The end of our show isn’t the end of Aurelia. Here’s a peek at what lies ahead for the City of Light and its darkly-minded inhabitants:
- In November, the AURELIA BESTIARY will release. Watch for more information at my blog and at City Beast Studio.
- In January 2014, I’ll announce brand-new branding for the world of AURELIA, encompassing all its stories, and reflecting the overall saga behind the stories.
- Later in 2014, the first installment of an eight-part revised and expanded version of Rise of the Tiger will release for Kindle, featuring all-new plot lines and a deeper exploration of the city’s dark secrets.
- Once all eight parts have released, I’ll introduce the next stage of King Jude’s journey, taking him into a faraway land on the other side of Aurelia’s mysterious continent.
- AURELIA: Edge of Darkness, the show, may return for future seasons if interest and the creative time come together.
- And who knows what else might come up? If the future of this world is anything like its past, amazing things are right around the corner.
As the end nears, intrepid Aurelians gather around Horatio Moncrethe for a trip to the deepest parts of the city. Others, with less noble motives, scheme against their fellow citizens; meanwhile, others face the menace of strange powers from outside the city.
I have learned a lot from this project. While there was a lot to take in, what advice I could offer to others planning a similar project is pretty straight forward.
First and foremost is stay flexible. The nature of this type of media makes being rigid more of an obstacle than a boon. Rigidity stifles the creative process in this medium because, as great as we’d like to think we are and how capable we are at covering all our bases, often times, another perspective can breathe fresh air into something that runs the risk of growing stale if we remain rigid. As we tried to maintain a modicum of realism, flexibility is much of how life is in that as much as we plan for things, sometimes it just doesn’t turn out how we expected.
Secondly, remember this is only your imagination. There is no need to get too attached to your imaginary persona and realize when someone slights your characters or NPCs it’s not a slight against you. This ties into the first point in that just because they don’t go along with what you laid out as a plot doesn’t mean they don’t respect you. Perhaps they simply see an opportunity to expand their storyline in the overall story arc.
Third, expect friction. With as many people as there are in the world, it is impossible to have all personalities of actors mesh together. Some may fall into the category of “Mary Sue” where they are simply good at everything and some even border on what is known as “godmodding,” which is playing a character with super powers who, for whatever reason, cannot be touched or hurt by others. Of course, there are many who simply go with the flow but for those who fall into the latter two cases, this leads to my fourth pointer.
Establish precedence early and be sure to nip these things early. If you don’t, you can’t expect the individuals in question to change their roles without causing a lot of interruptions. Having said that, one should still stay more in the background instead of always in the forefront micromanaging the story. It takes away from the fun . . . which leads to my final point of advice.
Have fun. Sure things are crazy and out of hand, but in all due honesty, if they aren’t dominating the story, who cares? Just have fun and let the story go where it may. It may prove to be the most interesting story of all.
It’s that time again. Time for a quick peek at what the Aurelians are up to! From damsels in distress to misunderstandings to devious and dangerous alliances — we’ve got it all.
The actors didn’t need me.
Don’t get me wrong: I have plenty to do to keep the show together. But right now, actors’ individual and collaboratively-conspired plots have taken center stage. The action is moving on its own. So much so, that I’ve purposely held off the next meta-story plot point, while actors continue to respond to what they developed themselves last week.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet . . . I’m not sad about this!
So how is it that actors work together to build momentum? Largely, it’s by nurturing “stories-within-the-story” that they initiate as their characters rub shoulders in the world of Aurelia. These interactions can take many forms:
1. Direct requests
Whether or not they’ve agreed ahead of time, Aurelians often make direct requests to one another in their videos. This is one of the easiest ways for a new actor to engage other actors and get plugged in. By targeting another character and asking them to join a cause or offer help, actors spark new mini-stories and run with them—with plenty of clever results.
2. Insults or challenges
Nothing sparks drama like a little old-fashioned rivalry. Of course, to maintain the fun, actors must be able to clearly separate character-to-character animosity from real-life disagreement. Often before posting an inter-character assault, the initiating actor will contact the recipient backstage to let them know the affront is of course entirely IC (in character).
