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"From his position outside of the narrative, he can bear witness to all that transpires within." --FanOfMostEverything

More Blog Posts52

  • 1 week
    For the Glory of All Yaks

    The title of this post is apparently what "For the Benefit of Yaks" translates to in French. Well, maybe not perfectly, but I approve regardless.

    I mention this because For the Benefit of Yaks has actually been translated into French!

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    1 comments · 28 views
  • 19 weeks
    Story Notes - For the Benefit of Yaks

    Admiral Biscuit does it all the time, so why shouldn’t I?  Unlike him, though, I’m not good at finding cute ponies to space things out with, so have a picture of the cover.  Again.

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    8 comments · 116 views
  • 49 weeks
    The Most Important Thing?

    In the last year, I've finally acknowledged the obvious: There is a difference between "I want to write but don't have much time" and "I write despite the fact that I don't have much time".

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    5 comments · 86 views
  • 58 weeks
    Telling Time (Mark II): Holidays

    Continuing on this line of work, this edition of the Equestrian calendar documents major holidays. Also included are a few notes on pegasus/earth pony weeks.

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    3 comments · 104 views
  • 60 weeks
    Telling Time: Mark I

    I am very much not the most productive person on this site, but I promise I've been doing something with my time! Sure, I don't really have much of the next story I've been working on to show for it, but that's because I've been working on the research (if you could call it that) behind it a lot more than I have been working on writing it. This is one of those things.

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    4 comments · 122 views

Unhinging · 2:56am Jul 6th, 2018

Hey, everybody!

Part of what pushed me over the fence and into writing this post is that Present Perfect has been reading and reviewing Unhinged entries in his minifics reviews. In a recent (as of the time of writing this) post, I couldn’t help but smile a bit at what he had to say:

And of course, seeing the gobbledygook that SNAITF had to build a story out of is always the right way to end one of these.

I’ve done this a few times now, so I should have some idea what I’m doing. The truth is that I’m not sure that I do. Nonetheless, I’m writing this post with the next Unhinged entry (you may wish to read it first) in an attempt to explain what goes on in my mind to make a decidedly-incoherent RoboFoME card into a probably-coherent story. Consider yourself warned.

Well, ideally, I fetch a card, break it down, move the pieces around into something I want to write, and put it all together. In some cases, especially after the first handful (how did I ever write one a day for any amount of time?), I have spent a fair amount of time sitting on a card until some sort of inspiration strikes. Debt (Or: Trial by Fire) and Daring Do and the Ancient Outpost are both cases where I had a half-baked idea and merged it with another prompt, giving the completed story.

Now, the card. Early on, I figured I would let myself pass on a card only once or twice, with some sort of reason, before settling on a card to base a story on. Ideally, I would “use it wisely” when it came to skipping cards. Later on, I admit I’ve been rather loose on that; reconciling my limited free time for writing with my desire to write lead to skipping more cards that didn’t seem as obvious or, more often, touched on characters or topics I didn’t want to bother with at the time.

It’s also too easy to get sucked into generating a bunch of cards just to see what comes up.

I’d like to get back to a limited number of passes, because the idea for Unhinged was to give me prompts to expand my writing horizons, rather than abuse the RNG and only accept prompts within my comfort zone. For this blog’s sake, I’ll try, but I make no promises. My free time/mental presence is better than it has been in a while, but I may still have some cobwebs to brush off.

Before I start generating cards, I’ve got a folder for the Unhinged entries in Google Docs, and I’d like to have a document ready for pasting into.

Apparently, Daring Do and the Ancient Outpost is living in there too.

For my sanity, they’re all numbered (01, 02, 03...). The rest of the title will be the title of the card and and “tags” I think are most applicable, which is probably obvious at this point.

On to RoboFoME! (I have it bookmarked.)

It’s neat to see that hawthornbunny put in a shout-out for Unhinged there, and it also makes me feel a little guilty for not writing more. I guess that’s fair.

“Generate a Card!”


Here’s what I got:

Resident Elders' Map


Enchantment — Wurm
Whenever a suspend made in your library.)

Countered this turn, all is attention at all that shaves in the battlefield this turn.

U: Tap target creature your hand, they’re face down.

"If ponies' face."
—Twilight’s all the deadly.

It’s not super wordy and it’s not overly sparse, either, so I suppose I can give it a try. I have my guess, but I wonder what exactly a “Wurm” is. I trust FoME, but not so much RoboFoME.

This is one of those things I type into a search engine, just in case. I turned “cornic” into “dogwood” into “timberwolves” for Daring Do and the Ancient outpost.

