1. How to Use this Wiki

This page is not intended to cover basic wiki functions such as creating a new page, editing a page, adding images, tagging, renaming pages, adding hyperlinks, etc. all of which can be found on the Wikispaces help page. While much of the wiki is intuitive, a good deal of it is not, and many advanced features are not available or impossible to implement. If you have questions, check out the Wikispaces help first, and then contact the instructor second.

The below sections list the minimum (and in the case of vignettes the maximum) words for each type of wiki entry. For students, in order to get credit for the entry, you must 1) complete all the information in the template, 2) meet the minimum word count and not exceed the maximum, 3) link to other relevant wiki entries both on and off this site, and 4) include an image to accompany each entry.

1.1 Instructor

This site is for the spring 2016 section of ENGL 543:Game-based Fiction - Tales from King's Landing, a creative writing course offered at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The instructor is Prof. Trent Hergenrader, who can be reached at wthgsl@rit.edu. Contact me with any questions or concerns regarding the site, the project, the class, or user conduct.

1.2 Student users

There are 20 registered students for this section of ENGL 543. These 20 students will be referred to as student users or simply students. Their learning is the priority of this course. Student Users are required to create a Wikispaces account in order to complete the coursework. Any outside interference with student work will not be tolerated.

1.3 Guest users

In this section we will be experimenting with allowing the participation of guest users or guests. Guests include anyone interacting with the site who is not registered for this section of the course. This includes any current RIT students and/or other members of the RIT community who are not registered for this course. This is an experiment in collaboration as we're blurring the boundaries between the classroom and the public.

Those wishing to participate as a guest must 1) create a free Wikispaces account and 2) complete the guest registration formbefore they will be given access. Guest access may be terminated at any time and without warning by the instructor. Individuals guests may have their access revoked for improper conduct, incoherent or incomplete entries, site vandalism, or other actions that might interfere with student learning. All guest accounts may be suspended if it turns out that guest contributions are overwhelming student work or are otherwise being a detriment to student learning.

The general rule of thumb for guests: have fun, be kind and positive, and remember that this is first and foremost a project for enrolled students.

1.4 User Profiles

There are two types of profiles: students and guests. Because of the limited functionality of the back end of the wiki, it becomes very challenging to keep track of who has contributed what. The easiest thing is for each user to create a Profile using the appropriate student or guest template. After logging into the site, click the + sign next to Pages and Files in the left navigation bar and choose either Profile:Student or Profile:Guest.

For students, you are required to keep your profile updated as you contribute to the wiki; keeping your profile updated throughout the semester is 10% of your grade. If you've completed work but haven't added it to your profile, you may not receive credit for it. The basic rule of thumb: if I have to go looking for it, I won't. Make it easy on me by getting in the habit of listing your work on the wiki as you do it.

1.5 Spirit of Collaboration, Play, and Risk to Characters

I will often remind students that this is game-based FICTION, not GAME-based fiction---in other words, the emphasis is on the craft of fiction writing, not "winning" the game. Students should do their best to live in Westeros vicariously through their Perspective Character (PC). Most of us want to avoid pain, unnecessary risk, and death, and so too should the PCs. We all have vulnerabilities and weaknesses---so too shall our characters. If there's one overarching goal, it's to have everyone care about their characters, and care about what their characters care about.

When you're working in your groups building out the houses, be generous and try to incorporate as many ideas as you can while still keeping the narrative coherent. Not all ideas can be accommodated, and remember that you can always channel your opinions and frustrations through your characters. You will have plenty of opportunity to make your own creations, and obstacles and obstructions are more useful for writers than getting their own way all the time.

Anyone familiar with Westeros knows it's a dangerous place, and your characters---both NPCs and PCs---aren't exempt from these dangers. Absolutely no one is guaranteed a happy ending, and you'll be asked to have a backup NPC to promote in case your PC doesn't make it to week 16. Remember that your character actions have consequences, and King's Landing is rife with backstabbers and opportunities for betrayal...

2. Wiki Entries Overview and Importance of Tags

In order to keep consistency across multiple types of wiki pages, new contributions to the wiki will be done used templates. To add something new to the wiki, click on the + sign next to Pages and Files. In the pop-up screen, the middle section will give the option of choosing a template (see image to the right).

