Æther is measured in drams, which are also the unit of currency in many lands where the substance is harvested and used in various machinations. The units are as follows. Four drams (4ᵭ) to the nip. 3 nips (3ꬻ) to the gil (1ꬶ). 1ꬶ of aether is about a teacupfull liquid radiant. Dram coins frequently (depending on the local culture) have an aether crystal set in the coin itself, whereas larger denominations of coins are theoretically exchangeable for aether. Seximal and duodecimal denominations are normal for other currencies.
Of course, a 1 gil aether stone may be worth considerably more or considerably less depending on the intensity and nature of the radiance stored therein and on market forces.
Vargenstone remains where it was last time I last time I spoke…
…and while I am going to try and get some serious work on it done this week, I’m not going to stress over it while I’m the only guy changing anything.
Meanwhile, I feel like I’m done with the virtual pet for now. Not permanently, but I was doing it to scratch an itch and the itch is scratched. I will probably continue adding pages to the book storyboard at a rate of one or two per week so that I’ve have a huge head start when the project gets the limelight.
The plan has not been panning out at all. But I have not been without progress.
I’ve begun storyboards for a pocket bestiary that meshes with my virtual pet, and gone ahead and mocked up the title page.
It’s designed for Amazon’s tiny 5×8 format, and frankly, I’m half-inclined to make it black and white, even though I’ve gone and colored the title spread.
You can see designs changing in realtime across the pages, and that’s because I added a hatchling stage before my previously existing hatchling stage, because the Digimon virtual pet convinced me that was a good idea. Frankly, my plan for this book is to go one bestiary ahead before finalizing it. That is, book 1 will be the core monsters, mostly represented by this graphic:
This set hits all your fantasy creature needs. You got your basic dragon, your basic orc, your basic rock monster, your basic wizard. It could use some tweaking, but that’s the purpose.
Set 2, and book 2, will fill out the ecosystem somewhat, with plants, bugs, birds, fish, and elementals. Each of the sets interacts with all the others — there will be common evolutions between later monsters and earlier ones. So my thought is: storyboard bestiary 1, storyboard bestiary 2, produce bestiary 1, storyboard bestiary 3, produce bestiary 2, and so forth, so that each bestiary gets a little bit of love from hindsight. And since I have Hat Trick 1 and Awesome Moments 1 storyboarded, that means I’ll likely not produce this book until next year at the earliest. But there you are.
I shall dedicate a future post to the bestiary. My thoughts on it as a product, and so on.
On Vargenstone… Eh.
I did do final quality work on the south-facing standing and walking torso and head.
I’ve discovered I need to double the size of the source graphic and use the GDQuest pencil to achieve the line quality I want. No big deal. And I can occupy myself for hours polishing the graphics up to this level if I choose. But I haven’t been able to get momentum going on it.
I haven’t followed the plan at all. I suppose I could still ‘redeem’ the plan by spending all day today and a hefty chunk of tomorrow solely on Vargenstone, but I’m not deeply interested in in trying to retrieve failed plans. I’m more interested in the question of “why did it fail, is there something I can do that wouldn’t fail, and am I willing to do that?”
I wanted to get six pages done today. I got four done, and two more written, and I’m not sure if I’ll manage to do the storyboard for those other two today.
At this rate, we shall cover the crucifixion tomorrow, and the resurrection Thursday. Unless I can boost my production to 8 or 10 pages a day, though, I don’t foresee us finishing the story this month. Still, it should be very easy to pick up or wrap up in any spare moments I get over the next couple of months. And If I do boost my production speed (which, for drafts or storyboards, is inexcusably slow), we might yet pull it off.
Still, this bit of production, while less than I need, is more than I’ve been doing, and the right kind of momentum to start the week.
I’m up and the progeny is up. But the rest of the house would like to sleep, thank you very much. So I’m going to ramble a bit about what I’m up to while the offspring plays quietly with some stocking stuffers.
Hah! Just kidding. The kid ditched the stocking stuffer almost immediately for crayons and paper, because the kid is my kid.
