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Contest January-February 2017 Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Feb 3, 2017.

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Which Short Story or Stories Do you Like Best (choose up to five)?

Poll closed Mar 5, 2017.
  1. Story One: Hope Is In Order

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  2. Story Two: Those Left Behind

    2 vote(s)
    9.5%
  3. Story Three: Hammer of the Lost

    12 vote(s)
    57.1%
  4. Story Four: A Whimper

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  5. Story Five: The Next Generation

    6 vote(s)
    28.6%
  6. Story Six: Sacred Duty

    10 vote(s)
    47.6%
  7. Story Seven: Sacred Spawning

    10 vote(s)
    47.6%
  8. Story Eight: Call of the Stars

    10 vote(s)
    47.6%
  9. Story Nine: Purpose

    13 vote(s)
    61.9%
  10. Story Ten: The Ritual of Words Yet Unvoiced

    7 vote(s)
    33.3%
  11. Story Eleven: Commune

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  12. Story Twelve: Warlord of Sorrow

    5 vote(s)
    23.8%
  13. Story Thirteen: His Own Hands

    4 vote(s)
    19.0%
  14. Story Fourteen: Duty and Hatred

    4 vote(s)
    19.0%
  15. Story Fifteen: Vengeance’s Fire

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  16. Story Sixteen: Hope for Sun

    5 vote(s)
    23.8%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Slanputin
    Carnasaur

    Slanputin Well-Known Member

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    Since I've now emerged from the mists of anonymity, could you expand @spawning of Bob ? You may have touched upon an unconscious trend in my writing..
     
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  2. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    It's the visual backdrops. Surreal lighting is a typical element, and I get a sense of a kind of misty visual perspective and mysterious things lurking in shadows and around corners. I think the dreamy element for me is that the writing makes a deal of things that I wouldn't perceive I real life - a hyper reality of sometimes subtle, sometimes garish colors. I think of the sky colour in "1000 Crimson Crosses" and shafts of light picking out dust motes in "the Loom at the Threshold".

    The nightmares come with the recurring themes of mad, impersonal and almost bureaucratic violence and cruelty. Is work getting to you?

    There are just a handful of writers here who can set a general mood without a word of dialogue spoken, and you are more likely to use words such as "trammeled". May I suggest you write a chapter of "Amongst the Dust" to practice being frivolous.
     
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  3. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Yes, Yes you should @Slanputin
     
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  4. Slanputin
    Carnasaur

    Slanputin Well-Known Member

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    "Commune" response:

    I’m prone to fluffy writing so I’ll try and keep this short. Less waffle, more entrée.

    I tried to change up my writing, focusing more on the internal than the external, with less environmental description/imagery. I think I ended up having one foot in the old and one in the new.

    Themes
    Vengeance
    Originally I started a couple of more violent stories. Both had the Seraphon cultist theme, and both looked at the cult sacrificing their own members out of desperation. The first was a single POV from a cultist being forced to sacrifice their lover; the second looked at shifting allegiances between three characters as the cult split over their new fratricidal direction.

    Eventually I decided to eschew the violence for pettiness; I loved the idea of petty revenge. I thought it more relatable to day-to-day life, and wanted to explore the psychology behind it. I think @thedarkfourth ’s eye for parody made me realise I was being a little heavy handed (/the dark ¼ is just very good.)

    Hope
    Hope here was Emman’s ambition. Everyone daydreams, and it’s easy for people to project the dissonance between what they want and what they have in real life. The story was on Emman’s inability to cope with this dissonance. This was inspired by a few psychological concepts, namely (and reductively) the “hero syndrome”, in which the individual creates an unfortunate situation which they can resolve as a way to attain recognition and self-worth; a “victim mentality”; and “spotlight syndrome”, in which the individual over-estimates their social presence.

    Essentially, I wanted Emman to be relatable in his mentality, whether the audience related it to themselves or their experiences, if not in with Emman’s actions. The grass is always greener on the other side, and when you get there you realise the green was probably from warpstone and you’ve trampled over your lawn in the process. Hence his regret over the Prophetess. Even at her demise I wanted his regret to be introspective – he messed up and feels guilty, but his ambition has been culled by her death. Dissonance has peaked, now what does he do?

