us Mushy Score - your mushy, a little mushroom with legs and a disconcerting number of enemies who want to kill it, must battle through levels of enemies in 2d sidescrolling platformer style. Using elemental upgrades to change up attacks and defences, your little mushy will have to rapidly up its game as more and more foes try to destroy its brightly coloured and probably only somewhat toxic little fungal form. The game is available for less than three euros on Steam and Itch, and should provide some pacy brightly coloured fun for a damp spring afternoon!



ARTS AND WRITING

Ren series two being released now!

Our friends and previous convention guests from Mythica Entertainment have, after several years, been releasing Ren: The Girl With The Mark series two! With a new lead duo of Oriana Charles and Alexander Hackett as Ren and Hunter, series two picks up where season one left off with the pair fleeing the village of Lyngarth where Ren's accidental absorption of a Mahri spirit has brought the attention and anger of the ruling Kah'Nath armies. As of the time of writing three of the four episodes of Series Two have been released, and you can check them out on YouTube.

Ren is funded on Patreon, and the team have an aim of reaching 300 subscribers to bring in the funding needed for series three, which will hopefully go into production later this year. The patreon offers additional rewards including more behind the scenes detail, early views of the series when it comes out, and short stories by a team of secondary writers including our own Jubal. There's a lively community around the series too, including a Facebook group, a fan wiki, and of course our own Ren forum on Exilian.

With all of that out there and more to come, it's a great time to start following this brilliant indie production - with the four fifteen-minute episodes of Series Two having been made for the approximate price of one second of Amazon's Rings of Power, it's an impressive testament to the skill and passion of the team that it's building up such a following. With the brief episode times it's also an easy show to watch while doing the washing up or in a short slot of time, too - perhaps you'll find one soon to catch up with Ren and Hunter's adventures?




Reimagining the Chain with Rbuxton

Quote
At long, long, last, we reached the door. Pressing tight against it to seek respite from the wind, I beat against it with the haft of my axe-turned-walking pole.
"Who goes there?" asked a voice, muffled by stone.

"Can't we do the interrogation inside? It's freezing out here," I replied, more concerned for comfort than security at this point.

"Spoken like a true spy. Who knocks?"

"I am Ren," I said, "With me are Monok, Turin and Pey: three men with only one tongue between them."

What if our chain writings had gone a different way altogether? In this new short story, rbuxton reimagines a tale started in our 2018 Chain Writing Project Of Storms and Silence. Taking the initial stub of the tale as far as his own section (second on the original chain), he's rewritten the rest of the story along a different path. It's a really interesting writing experiment and comparison in seeing how the same story might develop with a single author compared to the multi-authored chain writing system, and it's a fun story in its own right as well.

In Rbuxton's re-entitled On Three Kings' Crag, Monok, Turin and Pey, the three men with only one tongue between them, return in a rather different form and with a rather different adventure ahead, as rbuxton's fascination with language and speech takes the tale in a new direction. In his hands, a clash between different ways of keeping history, and the language of the downtrodden Southerners, come together as a band seek not only refuge but the path to a mysterious Scribe who will pronounce their fate in unexpected ways - read on to discover the rest of the tale!




New Poetry from Jubal

We've had a few new poems from Jubal already in 2024, including two very contrasting longer pieces. The Lost Child of Amberlea is a poem that hints at an unexplained story and the strains and perils of precarity in modern social, financial and legal systems, with the speaker imagining the crisp lines of the real world and the difficulties of resolving its problems before returning to the simpler, less clear, less actionable - but somehow more real - thoughts brought along by the natural world beyond.

Meanwhile, there's the converse reminder that one should probably not take Jubal too seriously at any time, in the form of Upon The Matter Of The Ankylosaur, a long winded poem that is about sixty percent dinosaur puns. If you want to know why Jubal dismisses the Pachycephalosaurus, Pteranodon, Plesiosaur, and other contenders for the prize of best dinosaur then you can now find out in fifty-one lines of rhyming verse, information I'm sure you were dying to get in exactly that format. Read on to discover more!




MISCELLANY


Coding Medieval Worlds IV videos now available!


