Alterpedia Historia – The Age of Exploration

(I hate that I have to say this, but this is a fictional account of the history of a fictional world. I do not believe these things, nor should you, as I am making them up. If I receive any comments that I did not do my research into these events, you will be mocked.)

In the Agent of Argyre series of books, there is an organization called the Alter Control Task Force. Though ostensibly an organization for policing activities of the Alter race, an attempt to prevent an eventual race war, they are actually representatives of a city-state on the ocean: The Republic of Argyre.

The Republic of Argyre, an artificial island anchored to an oceanic ridge in the pacific, is a city-state established by Alters for the sake of harboring their kind and establishing a relationship with the mainstream human population. Despite being an artificial island and attached to no primary landmass, the city’s structure is capable of potentially supporting all 12 to 15 million active Alters on the planet.

How did a race of people who’ve lived in hiding for centuries manage to construct such a city? Why would they build their city in the middle of the ocean? Where did they get the resources for such a task? In the Alterpedia Historia, we will answer these questions and discover the history of the Alters. Today we address…

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Static vs Stagnant

Serialized fiction, the stuff that you figure is going to run for years, maybe even decades, is full of perils. As the years go on there are some key questions that have to be answered. Are these going to tie together into a single complete story? Are they simply episodes in these characters’ lives? Do I want to keep my cast safe with the infamous hero bubble or do I slaughter everyone like George RR Martin after a bad day? These are all major decisions and everyone approaches them differently.

But one of the most complicated questions is how far does your protagonist move from one entry to the next. There are four general directions you can go and they require you to answer all those previous questions in the process. You could have a character stay on the straight and narrow path, progressing but not necessarily “changing”. You could have them veer wildly off course, being sent down darker roads or into morally ambiguous situations. And, finally, you could have them not really move at all. You could have them remain static or let them stagnate so that each story features the same immobile person. Those last two, static or stagnant, may sound a lot alike but there is a very key difference between them:

Is the audience going to stay with them? Continue reading Static vs Stagnant

Luxury Items For A Giant

Being a giant can be a rough, lonely experience. In a world simply not built for you, some things just have to be accepted. You’ll always have to purchase two seats on an airplane. No bicycle is meant to withstand your weight. Doorways will forever require you to duck before you can enter any room. There are ways around this, but for the most part you’re just going to have to get a lot of custom work done.

But that’s fine, in the modern world getting something custom made can be as easy as finding the right people to do something for you. If you have the will and the money, someone will have the way. But it’s not enough to simply run to Etsy, you’re going to want to get the best. More than anyone, you know that things in this world are not made to last, so how about things meant for someone like you?

Strange enough, they exist! Continue reading Luxury Items For A Giant

The Benefits of Sonder

Key parts of story telling are easy to define off the top of your head. You need a good plot arc that meets certain requirements. You need to ensure that your core cast of characters are varied and work well together. There’s a definite need for twists and turns to maintain a smooth pace. From there it’s mostly a matter of making sure that your story is readable and has a good flow.

But what about the interactions and dialogue? A lot of people tend to struggle with this aspect in their first few years and, even after quite a bit of experience, intermediate writers still encounter problems. The issue doesn’t present itself too much in the core characters, they’re typically the ones you’ve spent so long working on fleshing out that you know almost everything they should say or do. Plenty of people have tutorials out there telling you how to build characters like snowflakes or how to “interview” them to make them more real to you. So long as you follow that and you make sure your characters are well fleshed out, they’ll interact just fine. But that just handles your core, and frankly that’s not where the most egregious problems show up.

Where do those biggest problems appear then? When your protagonist encounters a nobody…

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South African Cryptids

The Fantasy Genre has long been dominated by the religions and customs of countries touched on by the Crusades. While this makes sense, with the familiar image of a knight wandering foreign lands being key to the genre itself, there has been stagnation in recent times. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the cultures of the world and find fascinating details about other mythologies often overlooked by the genre we so love, going on a bit of a tour of world mythologies.

According to legend, the people who came to South Africa did so in pursuit of a fleeing god. Annoying the deity with their mimicry, destructive ways, and inability to take a hint – the first human left his creator with little alternative but to escape into the heavens. Unable to follow, the first man in South Africa stayed and laid the foundations of civilization and culture in those reaches.