    Character
    This was my greatest struggle: how to characterise the dynamic between the two central characters. I wanted it to be about the characters, that they’d be robust characters in-of-themselves, where you didn’t need to know their backstory as you’d glean their motivation from their psychology. Talented authors can make a compelling character whose actions you understand because you know their mentality (Flannery O’Conner springs to mind as I type.) Obviously, I still need to work on that approach.

    I wanted the relationship between the Prophetess and Emman to be almost familial, adding another layer to why Emman regrets how his decision affects the Prophetess. People can have blistering arguments and deep-rooted friction with their parents, but still love each other. I tried to underscore this familial link with with the Prophetess directly referencing her pseudo-mother role, and with references to Emman’s absent father - although I think this inadvertently opened up unsatisfied lines of enquiry.

    The Ending
    The ending drew the most critical attention. I left it ambiguous because, firstly, the cultish aspects weren’t central to the story, which I had intended to be more character-centric than my other pieces (i.e. internalised, rather than more projected psychology.) Once the character arcs closed the rest was superfluous in my mind. Secondly, the characters would have no idea what was going on and I didn’t want to detach the narrative from their internal voice. I did leave hints which I thought would lead readers to understand:


    @spawning of Bob was the most on target:

    I’m uncertain if my ambiguous ending worked given the range of interpretations, however clearly it drew a lot of attention which is probably my failing at making the character’s denouement the focus of the ending, rather than the summoning itself.

    Extra: The ending was a frame to the beginning: Emman’s arms were raised to the sky, holding the stars between his palms. This was a reflection on his hubris and lofty ambition. At the end his dreams are shattered and his arms fall to his side, himself now very much grounded by the event. The flagellant’s still have their hands raised, fixed so much in their devotion to think their destiny awaits them with the Seraphon. The Seraphon probably don’t care about any of it.
     
  5. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    as bowser has also shown, only the best content can be well-parodied. Although you may be overindulging my take, if anyone was heavy handed it was obviously me. :) Loved your writing here as always.
    May I suggest (again) you write another chapter of Lord Xhaltan.:angelic:
     
  6. Lady Tor'ti Llaz
    Saurus

    Lady Tor'ti Llaz Active Member

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    On the subject of writing more in an existing story, I very much enjoyed Vengeance's Fire. In fact, I have a little request. Dear spawning of Bob, may I use your backstory for Rageflame in my Fireblade sequel? With a few little tweaks, of course, and I might even reveal how the sword was forged, and by whom ;). Also, does anyone know of any models that could be converted into an undead Saurus? I'm planning an Ankhachic'qo conversion, and I'd like to make his nemesis. I wouldn't want either of them getting bored.
     
  7. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    For the conversion, get yourself a tyranid warrior or hive tyrant, but you should be able to get a cheap one off of anyone, they work perfect for undead saurus, I plan on making some dry bones type characters out of some.
     
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  8. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    @Lady Tor'ti Llaz , I would be honoured if you used my stuff as a scaffold.

    As for why I played in your swamp in the first place, I had just read your writer's block lament in your profile (catching up on everyone after a long hiatus), the story theme was vengeance, and if anyone had a venge to revenge in L-O it was Ankhachic’qo. My thoughts turned to why Thanquol would be quick to give up an obviously powerful weapon, so I decided it must be possessed by a will he could not control - a bound daemon, in this case.

    Then I needed a plausible means of him acquiring it and a back story for the weapon (not known to the seer himself), hence the marauder band. I wanted to casually weave in the other foe from Fireblade, hence mention of plague monks banishing the seer. I have no idea what politics could have been involved.

    Between prequel and Fireblade, I wonder how long Thanq carried the weapon, and how often he was tempted to wield it.

    Moving forward, hate and mayhem being ingrained in the weapon dovetails nicely with the raising of Broken-tooth and the inclusion of the death faction in the greater plot. I like that the weapon is subtle enough to hide its daemonic origin from skink priests. What will happen the first time a slann beholds it?

    So many possibilities, I look forward to seeing what you've got!
     
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  9. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I am not one of L-O's best painters, but I do have lots of related experience. I haven't added much to my plog because I didn't do much painting or modeling for the entire year of 2016, and what little I've done, I rarely photo graphed, but I do have a lot of Skink zombies and a few Saurus zombies. Allow me to spew my about Lizardmen zombies.

