Sagiro's Story Hour: Now That It's Over

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Who said I didn't like it? All I meant is that I felt the story's gaming roots are showing, so I said so without saying so.

Sorry if I got the wrong impression! (I've read before that if you want to know what a reviewer really thought of a work, count the words spent on positive/negative feelings about it.)

It's interesting: I've gotten feedback from many, many readers at this point, and I've noticed a very clear correlation between "people who feel it still has remnants of an RPG in it" and "people who knew it was based on an RPG before they read it." Which does not make your observation any less valid or important; I'd still prefer for readers of any stripe not to be too distracted by the RPG-ness of the source material.


Honestly, I felt about it the same way I felt about the Dragon Tattoo books. Once I picked them up I couldn't put them down, but once I was done, I was just... done.

I hope my comments help as you continue working on the series.

I will absolutely consider your comments -- and those of all my reviewers -- as I write the rest of the series. (I should warn you, though, that I am unlikely to escalate the "movie rating" of the books past PG-13. I've heard from lots of people that they loved the fact they could give TVC to their kid(s) to read.)

Thanks again!
 
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Everett

First Post
Sorry if I got the wrong impression! (I've read before that if you want to know what a reviewer really thought of a work, count the words spent on positive/negative feelings about it.)

Well, my review was short because I just don't read books (or watch movies) that exist in a PG/PG-13 spectrum. A friend is trying to get me to watch Kung Fu Panda 3 and the thought of it just makes me cringe.

And while in the Story Hour this didn't matter to me because the story was so huge and sprawling (and I'm aware that the group dynamics came from the table dynamics of the players, and I've played enough D&D campaigns to know that usually the table dynamics are on the safe side, not the Game of Thrones side), in a novel I do demand more depth.

That said - I think you could shoot for more depth without moving into R-rated territory. The group after all is a mix of attitudes toward death, violence and morality that range from an insistence on empathy and compassion (Ernie) to pragmatism (Grey Wolf, Morningstar) -- and you could make a case that Aravia is pragmatic to the point of sociopathy - after Mrs. Horn's death, her only thoughts are that the old woman was expendable, "but she knew better than to say that aloud." All of this can make for interesting intragroup dynamics, as it often does in the Story Hour, but in the novel I noticed a leaning or preference for the "Ernie" viewpoint to matter more than the "Grey Wolf/Morningstar" point of view.

Sagiro said:
It's interesting: I've gotten feedback from many, many readers at this point, and I've noticed a very clear correlation between "people who feel it still has remnants of an RPG in it" and "people who knew it was based on an RPG before they read it." Which does not make your observation any less valid or important; I'd still prefer for readers of any stripe not to be too distracted by the RPG-ness of the source material.

Right - I can't know if I would be thinking "this feels like a D&D game" if I didn't know it's based on one, but my sense is that if I didn't know, I would still be thinking "something feels off; things happen too neatly."
 

Markn

First Post
Hey Sagiro,

Two things as I make my way through your story. First, Did you ever map out the Slices of Het Branoi? I'd be fascinated to see it. Second, I would like to suggest that you add maps to your second novel of both continents. I am of the opinion it helps readers to understand your world and draw them in. This can only lead to more potential readers and further demonstrate the effort you have put into your story. Just my 2 coppers.
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Well, my review was short...

Sorry, I should have been clearer. The review was plenty long, no worries about that. I meant the proportion of words in the review dedicated to things you did/did not like. But that's neither here nor there; it was an excellent review, and much more useful to me than something that just says "5 Stars - loved it."


That said - I think you could shoot for more depth without moving into R-rated territory. The group after all is a mix of attitudes toward death, violence and morality that range from an insistence on empathy and compassion (Ernie) to pragmatism (Grey Wolf, Morningstar) -- and you could make a case that Aravia is pragmatic to the point of sociopathy - after Mrs. Horn's death, her only thoughts are that the old woman was expendable, "but she knew better than to say that aloud." All of this can make for interesting intragroup dynamics, as it often does in the Story Hour, but in the novel I noticed a leaning or preference for the "Ernie" viewpoint to matter more than the "Grey Wolf/Morningstar" point of view.

