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Recently, about a month ago, @demagogue mentioned the following in another discussion:

While we're at it, someone really needs to write an official history of the Empire and a lot of associated fanfic to give our world backstory. And someone ought to make an art book with screenshots across all our FMs and some story, as if it were like one of those travel photo books. Something people put on their coffee table for discussion and just to flip through for fun, or in your case actually make the things. I see the idea you're talking about as something along those lines.

I even promised demagogue I might look into it in the future.

All of this got me thinking...

 

We know The Dark Mod does not have a strict canon, per se. There's Bridgeport and The Empire, a few other cities, there's notes on what technology, society and the fantastical elements of this setting are, what the various typical "factions" are and how they vary greatly, what the atmosphere and tone is like, and so on and so forth. However, the rest of the things are far more nebulous and are generally down to what an individual player or fan of TDM is willing to accept as potential canon. We had the references to cities (Braeden) or minor setting elements (the mandrasola drug, etc.) throghout multiple missions by unrelated authors, and those are just the simplest of examples. In short, what constitutes as TDM canon, beyond those fairly official basics, is quite maleable.

With all of the above in mind, and taking demagogue's ideas into account, I think we could compile a rough, loose history of the overall setting. It doesn't need to be obsessively filled with details, but we could give people some vague idea of what happened in the last two thousand or so years before what we generally portray as the "present day" of the TDM setting. I think we already have plenty of interesting source material to work with, if our goal is to create a rough timeline/outline of The Empire's history, the Builder church's history, and hints at what the history of the world outside of The Empire has been like (also counting with possibly biased accounts, in-universe). 

Now, speaking about that source material, what do I actually consider as source material ? Technically, every mission or nearly every mission made for TDM could be potentially considered source material. However, I am a little bit more picky about this. I think the closest we have to an established, "hard canon" for the game's universe, is a lot of the above-mentioned source material, and that occurs primarily in two places: In the two or three official missions that come with the basic TDM install (Training Mission, A New Job, The Tears of St Lucia), and in the main Universe articles on the TDM wiki. These are going to be my primary source for compiling the history, chronologically and otherwise.

In addition to the official-as-official-gets missions and official universe notes, I am also willing to include stuff from all fan missions, if it expands the history of the setting in interesting, but reasonable ways. If the premise of a mission clearly doesn't fit the rest of the setting directly or is quite jokey, then I won't consider it a reasonable enough source for a potential addition to "canon".

Why would demagogue suggest we should compile such a more detailed background history ? Personally, while I don't mind the idea, I am also fine with keeping things as they currently are. At the same time, I have noticed the number of people who come to the forums, clamouring things like "Where's the sprawling story campaign ? Where's the sprawling background story of the setting ?". Less of the latter thankfully, more of the former, for understandable reasons. Still, it seems that a lot of newcomers to TDM, especially those with pre-conceived notions from their time playing Thief (or other fantasy games), seem to want more from the overall setting than just the missions and mission series we have. Honestly, I'm torn on this. I've always been an elliptical storytelling style guy. Less is more. A hint here, a hint there, a throw-away comment there... Some games try to overdo it with super-detailed lore and the results can be... questionable and grating.

Part of why I'd prefer that, if we do compile more of a broadly accepted "canon" for TDM's setting, then it should still be accepted in that "broad" way. I.e. it is soft and maleable enough that it does not tie mission-maker's hands, with regards to missions and stories set in the past, present and potential future of the TDM setting. A lot of players think they know what they want if they want a detailed setting, but more often that not, it just ends up with things being overexplained and losing their "charm" and a reasonable degree of mystique. After all, even die-hard Thief fans should acknowledge one thing: Thief didn't try to explain everything. Far from it ! The entire trilogy was very fond of elliptical storytelling, with hinted-at stuff and loads of unexplained stuff and references. I think TDM should keep with that, even if we potentially expand the "hard canon" parts of TDM's canon. Not stuff like "in this or that year, William Steele was born", but certainly stuff like "from the 4th to 7th century of its existence, the Empire was ruled by this or that dynasty, in a unique tetrarchic set-up", and similar.

Edited by Petike the Taffer
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Just to add a few cents, since I recognize what you're saying.

I had a few things in mind in the quote of mine that you're referring to.

First is that I actually scripted a full campaign the purpose of which was to introduce our world and some evocative lore, The Dark Campaign. It treads a fine line between the two poles you're talking about. It doesn't introduce much more lore than it needs to for the story and leaves lots of things open, or hints at larger things, but the story is also intentionally scripted to give FM makers a base in lore to make their own FMs from. So I was first talking about getting out this big cache of lore I'd already compiled & extended for that project.

Second, my mind about canon is that it organically grows from FMs in a way ... how to explain it ... sort of like the way the Bible was constructed. There were a lot of texts saying a lot of things, but the generally recognized community leaders recognized the texts and facts that had the most authenticity and authority and canonized them. FM stories are like folk legends then. An FM should feel free to come up with whatever lore it wants for itself. So now it has a kind of folk lore status. But it doesn't become canon unless it's recognized, so that you can keep the good stuff and throw out the slush.

