…my world.

Most of my “original fiction” tells stories of a very specific culture, non-human but humanoid, as seen over a thousand+ year course of history. Genre-wise, it’s hard fantasy meets soft SF, for lack of a better definition. Style-wise, I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to fully write in a truly “commercial”, palatable, relatable voice without hating myself.

The existence of someone like J M McDermott sort of gives me hope, and yet. That dude’s a native speaker, at least.

Surely Joseph Conrad wasn’t, but I’m not sure I’m _that_ good.

Either way, since I decided that illustrating my “original” stuff would limit the reader way too much, I’ll be posting bits and pieces from now on.

This is a vignette written almost five years ago.

Encounter

They came from the northeast, like they always do. Tall, on horseback, an entourage of what looked like females, but you can never be sure with the Ingäriisse. On most occasions, they gallop past, whipping dust from under the horses’ braided, chained, swinging tails.

This time, they stopped.

Stopped just before entering the village lot, three dismounted, the rest silently watching, wary gloved hands patting the horses’ filigree-wire adorned manes.

‘We’ve come for the child,’ was all that was said.

The tallest one was speaking: voice of a nearing storm; sea-green eyes and skin like polished stone under the first rays of dawn; feathers of hair around pointed ears, against shoulders, tousled, pinned up – anthracite, ruby, platinum, and anthracite again; leather and deerskin, tooled, pierced, laced over and over; silver and steel – niello, jutting, hugging, hanging, wrapping, overlaying in chainmesh and maille; and they all are the tallest one, thrice and again, painted birds, veiling smiles in earnest, look away, look away…

They’re being led to the child. A newborn, a scorn of our prayers. Sea-green eyes and sunset cheeks, but what’s that if not what we asked for…

Yet the ears are pointed, and the flowers on the window-ledge bow to the child at night, and the mother does not want to see the curse that befell her anymore.

And the smiles burst out, and the child is cradled in the arms of the tallest one, and no words are spoken.

When the dust settles down again, the silence makes way.

They harvested the fruit they’d planted.

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gods save us

While they are not anywhere near as big as some of the other examples on the page. In The Witcher, Geralt has two large swords (one is silver designed for taking out monsters). NPCs will often comment on this, such as one random NPC suggesting one could double as an oar, and a prostitute asking if he is compensating for anything. Geralt is a Witcher however, meaning he is inhumanly strong, making such a weapon more practical, and swords not made for Witchers are small enough to be hung on the waist.
It’s not his strength that’s superhuman, it’s his reflexes. He doesn’t have any problem wielding a huge sword because being made of meteorite iron it’s lighter than any regular blade.

Source:TV Tropes

I don’t even know where to start laughing I’m so busy weeping.

It’s the same situation as in the TES fandom, with all those people saying that the games are 275% canon so there cannot be 7000 steps towards High Hrothgar because the game has fewer so the lore is a legend… but this time the lore actually predates the games by at least a decade – I keep forgetting which novel exactly the sihill appears in, but it was written in the 90s, and the dimensions are very specific. It’s a meter long, handle included. It’s a dwarven sword, y’know. And Geralt is clearly used to the dimensions. In 2013 pan Sapkowski confirms this in Sezon Burz, giving basically the same params for actual witcher swords.

And meteorite iron, lighter than “any regular blade”… omg.

PS A witcher is four times as strong and ten times as fast as a non-mutated human. Straight from the books, again. Heck, against humans Geralt doesn’t need much more than a stick.

field report (including adventures with Substance Painter)

So I have already written about my discovery of Jeff Vogel’s Spiderweb Software games, and since they are really more text-based than anything, I thought that fanart is in order. And it’s not going to be _that_ perfectionism-triggering as my older fandoms are (since those are either visual-based, have a huge body of established lore, or both).

Before I plunge into a lengthy description, though, let me share a tip.

This is one of the Optitex dynamic clothing items for DS that I took into Substance Painter because Substance Painter is this awesome tool that does a lot of stuff I need (like weathering effects) automagically, via (extremely customisable) “smart materials”.

What you need to do to really optimise your workflow is: before you import the mesh into SP, merge those materials that are on the same UV tile and are logically the same (you can do it in DS via “geometry editor” or in a modeler app). Optitex dynamics have a gazillion cloth panels aka mat zones, and SP will generate a separate texture set for each, even if they all fit on the same UV tile. You don’t want it, really. It slows down the painting; you wind up with a gazillion x 3 (or more, depending on what you paint) textures for each zone that you will need to merge later manually in an image editor if you don’t want to waste disk space; and – the biggest issue – you cannot paint across those sets.

Which makes painting continuous detail kinda moot. Just look at this robe that is supposed to have been burnt in a fight. Apparently it’s been sewn from pre-burnt fabric because there is just no way to make the particle brush transcend the texture set boundaries.

So do not repeat my mistakes =)

Tip over; self-indulgence incoming!

I’m almost through with my first run of Avernum: Escape from the Pit, and I’ve grown fond of my gang of four. This is how far I’ve progressed with Kadwell who is the party’s mage and the only dude.

