Ghost in the Shell is a popular topic as of late, thanks in part to the recent Paramount Pictures live-action adaptation of the manga series by Masamune Shirow. The manga would later be adapted into two films directed by Mamoru Oiishi and later into various other anime adaptations. Including a more recent anime reboot film/series that is more in line with the original manga. The recent Paramount film stars Scarlet Johansson as the lead character Motoko Kusanagi. But, let's not forget, the film that probably most are familiar with, the 1995 Production I.G. Film directed by Mamoru Oiishi. A film that has inspired everything from The Matrix to recent Hollywood adaptation.
The film revolves around a cyborg named Motoko Kusanagi, commonly referred to as Major who has a fully cybernetic body including a cyberbrain. A cyberbrain allows the user to access the Internet, commonly referred to as 'the net', via their ghosts which is a term that is reffered to the consciousness of the user.
Kusanagi and her group of augmented humans and one family man cop are a part of the Public Security Section 9 of New Port City, Japan. Section 9 gets wrapped in a conflict with Section 6 and the mysterious cyber criminal known as The Puppet Master. The mysterious hacker who has hacked the Prime Minister's interpreter, a garbage man and a thug, and later is trapped in a Megatech body. A trap orchestrated by Section 6 which Section 9 captures.
When Section 6 comes to retrieve the body of the trapped Puppet Master, he seeks political asylum. Interesting since he is a criminal. It is made more interesting when Section 9 is broken into and the body is mysteriously abducted. Motoko and her group suggest foul play is a foot, and follow the body and kidnappers to a Section 6 warehouse. There alone, Motoko battles a tank, and nearly dies as a result. She is rescued by Batou.
Motoko rescues The Puppet Master, and ghosts into the net so she can meet him. It is then that the Puppet Master seeks to merge with Kusanagi, who agrees to the merger. But, Section 6 snipers aim to get rid of both The Puppet Master and Kusanagi in one fell swoop. The Puppet Master is blown up, his shell or body destroyed. But, thanks to Batou using his arm to shield Motoko's brain, The Puppet Master lives now in the subconsciousness of Kusanagi.
The film ends with Matoko and The Puppet Masters subconsciousness linked internally. The new shell is that of a young girl, but Matoko states that she is neither the woman known as Kusanagi nor is she a Puppet Master. She walks off as a newborn man, or something in between the genders, something surpassing that identity.
The film discusses various topics including the heights of robotics and cybernetics, the use of Internet in the future, and how cyber crimes are the biggest threat to a nation's security.
Sexuality and gender identity is also an important role in the film, and is ideally it's most important discussion to take a way from the film. In the film Matoko states that as a cyborg can break down the alcohol in a beer. Stating that chemical reactions in her shell or body is all regulated through mechanical interfaces. It is also shown in the beginning of the film the construction of her body. She may have a female subconsciousness and identity in the beginning of the film, but she lacks sexuality of a female. She doesn't menstruate, nor anything else that would make her feminine in the sexual sense.
It is interesting that Paramount decided to use this time, to make a Ghost in the Shell film. We have seen an upsurge in the trans-gender movement as of late. Is it no coincidence that the source material for the 2017 film comes out at a time like this. The idea that Motoko is a female in a man's body was sure to be something of science fiction over twenty years ago in most people's minds. But, now as acceptance of the trans-gender movement has increased, it seems that looking at this film can give more context and appreciation of that movement.
The film also discusses philosophy, not just of sexuality and gender. Identities of self in an age where prosthetic limbs and aids can completely change someone. What is human? It is something that the Puppet Master character is all about. His existence is questioned, is he a just a tool created by Section 6 or is he something more. He was created by Section 6, but seeks to go against that destiny when he merges with Kusanagi.
It seems Oishii is a fan of existentialism, which is something that was popular in Japan during the 80's and 90's and continues to this day. The idea of existence in a world where humanity and consciousness, cybernetis and the internet are all interlinked. It may seem like science fiction, but we are coming closer and closer to merging every day. As the world evolves, and as we humanity evolve, will we also move away from ideas of self, of identity and existence.
Legendary Pictures' 2014 Godzilla film brought the giant lizard out of movie obscurity as the aptly named king of monsters hadn't been in a film for over a decade. Along with Legendary's Pacific Rim it brought back giant monsters in the mainstream subconsciousness. Rumors had speculated about a Legendary backed 'Kaiju-verse' all the way back to 2014, and those rumors were circulating online when Legendary purchased the rights to various other Toho kaiju including Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. Then, Legendary announced the revival of an American beloved icon, the giant ape and original crown of monsters, King Kong. That film was Kong: Skull Island, and it opened the flood gates for the kaijuverse.
Set in 1973 in a post-Vietnam environment, Kong: Skull Island has a political back-drop that is quite relateable in this chaotic world we live in now. We follow a nearly bankrupt MONARCH, a government agency that was first encountered in Legendary's 2014 Godzilla film. Bill Randa (played by John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (played by Corey Hawkins) in a last ditch attempt to save Monarch join a surveying operation, that well turns into an adventure through Skull Island, the domain of it's monarch, King Kong who protects the people and animals from ancient bipedal lizards known as Skull Crawlers.
The film offers little in plot or story, the characters are given quick characterizations, and some in fact have mini-story arcs. Nothing too engaging, but this is a giant monter movie, not a human piece. Although, there are great themes in this film. We have nature vs. man, centering around Kong vs. the military who want to kill him. Mostly because Preston Packard (played by Samuel L. Jackson) sees Kong as an enemy, and in Packard we see another theme, that a soldier never truly returns from war. Packard's dilenma of running from Vietnam and wishes to find one last hurrah on this surveying mission that takes the lives of many in his service. It creates a perfect storm and Packard is the perfect antagonist of the film, and serves a foil for a few other characters.
What the film does best is it's visuals and it's action. The uniqueness of the creatures of the island, be it Kong himself or the various forms of Skull Crawlers, the native and docile Sker buffalo, and other terrible beasts such as Mother Longlegs and the viscous packs of Leafwings that prowl the skies and treetops. Skull Island was shot in Hawai, and has breathtaking visuals and landscapes. It hasa very Jurassic Park vibe. The fight scenes are more akin to the original King Kong, but the dangers of the island are more like those encountered in Peter Jackson's King Kong.
