Anyway, there is a big warning sticker attached to this update, it is a pretty heavy read but i hope you find it interesting never the less.
A Little Bit of History
Well, I am lying. There is a lot of history. For me this whole project transcends Simcity, it is as much about a literary interpretation of my imagined nation as it is about the visual tools I have used to portray it. This is something that I find makes it easier to know where I am going. As I intend to do this as a natural growth style journal (thanks CSG for coining the term), I thought it would make sense if I at least knew where and when each of the towns and villages were founded.
That is where I was at the map stage, since then it has kind off spiralled out of control. I take notes on everything Dedgren does in 3RR, and if I knew how I’m sure I would create a wiki for all the information I intend to throw at you. As it stands you can expect timelines, family trees, treatise; letters from soldiers, sailors and fathers to their daughters; bank notes, wedding invites, newspapers and flyers. All accompanied by full narrative written by me.
I thought I would show you some of the things I have been working on behind the scenes, getting ready for the commencement of storytelling. (Told you it would be the story of the story) First up is something I wrote back in March, it is the first part of a biography of Sir Arthur Lock I, Founder of The Iron Coast.
As you can see it is brief and far from complete. It was meant to be a pilot almost. I think it is suitable, and have since built up the picture to ensure this piece is still accurate to the canon*. I think that to portray a realistic history you have to have the good with the bad, so I do warn you, some parts of the history you will be exposed to are grim and sometimes unpleasant but that is part of the rich tapestry of life I am trying to put across.
The key to longevity in journals it seems is to be prepared for the long haul, early on. Thus I have started spreadsheets recording just about every possible bit of data there is on The Iron Coast; Replies per member, views per reply and all manner of such statistics. These I will share with you once sufficient data has been collected. Here is a shot of some of the excel work that I have going on currently.
As I mentioned earlier, Endora is another one of my influences, and my primary consult for steampunk in the SC4 medium. On this line of thought I decided to try my hand at one of his fantastic collages. Made up of many parts of many images and then put together in photoshop to look like a particular scene. This is my first attempt and I don’t particularly think it’s very good. I have posted an original Antimonycat collage first to demonstrate the concept.
I know that city looks somewhat advanced for 1762, but that will be explained in a couple of updates. As you can see I am not even close to the level of finesse that my inspiration demonstrates. But I intend to produce many more of these style images to show some of the key moments in The Iron Coast’s history.
To show you something more up to date, here is another excerpt from the Biography of Sir Arthur Lock I:
“On the ninth of February, 1482, Sir Arthur married Lady Elizabeth Huxley. This marriage was by arrangement of Victor Grosmont Huxley, First Duke of Lancaster. His daughter was not the most abiding of potential wives and the Duke took rather a risk to ensure his daughter was married prior to her 25th birthday. However lowly this marriage seemed for the Huxley family, the rise in status it brought to the Lock’s echoed round the chambers and lodges of England, and many otherwise disinterested businessmen began to look at The Iron Coast as a potential investment. The marriage turned out to be such a success that Lady Elizabeth’s niece married her son in 1507.”
As you can see, now it is somewhat more detailed, and includes more culture than the previous representation. This also gives you an idea of the scope of the project, there are five people mentioned in this brief passage, each in need of a biography, so the threads of history can be woven into a wonderful work of multimedia art. I don’t wish to get too romantic so I will call this an end here. Further reading below is available for those who wish to but today’s teaser is here.
*here comes a really nerdy bit. Canon refers to literary universes, and is used to describe the nature of additional media, and to define what is to be held as true within that universe and what is deemed fan fiction. The opposing term is Apocryphal, where everything on the subject counts, no matter the author, its just sources from points of view and the reader has to make up his own mind. Below find an essay I wrote for a website associated with Warhammer 40,000, a tabletop battle game that has a massive fictional universe with much fan fiction around also. This ended up in their equivalent of the Omnibus.
Games Workshop needs a clearly-defined policy stating which books are “official background material” and which are not. Some works, particularly older ones, should not be considered official.
To start I wish to clarify a few definitions.
The term Canon/Canonical denotes fictional material that is "genuine", i.e. created by the original creator/s of the fiction. This material is taken to be absolute truth and any contradictions in supplementary fiction are considered incorrect.
The term Expanded Universe denotes the 'extension' of a media franchise with other forms of media such as comics and original novels. This typically simply involves new plot arcs for existing characters within the franchise; however in some cases entirely new characters and additional themes are introduced.
The term Apocrypha/Apocryphal denotes fictional material that is created by a source other than the original creator/s. This material is taken to be valid exempting contradictions to Canon, although not to be treated as absolute truth. It may or may not be endorsed by the original creator/s and may or may not become Canonical at later stage.
From a business perspective there are several points to be considered. If a company adopts a Canonical/Apocryphal distinction then they can significantly constrain themselves and reduce interest and sales in the franchise. Primarily this distinction turns enclosed novels into enclosed fact, any mystery or speculation on a plot & its implications become somewhat pointless as unless clarified at a later date in Canon, any consensual conclusions drawn by the fan community are entirely worthless. This can rapidly lead to stagnation and a decrease in community interaction, leading to alienation and eventually to a reduction in consumer base and general sales. This also imposes incredibly stringent constraints on everything that the creator/s publish, as any internal contradiction totally undermines the entire corporate stance on Canon.
