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> Laney: Investigate rumbling

Previously on GoldStruck!

This is a collaboration with Dither.

> Laney: Investigate rumbling.

Whatever is going on, it doesn’t have anything to do with your SISTER’S strange methods of house-cleaning. The noise is clearly coming from outside. She is still making noise inside, but you are very attuned to the rumblings of THINGS.

You change your Chattervine status to ‘preserves’ and then walk over to look out a window. It’s unlikely that you’ll see anything. The STUDY is poorly situated, and only has windows to let in what little light can get through the trees.

When you tell your friends that you live in the middle of an ORCHARD, you usually don’t tell them that the description is fairly literal.

> Look out window.

You see the foliage and fruit of an apple tree.

> Go outside.

To do that, you’d have to pass through the living room, where your SISTER is still cleaning.

Just because she has never asked you to help clean house before is no reason to expect your SISTER to pass up such an opportunity now. There must be another way to see what’s happening outside.

> Open window and climb out.

Easier said than done. The tree’s branches scratch against the window as you lift the pane up from the ledge, resisting your efforts.

With much grunting and straining, you manage to get the window open and keep it that way. But your view is not much improved, nor are you likely to stick anything bigger than your hand out the window.

>

With a whipping sound that startles you into a foetal position on the ground, a tree branch snaps through the open window. It juts into the room like a gnarled poke in the eye.

Having rearranged itself thus, the tree apears to have made enough room for you to climb out onto its branches.

> Climb tree.

Unfortunately, it’s immediately clear that the only way you can climb is up. The branches grow too close together, and although it isn’t a long way to the ground, you don’t want to break your neck on the branches.

So you climb up, glad that the STUDY is almost directly beneath your room. Climbing to the top of the tree actually puts you in easy reach of one of the holes in your wall.

> Enter bedroom through hole in wall.

You punch through the back of the poster covering the hole. Your blow takes out the face of the female protagonist from ABSOLUTELY LAST ADVENTURE XVII. Although you have no way of seeing this, you peek through the hole and momentarily have giant two-dimensional BREASTS.

Then you tear through the rest of the poster.

> Using bedroom vantage point, assess siuation outside.

You are about to do that when you notice something weird about your bedroom.

Everything has been moved. The pile of ART SUPPLIES has been organised around your EASEL, and your RECORDS are neatly stacked beside the RECORD PLAYER. A closer look reveals that they have been alphabetised.

All of your ELEPHANTS have even been set up according to SIZE and a sliding scale of REALISM and CARTOON FAKERY. Yet your bed is unmade.

> Marvel at SISTER’S house-cleaning skills.

There is no way your SISTER did this. She would have made the bed. She would have made the bed first.

This seems worth reporting to your friend. Perhaps he will have a hypothesis. Even though he has never believed you about the ELDRITCH TERRORS. He’s a smart guy.

> Climb back down tree to use COMPUTER.

Why? You have a COMPUTER right here in your bedroom.

Granted, there is a KNIFE sticking out of the monitor, but it still works. You just can’t see everything on the screen.

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Turn down the angst, please

Too many times, I’ve been reading a great story or novel with complex characters and deeply fleshed out relationships, only to be slapped in the face with a sopping tragedy.

This tragedy is always unwelcome.

Not just because it’s never enjoyable reading, no matter how good the writer’s style and voice are. No, what bothers me the most is why it’s there.

One example that I have strongly in mind is actually similar to something that I have done. One of the main characters, well-known for his cool indifference and outward equanimity, is in a committed relationship but somehow still has trouble saying “I love you” or using the word “boyfriend” to describe himself.

Rather than going into why this might change–the reasons for his feeling like this were already abundantly clear and well-explained–we get a tragic backstory.

The backstory dump did change his relationship situation. But why? It’s stupid. His girlfriend was already committed to him. She was actually hanging onto him and silently shouldering the effect his issues had on her. This guy developing past the known reasons for his commitment and vocabulary problems would really have been the order of the day.

Instead, I got more tragedy. He lived on the streets for a while and the scars persist to this day. I’m not going to diminish this real-life issue by saying something crass like “Boo hoo”. That isn’t the point and it isn’t how I feel. How I feel is that this was completely unnecessary and lazy writing.

His dark past is not the reason behind his present difficulty. It’s sort of tied in to other current story events, but they aren’t important events, and they are obviously there so that the dark past can be brought up. Like having a Christmas Episode so that the main character can exposit his sobstory about why he hates Christmas. Oy.

Maybe the idea is that sharing this sad thing in his life with his girlfriend would mean that he was able to open up to her and get them both to say I love you? I don’t buy it, if that’s the case.

It might come from the fact that this story was definitely written spontaneously. It’s a serial that doesn’t seem to have a chronology, just parts added in chronological order.