All good thoughts for me to chew on. Thanks!
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Hey Sagiro,

Two things as I make my way through your story. First, Did you ever map out the Slices of Het Branoi? I'd be fascinated to see it. Second, I would like to suggest that you add maps to your second novel of both continents. I am of the opinion it helps readers to understand your world and draw them in. This can only lead to more potential readers and further demonstrate the effort you have put into your story. Just my 2 coppers.

I did map out a large section of Slices that I thought might be relevant to the party's interests. :) You can find it in Part 2, Chapter 13 of StevenAC's amazing .pdfs. Page 27.

As for maps of Charagan and (for Book 2) Kivia, I would have loved to include them with Book 1, but didn't have the budget. I think it highly likely that I'll spring for maps in Book 2, and also put them up on my website. Your 2 coppers are spot on!
 

Markn

First Post
I did map out a large section of Slices that I thought might be relevant to the party's interests. :) You can find it in Part 2, Chapter 13 of StevenAC's amazing .pdfs. Page 27.

I do remember that. However the PCs went through a number of Ways after that. Just curious if the latter part was mapped too. Doesn't sound like it tho...

As for maps of Charagan and (for Book 2) Kivia, I would have loved to include them with Book 1, but didn't have the budget. I think it highly likely that I'll spring for maps in Book 2, and also put them up on my website. Your 2 coppers are spot on!

Very cool! I'm glad you have already considered that!
 
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Markn

First Post
Sagiro,

Have you ever listed the gods from the Charagan and Kivian pantheons anywhere? I know that some of the gods have been expanded upon by you throughout the story hour, but would you mind providing a brief list along with their portfolios?
 

SolitonMan

Explorer
Sagiro, or anyone who might read this and recall - what was the original source for the Mordenkainen's Cube item carried by Grey Wolf? When reading the story hour I thought I recalled that item from 1e D&D, but I haven't found it in the DMG and I've looked in subsequent editions but haven't found a listing in any of them. Am I misremembering (something happening far too often these days :/) the item? Was it actually an original item created for the campaign?

Trivial question I know, but it's been on my mind lately so I thought I'd ask here. Especially vexing since a Google search of "Mordenkainen's Cube" returns like two results, one of which is a reference to the story hour! :)
 

Markn

First Post
*standing ovation*

I just finished the Story Hour. There are so many things I would like to say, but I really don't know where to start without repeating what has been said before. I think the only new bit I can add is this: the story (plot) elements in your Story Hour are on par or surpass many published novels I have read. I think it stands up there with grand stories like Game of Thrones, the Dragonlance Saga and others. All this is to say - mighty impressive Sagiro! Thank you so much for the enjoyment - it was pure pleasure to read. Thanks to the players! And lastly, thanks to Steven for compiling the entire story making it easy to read!

For me, there were several areas where the story really shined. In no particular order they are:
1. The Crosser's Maze
2. The number of NPC's, including the depth of these characters whether they were on screen for half a page or were a consistent part of the story
3. Time weaving elements - the future, the past, history rewritten, NPCs from the past awoken in the present, Kibi ending as Abernia where he is in all parts of time, etc
4. The ability to go from cataclysmic story lines to more intimate story lines for the characters. In many ways this reminds me of the Avengers comics (and to some degree the first Avengers movie). I love that tone and you hit it perfectly.
5. The ability to make every character, even NPCs, important to the story arc. This is fantastically done.
6. Any posts which furthered the overall plot. When I reached these posts I was so drawn in that I wanted no distractions. I was literally glued to the story in these moments.

Now that I have the Story Hour completed, the Ventifact Colossus novel is next. Once that is completed you can be assured I will post a review. My review will be based on the merits of the book and I will separate it from the Story Hour. Since you are an aspiring (accomplished?) book author I suspect you would prefer feedback on how the book reads and stands on its own. I'm hoping its just as enjoyable, but to be honest I am worried...it has some major changes, some that I don't think I would have made in your position, but that is putting the cart before the horse as they say. I will let you know my thoughts once I've read it.

Lastly, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then know that I will begin a new D&D campaign this fall and it will be based on your overall Story Hour. I did something similar with Chris Perkins' Iomandra campaign and it worked fantastically. I have a family, with a couple of kids, and freeing my mind from working on the details of the overall plot allows me to focus on the encounters and session pacing I want. Its kind of like using a published module but with way more flexibility. So, for this, thanks, again!

