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From:     David Shepheard <david_shepheard@???????.com>
Date:     Sun, 4 Jan 2009 04:12:10 -0000
Subject:  Re: Cloakmaster Cycle - Was: OTish art work: Lost River
From: "Adam Miller" <night_druid3000@?????.com>
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 1:10 PM
Subject: Re: [SPELLJAMMER] Cloakmaster Cycle - Was: OTish art work: Lost 
River


> --- On Thu, 12/25/08, David Shepheard <david_shepheard@???????.com> wrote:
>
>> I think what is wrong with the end of the Cloakmaster Cycle
>> is that it stops being stuff that we would want to do if we
>> were Teldin. More specifically, the SJ universe stops being
>> a really cool place to visit and starts being a nasty place
>> where pretty much everyone wants to stab Teldin in the back.
>
> I think at the end, it got to the point of them trying to one-up the 
> 'awesome special effects'.  Seen it in video games, too.  Great opener, 
> but lousy ending.

Some people are a little bit too scared to tell a story about characters. 
The start of the story (which was on a personal level was the best bit 
because people are more able to care about something they can relate to). 
You can kill a thousand NPCs, a million NPCs or a billion NPCs and the 
average reader can't really tell the difference. But kill one NPC or two 
NPCs and they *can* tell the difference.

>> I would much rather have seen two trillogies that were each
>> written by a single author - six books is far to long winded
>> for the plot arc of "how to deal with the magical
>> cloak". Mind you, I like stuff that all the authors
>> (except Russ T Howard) did so maybe a standalone novel from
>> each of them would have been better for Spelljammer.
>
> Not sure how they could have told the story of the cloakmaster in 3 books, 
> but I do notice that there haven't been any 6-book story arcs since.  Do 
> think they learned their lesson there.

Well, considering a bunch of aliens were stomping all over Krynn, someone 
(important) like the Knights of Solamnia or the Wizards of High Sorcery 
could have helped Teldin (out of the principle of enlightened self 
interest). With help he could have been taken to Mount Nevermind and dumped 
into wildspace before the end of the first book. There is a lot of 
interesting stuff that happens to Teldin Moore in space, but it all boils 
down to three basic facts:
1) He is stuck with an Ultimate Helm,
2) Anyone who has come into contact with the Ultimate Helm wants to get hold 
of it and
3) The Ultimate Helm wants to get onto The Spelljammer.

The cloak is the ultimate railroading device. You could give the Cloakmaster 
Cycle one book, three books, six books or nine books, but you would still 
end up with the end of the adventure being set on The Spelljammer and 
Teldin's cloak trying to turn him into its next Captain.

Perhaps it would have been better if the cloak had been played down a bit 
and they had found an alternative reason to send him into space. Then we 
could have had two trillogies that both featured Teldin Moore. The first 
could have involved some other sort of mission and the second could have 
used the same sort of "by the way you have the item of ultimate power" thing 
that LotR sneaked into The Hobbit.

>> I do sometimes wonder if someone (other than the authors)
>> built the overall plot arc of The Cloakmaster Cycle and that
>> people like Elane Cunningham were given starting points and
>> end points that they were obliged to comply with. If The
>> Ultimate Helm was given a straight jacket like that, then
>> perhaps Russ T Howard isn't totally to blame for it not
>> being as good as the other books.
>
> I'm sure there was some of that.  I'm not sure I blame Russ as an author 
> for how it went down, but the whole wrap-up came off as too many loose 
> ends to tie up in a rushed fashion.

Well looking back at how things seemed to be run at TSR, I'm not sure that 
we should blame *anyone* who turned out a wonky SJ product of any kind 
(especially when 4e seems to be doing a more heavy handed reboot than any 
previous edition tweak). Pointing the finger serves no purpose, and has no 
real benifit for the fans. I think that a process of constructive critisism, 
fanon tweaks to canon and fanon retcons to make canon work are a far better 
use of our time.

>> I can see an elven woman arguing with Teldin, getting to
>> accept him and then later coming to love him. That does make
>> sense if the story backs it up. Sadly the story did *not*
>> back any of this up. Reading The Cloakmaster Cycle you often
>> get the feeling that a chapter accidentally got missed out.
>> There are a few things in there that just don't make sense.
>
> A lot of chapters felt left out, actually...;)

And despit that, I think that you could cut out a lot of admitedly great 
scenes and make the core aspects of Teldin Moore's story into a 2 hour 
cinema script.

>> It would be nice to see them all statted up as NPCs.
>
> Estriss was a standard illithid (his stats are found in Skull & 
> Crossbows).  Some of the others might have appeared on those Trading 
> Cards.

