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Author Topic: do I want Carlotta?  (Read 3723 times)
Paul Czege
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« on: September 12, 2002, 12:39:12 PM »

In my opinion, the essential text on the subject of a coherent and effective linkage across rule examples, color text, and illustrations is Le Mon Mouri. So I've been thinking a bit about how to achieve a similar coherency and effectiveness with My Life with Master. And it seems to me that I need a Master with the potential to be both visually interesting in artwork, and effectively useful for conveying genre through a broad range of rule examples.

And there's just something about both Aloysius Dees and and Attor Fusae that seems lacking. I'm not sure what, though. I just can't seem to put my finger on it. Is their monstrousness too subtle and mental to be readily captured in illustration?

So, as I'm sometimes prone to do, without actually identifying the problem I plunged ahead and began thinking about a Master that might serve better. And I'm thinking a sort-of Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest Master crossed with Countess Bathory would be good, a carefully "preserved" Master with painted eyebrows and a hand-mirror always within reach. Is that image more engagingly monstrous than Attor in his decrepit powdered wig?

Carlotta von Gali believes she's discovered the secret of endless youth. She's vain, and Needs the admiration and romantic attention of young military lieutenants and such. Countess Bathory would bathe in the blood of young women. That's good, but I'm thinking I need a two-stage Want, and it should have a fairly traditional horror component to it that could be readily captured in conflict-intensive illustrations. The idea I had was that she makes use of her minions to infect the Townspeople with vampirism, and then maintains the vampires in a state of captivity and weakness, decanting their blood over time to use somehow on behalf of her own continued youthfulness. I envision illustrations of Minions abducting Townspeople and injecting them, and of wan vampires somehow maintained in a state of weakness. Is that too corny? Do I want Carlotta after all? Is there a better two-stage Want?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2002, 12:48:16 PM »

Hi Paul,

Pinching the bridge of my nose ... dude, don't be subtle. I agree with you about Aloysius and Whatsisname, and it's reminding me of a phone discussion we had a long time ago about exactly this. The book example is the last place to practice deconstruction and ironical reversals on the concept you're trying to illustrate.

So then we turn to Carlotta, and zowie, a whole new confounding factor gets introduced. Bringing in such loaded and complex-potential beings as "vampires" into the picture is in my view disastrous, because when you do, it stops being about Carlotta and the Minions and starts being about the vampires.

Lemme try. Carlotta: she just infects the townsfolk with a wasting disease of some kind. That's it - nothing more subtle or nuanced than that. Once they're infected enough, she can drain or bleed them for some serum that extends her life. She doesn't need very many bleeders, just one or two every year or so, but at any given time a noticeable handful (not more!) of the townfolk are infected. Some of them never get "collected" and some of those recover on their own.

There's your two steps of Masterdom (infect the populace; imprison the few subjects).

See what I mean by just staying simple? Plenty to work with; let the Minions' diversity be the source of nuance and angles-of-perception and all that.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2002, 07:22:41 PM »

Yep, gotta go with Ron on this. Wasting Disease Carlotta gets my vote. Besides which I think that she sounds even more visually interesting. I can just see her with ancient hands reaching out to touch someone recoling in horror.

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2002, 07:02:37 AM »

Y'know, I wasn't so sure about the vampire thing, which is what prompted the inquiry. But I'm not sure the wasting disease gets me what I'm after either.

The way I see it, the vast majority of RPG illustrations can be categorized by who they seek to sell on the game, the player or the GM. The Sorcerer cover sells to the player. It shows a face-front illustration of a character. Face-front is the pose of choice for amateur character art that players create for themselves, so it's familiar. The subtext of the cover illustration is, "Play this game, it lets you be cool characters." Now compare that with the covers of games like first edition Unknown Armies (a dead guy), first edition Blue Planet (a murky underwater scene with some vaguely alien lifeforms swimming about), and first edition Over the Edge (a high angle shot of a well-dressed couple blithely walking toward the edge of a treacherous dropoff). Those covers don't speak to players. "Play this game, because your characters end up dead." Those illustrations sell concept and setting. And they appeal not so much to players, but to GM's. In retrospect, it's not surprising that every one of them changed its cover for the second edition to something that shows characters. Whether the second edition covers sell better to players or not, I think they demonstrate a recognition that the first edition covers certainly didn't.

So, I think what I was looking for with the two-stage requirement, was something that gave me options for showing minions in the interior illustrations locked in a variety of protagonizing conflicts beyond just abducting people. Aloysius Dees lends to illustrations of minions digging up graves, certainly genre appropriate, but not exactly a sell to a potential player. A better illustration would be a baby snatch, with a crazed minion tearing down the street, toward the foreground, and a screaming and distraught mother in the background.

The problem I have with both the vampires and the wasted people is that they're setting, not protagonizing conflict. If I were to do Carlotta as a straight Countess Bathory, I could have abduction illustrations (including a baby snatch). What I was hoping for was a two-stage that gave me options for illustrating other kinds of protagonizing interpersonal conflicts a minion might have with NPC's.

Thoughts?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2002, 07:14:44 AM »

Hi Paul,

Wait a minute! You don't see exactly the kind of illustration you describe in my version of Carlotta? I certainly do.

1) Carlotta looming over two victims in chains - one's all horridly wasted and wilted, and the other is only marginally so.

2) A minion kidnapping a baby - just as you describe. What's the difficulty there? Carlotta is experimenting to see whether babies' serum works better.

3) Carlotta takes a ride in her carriage throughout town, with a barely-publicly-acceptable minion holding the reins. The townspeople regard her with a combination of respect (class issues, "doctor" ness, etc), and terror.

4) A minion holding an obviously-sympathetic conversation with one of the chained-up victims.

5) Carlotta in the lab, decanting and concentrating blood samples.

Also, I'm a little confused ... you were speaking of cover illustrations and I agree with everything you say, but what does that have to do with Carlotta? Clearly a Minion shot is called for on the cover, ie, the baby scene or wandering tormented on the battlements or confronting townspeople (very Berni Wrightson).

However, when it comes to interior illustrations, then you have some leeway for atmosphere, setting, and more complex or vague story-stuff.

You used Sorcerer as your positive example, so I should point out that the interior illustrations are intentionally vague as hell in protagonist terms ... is the little girl a PC or an NPC? Is the woman in the dancing scene a victim or a triumphant victor? Is the guy at the fridge a careless sorcerer or the target of a sorcerer's wrath?

And here's a thought: let the artist do some of the work. Artists are smart in ways that we writerly types often forget - feed'em Carlotta and a phrase like "make the reader really feel the Minion's pain," and they'll return phenomenal stuff that will give you nightmares and want to play the game at the same time.

I think you're getting a little too self-tormenting regarding promoting protagonism via every last little detail, frankly. The game is already brutally protagonizing from the git-go, so chill, huh?

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2002, 08:04:07 AM »

You know, I just had a thought for the cover. Very Raven blurred, a hunched but massive and yet still sympathetic minion stands on the battlements (like Ron suggests). A distance away is a turret with a light on in a window, and the shadow of a figure in the window. The minion is obviously trying to ignore the presence of the shadow, but failing, the eyes of his averted visage shifting over to look.

The game is "My Life With Master". Make it plain what that's about on the cover.

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2002, 08:16:28 AM »

I like the baby-stealing, especially if the Minion's face is all tortured and remorseful even as he bounds across the cobblestones.

Berni Wrightson. Do a web-search and check that stuff out.

Best,
Ron
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