In the end of the day, Kong is an action movie for fans of giant monsters. It has a human element, as all these movies do. But, it succeeds with this human moment a bit better than Gareth Edward's Godzilla, but not as much as Pacific Rim, both Legendary Pictures films. Let's hope if the 'Kaijuverse' succeeds that they will continue to perfect this balance in the future. I feel that Kong, Skull Island is a strong film for action fans, and as something to watch for fun. It isn't an art piece, and it isn't state of the art or breaking any mold. However, I don't think it has to. In the end movies are just as much entertainment as they are art and Kong: Skull Island is the latter, a great fun time basking in the glory of Kong. Long Live the King of Skull Island, Kong.
PS. If you go see the film, you have to stay for the after credit scene.
Moving away from Imagience lore for a bit, as many of you know I am working on another book. This book is about the tale of a warrior from Kosii Kingdom who is enslaved and put to work as a gladiator in the Pathens arena known as "The Pit". But ,today's post is a lot of lore about the back drop that the story is set in, the Etalian War.
The Etalian War
The Etalian War was a war in Underesca fought between the alliances of the Kosii Kingdom and Undar Empire against the Etalian city states and their allies. Although, initially the Haphnafnel Guild and Kingdom of Actresca assisted the Etalian city states, with the fall of Actresca by the Undar Empire and the fall of Sprocket in the second Sprocket invasion, by the second half of the war, the Haphnafnel Guild would turn their backs on the city states. Allowing a prolonged fifteen years of fighting, all the city states except for Ordo-Onn pledged allegiance to the Undar Empire or to their Kosii allies.
The war is split into two separate eras, the initial Kosii invasion, and the Undar backed invasion. The first half of the war saw the fall of Gorgon, Hyla, Iegara, Varetrian, Agonomon, Pathens, Sorinth and Argos. But, Pathens and Vintos resisted Kosii forces and rebels in and around the area and plagued the Kosii invaders. Not to mention Sprocket who in the first half of the war was impenetrable and was backing with the help of the Haphnafnel Guild, and the rebels. An initial, Undar backed invasion along with Kosii allies failed to break Sprocket's defenses, and the Kosii lost man power and resources laying siege to Partan.
After seeing that western Underesca was a threat to Udnar hegemony of the continent, one of the last things that the Emperor Undar did before his great sacrifice was to personal led a siege of Sprocket. This siege known as The 2nd Siege of Sprocket would open the war into it's second phase. Despite the emperor's death a year later, his son would with the help of the nefarious Cargyle Loki take Actresca. Allowing for the full force of the Undar Empire to descend upon Etalia.
The second half of the war would see Vintos, and Partan crushed, as well as establishment of Cliff Hoof and Grass Fort, two permanent Undar military posts. This would allow Undar forces to easily stop rebellions of Varetrian. The establishment of the Imperial city of Gessen was also around this time. As for the rest of the city states, the Kosii Kingdom backed by Undar forces would crus the Nycarnae and Pharlos armies at the Battle of Heranyces, and the Undar Empire would crush the Prophsus navy at the Battle of Tildurn Bay. Knoedes and Heliknos would sign surrender, but many soldiers of those city states along with Epheas would continue to be a pain in Undar side. The Undar and Kosii would eventually, establish the free city of Dorgon, weakening the area's resources, and eventually establishment Undar rule of the area. Many of the soldiers would later join Ordon-Onn, the lightwalker city backed by Haphhafnel Guild money.
For years prior the Kosii Kingdom and the Partanian League also known as the South Etalian League had did a series of skirmishes and invasions of Akosi lands, mostly fighting with the Kabula Kingdom of the Akosi and the Ugana Kingdom of the loxosi. This ended when Appo dynasty of Laossi merged with it's other kingdoms. Creating a federation of human Akosi, loxosi, catfolk, lizardfolk, and leonin. This coalition would push back Etalians and create it's initial borders at the time.
This allied force successfully defeated the Undar empire at the Battle of Messe Point and allowed a deal to be struck between the Kosii Kingdom and Undar Empire. The empire would supply the Akosi and they would invade their ancestral enemies to the west, the Etalians.
The Undar Empire supplied them with dwarven steel, duegar sorcery, and siege weapons, all would be useful in taking out their traditional enemies.
Kosii Intial Invasion
In 395 BAC, the Kosii Kingdom led an invasion force of 130,000 across the isthmus of Sprocket and laid siege to Hyla, the city fell after a series of clashes and battles at the end of the year. Next came Gorgon, which fell at the end of winter in 393 BAC. Not but a few months after the decisive victory at Gorgon, came the siege of Iegara, the massive port. Here the Akosi would demonstrate the use of small raiding boats and tactics that surrounded and kept the massive Iegara navy at bay. Using fire bombs and smoke the Akosi would defeat the Etalian General Ionas Saggitarus at the Battle of Ionas, and give the Southern Etalian League the loss of it's most famous general. Meanwhile, the name of General Laputa of the Kosii Kingdom would become legend.
With a series of successes on their back the Kosii Kingdom encircled the heart of the Partanian League at Partan in hopes of making the city fall by their hands. However, due to a blunder of tactics and misinformation by hasty lieutenants, General Laputa's forces at Partan were slaughtered despite the use of firebombs, magic, numerical superiority and the use of alchemist's fire from Undar.
The victory allowed for the Etalian city states to converge their forces and strike back against Akosi invaders. It caused rebellions and raids against Akosi conquered cities and trade routes. After the defeat, General Laputa fought more defensively and pushed back Etalian rebels, but did not push his forces for the rest of the year. A huge invasion was initially planned to take Varetrian and Agonomon, but that plan would end with the general's assassination at the need of 392 BAC.
First Siege of Sprocket
Meanwhile in 392 BAC, the Undar Empire under the command of their oni general Guthux Grosaxos who conquered the south marshlands and dwarven hills had come with 200,000 troops to take the free city of Sprocket. Prince Yasu Aso II led 50,000 Kosii regulars to the battle as well to surround the city. Sprocket was backed by both the Halphnafnel Guild and Actresca at the time, and had ties to the Mage's Guild of Maios and the various Lightwalker city states opposing Undar expansion.
