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JW
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Post by JW » June 13th, 2006, 3:09 pm

catwhowalksbyhimself wrote: I think of the hafling and ratling races in particular.
Halflings are so bland and unoriginal and uninspired - even in traditional fantasy IMO. OMG SMALL THIEF-LIKE PEOPLE!!!!

Ratlings just seem silly to me.

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Post by Maeglin Dubh » June 13th, 2006, 6:24 pm

Just because they may seem silly to you doesn't mean someone can't try to make them. They might have to do it with little help, if nobody likes the idea, but nobody should be discouraged from making -any- faction, really. Turin will disagree with me on this, so let me explain. They can make what they want, put it on the campaign server if they want; but no one will make turin use it. Or accept it as part of the World of Wesnoth. In this I think of the Vampires and Werewolves, that continue despite turin's disapproval.

In short, I'm saying that just because certain members of the community don't like an idea, doesn't mean it shouldn't be pursued. But it doesn't always need to be pursued here, and we don't even have to allow it on the campaign server if it's really that much of an issue. Blatant copyright issues, incredibly cliched or poorly thought out factions... At the very least, it's practice for them. I think some factions -do- need to be scuttled, but not just because you think it's silly.
Cuyo Quiz wrote:I really should push for Temuchin's brainstorming with all my might someday, when the skies are cloudy, the winds dance and the light is free to roam over the soil along the fog.

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Post by JW » June 13th, 2006, 6:37 pm

Maeglin Dubh wrote:I think some factions -do- need to be scuttled, but not just because you think it's silly.
I was simply stating my opinion; I've never scuttled someone's faction.

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Post by turin » June 13th, 2006, 7:02 pm

Maeglin Dubh wrote:Just because they may seem silly to you doesn't mean someone can't try to make them. They might have to do it with little help, if nobody likes the idea, but nobody should be discouraged from making -any- faction, really. Turin will disagree with me on this, so let me explain. They can make what they want, put it on the campaign server if they want; but no one will make turin use it. Or accept it as part of the World of Wesnoth. In this I think of the Vampires and Werewolves, that continue despite turin's disapproval.
I agree; what I am saying is we need to be clear what is in the WoW and what is not...

Basically, I think there needs to be an intermediate stage between "it is official and distributed with the game" and "it is a UMC". We need something like "the content is approved of by the Wesnoth council, but it isn't distributed with the game" - a sort of "approved campaigns server". Once upon a time, IIRC, this idea was approved of by the dev council, but never implemented.
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Post by Maeglin Dubh » June 14th, 2006, 1:18 pm

I understand, JW. Not a condemnation, merely a cautionary note. Not directed solely at you, either.
Cuyo Quiz wrote:I really should push for Temuchin's brainstorming with all my might someday, when the skies are cloudy, the winds dance and the light is free to roam over the soil along the fog.

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Post by irrevenant » June 14th, 2006, 9:35 pm

JW wrote:
catwhowalksbyhimself wrote: I think of the hafling and ratling races in particular.
Halflings are so bland and unoriginal and uninspired - even in traditional fantasy IMO. OMG SMALL THIEF-LIKE PEOPLE!!!!
Any race looks stupid if you paraphrase that much:
OMG SMALL WARRIOR-LIKE PEOPLE (Dwarves)
OMG FERAL WARRIOR-LIKE PEOPLE (Orcs)
etc. etc.

And given that every race in Wesnoth (except the Drakes) is a fantasy cliche, isn't it a bit late to be decrying unoriginality?

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Post by Dragon Master » June 14th, 2006, 9:55 pm

All the races in Wesnoth (even the drakes), are cliche, but do you want MORE cliches? Sure, making a totally new race is hard, but I believe it's much more satisfying and worth the effort than making a different species of an existing one.