    Any model can become a zombie with the right postmortem damage. My favorite tools are a candle, a nail, and a pair of pliers. I use the pliers to hold the tip of the nail over the open flame, so it's super hot for a few seconds, then I melt holes and gauges in my zombie conversions. I usually start with the eyes. One, realistically eyes are one of the first things to decompose. Two, it's easy to paint. I just make the hole black and leave it at that. Maybe I'll try glowing eyes, or alien eyes or something in the future but because I am already a slow and easily distracted painter, I aim for simplicity.

    A few holes in the body are good. When painted, I tend to paint them purple and brown to represent scabs A few dark painted holes aren't amiss. I have enough red in my living models that I opted to establish the rule that in Scalenex-verse, Lizardmen bleed purple. I have no scientific basis for this. I just wanted to distinguish Lizardmen blood from Sotek Red colored scales. I'm getting a little tired of purple clotted blood. I might have some holes oozing slime or pus in the future for variety.

    When mutilating a Lizardmen zombie, I often target the scales. I might peel some off with a sharp knife or mush some scales together with a hot nail (the flat end not the point this time). I don't go super gung ho on this, because this descaling removes details that are sculpted on to the model rather than adding details.

    I borrowed a friend's heat gun and blasted a few models. This melts a hole section of a model, which could look nice, but it is easy to overdue it cause it really obscures the details on a model. Cold Ones are big and thick enough to withstand this, but I Skinks and Saurus models are a little iffy. I only have a few infantry models with literally melted faces.

    Speaking of adding details. Green stuff can make boils, scabs, or sliding flesh. I have painted and converted parts of my zombies to have bits of skull showing in their head or a visible bone in the arm, but I have yet to swap a zombie arm or leg for a skeleton leg or arm. I have the bits, but it's challenging to get human minis bones the right dimension.

    For zombies it never hurts to have an arm or leg missing. Most of the time, my zombie amputees have a prosthetic replacement for their missing limbs. Usually the prosthetic is a broken weapon.

    Color scheme, Most of my zombies use the same color scheme of my living Lizardmen as the base. Saurus are light blue with dark scales and yellow spots or jade green with dark green scales. Skinks I have light green with bright red crests, light blue with off white crests, and dark green with dark red crests. To zombify them I take my usual color palates then mix it with a lot of graveyard earth. The intent is to make the zombies look like they rose from a muddy swamp. A minority of my zombies, I take my usual color palate and mix them with black and/or grey. The intent is to make these zombies look like they rotted in a relatively dry area and faded and discolored rather than became waterlogged and suffused with mud. After the models are all painted, my last step (besides basing which I'm not super skilled at) is to apply a wash. I pick a wash that's either sickly green, muddy brown, or black (which washes out grey) or some mix of them, and I deliberately apply the wash unevenly. Walking corpses shouldn't have uniform skin tone or uniform filth covering.

    Or you can just do this. I may have to steal Bowser's idea but I have the limitation of my zombies need to fit on 20 mm bases. So I can't make my Saurus bigger, I have to make them smaller (that's why my Saurus zombies are sporting proportionally more amputated limbs than my Skink, Skaven, and Human zombies), thought given that I use 40 mm bases for zombie unit filler, I could try a bigger badder Tyranid based Saurus zombie on this.
     
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  10. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Liquid green stuff is perfect for boils, gore, and nurgle rot, and gap filling.
     
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  11. Lady Tor'ti Llaz
    Saurus

    Lady Tor'ti Llaz Active Member

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    Firstly, thanks spawning of Bob. And I'm honoured that you thought my story was worth continuing. Secondly, wow, that's a lot of inspiration to work with. I've given it a bit of thought, and I think I'm going to use poor old plastic Kroq-Gar as my base model. Does anyone have a spare plastic Kroq-Gar? I'd be willing to buy it off you. Thanks my fellow Cold-Bloods.
     
  12. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    *Reappears on fire and gasping something about never again*


    Story Thirteen: Heheh, I like that evil twist.

    So, I had wondered if Scalenex would cause another ‘accidental’ Skaven invasion of Lustria by not honouring the most holy of numbers to the ratkind. Luckily for him (and unluckily for all those Lustrians that were looking forward to the all you can eat rat buffet), this story had a nice dash of Skaven but was not dominated by them.

    It was very interesting as the more I read this story the more it came off as a kinda dark fairy story or fable (ok, it was missing the rule of three which would have cinched it, but it gave that mood to me.) I think the pacing ebbed a bit towards the middle part of the story and then tried galloping again towards the end, but otherwise felt pretty solid.