The siege continues for eight months, until Guthux challenges the city's defenders to a duel. A young Partan hero who had fought against Akosi named Vander Maximus challenged Grosaxos to a battle, and killed him. This created a rift between the Undar and Akosi forces. The next few days, fighting would continue, but the Undar officials couldn't control the massive army, and some turned on their own forces. The Kosii Kingdom would deal with these deserters, making the force dwindle to less then 80,000 Undar and 25,000 Akosi at the end of the year. A breif seasonal seize fire was signed in the winter, and Sprocket was saved for the time being.
Fall of Actresca
While the failure to capture Sprocket, Undar II, the son of the emperor along with various allies, mostly notably Cargyle Loki would begin their conquest of Actresca. The battles would thin Actresca's resources which caused problems for Etalia and Sprocket as they were both dealing with Undar blockades during the invasion of Actresca. By the end of 370 BAC, Actresca would completely submit to the empire, and by then Etalia would fall as well.
Second Siege of Sprocket
As his son was invading Actresca, the emperor saw that the Etalian League and the city of Sprocket lay in his conquest. Two years after the defeat, Emperor Undar led a force of 250,000 Undar with King Yasu Aso II continuing to plege support of 80,000 forces led by the newly returned prisoner of war, his own brother in-law Kabuja Kiyonga. The city would fall, and Undar would force the hand of the Haphnafnel Guild, proving the military and economic arm of the Undar Empire.
The Undar emperor would leave the rest of the invasion of the Etalian city states to his newly made commander Cargyle Loki in taking Etalia while the Akosi were led by General Kabuya Kiyonga. In fact, Cargyle Loki never led forces, instead delegating tasks and invasions/sieges to his lesser forces and allowing the Kosii to do most of the fighting.
Second seige of Partan, led by the vengeful general Kabuja who was defeated three years prior as a soldier there, crushed Vintos and surrounded Partan, crushing it's walls with newly made Undar canons. They would continue to Pathens. Oddly, by the time that they reached Pathans the city had been under the assault of a troll kingdom to the north, weakening the city so that Pathens too would fall.
Meanwhile the Undar Empire crushed Varetrian and Agonomon in the north pushing the Undar-Akosi invasions to the Atlas Peaks and Zephyr River, as well as Pathens Bay.
Argos would fall in 384 BAC, Argos would fall by Kosii invasions while the Undar would along with Etalian allies, notably centaur herds invaded Sorinth and forced the city to surrender.
Undar Colony Cities and Forts
During the second half of the war, Undar in an attempt to ensure Undar control of the region would build various cities and forts in Etalia. Fall Cliff was built near Hyla and would be there to watch Sprocket especially and the Sprocket isthmus. Gorgon became an Undar city, and was a huge military center. Grass Fort was built in the plains north of Vintos to control the various farming communities importing wheat to make barley and rum. Cliff Hoof would be formed during the Varetrian invasion, and was kept there to ensure that rebellions could be suppressed. Gessen was formed to mine the coal, iron, and salt deposits of the region. It also became a trade hub and naval power.
The Undar would establish other forts and military bases throughout their conquest, but of all of these Dorgon would be the most legendary. Positioned originally to land the Undar and Actrescan land forces to invade the North Etalian League, it would become a permanent center of Undar control for the next 300 years.
Undar the II's Reign of Expansion
In 284, Undar the 1st would sacrifice himself to deal with the famous Legendyr incident, although he would not save the anti-magic field around the continent, the massive energy produced by the infamous Legendyr Incident would be reduced to do the machinations of various gods of multiple pantheons, as well as assistance of multiple tons of black imagicite from the Imagience. This would somewhat fix the problem, but in the end it drained Undar's life force and he died, only to ascend as a god of the Undar empire. His son, would become the new emperor and would continue the invasions.
Surrender of Etalia
A naval campaign by Admiral Ouchin in 283 would cripple the Pharlos and Prophsus navies at the Battle of Tildurn. Meanwhile land forces, the last to involve the Kosii Kingdom at the Battle of Heranyces would see the end of the Pharlos League and it's desolation at the end of the war.
Land campaigns led by the Dorgon forces would march west and win two small battles along the Nycane River against Nycarnae and Northern Etalian League forces. However, at the Battle of Euphera Basin, just west of Epheas in 374 resulted in the Etalian victory. Despite this, Knodes and Heliknos surrendered to the Undar Empire a few months later, after Undar blockades.
In 373, Epheas was led to be sieged, but the city decided a few days into the siege, to end the battle to protect it's citizens. Many rebels would flee to Ordo-Onn which was protected by a treaty with the Undar Empire and Lightwalker City states, but also the fact that Ordon-Onn was backed by Halfnafnel Guild money made it so that the Undar could not invade it. The former prince of Epheas and his wife the princess of Knodes formeraly surrendered to Undar control in 370, beginning Undar domination for the next 200 years.
Despite the formal surrender of Epheas in 370, the Etalians would continue to rebel and force various rebellions over the next 200 years. The Epheas royal family would move to Exos, and from there have a power base to fund rebellions for the next 200 years. The Lightwalker city states as well as Sprocket rebels and even help by Actrescan pirates would make Undar control of the region a difficult one.
Ordo-Onn would never submit to Undar control, despite many attempts by Undar II, his nephew Nordocc. This would allow the retention of Etalian philosophy and culture to circulate on the continient. Ordo-Onn would be the site of a great cultural and artistic revival in the 360's and 50's thanks to the Etalian culture, and a lot of propaganda about the Undar and Akosi treacheries would be known for centuries.
The Imagience is a world that I created years ago. It is a pocket space in between the Computus Galaxy and the Imagined Realm. I have discussed a bit of the lore history, and a bit of important parts of the Imagience itself. But, in today's blog post we will discuss the influences of Imagience geography both in the physical aspect, but also the names of places on the map.
This blog will be in three parts, the first one will describe the physical attributes of the geography of the Imagience and discussing their real world influences. The other two parts will involve the naming of places on the map. They are composed into two classifications, those that are named from real world people/places and the ones that are influenced by fictitious places.
The Imagience consists of one giant continent and some islands, the continent has no actual name as it really isn't a continent. The Imagience isn't a planet, but a plane of existence. It literally is a flat-earth, except not really. It has a spherical contortion that is bending due to gravitational forces. It is kept in check by four massive pylons known as shritar, composed of imagicite dust covered black imagicite plated diamond. These massive pylons lock the ability to keep the Imagience in it's current place. But, even this sub-space gravity of the near-by stars of Hyatt Raa, Io, and Pheonix still impact it.