Third, the context of what you were directly quoting wasn't me proposing an official declaration of canon like a Lore Bible. What I had in mind there was a coffee table lore book as its own stand-alone art project, where the same rules above apply. It's lore, but only what's recognized as canon from it should deserve any status of canon. (Another wrinkle, people can disagree, and you can have schools of thought, which I like the idea of.)

Fourth, maybe most important, all of this meta-talk doesn't really mean much. What matters is having texts right in front of you (I'm using the term "text" as a shorthand for any artifact, a readable, a map, a convo, etc.) and going piece by piece and having a discussion, well, does this deserve to be canon, all of it or part of it or it needs to be translated. The best example in our community for this kind of thing is the Thief Mapping Project and the canon debates involved in that.

A Dark Mod Lore Project might look something like that thread with one major difference, which is that it wouldn't only be debating canon out of existing texts, it would be debating canon in the creation of the texts themselves. So there has to be an inspiration element to it. Somebody is going to have to tap into the spirit of the world and get some kind of inspiration from it, write out what that inspiration tells them, and then it will be up to others, the recognized canon gatekeepers, to recognize if it's the "true inspiration" of a prophet or the ramblings of a false prophet or some of it looks inspired and some of it looks false. And then the debates can go from there.

My point there is, the debate is probably more important and interesting, as an artistic and fun project in itself, than the answer. But the nice thing is it also ends up with an (evolving) answer that we can use as lore. Like with the Thief Mapping Project. The great achievement of that isn't so much the map itself, but the 100 page thread debating why it looks like it looks, and then the map is just the final form of all that debate.

This shows one of the major differences, by the way, between a company just tossing out lore for entertainment sake (which probably doesn't mean much to us, since we can't trust they really love their own world) and a community pounding out the lore based on discussion, shared understandings, and mutual love for this world and this game (which really means something to us). I agree it shouldn't be the kind of project that crushes a world's mystery with the blazing antiseptic and unforgiving light of reason. But it should also try to come up with the "right" answer. The Mapping Project is a good reference again. Another good reference is the kind of debates medieval scholars had for that matter. They weren't doing real "science" like we think of it today. They were trying to be precise, but mysticism was built right into the middle of it as well. And again, there can be different schools that take different tacks, and that's great.

tl;dr: Less meta-talk, more lore debate. We can talk forever about the theory of it until we're blue in the face, and it still doesn't matter. Let's just start laying out proposed lore and start talking about it and see where it takes us. That's my proposal for this thread.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Speaking of maps, what often annoys me in fan missions is to see an old map of central Europe with Bridgeport being somewhere on the southern coast of France. This doesn't make much sense regarding language and climate unless you can explain somehow that in the TDM universe the English conquered France and not the other way around ;).

Edited by wesp5
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As I understand it, Bridgeport is on the southern coast of a high latitude continent on the western edge closeish to a Spain / Anatolia-like mixed Ghazi-Builder region, Menoa, Ghazi being the Islam-counterpart. To the direct south is moorish territory, which can be like traditional Ghazi territory (Iraq), and the Baghdad equivalent should be down there, or more like North Africa and the Ghazi center is much further ... east? Edit: Probably west makes more sense.

The role of Bridgeport is roughly equivalent to Constantinople (because of the proximity to Menoa), but it has some London flavor. It's still Builder, but a more orthodox brand and it's inflected with the Asiatic-equivalent influence compared to Catholic-like Builderism. To the far east also on the coast is the capital of the Empire, both the political and religious center, Sancta Civitas. There should be a political and theological tension between Bridgeport and S.C., and it's moving towards a break, but currently it's still one unified Empire. Bridgeport is still very much a commercial hub of the Empire. To the north are the Germanic/Baltic-like pagan tribes that are on a spectrum of less Empire influenced as you move north. Edit: I think of the empire more like the Carolingians than anything else, a few major urban centers claiming control over a the whole eastern side of the continent, but really diffuse and fragmented, less than what the HRE was, but more than whatever Germany was after 1600. XD

In my reading, the world takes flavors from medieval European and Middle Eastern / North African history, but it mixes them up a bit.

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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On 8/20/2020 at 5:34 AM, demagogue said:

Just to add a few cents, since I recognize what you're saying.

I had a few things in mind in the quote of mine that you're referring to.

First is that I actually scripted a full campaign the purpose of which was to introduce our world and some evocative lore, The Dark Campaign. It treads a fine line between the two poles you're talking about. It doesn't introduce much more lore than it needs to for the story and leaves lots of things open, or hints at larger things, but the story is also intentionally scripted to give FM makers a base in lore to make their own FMs from. So I was first talking about getting out this big cache of lore I'd already compiled & extended for that project.

