So as promised, this month I’m doing my traditional self-congratulatory posts because it’s my birth month and I can do that, so nyah.
As anyone that’s been around this site for a while knows that there’s more to Descendantsserial.com than just The Descendants Universe. No, on this site, you’ll find a pretty wide variety of works from Fantasy to Sci-Fi, to Weird West and I’m as proud of those as I am of my main superhero work.
And just like with the main series and the rest of the DU, I have some favorite moments and concepts from these other series. This week, I’ll be doing 10 through 6 of my top ten list and next week, we bring it home with 5 through 1.
Without further ado, let’s start with #10:
Number 10: Ru Awakens (Rune Breaker)
The scene during which Ru emerges from his torpor in the cave was pretty much the entire reason I introduced his character to the solo game the real Pele and I played so many years ago. If you’re not a fan of anime, or just haven’t seen it, this scene is an homage to Hellsing’s first episode and two particular scenes therein: first when the vampire Alucard essentially asks permission to turn the ‘police girl’ Ceres Victoria into a vampire, and then later when we see that Alucard needs to have his power ‘unlocked’ by repeating a systematic mantra.
Of course here, Ru is granting control of him to Pele/Taylin and the mantra is actually him narrating how the spell that binds him works.
This is one of the world defining moments for the World of Ere setting too, as unlike Alucard, Ru’s ‘mantra’ is meant to evoke the idea of computer code since magic is treated as a scientific art in the setting.
His second speech in that scene, where he boasts about how awesome he is to Pele, is inspired by, of all characters, Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. I’ve heard it said that the introductory scene of Jack riding into port on a sinking ship and then fast-talking the guards is one of the most pitch-perfect introductions to a character written. I took this to heart when introducing Ru, showing his arrogance, reliance on shapeshifting over magic, and haughty reverence to magic all in one go.
I’m not saying it was a s good as Sparrow’s introduction, but that’s what I had in mind at the time.
Number 9: Clockwork Soulbinding (Cowboy King)
Yeah, I know we’ve only seen the one chapter of Cowboy King, but that chapter did introduce one of the ideas that made me really want to make the series in the first place ( you know, after the name).
At the end of the chapter, the guy who was killed is put into a coffin covered in clockwork and that clockwork is wound, somehow bringing him back to life apparently under the villains’ control.
Allow me to explain what’s happening (it’s not really a spoiler, so don’t worry): This is a concept from the series called mystic clockwork, which creates a direct magical linkage between actual, physical clockworks and a metaphysical concept, allowing one to wind, shift and regulate that concept. For example, someone could bind a clockwork to their brain and wind it to make themselves smarter.
Here, we have the very high level (and black magic) usage; a linkage to the soul. A freshly dead body is wound up to pull the soul back into the body in and places it under the winder’s control. If the linkage ever winds down, the soul will become uncoupled and escape, killing the body again once and for all.
The reason I did this is because I both love clock/steampunk and hate zombies. Weird West stories often tend toward having lots of steampunk stuff… and then overshadowing it with the stupid zombie crap because that’s what sells. I can’t begin to tell you how much time and money I’ve wasted getting into a Weird West book only to have zombies show up and ruin everything wit their boring zombiness.
Like I’ve always said, revenants are a dozen times more interesting than zombies any day. Now, magi-tech clockwork revenants are even better than that!
Number 8: Renee Makes a New Friend (Malady Place)
Okay, so Malady Place and Imago are technically television shows in the DU (which makes Malady Place more difficult to write than you’d think), but they aren’t part of continuity, so I think they count for this list.
Anyway, in case it was difficult to tell, what with Ru and Pele, the Knights Amore Detestabilis, the Spider’s Seven, and Renee and Winter, I really, really like characters who are forced together by circumstances, whether or not they like it or not. Maybe it’s because my best friends over my entire life were people I got ‘stuck with’ at one point or another and turned out to be more amazing than I thought, but it’s one of my favored tropes.
