Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Suspense Week, Day Three

The week that's surely annoying the hell out of the lot of you continues! Yes, you don't get to learn the fates of your precious characters juuuuuuust yet. Did Eve really kill Dragomir? What are those shadowy things coming out of the door? Is Libby really preggers again? Many questions, and the answers will come soon. Until then - or if you haven't caught up with the plot - hop back to the beginning of the grand finale of season one!

And don't forget Mindless Walkabout, which, today, features a particularly gruesome revelation. (Okay, so one of the questions above might have been answered. Or has it?)

But enough about other things. Today we begin with some more old art, including a certain little penguin that you shouldn't like one little itty bit. (Sorry for the dark picture. New scanner is a bastard to configure properly.)

Kierkegaard was not originally a Dragomir's Diary character. He was actually one of two characters in a stupid webcomic on my FIRST website, Weird Stuff We Found Online, which I run alongside my girlfriend. (Okay, she submits most of the content these days. I still do all the designing, dammit.) Kierkegaard began life as a villainous foil to poor Plato, our mascot, and that element of their relationship more or less remains today. You'll see it eventually, once Plato gets the chance to confront his nemesis in Mindless Walkabout... or perhaps on Dragomir's Diary.

(Gotta admit, I never thought Kierkegaard would become as important as he has. Participating in the planned-genocide of the rats? Controlling King Jeffrey for several months? Ordering the deaths of Bernard and Cedric? Harsh, man.)

First up on this shot is Robert the Librarian. Though I mentioned him early, I didn't contemplate how he looked until Dragomir's stint as Robert's assistant. This first shot kinda made him look like E.T.

More prominent on here is the picture of The Baron. His original conception - which actually came through notes in the First Ten document rather than a straight-out entry for the man himself - was that of a more traditional villain. Nice on the outside, rotten on the inside, totally in it for himself. His transformation into a weird, undead skeleton thing with swirly eyes would have captured that, as depicted above, and I drew a few more sketches similar to this one that I can't find.

The Baron didn't stay true to the villains' archetype for TOO long. Once he became prominent in the story - and the backstory of everything was fleshed out - The Baron quickly turned into a more sympathetic character, a man with an evil agenda who is, nevertheless, not so evil himself. I think he's MUCH more interesting this way. You'll all see more of this aspect of his character soon.

Aaaaaaaand last we have a picture of Dragomir and Eve that I TOTALLY don't remember doing. At all. How adorable. (Though Dragomir's left hand has MASSIVE fingers... which might explain why there are only four. Doi.)

Now that I've rambled at great length about these shots, much more than I FIGURED I would (I get the feeling I've earned a 'tl;dr' comment), it's time to look at the actual topic of today's Suspense Week entry: the castle.

During the first three months of Dragomir's Diary, I wrote up a document outlining the layout of the castle. Keeping track of where everything went was a damned pain, and I needed the help to make the story more accurate. I kinda stayed with what's written here, particularly in regards to the defensive details, though things got shuffled around and changed as well. It doesn't contain any huge spoilers at this point, so I've copied and pasted the whole damned thing, and included comments in brackets.

"The castle is an impressively large edifice carved into the plains, fairly far from other civilizations (suspiciously far, in fact). Because it’s located in a relatively hot climate and in the wilds, the castle is constantly subjected to strange migrations of varying types of exotic animals (elephants, cheetahs, poltergeists, cougarmen and so forth)."

(Cougarmen? Poltergeists? Interesting.)

"The castle is well-protected against threats that are both natural and militaristic, and is never invaded. The outer walls of the castle are patrolled day and night by the guard corps, and three guards (though often just one) keep watch over the barbican at the front of the castle. If there’s a hint of an invasion or animal troubles the guards will pull up the drawbridge crossing the castle’s moat and archers will attack from the barbican walls and its tower."

(The castle as we left it had no drawbridge, just the Neck. More on that in a second. Historical fun fact - castles back then often DID have a neck, used to force enemies into a tight corridor. I just, ah, warped mine horribly…)

"If trouble gets past the barbican, the neck leading to the main castle (which is surrounded by a moat filled with piranhas, alligators, forum trolls and other such dangerous beasts) is temporarily opened – and then sealed once the troublemakers are crossing, with a stone sheath covering the top. It’s then filled with a deadly series of spinning blade traps that make mincemeat of intruders. The floor drops out to dispose of the remains, and a team of janitors comes in to clean the mess. This trap is unfortunately known to malfunction on a fairly regular basis, so the normal residents usually just swim through the moat and use a door on the wall of the castle."