In a non canonical system, all material created that is enclosed by the expanded universe, by any author is equally valid. This is a direct parallel to reality; WWII only occurred 60 years ago and even today massive debates rage across the historical community arguing over specifics based on the evidence of any source they can find. What gets printed in the history books is just the general consensus among those same historians. As fans of a franchise in a totally apocryphal expanded universe we are the historians, archivists, reporters and even the characters. Our battles take place, we can write about events we witnessed (even if that witnessing is only implied by authorship) and we the community decide what really happened because that is our obligation, we have to make that decision. It is this debate and ciphering of sources that keeps the community alive, it is what keeps up lying awake at night dreaming of epic battles implied but not detailed. It is that sense of perpetual ignorance that keeps us buying the books, and posting in the forums. We want to garner every morsel of information from the new sources that are released. And it is this free advertising that keeps the Franchise afloat.
To compound this initial argument I will quote Marc Gascoigne, a publisher at the Black Library, don’t worry I wont use the whole quote, just the relevant bit:
“Keep in mind Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are worlds where half truths, lies, propaganda, politics, legends and myths exist. The absolute truth which is implied when you talk about "canonical background" will never be known because of this. Everything we know about these worlds is from the viewpoints of people in them which are as a result incomplete and even sometimes incorrect. The truth is mutable, debatable and lost as the victors write the history... “
So Games Workshop don’t particularly want to adopt a Canonical/Apocryphal approach, because it is simply unrealistic. Remember newer versions of the same sources exist in real life and are treated as separate sources; this is because they were written at different times with different influences and with different intended implications. An article written in Rogue Trader era about space marines describes them the way he understood them to be, what he felt they were like. The same article written now may describe them in a totally different way and even flatly contradict the first source, but it was written by a different author. This author may be the same person, but his influences and intentions will have changed and that is why it is a separate source. Even real life quotes get misquoted down the ages, and how many versions of the bible are there, denominations of Christianity, interpreting the same sources differently.
Now for the second half I want to talk about why I don’t want Games workshop to adopt a Canonical/Apocryphal approach. I love the Iron Warriors; I love their persona, their attitudes and their methods. There are codex entries, there are rogue trader references, there are novels, and all these sources are pieces of a puzzle, for me to assemble, to create a consistent portrait elaborately integrated with the rest of the expanded universe. There are massive voids in the literature though, and I feel as a fan it is my responsibility to try and fill them. I went to find more sources; I searched my White Dwarf collection, and then various other articles written about them by official creators. Then I went to the other historians, looked at the sources they had created based on their interpretation of the available evidence. I had looked through the primary sources and the secondary sources.
All that was left was for me to pull all these resources together into on continuous, tangible thread of potential truth. There was no way that all the sources could be true so I deferred to consensus, just like a real world historian. I began to fill in the gaps with my own logical reasoning: “for event A to occur, condition B had to be true, which implied case C”, as this continues that thread slowly became an expanding tapestry of history. A history that is just as valid as any other, published or as yet unwritten. If the general consensus agree with parts of my tapestry it becomes accepted, but parts will not and they become new secondary sources, ready for the next historian to interpret.
Also as a hobbyist I want to convert models from both my own range of miniatures as well as some of those from other factions. Now in a Canonical/Apocryphal system there is no place for this. These new vehicle variants that I have created are in actuality wrong; they don’t exist and have no place in the universe. This is an absurd notion to me, why should my creation be branded eternally as implausible fluff, apocrypha that looks pretty but has no background, and no point. My Ram-raider is a siege tank used by some Iron Warrior forces, just because there have only been one or two sighting’s does not mean it exists. In WWII, to flog an analogous parallel to death, there are examples of vehicles that never made it off the drawing board, or vehicles that only one or two prototypes were ever made, and even some vehicles that were hastily converted in the field, lashed together to try and make the most of what they had. Flak emplacements were welded to the top of artillery tractors because a commander needed mobile air support.
As much as the Adeptus Mechanicus would disapprove I am sure many a guard general has ordered similar retrofits to vehicles under his command in desperate or unusual circumstances. Sometimes it is these lash together individuals that later go on to create a fully fledged variant. For those who don’t know that is exactly how the Predator Annihilator came into existence, prior to one particular engagement only Destructors were built. It may have taken hundreds of years of testing and augury to acquire the blessings of the Machine God, but they were gained eventually and now no decent anti armour formation is without them. Even the Adeptus Mechanicus, a fanatically ritualized organization learnt to accept apocrypha into their canon, so why should we as open, inquisitive and imaginative historians deny it?
A Canonical/Apocryphal system, if adopted by Games Workshop would be unrealistic, difficult to implement, detrimental to sales and community participation. I do not wish to deny that to an extent there is a canon. The rules Games Workshop publish in codex and rulebook are Canonical. Homegrown rules are very much Apocryphal. However, to the broiling clouded expanding universe that is the 41st millennium and the other forty that passed before it, that’s history, which is very much open to interpretation.
Now, for those familiar with the game that probably made a lot of sense, but for those not versed, I hope the message I was trying to portray got through. There will come a point where I may ask some of you to take part in The Iron Coast, either writing fictional pieces or helping decide the history. Any and all fan art, fiction, ideas, I will try to incorporate to the best of my abilities.
Further to this, you may have noticed the ever changing banners at the top of each post. This is because in March a member called shadeslayer created a joke banner for me. In honour of this his banner was used in the first update. This updates banner is brought to you by Benedict. Any other submissions, no matter how silly will most certainly be used at some point.
Anyway enough for this week, peace.