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Thread: How do you start your AAR?

  1. #1
    Viking Prince's Avatar Horrible(ly cute)
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    Default How do you start your AAR?

    Do you just begin with an idea and then play and write as you go?

    Do you accumulate screen shots, other material, and run through quite a bit of the game before posting?

    I am leaning toward the second choice as this will afford a better decision on which characters to focus on as well as a better frame for the plot and character development.

    If this were a full fictional story, I would have character notes, a story board, and piles of researched material before writing a single word.

    Also -- how often do you go back to the beginning after having posted a bit and doing extensive rewrites?

    (hey if this is not right for this forum space == local mods can do you thing with this,)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Cashmere View Post
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  2. #2
    Xavier Dragnesi's Avatar Esse quam videre
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Well, when I wrote my AAR, I would usually plan ahead by one or two installments by accumulating the screenshots and thinking up the planed storyline for the next few episodes, so that its much slicker and easier to write when I have the time to write them. As for starting an AAR though, I am against starting AARs at the very beginning of the campaign, because I too believe that its hard to find a good character from the very start. However, I did not start a campaign and play through the first few years with the intention of writing an AAR. I played it as I would any normal campaign, then thought the situation good for an AAR, so started one.

    I must admit I don't rewrite previous installments, due to the way I present my AARs and the difficulty it would be to do so. However, I do seek to improve them as writing goes on.

  3. #3
    Junius's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    I have just started work on my new AAR, so I'll comment on how I started. I had an idea, from a while back, about an AAR, though it was only really a character arc then. I wrote it down, but put it aside as I was still working on A Sicilian Life. Now that I have finished ASL, I have revisited my idea, and I have noted that it could slot in a sequel to ASL, not a direct one, but still I think it would add a little something to the story. I have started a Kingdom of Jerusalem campaign, though not the AAR one, just to see how things pan out for them. Right now I am getting my main characters in place, writing a little background for each. I think this will make it much easier when it comes to writing the actual AAR. I have a piece of paper beside me, which I'll use as my springboard for the story. On it, it has:
    • Main Characters: Here we have names, ages and important character traits.
    • Secondary Characters: Names, ages, traits and employment.
    • Backstory: Of the Kingdom. This has already been expanded, and is part of a book within the story, told from a modern (c.2000, but with an alternate history).
    • Plot Points: These are things which I will do to drive my story forward, and will note the results as the AAR.
    • Character Arc: I have the main points I want my primary character to move through already laid out.
    • Aims: These are the things I want to accomplish with the story, and a kind of check list I intend to consult before an update is published.


    I find planning and thinking about the chapters/updates really helps. It gives a purpose in the game, and that can easily be strung together into a coherent narrative. I must say that this is the most in-depth planning I have gone into for an AAR. For my first one I did nothing, not even progressing the save very far before updating. My second AAR had an aim, and I knew the kind of character I wanted to develop, but it was all in my head. For this one I have laid out clearly everything, or every major thing about the story before I have even started the save. It might sound peculiar, especially since AARs are supposed to be After Action Reports, but I feel that the medium has moved far beyond it's humble origins.
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  4. #4
    ReD_OcToBeR's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    I do the same as fergusmck said as in having a notebook at your side when playing the game or for ideas. I write down things of importance, family members being born, dieing, traits gained, historic events, or basically anything I see of value that I know I won't remember in a week's time.

    I take tons and tons of screenshots, more than I will ever need to refresh my memory on events. characters, and most importantly for myself: the battles. I currently have 20 albums of pictures for my AAR, each containing at least 100 or so pictures. I play my game a good 30 years ahead of the AAR. This way, there is nothing story-breaking, and also so I can see how people and empires develop where I can write in things that really didn't happen to explain an outcome, yet when presented you'd never know as a reader. I do this alot more as I progressed with my AAR as I got more experience. I will look over my screenshots many times and pick out the ones I want, look over them again, and again till I have found everything I need to present an update. Then I'll edit them of course.

    I also educate myself online by reading about the area of conflict and how things really happened and try an make references to the real world combined with my prior knowledge. I'll look up river's names or mountains, past Kings, engagements etc, so I can apply that to my AAR. Just little things like that to add flavour. I even watched a few movies of the period lol.

