8 Nov 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 1

Thank you for bearing with me over the past few weeks.  Life got complex, but the commentary is back, even with NaNo going on.

Two weeks back, the first chapter of The Elf's Prisoner appeared.  This was my 2015 NaNo effort.  Fair warning right now - it's incomplete.  Not incomplete like The Soul Blade or The Devil You Know, both of which were just chapters from being completed.  No, The Elf's Prisoner ends at maybe the first third.  The story got away from me.  That's what happens when you pants not just the plot but also the world building.  Epic fantasy does need some prep work, especially if going out beyond a village.

First thing I decided was how elven names were spelled.  JRR Tolkien has had a huge influence on elven names, with names like Galadriel and Arwen.  However, this time around, I wanted to make the names more mine.  The best way I had was to use existing languages and tweak them.  This decision for the elves led to other choices that gave me new insights on the peoples of my slowly forming world.  My elves are using tweaked Polish names for their given name.  Thus, they now feel more real, at least to me.

Jyslyn, though, predates that decision.  Jyslyn dates from 1985, with the release of Unearthed Arcana for AD&D 1st edition, with the name coming from 1991 supplement, Drow of the Underdark.  And for those wondering if she's another Drizzt Do'Urden, she predates him.  Sure, the idea of the atoning drow is old.  Atonement is a common motivation for characters.  The other difference is her build.  In AD&D 1st edition, non-human and demi-human characters could mult-class, taking two or three classes at once, though gaining levels very slowly.  With Jyslyn, I saw that a drow PC could become a magic-users/thief.  There's one catch.  Drow men could be better wizards than drow women, and both had level limits.  Jyslyn could pick up levels of wizard, but would be stopped at fourth or fifth.  Thus, multi-classing as a thief, where she could at least keep up with the rest of the party somehow.

That's just mechanics, though.  The character comes out in the why.  Why is Jyslyn dabbling in magic?  Why is she good at sneaking around?  Why is she leaving her home?  The first two, I'll answer now.  Jyslyn will answer why she left her home in a later chapter.  Why dabble in magic and why sneak?  The two are related.  Jyslyn was fascinated by magic as a young elf girl.  She managed to sneak around to spy on classes where she could learn how to cast spells.  At first, she was caught and punished, which made her more determined to be careful.

Kazimier is a priest of the Lightbringer.  The gods in the world go by many names across the unnamed land.  Priest can pray for help, getting spells as needed.  I did want to avoid turning the story into a D&D clone.  It's difficult when one of the characters starts from that game.  But I wanted my world to be mine.  Spells may be inspired by the game, but how they work aren't.  Kazi's spell to understand Jyslyn had an effect that made it clear that it came from the Lightbringer.  Healing was done with a magical salve instead of a major casting.  The difference is spell casting was definitely a challenge for me.

I have since done some worldbuilding for the story.  Normally, yes, the worldbuilding comes first, but that's what happens when you choose a story with minutes to go before November 1st arrives.  Some of the worldbuilding was just noting what I had done.  Some of it, though, was extrapolating what I wanted to see how the world fleshed out.  I may be making some edits along the way to adjust the story to how the world should be.

Friday, elsewhere in the land, others are running into similar problems, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 3.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, still on hiatus.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, the importance of casting in adaptations.

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