Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

15 January, 2012

A bit of creative writing
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:50 PM
(This post has been viewed 2062 times.)

I've obviously been super-inspired the last few days as I've written a couple of creative works. Figured I'd post on here for those that appreciate that sort of thing.

This first piece I wrote in EverQuest 2. As I wrote last post, my main character is a Necromancer. After thinking so much about roles, I started thinking about what type of personality my character would have. I just found out that my tradeskill class can create player-editable books, so I wanted to write something. I wasn't sure if I could edit it later, so I wrote a longer piece to fill out a book just in case you could not edit it later. (Turns out you can, but I liked this enough to put into my house.)

I saw my character as one that sees himself as a scholar, even if the rest of the world saw him as a monster. I wrote this in the perspective of his character. It's likely not 100% EQ2-lore accurate, as it's something I just wrote on the fly without much research.

A treatise by Susano, Kerra Necromancer.

Contrary to what weaker minds say, especially those of the religious persuasion, death is not the end. In fact, it is merely a new beginning for those trained in the arcane arts.

A YOUNG START

I have always been drawn to the necromantic arts since I was a young Kerra watching others of my clowder. As a Kerra, I learned early of the sacred hunts and rites of our people, and at that young age, I grasped the truth that non-Kerra forget: from death comes new life. Other creatures, beings, and even plants die so that we can continue life.

As I showed some interest in the arcane arts, I was apprenticed to a wizard. But, the thoughts of death would not be given up so easily. I wanted to investigate more about the power of death and how I could control it. My master, however, reacted with panic and foolishness. His so-called "morality" blinded him to the virtue of my work. He forced me out of his household, and I went to make my own way in the world. I eventually settled in Freeport, a place that would accept my interests without judgment.

DEATH ENERGIES

The most important part of necromancy is understanding the nature of the energy of death. When a being dies, it releases energy; while living, this energy gives vital power to the individual and keeps their muscles moving and their minds active. A necromancer is one capable of manipulating this death energy into spells against one's enemies, or even to augment one's own life.

However, this name "death energies" is a bit of a conceit. As I pointed out, this energy exists in all living beings. One could also call it "life energy", as undoubtedly some of those that follow the gods of "light" surely do. However, a necromancer is interested in the part that appears after death.

DEATH AS THE FACE OF EVIL

Necromancers tend to be unfairly stereotyped as "evil" for manipulating death energies. I find this to be shockingly ignorant of people. As a victim of this bigotry in my own background, I would argue that this is a misguided attitude. Yes, I use my arts to drain the energies from my enemies. Is this so different from the "holy" paladin that uses a crude barb of metal, empowered by the fervor of their god, who drains the blood and vital force from an enemy? I would argue my method is at the very least less messy if not more virtuous. But, while the blood spilled by the paladin of light might only go to fertilize the grass of the battlefield, the energies I drain can be put to good use. For example, one time while I was in the depths of enemy territory I was able to use the energies drained from others to heal my companions and save them from certain death, even after the cries of the priest to her god were ignored. My party certainly did not think me evil for saving them from certain obliteration.

It is the fear of death, the desire to postpone it despite any cost, that gives rise to the opinion that death is "evil" and that those of us who dabble in these arts are likewise. Once you accept that death comes from life, you see that death is not something to be shunned but to be embraced and studied. I study the energies of death just as a druid studies the energies of nature.

THE NATURE OF THE SOUL

One common criticism of necromancers is that they tamper with the "soul" of a creature. I have been accused of stealing souls and tormenting them for my own benefit. One might even point to my constant companion, a grim sorcerer, as proof of me binding the "soul" of a being to my service after death.

Again, this is silly superstition that people use to unfairly persecute the necromancer. Yes, I an shape the energy I have drained into the shape of a creature that serves me. Yes, it can look like a living being, as the energy remembers some of its past form and can easily be turned into that shape. But, I no more torture souls than the conjurer tortures the rocks to summon an earth elemental to his service. The energy I manipulate is no longer part of a living being that can feel or be harmed.

