• Writers' Study Socially-Distanced Open Day!

    In the midst of a pandemic, with different rules and restrictions in effect in different parts of the world, there are some difficulties in arranging a tour of the Writers' Study, which is, naturally, everywhere simultaneously and therefore subject to every restriction that is in force anywhere in the world. However, a combination of the ingenuity of the Writers' Study imps and modern technology enable us to present the:

    Writers' Study Socially-Distanced Open Day!
    by Caillagh de Bodemloze

    Welcome to all those of you brave enough to defy the risk of catching the many diseases known to flourish within the Writers' Study archives. The Writers' Study imps will be assisting us throughout the tour by making sure that each of us wears the mask provided and maintains at least a 2m distance from everyone else here at all times. Regular hand-washing is also recommended, and washbasins have been installed throughout the Writers' Study for this purpose. Thanks to the Writers' Study imps for those.

    In line with public health advice (from the WS's Chief Medical Imp), who is with us today - she's the one in the full environment suit - it's important for us to divide our stock of writing into independent 'households' or 'bubbles'. Writing within each 'bubble' is not permitted to have contact with writing from outside that 'bubble'. The imps have gone to a surprising amount of trouble to ensure that each of our newly-formed 'households' has suitable quarters.

    We'll begin by visiting the winners of Writers' Study competitions that have been held since the Writers' Study Bonfire Celebration. I see the imps have taken the description of 'bubbles' rather literally here - but I can assure you that although it may seem cruel to keep the winners inside these large plastic spheres, they are in fact perfectly comfortable and have every facility that a piece of writing could wish for.

    This is the first time the Writers' Study Occasional Competition has featured in one of these tours. As you might guess from the name, the Occasional Competition runs only occasionally, and has a different theme each time. The theme of the current competition is poetry, and if you're interested, there might just be time to submit an entry before voting starts!

    The Writers' Study Yearly Awards have been run not once, but twice, since our last tour of the Writers' Study. We don't have time now to look at all the winners in detail, but the presentation ceremonies were recorded for posterity, so you can relive those happy occasions at your leisure:
    The Writers' Study 2018 Awards Ceremony Feast
    The Writers' Study 2018-2019 Yearly Awards Ceremony Feast

    Tale of the Week:
    285 - Haunted - Hitai de Bodemloze
    286 - But use this, to summon one another as spirits, cross the gaps between the worlds and engage in jolly cooperation - Kilo11
    287 - NYPD - isa0005
    288 - After the Battle - King Athelstan
    289 - Behemoth - Kilo11
    290 - Colonialism - Hitai de Bodemloze
    291 - Renewal - IneptCmdr
    292 - Leap of Faith - Alwyn
    293 - Tyrant - Kilo11
    294 - Battle of Trenton - William of Orange
    295 - Emperor - IneptCmdr

    The Monthly After Action Report Competition:
    MAARC LXXVIII was won by Written in Sand by Kilo11
    MAARC LXXIX was won by The Last Chariots of the Tarquins by Skotos of Sinope
    MAARC LXXX was won by "Toutatis Favours the Brave" by Welsh Dragon
    MAARC LXXXI was won by The Last Chariots of the Tarquins by Skotos of Sinope
    MAARC LXXXII was won by Fractured Dragon by Swaeft
    MAARC LXXXIII was won by "Toutatis Favours the Brave" by Welsh Dragon
    MAARC LXXXIV was won by Written in Sand by Kilo11
    MAARC LXXXV was won by Of Wolves and Prey by Cookiegod
    MAARC LXXXVI was won by New Town by Alwyn

    The Monthly Creative Writing Competition:
    MCWC XIX was won by Cat Tails by NorseThing

    The Writers' Study Occasional Competition:
    The First Occasional Competition - Write an Advert! - was won by King Athelstan
    The Second Occasional Competition - Seedship was won by Swaeft

    Congratulations to all the winners of those competitions, and thank you to everyone who took part, whether by entering, voting, or commenting on a competition thread.

    As you can see from the wipeable plastic-covered noticeboard being thoroughly bleached by several imps - who seem to be trying to bleach each other as much as the noticeboard - the Writers' Study Yearly Awards 2019-2020 has just begun! As a way of making it as easy as possible for everyone to make nominations, this tour of the Writers' Study will include only writing which is eligible for nomination in the Yearly Awards. However, as the note in very large letters at the bottom of the noticeboard reminds us: OLDER WRITING IS STILL WORTH READING! So please do take a look at our older pieces of writing as well as those that have been updated more recently.

    The After Action Reports section of the Writer's Study is far too large for us to permit all the AARs to socialise together at the moment. The imps have worked night and day to construct all the separate sections we currently need for the safe accommodation of so many fine pieces of writing - and the work continues, of course, as new AARs are posted. Over there you can see two of our more energetic imps hammering the last few nails into... well, into something. Whatever it is, I imagine we'll manage to find a use for it eventually. Let's move on...