Second, my mind about canon is that it organically grows from FMs in a way ... how to explain it ... sort of like the way the Bible was constructed. There were a lot of texts saying a lot of things, but the generally recognized community leaders recognized the texts and facts that had the most authenticity and authority and canonized them. FM stories are like folk legends then. An FM should feel free to come up with whatever lore it wants for itself. So now it has a kind of folk lore status. But it doesn't become canon unless it's recognized, so that you can keep the good stuff and throw out the slush.

Third, the context of what you were directly quoting wasn't me proposing an official declaration of canon like a Lore Bible. What I had in mind there was a coffee table lore book as its own stand-alone art project, where the same rules above apply. It's lore, but only what's recognized as canon from it should deserve any status of canon. (Another wrinkle, people can disagree, and you can have schools of thought, which I like the idea of.)

Fourth, maybe most important, all of this meta-talk doesn't really mean much. What matters is having texts right in front of you (I'm using the term "text" as a shorthand for any artifact, a readable, a map, a convo, etc.) and going piece by piece and having a discussion, well, does this deserve to be canon, all of it or part of it or it needs to be translated. The best example in our community for this kind of thing is the Thief Mapping Project and the canon debates involved in that.

A Dark Mod Lore Project might look something like that thread with one major difference, which is that it wouldn't only be debating canon out of existing texts, it would be debating canon in the creation of the texts themselves. So there has to be an inspiration element to it. Somebody is going to have to tap into the spirit of the world and get some kind of inspiration from it, write out what that inspiration tells them, and then it will be up to others, the recognized canon gatekeepers, to recognize if it's the "true inspiration" of a prophet or the ramblings of a false prophet or some of it looks inspired and some of it looks false. And then the debates can go from there.

My point there is, the debate is probably more important and interesting, as an artistic and fun project in itself, than the answer. But the nice thing is it also ends up with an (evolving) answer that we can use as lore. Like with the Thief Mapping Project. The great achievement of that isn't so much the map itself, but the 100 page thread debating why it looks like it looks, and then the map is just the final form of all that debate.

This shows one of the major differences, by the way, between a company just tossing out lore for entertainment sake (which probably doesn't mean much to us, since we can't trust they really love their own world) and a community pounding out the lore based on discussion, shared understandings, and mutual love for this world and this game (which really means something to us). I agree it shouldn't be the kind of project that crushes a world's mystery with the blazing antiseptic and unforgiving light of reason. But it should also try to come up with the "right" answer. The Mapping Project is a good reference again. Another good reference is the kind of debates medieval scholars had for that matter. They weren't doing real "science" like we think of it today. They were trying to be precise, but mysticism was built right into the middle of it as well. And again, there can be different schools that take different tacks, and that's great.

tl;dr: Less meta-talk, more lore debate. We can talk forever about the theory of it until we're blue in the face, and it still doesn't matter. Let's just start laying out proposed lore and start talking about it and see where it takes us. That's my proposal for this thread.

I actually wholeheartedly agree with your point of view. :) The only reason I did some canon theorizing in the opening post was to show that I'm not going to charge into this willy-nilly, with no consideration payed to at least rough consistency.

Like you said, the important thing at this stage is filling in the blanks. The theoretical aspects of approaching any lore compilation or expansion have been covered plenty of times, including in my opening post here, so getting down to business should be no issue.

As for contributions, while I like the idea that people would just chime into this thread and propose ideas to fill in the white spaces (IMHO, they should feel free to do so), I also think the best way to add stuff to the setting is to first work with what various authors have already added to it, via the backstories and narratives of their own missions. Some touch upon the wider history of the setting only very minimally or not at all, but some have done pretty good work at filling in some of the blanks about various aspects of the setting. Not just its history, but all the social, cultural, economic and military aspects that hadn't been covered yet, or only briefly.

Sure, there's always the risk of contradiction, but honestly, I haven't seen any blatant contradictions yet. I think there would be plenty of stuff to pick and choose from, particularly if the authors and contributors agree with making some elements of their fiction "more official" in some way. I like the fact that TDM has flexible canon and I wouldn't like if the lore for the setting was far too rigid. It should always allow mission makers and players plenty of freedom, rather than being prescriptive about every little historical or cultural detail.

I think a lot depends on whether the TDM community want to bother with sitting down and discussing the background of the setting in this thread or another thread, or whether they just prefer to be creative in mission making and have the overall setting evolve from various written or physically present elements of existing missions. I don't doubt there would be an interest in both, though I wonder whether the former wouldn't be seen more as a "Eh, we discussed these sorts of things in the early years, why even bother now ?" matter, with the preferred lore focus being on the latter, i.e. lore as part of creating new missions.

On 8/20/2020 at 10:36 AM, wesp5 said:

Speaking of maps, what often annoys me in fan missions is to see an old map of central Europe with Bridgeport being somewhere on the southern coast of France. This doesn't make much sense regarding language and climate unless you can explain somehow that in the TDM universe the English conquered France and not the other way around ;).