Continue reading “field report (including adventures with Substance Painter)”

they did it again…

…half a band this time, and the song ain’t theirs, but hey, they always deliver.

Blind Guardian (Hansi and Marcus, to be specific) found themselves doing a yet another game soundtrack, and this time it’s something way more original than the second instalment of Sacred – The Dwarves is a game based on a German fantasy novel.

My “to be played” pile is a bit too long ATM, so I haven’t yet been able to justify buying the game at release (even though it’s been wishlisted since being in dev). But if you are looking for something colourful and story-driven, then by all means get it. Here’s the GOG link again.

And here’s the music =)

It has an orchestra, a choir and no Charlie Bauerfeind in sight. We’ve been blessed.

Don’t know if you can get it on iTunes outside Russia yet (not here as of right now), but supposing you do get the game, the soundtrack is here for a few extra $$.

Kettu haz a new hero…

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-witcher-3-is-amazingly-written-and.html

…and his name is Jeff Vogel.

Not only because Avadon: The Black Fortress is a game – THE game – I didn’t know I had been looking for. Not only because I love birds and “Vogel” means “bird” in German. Not only because he has published all those thoughtful blog posts.

Not only. But because of it all. And especially this… something I never expected to see. I’ll quote it: it’s from the analysis of TW3 I’m linking to above:

There was some vigorous critical debate about The Witcher 3 when it came out, but it primarily centered around whether this Polish game, made by Poles and set in a fantasy Poland based on Polish books, had too many white people.

(Side note: Did you know that many Eastern Europeans, who occupy a large, diverse region with a long and rich history, severe poverty, and recent history of vicious oppression, find it intensely irritating to be thoughtlessly lumped into the huge, vague category of “white people”?)

The question of whether the Polish people deserve the right to make their own representations of themselves without getting permission from affluent North American academics is one I plan to leave entirely alone.

There are no words to describe how grateful I am for this.

Skin colour probably matters a lot over there in the huge portion of the English-speaking world. But here, in the Eastern Europe, waaaaaaaaaay subtler clues will feed our local Nazi leanings. Hutu vs Tutsi, “white” version.

It’s why I will never do a Ursula le Guin and consciously write “people of colour” into my stuff. It’s why I don’t have any “drow”- or “Dunmeri”-type of dark-skinned elves in my settings.

Because I am an outsider writing in English, and I don’t want to pretend this skin colour prejudice is as prevalent in the culture I come from as it is in the English-speaking one; I want my stuff to have real-world echoes, and the real world I know (but most of my readers do not know) cloaks its issues in different vestments.

Hell. Yes there do exist some Russians who will dislike “people of colour”.

But our biggest-known poet and writer, the person who single-handedly revolutionarised Russian literature – Alexander Pushkin – was of African descent.

And not only him, actually.

And BTW, this TW3 analysis would have been great even without that paragraph. It points out a lot of things generally overlooked. Comments are worth skimming, too.

that quote =)

About two witcher swords, both of which are for monsters.

There are two things that are annoying about this vid: a) the English voiceover, which is just as meh as those English translations of pan Sapek’s books; b) a total lack of any and all visual improvements – because the game can look so much better these days. Check out some of my screenshots from Chapter I, using texture mods, SweetFX via ReShade, and NVIDIA Profile Inspector for AO, AA an’stuff.

 

supposing I were a Hollywood mogul…

…I’d remake this Soviet musical mini-series with English lyrics, starring Eric Balfour as D’Artagnan. I mean… eric20balfour20o920visionarios_xl

// click the image to go to the publication I stole the photo from //

An equally great idea would be to make a TV show about Glen Cook’s Garrett, P.I. – because (apart from height) Mr Balfour would make a perfect Morley Dotes (image stolen from the same interview).

 

eric20balfour_polaroid_lowres_1

 

I’m not sure if Garrett Files could lend themselves well to being made into a musical, though.

totally not sure what to say about the new SW

Sorry Saul, I did go see it. Personal reasons, y’know. Besides, no Russian overdubs (in Russia, 99% of movies and shows are dubbed into Russian with variously horrible degrees of success) – a rare chance.

One thing for sure: I’m definitely not the target audience this time.

The most burning question is, how come Leia managed to cheat on Han with frellin’ Severus Snape?! Another galaxy and all.

On a more serious note – I was never fond of post-RotJ EU. Those authors were hell-bent on making Leia miserable and ignoring her Skywalker Force-sensitivity legacy up until she was basically a grandmother.

After Ep.VII, I’m beginning to reconsider this attitude. Because Leia is miserable in this timeline as well (maybe even more than in the original one), and not a Jedi either.

I was also hoping that Luke would be missing for the whole 3-episode ark. Alas.

Trying not to be 250% negative… I really liked the photography. The droids. Some aspects of the new characters (far from all). Seeing Leia and other old guard (even Ackbar). And… that’s that.

If anyone is interested to find out what else I didn’t like and why, I’ll make another (longer) post.