    Our first AAR household is that of the Three Kingdoms AARs. Although there are only two AARs here, the imps have arranged all the rooms and furniture in what they assure me is the most auspicious arrangement possible. Do be careful not to trip over the ornaments and footstools laid out in patterns across the floor - I rather suspect that the imps' idea of 'an auspicious arrangement' is not quite the same as anyone else's would be.

    Both of the AARs here are videos by zachman1201: The Tiger of Jiangdong! is a Sun Jian let's play, while Uniting China tells the story of a Liu Bei campaign.

    Since both of our Sagas AARs are based on Thrones of Britannia, the imps chose to build an Anglo-Saxon home for them, which means you may find your masks useful, as it's generally rather smoky in here, with a fire in the middle of the floor and only a hole in the roof to allow the smoke to escape. Our Thrones of Britannia AARs are Aed, Circenn, and the Sea by DreamKing, an atmospheric tale of the fate of Circenn; and The Holmkell Sagas, recounting the epic saga of Holmkell and the people of Sudreyar.

    Our Warhammer I and II AARs are accommodated in what is probably the most remarkable building in the Writers' Study at present. It's difficult to describe accurately, as it seems different depending on the time of day, the weather, and the angle from which you look at it. Sometimes it seems to be a tall elven palace; sometimes a robust orc stronghold; sometimes a gothic castle. Occasionally it even seems to be underground.

    We start with two video AARs by zachman1201. Grimgor Ironhide shows Grimgor leading the Greenskins in defeating - and, apparently, eating - various smaller factions, while Empire of Man! follows the Empire (unsurprisingly) as it battles to overcome its enemies. The Chief in the North, meanwhile, is a long-running AAR by Mercenary2479 about Wulfric the Wanderer and Emil the Half-Chosen, two intriguingly-named characters leading very interesting lives.

    If you're looking for a Mortal Empires campaign AAR, you might wish to try Conrad Hartwing by kghdodge. At the start, Conrad is a new recruit, called up to join the army and relishing the chance to prove himself. Alternatively, kghdodge has also written the Heinrich Kemmler Mortal Empires Campaign AAR.

    If you'll just follow me outdoors, we'll visit the Attila AARs next. They prefer to be in a horse-drawn caravan, rather than indoors, naturally. Once again, the redoubtable zachman1201 has provided us with several video AARs. Two of zachman's Attila AARs - Uniting Poland- Medieval Kingdoms 1212 A.D. Duchy of Lesser Poland! and Medieval Kingdoms 1212 -are eligible for entry in this year's Yearly Awards.

    We also have Echoes of Antiquity: The Hellenes in the West by Marble Emperor, written as a personal account by the faction leader of an attempt to re-establish the Western Roman Empire and destroy the Lombard Kingdom. Finally, there is Charlemagne campaign – The Inheritors of Power! which is a video AAR with some supplementary text by deermarksu.

    As we head back indoors, this is probably a good moment for us all to stop and wash our hands... although it might be best to avoid using the washbasin that currently contains an imp apparently having a bath.

    Here, the imps have built a villa for the Rome II AARs. Granted, it's a rather small villa, but the mosaics are interesting, with their depictions of the everyday lives of Writers' Study imps.

    Wars of the Gods Ancient Wars- Uniting Germania!, Let’s Play Divide et Impera - Athens, Conquering Gaul, and Wars of the Gods: Ancient Wars - Creating the Roman Empire are all video AARs by the amazingly productive zachman1201. Meanwhile, another video AAR, Arverni Rise and Found the Kingdom by deermarksu, plunges us straight into drama and turmoil, beginning with a battle where the king dies.

    Our first text-based Rome II AAR is The Life of Hiero II and the Rise of the Hieronidai by Marble Emperor, telling the story of Hiero II and his friend, Anaxis. Next, we see New Town is a Carthage AAR by Alwyn. In the most recent chapter, the daughter of the Carthaginian emperor is on a dangerous diplomatic mission in Antioch, with her life hanging in the balance. Lastly, an AAR that needs no introduction, since it won first place in last year's Yearly Awards - “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) by Welsh Dragon. Whether describing battles, politics, idle conversations or the surrounding scenery and weather, Welsh Dragon's writing is always evocative and elegant.

    We'll head back outdoors and across the gangplank of our very own first-rate ship of the line, The Intrepid Archivist, for our next selection. In addition to your masks, please ensure that you are all wearing the lifejackets provided. The imps are all able to swim, and we do have trained sea-rescue imps standing by in case of need, but I'm sure we'd all prefer it if nobody fell overboard.

