Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

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zookeeper
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by zookeeper » February 8th, 2016, 6:07 pm

For what it's worth, I've been rather busy doing other things recently so I've been postponing looking at these in detail. They seem pretty good though and most can probably go in with little or no further modification.

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Gyra_Solune » February 8th, 2016, 9:44 pm

Excellent! I'm still making revisions here and there the more I look over them soooo haha, might be good they aren't being immediately brought up for review, but yes. Campaign units might be a little bit trickier to do! Unlike the mainline where there's a very clear divide in most cases between 'about a sentence of words' and 'pretty much spotless', a lot of campaign stuff is a little more ambiguously in the middle. There's also the matter of hero units which I'm not sure precisely how to handle, because a lot of them talk about the character they apply to specifically. Should these be written from the perspective of these units only ever going to apply to this specific character, or should they be done over with the intent of them being more widely applicable (which can be tricky: just about the only difference between Konrad and Haldric's units are that Haldric has a level 0 that...seems to never be used, and starts off slightly stronger for level 1 and 2 but is just a tiny bit weaker than Konrad at level 3)? IIRC, the Orcish Leader line was actually originally just supposed to be Kapou'e, but was made into a standard unit later on - is this intended then to be what should be aimed for?

By the by I'm probably going to avoid making a description for the Khalifate as a whole, mostly because that involves a loooooooooot of decisions that are not yet set in stone about who they really are, unless things are more decided on than I thought.

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by vultraz » February 8th, 2016, 11:18 pm

I'm of the same mind as zookeeper. We'll look over these more thoroughly soon, hopefully for the next release.
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Celtic_Minstrel » February 8th, 2016, 11:50 pm

A lot of these descriptions are very nice! I have a few comments about some of them, though.

Mudcrawlers: Do we actually have campaigns where they were created by mages? I had always assumed that they were some sort of natural elemental creature born from swamps.

Sea Serpent: Based on the recent redesign of the unit/portrait for the sea serpent, I think there can be no doubt that it's very much a deep-sea creature - its design incorporates elements of the angler-fish which itself lives deep in the sea where light doesn't reach.

Tentacle of the Deep: I'm not sure whether you should, but the Kraken could be referenced here as a possible identity for the owner of these tentacles.

Peasant: For some reason I like the line "you're clearly out of superior forces" which was in the original; I wonder if there's a way to retain that?

Falcons: Good, but based on what others said about the Khalifate, perhaps rephrase that last sentence a little: "Falcons occasionally find a role in war..."

Saurians: I don't like the implication that they have "limited intellect". I feel that all the major races should be roughly equal in intellectual potential, even if some (like orcs or saurians) more rarely use their intellect to its full potential. Also, I wonder if it's really appropriate to note the associate between saurians and drakes within the saurian race description... though if the drake description already does that, I suppose it's fine... still seems a little inappropriate though.

Ancient Lich: While I haven't played the relevant campaign, isn't there one where liches are actually allies? Perhaps it shouldn't be implied that an ancient lich always means ruin?

Death Knight: I'm not sure if this is held up in the mainline campaigns (though I recall a death knight in HttT which does seem to support it), but I think of death knights as an undead that came into being without the intervention of a necromancer. That makes them one of three categories of undead that are normally intelligent (the other two being liches and the ghost line)... though perhaps their intelligence is not quite what it was when they were alive.