“Wurm Online” isn’t what I’m looking for, but Wiktionary has a page on it, and we get some definitions that are roughly what I expected:

worm, maggot, grub

(poetic, heraldry) wyrm, lindworm, dragon, snake, serpent, reptile

It seems I can take this in the direction of high fantasy if I so desired. Who’d have guessed?

Now I have my card and I’m planning to make it into a story. I don’t know what that story is going to look like in the slightest, yet.

The next step is to parse the card.

The obvious bits are pulled out first. The title, flavor text, creature type, etcetera. Things I notice are a map of some sort, Twilight, Wurms, “Enchantment” (which I’m going to interpret loosely as “magic” as necessary), and between “deadly” and “battlefield”, there’s probably some fighting.

After that, less obvious things are going to be taken into account, such as the mana colors involved. I very loosely know what each color (and colorless) represents, so why not let that be a more general influence on the story?

As I try and parse the card more completely (though by no means exhaustively), I might skip “obvious” cues for others that fit into what has already been parsed more. Sometimes I have to strike ideas and parse the card or parts of it in a new context, but sometimes it starts working together… honestly, better than I ever expected.

With the card in its own document, I spend some time parsing it and get this:

Magic Wurms, possibly dragons, possibly a draconic enchantement; something eldritch (possibly the Wurm/enchantment); Twilight, research in the library at some point (possibly on the Wurm/enchantment); map may be tied to Twilight’s research, may also have similarly eldritch qualities; if wurm, there may be a battle; if wurm enchantment, may only be deadly potential (artifact hunt); something related to Twilight controlling the enchantment/wurm;

I figure I might as well dive all the way into the rabbit hole. Here’s what parts of the card led to which bits of that… “list”:

“xx” – colorless mana (I assume? The wiki says it should be a star, but it’s clearly not colored or generic mana (FoME will correct me if I’m wrong)). I understand it is associated with the Eldrazi that used to live in between planes. In short, it’s the eldritch stuff.

“Resident Elder’s Map” – this also supports the idea of an eldritch aspect in the story. Based on other parts of this, I’m thinking Twilight finds a map that will lead her to the eldritch something. Who the “Resident Elders” are, I don’t yet know.

“Enchantement — Wurm” – Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the scene where Twilight and Cadance are fighting a Tatzlwurm. We could end up doing something like that, but the other seemingly likely option is having Twilight hunt for an artifact that bears a draconic (thus satisfying “wurm”) enchantment. I haven’t yet decided, and both could satisfy the eldritch aspect.

“Library” – Sometimes I can pull in words at face value. Just toss in mention of or a scene within a library and this one will be satisfied.

“Twilight’s” – Again, we’ll just have Twilight involved. In this case, we don’t have any topics or settings that would encourage other characters be more of a focus than she, so I’m guessing that Twilight is going to be a central character for the time being.

“deadly.” – This could easily be a deadly wurm or the deadly potential of a powerful artifact in the wrong hooved (or even the right ones). Either way I choose, this should easily be satisfied.

“U: Tap target creature your hand, they’re face down.” – Let’s stick with “U” and “target creature” for the moment. “U” is blue mana, which we can correlate with control. Presumably, at this point, this has something to do with Twilight controlling the “target creature”. This might seem to apply more to a wurm than an artifact, but the blue mana is there regardless. I should probably look up tapping mechanics to see if there’s any clarity to be found there.

Beyond those, there are words like “Countered”, “attention”, “shaves”, and “face” that come up in the card. They don’t seem to have large-scale influence on the plot, so I’ll put those aside and draw upon them for smaller details where appropriate. I don’t always use everything on the card, though, and as you can see, we’re already pretty loosely inspired by parts of it.

All in all, not a bad start, especially for the first card generated. I have definitely had harder times getting things even this far. Next, we’re going to have to plan out our story much like if it were a completely normal story. At this point, it almost is.

In this case, I still have a decision to make between “wurm” and “draconic artifact”, and the consequences of one path versus another are sufficiently significant that I’m going to want to clear that up before I do too much else. This is the phase where I have left cards sitting the longest, waiting for inspiration to strike. At least this time I have too much, rather than not enough, so I doubt it’ll take very long.

As it is getting late for me (as of writing this), I am fairly certain the best thing that I can do is go to bed and tackle it tomorrow evening. Other options may make themselves known by that time. Fortunately for you guys, you have the benefit of having that knowledge presented shortly below this line break:

Two days later, I still don’t have time to focus on writing the entry. I did have a stray thought about it, though. As there’s nothing stopping me from using ideas that aren’t present on the card, and the purpose of these stories is to experiment a bit, I’ve added the following line to my notes:

“Possibly a gemstone vein in the dragonlands(?) with extra latent magic.”

