Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Uncrucified BETA - Chapter 9 - God of Mercy + Announcements

Author's Note:  Well, it's been awhile, folks.  My husband almost died (again)!  This time from COVID which hit him pretty hard as a cancer/heart patient at the beginning of this year.  Sorry for the bad joke, but gallows humor is how we cope in our household after he's beaten heart failure and lymphoma.  The man has lives like a cat (and hopefully more)!

Life has thrown us for a loop since then.  Kev's thankfully made an incredible full recovery and we're on our way to a new home, with Kev finding an awesome new job!  Things are on the upswing and I've finally been able to clear my head long enough to post this beta chapter which I actually finished at the beginning of this year, but never had the clarity to post with everything going on.

Unfortunately, this may be the last chapter for a long while!  I've come to the conclusion that I want to totally restructure this story from a chronological tale to one that has a non-linear structure.  I thought of what I hope is an AMAZING idea to realize the idea of Kalara ruminating on her mortal life, so that means I'm due for a rewrite.  Again!

I wouldn't even blame you guys if you just bailed on me.  It feels like I'm ALWAYS rewriting this story!  I'm incredibly excited with my idea for this restructuring, however, and I believe if you stick with it that you might love it!  I want to allow Kalara's story to unravel from the perspective of a fully realized Solar being forced to look back on her mortal life for very Dark and Sinister reasons.  I don't want to spoil it, but you'll just have to see!

It's going to mean probably that I'm going to work on an ugly rough Alpha draft I'll share with a few patient folks privately, which I'll then start sharing here as an entirely new beta draft.  I don't even know what to call this retelling.  Echo Draft?  Ugggh why writing so hard??

But What About this Blog?

While I'm taking the time to get my shit together as a writer, I'm going to focus this blog on building Visual Guides for Exalted and sharing artwork inspired by The Uncrucified/Exalted.

So until the next time, enjoy the latest chapter, which also features a special guest character cameo who belongs to Sam Seaman!  I'll let you guess who's knocking around Kalara's neighborhood from Sam's amazing Exalted stories.


Rating PG-13:  Violence, Adult Themes

Chapter Summary:  The dangerous journey to Chiaroscuro begins!  Kalara bids farewell to her past as the caravan makes its way through the Deep Desert Road.  The journey is long and treacherous, but not as treacherous as the apathy that threatens to consume her spirit.

(Instead of embedding the text in the blog entries, I'll be linking off to Google Docs from now on for easier updating and commenting on specific elements of the story.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Exalted Art Challenge - 3 - Favorite Charm

The Righteous Devil form isn't merely a martial art, but a spiritual reckoning.  When you draw on this art, you're pulling from that turmoil deep down, from all the sins you've ever committed, and all the sinners you've ever reckoned with.  All that roiling guilt and anger and painful understanding refined and channeled into the flame of your soul, of your weapons.  

It took me years to even begin to master it...and it almost destroyed me.  Only one who can understand their own sins can channel what it means to be not only a Devil, but a Righteous one.

- Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

I was stumped a long time on this topic because there were just too many fun options to choose from!  I explored a few of them in the sneak peek compilation I posted in the previous post.


Funny enough, Kalara only mastered 3 of the Charms (or magical abilities) pictured here, not including the one I chose for the final piece.  I always intended for her to master the Righteous Devil style, if only because the later levels of this celestial martial art allowed for such epic imagery as wings of flame and the judgement of souls.  Judgement, revenge, and redemption as themes play a big part in her arc as a character, which makes the style so fitting for her!

The final piece ended up being a bit of wish fulfillment for mastering the charm Garda Flies on Gilded Wings Attack, which is a Charm from the Righteous Devil path.  Perhaps one day it will happen in her story?  We shall see!




Painted in Procreate.

The prompt list.  Join in by using the hashtag #ExaltedArtChallenge on social media!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Exalted Art Challenge - 2 - Regional Fashion

I wonder sometimes if I would even recognize myself back then. I still remember the soft light of Gem's crystals and the teeming underground marketplace that never slept. As a slave of Iblan, I was dressed in attire to represent the household of my master, an aging master goldsmith. 

I owned no finery of my own, not even the bangles I wore which served as an example of Iblan craftmanship for all to see and admire, for even their slaves must convey everything about their stature as Gem's famed goldsmiths. Instead of gems sewn into my shawl as any fine lady of Gem might own, mine was painted and embroidered to mimic gems. I was a pale imitation of what a noble Iblan lady might be.

- Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

Here we are on Day 6 and I've only gotten through 2 topics!  It seems like this one's going to be more of a 'when I'm done' instead of a daily thing, but that's quite alright because I had a lot of fun with this!  I may have to come back to the concept of Kalara stealing some time for lunch beside a crystal cluster in the city, as I really enjoy the casual slice of life of it.

Stay tuned to my Patreon later this week for an exclusive Patreon Early Access peek at all the sketches I did for this particular piece and a little more behind the creative process.