PS - My questions about the gods has been answered. :)
 

Markn

First Post
Finished the novel Sagiro,

I posted a 4 star review on amazon.com - just waiting for it to show up. In the meantime here it is:

The Ventifact Collossus is an ambitious story by author Dorian Hart consisting of a large cast of protagonists, numerous supporting characters, and an ever increasing number of antagonists, Dorian has done an adequate job of keeping up with the ensemble, though at times the character spotlight seems a little thin as the action picks up. I found the story starts a little slow, but as events pick up, so too does the pace of the story. It is clear that Mr. Hart has spent time building the world and its history and with this foundation in mind, Mr, Hart begins to open the faucet of the plot revealing enticing tidbits of information that lead to further questions about the saga and the world itself. It is clear that there is a deeper story that will be revealed in books to come, and it is during these plot revelations that I found the book to be its most riveting. Can't wait for book 2!

The novel is VERY much different from the story hour. At first, my mind was rebelling against the changes, but as the story went on it grew on me more and more. Looking forward to book 2!

Thanks again for the outstanding work!
 

Quartz

Hero
I only looked at the sales blurb but I must say that your changing Aravis to Aravia was a real turn-off. What was the point of the change? The name just doesn't sound right anyway. It doesn't help that a local bus company is called Arriva.

And Isobel to Ysabel just seems like making change for change's sake.
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Sagiro, or anyone who might read this and recall - what was the original source for the Mordenkainen's Cube item carried by Grey Wolf? When reading the story hour I thought I recalled that item from 1e D&D, but I haven't found it in the DMG and I've looked in subsequent editions but haven't found a listing in any of them. Am I misremembering (something happening far too often these days :/) the item? Was it actually an original item created for the campaign?

Trivial question I know, but it's been on my mind lately so I thought I'd ask here. Especially vexing since a Google search of "Mordenkainen's Cube" returns like two results, one of which is a reference to the story hour! :)

Sorry not to have noticed this question before now! The Mordenkainen's Cube was an item of my own invention. My recollection is that it functioned like a rod.
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Finished the novel Sagiro,

...

The novel is VERY much different from the story hour. At first, my mind was rebelling against the changes, but as the story went on it grew on me more and more. Looking forward to book 2!

Thanks again for the outstanding work!

I appreciate the votes of confidence, both regarding the story hour and the book. And thanks for the review! I imagine that the book-version is going to be jarring for many Story Hour readers, as I made many changes for many reasons (most notably for pacing). Best for such readers to think of it as a book based on the campaign, rather than one which attempts to map every character, side-quest and plot-event one-to-one.
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
I only looked at the sales blurb but I must say that your changing Aravis to Aravia was a real turn-off. What was the point of the change? The name just doesn't sound right anyway. It doesn't help that a local bus company is called Arriva.

And Isobel to Ysabel just seems like making change for change's sake.

I changed Aravis to a woman because I wanted a more gender-balanced set of protagonists. Nothing more than that. And "Ysabel" was actually the original preferred spelling of the player whose character she was.

I think you will best served reading the book without carrying any specific expectation over from the game. I'd like to think I didn't change anything "for change's sake." I'm leaning on the game heavily for source material, obviously, but where I made any particular decision I tried to start fresh from the question "what will serve the books the best?" If that bothers you, and you'd like to skip the books in order to preserve the game itself as the "real" version of the campaign in your mind, I wouldn't for a second hold it against you. I understand that I'm taking a piece of fiction that readers like you invested in for 15 years, and reinventing it in all sorts of ways. That's inevitably going to lead to some disappointment. C'est la vie!

Oh, and I'm afraid there's little I can do about the names of your local bus companies. :)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Wow. I saw this thread, thought "wow, this is a blast from the past, I remember really enjoying this but do I want to re-read it all..." ... and now I see you've turned it into a book. Well I think I'll just have to look into that! :)
 

Markn

First Post
Hey Sagiro,

How is novel 2 coming along? Anxiously awaiting it...not the least of which is so I can get an updated map!

Would you mind commenting on a few of the locations in the early parts of the story hour and how they fit into the overall story arc?

1. The location beneath Goghan's shop. There were several different forays by the characters, each going deeper and deeper. What were they?
2. What exactly was driving all the humanoids to attack cities - what was the driving force and what was their purpose?
3. At Verdshane, what was the deal with the control room? I understand they controlled the boxes in Kinnet Gorge, but what was the overall purpose for it, and what was the intent by the bad guys for it?
4. How well known is the Church of Uthol Inga? Since they particularly operated in secret, was the average citizen aware of Uthol Inga? Was it seen as a cult?
5. What island is Kynder Hold on? I seem to have conflicting information on its location.
6. Who was Levec Oldbarrow's employer before accepting work for the party?

