Sunday, May 29, 2011

CCRP: A LEGO Story-Telling Retrospective - Part 1

Having packed all my LEGO up for the summer (to sit, well-packaged in my future father-in-law's barn) while I return to Canada without 99% of it has made it difficult to come up with topics to write about--and the crazy humidity that comes with living on the ocean from the perspective of a deep-inland prairie boy has utterly drained me of any sort of ambition.

Fortunately, my lazy wanderings in the past few days took me back to a place in my LEGO history that bears writing about, namely the Classic-Castle Roleplay (2004-2006).

The Classic-Castle Roleplay--the first, and most successful, of what would actually be three roleplayed stories under that name--was started on Classic-Castle's Gaming Forum in 2004, only a month or two before I joined the forums as a user. By the time I got involved in the Roleplay, about a month after I joined the site, it had gone through its first major phase (the "Misfits" era), and was ramping up towards what would eventually be its most massive--although in most opinion NOT most enjoyable--epic. Now, I don't plan on giving a blow-by-blow of a five-year-defunct online story written ostensibly about LEGO people (its completed epics are available in the Archives, anyway); rather, I want to look at its role as a major part of my storytelling history.

The Roleplay (and it was the Roleplay for a good year and a half for me) came to me at a time when my LEGO-writing projects (a series of stories in homemade book form that spanned my late childhood and adolescent years) was coming to an end. Given that the Roleplay absorbed massive amounts of my creative output over the next couple years, it's very easy for me to say that it succeeded and replaced my earlier, private LEGO world, and was in many steps clearly a forerunner to the public, LEGO-based storytelling I now attempt in the form of Grandfather's Tale and Aquazone Breakfast News.

The three figures just pictured were my initial protagonists, and looking at where they came from, it's clear that my initial ambitions were simple: get my toes wet in the collaborative-writing pool, and not work too hard at anything TOO serious. From left to right, the characters are: Sir Aethelred Dractor, "the Old Man," and Elwen dan Raleigh. They were joined by my initial villain, the Sorcerer-King:

The Sorcerer-King is a name that will be familiar to readers of Grandfather's Tale, because it was the name I assigned to the evil wizard from the 2007 Castle line. The Roleplay character, however, although he gave his name to the later wizard when I being lazy, was originally an import from my "epic"--my only serious and non-LEGO attempt at creative world-building. The Old Man was an import from the same world, though I called him "the Old Man" specifically to avoid using his real name in my epic, because I didn't want the name stolen. Although it was not a LEGO-based epic, I did have a go at recreating its characters in LEGO form, as can be seen in this Brickshelf gallery. I should warn anyone curious enough to go there that it was very first Brickshelf subfolder, and contains my oldest surviving attempts at LEGO photography.

Because the Old Man and the Sorcerer-King were both on loan non-canonically from my non-LEGO epic, it was inevitable that they would eventually leave Dametreos (as the world of the CCRP was known, in honour of its creator), but it would be take me close to a year before I was finished with their plots--partly because I took my time, and partly because they got swept into other stories along the way. Neither was a particularly memorable character: the Old Man was a fairly standard old wizard and the Sorcerer-King was your garden variety evil-wizard king (albeit he was the Dragon rather than the Big Bad, to link to TV-Tropes. Their main saving graces, in my opinion, is that I didn't try to go over-the-top with either of them, but made their plot more of a private battle than an all-out, Lord of the Rings-esque war. Whether their "mysterious pasts" (kept mysterious so as to preserve the solitude of my non-LEGO epic) helped them or not, I don't know.

Sir Dractor and Elwen were also imports from the non-LEGO epic, according to the backstories I gave them for the CCRP, but neither had ever belonged to it before. Elwen was a freshly-minted character, with a vaguely-LotR-sounding first name, and a last name borrowed from a Royal Knight character. She was included in an early attempt at gender-balanced not only the LEGO-verse, but my stories. Unfortunately in that respect, she was approximately as run-of-the-mill as the Old Man or the Sorcerer-King. As a 17-year-old boy, and a nerd at that, I certainly had no idea how to write a woman--let alone a warrior woman with a bit of a tragic past. To my credit, I can reread most of what I wrote, and not cringe... but the flipside of that coin is that most of what I reread about Elwen is rather forgettable.

All of which left Sir Dractor as the most successful of my original four characters. Like the Old Man and the Sorcerer-King he pre-existed the CCRP, but unlike them he did not originally belong to the world of my non-LEGO epic. Instead, he was imported almost directly from the world of my earlier LEGO stories, based directly on the sets. Sir Dractor, you see, was originally a Royal Knight, who came with my 6090 Royal Knight's Castle. Sir Dractor was the knight in red, on the brown horse, and because he was a Royal Knight character with a Dragon Master head, he had a long history in my LEGO legendarium of standing out in the crowd. In some very early games or stories, he was the villainous rebel against the Royal Knight king's rule; in later years, he was something of a Worf-esque Klingon: a noble barbarian who had joined the good guys.

It's kind of funny looking back to think that Sir Dractor was the character who was most successfully written, because he was every bit as much of a cliché as the others: he was a talented warrior with almost unbelievable skills--and tough as nails. In one memorable crowning moment of awesome, he was hit by a catapult stone and got back up to fight.

Sir Dractor is also the character from the CCRP most likely to reappear in Grandfather's Tale at some point--not counting the reappearance of the Sorcerer-King's name. This is not so much because of his success as a CCRP character as it is because of his original roots: as he was originally a knight with my Royal Knight's Castle, it is probable that he will return there if/when Grandfather's Tale brings me in the direction of the Royal King's court. The Old Man is going to make an appearance in the background of Chapter 12 (which, with Chapter 11, has already been photographed and will be finished some time this summer), but is unlikely to have a speaking role.

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