However, some would point out that necromancers even use the term "soul" when describing some of their abilities. I say this is old jargon, left over from a more primitive time from the ancient necromancers, who first delved into the mysteries of death. They used terms familiar to them at the time, so we have spells that are said to "drain souls", when it really is just a manipulation of the death energies I spoke about before.

NECROMANCY AS TOOL

The last accusation some will level at necromancers is to point out the infamous examples of necromancers from history. They point out those that inflicted pain, suffering, disease, and pestilence upon the "innocent" and undeserving. As if all necromancers should be judged harshly based on the actions of a few.

The reality is that necromancy is like any other tool. A sword can be used to defend a young mother and child against bandits just as it can be turned against that mother and child and slaughtered in cold blood. Society does not point to all who wield a sword and accuse them of terrible crimes based on the fact that terrible crimes have been committed with swords in the past. It is likewise unfair to paint all necromancers as "evil" for using a tool that has, in the past, been used for evil.

IN CONCLUSION

I write this treatise in the hopes that others who read it will understand what it means to be a necromancer. Death energy is like any other tool, where one can use it to both heal and harm. While some necromancers will certainly use their powers for harm, there are others who will use it to help others. Judging all people based on ignorance and the terrible actions of a few is wrong. Necromantic energy is simply that: energy the same as any other spellcaster uses. This is the simple truth that others ignore when they persecute us.

This second piece was a comment left on Google+. A tabletop RPG fan wrote the following:

Today's Creative Prompt. Tell me about these things and why or how they're connected to each other.

1.) Person's Name/Title Ribbon Park
2.) Creature's Name Vase Wyrm
3.) Spell Name. Nassam's Cold Thunder
4.) Place Name Heart of Lore

Names generated using The Forge: Fantasy Name Generator

From that, I wrote the following. I wrote the first part in one comment, then the second part when the thread starter asked for more clarification on what the Vase Wyrm was. It's a bit rough and minimally edited, but I thought it was interesting.

I sat at the bar nursing the beer. "Fuck it," I said. "Bartender, give me something stronger!"

She set out a shot glass and put the bottle of whiskey next to it. That's what I liked about The Heart of Lore, the prompt service without any annoying chit-chat. I was pouring myself a shot when the courier succubus walked in the door. She shook her wings, splattering water in the entry way, and walked right toward me.

"You the little guy from Ribbon Park?" she asked.

"Leprechaun."

"What?"

"I'm the Leprechaun from Ribbon Park," I said, louder, carefully enunciating my words to avoid any slurring this time.

"Whatever. You want the package?" She held out her electronic clip board and stylus. I signed, then threw back a shot. She dropped the package on the bar and walked off and out of the bar.

I eyed the package a while. I saw the name on the return address and shuddered. Another shot to screw up my courage, then I tore it open.

Inside was a rolled up scroll and a slip of paper. I looked at the scroll first. A spell from Nassam, "Cold Thunder." The slip of paper had an address typed on it that I recognized as a local antique shop with a sordid past. On the back of the paper the words "You know what to do." were written in sloppy pencil.

I let out a long sigh. I was thirsty for another shot, but I'd need my head for this. The spell, that particular address, the delivery in the middle of the night; it could all mean only one thing. The Vase Wyrm was back in town, and I was the only one able to take him out.

*****

I stumbled out of the bar and down to the corner store. I needed a bit of caffeine to get my head on straight, and a bottle of pop was quicker and less dangerous than coffee. The storekeeper ignored me as I came in; perfect. I slipped to the refrigerated section, opened the door, and grabbed a plastic bottle off the bottom shelf. I ducked low and made my way toward the door.

"Stop!" Not my night. Figures the shopkeeper would be able to see through my glamour. "You gonna to pay for that?" he says in his thick east coast accent.

"Look, it's been a hard night. A hard night of drinking, to be honest. I just need a little something before I go to work."

"And I gotta family to feed. Cough up."