Other comments:
Gyra_Solune wrote:Indeed you mostly see sea serpents in shallow water but what I was going for there was how they actually have much better defense in deep water - their appearances are likely skewed by how most of the time you're a primarily land and coastal force since most units can't even go on deep water (there sure are a lot of sea serpents that like to just pop up in Rise of Wesnoth!)
Like I said earlier, the design very much paints them as a deep-sea creature; the shallow-water equivalent is the much more snake-like Water Serpent (which, in fact, probably is a snake while the sea serpent is actually some sort of giant fish or eel or something).
Gyra_Solune wrote:...Also no, the in-game texts seem to be very inconsistent on whether or not certain names are capitalized or not. Orcs are often capitalized but elves are not - actual unit names seem to be as well. I'm going to go ahead and try to set it as a rule that a race or species should not be capitalized, but a unit's proper title should be as that's something like a military rank. So one would say 'This Orcish Grunt is an orc of the orcish forces'. The first ought to take precedence though, largely for monsters - it strikes me as odd for the text to say 'people often fear the Giant Scorpions' when that's just what species they are. There might be exceptions here and there - for example calling them Dread Bats instead of dread bats looks a little more proper to me for some reason.
I very much agree that general species names should be in lowercase, while unit names are usually capitalized. With the monster units, the unit name is really their race name, so it generally shouldn't be capitalized. Similarly, falcons, bats, gryphons, ogres, wolves, and boats shouldn't be capitalized (but I do agree about Dread Bat being a possible exception). Perhaps the wose units also shouldn't be capitalized. Also, most undead units are very generic too, so perhaps they shouldn't be capitalized either, but I'm not sure on this one.
Gyra_Solune wrote:things like the Gryphons, Wolves, and Falcons (actually, should these maybe all be lumped into an 'animals' group? or maybe just put in with the Monsters? the wolves are already under them in the image files after all).
I think a general rule of thumb would be that if there's more than one unit of a given race, it should be put in its own race, while if the species is represented by a single unique unit type, its race should be "monster". As far as I can see, only the mudcrawlers violate this guideline... well, I suppose the gryphon sort of does too, but there's the riders which also share the same race.

Also, something that's included in a standard faction should not have "monster" as its race, so if you changed the requirement above to "more than two units", then this rule would force the falcons to have their own race despite failing that requirement.
Chewan wrote:In this context, I'd like to come back to the issue of several riding Goblins being moved to the race Wolves, and johndh's question if there is a way to include links to multiple races in the unit's help section so – as another example – a Gryphon Rider would have a link to Dwarves and a link to Gryphons.
It would be kind of nice to have a way to set a secondary race for mounted units, but first you'd need to decide how the two races combine mechanically (if at all). (I forget if races currently have any mechanical effects besides namelists and possible traits.) That's really a topic for another thread, though. (If someone feels like starting one, feel free to let me know by PM.)
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Gyra_Solune » February 9th, 2016, 1:10 am

Hmmm, so ghosts also are meant to just sort of happen? I was under the impression that the influence of a user of dark magic was the sole way an undead being came into creation - campaigns like Descent into Darkness seem to establish that if a magically-summoned creature is around independently, that tends to be due to their conjurer being dead or possibly having forgotten about them. Instead of dying with the summoner, those creatures just sort of continue on their way through some basic survival instinct - mudcrawlers and ghouls can probably have moderate success in the wild, especially mudcrawlers since possibly a single conjured one can amass energy through small creatures and affinity with the earth and emerge as a pest far and across the land. So I'd figured ghosts and the Death Knights were much the same way. Ghosts being simply the result of a dark ritual performed somewhere that many dead bodies are, and Death Knights being simply ordinary Skeletons that happened to be exceptionally strong and charismatic leaders in their past life. They may well break free of their masters and operate independently - DiD establishes undead creatures are often capable of rebelling - but the way I saw it there was always a dark mage at the source of it. But if there's significant contrary evidence that the undead are just a thing that happens I ought to indeed know of it - I've definitely not played all the way through a number of the longer campaigns so most of my reference comes from DiD and Rise of Wesnoth.

Magic is...a very very peculiar thing in this setting, and I would greatly appreciate a bit more official detail on how exactly it's used. I was viewing it from a very technological and logical sense, as I tend to do with fantasy settings, heh. The way I saw it, magic is more like control of elemental energy. Mages can shoot fireballs, cast dispelling beams of light (the 'arcane' damage type seems to function as a sort of...undoing of other magic, dissolving it in a way), or teleport their being, setting a precedent that they just channel raw energy and alter it for their purposes. Fae magic seems to be of a more physical bent, manipulating things like water, vegetation, and presumably the flow of air for flight. Runesmithing is basically enchanting, probably roughly similar to the 'regular' bent of magic but more sealed and controlled. And dark magic sounds to me like just the forbidden classes of that same magic - manipulating the energy of the soul and using it to raise the dead, sapping the strength out of those it's cast on. It could probably use some elaboration, but dark magic looks to be sort of split into two kinds - the more energetic kind we all know the Adepts use which is more like a variant of more accepted kinds of magic, and the sort of ritualistic, occult variant that's used by saurians and the orcish shamans.