    As for planning it out in the beginning, I set a goal to achieve in the campaign and drove towards that after I picked a faction. I have since passed that goal, but due to the enjoyment I'm having with the AAR I kept going and still am with new goals.

    I have gone back to the beginning of my AAR only to add one title so far because I've since found my style which was all over the place at first. I will only go back to read it over again to refresh my memory on the history of my Empire lol. Believe it or not I have forgetten things I posted or found out little things that could tie together with something for the next update, even if it was 25 years ago. This has happened a few times and I took advantage of it.

    edit: I know I kinda strayed from how I "started" an AAR..to kinda how I present it, but oh well I get carried away, sorry lol.
    Last edited by ReD_OcToBeR; May 18, 2009 at 08:56 AM.

  5. #5
    Viking Prince's Avatar Horrible(ly cute)
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    All great ideas. Having the notebook for bits and pieces of ideas is a great idea. I think that is one that I will steal.

    I am thinking of a Lands to Conquor (I have not played the mod yet, LOL) AAR as England (1.5 years per turn) and 30 years out would be only 20 turns. That might be enough, but maybe not. I guess it also matters how quickly one pushes through the story itself. The purpose of this thread is to perhaps not recreate the wheel for my first attempt at an AAR.

    I am in the process of taking a trip or two to the library on a research gathering expedition -- I think the idea of descriptive notes of the places is also a good idea to set the scene, so to speak.

    Any more good ideas on the approach to starting an AAR by the others is most appreciated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Cashmere View Post
    Weighing into threads with the steel capped boots on just because you disagree with my viewpoints, is just embarrassing.

















    Quote Originally Posted by Hagar_the_Horrible
    As you journey through life take a minute every now and then to give a thought for the other fellow. He could be plotting something.


  6. #6

    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    I used something similar to the note taking method, only I take screen shots of certain events. Such as character traits/ages/deaths, natural distasters, army deployment ect. I find that you can easily overlook a few small details that may lead to an epic plot if you just write as you go along. The only downside to this is you spam your screen folder. But again, it dose pay off if you are big into making a seriously indepth AAR. I wish I had taken this method when I started mine. At the beginning, I just loaded up the game and posted screens.

  7. #7
    Junius's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    My sources/inspiration and working area:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    You can see:
    • Kingdom of Heaven: Definitive Edition (Ridley Scott)
    • God's War: A New History of the Crusades (Christopher Tyreman)
    • A History of Medieval Europe (R.C.H. Davis)
    • Notebook where I write out my updates longhand before writing them up in a word processor. This forces me to reread and redraft my writing before I post, something I really don't like doing, but know that I must.
    • My Reference Page, a sheet of paper with principal cast, vital information, little map of the region and some background text. On the back of this I have my Plot and Character Arcs and my little checklist of aims.


    I hope this helps people understand what I said in my previous post. I find the whole setup useful, with the books and film contributing different elements to the story, including a different cultural context, names, ideas for plot and development. The notebook is new, not because I have separate one for each AAR, but because I decide to invest in one for my AARs, instead of having a folder full of loose sheets.
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  8. #8
    Viking Prince's Avatar Horrible(ly cute)
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Perfect example how a picture can be worth 1,000 words -- but only after a few words have been written first. A great illustration of your points.
    Grandson of Silver Guard, son of Maverick, and father to Mr MM|Rebel6666|Beer Money |bastard stepfather to Ferrets54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Cashmere View Post
    Weighing into threads with the steel capped boots on just because you disagree with my viewpoints, is just embarrassing.

















    Quote Originally Posted by Hagar_the_Horrible
    As you journey through life take a minute every now and then to give a thought for the other fellow. He could be plotting something.