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Post by Maeglin Dubh » June 15th, 2006, 1:23 am

Fantasy races are cliche because fantasy has made them that way. What's to stop someone from making a race of halfling serial killers? Or magic-loving dwarves? Or crude, barbaric, warlike elves? Most races in fantasy (and sci-fi) are or have become one dimensional. An interesting example of this can be seen in the portrayal of the Klingon and the Borg in Star Trek.
In the original series, the Klingons were an aggressive military superpower with expansionist ambitions. In the Cold War politics of the time, they obviously represented the USSR, while the Romulans just as obviously represented Red China. They appeared little different from us; they could be violent, aggressive, sly, cloying, or deceptive, just like us. But at the end of "Errand of Mercy", Kor reflected wistfully upon the grand battle that never was: "it would have been glorious!" Oh, from such humble beginnings did such a vast mythology grow ...

What started as an enemy superpower with a mysterious but familiar alien culture became a farcical one-note alien society concocted around comic-book interpretations of ancient Norsemen and a not-so-subtle, rather disturbing white supremacist theme of subhuman, dark-skinned uncivilized savages. Before too long, it became a caricature of itself: Worf's pathetic obsession with the most garish aspects of Klingon history became the entirety of Klingon culture. It got so bad that we eventually saw the leadership of the entire Klingon Empire decided by a knife fight!
When we were first introduced to the Borg in "Q Who", they appeared to be a race of cyborg techno-scavengers. There was no hint of assimilation; we saw birthing rooms where baby drones were being grown in incubators, and Q explained that they were not interested in humans, or the Federation. They wanted only the Enterprise. They were technological "users", who apparently wandered space in search of useful technology to take from its owners by force. They validated Q's claims in that episode by demonstrating their interest in technology over organic life, when their only reaction to the death of a comrade was to take some important bits of his technology back with them.

Now, instead of assimilating key personnel in order to facilitate their goal of turning humans into a slave race ("to service us") and stealing all of the Federation's technology, assimilation is the entire raison d'etre of their society! All of a sudden, they're friggin' vampires! They lurch through the corridors of the Enterprise-E like extras from Night of the Living Dead, and when they seize their prey, they sink their fangs, er- "assimilation tubules" into their necks, leaving two nice little fang-marks, er- "assimilation tubule punctures". Instead of assimilating their victims through surgical procedures (as in "Best of Both Worlds"), they pollute your blood with nanoprobes (more parallels with vampires, who drink some of your blood and leave the rest in an undead state). Best of all, when you kill the head vampire, er- "Borg Queen", all of the other vampires, er- "drones" die too.
Taken from an essay by Michael Wong on 'brain bugs' in science fiction.

These are just examples of what I mean. It's gotten to the point where you can't mention halflings without thinking of thieves. So, my advice isn't to create a new race, but to redefine an existing race. If anyone is interested, I have an article by Mike Bourke on rewriting existing fantasy races. He wrote ogres as civil engineers, orcs as militant Greenies.... You don't -have- to remain within the strictures of predefined fantasy.
Cuyo Quiz wrote:I really should push for Temuchin's brainstorming with all my might someday, when the skies are cloudy, the winds dance and the light is free to roam over the soil along the fog.

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Post by JW » June 15th, 2006, 2:03 am

Very nice Maeglin. That was perfect.

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Post by irrevenant » June 15th, 2006, 11:30 am

Maeglin Dubh wrote:Fantasy races are cliche because fantasy has made them that way. What's to stop someone from making a race of halfling serial killers? Or magic-loving dwarves? Or crude, barbaric, warlike elves? Most races in fantasy (and sci-fi) are or have become one dimensional. An interesting example of this can be seen in the portrayal of the Klingon and the Borg in Star Trek. [...]
These are just examples of what I mean. [...] So, my advice isn't to create a new race, but to redefine an existing race. If anyone is interested, I have an article by Mike Bourke on rewriting existing fantasy races. He wrote ogres as civil engineers, orcs as militant Greenies.... You don't -have- to remain within the strictures of predefined fantasy.
Fantasy races are cliche because that is what readers/gamers expect. The reason not to change that (without very good reason) is that it violates the (unspoken) shared understanding between reader and author. eg. The fact that Wesnoth has cliched Elves, Dwarves, Orcs & Humans allows the average player to easily understand the setting without reading 100 pages of backstory. More importantly, they make gameplay decisions (or read into a novel in a certain way) based on the terms you have used and the shared cultural baggage of those terms.