Oh, and lastly on the Ancient Lich front: I like to think that Talinn accepting the aid of those lich guys directly led to them having some hand in Mal-Ravanal's rise to power. Good job Talinn! You saved all your enslaved people and in the process very likely doomed a hell of a lot more. XD


E: Just fixed up a few things in accordance with 'an ancient lich isn't /always/ doom and despair' 'saurians aren't really that unintelligent and shouldn't talk about drakes in their thing' and various other things. Also redid descs for the Wolf and Falcon (the base units of the line that is - slightly difficult to talk about the species of a whole and then the most basic member of it without repeating oneself), particularly to make the Falcon less Khalifate-specific (I'd be interested in seeing a campaign about nobles and the like where they might use such falcons!). Generally a lot happier with the slight revisions overall! It definitely takes a few rounds of proofreading to catch all the little oddities, so maybe I'll look at things tomorrow and still be unsatisfied, but for now things are much closer to a polished up quality, which should be especially considered now that I have multiple developers taking a look and considering some of this stuff!

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Chewan » February 9th, 2016, 6:00 pm

@ Gyra_Solune » I'm probably going to avoid making a description for the Khalifate
Fully understandable. For the time being, would it be at least possible to show their ethnic origin and call them humans, please:
BfW Help > units: Humans (Wesnoth) + Humans (Khalifate)
@ Gyra_Solune » Just fixed up a few things... saurians aren't really that unintelligent
Right. Their sneaky skirmish attacks are already indicative of cleverness, and the qualities of their augurs give reason to hope that they will NEVER use their intellect to its full potential... ;) Quoting Simons Mith: It seems saurians are some of the most skilled astronomers in Wesnoth! They were thought to have a good grasp of trigonometry and circular geometry, kitty was working on a saurian numerical system, reflecting their knowledge and close contact with science (without neglecting the number of their toes used for counting!)
@ Gyra_Solune » Gryphons, Wolves, and Falcons – should these maybe all be lumped into an 'animals' group? Or ... with the Monsters?
@ Celtic_Minstrel » … this rule would force the falcons to have their own race despite failing that requirement
Luckily, falcons do have their own race - without their elder version this much-valued birds would be indeed monsters... :?
An 'animals' section would have to comprise rats, spiders, scorpions, serpents, cuttle fishes etc. – unless it was explained why they are not 'wildlife'.
@ Celtic_Minstrel » ….if there's more than one unit of a given race, it should be put in its own race, while if the species is represented by a single unique unit type, its race should be "monster".
:hmm: Sooner or later Wesnoth will be out of monsters... An advanced/smaller version or mounting declassifies the most horrifying creature - or rather qualifies for a less derogatory race status (as long as the rider is no better than a dwarf or a goblin, humans self-evidently remain what they are - so do their mounts, be it a horse, a gryphon, a dragon or whatever creepy-crawlies).
@ Celtic_Minstrel » Peasant: For some reason I like the line "you're clearly out of superior forces"
Yes, it amusingly contrasts with the stunning description of the most inexperienced hero who has been sent out on a mission... :P
@ Celtic_Minstrel » Sea Serpent: there can be no doubt that it's very much a deep-sea creature
My observation that they are not only found in marine environments referred to deep water lochs, underground rivers and cave lakes. The number of sea battle scenarios is limited, this monster is spectacular, in UMC it feels at home in all regions with diving possibilities...
@ Celtic_Minstrel » Ancient Lich: Perhaps it shouldn't be implied that an ancient lich always means ruin?
Yeah, good and evil are not always what they appear to be – every sweet has its sour; every evil its good. It's the classical question about the validity of hard-wired morality, because anyone can be induced to cross the line when the situation so justifies. In Wesnoth, it is not unusual at all to encounter Undead or monsters joining forces with the 'good' guys... ( vice versa all the more)
@ Gyra_Solune » ...now that I have multiple developers taking a look and considering some of this stuff!
Congrats! :D