  9. #9
    ReD_OcToBeR's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    My cup would be filled with fresh brewed coffee there fergusmck lol... It is a must for myself when doing an AAR

  10. #10
    SonOfAlexander's Avatar I want his bass!
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Personally, when writing mine I am always at the computer... I'll get in the mood by playing some U2 (Joshus Tree, No Line on The Horizon especially) and David Gilmour (On an Island Album) . Oh and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. After about 15 minutes most of the time I get into a little writing stint, you know , where I just start to pour it out with little active thought.
    Last edited by SonOfAlexander; June 03, 2009 at 01:05 PM.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Lol, man you guys are a lot more in depth than I am! I kinda write by the seat of my pants, as it were. I started my aar because I had this great general who had taken all of Thracia, Macedonia, and western Asia Minor, so I thought, 'hey, maybe I should do an aar about him.' Well the first battle I started screen shooting, his son dies and then he dies the very next turn. Go figure! So, I now had something that wasn't what I had envisioned, but I did have a good start:

    -Son killed

    -Father asks his second-in-command to take revenge for him.

    -Father dies

    -second-in-command now Dux with a war on his hands

    Great! Now I have something to work with. Next step is to figure out where the main plot point is. That's easy enough. I take a quick look around the map and find my objectives and what armies I have to complete them with. Boom! I have my first half dozen updates or so. Interplay between my legates and tribunes as my main characters helps bring a human face to the situation and various sub plots to work with and I have some grade A drama.

    Problem two comes along when I realize that one of my generals is, in fact, a governor-general who has no business leading a legion, which, by my own rules, should be led by a direct family member.

    With a quick brainstorming session, I now have a Dux how wants to get rid of his legate, but not look like the bad guy while doing it. A couple of harsh battles and a failed task later and I got a nice big little plot twist.

    -dux hates legate

    -legate tries to prove himself

    -dux gives legate an impossible task

    -legate fails task

    -dux fires legate

    -legate vows revenge

    Anyway, I'm not going to run through my whole aar plot again, but that's basically how I do it. Some cause and effect, plus a little imagination just before I get typing is about all the prep work I do before an update.

  12. #12

    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Well, I can't say I have that much experience, but my oldest AAR's were written mostly free-form. I simply started the campaign, thought about what I wanted to do (RP a nation and the generals), then wrote an introduction about the game and a prologue which was an introduction to the characters, and with that I started.
    As for writing updates, I simply played, took screenshots, then started uploading the ones I liked, and wrote the update in the meantime.

    When Xavier and I wrote Rise of the Eastern Kingdom, I did it basically the same way. When I look back at it, I'm not surprised that my AAR's failed, my approach is really unstructured and this gives room for failure.
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  13. #13
    tuore's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Quote Originally Posted by fergusmck View Post
    My sources/inspiration and working area:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    You can see:
    • Kingdom of Heaven: Definitive Edition (Ridley Scott)
    • God's War: A New History of the Crusades (Christopher Tyreman)
    • A History of Medieval Europe (R.C.H. Davis)
    • Notebook where I write out my updates longhand before writing them up in a word processor. This forces me to reread and redraft my writing before I post, something I really don't like doing, but know that I must.
    • My Reference Page, a sheet of paper with principal cast, vital information, little map of the region and some background text. On the back of this I have my Plot and Character Arcs and my little checklist of aims.


    I hope this helps people understand what I said in my previous post. I find the whole setup useful, with the books and film contributing different elements to the story, including a different cultural context, names, ideas for plot and development. The notebook is new, not because I have separate one for each AAR, but because I decide to invest in one for my AARs, instead of having a folder full of loose sheets.
    My desk looks almost the same, although all the books are at my native language (finnish). I also have the KoH Definitive Edition (much better than the crappy normal version) and a notebook.
    E: Here's a picture:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Sorry for the quality, as i took it with a mobile phone.

    You can see:
    The Kingdom of Heaven Definitive Edition
    My notebook containing my AAR update (part of it)
    "Ristiretket" (Crusades) a book about crusades
    Pencil
    Piece of marble
    The Leaning tower of Pisa
    A cannon

    The cursive ones are souvenirs from Italy.
    Last edited by tuore; May 20, 2009 at 02:43 PM.


  14. #14
    Junius's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    I agree about the KoH thing. Though I am a bit annoyed that you have to play it over two discs, it is a very good movie in it's intended form. I like writing at my desk, it gives me an sense of being a proper writer. I also like to listen to music as I write, though that is just a personal preference, and does not effect or inspire my writing.
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    tuore's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Quote Originally Posted by fergusmck View Post
    I agree about the KoH thing. Though I am a bit annoyed that you have to play it over two discs, it is a very good movie in it's intended form. I like writing at my desk, it gives me an sense of being a proper writer. I also like to listen to music as I write, though that is just a personal preference, and does not effect or inspire my writing.