Personally, I am actually not all that bothered by Bridgeport's geographical location or the exact climate it lies in.

Yes, we use some northern and western European conventions when portraying Bridgeport and its vicinity, but I consider that 1.) a homage to the style of Thief, and 2.) a bit of stylistic translation, as the game's voice acting is all in English.

On 8/20/2020 at 11:26 AM, demagogue said:

As I understand it, Bridgeport is on the southern coast of a high latitude continent on the western edge closeish to a Spain / Anatolia-like mixed Ghazi-Builder region, Menoa, Ghazi being the Islam-counterpart. To the direct south is moorish territory, which can be like traditional Ghazi territory (Iraq), and the Baghdad equivalent should be down there, or more like North Africa and the Ghazi center is much further ... east? Edit: Probably west makes more sense.

The role of Bridgeport is roughly equivalent to Constantinople (because of the proximity to Menoa), but it has some London flavor. It's still Builder, but a more orthodox brand and it's inflected with the Asiatic-equivalent influence compared to Catholic-like Builderism. To the far east also on the coast is the capital of the Empire, both the political and religious center, Sancta Civitas. There should be a political and theological tension between Bridgeport and S.C., and it's moving towards a break, but currently it's still one unified Empire. Bridgeport is still very much a commercial hub of the Empire. To the north are the Germanic/Baltic-like pagan tribes that are on a spectrum of less Empire influenced as you move north. Edit: I think of the empire more like the Carolingians than anything else, a few major urban centers claiming control over a the whole eastern side of the continent, but really diffuse and fragmented, less than what the HRE was, but more than whatever Germany was after 1600. XD

In my reading, the world takes flavors from medieval European and Middle Eastern / North African history, but it mixes them up a bit.

I really, really like this summary, though plenty of it was apparent to me already from reading the various universe articles on the wiki,

I like the comparison to the Carolignian empire, despite the late-medieval and Renaissance tech level (taking the "Carolignian Renaissance" of the early Middle Ages a little too literally ?). I had no idea about the theological tension between Bridgeport and Sancta Civitas, thank you for pointing that out.

As for Ghazi, is that meant to be a nation or region, or a city state ? A New Job, the first mission of the official mini-campaign, also mentions an "Arabia" to the south (rather too close in terms of name, I suppose), with a city or polity of Aqaba. What about those ?

Menoa I've often associated with Genoa, based purely on the name. Though it's a kingdom, maybe it made its fortune based on naval and overland trade, much like Genoa was a prototypical merchant republic in the Italian Middle Ages. Genoans had some small colonies in the Meditteranean and the Black Sea, so one would wonder whether Menoa doesn't have similar trade outposts too.

The in-universe starting date, at least according to A New Job, is 1631. Saint Lucia takes place relatively shortly afterward, a few days or weeks at most, and it seems ANJ is set in the fall (autumn) months, based on the newspapers you can find throughout that mission.

One interesting question to me is: Though we know some 1630 years have gone by since the founding of the Builder Church, how long ago was the faith first being preached by "the prophet Amos", as mentioned in some religious texts in Saint Lucia ? The only thing I can discern is that it was before the founding of the Church, but that's about it. I'm also not sure whether the Church was already the Imperial Church back then, or if it was only accepted later, á la Christianity in antiquity. I don't know.

The pope equivalent is the Patriarch in Sancta Civitas. There are archbishops overseeing bishoprics and dioeceses. What do we know about the secular power behind the Empire ? Menoa broke away some time ago from the western Empire. There is probably no mention of any specific emperor, so maybe we should think about those, and what dynasties have ruled until now ? And what the balance of power is between the Patriatch and the emperor ? One has to wonder if the TDM world's empire ever had an equivalent of Henry IV going to Canossa in the 11th century, after the Pope had excommunicated him for Henry getting too uppitty in the whole fight for investiture. That would be interesting to explore briefly, whether there is any tension between the emperor and the Patriarch.

Given the Carolignian influences, I would like to lobby for including elements similar to the rise of the maiordomos in the pre-Carolignian era of the Frankish Empire. As an influence behind the throne, eventually wielding more practical power than the emperors, and then becoming the new imperial dynasty themselves. And, in the "late antiquity" precursor to the Empire of the current TDM present, maybe you could have a period of rule based on our history's Tetrarchy of late Roman antiquity. Little things like this could help shake up the earlier history of the setting and make it feel less straightforward and more lived-in.

I've decided to dub the reckoning "DME" = "Dark Mod Era". Something of an in-joke, sure, but works for the setting.

