[Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

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[Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:22 pm

I've just been speaking to Deborah Teramis Christian at the Kara-Tur group on Facebook. She was the designer of the Kozakura region of Kara-Tur (as well as many other TSR and non-TSR RPG products).

She has her own oriental world/campaign setting called Qua-lun and has written a novel called Dragonsword (Book I of the Qualun Monogatari).

She is just about to write the second novel, and is currently giving away this one! (So if you have finished reading the free novel that Colin McComb is giving away, you might want to download her novel and see if it can inspire your oriental gaming.)

To download the novel see her Dragonsword page.

EDIT: Have a look around the other pages, as there is some intersting information about Qua-lun and a couple of maps. Deborah's biography shows that a Qua-lun Campaign Setting book should have come out in 1995. Maybe this world might be one we get to play tabletop games in one day. :cool:
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:31 pm

Is Dragonsword available in print? I can't seem to find it on amazon.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:47 am

Twin Agate Dragons wrote:Is Dragonsword available in print? I can't seem to find it on amazon.
I think this is just available as an ebook, but I could ask her for you.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:44 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Twin Agate Dragons wrote:Is Dragonsword available in print? I can't seem to find it on amazon.
I think this is just available as an ebook, but I could ask her for you.
I just heard back from Deborah Teramis Christian:
Deborah Teramis Christian via Facebook wrote:How cool! Thanks so much for mentioning it elsewhere.
And the answer is....No. It is only in ebook form (including straight pdf), and will remain that way because that is the easiest way to provide a free copy (no printing costs involved). It's part 1 of a duology. *After* book 2 is written, I will be making both books available in an omnibus edition that will also be print on demand. But Book 1 will always be free (I expect it will undergo some changes when it is married with book 2, so the freebie may not reflect the "final" version 100%). Folks who want paper version will need to order the omnibus (Books 1+2, together) to get the full scope of the Dragonsword saga in hard copy.
The ETA on #2 and omnibus is 2014, though 2013 is a distant possibility.
You're welcome to copy/paste this response of mine and post it there. I've been browsing that board but hadn't yet registered to post--tried that just now but it awaits mod approval, so I can't post the reply myself.
I think I'll be reading book one in ebook format and then going for the PoD option.

I think, but I'm not sure, she works under the name "Teramis". I guess we might be lucky enough to find out later. Anyhoo, I'll log into my admin account when I get home and get her account setup. :cool:

EDIT: Teramis is now signed up.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:00 am

Big Mac wrote:EDIT: Teramis is now signed up.
I was hoping that Teramis might stop by and write a little about Qua-lun, but I guess she has been busy "creating worlds and changing lives". ;)

Anyhoo, here is some stuff I've found about the world of Qua-lun on Teramis's websites: I think the bowing article would be useful for anyone running any sort of Oriental campaign setting, but the rest of the articles might be good for anyone that wants to run Quo-lun as a sandbox game and make things up as they go along.

The best stuff of all is the maps. I do hope that the Qua-lun campaign setting gets another chance to come out, so that I can see what they look like with more up to date cartography.

I would be very interested to know where Teramis would have placed Qua-lin relative to the main Kara-Tur campaign setting, if TSR had bought the Oriental Adventures module she was hoping to write based on Qua-lin. I'm not sure when she was writing the early stuff, retative to 1st and 2nd Edition, so I don't know if she was designing this when Kara-Tur was going to be part of Oerth or after it was moved over to Toril.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Teramis » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:36 am

Hey, sooner or later, I show up. :)

First, belated note about availability of Dragonsword: the main reason it is not available through Amazon is because I cannot sell it for free there on an ongoing basis. I intend to keep book #1 free of charge, and I can only do that by offering it directly through my own site.

