A hub for the "Book of Masks" universe.
"The Book of Masks" : A high school student discovers a grimoire that can make magical disguises.
"The Wandering Stars" : Sequel to "The Book of Masks."
"Student Bodies" : A high school student is turned into a blue goo that can possess people.
For non-WdC Members
"The Book of Masks: Archives" : Dodges the "Servers Busy" barrier!
"The Book of Masks (Abridged)" : Introductory storylines for new readers.
"BoM/TWS Message Forum" : Community for readers of the interactives.
"BoM/TWS/SB Wiki" : Notes and documentation for authors. Spoilers!
9/19 Interactive: "The Actors' Studio"
9/19 Public: "The Actors' Studio"
|Today's chapter entry is necessary exposition, most all of which should be ancient history to anyone who has read even a little bit of BoM. But I have to write each branch on the assumption that it is someone's introduction to the story. So here it is:
Interactive: "Invalid Chapter"
Public: "Invalid Entry"
(And if you get tired of reading the explanations over and over again, imagine what it's like for me to write them!)
But the choice at the end of this chapter will set things in motion after all this initial set-up and futzing around: [Poll completed and deleted]
EDIT: Poll now closed. I'm not surprised that "Teachers" got the most votes, but I'll confess I'm shocked that "Dane's friends" got zero votes.
|Next poll in the series: [poll completed and deleted]
You should read today's entry—
Interactive: "Invalid Chapter"
Public: "Invalid Entry"
—before voting, though, as there's a spoiler in the poll.
EDIT: Poll now closed. The vote went to the first option, "Back off and let Gordon keep his new life for now."
|Yesterday's poll is completed and deleted. The winning choice was to send Will out to that party to see his replacement.
I wrote the chapter late this afternoon, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to post it. As long as I'm running polls, my own schedule is going to have to be an every-other-day thing in order to keep it semi-regularly. On the off days I will be writing something else for BoM, accumulating a backlog.
|So today's chapter—
Interactive: "Invalid Chapter"
Public: "Invalid Entry"
—gets Will and some new friends back to Saratoga Falls. The plot now starts in earnest.
Or it would if I had a plot in mind.
Instead, all I've got is the situation. I know what's been going on in Saratoga Falls, but I've no good ideas for how to get Will thru it.
So I figure the way to do it is to let you guys pick a path, one chapter at a time. Make it a real, classic interactive. It'll be my job to try making it fun and interesting.
Here's the first poll, then: [poll completed and deleted]
Sigh. In truth, I doubt it's going to get much action. In my experience, polls don't get a lot of responses unless choices of impersonation are put on the menu, and this is strictly a plot-decision, and I bet the readers are not much invested in one choice of action over the other. But I would like to see some votes, so that I can write a sequel and we can keep this thing going.
|Two weeks ago I said I was back after an ugly hiatus. I haven't said or done anything since, but that doesn't mean I disappeared again. I was just doing some things in the background and also trying to decide what to do next. There were a lot of false starts and depressing stops.
I do have an idea for a new branch though, and Monday, June 1, seems like an auspicious day to start it up. First of the week, first of the month, fresh start and all that. So that's what I'm doing, even though I've only got three chapters written so far. First one is up now:
Interactive: "Casting a Webb"
Public: "Casting a Webb"
Background: Will and Caleb have been goofing around with the Libra Personae, but things get really complicated when Will escapes a pounding by swapping bodies with the basketball-playing bully Gordon Black. To get out of Gordon's shit life he then switches with the dope-smoking Dane Matthias, and that's an even worse change because Dane is mixed up with the drug-dealing lowlife Gary Chen, and Will gets in trouble with Chen when he screws up one of Chen's drops. To escape Chen, Will has just kidnapped and swapped places with a sophomore girl, Evie Cummings. But he is having second thoughts about that swap, and in the last chapter (before this new branch begins) he is thinking about swapping lives again, with someone in the sophomore class.
Now, in order to set up the new branch I had in mind I did have to do a light edit to "The Sophomore Candidates" , in order to set up the new decision, but there's nothing really there that needs reading. I only inserted a few extra paragraphs to motivate the newly added choice.
|* For those of you I have had writing-related business with:
I will be in touch soon with proper apologies and explanations.
* For everyone else:
I am back, nothing was wrong, I am and have been perfectly healthy. But there was something I had to do, and I made a bargain with myself to stay off of WdC until it was done. I probably should have come on here long enough to explain that, but by that time I was already stuck inside a tar baby.
Really, that's all I'd really like to say. I feel embarrassment, and would just as soon file the last few weeks away under the good old heading of "And let us never speak of it again."
|I've got a new chapter up in BoM!