Water and earth was brought here by an unknown transportation, that has faded from mianthi memory. There are no continental drifts, but earthquakes occur due to gravitational pull, so it isn't necessarily a real earthquake in the traditional since. But, there is a molten core that is held in place by all four pylons. That core will sporadically expand growing the Omi Islands as well as mountains. As the Imagience grows so does the rate of separation of the pylons. It would be really bad for everyone in the Imagience if anything were to happen to these pylons. There is one north of Tillasona Heights in the Kasite Ocean, One west of Myvandium in the Lycera Sea, one east of Odai making it the most eastern point in the Imagience, and the last is the one far southwest of Eros.
The seas themselves only go to the area restricted by the pylons. The water doesn't fall off because it is kept compressed by the gravity of both the distant star's pressure, but also due to the gravity magic coming from the pylons themselves. So no water falls off of this sub-space. It wouldn't have anywhere to go. Travelers have taken ships past these regions, and are never seen from again. The most common scientific explanation is that they go into the sub-space and get either lost or die a horrible death in the confines of space.
As you can see there is a lot of space in the Cyphic Kingdom that is because there are tons of plains and grasslands. The two most important of these regions are the Northern Plains and the Central Plains. These are massive bread basket regions for the country and in fact most of the Imagience. The country of Cyphic has many rivers, bordering the country to the west is the Faros River and in the east we have the Safir river that leads into the Southern Hills which borders with the Kirkia.
Speaking of Kirkia, it is one giant rain forest, but it didn't always be this way. Kirkia only had pockets of rain forest, but then after the fall of the Sycamor disrepair as well as use of plant growing imagitechs to keep people especially the Cyphic out changed the whole region. The Kirkwood grew to encompass the whole country and stopped would be armies from Sutite and the Cyphic from invasion. Only a few know safe passage through this rain forest, and hiring guides from Tomvan and Meekyr are very common.
There are also various mountain ranges, the four that are most important are the Kasite Range in the north, the Black Stand Mountains in the West, and both the Tailbone Peaks and Raptorclaw Mountains in the southeast. The Black Stand Mountains reside in Myvandium and is known as a source of black imagicite. While the Kasite Range is where the combined forces of the Cyphic, Sycamor, Legosolith, Garfield, and Omi pushed the Kasite into, it's name comes from the mountain people whom at one time were also known as the best shipbuilders in the Imagience.
The Imagience has many names that might be familiar to some people, but that is to be expected. Some of the names are combination of other names, and some are variants on existing people and places. The Cyphic Kingdom, and Kirkian Kingdom are based off real people that I know, as is the Kirkwood named after a friend of mine.
Most importantly are the names of Garfield, Grisson, Wilson, Maring, South Port, Sutite and Storan are all named after schools in my area. Vheeling, Tillasona Heights, Walnut, Meekyr, Mock, Sycamor, May, Gastan and Macedona are all named for streets in my home town. Andersona and Ft. Alban are based off of cities near me. These are all influenced from my real life, but also have an origin story to them. I created another story years ago similar to Dynasty Warriors that had great kingdoms named after those places, so instead of getting rid of those ideas I morphed them into the Imagience as I didn't have much of a pre-history. I changed some lore and took Munshi Warriors and turned it into the history of the Imagience instead. Killing two birds with one stone n the process.
Certain places like Andra Grif, Zulgan, Zanelof, Myvandium, Umar, Thexor, Nymphos, Eros, Aethia and most of the Omi Islands may look like they are original, but they are not quite. Myvandium is named for a city of my friend's creation. While Adra Grif, Zulgan and Zanelof are variant spelling, and based off drug companies. It's quite fitting that merchant cities are influenced by drug companies. Thexor and Umar are based off ancient cities of Persia and Egypt while Nymphos and Eros are based off of Greek mythology.
The Omi Islands are a culmination of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese names, phrases, and ideas to create a 'Confucist' set of islands. Omi Islanders are not Asian, but they share traits with East Asians. Their land forms are based off of Japanese names and words as well as Korean and Chinese slang. Their captured cities of Suyuki, and Nesson are based off of Japanese products and companies while Omi itself as well as Etchu and Aino are based off of old Japanese provinces from the Sengoku period.
Real life places are not the only thing that influenced naming of Imagience places. Alexandros a port in southern Kirkia on the Gulf of Kirkia, is named for characters in the Final Fantasy series. While the cities of Tomas Port and Old Tomas are based off of Tomas from Narnia. Their symbol is a satyr and sometimes a fox, depending on who is talking.
Returning to that idea that I stole a lot from my old Dynasty Warrior style game idea Munshi Wars, Aethia is based off a kingdom from there. Duranth is also based off of a fictitious character I made, who was a human raised by dwarves. Arman is based off of the character from Attack on Titan to further the idea I just took random names and placed them on the map. I am defiantly someone who is influenced by media.
I took names that influenced me and turned them into historical and cultural landmarks for this map. Influenced by media, geography, and culture to create interesting places that you will encounter on a story. It shows progress to travel on a map, and whenever you read my stories I will always have a maps as it is one of the first things I do when I build a world. I need a reference point, after all. I hope this blog post has been a great reference point for you all as well.
I haven't posted since the beginning of the month, and I am truly sorry for that. It mostly boils down to lack of content to post as I am steadfastly working on editing the second draft of my book. But, it is also a bit of not being motivated to write a blog post. Today, I'm going to discuss an update as well as potentially throw some ideas around.
First, I'll talk about the update on the second draft. I am currently as of this date, three-fourths of the way done with the edit. I should be done by the end of January. Once that happens, sometime in February I will start the second beta reader session for the first book. I want to focus this beta reading on looking at the characters, plot holes, and the personal opinions of the people involved in the story. I need to find plot holes, character arcs that don't make sense, things that people like in the book, things that the reader does not like about the book. Stuff like that, so I can make the best book I can make. Because, remember we will still send this to an editor later in the year.