Aside from this wider history, one thing I would like to focus on and cover would be the rough geography and history of Bridgeport. Somewhat similar to the Mapping The City thread at TTLG.com, and having people contribute to that would be lovely. Though, of course, it once again depends on whether there'd be interest. Merely compiling some list of known wards/quarters, streets and locations/institutions in Bridgeport is one thing. Doing something deeper with it is another. Additionally, if we map out our fictional metropolis in too great a detail, I think it might lead to a situation where the city starts feeling limited. Personally, I think that it's still worthwhile, but only if we keep the perspective on the city being "flexible" as a setting. Sure, all of these streets or places exist, but if new ones are further added, that doesn't mean they automatically don't fit within the City. I'd prefer if mission makers were aided by background notes and background lore, rather than hampered by it.

Edited by Petike the Taffer
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(After reading everything, I wanted to put in my two-cents and see how everyone feels about structuring a procedure for the history and geography.)

 

 

Outline for SOP'ing Historical and Geographical Records

 

 

This idea we're discussing is something that has been scratching around my brain like a spider for sometime.

 

I've only been playing for a few months, and recently I've been putting together a mission for submission, but I have been bothered by an undefined vagueness in the history and geography of the DarkMod universe.

 

I looked at the articles that were linked in the previous posts and there is a lot of good food for thought. But the goals commercial games have for a backstory don't really work with TDM.

 

When a commercial company produces a game, they have precise control over the whole storyline and universe. They define and design every nuance to fit. What we have is a herd of cool, creative cats all working on the same canvas, some on the front, some on the sides or back, but very few of them seeing all aspects as one work.

 

Please review and provide your opinion.

 

 

NOTE: For the proposed SOP, the term "peer review" is defined and used here as a voluntary, consensual disclosure of information to and between other members of TDM Forum. It does not imply any loss of independence, intellectual rights, or creative concerns for submitting party who chooses to submit to a peer review. The submitting party has no obligation to make any changes relating to any form of feedback generated during a peer review.

Other than through polite suggestion, parties that perform a peer review have no right to use or attempt to us coercion, force, or by any means try cause the submitting party to change their design or any of their ideas. Any suggestion than is rejected by the submitting party is not allowed to be repeatedly suggested, or pushed, by parties involved in the peer review.

For approval of any item to become canonical, there must be an agreement by the non-abstaining, majority members of the active forum members.

 

Consensual Continuities vs Strict Canonical Timelines

 

An astronomical calendar, sequencing all the major and minor events in the universe, won't work well for a creative, free-for-all of activity. A calendar-based system will only work well for when people are referencing larger events in the timeline like wars, revolutions, and significant personages the big milestones.

 

It's better to detail modern events similar to shaggy-dog stories between beers at the local pub: "This happened before Joe's story, but at the same time as Anne's, only it was in Norfolk, not Italy…" Modern history should be mainly anecdotal. This will keep us within a flexible framework of good lore, but also provide enough structure to base strong connections between events.

 

Dark Continents, Empirical Empires, and Mysterious Metropoleis

 

Regarding a map of the world, there has already been some confusion as to locations and coastal outlines. We don't want or need to define all borders, but if a player goes South, they should at least know what will be in that direction and in what order. There needs to be some "loose" geography for better creativity.

 

The technology of the universe has both sail and flying ships. That implies a semi-effective mapping system for the coastlines and near the mountain masses. We also have complex machinery that indicates a standard rule of measurement, meaning that inland surveying is accurate withing areas controlled by ruling governments. Any area inside an empire or along its coasts should be treated with more precision than somewhere out in the boondocks of "Thar' be dragons."

 

Mapping the cities themselves is a really bad idea. This would put a tight stranglehold on a creator's ability to make missions effectively. They would spend so much time revamping and patching their visions and goals in order to match a predefined landscape, that the soul and vibrancy of their creation would be lost. Mapping the general outline of oblasts is fine, but leave the cities to mutate and be fickle within their walls.

 

How to Build Harmonious Chronology

 

Each contributor should make their own timeline of only their missions. All events that affect anything larger than a small, localized area must have a specific date, area of consequence, projected longevity of the effect, and list all affected entities. These timelines will be subject to peer review. Any other historical occurrences that they wish to include must be clearly noted as such and will be subject to peer review.

 

Basic Guidelines

 

The majority of the timeline should be based on a common oral history, and missions should use major historical events as a reference only when it's absolutely necessary for a story. Historical missions will need these references primarily, and they must be given priority for the use of major events in order to avoid possible paradoxes.

 

If a mission event could affect the timeline or conflict with an coinciding event, the story should be submitted for peer review and necessary editing.

 

Because many missions are not outright declared as occurring on a specific date, a standard mission only needs to be viewed as happening sometime in the modern era. We will define the modern era to be approximately a span of 30 to 35 years, plus and minus the character's age. This gives a total range of 60 to 70 years of events that could influence the player.

 

This span of time also allows for a wide range of minor and major technological and civic change without drastically changing the atmosphere between mission storylines. Architectural styles and events inside of this area will have plenty of room for change without causing disruption to the lore.