Interactive: "The Paranoid Roommate"
Public: "The Paranoid Roommate"
It's a sequel to Masktrix's chapter "Making Your Mark," and if you are a reader of the public pages, you can now catch up with Masktrix's work here:
"Dragons Vs. Wildcats" -->> "Making Your Mark"
The story? After being captured by some of the students at the St. Francis Xavier School, Will was rescued by the two golems he left back in Saratoga Falls. In his desperation to retrieve the Libra and stop the "Mutants" from using its magic, he has released Abigail Steiner from her golem prison and partnered with her. Abi has re-infiltrated the school, secretly resuming her old identity, and has brought Will back in by disguising him as a senior named Mark Pederson, who is Abi's boyfriend's roommate. Now, right under the noses of their adversaries, Abi and Will have to find the Libra, seems to have been stolen from the Xavier students by parties unknown.
This branch is the result of some intensely cooperative work between me and Masktrix. In a forum post—"Re: Re: Re: Back to the drama" —Masktrix described how we war-gamed out earlier chapters that were posted through last week, but the writing still proved extremely difficult, what with all the competing characters, each one capable of double-crossing the others. It was too much for one person (for either of us) to write, and too difficult even for both of us to plot out cooperatively.
We finally cracked it by gaming out a simple set of constraints—which character wanted what, and how they were planning to get it—and then made the interactive, er, "interactive" behind the scenes. Masktrix would write a chapter, aiming toward a cliffhanger or a plot twist, then hand it off to me. I would improvise a sequel, also aiming for a cliffhanger or plot twist, and hand it back to him. Instead of outlining the development, we maneuvered in this way and let the characters improvise just as we were improvising. We alternated in this way until we reached a point where something like a satisfying conclusion hoved into view.
At least, I hope it will be a satisfying conclusion. That's for you to judge.
Now, it may seem like this procedure would quickly bog down in confusion and cross-purposes, and I admit that maybe we got lucky. But by dividing the task this way, and by tackling it in bite-sized chunks, we were finally able to fight our way through what had been a very recalcitrant situation. I don't know that there's a moral to this. But it was a tremendous amount of fun. I hope you guys have half the fun that I for one had while helping to write it.
|It might not have looked like it, but I have been really busy with stuff behind the scenes around here, including writing new BoM chapters. So busy that I've been forgetting to update the Homepage, even though Nostrum has been publishing daily.
FWIW, here's the next Spider-Man episode in the alternate series: "S01E21 "Kraven's Amazing Hunt"" . It's very close to an episode that aired on the IRL series. The main change is removing Miles's spider powers and making him tech-based. So whatever the merits of the story, they accrue to the writers of the original.
|No, the title doesn't refer to me. It refers to the newly published treatment in the Spider-Man project: "S01E20 "I, Robot Master"" , which I forgot to upload yesterday. Turns out, it's Part Seven of the six-part arc that recently concluded!
It probably doesn't work. It's inspired by dim memories I have of a bad 70s cartoon whose title sequence shows mechanical ants attacking a city. I thought it was an episode of the 1966 Spider-Man animated series, but I can't find any evidence that such an episode was ever made in that series. So I have no idea what I'm remembering or misremembering.
It's like my own personal, idiosyncratic Mandela Effect, and it happens quite often. For instance, I clearly remember reading a DC graphic novel—an Elseworlds books—where the Joker was the crime fighter and Batman was the supervillain. (Everything else was the same, so it wasn't a "Crime Syndicate" story or some other, alternate comic book continuity.) Joker was a shadowy detective working with the police to take down a bat-dressing psycho who was murdering gangsters. I can see it in my head. But I am assured by all knowledgable readers of DC Comics that no such book was ever published ...
|BoM readers have gotten a lot of content in the past few weeks, from Masktrix, Nostrum, and rugal. But you might have noticed that it calmed down over the past few days. Masktrix, in the forum, has self-reported on the challenges of continuing his story. Nostrum too has been struggling to figure out a way forward. I've been talking with both of them, acting as editor, sounding board, advisor, frenemy, etc., to give them what aid I can getting them through some pretty thorny thickets.
All credit to them, though, for making a couple of breakthroughs in the past day or two. They're the authors, so there's no way I'm giving an ETA on when they might resume publishing, but I do know they are writing drafts that continue their branches.
Related to that: Three of Nostrum's recent chapters have evaporated, so that his branch currently ends with Chapter 9, "To Con a Marc" , instead of Chapter 12, "A Date with Two-Face." That's because he had to revise Chapters 10 thru 12 in order to accommodate his revised plans for Chapters 13 onward. He will be published revised versions of the disappearing chapters.
Meantime, I guess I'll link to the Spider-Man chapter I posted yesterday but forgot to flog: "S01E17 "The Fearsome Four"" .
|Today's episode in the alternate "Spider-Man" series: "S01E16 "The Terrible Three""
So, I have three things to say about "The Terrible Three."
One: If you know your Spider-Man lore, you can probably begin to guess where the story is going, because this overall arc got its inspiration from a storyline published in the Nineties.
Two: I'm not real fond of this one. It feels too much to me like a lot of running around. This is a story that would have to be played as quasi-slapstick to have a prayer of working.