(More bizarre beasties. Forum trolls? Not sure where I was going with that. I also see a major discrepancy here that I must have subconsciously addressed and rectified: why in the hell would the castle's residents SWIM across the moat if it's full of dangerous animals? Insanity. I changed this up, creating a bridge OVER the neck for some travel, and a secret tunnel leading into the castle for the rest.)

Inside the outer walls the castle opens into a series of bailies – one main one and two smaller ones to either side – that lead to the various workshops and buildings. The main bailey is home to an expansive marketplace that’s typically quite empty (because few merchants are willing to come across the neck of the castle), and is therefore usually used for recreational activities. Jousting tournaments are usually held here, though they’re often quite boring as most of the knights have lost their productive combat limbs. This also leads to the inner fortress, sitting in the middle.

(There wasn't once a jousting tournament in Dragomir's Diary. I might have a chance to rectify that in the future, as I kinda regret not doing so during season one. There were many dumb and useless weeks in season one…)

"The eastern bailey is home to the apartments of most of the citizenry, including Dragomir and his wife. There are a few houses for notables, though most of the folks live in a wide, squat building filled with rooms that aren’t much better than closets. Consequently, a lot of people live in a rather confined area. There are constant battles for toilets. There are also eating areas, though these are mostly ignored in favour of the main mess hall."

(The toilet thing didn't come up often - a shame, as there could've been some funny situations there. More on the toilets in a bit!)

"The western bailey is a spot for workshops. Leatherworks, blacksmiths, bone carvers (especially bone carvers, since people die a lot in the castle, especially crossing the neck), candle makers and wood workers live here, using an expansive hole in the ground to go back and forth between the outside world to collect wares and ply their trades. The hole is sufficiently deep to go under the moat, and the discovery of precious metals inspired King Jeffrey to dig as deep as possible under the castle to find more and make himself rich and powerful. This tunnel stretches under the moat, is regularly subjected to cave ins and leakage, and is protected on the other side by a tame, chained rhino. Few people outside the castle know of its location."

(Altered a bit in the final story, though the tunnelling and discovery of precious metals would've made perfect sense in the establishment of the hole. As it stands now… well, you'll discover why Jeffrey chose to dig in that particular spot some day.)

(One other thing? I have no idea what happened to the rhino after the events of Ad Infernum. I like to think he'll come ambling back to the main characters some day.)

"Beneath the western bailey are the rat farms, an expansive section of the castle where the thousands of rats eaten and used by the citizenry are bred, milked, killed and used for leathermaking. The rats escape regularly, though they always come back because food here is plentiful, made mostly out of grain and their own tails. The rat farm is actually a commune unto itself, with an extensive network of small buildings and a village located in the depths of the dirt (the rats are all magical, and actually the smartest creatures in the castle)."

(Magical rats! Wooooooo! How cheesy that sounds. I don't know if I ever established exactly WHERE the rat farms are in the story, and I doubt that it really mattered.)

"The primary castle starts by opening up into the barracks area where the guards and soldiers live and congregate. This is also home to the mess hall, where virtually everyone (even the king) eats on a regular basis. Weapon and armour stores are kept here by decree. The mess hall leads into the hall of the king where he issues his royal decrees from his throne daily, and over the entrance to the hall is the castle’s current name and motto (constantly changing – Libby always has to create a new plaque to accommodate the king’s whims)."

(I really wish, in retrospect, that I'd bothered to change the castle's motto along with its name. One of the first things I'd planned in Dragomir's Diary was a rickrolling joke, delivered via the motto, that would unfold over several weeks. Never managed to fit it in… ah, late regrets.)

From here the castle branches off in two directions, to the east and west:

- To the west are the apartments of the nobility. These are typically much nicer than those of the normal folk of the castle, and constantly patrolled by soldiers. Most workers aspire to get an apartment here, though very few ever do.
- To the east are more workshops, primarily dedicated to stocking the castle itself. Weapons and armour are regularly forged here, as are traps to keep the castle safe from intruders. This is also the primary dig spot for The Hole to Glory, and consequently is patrolled at all times. This hole gets deeper and deeper as the story goes on, and is regularly inspected by the king."

(Yep, the Glory Hole joke existed THIS EARLY in development of the story. Shame that name only got mentioned once or twice.)

And… that… is… it! Apparently I got bored of the document and moved on to other things. Didn't bother talking about the king's tower, or the throne room, or, hell, much of anything else. These details nevertheless helped me keep sense of the castle's general layout, though I'm sure I mucked up location placement more than once. No big deal, right?

The castle received a much more thorough treatment in tomorrow's behind-the-scenes segment: an unfinished Dragomir's Diary text game. Stay tuned!

(Good god, this was way too long. I'm sorry, internets, I ramble.)

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