Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Seeds of a Character: Naros Miir, Part 2

In my last post, I began looking at the seeds that formed the character Naros Miir, which was also an exploration of how the city of Miir got its start. Today I look at how those ideas grew and changed to become the character you see today.

Summer, 2005: I decide to run a game set in Miir. Not only do I run this game on Shards, I also work out some ideas to run Miir in my Sunday night D&D group as a Ravenloft setting. Neither of these games goes very far. The Shards game stalls because getting a group of people on a chat-based client to meet regularly is like herding cats, so only a few things ever develop there. The Ravenloft game never gets past the character creation stage...instead, I wind up returning to the previous setting I was already running, my Rise of the Fallen campaign world.

However, the work I did for these stillborn games turn into canon for Miir. It was this period where I codified the Six Noble Houses, came up with several character ideas I'd use later, and develop the idea of Le Cirque d'Aberrations, the nightmare carnival where people are mutilated on stage for the pleasure of the gentry. There were no Caliban yet--that idea would develop thanks to the Ravenloft book (and later, the True20 RPG).

This was when I firmed up much of Miir's history.
The city was founded originally as a military garrison that guarded one of the very few navigable paths through the nearby mountains. When huge veins of gold, iron, and silver were discovered in the mountains after a giant earthquake, the town swelled in population. Within just a few short months, the place was a city, blessed with a mineral fortune and a chokehold on an important trade route. Since it was on the border of the kingdom's holdings, the Royalty couldn't keep close tabs on it, much as it wanted to, and the city grew into a seedy den of vice, scum, and villainy. And it was powerful. One of the nobles of the city, Naros Miir, desired to gain power over the city, from which he could build an empire, carving a claim from the weak monarchy. To do this, he needed support. He needed to control the city before he could rule an empire. And for that, he turned to Graumm.
 Naros Miir was, at this point, a ghost in the machine. He was the remnants of the mind of the first ruler of the city, who had built a device to control people's emotions by storing them and then playing the emotions back later. This device imprinted Naros' consciousness on it and became sentient. It began to manipulate the city's rulers through the emotion machine into creating policies that would ensure a steady stream of "food" for it through constant conflict and repression. This created a climate of intrigue and brutality that kept the machine fed, but limited its ability to create the empire it's ambitions demanded.

In these drafts, Naros Miir was an avatar of the Heart, an image projected by the machine to interact with normal people. The Shadows were manifested illusions that the heart generated to scare, mislead, and confuse the population, along with monsters that the Heart attracted to the city in order to breed fear of the darkness.

Sometime in 2006: I'm contacted by one Benjamin Midget, who runs a small company called Brushfire Press. He's recruiting authors for a bold experiment in collaborative worldbuilding called The World of Aldora. I love doing worldbuilding, so I checkout the site and create an author page. I decide to use Miir as my contribution to the Aldora project, and post a lot of my information from Shards and from the failed Ravenloft backstory. I take care to fit what I've written into the framework provided. I write a short story called "Alone in the Dark" about a thief being sentenced to spend seven nights fending off The Shadows.

Other writers on the site begin collaborating. A couple of authors take the stuff I've written about Miir and run with it, introducing excellent concepts. I chat and brainstorm with other writers, building ideas, sharpening concepts.

One of the major ideas I take from this is the concept of the Arani. The fey in Aldora are tied to certain natural objects. The fey get powers from this object, but are tied to it. If it gets destroyed or irrevocably altered somehow, the fairies tied to it die. I love this idea so much I incorporate it into the Miir mythos. Now the Heart of Miir is a corrupted Arani, and the Shadows become Shadow Fey, independent beings linked to the heart, drawing power from it. As I'm expanding "Alone in the Dark" into a full novella, I decide to use the Naros Miir ghost as the main antagonist. He changes from being an avatar of the heart to being a Shadow Fey, created from the Heart and based on the sentience within it but with his own independent existence and agenda. He is the first among equals in the Shadow Fey hierarchy, the incarnation of the city's first ruler and personification of Miir's nobility.

"Alone in the Dark" is what eventually becomes the First Night of The Tale of The Exile. In my first draft, Naros was more of an antagonist, and Gaven eventually got pulled into a fight with him. This didn't really work all that well. Naros had always existed as kind of a tricky mentor type, the Obi Wan with his own agenda. This is what Naros became in the rewrite.

2009: I lose my job as a delivery driver. One of the writers I chatted with regularly, C.A. Webster, contacts me and we get to chatting. Neither of us has had much to do with Aldora recently, but we talk about writing and editing and all sorts of stuff. One of the writing exercises I do is pull out a character and have C.A. question them, then let the character answer. This back-and-forth helps me develop my characters in spades, and strengthens their voice. Naros comes out quite frequently. This is about the time I start seriously rewriting "The Tale of the Exile" into a true novel. Naros' voice grows stronger and stronger.

2011: I'm just doing some research for a blog post, searching for songs on YouTube to match up with links on the soundtrack entry. While listening to a David Bowie song that has some random David Bowie clips, when all at once an image flow by. I search the webs for that image, do a little Photoshopping, and watch Naros appear. Here's the image for you all:

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and taste.

Hello there, Naros. Nice to see you in the flesh.

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