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by johndh » February 9th, 2016, 7:28 pm

I'm glad to see someone taking this on. Here's my attempt at some tweaks for your Saurian description:
Saurians are a race of reptilian humanoids, about as tall as a dwarf, but much less stout. They compensate for their small size with incredible agility and an ability to thrive in nearly any environment. These factors lead them to be populous all throughout Wesnoth and beyond, especially in the great swamps of the continent. Other races encounter saurians primarily as brigands and slavers, and they treat them much like the outlaws and bandits of any other race. Saurians have developed a great understanding of mathematics, astronomy, and the natural world, and those with an aptitude for magic and fortune-telling tend to be respected and obeyed. While they are normally somewhat territorial and isolated, they have been known to exchange their services for treasure and jewels.
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Paulomat4 » February 9th, 2016, 8:44 pm

chewan wrote:monsters, animals, wildlife, etc...
What qualifies a falcon as animal and a firedragon (or Yeti) as Monster? Both are beings that appear (rather) often in wesnoth and are part of the natural wildlife. The firedragon is a predator just like any wolf, only that he likes to hunt solitary and maybe that he has a bigger intellect. What I want to say is, aren't all "monsters" animals (or wildlife)?
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Gyra_Solune » February 10th, 2016, 2:25 am

Chewan wrote: Right. Their sneaky skirmish attacks are already indicative of cleverness, and the qualities of their augurs give reason to hope that they will NEVER use their intellect to its full potential... ;) Quoting Simons Mith: It seems saurians are some of the most skilled astronomers in Wesnoth! They were thought to have a good grasp of trigonometry and circular geometry, kitty was working on a saurian numerical system, reflecting their knowledge and close contact with science (without neglecting the number of their toes used for counting!)
Oh dear, it is seeming like I really must go through HttT more intently - there seems to be a LOT about the folklore of the game in just a singular scenario according to that first bit!

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by shadowm » February 10th, 2016, 2:43 am

Gyra_Solune wrote:
Chewan wrote: Right. Their sneaky skirmish attacks are already indicative of cleverness, and the qualities of their augurs give reason to hope that they will NEVER use their intellect to its full potential... ;) Quoting Simons Mith: It seems saurians are some of the most skilled astronomers in Wesnoth! They were thought to have a good grasp of trigonometry and circular geometry, kitty was working on a saurian numerical system, reflecting their knowledge and close contact with science (without neglecting the number of their toes used for counting!)
Oh dear, it is seeming like I really must go through HttT more intently - there seems to be a LOT about the folklore of the game in just a singular scenario according to that first bit!
Uh, HttT?
Simons Mith wrote:Saurian

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Gyra_Solune » February 10th, 2016, 3:05 am

...ohhhh. I thought that was a scenario in HttT, not a UMC campaign. I am the silliest!

UMC setting up interesting things like saurians as astronomers and the like is nice and all and certainly an interesting thing potentially, but I don't wish to write these with facets that aren't actually in the game in mind. If that is introduced then we can change it for sure, but I would prefer to stick to what is commonly accepted knowledge.

The semi-established system where saurians do have somewhat advanced mathematics is neat for sure but I'm not sure how deep that goes and if it's just an incidental thing among only the most secluded elders, or if it is really something their society is built around. I am somewhat into the idea of them having parallels to the Mayans (was that an intentional thing? that them and the drakes have a fair amount of mesoamerican flavor in their design?) but yeah.

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Chewan » February 10th, 2016, 2:38 pm

@ Gyra_Solune » ... I don't wish to write these with facets that aren't actually in the game in mind
The wisdom and intelligence of Saurians is mentioned here too.
And what about this statement: The chief of the males is alpha if they are within their village or encampment while the chief of females is dominant anywhere else.

What is the point of the wiki? Does all the information regarding the world of Wesnoth have any value?
Based on prose, style and etiquette guidelines among other things, Simons Mith, Esr, Eleazar and others seem to have had a say in the matter of the lore...
And it's hard to see a highly esteemed portrait director wasting time on totally non-canon stuff... To support user-made fanon? :D Cool!