    I suppose I would have wanted a bit more from the mysterious stranger to give some clues on his character and his intentions (or maybe I missed a few.)

    But in any case, muchly enjoyable!

    Herkter Underwells: Truth becomes warped into legends and tales of caution, and yet-yet no matter how twisted they become...there is always a grain of truth behind all.


    Story Fourteen: Ok, I may have had several pieces of Metal Gear Solid’s soundtrack playing in my head during this piece.

    Indeedy, wowzers on the epic scale of this lone Saurus wrecking those Pestigors. The combat was visceral and well described, although I felt like a little more could have given it that extra oomph.

    The tragedy of the ending and his duty was very well thought out and felt to me to be very true to form. Not sure there’s much else to say.

    A very compelling and bloody tale!

    Jiao Hun: Sssssnakesss...why did it have-have to be ssssssnakesss?


    Story Fifteen: Heh, quite the little prequel to be sure.

    I’m not sure it was explained if the sword’s power was from an original magic enchantment, a gift from Khorne, or the bearer’s desire for vengeance being the focus that caused the winds of rage magic (silly Y’ttar, that’s not a real wind) to give the blade its power. Probably the first though.

    Buy aye, it was a very well written take on the emptiness vengeance can bring, and the protagonist’s final decision was dark and very powerful. To spend all of one’s life for a moment that is over in a blink is something we all go through in lesser (or maybe greater) degrees. So, I really feel for the protagonist here.

    Thanquol was just, well, Thanquol. His scheming idiot mind felt accurate, though his inclusion (whilst required) does taint my mind in that I immediately wonder how he’s going to cock all this up as per usual.

    I swear you Lustrian lot love expanding things and making epic sagas...

    Frekrell: Aye, but me weapon be made from thar bone of a sea monster and kill-slays anything it strikes. Beat-beat that!


    Story Sixteen: I really liked the set up for this piece.

    The outnumbered Seraphon with failure as their only fear holding off a horde of Nurgle worshippers, now that is an epic last stand. Throw in a bunch of very nicely described combat scenes, tactics, and tension and you’ve got something truly grand.

    And yet I found it odd how detached the protagonist was after her re-death. Given how she had feared failure, she seemed a little too nonchalant about how the battle ended after she had been slain. It just felt very odd to me that this character could move from being so emotive to being much more unfeeling.

    The twist with the silver knights was dropped a little out of field, but it made me chuckle. It’s overall effect felt a little dampened by it feeling a bit tagged on to the end, but the irony easily made up for that. Hang on...I thought Slaanesh was no longer a member of the Chaos pantheon...I mean, I guess his/her/it’s worshippers still kinda exist.

    Seer Gnawtail: Good. Death-death to the plague-things!


    Closing thought-things: I regret how long it took me to do these reviews, especially given the continued great quality of the writing here. These were some fantastic entries and i'm proud to have set the themes for this compy. Well done all!
     
  13. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I do not deny that Kroq-Gar would make an excellent base for your project. Might I humbly suggest practicng your zombification techniques on a regular Saurus first. If you don't like your first go on Kroq-Gar that's an expensive model to replace. Better to hash out your techniques on an expendable model. And if your expendable model turns out good, you would then have TWO zombies.
     
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  14. Lady Tor'ti Llaz
    Saurus

    Lady Tor'ti Llaz Active Member

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    That's a fair suggestion. I will do that.
     
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  15. Essmir
    Chameleon Skink

    Essmir Well-Known Member

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    @Y'ttar Scaletail In my story (16) is it not the main protagonist tath dies it's her first in command. The characters are a bit more established as this story is a continuation of my last story which nobody seems to have noticed. I guess it's because of the changed pronouns.
     
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  16. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    I noticed. I enjoy the ups and downs, backs and forths of your story, how things get better and worse very rapidly. One minute you're debating whether to slay innocents for the greater good, the next you're getting eaten by a giant swamp worm, that kind of thing. You might have noticed that I attempted to convey such enjoyment in my unasked-for sequel. (PS you should write the actual sequel! the trilogy needs completing)
     
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  17. Essmir
    Chameleon Skink

    Essmir Well-Known Member

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    Well I got some ideas for tying my different stories together. I thought it could be my army fluff whit some work.
     
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  18. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    WIP shot of Saurus Guard head on a Tyranid body.
    20170405_154115.jpg
     

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