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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:52 pm 
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Location: the Retirement Coast, NSW, Australia
I'm setting up a Flat Black videoconference game, and it is proving to require more spadework than I expected. Extensive discussions are going to be required about what exactly the PCs are expected to do, and those must be postponed a while because of health and scheduling constraints. In the mean time I’m back at my keyboard.

Two of the future players have been playing in my Flat Black games since 1988 and 1996. The third has indicated that he does not want to start cold with a skeletal briefing and learn the setting from indirect and piecemeal exposition, but would like a substantial introduction. I ought to write one anyway, so it's good that I'm being spurred to action. So that’s what I’m working on now. I’m writing an introduction to Flat Black with a very specific audience in mind.

The Audience indicated that he would prefer a brief consisting of about 5–10 pages. I hope he means to suggest pages of GURPS layout and typesetting, which come to about 840 words to the page of text, because that gives me a budget of 8,400 words, and I’m one of those writers who feels that anything worth saying takes five thousand words.

Back in the day when I had excellent close vision and a very tight printing budget I used to circulate material to my RP gaming mates in closely-set 9.6-point, 8.4-point, and even 7.2-point type. I’ve got a handout here from 1991 that runs to 63 pages at 1,116 worlds per page*. My habit nowadays is to use 12-point Times on a 16-point leading, in two columns ragged right without hyphenation. With 19-mm margins left, right and bottom, and 25 mm for top margin and header, I get about 590 words to the page, and an 8,400-word limit will lay out as fourteen pages. If the Audience comes the ugly I will re-set in 10-point Times on a 14-point leading and turn on automatic hyphenation. 810 worlds to the page! Read them and weep!

So my word-count budget (aiming for twelve pages of 12-point Times) is as follows:

  • Page 1
    • Genre, a scant half-column
    • Astrography, an ample half-column
    • History, one column
  • Pp. 2–3
    • Two pages on Technology
  • Pp. 4–5
    • Two pages on The Colonies
  • Pp. 6–7
    • One column on interstellar travel.
    • Three columns on the Empire
  • Page 8
    • One column on Other Interstellar Organisations
    • One column on miscellaneous minutiae—money, languages, religions….
  • Pp. 9–14
    • Thumbnail sketches of 24 colonies at four per page.

Excelsior!
______
* I wrote most of it in four days during a bout of hypomania.

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— Brett Evill

My SF RPG setting, Flat Black


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:39 pm 
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Location: the Retirement Coast, NSW, Australia
I have finished a draft, which came in at fourteen pages of 12-point type—a little less than 9,000 words. I'm pretty happy about that, because it has been years since I have been able to finish anything.

You can download the unedited draft as a [url=<link obsolete>]228k PDF[/url] from Dropbox. I'd be grateful for feedback on what needs to be added and what could stand to be cut.

The final structure ended up being as follows:

  • Genre (a scant half-column)
  • Astrography (an ample half-column)
  • History (one column)
  • Technology (two pages)
  • Interstellar travel (one column)
  • The Colonies (five columns)
  • Colonies You’ve Heard Of (five pages)
    • Aeneas (mad fans)
    • Arcolais (visual arts obsession)
    • Beleriand (tragically multiracial)
    • Goldendawn (bleeding Kansas)
    • Haudenosaunee (Tibet & Siberia on drugs)
    • Khemet (pyramids and thugee)
    • Ladon (post-labour anomie)
    • Lowrie (a corrupt revolution)
    • Maldives (prison colony)
    • Margulis (matrilocal patriarchy)
    • Nahal (genderqueer gunslinger anarchy)
    • Navabharata (the god gambit taken root)
    • New Fujian (metamorphosis and line marriages)
    • Paradise V (homoromantic sports nuts)
    • Seeonee (syndicalist scouting)
    • Sehausie (landladies and lekking dandies)
    • Simanta (the Brave New World)
    • Tau Ceti (Old Europe with extra Janteloven)
    • Todos Santos (palimpsest personalities)
    • Toutatis (Quo Warranto with 8,159-hour days)
  • The Empire (two pages)
    • Purpose & constitution (1 column_
    • Cliques in the Senate (⅓ column)
    • Branches of the Imperial Service (1+ column)
    • Imperial Servants (½ column)
    • Imperial Direct Jurisdiction (½ column)
    • The Imperial Family (½ column)
  • Interstellar Non-Profit Organisations (one page)
    • The Alliance for Independent Development
    • Amnesty
    • The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Persons
    • The College of Archivists
    • Democracy Unlimited
    • The Ethnographic Society
    • GreenWar
    • Human Heritage
    • The Humanity League
    • The Institute
    • The Planned Progress League
    • The Reporters’ Guild
    • The Sons of Patrick Henry

_________________
— Brett Evill

My SF RPG setting, Flat Black


Last edited by Agemegos on Sat May 04, 2019 3:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:23 am 
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Location: the Retirement Coast, NSW, Australia
Well, the draft has reached 9,400 words, and I really ought to stop, though technically it does still fit onto ten pages (of closely-set ten-point type).

Here's a version in PDF, laid out to be printed on A4 paper, the promised ten pages (of ten-point type):
<link obsolete>

Here's aversion in PDF, 12-point type on A5 pages, for screen reading:
<link obsolete>

And here's an ePUB version that will reflow for reading on your device:
<link obsolete>

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— Brett Evill

My SF RPG setting, Flat Black


Last edited by Agemegos on Sat May 04, 2019 2:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:11 am 
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Location: Yavne, Israel
Well-written and interesting! It also got me to research the ForeSight system.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:42 pm 
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Location: the Retirement Coast, NSW, Australia
Golan2072 wrote:
Well-written and interesting! It also got me to research the ForeSight system.

I wrote a comprehensive review of ForeSight here a while ago, which tells you most of what you need to know: http://www.sfrpg-discussion.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=1491

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— Brett Evill

My SF RPG setting, Flat Black


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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 4:09 am 
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Location: the Retirement Coast, NSW, Australia
I have replaced the links in posts #2 and #3 with a download page, where I can update the files without having to chase all over the place with new URLs.

http://flatblack.wikidot.com/on-line-texts

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— Brett Evill

My SF RPG setting, Flat Black


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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 3:55 pm 
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Location: Near Frankfurt, Germany
I like the summary. It gives a good overview of the setting.

Are the colonies described in the summary supposed to be notable for their (to us) weird nature (i.e. "this is as crazy as it gets"), or are they supposed to establish a baseline of weirdness around which the undescribed colonies tend to cluster (i.e. "they´re all about this crazy, just a different kind of crazy")?

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 9:40 pm 
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Location: the Retirement Coast, NSW, Australia
Sir Chaos wrote:
I like the summary. It gives a good overview of the setting.

I'm glad. My previous efforts had far too much history in them, so I made a concerted effort this time to put the focus on the current state of the colonies. I'm glad to hear that that worked.

Quote:
Are the colonies described in the summary supposed to be notable for their (to us) weird nature (i.e. "this is as crazy as it gets"), or are they supposed to establish a baseline of weirdness around which the undescribed colonies tend to cluster (i.e. "they´re all about this crazy, just a different kind of crazy")?

Mostly the latter. There are a lot there selected because they were extreme at something: the richest, the poorest, the most populous, the least populous, the oldest, the newest, the most developed of the new worlds, the only colony on a moon, the longest day. But as for bizarre social and unfamiliar political features they are supposed to be an indication of the prevailing standard of not-in-Kansas-anymore. Everywhere is about this crazy.

_________________
— Brett Evill

My SF RPG setting, Flat Black


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