Next, I will start a book currently titled, "Pit Fight" which is not related to 'The Imagient King' and instead is a stand alone novel. That book should be done by May-June. That is also the time that the beta readers should be done with the book. We will then move onto sending the first book of "The Imagient King" to an editor and hopefully after that begin the third and maybe final draft of the book. I will also start once I get the editor's edited copy back begin the second book in the series. So an exciting year for me indeed.
As for further updates on this blog, we come to discuss some more ideas. I'm thinking about doing a lore post once a month throughout the year of 2017. I will also try to write some other articles as well. I'm potentially throwing in an idea to do music and anime reviews. Which I have done in the past, with limited success. So, what do my devoted fans think I should do for blog topics in the future?
A.L. Hornbeck here with a post about my hopes, dreams, aspirations and plan for 2017. This year I have a lot that I want to get done. First, I want to finish editing my second draft of the first book in the Imagient King saga. Once that is done editing, I will send it through a second beta reading. Once the beta reading phase is done, which will start in February and end sometime in May or June, then we will move to one final edit of that version of the second draft. I will then take this second draft edit and send it to an editor sometime in the middle of the year. Once we have the second draft edit sent through an editor I will work on the third draft. Hopefully, once that draft is done, I can edit it and send it through one final alpha read, and get reviewers ready for the self-publish of the first book, Imagient King: Journey with the Princess of the East out by the end of the year. That is at least my first plan.
Starting next month while the second draft of Imagient King: Book One goes through beta readers, I will be working on another book. This book is a stand-alone heroic fantasy tale about a gladiator. It really isn't connected to Imagient King, but is a different book all together. It won't even be a series, just a stand alone book about a tale about a gladiator who rises and falls and then rises through a series of bloody gladiatorial battles. Once this book is done, hopefully by the May-June date, I can edit it and then hopefully send it through beta readers as well.
Then in June, I want to start on the second book of the Imagient King saga. It might be pushed back to August depending on my beta readers and editor's influence. But, I want to at least start writing the second book, by this time. The book won't be done for at least a year, but if I start on the second book in the Imagient King series now, I can make sure I don't take two years to write it like it did Journey with the Princess of the East. Once, that is done, which should be near the end of the year. I will do a self edit and eventually in 2018 another beta reader session for the first and then second draft of it.
If I have time I have some short novellas to write that tie into the Imagient King book series, but not apart of the actual mainland story. Most of these stories are about the Brotherhood of Brotherton, but would just be short novellas. I want to write them, to tell the stories and expand the lore, but also to maybe release some free books next year to help sell my other books as well.
I will try to be more active on my blog, and write something every week. I mostly just don't have a topic to write, so that is why I haven't written on my blog in a while. This is a yearly update that I hope will follow in years to come.
My biggest influences outside of the fantasy genre is that of history. My main focus in college was Asian History. I even had an Asian Studies minor to my History major to that effect. I learned a lot about Asian philosophy and culture in those years in college. I understood that one of the cornerstones of the East Asian culture is that of the teachings of Confucius. Be it obligations, filial piety, or day to day relationships. These differences in how Asians see the world and interact with it.
Confucius (551-449 BC), was a Chinese intellectual and philosopher whose philosophy of fitting things into the proper place crafted the basis for China as well as many Asian cultures. He crafted an idea of meritocracy that would create the Exam Systems in China. Confucian ideals included justice, benevolence, knowledge, and integrity. As well as that a good ruler will have good people serving under him and vice versa.
These ideas were important when crafting the 'Asian Influence' culture of the Omi Islands. I changed Confucius to Onfu who was an Imagient to be more akin to the inhabitants. Unlike Confucius Onfu was a martial artist practitioner. However, Onfu much like Confucius believed that knowledge and wisdom not might was right. Onfu alludes to Confucius and is the moral and society pillar to Omi society and culture.
Onfu ideals mirror Confucian ones, and Onfu himself considered himself a pupil of Confucius despite not being born in the same era or same planet. Onfu was an Imagient who lived in the Imagience and just took Confucian ideals and made them more palatable to Imagients for who power was everything.
The Omi Islands, also known as the Ryukyosho Islands at an earlier time were the one area where these ideals were supplanted the most. Although, the first Sycamor Dynasty as well as the Zulgan City States also adhere to Onfu ideals. It was in this environment that Tsunade Liang, known as Tsuna Liang was born into. She was given a martial artist education by her mother, Tsuki Liang, and an Onfu education by her uncle Saitoshi Omi.
Despite her upbringing Tsuna was enthralled by the tales of warrior princesses of the old. She wanted to be the hero, and when she entered her teenage years she rebelled against many of the ideas that held up the Onfu principles she was taught.
For instance Tsuna rebels against her family and her position as a princess and flees Ondai-Yo to go on a journey to find the Sycamor heir. She does not respect her families wishes to marry, and always duels her suitors and defeats them. Tsuna gets in fights with her mother and father, but mostly with her mother.
She rebels against the notion that princesses should stay in their castles and wait to be wed off. Tsuna wants to be the hero, the rebel, and the savior. She doesn't wait for anyone. She doesn't adhere to the idea that princesses should be idle. She is very dynamic in her ideas, and wants to be the force of change in the Omi Empire that she admires.
Her rebelling however is interesting, because it is mostly due to her belief in Onfu meritocracy. She believes that she must prove herself by her own abilities not by her own families ties and power. Her honor is on the line when she does these escapes, not her familaies. This adheres to another belief that she has in that the Omi Empire is corrupt. Sakai Omi is a bad ruler, so he has rebels, fights, and prolonged wars therefore it is up to the virtuous to strike out against her. In going on her quest to find the Sycamor heir and supplant her family.
Despite her reckless endeavors, she is quite the disciple of Onfu doctrine as well. Not only is she rebelling because she believes the Omi need to be overthrown, she herself has many qualities needed of an Onfu princess. She idealizes justice, at least her own idea of it. She is good mannered and tries to spread good will as she saves people and believes that since she is a princess she should save people. She shows benevolence, the thrill of knowledge since she goes on a quest to a library to find out more information. She also bluntly tells people her goals, which is to find the Sycamor heir. She shows integrity in her stride.
So even though she does very rebellious things, she still has hints of that Onfu upbringing. However, she is a good example of a rebel within a society that shuns rebels. Tsuna is the nail that sticks up and people in her own culture want to hammer her down. She however is a vigilant as a flowing river and as powerful as a waterfall. She will curtail to no one who gets in the way of her being a hero and savior. She however, might not be up to task, as she is not the most responsible of princesses. That is why it is good to have someone in her life like Leonli who is.