Re Qua-lun location and all that: I was developing this somewhat before, or maybe about the same time, that OA was coming out, independently of OA. That's why when I saw OA as product I went, OMG, I *have* to write for these guys! and pitched an adv module. I was willing to cannabalize a part of my setting (a certain location and NPCs) as fodder for a TSR module, but I never envisioned Qua-lun as a whole as being part of the Kara-Tur geography at all. It is native to my larger fantasy world setting of Astareth (that's the name of the planet), has its own cultural role in that world's history, and in fact is the cradle-civilization of what grows into my space-faring empire builders in my science fiction novels. The Sa'adani Empire (name of that sf setting) has its cultural roots "in ancient times" in Qua-lun.

Put another way, my fantasy world and my sf setting have cultural continuity between them. One leads into the other over time, and Qua-lun provides the impetus for that growth.

Since Qua-lun is so uniquely situated and connected within its own context, it was never envisioned to be plugged into any TSR setting wholesale. I can see ways that I could comfortably develop it as a "plug and play" campaign add-on product for any fantasy campaign, though: if your world can accommodate a largish island nation, you can put Qua-lun down in a likely spot and let your people discover it, or trade with it, or otherwise encounter that culture. In any campaign book featuring Qua-lun, I'd no doubt add some adventure hook ideas for how people could reasonably get connected with this location. If your world lacks a developed Asian culture, Qua-lun could fit that bill nicely.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Teramis » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:42 am

Big Mac wrote:I'm not sure when she was writing the early stuff, retative to 1st and 2nd Edition, so I don't know if she was designing this when Kara-Tur was going to be part of Oerth or after it was moved over to Toril.
AD&D 1st ed rules were current when I started my dev work on this setting. I contacted TSR to write for them in 1986.

Also, as a data point, I am having a terrible brain fart about what-all I wrote for the Kara-Tur Boxed Set. I was supposed to write three things, but missed the deadline on the third item and it never got printed. I was more engaged with Kozakura than with the second published piece (also because of the analogies to my own Qua-lun setting) so that has always remained first in my mind. But if my memory does not totally delude me, I also wrote the Malatra (jungle lands) material. Ama (the intro narrator) was a particular character of mine, inspired by the book Nepali Ama (a biography about a wise woman and healer in the Himalayas. Although not a jungle location, I liked her character.) The setting itself was inspired by the hill tribes of Laos and Cambodia.

If I sound a little uncertain, well, it was almost 30 yrs ago, and I've written a lot of stuff. (!) But I'm pretty sure that was my brainchild, too, especially because of the Ama character. (Update: Now that I actually started to think about this on purpose, my doubt has vanished. I wrote Malatra, too. Now I regret some parts of it as being too obviously Earth-analog, and wouldn't write it the same today. But it is what it is.)

The incomplete (and unpublished) contribution absent from the book was about a Thailand/Sri-Lankan-like kingdom.
Last edited by Teramis on Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by RichGreen » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:19 pm

Great to hear from you here! I was a massive OA/Kara-Tur fan and will definitely check out your novel ;)

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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:17 pm

Teramis wrote:Hey, sooner or later, I show up. :)
Yay! Welcome to The PIazza Teramis. Thanks for delurking. :cool:
Teramis wrote:First, belated note about availability of Dragonsword: the main reason it is not available through Amazon is because I cannot sell it for free there on an ongoing basis. I intend to keep book #1 free of charge, and I can only do that by offering it directly through my own site.
I think that TAD was asking if there was a dead-tree version available on Amazon. We have a guy here called Blacky the Blackball who makes free eBooks that you can also buy as print on demand versions. It is kind of good (with his stuff) as you can browse the free version before buying the physical book. I was thinking that you might do that sort of thing at some point.
Teramis wrote:Re Qua-lun location and all that: I was developing this somewhat before, or maybe about the same time, that OA was coming out, independently of OA. That's why when I saw OA as product I went, OMG, I *have* to write for these guys! and pitched an adv module. I was willing to cannabalize a part of my setting (a certain location and NPCs) as fodder for a TSR module, but I never envisioned Qua-lun as a whole as being part of the Kara-Tur geography at all. It is native to my larger fantasy world setting of Astareth (that's the name of the planet), has its own cultural role in that world's history, and in fact is the cradle-civilization of what grows into my space-faring empire builders in my science fiction novels. The Sa'adani Empire (name of that sf setting) has its cultural roots "in ancient times" in Qua-lun.
Wow. I got the wrong end of the stick there. :oops:

Thanks for the correction and for the extra information about Astareth.

