August 31, 2004
Remaking HistoryThere’s something going on with me, since I found AncientWorlds again. It’s reinvigorated old feelings, of something I love to do: Role-writing.
I will offer a lengthy and protracted explanation. I’m involved with a posting group there entitled BelleHistoire, which examines the “what-if’s” of history. An early one was, “What if Julius Caesar survived” and more interesting tidbits like that. We take this in several steps, beginning with the research and development. Several of us will post back and forth as to what we want our PoD (Point of Departure--the “change” in history, or ripple that makes everything else different) to be. With “Caesar Lives” it may have been that Brutus was sleeping in that day, or Marc Antony had found out about the plot before it happened, etc. It has to be plausible, however.
The current scenario in which I’ve jumped full throttle is based on the theory that the Chinese Navy was quite large in the early 1400s and by all rights, should have made it to far distant shores long before the Portuguese. Things happen later on that make the Chinese pull in their vessels, and, well, the Portuguese began to be the rulers of the sea. However, we have decided that we would like to present an alternate history, in which the emperor didn’t make that decision. A post of mine from yesterday went like this:
Zhu Zhanji was born in 1398. He was the son of Zhu Gaozhi, and grandson of Zhu Di, the Emperor Chengzu (Yongle Emperor), the first year of his reign.
Yongle was the force behind the strengthening of the Chinese navy and instituted major reforms in the empire. It was in 1421 that Yongle sent the famous fleet led by Zheng He, that was said to have discovered the new world.
Yongle died in 1424, and his son, who became the Emperor Ren (Hongze Emperor), only reigned a year before he died, but long enough to allow the fleet to fall into lethargy.
Zhu Zhanji was then proclaimed the Emperor Xuan (or XuanZong), the Xuande Emperor in 1426. Xuande reformed management of the empire, and reinforced the great wall. He seemed to be more focused on strengthening the interior rather than the fleet, and although the final voyage took place prior to Xuande's death, the deconstruction of the fleet had already begun.
Xuande died in 1435, to be succeeded by his son, Zhu Qizhen, or the Zhengtong Emperor.
Step one is determining where in that incredibly boring sequence of events was the point of departure. Now remember, there are many other mitigating factors as well. The Chinese pulled back because they felt as if the Mongols inland posed a great enough threat to recall their ships and concentrate their efforts in that direction.
Are you falling asleep yet?
Once we build up the setting, we have to decide who we want the characters to be and begin linking to websites and building an information store. It is not until then that we begin the activity of Role Writing.
Someone will post something to start us off, like:
“The Empress Dowager Zheng woke with a start. It took her a moment to realize she was actually lying in bed, and that she had been the victim of a nightmare.
‘Wi!’ she cried out for her handmaiden.
The child must have been sleeping, for Zheng had to call out a second time before she emerged from the screen behind Zheng’s bed. ‘Fetch me my augur! I must put this memory to paper before it escapes me!’”
Each participant has chosen a character or several characters to whose point of view they must remain attached. A post could follow this up from Zhu Zhanji, the emperor, one of his sons or his consorts, or someone else in Beijing such as a court artist, the captain of the guard, even the handmaiden herself. The next post doesn’t have to even relate to Zheng’s post, it can be someone somewhere else, entirely different.
We keep it on a high level. Only decent writers are allowed to post. The story can take many twists and turns, and through it all, we may change the course of history.
AncientWorlds can be found at www.ancientworlds.net.
Posted by Bastique at August 31, 2004 11:45 PM