 

To help with continuity between created works, newspapers and other publications (even diaries) don't need anything beyond the day and month noted unless it's absolutely essential for the story.

 

Creating Cartography by Committee

 

The primary map should be of modern times. The map must include every important geographical feature that they either use regularly or is shared by other creators. Single mission features should be annotated as such, and will be subject to peer review.

 

If a map is for a historical mission, then an appropriate historical map also needs to be made. These need to be separate maps, not annotations on a modern map, and should follow the same guidelines as the primary map.

 

Mapping Guidelines: Human Geography

 

Each map needs to have these unnatural features: controlled borders; areas of influence (nomadic or indigenous people's territories, unincorporated areas, etc.); cities and towns; roads, trade routes, and other paths of travel (to include sea and air routes); main ports; notable inns and villages; mines, prisons, outposts, etc. If it's man-made, mark it.

 

Mapping Guidelines: Mapping Beliefs and Architectural Influences

 

Beliefs are important for lore construction. Everyone needs to know the areas that are influenced by different belief structures. Is an area Builder, Pagan, Agnostic, what? These sectors can overlap. Your main sectors will be up to peer review, but because beliefs are generally unbound, there can always be influence found as a minority in any area.

 

Architecture sometimes changes drastically in a inside a homogenous area. A mapper is always free to use whichever style they want, but there should be some evidence of the architectural source. A Builder outpost doesn't match the confines of a Pagan village unless there was some event that caused its inclusion.

 

If a contrast like the example above exists and it is a major feature outside of the single mission, then the creator needs to mark on a timeline when this occurred and annotate how it happened. (See: How to Build Harmonious Chronology)

 

Mapping Guidelines, Natural Geography

 

Each map needs to have these natural features: a rough coastal outline; major bodies of water (nothing smaller than a Great Lake unless it's utilized); mountains and valleys; rivers, swamps, and bogs; cave systems; forests, etc. Other features may be added upon peer review. Most of the area should be unused, allow plenty of room for growth and imagineering.

 

The degree of mapping will vary depending on how close it is to civilization. Features closer to civilizations that use a metered rule will have more precise measurements predominately along trade routes, around its ports and other shoreside structures, and in the vicinity of any habitation. Denizens outside the city, i.e. Pagans, will have less detailed mapping around there habitual areas. An indigenous village can be defined as being somewhere within a one or two-days travel of the location on the map.

Edited by mmij
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Part of the charm of the old duology was that it didn't inundate you with lots of worldbuilding details. You got hints, fragments of conversations, but not much more. A lot of things were left vague and mysterious, and that's what made it atmospheric. There's room for vagueness in Dark Mod as well. In fact, I think it would be a mistake to insist too strongly on conforming to a rigid structure.

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In a collaborative story, there has to be a trade-off. You and your partner agree to allow leeway in one area by putting some firmer measures in another.
What the SOP proposes is to make a map and history from cenus. Everyone has a say, and the results would be freedom within a clarified and adaptive structure --not a rigid one.

One problem with a creative group endeavor is that people don't always know when they're pushing the envelope too far. People on the forum want their projects to be DARKMOD PROJECTS. They like to be creative and innovative, but they also don't want to end up accidentally wandering off into My Little Pony vs Corbin. (I exaggerate only for levity, but I'm sure you understand my drift.)

If we have guidelines that are changeable and agreeable to players and creators, then the players know what to expect, and the creators don't have to spend so much time considering if a readable or actionable is going to confuse or alienate a player who knows their canon.

Sometimes you need to organize to make chaos easier.

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Speaking of organizing, if somebody wants to get the ball rolling, the first thing we should do is pull out the readables & barks (audio files) from FMs. That is someone should spend a few weekends reading & listening through them and pasting at least lore-carrying ones into one catalogued document. If someone could code a script (like in Python) that could do it automatically that would be even better. Since it's all in a standard format, doing it by script wouldn't be that hard.

If you know the Thief wiki, they catalog all the readables and barks by the file names, and then in lore discussions like the mapping project, people would link to a specific one to support this or that proposition. In our case, you'd want to title them by the FM name and then file name, then the entry name, then the text. So one entry would look something like below.

This would give us the fodder we need to get started, and it's a good kind of project for a fan that would like to contribute something but isn't into mapping or making assets.

Edit: They or someone should also make a summary doc that summarizes the important lore points from the dump to save everybody having to trawl through everything just to get the important bits.

----------------------------
stlucia.pk4 saintlucia.xd Journal_Priest1
----------------------------

[Page 1]
October 4th

The Lord Builder hath granted us a great boon. Today the widow Madeline did bring to me a gift she bought from a merchant who did just return from a pilgrimage to Torino. The merchant claimed that the trinket was a shard from the head of the True Hammer, just as merchants sell to the pious but gullible souls in a dozen market- places in the city. The widow, bless her soul, did have a shine in her eye that I    

have not seen since her husband did perish at Belhaven hospital, so  I had not the heart to tell her but accepted her gift without comment and placed it next the statue of St. Lucia in the front chamber. As I did pray quietly there, feeling the weight of all that had happened and asking God for a sign to reaffirm my faith, the statue did most suddenly begin to weep. I could not believe mine eyes. T'was if The Lord Builder were speaking directly to me through His servant St. Lucia....