For these reasons, I generally disagree with redefining an existing race. If you want to create a race that violates everything we know about elves, why call them "elves" in the first place? Change the name and you remove the assumptions; Dragonlance's Kender are a good example of using this approach to good effect.

Ideally a non-human race would have approximately as much variety as the human race. However they are non-human, so that range should be centred around different norms and with different minimums and maximums.
eg. The orcs may range from individuals as passionate as an exuberant human to feral beings driven completely by their passions. The Elves may range from patient ("let's ponder this a while before we act") to glacial ("Meh, they'll all be dead in a century or so anyway"). etc.

I suspect any interesting non-human race will be 'cliche' to some extent simply because their range of norms falls (at least mostly) to one side of human experience. If a race is as diverse as humans in much the same range they're not an inhuman race; they're "guys in suits". Conversely, if a race falls outside the normal human range of (eg.) anger, they'll be 'cliched' as "a hotheaded race" or "a placid race".

One way to make an interesting 'alien' race would be to give them a broad range in an area where humans are comparatively homogenous. Of course, as humans, this is an area which we have trouble identifying. A simple example would be a race which varies in height from 12" to 12' tall rather than the relatively limited 5'-7' human range.
Maeglin Dubh wrote:It's gotten to the point where you can't mention halflings without thinking of thieves.
That's kind of an ironic example because historically halflings are amongst the most diverse of the fantasy races. Historically, they tend to be peaceful agricultural homebodies (much like hobbits, funnily enough) but can overcome that given enough incentive. Their small size and agile hands make them well suited to be thieves, but being a thief is hardly a racial trait and most of them would rather not, if given the alternative.

BTW, a 'race of halfling serial killers' aren't any less 1-dimensional than a race of halfling thieves; you're just creating a different cliche. If you want to avoid cliche, create a new race and make them diverse.

BTW II, There are plenty of fascinating stories to be told working within the 'cliche' that is a (non-human fantasy) race's normal range of behaviours.
The majority of novels feature only humans (no Orcs, Dwarves, etc.) behaving in 'clichedly' human ways; yet most authors manage to make their novels plenty interesting without 'redefining' humanity to expand their range.

[edit] BTW III, Wow that's long. It didn't feel that long when I was writing it. :?

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Post by Maeglin Dubh » June 15th, 2006, 4:03 pm

The halfling serial killers was stretching it, I admit. And any one-dimensional race would be just as bad as what exists now.

The redefinition doesn't have to be diametric to what is already assumed. The redefinition of the ogres came about with the thought that drow elves had supplied the ogres with a mind-altering medication. When they went off the meds, they gradually became smaller, smarter, calmer, and went on to become excellent engineers.

Going totally contrary to existing conventions is one way of redefining a race, but it isn't recommended, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Sorry if that's the idea I was putting across... The trick is to add dimension to a race without destroying it entirely.

But here we're not discussing novels, but new factions; which is why I raised redefinition in the first place. Later today, I might go into redefining a particular race just for kicks, and an example. Since I'm leaving tomorrow, I won't have time to actually make a faction. But if someone likes the idea, they can run with it.
Cuyo Quiz wrote:I really should push for Temuchin's brainstorming with all my might someday, when the skies are cloudy, the winds dance and the light is free to roam over the soil along the fog.

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Post by Steelclad Brian » June 15th, 2006, 6:12 pm

I think some of the new race-variants do do a good job of expanding the race rather than re-inventing it or changing it for the sake of changing it. The desert elves still revere nature and even have sacred trees, it's just in a desert such things are far more precious. They've adapted to their surroundings without losing the characteristics that made them elves in the first place.

The Steppe Orcs work a in a similiar way, simply being Orcs in a different environment with a different culture because of that. The Steppe Orcs in fact are one of my favorite of the new races. They do everything right - they have a place in the setting, they don't disrupt the game world by their insertion, they are coherent both as a barebones concept and as a fleshed out race.

