July 18th

Luc Toupense made a good observation about the design: why am I building a storyworld around King Arthur and making the physical conflict about cattle-rustling? Shouldn’t the physical conflict be something a bit more romantic, or at least a bit more noble-minded? He’s got a good point.

Let’s not forget that the only purpose of the physical conflict, including the battles, is merely to stoke interpersonal conflict with the other characters. The military aspect of this storyworld is significant ONLY as it provides a way to stress characters and their relationships. This is not about winning battles; it’s about putting characters under stress. 

So it really doesn’t matter what the battles are fought over. However, it should be possible to set the stage in a manner that makes the drama more intense. This would treat battles as defenses against outright Saxon invasion. If the battle is lost, there are serious consequences for Arthur’s people. The cattle-rustling approach doesn’t matter much either way. 

So, what situations could induce Arthur to lead the army to battle? The cattle raid is an ideal situation because it can come anytime, anywhere. But why should it be defensive? What if Arthur can lead his own cattle raids? This would provide him with booty (cattle) to hand out after a victory. So a cattle raid is a way to get cattle to give to commanders. Perhaps we could have both offensive and defensive cattle raid battles. 

Luc also suggested that there be some treatment of the Grail. This is certainly a crucial element of the Arthurian legends, but it’s rather difficult to build into a storyworld. The Grail can only be reached by a pure and noble knight. This would require some sacrifice of the dramatic presence of the characters — what believable character is pure? I need to redefine the Grail in terms that make it realistically attainable. But even then, there’s a problem: the Grail is achieved by means of a quest, during which one of the characters goes on a lonely exploration. What happens to his army while he’s gone? This is not going to work.

Nevertheless, the Grail would be very nice to include in the storyworld. 

Another element that everybody is demanding is the dragon. Now, as it happens, there are no dragons in the classic Arthurian legends; they were added rather late in the development of the legends. I have steadfastly refused to include dragons in the storyworld, because I consider them to be clichéd. But I could use the idea of “The Dragon” in the sense that it was used in the movie Excalibur and in my Dragon speech: as a symbol.

What if the Dragon and the Grail were somehow linked? Yin and Yang? Opposing styles? Religions?