The Veil War

"and then I was like, 'Holy crap, goblins!'"

Month: November, 2011

Cover Art

I suppose its not too early to start thinking about the cover art for an eventual Veil War book. The picture at the top of the page here is something I found on the internet, by Gustave Dore from his series on the Crusades. The significance of that will become clearer somewhere around Part VIII. And it will be downright obvious for the rest of the book. (Dore has done a lot of cool stuff. Check out especially his illustrations of the Crusades linked above, but also his Paradise Lost, Orlando Furioso and Dante.)

Here’s The Battle of Nicaea from the Crusades:

I have a friend back in Ohio – a talented artist and sometimes telemarketer – who has done work in that sort of intricate style. I thought that if I could get something done after the style of Dore, but including an Evans with his Barrett, or a Captain Lewis in utilities with his new sword- – well, that would be just keen. An antique style cover – lithograph with Marines – would buck the trend of the usual fantasy cover style that trends toward the florid oil painting with bikini armor-clad chicks and the like. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But sadly, I rarely get back to Ohio and my friend doesn’t believe in the internet.

But I ran across, in the typically utterly random manner of the internet, this:

I like the style of this, more restrained and kind of the dark feel you get from the Dutch painters of the old school. From the artist’s web page, it seems that this is a photoshop of different elements, but a really well done one. (You can see other stuff here.) It doesn’t seem that the artist has any huge commissions – perhaps she’d be willing to do a cover on spec for the Veil War?

Does anyone know of any good artists willing to work for cheap?


Today is a singularly appropriate day to give thanks – so, a sincere thank you to everyone who has read the Veil War. And a double heaping platter of thanks to those who have commented, shared and passed the word – I am truly grateful.

The response so far – so early in the game, really – has gone far beyond my expectations. This will be an especially good Thanksgiving for me, thanks in part to all of you. I hope that all of you will enjoy good food, good company, and be thankful for all that is good in the world. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day Installment aka Part Four

Today, just for you and for the love I bear each and every one of you – I offer this extra special, one-and-one-half-times larger than normal Thanksgiving Day installment of The Veil War. I have cleverly titled it Part Four because it comes right before part five, and you can read it right over there.

And as always, here’s a little taste:

Evans switched to God mode. His rifle belched fire five feet into the blackness, and every time he fired, a goblin died. The other Marines tried to match him. Goblins were dropping, but the rest sure as hell weren’t stopping. The camp road was littered with dead tangoes.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Make family happy and turkeys suffer. (Be sure you’re not doing that backwards, as it’s illegal in most states, and often just mean.)

The Set Up, Revisited

I have screamed my last scream of rage at Ulysses. I finally got frustrated enough with the limitations of Ulysses as a tool for my background notes and moved it all somewhere else. And that somewhere else is Yojimbo. After one day of use, I’ve got to say I am pretty pleased.

I got Yojimbo as one of a bundle of apps I bought a while ago. I noodled with is for a few minutes, stored a few things in it from time to time and otherwise ignored it for well over a year. Many people swear by it, though, and it was in the back of my head that it might be a possibility – as I mentioned in my last post, in fact. I can say that it does what I need it to do, and really, what more can one ask of software?

My two needs in a background notes tool were a) good organization and b) ability to view multiple pieces of information simultaneously.

Yojimbo doesn’t have nested folders, but what it does have actually works better. Yojimbo has collections and tag collections. A collection is an actual bucket for stuff. So, I put all my notes (as .txt files) in a collection called ‘Veil War.’ That was step one. Yojimbo wants you to tag everything, and makes it really easy to assign tags. So for each item as I put it in, I assigned a tag, like goblins, US military, dragons, whatever fit. That’s step two. Step three, you can create a tag collection that will show everything with that tag. You can even get fancy and create tag collections that only contain items that have two or more tags.

The main window has three sections. The left sidebar of the Yojimbo window shows collections. The middle area has a file listing, and a view area which shows the contents of the item selected above. And on the right is a tag cloud. Now, I can get right to any item I need in my notes in no more than two clicks. Win. Double win, actually, because Yojimbo is a slickly-designed app that is pleasant to look at.

The real advantage Yojimbo – and now me – have over Ulysses and all the other apps that I’ve tried is one specific option. You can right click on any item and “Open in separate window.” In the main window, I can only view one file at a time, which would suck. But I can pop open anything I want in another window and arrange it however I like. And then I can open another, and another. Since I have a two monitor set-up, I can arrange multiple notes – like a cast of characters, timeline and some relevant background – in the smaller screen, and have the big screen left over for writing.

One window lets me find anything I need quickly and easily. I can rearrange my files simply by changing or adding tags, yet all the files are still located in a big pile where I can’t lose them. Then, I can open whatever specific files I need at a given moment and arrange them with maximum flexibility. I can edit the files in either mode.