Three: Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up with an alliterative "three" title? Batman snagged "The Terrible Trio" for one of its bad-guy gangs, and I think that's about the best that's possible, and that's not nearly good enough.
Meanwhile, reminder, if you didn't see yesterday's post: Go check out Achillesredux's Book of Masks: Freestyle at DeviantArt.
|Elsewhere, one of the projects keeping me busy has been a collaboration with Achillesredux: Book of Masks: Freestyle . This is a ... web comic? Caption story? Visual novel?
It is not an adaptation of any particular branch of BoM, and it is not in continuity with BoM. But what it is (IMO) is very cool.
Achillesredux has done 99% of the work. He has outlined the story progression, made the images, even invented a couple of new characters. I only wrote the captions and provided feedback and suggestions here and there. So all credit goes to him.
Right now, what you see is what we're calling "Chapter 1." Achillesredux has already outlined a "Chapter 2" and made a couple of images. I'm not sure when that will come, and I'm not sure if it will go up an image at a time or all at once when the chapter is fully rendered. Check back.
In the meantime go check it out: Book of Masks: Freestyle Like it, leave comments, tell Achillesredux how happy you are to see his work!
Oh, a note about how to navigate it:
The link above will take you to the main folder. To start reading, click on the image in the upper-left corner of the gallery, the one labelled "Part 001 Irregular moves."
I want to leave this entry at the top of the blog for a day at least, so no Spider-Man update today.
|Hmm. Yesterday brought "The One and Only Octopus." Today brings "S01E15 "The Dire Duo"" . I said that this was going to be a six-episode arc. Do you think you see a pattern evolving?
This one is in no way or form based on an animated episode, but fans of Spider-Man's early years will probably recognize the issue I used as source material.
|"S01E14 "The One and Only Octopus"" starts a six-episode arc. Though this treatment follows "The Rise of Doc Ock, Part 1," this is where my alternate series starts to make a radical departure from the real-world series.
Flashback: I started this project because I wanted to write my own "Superior Spider-Man" arc, but when I watched the episodes leading up to it, I was struck by how abrupt and unmotivated so much of the lead-in was. The twist just sort of popped up out of nowhere. I also thought that Dr. Otto Octavius didn't get as much lead-in and development as he could have. In the real-world series, he's just an asshole who teaches at Horizon, and who is in an accident and so becomes a super-powered asshole. From there it's just a tiny step to supervillainy. Given that the "Superior Spider-Man" is in part about the redemption of Doc Ock, I thought that we needed more time to see how an asshole can turn into a supervillain without realizing it, because if he doesn't realize that's what he's turned into then it's much more plausible that he could change back.
So I spent time in the first dozen episodes showing Otto being a jerk, and now it's time to show him becoming a super-powered jerk.
This, by the way, is the arc that absolutely kicked my ass while I was trying to write it. It exhausted me, and when I was done with it I wrote up one more episode (another very close adaptation of an original) and then stuffed everything into a drawer.
|Today's episode in the alternate Spider-Man series: "S01E13 "Ultimate Spider-Man""
One of the things I really don't like about the Disney XD series is the way it gives everyone spider powers. (To paraphrase The Incredibles, when everyone is Spider-Man, no one is Spider-Man.) The only difference between the boys and the girls is that the girls are bossy and humorless, where the boys are goofy and clumsy. The only difference between Peter and Miles is that Miles is slightly nerdier. So, mazel tov: They robbed Peter of distinction without adding anything pleasant to the experience.
But I did kind of like it that Peter got Miles to play with, so I bent far enough to add Miles as a Spider-Man- like colleague, though I thought it would better for the character if Miles, instead of suffering an identical spider bite and getting almost identical powers, used his brains to construct gear that mimicked Spider-Man's abilities. I also thought this would be a better demonstration of his talent and brains than giving him a lot of random, plot-saving techobabble in standalone episodes. It's also better if a character goes after something and gets it instead of waiting around for the writers to just bite him.
Plot-wise, this one is fairly similar to "Ultimate Spider-Man", but with significant changes to certain details.
|Another episode in the alternate Spider-Man series: "S01E12 "School of Hard Knocks""
Like yesterday's post (and tomorrow's) it borrows heavily from a story from the real-world series, and this one is almost identical to the original. The only real change is the identity of the student who helps the heroes inside the school. He was just a rando in the original; here, by making him the Kingpin's son, I saw a way of motivating some actions that I needed to occur later in the continuity.
|The next alternate episode in the "Spider-Man" project: "S01E11 "Halloween Moon""
This one is more of a tweak to the real-world episode, not because the original is so great, but because there just didn't seem much point in doing more with it. Wherever possible, I tried making my own project easier by taking over as much as I could from the real-world series, and this was one that I brought over wholesale and only tweaked where necessary to tie it more firmly into the alternate continuity.
|For the five people who are reading my "Spider-Man" project, there's a new episode treatment up: "S01E10 "Spider-Man on Ice""
There's nothing really to say about it. It's based on an episode of the same name, but with the guts torn out and replaced with a new bunch of guts.