I used to be really into science fiction (and really not into fantasy). Then I swung more over to fantasy. I took a break from fantasy (and fantasy RPG) and swung over to science fiction LARP. I went back to reading more science fiction back then (as I was trying to do some world building for my club). Now I've come back to fantasy again (mostly as I'm trying to get a feel for a number of D&D worlds that I want to know better). I was thinking that any Qua-lun novels could help fill in for the Kara-Tur novels that were not written, but the connection with The Sa'adani Empire could be interesting.

I'm not sure why, but that kind of reminds me of the Chanur novels and how they are slotted into their own universe. I'll have to check them out when I get time.
Teramis wrote:Put another way, my fantasy world and my sf setting have cultural continuity between them. One leads into the other over time, and Qua-lun provides the impetus for that growth.
An Asian space setting sounds like it could be interesting. The thing with fictional worlds is that they kind of need to have their own unique selling points. Many settings are very close to "the USA colonised space". Even if they don't start with Earth, they tend to start with the assumptions from the USA.
Teramis wrote:Since Qua-lun is so uniquely situated and connected within its own context, it was never envisioned to be plugged into any TSR setting wholesale. I can see ways that I could comfortably develop it as a "plug and play" campaign add-on product for any fantasy campaign, though: if your world can accommodate a largish island nation, you can put Qua-lun down in a likely spot and let your people discover it, or trade with it, or otherwise encounter that culture. In any campaign book featuring Qua-lun, I'd no doubt add some adventure hook ideas for how people could reasonably get connected with this location. If your world lacks a developed Asian culture, Qua-lun could fit that bill nicely.
We have some homebrew experts here. TAD is one of them. He could certainly drop Qua-lun into another world.

I would be less inclined to do that, myself. I would be more inclined to take Astareth and whatever solar system you give it in the Sa'adani Empire books and stick one of Jeff Grubb's crystal spheres around it, so that I could use it in a Spelljammer game. (That is kind of what I'm known for at The Piazza! :) )
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:47 pm

Teramis wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I'm not sure when she was writing the early stuff, retative to 1st and 2nd Edition, so I don't know if she was designing this when Kara-Tur was going to be part of Oerth or after it was moved over to Toril.
AD&D 1st ed rules were current when I started my dev work on this setting. I contacted TSR to write for them in 1986.

Also, as a data point, I am having a terrible brain fart about what-all I wrote for the Kara-Tur Boxed Set. I was supposed to write three things, but missed the deadline on the third item and it never got printed. I was more engaged with Kozakura than with the second published piece (also because of the analogies to my own Qua-lun setting) so that has always remained first in my mind. But if my memory does not totally delude me, I also wrote the Malatra (jungle lands) material. Ama (the intro narrator) was a particular character of mine, inspired by the book Nepali Ama (a biography about a wise woman and healer in the Himalayas. Although not a jungle location, I liked her character.) The setting itself was inspired by the hill tribes of Laos and Cambodia.

If I sound a little uncertain, well, it was almost 30 yrs ago, and I've written a lot of stuff. (!) But I'm pretty sure that was my brainchild, too, especially because of the Ama character. (Update: Now that I actually started to think about this on purpose, my doubt has vanished. I wrote Malatra, too. Now I regret some parts of it as being too obviously Earth-analog, and wouldn't write it the same today. But it is what it is.)
Did you ever see any of what the RPGA did with Malatra: The Living Jungle? If you did, do you think it fits in OK with your vision of the area?
Teramis wrote:The incomplete (and unpublished) contribution absent from the book was about a Thailand/Sri-Lankan-like kingdom.
Did that unfinished kingdom ever make it onto the map?
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Teramis » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:07 am

Big Mac wrote: I think that TAD was asking if there was a dead-tree version available on Amazon.
Whether ebook or paper, nothing sold on Amazon can have a permanent price tag of $0, so that is why Dragonsword is not there. I can't place it there as long as I make it available for free.