Thanks again for your time Sagiro!

Edit: Fixed a spelling mistake.
 
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Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Sorry for the delay in answering your questions; I only just noticed they were here! Alas that I'm not certain I can answer all of them, as I ran some of the games in question almost 20 years ago!

1. The stuff beneath Gohgan's shop was meant to foreshadow that Tal Hae was built above the ruins of an older city, Pyke Vale, which was part of Naloric's empire centuries earlier. If memory serves, beneath Gohgan's basement were some old crypts, and beneath *those* were the remains of the home of some mid-level nobleman or merchant.

2. The humanoids were stirred up to attack cities by agents of Emperor Naradawk, slipped through the portal to his prison world early in the campaign. One of these was (I think) the red-armored Restimar, posing as a fabled orcish champion. The goal was simple: the Archmagi were keeping Naradawk out by maintaining the planar gate at Verdshane. By agitating massive humanoid attacks, Naradawk (and his agents) hoped to divert the Archmagi's attention away from the planar gate by forcing them to help defend Charagan from humanoid invasion.

3. The boxes hanging in Kinnet Gorge were just some of many "monsters on ice" Emperor Naloric left behind before he was banished. He figured he wouldn't stay banished forever, and wanted some monsters ready to go when he returned to Charagan. (What happened instead was that, soon after he escaped, he was killed by the Spire.) The control room was the way to wake the boxed-up monsters from a complex magical stasis. (N.B. Kinnet Gorge and its monster-boxes was one of my very earliest ideas in the campaign, put there long before I had fully fleshed out a lot of the campaign details.)

4. Not well known at all. They kept themselves secret, having no other churches or other presence. The average citizen probably gave them very little thought, figuring that Uthol Inga simply had no worshippers. Those with theological education -- most notably the Werthans -- believed that Uthol Inga betrayed the other Gods to the Adversary, and that worship of Her would be a terrible heresy.

5. The northern coast of Nahalm, across the Middle Sea from Harkran/Tal Hae to the north. (Note: my plan is for Book 2 to feature full maps of Charagan and Kivia, drawn by an Actual Artist(tm). I may even put them up on my website before Book 2 is released, once they're ready.)

6. I *think* he had been hired by Sagiro Emberleaf, but honestly I don't recall specifically who it was.

Hope that helps!
 

Iceborn

First Post
6. It was Parthol Runecarver, if I'm not mistaken.
Just finished reading your Story Hour(again) and I just wanted to say that even the mere idea of such a massive campaign inspired me greatly(even more the campaign itself!) and I have begun creating my own long-running game(stole some elements, like the archmage gathering the players and the idea of rewriting time) which is starting in 2 days.
Anyway, not to rattle on too much, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the effort to write down this amazing campaign. You're an awesome DM according to everything I've read, and I envy your players. I'm buying the book as soon as I can, and good luck with part 2!
 

ForceUser

Explorer
Hello,

I'm currently plodding my way through my hard copy of The Ventifact Colossus (slow reader), and enjoying it as an embellished retelling of the story hour I only partially read years ago. I'm fascinated as to what Mrs. Horn's character class might have been, whether she was a PC or an NPC, and whether or not she shows up again in some form or fashion. I suppose I'm hoping for her fate to be revealed as having significant meaning, rather than bad luck on the part of a low level player character, because I quite liked the character and feel that she disappeared far too soon from the narrative (though, like the rest of the Company, I am mystified as to why she was summoned in the first place). I'm about a third of the way through the volume and I am paying close attention to whether another companion shows up to replace her. :)

I agree with your friends who told you to own the story as the product of an RPG. Personally, I am reading it for that reason. It's quite an accomplishment, I think, to spend a decade writing a story only to go back and turn it into a fantasy novel.

Warm regards,
ForceUser
 

Everett

First Post
I guess Sagiro may not see posts here for a while... looked back through the Story Hour today for the first time in about a year. It's as juicy as ever and the reader-chatter between me and others is really enjoyable to look back on too.

Sagiro, think we'll see book 2 in 2017?
 

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