Many add-ons (e.g. FoaP ?) have been created in hopes of making it to mainline, one would think those authors would have stuck as close as possible to commonly accepted knowledge in order to improve their chances... (so UtbS shows that this is not imperative to meet the criteria for such in fact to happen).

EDIT
The cultural peculiarities of Saurians have just been confirmed by another user in the female trolls discussion...

Johndh might want to elaborate one or two lines about 'supernatural reproduction' for the Trolls' description, they could just as well be included into the rewriting project... one more mystery clarified, end of story! :)
@ Paulomat4: ... aren't all "monsters" animals (or wildlife) ?
Yes, I think so too (except units like e.g. the Fire Guardian).
But I can't imagine, that Gyra_Solune will even achieve the extinction of monsters. ;)

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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by johndh » February 10th, 2016, 9:12 pm

Caladbolg wrote:Saurian culture is sharply segregated between the genders......It is the responsibility of the female to hunt and find food, skills which ultimately train them to be warriors; the skirmishers, flankers, and ambushers other races so fear. Males, meanwhile, are responsible for guarding the clutch- the eggs left by the females. While this leaves time for the males to develop and hone the arts of astrology, healing, and magic
From https://wiki.wesnoth.org/Saurians
Chewan wrote: The wisdom and intelligence of Saurians is mentioned here too.
And what about this statement: The chief of the males is alpha if they are within their village or encampment while the chief of females is dominant anywhere else.
Yeah, I was thinking of that earlier. I don't particularly have a problem with the warriors being female and the mages being male; I just don't know if it's currently supported in mainline. What appears in mainline is what really counts as canon. Saurian fortune-telling abilities are supported by their unit names and descriptions (Augur, Oracle, Soothsayer), but I didn't find any mention of sex or gender roles in their descriptions. I don't even know that they have two sexes. They could reproduce asexually, or they could have a hive-like social structure where the skirmishers are infertile females and the augurs are a polyandrous harem for the egg-laying queen caste. Apparently it's wide open right now.
What is the point of the wiki? Does all the information regarding the world of Wesnoth have any value?
As I understand it, the wiki is semi-canon in a sort of "expanded universe" way, and it can be changed more easily. Mainline is what really counts, and changing something in mainline has ripple effects because various campaigns reference each other. For example, changing the lifespan of elves from "a few centuries" to "basically forever", we'd have to go through and change every mainline reference to elven lifespan, and players might wonder why none of the elves around for tRoW are in HttT.
And it's hard to see a highly esteemed portrait director wasting time on totally non-canon stuff... To support user-made fanon? :D Cool!
As I recall, the purpose was to get a consistent style for decorations in portraits. One of the mermen in DW has a club painted with Kitty's mer language.
Johndh might want to elaborate one or two lines about 'supernatural reproduction' for the Trolls' description, they could just as well be included into the rewriting project... one more mystery clarified, end of story! :)
This is where I think the semi-canon status of the wiki is useful -- it's a good reference, but contradicting it won't cause ripples throughout the rest of the canon. Some things don't really need to be established officially until it comes up in mainline. Having things open to interpretation can allow more creative freedom, so if somebody wanted to make a campaign where somebody captures a bunch of troll eggs, AFAIK that wouldn't contradict anything in mainline. The wiki is probably the right place for troll reproduction for now.
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by shadowm » February 10th, 2016, 9:52 pm

Nothing in UMC should be considered canon unless it becomes (part of or referenced in) mainline. Same applies to the wiki, since it can be edited by anyone at any time.
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Re: Let's Rewrite Descriptions!

Post by Gyra_Solune » February 11th, 2016, 1:15 am

Slightly redid Saurian desc, and decided to go for a middle-ground in this regard - saurians having a writing system, but one used largely for rituals, glyphs, prophecies, and so forth. They worship the stars and likely have a basic grasp of astronomy as a result (and presumably then, some form of calendar), but it likely extends very little beyond that. I imagine such a script to be logographic instead of alphabetic, and their insight of mathematics is likely to mostly relate to tracking the movements of celestial bodies but hardly on a level as to where they'd be matching Euler or something. I feel that should be mostly fair in all regards?

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