At the same time, I’m also a fan of a little trope I call The Elmyra. This trope is named for Elmyra Duff from the cartoon series Tiny Toon Adventures. Her deal was that she was an animal lover who had no idea how to care of animals, instead hugging them until it hurt and lavishing unwanted attention on them until they wanted nothing more than to run away. As such,t he trope is about someone who is infinitely friendly toward someone who does not want to be anywhere near them.
Thus, here we have Reneee, who we quickly learn has had an assigned ‘best friend’ (possibly a lover) killed already and is delighted to have a new one while Winter is terrified and humiliated by the whole ordeal.
Number 7: Rakne’s Dungeon Bypass (Rakne’s Tale: Hearing of Grievances)
If I’ve ever been really disappointed with reactions to my work, it would be toward this story. It’s basically my only book that’s not free on the site, and yet it’s the one people have bought the least. I wonder if it’s because it’s a short, or because there’s no easy way I can link it to the rest of World of Ere stuff, but it’s a story I really like that hasn’t gotten much love and that’s a bit upsetting.
But anyway, no spoilers where Rakne is trying to get at someone and knows they’re watching the door. How does she get in? Two words: Dungeon Bypass.
What’s a dungeon bypass? Well it’s basically a way players in RPGs can take advantage of the freeform nature of tabletop RPGs. In a computer game, you can only go through the doors, and move around in order because that’s how thigns are programmed. In an RPG, and in ‘real life’ (relative to the story), you can try other things, like trying to go around options a different way, or, in Rakner’s case, cutting through the wall next to the door.
In the original Ere campaign, this was a way of life, with the PCs always trying to find a way to come at things ar a right angle. It also showed up in my still-favorite anime, Slayers, wherein the main character Lina Inverse blasts away all the top floors of a dungeon to get at the bottom level where the treasure is.
In this case, I was doing it to show Rakne as a non-linear thinker while also showing off her signature weapons. Yes, much like the producers of Brotherhood of the Wolf, I am a fan of giving all my fantasy characters signature weapons.
All in all, it’s a short bit in the story, but I like it because it tells a lot of character stuff in a very small moment.
Number 6: The Hippo (So I Married a Supervillain)
I’m not sure what it is about toy hippos specifically that I like. I never had a hippo toy as a child unless you county the Hungry Hungry kind, and I’m not a particular fan of real hippos, but toy hippos in fiction always amuse and please me.
And, another concept I’m fond of is the ‘magic’ that a favorite toy holds for the children that love them. There’s something just special and unnamable in the bond between a child and a toy they love very much. I’m sure we all had that painful moment of throwing ours away or finding out it was thrown away long after we threw away all our other toys (speaking of which, my throwing away my other toys put me out about $10,000 if I go by the prices of mint condition Power Rangers toys on eBay alone. I had every megazord from Mighty Morphin’ to In Space— even the crappy Turbo zords!)
So when I was designing Amanda, her powers and her resources, I decided that at least once, she used her vast reach to save her sick little girl—in the form of a toy hippo that then became that faovirte toy. So in the end, the nameless (or many named… Hippo Stormcrow?) hippo is now a literally magical favorite toy…. and that just gives me a warm fuzzy. Feeling.
That’s it for this week, but I do have a couple of announcements.
First, I’m going to have a Patreon up in the next week or so. The main offering there will be PDFs of the main series chapters a week early, and…
Second, and connected to this, I’ve recently gotten permission to use images produced by the HeroMachine for my book covers. This means I’ll be re-branding the Descendants line, plus offering individual issues of the serial via Patreon and here via Gumroad (hopefully) for a quarter each. And finally…
It’s been a very, very hard three months for me and my family, but things have finally gotten better and one of the things that means is that I’m going to be back on twitter @ParadoxOmni. Follow, me for my ramblings and mocking the current American election cycle.