    I listen too, especially M2 soundtrack.


  16. #16
    Solid Snake's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    I envy you guys for having a desktop, as for how I started my AAR, well I have had some experience in the literary world, and have written some stories none related to RTW, but its the same, for my current AAR it just kinda hit me, a nice story could be made up of this, and I just go along the campaign and history, I do not take notes, since most of my ideas come in my sleep or while in the shower,LOL,
    If you check my AAR, (shameless promotion) there are numerous references to the past days, that I just came up with, I dunno how the history will go, the characters will tell me eventually
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
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  17. #17
    johnhughthom's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Quote Originally Posted by fergusmck View Post
    I agree about the KoH thing. Though I am a bit annoyed that you have to play it over two discs, it is a very good movie in it's intended form.
    Got it on blu-ray myself so none of that two disk nonsense, at least my PS3 is good for something...

  18. #18
    Juvenal's Avatar love your noggin
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    With Juvenal's Journal, I wanted to write a story from the point of view of a Roman ancillary who was a religious fanatic. I tried a Romani campaign, but it didn't generate an interesting situation, so I put him with the Casse instead and it worked a treat.

    I was experimenting with IBFD (after the obligatory initial WRE campaign) and found that the Picts had a quite difficult start. I lost the first two campaigns within a few turns and finally came to the conclusion that the only way to succeed was an all-out attack on the Romano-British from the very beginning.

    Thinking on why the Picts should want to do such a thing, the character of Severus came into my mind almost fully formed. His manipulation and thirst for revenge drove the entire Spite of Severus story, giving me the impetus to describe a world wider than just that provided by the game.

    My current AAR started because my readers asked me to write about what happened after the Picts conquered Britannia. It seemed inevitable to me it would have the rivalry between Severus and Drest at its core, but I had no idea how that was going to play out.

    I started by investigating what had been happening in Gaul during my Severus story. There were several interesting little vignettes in the history which together created a nice background for the Pictish invasion. I have been lucky that some good characters have since developed amongst the Picts, but I still don't know how the story is going to resolve itself.

    I generally play the campaign in bursts of a few turns, saving often and taking lots of screen shots. Then I wait for a story to emerge from my subconscious. I don't have a plan or storyboard, just a feeling for the story arc. I don't think I would get anywhere as a professional author with this system.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    As long as you keep writing your story as you do now, that doesn't really matter now does it? And all writers have different methods of writing, though professional writers generally do posses a bit more structure.
    Every time you :wub:, god kills another kitten.
    If you're gonna hire Machete to kill the bad guy, you better make damn sure the bad guy isn't YOU!

    'I understand, and I take the light into my soul. I will become the spear of Khaine. Lightning flashes, blood falls, death pierces the darkness.' , Dhrykna.

  20. #20
    Viking Prince's Avatar Horrible(ly cute)
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    Default Re: How do you start your AAR?

    Thanks for alll the help guys. I think I will be working on a project just because of all this great info/ No promises. I have my desk space laid out (a small desk in what was a closet. My laptop and desktop will allow me to write and edit screenies without losing my place. My scotch and a good drinking crystal is set. I also think music is important, but somewhat person. I think some Dr. John, Pete Seeger, and the Doors will provide both variety and inspiration (I am an old fart).

    I think it will be a story line that needs some work, but a revised Knight and the Abbey may find its way into it as a chapter (does this give away that it will be a French Campaign AAR?).

    One really important question -- In the past, my writing is fairly complete before giving the piece a title. How should I work this into the process? I already know about 4 chapter titles, but I am clueless to an overall title for the AAR.
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    .


    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Cashmere View Post
    Weighing into threads with the steel capped boots on just because you disagree with my viewpoints, is just embarrassing.

















    Quote Originally Posted by Hagar_the_Horrible
    As you journey through life take a minute every now and then to give a thought for the other fellow. He could be plotting something.


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