But what exactly was he left with? The region was not without its peculiar creatures which dwell both in the sky and under the waters of its great rivers and waterfalls. This was a place of surprising danger where they had been left to remain, where creatures of unusual origin roamed and threatened to kill the people of this fledgling civilization. And, while spoken of and depicted in legend as far back as possible, several of these creatures are sometimes thought to still wander those lands to this very day…

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Alterpedia – Giants

In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:



Powerful figures found in mythologies all across the world, Giants leave a towering impression on all cultures. Though coming in many shapes and varieties, they only come in one size – huge. Sometimes seen as another race of man, or the children of gods, perhaps even the residents of a neighboring world elsewhere in our cosmos, these immense creatures come in contact with humans rarely but do so with dramatic results. Throughout history their encounters with our heroes of legend have been immortalized as the ultimate underdog stories – the literal origins of David and Goliath.


And we’ve seen huge individuals among us, towering figures who easily dwarf everyone around them. From Andre the Giant to Shaquille O’Neal, we know there are huge people among us. But are those the giants of lore? Or is there someone bigger? And if there is someone bigger… how big do they get?

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Are Hydra Members Nazis?

A couple days ago, seeing the internet was losing its mind over the Captain America/Hydra reveal, I sought to clear the air for some people by pointing out the motivations of Marvel weren’t what they thought. After seeing so many people claiming that it was a deliberate choice of Anti-Semitism and/or “Jewish Erasure”,  I felt like pointing out the business reasons for doing such a thing. It seemed like a good way to talk some rational people down from the ledges. Marvel’s not trying to erase Jewish people, they’re run by an Israeli immigrant named Ike and behind the scenes info says he’s not someone you want to cross. And for the most part I’ve heard it did clear some things up for people who only knew about the situation third-hand.

But along the way I made the not so controversial statement that making the world at large think Captain America was a Nazi was a bad idea. While not angry about it (really more apathetic), most people I know have agreed to the same because… well look at the response. However, some disagreed with this sentiment, saying that this was far from being the first time a superhero has switched sides, and that seeing it as a big deal was silly. And you know what? They’re right, making Cap a villain isn’t a bad idea in itself – and that was part of the point of the blog post in the first place. A good “heel turn” can make a property all the better.

However, hearing one of the points raised by those disagreeing with me, I realize it’s time for some clarification…

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Why Cap, Why?

(Update: Are Hydra Members Nazis?)

(Update 2: Turns out it was mind control and they flipped only a month later. The point in the article still stands, but that’s one of the fastest reversals I’ve seen in years.)

One of the things I’ve long known as a member of the geek community is that generally things happening within it aren’t that important. The ongoings of any given comic book, fantasy series, or sci-fi show is going to be overlooked by the rest of world more often than not. Even today, as superheroes and genre shows have hit mainstream success, other corners of the same culture will get overlooked. Few people knew who Miles Morales was, but he’s going to have an animated movie soon. Most people reading this likely won’t know that in the comics Superman just died… again. But once in a while something happens that’s big enough to change that: like a character speaking two words.

cap hail hydra

I’m not going to spend this post complaining about why this is a bad idea, plenty of people have addressed that since it happened. There have been so many posts out there talking about why this is not only a betrayal of the character’s history but of his creators. People have made eloquent arguments for why this would have run completely counter from what Cap’s creators would have wanted when they created him generations ago. Hell, there was even a solid argument that you should never have your hero do something considered too far for the Joker.

joker nazis

So there’s little I can add to that conversation, it’s been handled. We, as a community, know this was a really bad idea. Those of us who have been in the community for a long time know it’s temporary and that it’s going to be excused down the line. We also know that this is just the kind of gimmick that happens from time to time. But even if we’re curious where it’s going to go, we know it was a bad idea and we know that it’s going to leave a bad impression on those watching from the mainstream. They won’t read the comics and catch up on Steve eventually returning to normal after a while, and you can be sure that it won’t be as newsworthy when it does. So what you have is a gimmick that will leave a lot of people outside of the standard comic reader thinking that Marvel turned Steve Rogers into a Nazi.

So, one has to ask, why would Marvel do that?

Continue reading Why Cap, Why?