Tags are hugely important for keeping the site organized and unfortunately they're not very intuitive to use. Templates add the necessary tags automatically. For example, the non-player character template will tag all pages made using that template with an 'NPC' tag; this means I can quickly generate a list of links for every page tagged 'NPC.' If users create a new page and tag it 'Female,' then I can generate a list of pages tagged both 'NPC' and 'Female.' Thus, it's generally better to have too many tags (that will just be ignored) rather than too few.

Tags auto-populate as you type, too, which is convenient. Beware of plurals or similar but not exact matches. Pages tagged 'Animal' and 'Animals' will show up in separate lists and be excluded from the other.

Some types of pages will ask you to add a tag to assist in categorization. For example, the instructions of a Location may ask you to tag the page with its category ('Armory,' 'Bakery,' etc.). The best thing to do is to type in the category from the Make a New Page pop-up window. (The Tag box is hidden behind the drop down list in the above picture. Make sure you follow the instructions for each wiki entry type or your pages will get lost.

Finally, if you want to add a tag to a page (which will likely happen often), there's no way to do it when you're in the Edit view of a page. Save the page and then click on the three dots [...] in the top right of page for More Options. The first item is Tags. Click on that, add your tags, and be sure to click Save when you're done.

2.1 Links

The point of doing this work on a wiki is to create connections between entries created in this class as well as connecting to the wider mythology of Martin's world. To create a link, highlight the text and click the Link button on the toolbar.

The general rule: create a link to a person, place, thing, or event the first time it's mentioned, but don't link to the same thing multiple times. This includes both internal pages we create for this site as well as external, outbound links. For Martin's mythology, link to entries on A Wiki of Ice and Fire, which is more comprehensive than similar wikis that are only dedicated to the television show. Remember to check the box that opens a new window so readers stay on this site but can read the linked entry in a new window. Link out to any characters (Eddard Stark) or locations (Winterfell) or events (Blackfyre Rebellion) that weren't created by people in this course.

Be aware that Wikispaces is quirky when it comes to links where it suggests that a page exists on the wiki when it doesn't. For example, look at the image to the right. If I highlight the word "button" when editing a page and then click the Link button, the Insert Link pop-up makes it seem as though there is a page already named "button" ready to link to, when there is not. Your safest bet to link to an internal page is to click on the Page Name field and start typing. The wiki auto-populates the field with actual pages on the wiki, and then you can simply click on the correct one to make the link.

2.2 Images

The site looks a lot better when you replace the placeholder images with relevant pictures. Students are required to include pictures for all their entries, including Items, Locations, NPCs, PCs, and for each fictional vignette; guests are highly encouraged to do as well.

Images should be resized to around 250x250 pixels and aligned to the top-right corner of the page. Some variation is fine as long as it is aesthetically suitable. You are free (and encouraged!) to share your own sketches and artwork. If you have some artistic ability, or even just like to doodle, this is actually preferred! The most popular alternative is to search the Internet for images, but be sure to credit your source. When you upload an image, click on it to resize and align it in the top right. One of the options is to add a caption, and you should use this (or some other equally visible method) to credit the artists and provide a link to their work. I will comply with any artists' request to remove their artwork, no questions asked.

I also suggest you try searching for images published under a creative commons license, or using the search tools in your browser to filter out images that can be used with attribution or for non-commercial purposes.

2.2 User Profile

The User Profile is the first and one of the most important entries you'll make, and it is essential if you're a student. While the wiki does have ways to filter out which users made what pages, it's cumbersome and difficult especially when there are multiple users working on different pages. The easiest way for me to keep track is for each user to make a User Profile and list the entries you have created or worked on. For students, if it's not listed on your User Profile page, I won't go looking for it and you won't get credit for it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Use the appropriate User Profile template (Student or Guest) and use your Wikispaces username as the Page Name. Student profiles need an avatar image (not a photo of themselves) and will need to return to the profile page weekly to update the different sections. All entries listed should be links to those entries.