Previously, in this space, I mentioned “rebuilding Final Fantasy using Piqha.” I did a ton of Piqha sketches to try and provide myself with six decent designs to use for the classic FF classes, and decided on these ones:
Fighter, Monk, Theif, White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage. Since the white mage is supposed to be D&D cleric with the trademark information scrubbed off and any references to religion artfully removed, I cranked it all the way back: my healing class is not only a cleric, but a Christian. Similarly, while the Final Fantasy red mage went on to become its own thing, it’s fairly clear that in the first game it was a reference to the D&D ranger, so I went with one of two wilderness scout looking guys.
And hey, let’s make the wizard actually look like someone messing with dark forces, then.
Anyhow, my thought process is: if I take Final Fantasy, fix the plot holes, replace the characters with similar characters from my tool bag, and alter the plot to fit the characters, at the end of the day I’ll have something similar enough to Final Fantasy to fall into the healthy reference zone, and different enough to be its own creature.
For instance, Final Fantasy I centers on a time loop. The first guy you beat is also the final boss. Except he went back in time, and you have to go back in time to fight him. Except that has pretty much no effect on the rest of the game. It’s just sort of there.
Okay. Why not make the time travel thing present throughout? Piqha are a race of genetically engineered starship components. When they live in a fantasy setting, it’s because a ship crashed, and the little gremlins in the walls of the ship built civilization on the shipwreck. What if four piqha, Our Heroes, are on a ship that is crashing because of some kind of time vortex, they get launched into the distant future, and getting back to their own time is their whole objective?
Anyway, this year I drew pictures for Christmas for my family members, as is my custom, and because I have piqha on the brain, they’re all piqha.
They aren’t exactly concept art, but they aren’t exactly not concept art either (each piqha picture was designed with the recipient rather than the needs of my stories in mind). For example, I haven’t even decided whether mer-piqha are a thing. There’s no reason why they can’t be, but there’s no reason why they must be either. But one of my family members likes mermaids, and I have piqha on the brain, so mer-piqha it is.
But I have a celebration tomorrow with a white elephant gift exchange, so I thought, why not straight up make concept art, frame it, and hand it out? So here’s our four Heroes of Light in their spaceship:
Since I have four, I decided to name them Tsi, Em, Wye, and Kay, respectively, after the colors of printer ink.
“But what about the character classes?”
Ideally, I’d make a custom version of each class for each character. In practice, I’m going to start with reusing the same graphics for each class, but doing a recolor for the character, and if I have time in the polish phase I’ll get more fancy than that.
Of course, this raises other problems. If Em is a girl, she can’t very well be a Christian Cleric. If I want to say, “well, suppose she’s a nun, and while that’s a very different set of powers in real life, there can be overlap in game mechanics,” then what is her equivalent to a warrior monk?
I could just say, “they’re all boys; deal with it.” It would be a pretty good selling point. It might make social justice types mad enough to advertise my game. Bands of Brothers are under attack by the forces of evil, and pushing back is a noble cause.
But on the flip side, I want the four elemental fiends to be analogues for the heroes, to be “this is you in a hundred years if you turn evil”, and in Final Fantasy at least, one of the elemental fiends is definitely female.
So here is a puzzle. I do not suffer a woman to be a Christian priest, even in science fantasy, but I want one of the character’s direct analogues to be female and I want all four characters to be allowed all six classes.
I don’t have a solution yet. My best solution is probably to make Em male, and make the Kary/Marilth analogue male as well, but it’s going to be months, possibly more than a year, before I actually have to make my call. So I’m not going to stress over it. If a better solution exists, it will present itself in that time.
In the mean while, I’m going to continue developing the concept art along the current lines. After all, it’s not final art. It’s just a white elephant gift for a small party.
That’s 50 pages done, for a book length of 52 pages. But of course, we’re not done with the story yet. So we’re looking at a final book of 80 to 100 pages, I think. I guess we’ll see when we get there.
I don’t expect to get a lot done this week. In addition to taking Wednesday and Sunday off, as is my custom, I will also be taking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off.
And I am no longer certain the storyboard will be complete by the end of December. Because I have prior engagements for January, however, I will be dropping it come January whether it is done or not. So, here’s hoping and praying I am inspired to get it finished by then. If not, it may be months before I get back to it.