Some actors have begun experimenting with holding IC events. Currently, our playwright “Josus Thimblewick” is preparing to open his new play The Calamitous Siren, an entirely in-world enterprise. Another character, nobleman “Gervain Khorvanus,” posted an invitation to a social at his estate. The actor playing Gervain wants to experiment with holding this social as a mass roleplay via Google Hangout, a recording of which would be uploaded to the Theatrics site.
Story momentum in Aurelia has been gathering steam (pun intended!) quite nicely on its own. With all these deals, insults, and invitations flying around . . . the only question this showrunner now has is: “How do I keep it all straight in my head?”
Oh — and by the way, there’s PLENTY of room for YOU to come join the fun!
Aurelia is, however, a lot like playing chess.
Given the cloak-and-dagger nature of Aurelia, individual plots tend to unfold like a carefully-plotted chess game. Characters have competing—even hidden—motivations. Some actors plan their characters’ stories weeks in advance, while others work out the details as they shoot. All strive to move across the board on their own terms. Yet they must work together and against each other.
In such a checkered landscape, how do Aurelians ever collaborate?
Here are a few of the most popular methods:
1) Video Tagging
The Theatrics platform allows actors to “tag” other actors in their video posts. Many actors use this feature regularly to notify another actor via email that s/he has been mentioned in a video. Often, this is the start to a more extensive series of back-and-forth videos that represent a kind of “subplot” for that actor’s story.
2) Out-Of-Character Dealing
Actors have two easy options to contact each other “back stage” as we call it around Aurelia. The first is through our closed actor Facebook group, which serves as a home for general announcements, out-of-character discussion, and a springboard where actors can find and friend each other for deeper conversations.
The other option is our Public Discussion forum on the Theatrics platform. This feature uses Disqus to power a similar type of interaction to Facebook.
3) Surprise Challenges
In this instance, a character challenges another character to take a particular action without prior notification. For example, in a recent video, noblewoman Eugenia Sphazomai begged scientists, Marius Menchevit and Nicodeamus Barzimon, to shelter her fugitive son. Will the actors behind these scientists choose to take Eugenia’s son into their storyline? Or will their characters refuse to help him? The actress playing Eugenia (and incidentally, her murderer too!) doesn’t know. She awaits her opponents’ next move, so she can plan her future story installments accordingly.
Starting to understand why I compare Aurelia to chess?
In Aurelia, I make a move. You make a move. We ponder our options and make a different move. And suddenly, somehow, we find ourselves moving across the board.
Back in June, I wrote a post about structuring the story of Aurelia. Theatrics‘ unique actor-response model has only been used a couple of times, so my twelve-week arc was tentative at best. What would happen when an unknown number of individual stories entered—and altered—the equation?
The answer to that question still eludes us. But after experiencing the story at work for the last few weeks, here are a few thoughts:
1) Aurelia is co-created.
The truth of this idea did not really hit me until this past weekend, as I began assembling our fledgling show wiki, powered by Wikia. In traditional role play environments, players refer to and work within the guidelines of an often-huge “world bible.” While Aurelians have asked this type of content—and our team continues to deliver—we also encourage actors to consider their own self-generated details, props, and lore as part of that “world bible.” The team may set guidelines, but actors ultimately bring the world to life. Their vision of Aurelia is as important as ours.
2) Aurelia is asynchronous.
In traditional role play or theater environments, interaction happens synchronously. Actors gather at one place and time, to experience community face-to-face. (An exception to this would be text-based forum role play.) By contrast, Aurelia’s story unfolds in smaller visual parts and pieces, one video, blog post, or photo at a time. One might imagine this format impedes the development of community. But our actors are collaborating regularly backstage, helping one another, and even planning social gatherings (in real time), all based on a community that accommodates their individual schedules.
3) Aurelia is orchestrated.
Recently actors have asked if I’ll ever take over the role of a play or film director in Aurelia—telling actors what plots to pursue, or how their characters’ stories should turn out. The answer is always “no.” While I act more like a storyteller in a role play environment, stirring the pot and keeping things on track at a very high level, I also encourage actors to become proactive in choosing which stories interest them, who they want to collaborate, and what will happen next. Nonetheless, their inter-character decisions will affect how I spin the meta-story. What an adventure!
AURELIA. It’s not quite LARP. Not quite community theater. It’s co-creative, asynchronous, orchestrated storytelling fun. Now if somebody could just come up with a term for that . . .