[Page 2]
October 21st

The shard seemeth to be but a simple piece of metal, yet when I hold it, I do sense some kind of power within. God hath responded to my prayers in a way that I did not dare to hope, solving my crisis of faith and the poverty of my parish at once. For donations from wealthy visitors, who would never set foot in this church but for the weeping statue, swells our coffers as it hath not been in a generation. Even two Moors--foreign

infidels from the south--have visited to see the statue! With the new donations we can begin construction of new works to honour the Master Builder. First repairs upon His house and those of His people, then new walls, gutters to keep the streets free of refuse; my heart soars to think of it.

October 24th
His Eminence the Archbishop is coming here to witness the miracle and thus pronounce it so. With all the trials and plagues that this city has endured these last years, such a thing could renew the faith and vigour of all our people!
----------------------------

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I'd be happy to provide the text from my beta mission, without making anyone go through and read it, if that will save time. There's nothing much in there that could conflict with existing canon, or place restrictions on future FMs anyway.

As long as this project doesn't end up putting vetoes on fan missions for contradicting canon, or compels authors to flood their maps with infodumps, I'm happy to help.

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52 minutes ago, thebigh said:

As long as this project doesn't end up putting vetoes on fan missions for contradicting canon, or compels authors to flood their maps with infodumps, I'm happy to help.

Don't worry it won't if people behave, and I think in this forum people will. That was specified in the preamble of the SOP outline.

 

 

1 hour ago, demagogue said:

[Page 2]
October 21st

The shard seemeth to be but a simple piece of metal

For text like this, where there is only a day and month, there's not really much that's applicable to a world timeline unless this same information has been used by parallel creators in other missions. From what's posted here, it seems pretty nonessential to the initial project.

______________________________________Now Onward

To start a histrorical timeline, you first need the large canonical events to place as markers. After that smaller common events can be placed. Histories for each individual mission are not really applicable unless you're trying to make a "Grimm's Thief Tales."

What I proposed is like a working storyboard. (If you're not familiar with video/animation, it's all the vital scenes and events posted in chronological/filming order.)
The base is done first, then after that's complete, we can go into finer detail.

 

Below is the fastest and most effective way to do this.

1.  Instead of searching through  the scripts... ask creators to signify what missions they have created containing valuable historic information of the first order. This also includes any snippets they added to the Wiki. (Another mess for another day.) If missions no longer have an active creator to contact, then those will need to be gone through individually.

2. Since the locations for first order information is known, it can begin to be collated. Creators can be contacted for needed clarification.

3.  This data is compiled into a major event timeline.

4. Creators need to review it and indicate where they roughly feel their minor histories need to be in the timeline.

5. Information is reviewed. It needs to be analysed for logic, paradoxes, overlaps, and other flaws.

6. Repeat the same process with minor historical data as needed.


Number One is the most vital part of accomplishing this without undue delay. Everyone's busy, so the longer the process, the more people will drop out of it.



So what is the most effective way, outside of a forum post, to contact all active builders/creators?

Edited by mmij
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I'm of the opinion that the correct approach is: the bigger the scope, the lower the resolution.  In other words, the description of a single block can be quite detailed; the description of an entire city less so, and the description of the entire empire should be intentionally fuzzy and indistinct.  The same applies to timescales.

Otherwise, it would be like trying to create a coherent canon out of the various Star Trek series and movies.  If you zoom in too closely, you're just going to wind up with a mess of contradictions and disjointed trivia that interferes with the ability to enjoy each episode for what it is.

 

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5 hours ago, mmij said:

One problem with a creative group endeavor is that people don't always know when they're pushing the envelope too far. People on the forum want their projects to be DARKMOD PROJECTS. They like to be creative and innovative, but they also don't want to end up accidentally wandering off into My Little Pony vs Corbin. (I exaggerate only for levity, but I'm sure you understand my drift.)

You haven't met MirceaKitsune yet, then?

If you produce something one or more mappers like, they may use it, to greater or lesser extents. Any more comprehensive aims than that will lead to disappointment, I think. But to give a flavour of my own attitude towards referencing other TDM or Thief FMs, a snippet from a readable in my w.i.p. map:

Quote

...bound no doubt to the authority of some dark demonic power; though unsurprisingly no comprehensive report hath yet emerged to darken the light of day. The scholar must content himself with wild tales of Lich Queens and Ancients' Orders, often discovered at second or third hand and from the most impious of sources...