    Our Napoleon AARs have been provided by just two people - zachman1201 and William of Orange. The Great War 6.0 Russia, by zachman1201, is a video AAR that tells a story set during World War I, thanks to the mod used, as does The Great War v6.0 for Great Britain. The third Napoleon video AAR from zachman1201 is Kingdom of Italy- NTW3- Conquering Europe is set in the Napoleonic era, and uses the Napoleonic Total War III mod.

    William of Orange's contributions to our Napoleon AARs include two video AARs, Italian Campaign on VH/VH and Prussian Campaign (of the Coalition) on VH/VH. His third AAR is a text AAR - The Egyptian Campaign on VH/VH, setting out the course of the campaign very effectively in summary style.

    Beyond the next bulkhead we find our Empire AARs:
    First, A Polish Coward and a Scoundrel by DreamKing. It tells the elegantly-written story of Charles, a gravedigger, and his experiences. Although, sadly, it isn't finished, it's well worth a look. Rise and Rise Again by High Delivery is a Great Britain AAR using the Imperial Splendour mod, and the dynamic story is told in an engaging style. Finally, we have another video AAR by zachman1201, Empire Darthmod USA Let’s Play, which, as you would guess from the title, uses DarthMod Empire.

    As we enter the Medieval II AARs castle, you will see several imps swimming in, or drinking from, the moat. They seem to be having a great time out there! However, the Chief Medical Imp reminds me that you should not follow the example of the imps, as the water in the moat is probably not safe for humans.

    Here in the solar, we find all our video AARs. There are three by zachman1201, with one set in Skyrim and two in Middle-earth: Tamriel Belongs to the Nords! (TESTW 2.0), For The White City!, and Northern Dunedain. We also have two videos by another well-known and talented video-maker, Fahnat. These are Men of the Mountains, another tale based in Middle-earth, and Duchy of Athens, using the Tsardoms: Total War mod. In addition to these, we are also very happy to have The Aura of the Drontids by Drtad. This tells of a Hayastan campaign, and, in unusually but effectively, incorporates a written chapter as well as the videos.

    The written AARs are currently located in the great hall:
    [TES AAR] Dragon Break by Christonikos is set in Tamriel. Christonikos had the very original idea of presenting this AAR as a series of individual (very short) books, all independent of each other, yet all based on the same campaign. [REVAMP] -- Of Crosses & Crescents: A Crusader States AAR by SoulofChrysamere follows three generals and their progress through the various wars fought by the Crusader States. Moving from an AAR composed of short sections to short AARs, Dead*Man*Wilson has written two mini-AARs, both using the Tsardoms: Total War mod. These are The Swiss Confederacy: A Mini AAR and The Duchy of Austria: Crucifix of Venus. Despite their brevity, both are packed with action and great screenshots.

    As a complete change, our next AAR is an epic tale - To earn a Kingdom by Turkafinwë. This Northern Dúnedain AAR won third place in our Yearly Awards for 2018-2019, and with good reason. It effectively evokes Middle-earth, and is always full of interest. An Uruk's Tale by Maltacus is once again set in Middle-earth, and is packed with humour, liveliness and engaging characters.

    Of Wolves and Prey by Cookiegod, started in 2017, is truly a veteran of the Writers' Study. The most recent chapter saw both Matteo and Gundulf beginning potentially-dangerous journeys. After a break, Dreadbolt by Alavaria has recently received several new updates, all of them action-packed and entertaining, and with informative screenshots showing the inexorable rise of Pisa. The final AAR on this list is another long-running favourite - Written in Sand by Kilo11. This Nabatean AAR won second place at the Yearly Awards 2018-2019 and is known for its excellent writing and characterisation, and its evocation of the land and cultures in which it is set.

    In keeping with the wide variety of its contents, the building that houses our Eras AARs uses several different styles. From the outside, it may appear to be another Roman villa - though this time with an octagonal tower at each corner, but inside, you'll see that the spaces are not divided by walls, but by elegantly decorated partitions.

    In the remarkably modern cinema room, we find the video AARs.

    We begin with two by Fahnat: Montenegro AAR (OiM), and Phoenicia AAR. Both of these are Rome: Total War AARs, though each uses a different mod. As always with Fahnat's videos, these are of very high quality and full of drama and excitement. By contrast, The Mongol Invasion (video) by Napoleon Complex is a Shogun: Total War AAR, and shows the value of both high quality troops and good tactics! The most recent video AAR in this section, Surviving the Hordes, is by Drtad, and shows us a Western Roman Empire campaign using Invasio Barbarorum Ruina Romae.

    In the slightly less modern (but very comfortable) library area, the first two AARs are both by Derc:
    Chronicles of the Night Breed is an AAR using the End of Days II mod for Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion. Derc describes it as a dark fantasy, so it seems appropriate that it tells of the lands of the Ghostmen. Derc Plays Through World History is an innovative AAR that should perhaps be considered a whole series of AARs stitched together, as Derc plays through as many Total War games as he feels like doing, and shares all of those campaigns with us with humour and style.