Our fourth Coding Medieval Worlds workshop took place in February! Once again organised by a team in conjunction with the University of Vienna digital humanities department, this year's theme of Outcasts and Monsters proved a great success with two intense days of exciting ideas and exchanges between historians and game developers throughout the event. Thanks especially to all our speakers, and to the team of Jafeth, Tess (tesswatty), Blair, Madeline (TheLichQueen), and Liam for all their work alongside Jubal in making the event happen.

CMW4 having happened also means you can catch up with the resulting content on our YouTube channel. We had three panel events: a discussion on Monsters around Medieval Worlds covering Icelandic, Chinese, and Indian historic ideas of monstrosity, a panel on Life on the Medieval Margins which focused on how we think about outcast and marginalised people in medieval settings, and a How Monsters Work panel with two historians and one game developer looking at specific monsters and how they work in their game and historical contexts. There's also a great keynote talk by Tess Watterson on playing with medievalism and monstrosity, which looks at a range of aspects of how medievalism and monsters are interpreted in games, with an especial focus on how femininity and monstrosity interconnect.

You can catch up with all that, and with the similarly great videos from previous Coding Medieval Worlds events, on the Exilian Channel:




Terms Of Service: Didn't Read...

A useful resource for those who want a more informed way to browse the web, Jubal recently started a thread on TOSDR, or Terms of Service: Didn't Read. Aiming to fix the extent to which "I have read and agree to the Terms of Service" is the most common lie everyone tells on the internet, the website is an analysis and comparison of the Terms of Service agreements of different major players on the web. Whether it will lead to many shifts in how people do things - people often are stuck with big players even when they'd rather not be due to network and scale effects - it's definitely a useful resource and one where users can learn a lot about exactly what they're really signing up to when using Facebook, Reddit, Amazon, Spotify, Pinterest and more sites besides. Exilian is not yet listed, but we'd like to think we'd do reasonably well - maybe someday you'll be able to find out!




A Yay for Nature in Exilian's Great Library

In Exilian's Great Library - our forum area for history, science, and other interesting information about the world - we maintain a number of threads for posting exciting news from worlds like palaeontology, history, and space exploration. Another of these is the Nature Yays thread, which is a great look at some of the fascinating bits of natural and earth history that have cropped up in the news. Of particular recent excitement has been the new discovery of the Excastra albopilosa, the sole discovered member of a whole genus of longhorn beetle from Australia. This incredible little creature is fluffy, with strange colouration and spikes - it's likely to be mimicing the look of a beetle that's died and has fungus growing on it. Fantasy often doesn't manage to capture all the bizarre things nature itself can come up with, so it's always worth looking to the natural world for inspiration in your creativity!

This is only one part of the nature one can find around Exilian, with places like the Cute and Wholesome Picture Thread providing space to share wildlife photography from our members. This includes delights such as the image to the left of some Hepatica flowers (known also as liverleaf due to their distinctive three-lobed leaf shape) in the woods southeast of Vienna, Austria. We've also recently had pictures of wild hamsters and ground squirrels, unusual ducks and wild iris and pasque flowers, so there's plenty to see over there. If you're looking for inspiration, a cute palate cleanser from some of the grimmer parts of life, or both, today might be a great time to take a look at what we have to offer there.






SoundImage turns 10 years old


To close off this issue we have a late happy birthday announcement to give, for this February the SoundImage library of free music, sound effects and images has turned ten years old! Run by long-standing Exilian friend and member Eric Matyas, SoundImage provides free resources for both commercial and non-commercial projects with attribution to the creator, and the option of purchasing non-attribution licenses or negotiating custom work with which Eric has been pretty busy recently.

The library's ten year history has meant building up a wide array of music and image types, including textures and sounds for genres from sci-fi to travel films to historical adventuring SoundImage's resources have made their way into an exciting range of Exilian members' projects over the years - and maybe they'll help yours too, next!







And that's your lot for this first quarter of 2024! We'll be back at the end of June with more exciting updates on a range of new and ongoing projects - maybe you, dear reader, will have something for us to tell the world about next time? Feedback in the comments below is as usual very welcome - but until next time, say safe and may your forges of nerdy creativity never run out of inspiration!