Writers’ Room #5
It’s that time again, folks!
Yep! Another peek into the twisted minds of us writers, delving into the development of Burning Sky. Now with questions! Also, we weren’t able to do one for Chapter 7, so this one’s a double feature. Let’s get to it!
Voyager: So early in the chapter, Ike has a run-in with a Luminite peddler. And as much as this is a fine bit of world-building – we’ll come back to that – there was definitely something else we really wanted to get out of this scene.
EvilBob: Yeah, we really wanted to convey that Ike is actually… you know… good at his job. At least in a mechanical sense. He’s entirely capable. Green, but competent. He does a pretty good job dealing with that situation, all things considered. He’s not stupid. He just doesn’t always make the best decisions.
Voyager: It’s kind of a double-edged sword. Characters shouldn’t easily accomplish everything you set in front of them. Because then the story doesn’t exactly have a point. But their failures or struggles need to also not be so egregious that it registers to the audience as them being ineffectual. Unless their being ineffectual is the point. That isn’t the point here. So the balancing act is tough.
Getting To Know Faye
EvilBob: Faye is a significant character. So it makes sense that we have her around as much as possible. That’s all the initial scene with her is really there for. It’s meant to let us get to know her more, but without being too overbearing.
Voyager: Yeah. We didn’t want to just dump all the relevant information about her into the scene, all at once. That would’ve been… yeesh.
EvilBob: Yeah. Bad call. This was definitely the better way to go about it. Having Ike slowly learn more about her so we learn with him and make the process feel a lot more organic.
Voyager: And that isn’t all. Sure, we get some of the quirkier aspects of her personality across, but we also get to see her actually do something. Her offering to help that one Djinn kid says a lot about her in very little time. So as ancillary as that scene may be, I really like having it. Sometimes a scene doesn’t really need to serve a greater purpose.
EvilBob: Though it does wind up serving another purpose. Look over this scene, then look back at how Ike talks to the slave handler in Chapter 1. You should notice something.
The Battle with the Akuma
Voyager: Seeing Baldrik take on the Akuma – an entire horde of them, even – in his prime paints a certain picture of what these things are and what they’re capable of.
EvilBob: But seeing Ike take on just one of them – Heavy-Class or otherwise – paints a very different picture. The Akuma are monsters. A force of nature. They can’t be reasoned with. Can’t be bargained with… you know the rest.
Voyager: Ike is nowhere near Baldrik’s level. Even in Baldrik’s prime. So automatically there’s a massive sense of danger, even though he’s only fighting the one. It also makes the fight a lot more personal, in a way. Because it’s just him and this creature. It makes you feel a lot closer to the threat. And he has actual friends and family in the area. Some of whom he’d just sent away to safety. So those stakes seem even higher.
EvilBob: One thing I always love is the introduction of this thing. The way it appears on the scene is just terrifying, when I envision myself in any of their shoes.
Voyager: For me, the most fun I had in writing this whole scene was just how Ike was having to think in order to survive against this thing, let alone try to hurt it. I like to think we pretty clearly illustrated how out of his league Ike was, the whole time.
EvilBob: It also pretty effectively let us show the difference between a Graceless scrub like Ike and a Graced Knight Veteran like Ramos, or even Baldrik. The Akuma are a pretty good “measuring stick” in that way, I think. You can pretty easily use them to see just where characters stand, compared to one another.
Now we’ve got some questions to answer, pertaining to the chapter. So here’s a quick Q&A!
Q: How old is the Wall of Champions? Do many Templars end up on it?
A: It’s… old. Very old. The Templars have been around for centuries and the wall has existed for nearly as long. They generally save it for people who become widely celebrated among the Templar Order, as well as their leaders. Baldrik and Ramos, for example, are both war heroes from the Uprising. The current Justices of the order – their acting leaders – are also on it. But you’ll learn more about them later.
Q: How widespread is the Black Market on Luminite Potions? How dangerous are these potions?
A: How widespread is the Black Market on any illegal or regulated substance? Luminite Potions are extremely dangerous, which is why they’re so heavily regulated. As evidenced by the chapter, itself, these things can kill you. You need training just to be able to handle an ordinary dosage. An ordinary dosage is, like… a sip. Ike chugged a small bottle of the stuff. Don’t try that at home, kids. Trust me. You don’t have main character powers. And all that is to say nothing of its addictive qualities, by the way.
Q: Wasn’t Ike standing up to that Slave Handler dangerous for his career?
A: Eh. If his Commanding Officer wasn’t Ramos, maybe.
Q: Are rogue Akuma attacks on major cities common? Have many Templars fought Akuma?
A: Uh, no. Rogue Akuma, period, are considerably rare. They generally move in hordes. As for whether many Templars fight them… yes and no. Generally speaking, military Templars are the ones that deal with them. The ordinary city guard variety – Ike, for example – are not generally equipped to fight them. It’d be like sending a mall cop to stop the Hulk.
Q: Will we ever get Ramos backstory?