Tsuna is not an Asian, she is from a culture that is 'Asian-influenced'. She is a strong protagonist that goes on a journey to fix the problems in her culture and country. Tsuna travels through enemy territory to find the heir of a dead kingdom and find knowledge of their whereabouts. In a way Tsuna is on her very own 'Journey to the West', and instead of a monkey she has a blacksmith, his aide and an assassin to back her up. She is the rebel princess of this tale, and she isn't just rebelling against her family, she is rebelling against the Confucian ideals that she was taught. Tsuna is the 'Rebel Confucian Princess.” She is also the Princess from the East.
If you have been reading this blog you might wonder whom this fellow named Taisha Taika is? He is a character in the history of the Imagience, and of the Imagient's birth planet of Neona. His is a tale of prejudice, injustice, genocide, expansion, and vision. How one man, or rather one Imagient led just 1000 Imagients from Neona to the Xian's portaxes, and then finally to the Imagience. Where he would then fight against Imagients, and mianthi and create the first Imagient Kingdom in the Imagience.
If you use the BCC/BOC Before Cyph Cycle/ Before Omi Cycle calendar, 2055 years before the start of those calendars is when his tale begins. Taisha Taika was born to a traveling group of Jomon hunter/gatherers in what is northern Honshuu, Japan on Neona. His father and mother were hunter/leather-makers respectively.
In his early life, his tribe would often take from the salmon that would come in seasonally into the northern rivers. His clan known as the Sake clan and primarily were known in the region for their production of fish, hunting of boars, and many other regional foods items. Eventually, the clan would fuse with a few local clans to create the solitary village known today as Sannai-Maruyama site.
The site grew in power and reknown and in early adulthood little Taisha Taika known then as Chisaka (or little fish) became a fisherman as the site became known for it's fisheries during this time. The superstitious nature of the Jomon culture, and the animistic religions created an atmosphere that detested magic. It was here that many anti-magic sacrifices to appease the Jomon agricultural gods happened.
Taisha Taika lost his mother and father for being accused of being witches, in fact they were Imagients. Taisha Taika and a few others who were just learning about their abilities fled the site and went inland. There they returned to their hunter/gatherer lifestyle of their youths.
Eventually they made it to Kyushuu and recruited even more allies, whom were Imagients. It was here that Taisha Taika married the one named Onyaku no Sonna, who was in fact a Mumon priestess. According to legend she had the ability to find Imagients, unlock their abilities, and summon them to her. It is her, who also gave Chisaka the name Taisha Taika which translates to 'Is That You My Love”.
It was during this time that many Imagients were being hunted as were mages by non-Imagient humans. This was known as the 'Imagient culling' Bronze age witch hunters known as “Nuwa Lieren” hunted Imagients down. This was most because the Xia Emperor both believed that Imagients caused the floods in China, but also to use them for his own means in expansion.
Taisha Taika would for the next ten years fight the Xia Empire and gain Imagient allies from all across the world. Many times Taisha Taika would ask Onyaku no Sonna for specific Imagitechs so many in his rebel army were not just Asians, but many Aboriginals from Australia, North and South America, Africans, Egyptians, Middle Easterners, and Europeons. This rag tag army would fight the Xia Empire for the next ten years.
Taisha Taika would have three children with Onyaku no Sonna, two boys and a girl. Then after the ten year fight, Onyaku no Sonna would pass away due to disease. Seeing there was no winning. Taisa Taika heard rumors about portals called portaxes. So, he rounded up around a couple thousand Imagients and returned to the Japanese Islands to a portax that existed, the only other one he knew of was near Zhenxun the capitol of the Xia Empire at the time.
Believing that the Japanese Islands would be an easier way to escape, he led his several thousand forces over the next two years hunting and gathering along the way to the portax located north of modern day Tokyo. He would then take his armies and civilians which included many non-Imagients at this time, and many half-breeds to the Portax Station.
The portax was gaurded by just ten Xian guards, and according to Xian accounts the Imagients assaulted their camp and killed all of the Xian's except two. One of them was forced by mind control to open up the portax and the Imagients were brought through.
Once in they seemingly killed the Xian, but in fact he was not killed and would live on to become an anti-war and pro-open portax supporter named Init'alwo. The other Imagients entered Portax Station and were assaulted by Xian soldiers. More than half of the Imagients would die in fighting that took less than three days in Portax Station. The Xians then decided to trap the Imagients into one of the portaxes to the Imagience.
This is because at the time the Xians were fighting a war with the mianthi spacial empire, The Ludrea Greadiosi, and thought that the Imagience was their base, not knowing that the two places were mutually exclusive. The Imagients were trapped into the Imagience where they would for the most part stay. Unbeknost to the Xians some Imagients escaped into multiple smaller groups and fled to other world as well. Primarily to Mithrenok and Avesauria, some even fled back to Neona.
Once at the Imagience, Taisha Taika and his army would establish the city of Omar, which is the oldest Imagient city in the Imagience in the Red Wastes. Their they made oasis and farmed fruits and herded animals that they brought with them including deer, sheep, pigs, and chickens.
Taisha Taika became their leader and for a time peace existed. Taisha Taika was said to be immortal, or at least his legend speaks to that. Some have said because he might have been half-mianthi while others have stated that in fact he had an Imagient tech that stopped aging. He also was said to have an imagientech that healed wounds and could cure disease.
Omar would be found around 1980 BCC, and over the next fify years his borders would grow eventually creating an alliance with the desert mianthi kingdom of Shaol Luow. During this time Taisha Taika would marry many women and concieve many children. He is the first record use of polygamy, and his many waves had many husbands as well, promoting polygymy as well. This created distinct and diverse bloodlines. In addition rules about incest were created stated that taking mianthi was far more profitable crating hybrids.
This action caused the Tulan dynasty around 1970 BCC to declare war against Omar. The war was over in two years as the Imagients invaded their cities of Tush Par and Gulon renaming the former to Nymphos due to the oasis there that was inhabitated by slave nymphs which Taisha Taika rescued. It is said that he gave the nymphs as brides to his sons, and to his daughters and took the fairest one for himself.