Still, it made me think. What I did that was similar was having a character something like that. He was a cool guy, indifferent and handsome. He was messed up seven ways from Tuesday, but for some reason he was really popular with readers. His troubles would come up from time to time, but they were still rather present difficulties in his life. Still very much in effect.

In his case, he had witnessed a horrible event which had set him on a path of therapy to beat the band. It was overdramatic and possibly even silly in retrospect. But I was a pretty dumb kid when I wrote it. I also never wrote it in the main story, just in notes and that kind of thing.

Still. I think I can say what might make someone use that kind of drama for a reveal or character development.

And since I have done it, I feel okay about decrying it. It is lazy, and it really looks like a dumb plea for attention. I knew someone in an RP who used it as exactly that.

Another character that I wrote much later, managed to skirt this issue. I’d like to think of that as a sign of growth.

This second character was an adult who had left his troublesome past behind in his childhood. It was still a bit dramatic, but if I were to write him into a new story, then I’d say that he was a willful child and his father was a bit heavy-handed. That this went too far once, and his mother kicked his father out as a result. That she had no way of knowing that some bumps and bruises were not just because her son climbed every tree and played in the street.

He was seven when his father broke his arm. He was seven when his father left. When he told his friends about this, he was fairly shruggy about it. Some tried to insult his father, and he would have none of it. He was an adult. He was okay.

People are like that. Do we really want to keep reading about the angst pots who moan on and create hints so that they can get a sobbing payoff? I know some people never get over some things. (hell’s bells do I ever know that) But some things just don’t work in fiction.

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GoldStruck Guide, an unnecessary collection of links

This is probably not one of those things I do that will just go away if you wait long enough, and I have been posting rather prolifically on the subject and within range of actually continuing the thing itself. As it is a cross-blog story (or whatever you would call it) and I don’t think Dither and I have any followers in common, I thought I would (belatedly) put together the occasional list of links so that people can read both sides of what is going on and therefore not be confused. Or at least be less confused.

GoldStruck is basically a Homestuck-themed game of Let’s Pretend. If I were a better artist with less arthritis, I would probably have insisted on drawing illustrations as in the “real thing”. But that would be time consuming and I’d probably be better off putting that kind of effort into something original anyway. So the prose just has to be enough.

We discussed doing this at great length, and I honestly thought it was going to be one of those things that sounds fun but we would never do it, until I checked my hubby’s blog and found that he had written a first entry. That entry has been linked to many times, but this is a links collection so here it is again.

I loved it, and I had just drawn Laney Coats, so I used her as my character to write the next one. Possibly my biggest reason for using her was that I had made a Homestuck joke when I posted the picture. It was not easy for me to write it, since I was at work where I have no internet. But I managed with the iPad2 and my phone as a wi-fi hotspot.

Soon after, Dither posted again, taking his turn. Things were going well.

Then my work day got really busy. I was out and about, and using the iPad for work so I couldn’t use it to write. My phone usually works fine for blog posts, but I had to keep putting it down and it was overheating like crazy because of it being one of the hottest days this summer. The battery expended itself faster than usual, and by the time I’d finished my second post, I had about 20% power left.

With barely enough battery power to read Dither’s next post (I was so annoyed at him for having reliable internet, air conditioning, and a computing device with a real keyboard. I’m such a brat), I reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to write again until I got home. And for once, I was not far ahead of him. Oh traffic.

But when I did get my chance to write, I had a blast. The lights finally went on, after a bit more playing around. Really, I probably could have strung out quite a lot of Laney’s intro before getting her to a computer, but I wanted to join paths with my hubby and I didn’t want to feel like I was keeping him waiting.

We had somewhere we had to be that night, so Dither scurried through another post. All the while with me promising I’d get Laney to a computer so we’d actually be playing together in a less misty sense. He finished right before we had to go, so that was awesome.

I was going to write when we got back, but it was super late so I just kind of passed out instead. But in the morning, I went straight for my computer. That was when Laney had an ALTERCATION with her SISTER. Hee.

Sometime later, Dither posted again. Finally leading up to the post where we would have to decide whose blog would play host.

Mine won. And then we had the lengthy problem of working out a chat log between our characters. We started it a bit aimless and had to pause to work some things out, and even then I still had to edit the chat beyond just removing Skype poop (names and timestamps so stupid). That took forever. All of it.

And then we had to do another! But this one was a little easier. Even though we ended up meandering, had a long discussion about future plans and had to re-roleplay the latter half of the chat. This log went on Dither’s blog. His turn to host it, I guess. We don’t really have anything formal set in place.

Followed by my favourite post of the day! I actually started writing it while I was writing digitalBlacksmith/Finn’s side of the chat. I started writing the thing about his being VERBOSE and ARROGANT in Notepad, then saved it as finntro.txt in case my computer crashed (again).

And now I feel like I should have written a brief character guide. There’s not a lot to tell so far.

Nick is a creature of comfort who is incredibly excited over downloading a specific new game, despite wrestling with his crippling negative mood rating.