Painted in Procreate.





The prompt list.  Join in by using the hashtag #ExaltedArtChallenge!






Friday, October 2, 2020

Exalted Art Challenge - Topic 1 - Favorite Caste

The Solar Exalted are chosen for a caste by the Unconquered Sun based on our propensities for violence, for diplomacy, or for many other specialties. Sol sees our potential and blows on the embers of our ambition, no matter our station in life, no matter if we are good or evil, as long as we can bring about the change that this world in chaos needs. We are marked with a symbol that shines upon our foreheads, a beacon of purpose and power for all of Creation to recognize, if not respect.



- Memoirs of Kalara Vadras, The Uncrucified, RY 800.

My Favorite Caste is the Eclipse Caste. They are the voices of reason, the keen wit, and the clever bargainers. They are the ones who keep the four arms and virtues of the Unconquered Sun in balance, just as they do for their Circle of allies. They are also the Kingpins, the ones who can play the 'game' that others aren't suited for. Where violence's effectiveness ends, the power to persuade hearts and minds begins. In all these facets, the Eclipse shines.

I designed this marque to represent Kalara Vadras, my Exalted character born in the deep desert mining city of Gem. The Fire of her region ripples throughout her cartouche, balanced by the silver associated with her Caste. Tail feathers of the phoenix adorn the center, a symbol of renewal for this character who began life anew as a Solar Exalted. She spent much of her mortal life in slavery toiling against a great machine of oppression. Reborn to the Eclipse Caste, Kalara uses her divine writ to push the tapestry of progress and mercantilism to create a better world purged with fire and sanctified with new bonds of trade.











The prompt list.  Use the hashtag #ExaltedArtChallenge if you're joining in!


If you fancy a look at my preliminary sketches and creative notes for my Challenge pieces, consider pitching into my Patreon, where I'll be posting a compilation of sketches and notes each week as exclusive Early Access posts!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Introducing My October Exalted Art Challenge!

Cross-posted from my Patreon blog


The time is neigh, my October Art Challenge approaches!  So far, this year has been about allowing myself to rest and recuperate while also letting my muse off the chain to wander different paths for awhile.  The next excursion is going to be with the Exalted Art Challenge that I created with the Exalted RPG Discord community!

For those who don't know Exalted, it's a tabletop roleplaying game much like Dungeons & Dragons where you get to become a character with epic-level powers!  It features a world full of mystical places, vengeful gods, and faerie creatures with a rich tapestry of lore to explore.  Its roots in non-Western mythology have made it one of my favorite worlds to play in on my days off!

I've even drawn illustrations and written many words for a story set in this universe entitled The Uncrucified.  I've been sorely missing the characters from this story and wanted to get back into the mood of creating in this universe by challenging myself to a list of 31 art topics inspired by this fantastic setting!  I expect many characters from my storyworld to show up for this art challenge.

I know many of these topics don't make sense to non-players, but I hope to introduce you to them with a bit of explanation and art to go along with each one!  In fact, enjoy a little sneak peek of thumbnail sketches for a few of the topics for a taste:

 

Patreon-Only Sneak Peeks!

Because my Patrons are the coolest, I wanted you guys to feel special during this event!  You'll be getting Patreon-Exclusive Early Access to my collection of exploratory sketches with my thoughts and notes on the topics each week , while the finished paintings and prose will be shared at The Uncrucified's project blog.  A compilation of the finished art will be posted here on Patreon once I've completed all topics! 

For those keeping up on my Patreon Discord Server, I'll be sharing the sketches as they happen in my Ang's Sketchbook channel as well!  (Read here for instructions on how to join my Discord Server dedicated to my Patrons and fans)

The Goal

I'm hoping by doing this event I can create more art in the TTRPG vein which is work I'd like to do more of in the future to channel my long-time passion for gaming!  I also plan to experiment with an expressive painterly digital style, since I have been so married to detailed tight line work for a long time now!  

With luck, I can finish all the topics in a month, though I won't be too hard on myself if I can't finish one a day.  The big goal is to remember how to play with art again and enjoy the process more than perfectionism!

--

I hope you all are ready for the ride!  I'm excited to see what happens during this hugely experimental time.  Are there any Exalted players here?  Sound off in the comments!  If you're an artist who loves the game, I invite you to do this challenge with me and share in my Patreon Discord in the dedicated Art Challenges channel!  I'd love to see what you all might do for this list!

More soon.  I can't wait to begin!

♥ Ang

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Happy 3 Year Anniversary! + A Big Decision

Yesterday, this little project of mine turned 3 years old!  It felt like a good time to pop in and let everyone now that this project is NOT DEAD.  The Uncrucified has been waylaid once more by my other responsibilities (haaa I just finished running like 4 Kickstarters in a row) with an extra layer of pandemic craziness that seems to be slowing down every facet of my life as an independent artist.

The Uncrucified has always been in the back of my mind, however!  I've been brewing on it and thinking where I want to go and I've made a BIG decision.