    Our next AAR carries the familiar title The Empire Strikes Back by Wahram1991. It is not, however, set in a galaxy far, far away, but is an account of a Seleucids campaign in Rome: Total War, complete with illustrative maps and other images as well as the text, which explains what happened and also why it happened in a straightforwardly engaging way. [IB SAI:AAR] The Last Pagan Emperor by Justinian Australis was begun in 2012, and it's great to see that it's still being updated. The most recent chapter tells of a dramatic clash between the Caledonians and the Romans.

    For our non-Total War AARs, I believe the Imps were aiming to build a setting that would represent all the possible games that could be included. I'm not sure they've quite achieved that, but there are certainly elements from many different games represented in the surroundings. As you look around, you should be able to see archtecture, objects and art from many different games, and I think the statue over there might be an impressionistic rendering of Pong.

    In this section, we find The Misadventures of Diabolical Amazons by Maltacus, a Diablo II AAR. This tells the humorous story of the exploits of the Amazons of the title as they try to outdo each other.

    Our other two AARs here are both based on Skyrim. First, A Sword for the Nine by TheKnightofDay. Tertius Valerius Colovians has been searching for the Relics of Pelinal Whitestrake, and with them the chance to rebuild his family's name and fortunes, but what will he do once they are found?
    Fractured Dragon by Swaeft is the story of Gared Macer, the last living disciple of the School of Restoration of the Mages Guild. At the beginning of the AAR, he is hunting the crown of High King Logrolf of Windhelm, though finding it is no more than the beginning of his adventures.

    Now, if you'll all follow me down this corridor and through the decontamination showers, we'll move on to our Creative Writing section.

    The imps have built us an entire historic house with gardens to house the Creative Writing. As buildings of this kind have frequently been added to and altered over many years, this enables us to provide a suitable environment for most of our Creative Writing pieces, while keeping all of them in the same area. Stories set during the Second World War are able to use the Trapezium Room, for instance, which has been decorated in an appropriate style (and with many quadrilaterals), while stories set in dystopian ruins are accommodated in a specially-designed Post-Apocalyptic Garden. The imps have been remarkably ingenious!

    Our longer pieces of Creative Writing include:
    The Fool and His Keeper by Kilo11, telling the tale of Morn, a magic sword who doesn't kill, and Matt, the shepherd boy who wields Morn, as they adventure through the world. Meanwhile, gary gives us just a glimpse into the world of his fantasy novel, The Other Side of Here (just a small part).

    Basileos Leandros I leads us into a world of plots, politics, intrigue and impending war in Swords Made of Letters - Yearly Awards 2018 (2nd place CW), and World War 0 by Shoebopp records another World War, as the title implies - but one much earlier than the two in our history books. The story begins in 272 BC

    Our short Creative Writing stories were all written by just two authors. Naturally, it would give away too much to provide detailed descriptions of shorter works like these, but they are well worth reading!
    Kyriakos is well known as a writer whose TWC writing focuses on short stories, so it is no surprise that he has written no less than four different stories for us since the start of last October. They are: The start of a short story (on Vengeance), Peace, The Sarabandes series and Danger. Our remaining two short stories are both historical stories and are both by mad orc: An event, and Bose’s assassination and Mujibnagar uprising.

    The final item found in our Creative Writing section is a melancholy, haunting poem - Old Soldier by Dubh the dark.

    That concludes this tour of the Writers' Study. I do hope you're not too wet from the imps' vigorous assistance with the hand-washing - and I'm sure you'll all be pleased to hear that the imps have arranged for socially-distanced refreshments to be provided while you dry off. They have been very careful to remain at least 2 metres away from all of the ingredients at all times while baking the cakes and biscuits, so everything should be safe to eat. (Though the Writers' Study kitchen is now rather messy, as a result of the imps throwing everything into the mixing bowl from across the room. If the giggling is any guide, they found it most fun when they missed. In fact, there are rumours that the imps enjoy this method of cooking so much that they're planning to adopt it permanently...)

    Thank you for joining us. As always, there's a great deal we haven't been able to see on this tour, but that just gives us all an excuse for another visit!
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Flinn's Avatar
      Flinn -
      It's unbelievable the amount of quality content which is posted in the WS, it really is a cornerstone here at TWC!
    1. Alwyn's Avatar
      Alwyn -
      The Chief Medical Imp, who's in charge of safety, is wearing a full environment suit. Should I be worrying about this?
    1. Turkafinwë's Avatar
      Turkafinwë -
      Great to see we are able to open the illustrious halls of the Writers' Study amid this pandemic. I do wish I could've joined the imps in the moat for some water shenanigans. Once again a wondrous tour of the WS Caillagh!