After Book 2 is done and I am repackaging the duology into an omnibus edition, at that point I'll also be re-formatting for print-on-demand versions. So eventually there will be paper versions, probably at Lulu. That's all quite a ways off, but yes, it's in the plans for the future.
Big Mac wrote: Wow. I got the wrong end of the stick there. :oops:
No worries. This is all pretty obscure and a long time ago. Even I am forgetting what happened when, as note my absent-mindedness re Malatra.

Thanks for the correction and for the extra information about Astareth.
Big Mac wrote: I was thinking that any Qua-lun novels could help fill in for the Kara-Tur novels that were not written, but the connection with The Sa'adani Empire could be interesting.
People will have to try my novels and see how they like 'em.
Big Mac wrote:An Asian space setting sounds like it could be interesting. The thing with fictional worlds is that they kind of need to have their own unique selling points. Many settings are very close to "the USA colonised space". Even if they don't start with Earth, they tend to start with the assumptions from the USA.
That is absolutely correct, and as far as I'm concerned I can't *stand* science fiction of that sort. We are very fond of projecting ourselves into our foreseeable future and writing sf about it. That's all well and good but personally I find it boring. I want something different than "Earth in the future" and "Terrans in space."

Astareth and the Sa'adani Empire are quite intentionally located "in a galaxy far, far away." The people are human, but they are not "humans from Earth, that orbits Sol." It sets up a different set of foundational assumptions for subsequent storytelling.
Big Mac wrote: I would be less inclined to do that, myself. I would be more inclined to take Astareth and whatever solar system you give it in the Sa'adani Empire books and stick one of Jeff Grubb's crystal spheres around it, so that I could use it in a Spelljammer game. (That is kind of what I'm known for at The Piazza! :) )
Well, I hope you'll have a chance to give that a try when I release some game content featuring these settings. :)
Big Mac wrote: Did you ever see any of what the RPGA did with Malatra: The Living Jungle? If you did, do you think it fits in OK with your vision of the area?
No, I never followed anything the RPGA did. It was just TMI on top of all my professional game design work. Though if I'd known they were doing stuff about Malatra specifically I would have looked in on it back when, out of curiosity!
Big Mac wrote: Did that unfinished kingdom ever make it onto the map?
Not that I'm aware of.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Big Mac » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:31 pm

Thanks for some awesome answers. I've got nothing more to add for some of what you said (as you said everything), but I've got a couple of things left.
Teramis wrote:
Big Mac wrote:An Asian space setting sounds like it could be interesting. The thing with fictional worlds is that they kind of need to have their own unique selling points. Many settings are very close to "the USA colonised space". Even if they don't start with Earth, they tend to start with the assumptions from the USA.
That is absolutely correct, and as far as I'm concerned I can't *stand* science fiction of that sort. We are very fond of projecting ourselves into our foreseeable future and writing sf about it. That's all well and good but personally I find it boring. I want something different than "Earth in the future" and "Terrans in space."
Some of that stuff can be interesting sometimes, but I remember reading a "How to Write Science Ficion" book and it said that you need some sort of "otherness" for science fiction. Trouble is, if someone writes a book in 1950 and the "otherness" is that NASA sends a man to the moon and then NASA really sends a man to the moon, that kind of drops the novel out of science fiction. So if a sequel gets written after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have done their stuff the author either has to reboot their first novel or flip over into alternative history. I quite like alternative history, but it is better to start something as alternative history than have it get flipped in there by events.

Gerry Anderson created a few TV series that got "overun" (and invalidated) by reality. According to his UFO series women would all be walking around wearing purple wigs and silver mini-skirts in 1980. I don't recall that happening. Then he made a sequel to UFO and when that didn't sell, he rebooted it into Space 1999, where Moonbase Alpha had hundreds of people living on it and a nuclear explosion knocked our moon out of orbit. Looking back on those series now, the inaccuracies just make them look a bit unintentionally silly.