Maybe it’s not the satisfying resolution that you might have been expecting, but I’ve cleared up some of my own uncertainty, so there shouldn’t be anything much in the way of me and outlining/writing the story now.

Aside from time.

At this point, I pretty much just need to start writing.

Here is the paragraph/outliney-thing that I wrote, which is loose and I already think some of the details are a little off and I won’t be following verbatim anyway:

Ember contacts Twilight. There’s a problem in the Dragonlands: a tunneling tatzlwurm seems to have grown bigger and stronger and has harassed several grown dragons – a bold behavior for such a wurm. Twilight asks after why it is an issue for the entirety of the dragonlands, and Ember (regrettably) takes her to an ancient map of the dragonlands carved by some of the oldest dragons showing that it tunnelled into a deposit of highly-draconic gems, a node in a web of magic energy. This seems to have given it draconic properties in excess of any other tatzlwurm, and even some dragons. The first fight didn’t go so well. Neither did the second…

Those of you who have seen Molt Down probably see the supporting worldbuilding, but I hardly think it counts as a spoiler.

Finally (something like a month after I started), the story is done, or at least nearly done, so I can point out how some of the words on the card ended up in the story.

“library” did end up being a literal inclusion – if you use ctrl+f on the story, it’ll come up once.

“Countered this turn” lead to the first attempt at stopping the tatzlwurm failing.

“shaves” is a near-literal inclusion – “crystal shavings” make an appearance.

“they’re face down” and “If ponies’ face” – near the end of the first attempt, I figured if Twilight passed out, dragons probably didn’t have good hospitality skills. Thus, Twilight wakes up face down on a solid floor.

“XX” – that colorless mana that I could be wrong about. I figured Sombra’s dark magic fits both this and the crystals in the story.

“battlefield” – do I even have to say? Likewise with “Twilight’s all the deadly.”

I don’t know enough about Magic to say what ‘tapping’ would translate into, so I’ll leave it to FoME to determine if that looks present in the story.

The map and wurm should be obvious as well.

The one thing on the card that I know I didn’t at any point explicitly try to include is “Whenever a suspend”.

And that’s roughly how an Unhinged entry gets put together.

I should thank Bugsydor, Georg, and Admiral Biscuit for helping make this happen (despite my writing funk) by offering their encouragement, advice, and cattle-prodding me. Well, they didn’t actually prod me with anything, and that’s probably why this took so long.

Report SirNotAppearingInThisFic · 184 views · Story: Unhinged ·
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Comments ( 8 )

I read that as 'Enchantment - Wum'

"What's that noise?" Twilight put a bookmark in her book and looked around the library. "Sounded like something started up."

Spike shrugged and kept reading his comic. "Dunno. Started when we got that last card. Happens every hour or so."

You were pretty much correct on the wurm thing. In Magic, they're mostly reptilian and serpentine, though some are more on the wormy end of the spectrum.

The X's are, in fact, generic mana, in an amount specified as you cast the spell. WotC Customer Service used to get a lot of calls about X-spells, to the point that they made a card about it in their first silver-bordered set

Yeah, the X is a variable cost. It actually fits quite nicely with Twilight's comment about not going all in on a magic blast next time.

Tapping generally indicates that someone or -thing is temporarily unavailable. They're asleep, uncharged, stuck in traffic, etc.

GS and nemryn have pretty much covered everything I might have explained. Also, I'm honestly not sure if you knowing more about Magic terminology would help or hinder Unhinged, given how you take some parts of the cards in directions I'd never think of.

4895697 4895776
Thanks for clearing that up. Good to know I'm not the only one that confused, I guess.

My hunch with tapping was that Twilight passing out would fulfill that, but I wasn't sure.

Between these and your comment on the story, it looks like I bumbled my way into writing a surprisingly more Magic-appropriate story than I suspect I could have on purpose.

I would probably forget parts of it or just never really wrap my head around it all unless I actually start playing Magic. Given that you take your own stories in directions I wouldn't have thought of, that may remain a difference between us regardless.

... though I am curious: what's an example of my writing in a direction you wouldn't think of?

For one, treating "battlefield" as a term with that much martial important. I'm too used to it as simply meaning "in play" to consider the non-card game meaning.

Author Interviewer

Wow, that's pretty complex! :O I'm still surprised anyone can do this. XD

I'm more surprised at the rate of HR reviews I get for them (… which'd be any at all).

... I kind of want to write more of them (and maybe a few other minifics that'd probably appear as blog posts), but I've got only so much time so so many things to do with it. :fluttershyouch:

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