I'll also add I think that even those races that do not fit my criteria for a "good wesnoth" race are not necessarily bad - some of them are in fact very cool. I think the Sidhe, for example, have a very nice concept and great execution (art-wise at least, I haven't gotten a chance to play with them). What frustrates me with them in fact, is I would love to use the Sidhe in a campaign, but they really appear to exist outside of Wesnoth.

I have conveyed criticism towards races that fail to really gel with Wesnoth not because I want those races "scuttled" or destroyed, but because it frustrates me that as a campaign designer I cannot use them as easily. I'd like to see more effort made to integrate races into Wesnoth because it allows for campaign designers to make them "real" within the gameworld.

As much as I like Neorice's chaos unit designs, it is unlikely I'm going to want to use a knock-off games workshop army in a campaign.

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Post by turin » June 15th, 2006, 6:22 pm

Strange - I would have said that the Desert Elves appear to exist much more "outside Wesnoth" than the Sidhe. (I agree with your assessment of the Steppe Orcs, BTW.) The Sidhe exist on the Old Continent - outside of Wesnoth, true, but not outside the World of Wesnoth. And there are already two campaigns set on the Old Continent (as opposed to the Great Continent, where Wesnoth is). I don't see how you can say the Sidhe are "outside Wesnoth" if by that you mean they have no place in the WoW.

This is, however, simply a disagreement over a specific faction... in general I agree with your point. To me, the Desert Elves, the Chaos faction, most of the new human factions, and the Era of Myths (plus the Drakes) all seem to not really have a place in Wesnoth.

Actually, I'd be interested in what you think about my attempt at a history of the WoW... in it, I attempt to show how the IE factions fit into the WoW. download it here.
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Post by Steelclad Brian » June 15th, 2006, 7:13 pm

turin wrote:Strange - I would have said that the Desert Elves appear to exist much more "outside Wesnoth" than the Sidhe. (I agree with your assessment of the Steppe Orcs, BTW.) The Sidhe exist on the Old Continent - outside of Wesnoth, true, but not outside the World of Wesnoth. And there are already two campaigns set on the Old Continent (as opposed to the Great Continent, where Wesnoth is). I don't see how you can say the Sidhe are "outside Wesnoth" if by that you mean they have no place in the WoW.

This is, however, simply a disagreement over a specific faction... in general I agree with your point. To me, the Desert Elves, the Chaos faction, most of the new human factions, and the Era of Myths (plus the Drakes) all seem to not really have a place in Wesnoth.
I was actually pointing out that the Desert Elves were good because of the way they re-imagine the race while remaining coherent. The Desert Elves are exactly how you would expect Wesnoth elves living in the desert to be.

I do not believe the Sidhe have a place in Wesnoth, because Wesnoth to me is the well-established continent of Wesnoth where the people from Wesnoth live and Wesnoth each other Wesnoth Wesnoth. I fail to see how "They live on this continent way far away" is any more or less arbitrary than "They live in the far, far future". The point is that either way they cannot interact with the mainstream Wesnoth universe without extreme convolutions of the plot, and the role that the Sidhe play (wood elves) is already covered by the normal elves.

Also, to be honest, I have no idea what this Great Continent is or that the Sidhe live there. I would be interested in reading your History of Wesnoth thing though, thankyou.

edit: uh Old Continent.

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Post by Disto » June 15th, 2006, 7:37 pm

Steelclad Brian wrote:
I do not believe the Sidhe have a place in Wesnoth, because Wesnoth to me is the well-established continent of Wesnoth where the people from Wesnoth live and Wesnoth each other Wesnoth Wesnoth. I fail to see how "They live on this continent way far away" is any more or less arbitrary than "They live in the far, far future". The point is that either way they cannot interact with the mainstream Wesnoth universe without extreme convolutions of the plot, and the role that the Sidhe play (wood elves) is already covered by the normal elves.

Also, to be honest, I have no idea what this Great Continent is or that the Sidhe live there. I would be interested in reading your History of Wesnoth thing though, thankyou.

edit: uh Old Continent.
They are not wood elves :roll:, in any sense, plus also they used to live on Wesnoth itself, but for reasons I really can't remember left it.

Heres the history, It seems... lacking... https://opensvn.csie.org/ImperialEra/Im ... ra/HISTORY
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