Laney is a clumsy neurotic haunted by eldritch terrors who collects sharp knives and lives with her older sister in a dilapidated farmhouse.

Finn is a confident hacker who takes pleasure in petty rebellion such as software piracy and helps his uncle by feeding the dragon Libertina (whom they both hate).

There is a fourth character, but she has yet to appear. I hope this cleared some things up and that some people will be able to read future GoldStruck posts and enjoy them in spite of any confusion inherent with this cross-posting business. I’ll also try to link to previous posts on Dither’s blog when I upload new ones.

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GoldStruck: Enter name

Edit: Heh, forgot to say, this is a silly thing I’m doing with Dither.

A girl hides under her bed. It’s too dark to see what she looks like, but her previous appearance on this blog as a humble jpeg acts as a ready aid to memory. It’s stuffy and hot UNDER THE BED, and there is no light peeking in under the skirt of the bedsheet.

> Get out from under the bed.

No way!

How can you expect her to take orders when you don’t even know her name?

> Enter name.

LANEY COATS

> Be Laney.

Your name is LANEY. You are a scared TEENAGE GIRL hiding from a DEADLY BUGABOO. You have never actually seen one, but you know that they are REAL, unlike the mind-bogglingly fake GHOSTS that you know everything about.

A few minutes ago, the lights in your room went out, and you wasted no time darting under the bed, thanks to not being AN IDIOT. There are a lot of THINGS that lurk in the DARK. They’re not going to get you as long as you have anything to say about it.

> Get out from under the bed.

Weren’t you listening? There are THINGS out there! You’ll have to arm yourself first.

> Retrieve arms from under bed.

It’s too dark to look for your KNIVES. Even though you have a lot of them, and UNDER THE BED is where you keep them, it probably isn’t a good idea to just feel around for them.

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ITWYM? Karma (intro rewrite)

Not really the return to this that I would have liked, but an interesting idea all the same.

With such a clichéd beginning, it seems better to just throw out the entire thing and introduce a much more compelling premise. But that’s not quite the point. I feel compelled to delve deeper into just why I have such a big problem with this game’s intro, but that would just be dull.

So, striking a compromise. As there is not much richness to draw from and the game is a very simple platformer, I went with second person, present tense. A new call to adventure that hopefully feels less like a rejected Power Rangers script.

///

You sit at the end of the table, perusing one of your many texts. There is a television in your living room, but you have found it disconcerting of late. Too many breaks in the images. Too many headaches and troubling ideas. If you could only recognise the source of their inception, you might be willing to switch the telly on again, but you have no such reassurance.

Although you are not an avid reader, you do have a modest collection of books. Most of them you inherited when your father passed. He had not been much of a reader either, but he had apparently been interested in the cultivation of the mind. Much of the content in his books feels over your head, but you enjoy the diagrams and the occasional mad philosophy.

A knock at the door rouses your interest from the crisp pages. Leaving a bookmark in between a dissertation on the ease of human flight, you get up to see who it is.

Your home is in a bad part of town. There are many chains keeping you in and the rest of the world firmly out. You must hunt down six keys to release the chains if you wish to see who is attempting to visit you.

The question is, do you wish to have a visitor?

///

Then you could jump around looking for your keys, collecting the things–or, after a revolutionary fashion, you can choose not to hunt down the keys at all, and receive an effect that will actually move the story along a different path. Does that seem so difficult?

Should you hunt down the keys and open the door:

///

The door creaks as you open it, protesting at its unexpected use. You attempt to peek through, only to have the door slammed open. It strikes you on the nose. Tears spring to your eyes, and you stagger backwards.

A woman brandishing something thin and dark stands in your doorway. Her posture glows with confidence, and as you blink past your tears, you can see that she is conventionally beautiful. She barks something over her shoulder, in a harsh language you do not understand, and then a man several inches taller and wider than yourself enters your home. Hunched and menacing, he reaches for you.

You blanch, then leap for the pistol you keep hidden under the table.

Again, the woman speaks in that harsh language, and you find yourself unable to move. The large man looms over you, his figure so enormous that he casts a shadow over his own body. When he strikes you, you feel as though his shadow has swallowed you whole.

Sometime later, you awaken in a glass room. Your hair has been cut, and you are dressed in formal clothing that you have never seen before. A quick glance about the room reveals only a stark white bed, a curtained toilet facility, and a low table.

Gingerly, you sit on the edge of the bed, rubbing your face. A strange series of bumps and grooves meets your fingers. With a gasp, you realise that some kind of device has been attached to your head.

///

If you don’t answer the door, something else happens.

But am I making any kind of point? Drop the destiny nonsense. This here is a story about some everyday person being kidnapped to be used as a lab rat. Or something. He or she can rise to heroics through character development, truly deserve nobility instead of being forced into it because a prophecy/oracle/master said so. Or he/she can fail miserably, descending to the basest cowardice.