I want to publish this story via the official Storyteller's Vault And not just the story, but also I'd like to create bundles that include the audiobook, homebrew locales, character sheets, items, etc. inspired by this story.  I'm so excited by the prospect of having an excuse to draw even more art for this little world within a world I've been putting together here!

My goal now is to really make this story as polished it can be!  I hope to carve out more time to write now that life is slowing down again.  I'm also already in talks with a possible editor to help me make this story the best it can be and other folks who love this project who might lend me a hand with creating stat sheets and the like.

I've also been pondering on launching an Uncrucified-themed Patreon to help me be able to focus on this ambitious endeavor, but that's still a long ways off and I'll need to think about how it might be structured, if it would be worth the extra effort to upkeep, etc.  What would you guys like as rewards if I ever did make a Patreon specifically for this project?

So hang in there, dear readers!  This project will rise again.  I'm so excited to begin with renewed vigor and new focus!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Plan of Action + Kalara Fan Art

I’ve been quiet again here while I’ve been involved in yet another round of Kickstarters for my art business and a most needed vacation!  First off, I really want to thank everyone who went through the beta draft of the first arc of this story.  You’ve all provided such useful feedback and a great barometer of what I’m trying to accomplish with this undertaking!  I wanted to let you know I'm so very grateful and also where I intend to go from here.

Feedback Summary


The most important bit of feedback I got from nearly all of you was that the beginning of this story was very difficult to engage with in the very beginning. In truth, the beginning of this story was the most difficult part to write and I fear it shows!  I hadn't quite settled on a POV, if I wanted there to be a glimpse of Future Solar Kalara making observations (a holdover from the pre-Alpha draft written in a 1st person memoir format) or if any other Powers That Be should be mentioned.  The result was something rough that needs a fair amount of polish to shine!

Also, it seemed most readers weren’t opposed to the concept of Auntie Niyan, but so much of the beginning was paraphrased to rush us along to meeting Djali that it felt like a lot of exposition rather than something compelling enough to hook people into the beginning of this story.  During my time away, I've also been pondering on how I can fix this.

How to fix this?  The plan so far:


More of Kalara’s time in Auntie’s household - I want to expand on this time and immerse readers immediately into this household and into Kalara’s experience there.  Auntie was the one who taught Kalara the Immaculate Faith, about clever shrewdness, and eventually about deception.  Every master Kalara ever had in her lifetime taught her a skill she would utilize or respect later in life and it only feels proper for Auntie to have taught her something as well.

Prelude to Asha’s Fate - It probably shows that I invented the character Asha on a whim to show a dark mirror of what Kalara’s fate could’ve been if she were bought by the wrong person.  Why not show how she and Kalara bonded earlier before Auntie’s betrayal? Auntie grooming the children for nefarious purposes and Asha’s eventual sale could be what tips Kalara off to Auntie’s duplicitous nature.

What next?


The Beta draft continues! - Instead of making you guys endure yet another rewrite/expansion of the beginning of this story, I’m going to forge ahead and worry about writing it later.  I realized that instead of going back to add in Gem as I have, I’m cutting off opportunities for me to forge ahead and realize the flaws in my story structure that only hindsight can grant me.

So upwards and onwards!  Adding the expanded chapters for Gem was a good foundation to build on, but I’m going to leave adding more expansion and improvements for the final rough draft before the FINAL FINAL version of this story, which will also be posted here for your perusal when it's ready for the feedback phase!

I'll be completely rewriting Kalara's journey through the desert and her time in Chiaroscuro from the Alpha draft and continuing on into the next parts of this story that have never been expanded on from that original memoir before (IE. her time with Ahrun, in the Guild Academy, etc).

I was writing Alpha and Beta versions of this story in arcs instead of the full and complete story and now I think it would be best if I just barrel through one single Alpha draft including all arcs so that the future events can inform the past events, since that circularity has already happened to me when spontaneous character creation (a la Djali) led to the need to expand upon past events.

Prepping for Chiaroscuro - Before I wrote Gem, it helped immensely for me to create a Visual Guide for that location.  Making this guide helped me get a better sense of how I wanted to visualize the location and all the tiny little world-building details I might not have thought of without studying the source material and laying down some basics.  I want to do the same for the Glittering Desert and Chiaroscuro before I continue writing, which means I’ll be combing through all the reference material I’ve been collecting over the years and making another visual guide like I did for Gem.

So bear with me, folks!  Progress is always slow here because of my day job as an artist that tends to take up all my creative energy, but I haven’t given up on this endeavor yet.  I’m determined to make this story happen!

LET’S DO THIS!

For making it to the end of this post, here’s a treat for you!  Behold this adorable fan art of Kalara by Samantha Seaman.

“Oh did you think I didn’t notice those disreputable dealings? Sorry, darling, but you’ve been outbid! If you have bad luck settling paperwork for unknown reasons for the next 5 centuries, you know who to thank.”