Weekly Update – 3/28/18

Hello, Internet!

This week’s been fairly successful, I’d like to think. Not a lot of reading done, but plenty of writing. Turns out games can be work, too!


Reading

This past week, I’ve continued to spend time reading from my anthology of Ursula LeGuin’s science fiction novels. I’m still chipping away at Planet of Exile, the second novel in the collection. This is the novel I compared to George R.R. Martin’s world Westeros, the setting of A Song of Ice and Fire, because they each have exaggerated seasons on an Earth-like world.

I don’t have much new to say about Planet of Exile, but I will note that the world feels more vivid than I recall Westeros being, last I read Martin’s books. Even if the seasons last years, last decades, or longer on Westeros, the world itself doesn’t seem deeply impacted by them. Westeros is still, in essence, medieval or Renaissance Europe. In contrast, Werel – the “planet” in Planet of Exile – feels much more vivid to me because its inhabitants are driven by the slow, deadly movement of seasons.

The trees collapse for the winter, the humans build a city, which will be abandoned by spring, and roam as nomads for decades, until winter nears again. On the other hand, in Westeros we just get passing comments about stockpiling food for winter. The politics and nations are lively and realistic, but they’re Earth-like, not Westeros-like. The people are Werel are realistic to Werel.

I’ve also just recently started skimming through Greek Religion, by Walter Burket. It’s a survey text (my edition is a 1985 English translation from German) exploring the physical and textual evidence for Greek religion from the era of prehistory and Mycenaean Greece through the Classical age. I’m not planning to read this thoroughly, cover to cover, but to browse it. I’m quite familiar with organized monotheism, but I don’t know a lot about organized polytheism in general, and ancient polytheism in particular.

I’d also like to find a book on Sumerian or Babylonian religion, to look at some different modes of worship within the same era, but it’s not a high priority at the moment. My goal in looking at these texts is to try stockpiling a general pile of tidbits for rearranging and tinkering when creating my own world’s religions. I’ve got some very bare basics, but a greater understanding of Earth’s religious history hopefully will help me develop more believable religions for Akhelas.


Writing

This past week, I’ve been working on an Akhelas setting for the Pathfinder tabletop game. I ran a session of Pathfinder in the setting this past Sunday, and I think it went well. I don’t have the setting finished yet, but I’m liking the progress. I’ve been outlining a religious structure, a few cultures, and backgrounds that players can create characters from. My goal was to have a system in place where players can fairly easily figure out what their characters believe, what they can do, and what their place in society was before they tried becoming heroes.

Worlds tend to grow when even the least bit of attention is given to them. It’s a process where I don’t think it’s likely that the work is ever really done. It just gets done enough.

I’m not quite at a point where I can say “done enough” on the game setting for Akhelas. I have structure set out, but not filled in. It’s a little like having an outline, but without the different points detailed. I’d like to spend more time working on this, until I can say more confidently that I have a complete, basic system finished.

However, this is the last week of my current class for my Master’s, so that means homework. I’ve got to complete a revision of my excerpt from Jiharel (which, yes, is in the Akhelas setting – basically everything I work on currently has the same world). I also need to create an annotated bibliography of “influential books” on me. So, basically Tolkien, Sanderson, Bryan Jacques, and a few others.

Easy enough stuff, but time consuming. Finishing up my work on this class must be my writing goal this week.


In Review

Last Week: Write every day (working on the Akhelas setting), and chip away at reading Planet of Exile. Complete!

This Week: Finish work on the Fiction seminar for my MFA, and keep reading Planet of Exile, as well as skimming Greek Religion.

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