2.3 Wiki Terminology

  • A student is someone registered in the class.
  • A guest is anyone not registered in the class but contributing to the wiki.
  • The wiki is made up of Pages. Every Entry is also a Page.
  • A User Profile, or Profile, is a Page that keeps information on what students and guests have contributed to the wiki.
  • A Template is a type of new page that has some pre-filled information and blanks. Most new pages will be made using Templates.
  • Westeros is the continent the houses all Seven Kingdoms, also called Realms.
  • King's Landing is the capital city of Westeros and where a majority of the game action will take place.
  • A House is one of the noble houses of Westeros. Students will create their own House Page in small groups.
  • An Item is an object or a thing and should have a proper noun for a name, e.g. not "sword" but "Stormbringer"
  • A Location is a specific place and should be named with proper nouns, e.g. not "fen" but "Puddleworth's Fen"
  • Most characters will be Non-Player Characters or NPCs. The instructor controls the actions and decisions of all NPCs.
  • Select characters are Perspective Characters or PCs. Students (and some guests) will control all actions of their PCs.
  • A Vignette is a short descriptive scene that focuses on character and setting, less so on plot. Most of the fiction writing in this course will be vignette-length of around 1000 words.

external image 250?cb=201404021149503 House Construction

The details for building a noble house are covered on pgs 96 to 123 of the Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game rule book. Use the House Template to create your noble house's House Page and follow the process in the chronological order. Remember you can use dragons to influence your rolls.

3.1 House Creation Steps

  • Step One: The Realm will be determined in class. No need to roll for that.
  • Step Two: Starting Resources, Step Three: House History, and Step Four: Holdings need to be followed as described in the rule book. You can either take what you role or use dragons to reroll for your house resources, history, and holdings. See below for more info.
  • Step Five: Motto and Arms can either be determined by random dice rolls, or you can use the tables for inspiration, or create your own.
  • Step Six: House Members requires you to create a number of NPCs that are vital to the house.
  • House in Action may or may not be an important part of your individual campaigns.

3.2 House Name and Profile

The first order of business after you determine your realm is to decide on a house name. Once you agree upon a house name, use the House Template and create a new house, using your house name as your Page Name. Save and continue. You'll want to complete the house building on paper and only input the final information on the wiki site. Keep notes so you remember how you arrived at the final scores.

3.3 Starting Resources House History

Follow the instructions in the rule book. One person should roll 7d6 for each category, and take turns rolling between categories so everyone gets a chance. Don't do any modifications or rerolling until you have starting values for each of the seven resources: defense, influence, lands, law, population, power, wealth.

Before you go any further, anyone can use a dragon for one reroll for any category, and you can use multiple dragons to keep rerolling---although that might not be the wisest use of resources. You can also use a dragon to swap values---for example, you could swap your 20 in Defense for your 34 in Power, so it would be be 34 Defense and 20 Power. Two swaps requires two dragons.

After you burn any dragons, adjust your starting values based on your realm (Table 6-2, pg 100). Then take final stock and each players can roll 1d6 to further boost one category (see example on pg 102). Complete the table on your House Page filling in the values for Starting, Realm Modifications, Player Modifications, and then the Subtotal.

Follow the same process for determining the house history as outlined on pgs 102-105. Dragons can be burned for rerolls for house history and events. Add or subtract the values from the Subtotal based on the Scandal and Glory values (Table 6-4, pg 103) and then complete the table on your House Page. When you're done, you should have a good sense of your house's history (is it recent or ancient? admired or reviled? powerful or vulnerable?) and you should agree upon a general concept for your house before you begin investing in holdings. Is your house well known for their military command? Wealthy merchants with contacts abroad? Or are they of humbler means, known for making the best chicken potpies in the realm? The house functions like a character and the concept and the standing of your house will influence your PCs greatly.

3.4 House Holdings

Allocate your resources into holdings as described on pg 106-113. This should be a collaborative effort that works with your group's house concept. Think through this carefully as your house's holdings will be considered "in play" for the course. This means a poorly defended house may come under attack, or a lawless holding may result in other houses bringing grievances against you. Invest them the best you can.

Keep in mind that your group will need both need to a) explain the logic of your holdings given your house's history, and b) create a minimum of 10-15 wiki entries per group (2-3 per student) that add a narrative description to your holdings. These should be a blend of Items, Locations, and NPCs. If you create a banner house or several houses, you may wish to use some of your Items, Locations, and NPCs to further flesh them out as well. You will also need to add them to the Westeros Map.

external image e6cd0492171cc76ada2747a62d538d0a.jpg3.5 House Motto & Arms

With the house concept and holdings in mind, decide your house motto and arms. This is entirely up to you, but take it seriously---nothing ironic or silly. Like the holdings, your motto and arms are part of your house identity and can be a source of pride or a target for other's mockery.