A: …we can neither confirm nor deny that that’s something we’ll be pursuing in the future.
Q: Who is the Grand Cleric? What is her job?
A: She’s the leader of the Creed of Eleos. She acts as its religious head and the top of the executive branch of their Creed’s government… also a glorified babysitter to leaders of other Creeds who might be bickering. Ahem.
Side Characters with Character
Voyager: So the interesting thing about this chapter was how we framed it. We knew that despite it being a “Baldrik Chapter,” Baldrik wasn’t going to be in it much. That meant we’d need to have him interacting with far more than just Adeline. And we’d have to let Adeline interact with more than just bandits while Baldrik was gone.
EvilBob: That’s where the idea of fleshing out the character of Seamus came from. Originally he was just a funny background character, good for a quick gag. But one thing we like about Burning Sky is that the characters are all pretty well-rounded. Those who you might think are just there for one-dimensional gags can easily show themselves to be a lot deeper, later on. And we decided to use Seamus to illustrate that.
Voyager: Turning his alcoholism from a gag to a genuinely compelling character trait wasn’t difficult. We just had to change up how we approached writing it. And I think we found a very natural way to do this, tying it into an implied past so it felt more like a part of the character than just an overt trait.
EvilBob: So. The fight was awesome.
Voyager: Yeeeah… also pretty tricky, though.
EvilBob: It sure wasn’t easy. After all, we just went from Ike fighting a Heavy-class Akuma, in Chapter 7, to Adeline fighting… some bandits. That’s deescalation, if I’ve ever seen it. But it still really works.
Voyager: The most difficult part, though, was wrapping it up. I remember in the original draft, Baldrik was actually still around. He was just watching from a distance, never revealing that he was actually there. He treated it like a test. Then he showed up at the very end to give Adeline what she needed for her biggest moment in the fight.
EvilBob: Yeah. And I do think what we ultimately decided to go with was just better. Better for her character arc, anyway. This way she doesn’t have Baldrik suddenly showing up and helping her. It proves his point about her being able to do this without him, so it was a good call. You think Seamus might undermine that a little though?
Voyager: Not really. He didn’t help that much. And even if he did, I sort of saw it more like a torch-passing moment. Where Seamus is around to fulfill the same role for her that he presumably did for her father. But that’s just my own thinking on it.
Voyager: This… this was hard.
EvilBob: Well, it sure wasn’t easy. Writing that sort of Father-Daughter/Mentor-Student relationship Baldrik and Adeline have has always been kinda tricky.
Voyager: Sure, but the actual challenge was writing that goodbye scene. I’ve always kinda struggled with those. Probably because I don’t do it often. This one was also tricky because of how much this chapter changed, though.
EvilBob: Oh, for sure. Actually, this chapter probably saw the most changes out of any in the entire book. Baldrik originally gave Adeline her present at the end of the fight, if I remember right. Yet in this one he gives it to her here, before he leaves.
Voyager: Yeah. Considering the changes we discussed in that last segment, that seemed to fit. I also added another scene, earlier on, where they exchanged a much more awkward goodbye. That scene wasn’t there at first. But I do think it was necessary and also makes their second goodbye a lot stronger. Some of the best scenes are the ones that build onto others.
Q: Does Baldrik like being retired?
A: Don’t see why he wouldn’t. He certainly has his reasons for being antsy, but you’ll learn those another time. I think he enjoys his life in this town, though. A simple life as a blacksmith, surrounded by friendly people with whom you’ve forged some strong relationships? I’d enjoy it.
Q: What, exactly, was Seamus in the past?
A: Hardly a secret. They basically outright state what his deal is, without getting into specifics. He was the town’s constable/deputy. That’s all.
Q: Are bandit attacks like this common?
A: Oh yeah. This particular town dealt with them a lot before Baldrik appeared. But towns like these, in general, deal with this kind of thing a lot. The Templars don’t tend to station many knights of the Order in these smaller settlements. That’s the very thing Baldrik is aiming to correct. One of the things, anyway.
Q: Adeline serves up more than just drinks in this chapter? How often has she had to serve up justice?
A: Not as often as you probably think. Most of Adeline’s actual serious experience likely comes from her having broken up fights in the tavern. This is a logging town. Thems some big dudes.
Q: Are all the bank tellers this hardcore?
Q: What emboldened these bandits to act so recklessly?
A: Baldrik left. Pretty self-explanatory, that.
Q: How intense was Adeline’s training?
A: Pretty intense, if her image is anything to go by. As we said, she doesn’t have a ton of actual experience. But if her design is anything to go by, she’s a fairly muscular woman with quite a few scars. So yeah.
Q: Why did Baldrik choose to retire in this town?
A: …we are not at liberty to discuss the details of your question at this time.
And that’s all for now! Fun discussion, this time. And thanks for the questions! Any further questions, feel free to contact us Here or leave a comment below. And stay tuned because next week brings us to Chapter 9! And… hoo boy is that one a doozy.
Keep up the Awesome!