 

Edited by VanishedOne
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- louder scream when you're dying

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52 minutes ago, Springheel said:

I'm of the opinion that the correct approach is: the bigger the scope, the lower the resolution.  In other words, the description of a single block can be quite detailed; the description of an entire city less so, and the description of the entire empire should be intentionally fuzzy and indistinct.  The same applies to timescales.

Otherwise, it would be like trying to create a coherent canon out of the various Star Trek series and movies.  If you zoom in too closely, you're just going to wind up with a mess of contradictions and disjointed trivia that interferes with the ability to enjoy each episode for what it is.

 

Yes, I agree with all of this. And in a way the structure of Dark Mod and its fan missions already encourages it. If you're on a mission to steal a valuable relic from Lord Derpinstone to lower his social standing with other nobles, consider what you learn during the job. You get a detailed knowledge of his Lordship's mansion, some idea of his neighbourhood from what you can see through gates and over fences, but nothing much beyond that.

Same goes for people. The thief is probably going to learn all about the Lord and his dirty little secrets- but probably only enough of the power structure of Bridgeport's upper crust to serve the needs of that one level. Coarse generalities like appearances counting for as much as merit, and that Lord Derpinstone has enemies ready to profit from his misfortune. We should not get a detailed idea of how it all works.

And if things like this do eventually become more fleshed out it should happen naturally, from FM authors dropping some info here and there. Too much advance planning could make it a bit "samey" and inauthentic.

Edited by thebigh

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A few points....

- Oh I doubt you're going to get map authors involved in this, and bugging them about it is asking for hostility. This is something a group of interested fans need to want to do on their own, for its own sake, as like a kind of meta-game in itself, if it's going to get worked on. And thinking about getting quick action is also not the productive approach I think. The Mapping Project was a thread that went over something like 8 or 10 years, little bit by little bit. It's a meta-game people played off and on for their own amusement, to solve a different puzzle every other weekend, and I think that's the better way to think about it.

- Making a script to collect all the readable texts into one searchable database I think would be a cool project for the same reason it was done for the Thief Wiki, just as a compilation of texts from the world for the record. It doesn't have to have anything to do with this project, but it could help support this project. But anyway, one thing I learned from the Mapping Project is you shouldn't prejudge what's going to give you information. There were plenty of times some random aside in a readable gave us a little clue about where an area was. But I also did say some fan should make a summary of the important lore bits they can draw out from scanning readables over time to actually be useful for a project like this. I recognized that much.

- As for Springheel's point... there are different ways to look at it. One is having lore to help authors make maps. For that purpose, I think he's more or less right. There's enough now for people to make stories for their maps, so they don't really need this project. But I don't think a project like this needs to have much if anything to do with that to begin with. A project like this, to my mind, is, like I said, a kind of meta-game we can play as fans, to make a lore bible as a creation in itself, not to help FM authors (although they can use it if they want to), but to be a creation that stands alongside FMs as its own thing.

- And on that, to consider Spring's point more broadly, as for what level of detail to shoot for ... I think a good lore bible should read like a good history book you might actually find in that world, like the histories of Edward Gibbon, Tacitus, Livy, etc. Some big landmark events, some dramatic scenes and interesting personalities, and some good storytelling and handwaving that makes the empire look grander than it actually is.

This is all just my personal take of course, although I'd emphasize (from a long experience in this community, like 20 years) that it's a bad idea to bother people to goad them into participating with this or any fan project. Just have it out there and make it look interesting; and if people want to join, they'll see it and join.

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I get the feeling there's a belief that creating a structured tool means enforcing strict rules and badgering people into compliance. But that's the opposite of what was proposed. I think the term 'peer review' sent some people into thesis-defense flashbacks.

 

Whether it's for a history, geography, or even file naming conventions, structure is a tool that you can pick up and use, or leave lying on the bench. As it has been stated, not all mappers might want to use a tool or participate in its creation. That's fine.

 

So I'd like to put something back on track. The question is not what do you think of the idea of creating the tool; the question is what do you think about the proposed method for creating the tool?

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I am rather fascinated that this discussion has suddenly taken off this much. Thank you all, I'm pleased there's some degree of interest in debating this.

23 hours ago, Springheel said:

I'm of the opinion that the correct approach is: the bigger the scope, the lower the resolution.  In other words, the description of a single block can be quite detailed; the description of an entire city less so, and the description of the entire empire should be intentionally fuzzy and indistinct.  The same applies to timescales.

Otherwise, it would be like trying to create a coherent canon out of the various Star Trek series and movies.  If you zoom in too closely, you're just going to wind up with a mess of contradictions and disjointed trivia that interferes with the ability to enjoy each episode for what it is.

Thank you, this is a very well-worded and concise post on the whole matter. 😎 The Star Trek canon issues analogy is rather fitting.

I agree that trying to fit in everything with everything or being detailed to the point of stifling potential creativity would be a bad approach. We need different levels of being specific with setting elements, to keep things creatively flexible. After all, I've already talked about this in my opening post.

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