In 1964 BCC, Xians invaded the Imagience and an alliance between Shaol Luow and Omar continued. The Xian city of Xyuthor was founded to protect The Great Portax. Alternatively the Imagients just headed north to the coast and founded many fishing villages. He then decided to expand along the north past the Numarian peninsula at the borders of the Madi'lio Republic. He would expand into the Ero peninsula and eventually, one of his sons would create the port town called Eron, that will eventually be known as Eros.
During this time, Taisha Taika helped push agricultural reforms and constructed acquducts to allow water to irrigate the isolated desert homes in the northern part of the White Sands and for the various burgeoning colones on the coast.
From 1963-1954 BCC, the Imagients did not conquer much land instead they created agricultural expansion to feed their people. The armies learned mianthi languages, and many alligned with the Shaol Luow Kingdom in trade. It was there that the Imagients learned about their mercantile economic system, and the Imagients themselves were mostly bartering with hunter/gathering societies. This created an economic boost which increased the wealth and prestige of the Imagient societies.
Then around 1954 BCC raids from the Madisii Woods created a casus belli for Taisha Taika to raid the north. He famously burned down a good portion of the woods around Madonsin, the mianthi city that was at the seat of the Madi'lio Republic. His sons would found two cities Maring and Sutton. Which would be the foundation myths for the Suttonite Kingdom years later.
By 1950 BCC, the Madi'lio Republic lost it's power and the region was annexed into what was know known as the Empire of Taisha Taika. He then expanded northwords taking the Red Wastes and it's iron deposits. Then he moved taking out the mianthi colonies of the much more powerful Celain Kingdom to the north and opposite of the Mein peninsula.
Instead of engaging them directly he went north and with the help of his general Liang Ryukusho took the Ryuko Islands and would create a navy, increase fish and rice production and continue to raid the Celain Kingdom.
In 1945, the Celain Kingdom signed a truce with the Imagients. In just forty years the Imagients had quickly expanded and their martial and military prowess became well known as a threat to the other mianthi kingdoms. Except for the Shaol who had profited from their expansion.
In 1940 talks broke down between the Celain Kingdom and the Empire of Taisha Taika, and a new ten year long struggle would begin. This would erupt into one of the most long and dreaded wars in Imagience history. Many folk tales on both sides, and many heroes rose to fame. Taisha Taika became more inactive in the fighting and instead his sons would compete for taking more land from the mianthi.
The Celain Kingdom would fall in 1930 BCC and half of it's civilians would flee to various other mianthi kingdoms mostly to the Xand'al Kingdom and the Gamsaier Empire. For the next twenty years of Taisha Taika's reign expansion to the Safir River and creating cities and industry as well as agriculture became the most important policies
In year 1925 BCC, Taisha would move his capitol to Makyr along the border between the Xandrosi woods and the mouth of the Suran Rivers, along the lake of Putran, and between a well establish trading post. Makyr would eventually be changed to Meekyr generations later.
Makyr would be his last residence, in 1920 BCC, Taisha Taika would die. Creating a civil war among other problems that would splinter his kingdom between his 26 sons and 14 daughters, multitude of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Although, his son Tairan would continue his legacy. His expansion would halt for a few more generations. Fighting amonst one another as well as mianthi incursions would halt further imperial desires for quite sometime.
The fight was mostly between his family and those who were his most trained soldiers and allies. It would erupt in a war that would end the Shaol alliance and eventually into the segregation of the eventually to be called Omi Isles. It wouldn't be until one of his great-great-great-great grandchildren Philas the Great in 1700 BCC before expansion would continue.
Eventually, he would be raised as a gaurdian hero and become enshrined as a god of the Ancesteral religions of the Imagients. He was a folk hero and a great leader to the Imagients. To the mianthi he was an expansionist and a tyrant. However, few can deny his presence in the Imagience.
Book time line
Cycle Cycle and Omi Cycle = CC OC
BCC- Before Cyph Cycle
9,055 BCC - Taisha Taika's leads Imagients into the Imagience. He forms the first Imagient dominant kingdom in the Imagience.
6 BCC- Zaynar Cyph is born.
4 BCC- William Vilheim Cyph is born.
0 CC/OC- Erik Van Cyph betrays his King Quinton Sycamor II along with Gabin Sheridan kills him in cold blood. The first Sycamor Dynasty falls. They burn down the capitol and kill all the Sheridan and Sycamor family members. Sakai Omi declares himself emperor of the Omi Islands, forms the Omi Empire. Supposedly the Sycamor heir escapes the burning city of Sycamor and folk tales spring up about him.
6 CC/OC- Prince Richard Cyph is born.
10 CC/OC- Erik Van Cyph begins his expansion and defeats the Garfield, Andersona, Grissite, Wilsona, and various other central plains factions. Sakai Omi defeats his enemies in the Omi Islands and marries his daughter to
the Liang creating an alliance and shift of power.
12 CC/OC- Great Southland Kingdom of Kirkia cites casus belli against Erik Van Cyph, stating he has broken his promise to defend Sycamor, the Cyphic-Kirkian War begins.
14 CC/OC- The Cyphic-Kirkian War begins, Kirkia remains independent. Cyph attempts to expand southwest into Sutite who are still loyal to Sycamor.
15 CC/OC- The Omi invade the western coast of the Cyphic Kingdom and take port cities. The Cyphic- Omi War begins. The Zulgan City states open borders to the Cyphic Kingdom.
18 CC/OC- The Omi and Cyph sign a peace treaty, but the peace is not expected to last long as both forces have a proxy war with the Sutite forces creating a divide between two factions in a civil war. Mysterious
Omi princess attempts to go through Cyphic on a journey of some sorts. She is heralded as a folk hero. Is captured by a young William Cyph, but is rescued by Brotherhood of Brotherton members.
19 CC/OC- Tsuna Liang once again attempts to head to Myvandium on a journey, she is captured by Nubyar pirates and is returned home.
20 CC/OC- Tsuna Liang for a third time attempts to head to Myvandium via a Cyphic route. Demon activity in the Imagience is at an all time high.
This is a lore timeline made to help direct me and some of my beta readers in the events that will take place in the Imagient King book series. This is pretty much summed up in the first chapter, but if someone wants some sort of tool, this is the best I have at the moment. I might add to this before and after. I have a master timeline that uses a different calendar system. I am not going to post that, because it is a bit more confusing.