I really think this is the best solution I’m likely to ever find, and I think I will start using Yojimbo a lot more for other projects. Sadly for those of you who are not Mac users Yojimbo is not available on Windows or Linux. But if you are a Mac user, I recommend it highly and not just as a writing tool. (In fact, I don’t think that’s really what the developers had in mind at all.)

And now, I’ll have to check out the Yojimbo iPad app…

Goblins really love their Dark Lord

I would be remiss if I didn’t link to this, probably my favorite flash game and now strangely apropos:

Super Goblin War Machine

And now, Part Three

Our third installment is now up. Read it here.

And your teaser:

Lewis blocked two handed with his rifle, and the sword chopped into his rifle, right through the rail and into the receiver. The goblin growled in rage when Lewis twisted the rifle, tearing the sword from his grasp. Lewis threw the ruined rifle and attached sword to the side and reached for his sidearm, backpedaling.

The monster was fast; unbelievably fast. He jumped and low tackled Lewis to the ground. Lewis’ head smacked the ground and his vision narrowed. All he could see was the green-hued snarling face in front of him. He couldn’t find the grip of his .45, and the goblin had his hands on his throat.

I see with my little eye…

That people are coming here from a variety of places. Twitter and Facebook, in dribbles. A couple web searches on google. But the largest portion are coming from two places right now: Isegoria and the EN World gaming forum. Isegoria gets the Special Presidential Medal for Blog Promotion Excellence  (SPMfBPE) for linking me three times in a week and a half; dude, you’re my new hero.

For everyone who did not get here from EN World, I can recommend this thread which discusses the idea of a fantasy army invading the Earth from a D&D perspective. While I can tell you without giving too much away that magic in the Veiliverse doesn’t work like it apparently does in D&D (my last encounter with that game was more than two decades ago, and I gather that things have changed at least a bit) there’s a lot of interesting speculation there on the relative advantages of technology and magic.

One of the most interesting things in laying out the background for this story is coming up with a plausible rationale for high-powered fantasy infantry. If the invading goblin hordes were equipped like the Swiss Landesknecten, or Roman Legions, or an early Medieval spear levy they would stand exactly no chance against the modern-style military in a stand up battle. Hell, look what happened to Saddam’s army in ’91 and he was equipped with technology only a few decades, not centuries, behind the current state of American military art. The battle of 73 Easting was a turkey shoot.

If you have an army, even a very large army, of essentially non-magical creatures with a few chocolate-y nuggets of magic embedded within, the non-magical part gets rapidly attrited until all that is left is a few powerful magical creatures or wizards in the middle of an abattoir being targeted with lots and lots of artillery, missiles and – if all else fails – small tactical nukes.

I looked at it this way. If you live in a world where magic works, magic will be part of the way you live your life. You – or the skilled craftsmen and enchanters who make your stuff – will begin to include magic in everything. First in the high value artifacts, eventually in damn near anything. Look at what’s happened with computer chips here in our world. First, they were used for extremely critical national defense needs like decryption and calculating atomic bombs. Later, big business started using mainframes. Later still, personal computers. And finally, there’s chips in your toaster and throwaway toys from Happy Meals.

This doesn’t mean that every fantasy world dweller is a wizard that can cast a fireball any more than every American citizen is a Chinese or Indian integrated circuit designer. But the residents of the fantasy worlds will increasingly, over time, benefit from the diffusion of magic into smaller and smaller crevices of their lives, barring only some cultural prohibition on the use of magic or some sort of serious side effects from prolonged magic exposure akin to the brain tumors we all get from using cell phones. (You don’t have a brain tumor? Wow, lucky you.)

So a fantasy army that has ubiquitous magic is not one where everyone is a wizard, but rather one where everyone has access to reasonably powerful magical artifacts – enchanted armor, enchanted weapons, etc. And that eliminates one major advantage of a modern military force – the fact that each American soldier or Marine possesses an automatic weapon that can shoot very far and very fast.

Other issues, like logistics, air power, long range artillery – well, we’ll have to deal with that, too. But we haven’t even added dragons and wizards to the mix yet.

New marketing plan

  1. Write a novel
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

I think this is suboptimal

I looking up some actual facts on mortars this morning – so that you, dear reader, will have accurate depictions of military technology to go along with all the fantastical elements I purely make up – and I found this:

I think his accuracy will suffer firing that way. But he gets cool points. Like these guys.

The Veil from space

Since there is already some mention of the Aurora Borealis in the Veil War – and trust me, there will be a lot more – here’s some truly awesome footage of aurora shot from the ISS:

hat tip iO9