You also need to design your own unique coat of arms that contains your house colors, design, and heraldry. Replace the black and white placeholder shield on your House Page with your own design.

3.6 House Members

At least a few of your house entries should be NPCs who are important members of your house. Each NPC needs to follow the requirements for NPCs (see below). Use your discretion, but remember to create obviously important members of the house as NPCs if they are not already PCs. These include the Lord and Lady of the house, the most important Heirs (if there are four heirs, perhaps only the first one or two need to have NPC profiles), and then the most prominent retainers---stewards, maesters, septons, knights, etc.---who may or may not be loyal or to the Lord.

Remember, the instructor controls all the NPCs and good NPCs add an enormous amount of depth and tension to the PCs stories. They can be kidnapped, betrayed, slain, sent on important missions, give advice, and more. If there is no Entry for an NPC, that NPC will not feature in the game. It simply becomes too difficult to start searching through Pages looking for mentions of characters. Some NPCs will likely accompany your house to King's Landing; others may stay at home to hold down the house and send word of events.

Your PC will also be required to have several relationships, both with other PCs and with NPCs. It can be useful to think about potential relationships now as you create and develop NPCs. Is there a doting maester who raised your PC from the cradle? Is there a kennelmaster's son who has always been a thorn in your PC's side? Your NPCs do not have to be of high social standing to be important.

In previous classes, students have found it useful to create genealogies or family trees to outline the branches of their house. This is a good idea and encouraged, but not required.

3.7 House Narrative

The house narrative should be around 500 words and provide a story for how your house came to be, and where it sits now in terms of politics of the Realm and of Westeros. Divide the writing task among the group and note on your User Profile what parts you contributed. Do not list the dice rolls or statuses from the tables in the house narrative. A reader should be able to read the house narrative on its own without referring to the values you rolled, although it will be fun to see how the group turned the dice rolls into a story.

Most, if not all, of your holdings and house members should be mentioned and linked within the house narrative. The house narrative will also change as you develop your PCs, and as your PCs establish relationships with PCs both in your house and in other houses. As a general rule, you can change the house narrative however you want, but you can't change its construction. For example, if your PC wants to be a great military leader but the house has little military might, you can't just make it so the house has a powerful army. Instead, use the house's poor army as a motivation for your PC---he's dedicating his life to making it into a military power, and that might explain why he ordered the construction of a specific tower that was one of your house's holdings. In this example, it would be fine to revise the narrative description of the tower to fit the PC's role.

3.8 Assessment/Grading of House Construction

Creating a noble house is both a lot of work and a lot of fun, and the more well-rounded and detailed your house is, the more it pays off later in the course. Take time to do it right, and remember that up until the point that the role-playing sessions being, you can tweak it and edit it to make it more interesting and a better fit for your characters.

The entirety of house construction, including the House Page and all Entries, counts for 15% of your final grade. About half of this is based on the collaborative effort, and the other half on your individual entries and contributions. If you follow the templates and these instructions, and complete the minimums, everything should be fine. Remember that there really are no maximums---if you have the time and interest to make 15 Entries of your own, have it. Just make sure that whatever you make meets the minimum requirements (no two-sentence NPCs or Locations please) and that you're not stepping on anyone's toes. If there's ever an impasse, the instructor will make the final decision.

4 Wiki Entries: Items, Locations, Characters (NPCs/PCs)

The world we create both relies on the work of George R.R. Martin but also needs to extend it. The wiki entries created for items, locations, and characters will make this our own custom niche that meshes with Martin's Westeros, but is also uniquely our own. These are the pieces that we're going to be playing with the most. Make them great, and we'll have a rich trove of storytelling material; if you don't do the work then the whole class suffers. Budget ample time to create your entries, follow the template guidelines, use your imagination, and you'll be fine.

To get credit for wiki entries in your profile, they must be properly tagged, you must have used the correct template and completed the template blanks, met the minimum description length, and have used an appropriately sized and relevant image.