Cyph Cycle and Omi Cycle are the two types of calendar years used in the Imagience during this time. The Omi and Cyph Cycle pretty much mean the beginning of those kingdoms and the end of Sycamor. It isn't that hard to see. This has Tsuna's various journeys s well as some battles and even some more important events.
This does ask a serious question, then what did the Scyamor dynasty use for their calendar year? The Sycamor actually used the Taisha Taika calendar year. Their year 0 would be year 9,550. Since the Imagients deal with mianthi who can live for quite a long time, such a large number meant nothing to many Imagients. Since the Sycamor were about continuing the legacy of Taisha Taika, and since the Sycamor also have Taisha Taika's blood supposedly it would make sense that they would continue his calendar.
The mianthi have used their own calendar, but I really don't have that in stone yet. Since I won't be dealing with the mianthi until the second book, I think I can wait. Also since the mianthi live as long as they do I don't think I want to care too much about giving them a timeline, since for immortal beings or at least long lived beings such as them, what is time to them exactly?
I will be working on various different lore posts for the rest of December. Think of it as some sort of Christmas present. I'm still working on the second draft, so it will be released sometime in the near future for beta readers to look at.
Tonight's blog post is about something I am very passionate about, and that is role-playing games. I'm not talking about video games either, I'm talking about table top role-playing games such as Pathfinder, Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that. Good old fashion pencil and paper with dice games. I have always been inspired to create and tell stories, and you can do that with role-playing ways in various creative ways. Role-playing games help you in two main ways. As a character you have a viewpoint of that character and you role-play according to how that character would perceive something. The other way is through the Dungeon Master (DM) as they are the story teller and have to deal with a variety of changes and obstacles to place in front of the players.
Playing a character or role-playing a character in these role-playing games is what it is all about. You create a character, or as we call it roll up a character. That person is who you have to play as in the game. There are two mechanics involved one is the dice-rolling which is all numbers, math, probability and that stuff. Then there is the actual role-playing, you put yourself in the shoes of a character and accomplish tasks, and great feats. You show the character you are trying to play, you are also more often than not trying to solve a problem, and then you have to try to put yourselves in the shoes of someone else.
You are showing your character, and the best way is to have a backstory for your character. Who is he/she. Where do they come from? What is their race, occupation, religion. What did they do before they went on this adventure? It is these questions that you can use to flesh out your character in a role-playing game. It is a skill that is learned the more you play these role-playing games.
It is not unlike what you have to do when you flesh out a character in a novel. Good characterizations can make good characters. The more unique or more real the character seems it makes them less like a trope. So, I do recommend any would be writer to try a role-playing game as it might help you vision a character, and what makes a good character.
That character is more often than not going to have to face problems, and you will have to give solutions. Sometimes that solution is using your magic spells, sword, or just kicking butt. However, sometimes you can't use violence. There are a variety of ways you can solve a scenario, be it diplomatically or strategically. That is another good thing about role playing games, is that it forces us to problem solve as characters. It uses our brains to find out solutions to problems, which I would say is useful outside the confines of the game.
It is really important when writing a character for a story. If your character is faced with a trial or a problem, you can use role playing to show how that character would deal with the obstacle. There are various literary tools you can use to help you with that such as Try-Fail cycles, and others. It helps the writer make the character into a better character and push a character arc to help them grow.
Remember, though that when you role-play that you are not the one making the decision. It is your character who is supposed to be making the decisions, you are just playing a chracter. If you are in a medieval setting, pulling out a firearm to end a quarrel is not going to be something you can do. You can't always just answer problems with violence, so putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is not going to be provoked to violence is a good exercise.
Character's are only one way to look at role-playing and how it can help writers. The Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) is in charge of the game. He or she controls the fates per say of the characters. They are in charge of plot progressing, making the story itself so that the characters can advance it, they build the lore, and they are the ones who have to deal with the changes that the player characters invoke on their game world.
A DM must provide a plot and journey for the player characters. The players are the ones that will more than most likely be pushing the plot. However, a clever DM can allow the characters to push the plot and then mold the plot around the characters as well. Are the characters at the mercy of the plot or are they at their own mercy.
That is what you have to think about when you write a book. Pushing a plot on a character can seem dull in fantasy fiction, and in fact that is what many novelists tell us not to do. It can be a much more rewarding situation as the characters to push the plot forward instead of the plot pushing on the protagonists. Again, exercising as a DM can help you understand how good plot progresses a story and how not to do it.
Speaking of story, the Dungeon master is the one who places the problems and obstacles for the player characters. You are the one who is in charge of throwing monsters, traps, and a slew of other problems at these characters. Sometimes that ends in character death, sometimes that ends with having to reward the protagonists.
This is important for a since of advancement and plot advancement as well in a novel. You are in charge as the writer to make sure that the story is full of problem solving, choices, and conflicts. Going back to the try-fail cycle, is just one of many ways in which you can create a since of advancement in your story. You can get this by doing DM exercises and putting problems for these characters to solve.
As a DM you also are in charge of the lore and world building. Creating an interesting world in which the characters live. Be it diverse, homogeneous, basic fantasy or whatever. It is up to you to create the back drop and help shape the world. You can make it as interesting or as basic as you want. But, try to not bog down the game with lots of world building and exposition.
Speaking from experience, this is my main problem as a DM. I try too much to tell a story in a back drop and give tons of lore information. Instead of progressing the plot. So, my advice is to focus on a few things as a dungeon master, and also that is good advice when writing. Only focus on a few things in your lore when you write a book then add when they are needed.
Lastly a DM must deal with changes that the player character's invoke upon the world that they created. This is a culmination of all the other points. Sometimes things happen that completely change your world, and it is up to the DM to decide if that will stay or if they will use their god powers to change it. This can be as simple as reviving a character who died or deciding to keep a world changing event.
Again, speaking from experience. We just recently played a Pathfinder game where my friend DM'd a campaign in my world. An event happened that completely changed everything. Now I have to find out a way to make this event canon in my universe.
If you are a writer, and you read this blog I do suggest that you try a role-playing games. I'm sure you can find some friends who play a local Dungeons and Dragons campaign. If you can't, maybe you could join in one of my online sessions from time to time.