He caught me, and rules are rules. I took off my cap and reached into the space inside. Out came a small gold coin.

"This enough?"

He took the coin and tapped it against the iron panel bolted onto the counter. "It's good. Go on, go to 'work'." The sarcasm piled onto that last word almost made it collapse under the weight.

Outside I cracked open the bottle and drank deeply. The caffeine helped take the edge off my buzz, and my body stored the sugar for later. Hopefully I wouldn't need it, but the way tonight was going....

I took a direct route to the old antiques shop. I took the enchanted lock picks out of my hat and hit the front door. Always go in the front when you're working, my old pops used to tell me, the paranoid types always guard the back door better. The lock popped without any problem, I opened the door and walked in.

It was dark to normal light, but the glow of the various cursed magics lit the place up like the sun itself were in the shop. Word was that the original owner had made a deal with some nether power, now his relatives were cleaning up the mess. But, this was a perfect place for the Vase Wyrm to be hiding. He was cautious, though, and hadn't bolted as soon as I entered the room.

I took the scroll out and read the enchantment. The final syllable of power echoed in the ether as I put away the scroll. First the temperature dropped, my sign to cover my ears. The shattering boom of the thunder hit soon after, sending the magic into chaos. Most of the magic had been disrupted, likely only temporarily, but one item continued to glow softly in the corner. Waiting for someone to unwittingly take it into his or her home where it could wreak havoc.

"You can come out now."

It was a vase, of course, decorated with fine pigments in an elaborate pattern resembling scales. It slowly unwound itself, then dropped to the ground.

"You're not too bright, are you?"

The Vase Wyrm looked up at me and hissed. We had tangled before, so I knew he/she/it understood me, even if it couldn't answer back. Sharp fangs slid out and were brandished menacingly at me.

"Gonna be that way, is it? Remember what I said I was going to do if you came back?"

I saw it snap back a split-second before it struck out at me. It was easy enough to dodge out of the way, and the venomous fangs struck the tile floor. With amazing speed, it whipped around and came for another strike. This time, its strike sent it through the portal. I turned and jumped into the portal myself.

Two figures tackled me as soon as I popped into the other plane. I struggled by reflex, but not so hard that I'd hurt someone. To the side I heard hissing and strikes of mailed gloves against scaled flesh.

"A long way from Ribbon Park, ain't ya?" came a familiar voice. "Get off him."

I pushed myself up and dusted myself off. There he was, standing in his Unseelie Court uniform. "Making a delivery, Bailey."

"I see that. Name?"

"That's the Vase Wyrm. Nasty fellow. Caught him in an antiques shop from an anonymous tip."

"We'll take it from here."

"Good, good. I gotta get back." Back to drinking, of course.

Hope you enjoyed that. I'll try to get back to the weekend design challenges for the classless system soon.

--


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3 Comments »

  1. Love the necromancer

    [...] mentioning that but for two short pieces of fiction that hit my RSS reader the same morning. One is a bit of Everquest 2 fanfic by game developer Brian “Psychochild” Green. The other is an entry in Jonas [...]

    Pingback by SpinDizzy Writers' Guild — 16 January, 2012 @ 2:03 AM

  2. Really liked the second piece. I'm a sucker for fantasy noir. There's a subjunctive in the middle somewhere there that doesn't really work but apart from that it didn't look so rough as all that to me.

    Player-crafted books that you can write in are yet another of EQ2's woefully unrecognized sandbox elements. I know UO had them yonks ago but how many modern "themepark" MMOs can say the same?

    Comment by bhagpuss — 16 January, 2012 @ 2:55 AM

  3. bhagpuss wrote:
    Really liked the second piece.

    Thanks! Since I had to do a lot of writing at university (particularly in Spanish when I wasn't in the lab working on programming), I learned to write well and quickly. What you see in both those cases is essentially a first draft. I did go back over the EQ2 story a bit, but the urban fantasy story was pretty much written on the fly and just quickly spell-checked.

    Comment by Psychochild — 16 January, 2012 @ 12:46 PM

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