I find that when I look at that science fiction, the things that are "wrong" stand out as much as, or more than, the things that create "otherness". As a reader, I don't think I should be thinking about that sort of stuff. It is not so bad if a novel is actually supposed to be alternative history, because then "wrongness" is intentional and part of the "otherness".

Mind you, when you have your other hat on and are running your World Building Academy, I suppose you have to think about how other people can do this sort of near future fiction without it turning into a mess. :)
Teramis wrote:Astareth and the Sa'adani Empire are quite intentionally located "in a galaxy far, far away." The people are human, but they are not "humans from Earth, that orbits Sol." It sets up a different set of foundational assumptions for subsequent storytelling.
Sounds fun. I suppose that if you want to go into a science fiction future, you will be setting everything up with a Astareth having a habitable zone and looking for things like lagrangian points where space stations can go later.
Teramis wrote:
Big Mac wrote: I would be less inclined to do that, myself. I would be more inclined to take Astareth and whatever solar system you give it in the Sa'adani Empire books and stick one of Jeff Grubb's crystal spheres around it, so that I could use it in a Spelljammer game. (That is kind of what I'm known for at The Piazza! :) )
Well, I hope you'll have a chance to give that a try when I release some game content featuring these settings. :)
Thanks. I hope you will eventually be able to put out a campaign setting for one or both of them. I hear that RPGs have a much smaller market than novels, so I guess you need to build up the novels first.
Teramis wrote:
Big Mac wrote: Did you ever see any of what the RPGA did with Malatra: The Living Jungle? If you did, do you think it fits in OK with your vision of the area?
No, I never followed anything the RPGA did. It was just TMI on top of all my professional game design work. Though if I'd known they were doing stuff about Malatra specifically I would have looked in on it back when, out of curiosity!
In a nutshell the RPGA put a mesa in the middle of the Malatran jungle that prevents anyone getting in and out of the RPGA area. Then they added alien magical devices that make that area seem invisible from both the ground and the air. I think the magical invisibility field might make people turn around and go back the way they came before they get to the cliffs. And I think it goes into the air, because Spelljammer added some Shou Lung space ships that are exploring the universe. If the area was visible from the air, they would presumably spot it as they returned home with news of the strange things they found in Wildspace.

We have some threads about Living Jungle, but not a full forum. Because it "located inside" Kara-Tur those threads are inside our Kara-Tur forum (for now). They all have a '[Malatra]" tag in the thread name. If you ever get curious there is a [Malatra] Other Malatra Websites (& Free Downloads) sticky that has useful links.

I think I've bumped into a Kara-Tur fan in the past that thought that Malatra: Living Jungle didn't fit into Malatra too well. But I can't remember the things they were saying were wrong.
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Re: [Qua-lun] Dragonsword (free novel)

Post by Teramis » Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:21 am

Big Mac wrote: In a nutshell the RPGA put a mesa in the middle of the Malatran jungle that prevents anyone getting in and out of the RPGA area. Then they added alien magical devices that make that area seem invisible from both the ground and the air. I think the magical invisibility field might make people turn around and go back the way they came before they get to the cliffs. And I think it goes into the air, because Spelljammer added some Shou Lung space ships that are exploring the universe. If the area was visible from the air, they would presumably spot it as they returned home with news of the strange things they found in Wildspace... I think I've bumped into a Kara-Tur fan in the past that thought that Malatra: Living Jungle didn't fit into Malatra too well.
That sounds like a bad case of design creep to me: where you take a setting developed with a certain logic and nudge and tweak it to serve a different purpose. It's a great way to misalign the internal logic and consistancy of a setting, and create something that is "off" in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways that just don't feel right.

It's also something that happens a lot in rpg design, where publishers try to expand on certain properties by just....expanding them (usually to cash in on market interest)...without consideration of the design logic behind how things are in the original version. Sounds like that's what happened to Malatra. This is also one of my pet peeves in game design and world building, and makes me doubly glad I didn't follow what RPGA was doing, for the sake of saving my blood pressure. :evil:
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