4.1 Items

Items are often the least detailed wiki entries and thus they can be as short as 100 words. Think about Items as something meaningful and unique that the character could potentially interact with. We don't need a lot of mundane Items---a sword is a sword is a sword. Ned Stark's sword Ice, however, is notable for its unique characteristics. We don't need a ton of custom weapons either, when there are so many other types of Items that would be more interesting in a variety of contexts---foods, drinks, spices, armor, books, silks, tapestries, pieces of clothing, jewelry, sculptures, you name it.

Items need a name, a category (weapon, tool, food, drug, etc.), approximate size and weight, rarity (how common it is), value (how much it would cost to acquire), some basic uses, and finally a description of at least 100 words. There are only two types of Item templates: Item-Student and Item-Guest.

4.2 Locations

Locations are very important as dramatic events always have to happen somewhere. Evocative settings---whether its a dank dungeon, a decadent inn, or an austere place of worship---add depth to stories and inspire writers to include all manner of interesting details. Locations can be all manner of things, ranging from natural features (woods, mountains, bogs) to large constructions (bridges, manors, castles, temples) to the very personal (an inn, a merchant's stall, a person's home). The key in writing a good location is to include as many of the senses as you can. What's it smell like? What details would grab the eye? What ambient sounds might there be? Is it generally hot or cold, damp or dry? Ancient or brand new?

Locations need a name, a type (mercantile, geographic feature, dwelling, etc.), a size (a city block, or confined quarters, etc.), condition (squalid, refined, tidy, etc.) and then include inhabitants---either a general category like "beggars" or "guards" or links to specific PCs and NPCs---and then a description of at least 150 words and a marker on the map. Most Locations will be longer once you include descriptions of the interior, exterior, and history.

There are four types of Location templates: WesterosLocations-Student and -Guest, and KingsLandingLocations-Student and -Guest. The main difference between the two is that the Westeros Locations require the entry to include which of the Seven Kingdoms it belongs to, and for the Kings Landing Locations you need to identify the district.

4.3 Non-Player Characters (NPCs)

NPCs help breath life into the fictional world. NPCs usually start with a broad archetype that has something to do with their livelihood---a knight, noble, banker, lady-in-waiting, merchant, septon, heir, steward, servant, scholar, pirate, or whatever. A good NPC will have some defined attitude or personality trait that encapsulates their normal behavior or reaction to situations. Is the character naturally suspicious or naive? Cowardly or recklessly brave? Stern or silly? The key to writing good NPCs is to remember that they are complete human beings full of emotion, desire, motivations, fears, skills, and more---they're just not the focus of our stories...though they could be. Give your NPCs interesting details to make them more complex. We've all seen the "greedy banker" before, but what about a greedy banker who dotes over his sick child at home? Or the fearless knight who is deathly afraid of water?

Enter at least 250 words of character description, including appearance, demeanor, possessions and motivations.

4.4 Perspective characters (PCs)

The Perspective Character (PC) is the equivalent of a player-character (also PC) in a role-playing game; for our purposes, a PC is the protagonist of the story, the person whose perspective through which we experience the world of Westeros. The PC entry has significantly more information in it than an NPC entry. NPCs may or may not be used, and thus they can develop more attributes and personality traits as they come into the narrative. PCs are central to all narratives and should be well-defined before we begin the role-playing portion of the course.

PCs should change in some significant way over the semester. This might mean sacrificing love for the sake of the house, abandoning a sworn duty to follow some other path, or breaking old friendships to begin new alliances. The change should be a logical, if often unexpected, shift in perspectives in the PC, whether through fortune or trauma.

All characters need a full name (in addition to nickname, if they have one), an exact age (the RPG gives a range but you need an actual birthday and years old), and the character's gender. You should also link to the noble house to which the character belongs. Other descriptive information includes approximate height and weight (feet, inches, pounds), and hair and eye color. Then you need an archetype, either taken from the RPG rule book or one that loosely encapsulates the character's profession or social station.

5 King's Landing Construction

Much of your fiction will take place in King's Landing and it's your job to populate the city with people, places, and things. The guidelines are the same as above (4.1 Items, 4.2 Locations, 4.3 NPCs), with the exception that all Items, Locations, and NPCs must be assigned to a specific location or locations with the districts in King's Landing.