I'll have to have a scan through SJA1. I've always been more focused on SJA3 
(Crystal Spheres) because I like the potential culture of Greatspace.

>> (It's been a while since I last read the books but)
>> I'm pretty sure that Gaye was there when the
>> anti-magical Scro/Ogre crossbreed creature fought Teldin and
>> actually neutralised the magic holding the cloak clasp shut.
>> So she *could* have taken the cloak off and allowed Teldin
>> to get rid of it. If she had left the cloak open, maybe she
>> and Teldin could have gone off together. I always got the
>> impression that Gaye thought about all of this, but then
>> realised that the big picture needed someone good like
>> Teldin to take care of the cloak. That is one of the reasons
>> I liked her. She was willing to give stuff up to help Teldin
>> to do the right thing.
>
> I had forgotten that scene; I actually popped the book open to that 
> passage after I sent that email. ;)

I'd love to see that scene done in a movie version.

>> It is just a shame that Teldin was so clueless that he
>> didn't ever realise that people like Gaye and Estriss
>> were 100 percent on his side. If he didn't spend most of
>> his time suspecting his true friends the story could have
>> ended up with a much bigger cast of characters meeting up on
>> The Spelljammer and helping Teldin to do what he needed to
>> do (instead of all fighting each other).
>
> I guess if I were to wrap it up, I'd have Estriss, Gomja, Gaye, Leafbower, 
> and others help him recover the Spelljammer.  I don't think I'd have 
> "blown everything to hell" (I'd have ditched the "broken sphere" plot 
> line), but instead maybe have him take command to stop a major neogi 
> invasion or somesuch.

Hmm. I don't personally see a problem with fixing a broken sphere, but I 
don't see why you need a massive explosion to do it. There was a lot of 
romanticised talk of Spaarkil song and it would have been good if The 
Spelljammer could have sung the sphere back into one piece. Alternatively, 
when Teldin bonded with The Spelljammer, the ship could have formed Spaarkil 
(instead of Smalljammers) and the creatures could have "sung a song" that 
repaired the sphere. It is a "arty farty" ending rather than a big battle, 
but with all the endless piling on of guilt that we got, the Spaarkil needed 
a second chance. (And as I already said, mega-battles don't work so well.) 
IMO a host of Spaarkil who all picked up sphere fragments, swam into the 
gaps in the sphere and then "sung them back into place" would have been a 
non-violent resolution to the problem and would have given the author an 
excuse to "let Teldin go" at the end of the story. As an unambitious man, he 
could have been the first Captain who "cared enough" to help The Spelljammer 
"discharge its debt" and that could have ended the weird curse that makes 
everyone want to stay onboard*.

* = I think The Spelljammer would work a lot better if the ship kept its 
independence (and decided on its own course), allowed people to come and go 
freely (and stored ships but also gave people new ships). But instead of 
controlling people with magic, I think it should control them by using the 
Sivaks as an unbeatable police force. If anyone who killed anyone else was 
immediately attacked and thrown overboard, you could get your "stalemate 
between the races" without any brain washing. And it might be fun if the 
rules of The Spelljammer allowed evil people to set traps that indirectly 
killed other people (maybe a set of Highlander-style rules could be set up).

As for the "invasion", neogi are just not new enough for an invasion, 
because they were there from the begining. The Second Unhuman War was 
already old news by this point, so I'd have gone for something new to SJ. 
I'd have picked something that wasn't core: the Vodoni. It would have 
created the perfect excuse for a GM to bring Under the Dark Fist into a SJ 
game. Then again, maybe the Vodoni and neogi could become allies and attack 
Known Space together (while planning to stab each other in the back as soon 
as the war is won).

David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Virtual Eclipse Role Playing Club
http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/virtualeclipselrp/links/d20_system_001071937434/Spelljammer_001071430476
http://spelljammer.wikia.com/
http://www32.brinkster.com/virtualeclipse/ 


Previous Message: Re: How to make a flitter...
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Month Index: January, 2009

SubjectFromDate (UTC)
Cloakmaster Cycle - Was: OTish art work: Lost River    David Shepheard    26 Dec 2008 05:33:57
Re: Cloakmaster Cycle - Was: OTish art work: Lost River    Adam Miller    26 Dec 2008 13:10:34
Re: Cloakmaster Cycle - Was: OTish art work: Lost River    Paul Westermeyer    26 Dec 2008 15:36:02
Re: Cloakmaster Cycle - Was: OTish art work: Lost River    David Shepheard    04 Jan 2009 04:12:10

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