Okay, I think I’m finally in proper condition to write something about the latest story.

But first, a few random comments on web design. Or, even before that, a few thoughts on fantasy art. I have some personal problems creating engaging fantasy art, and that’s because fantasy art requires attention to detail. So, creating an interesting-looking web site for fantasy literature would require making artwork with a bunch of details.

Anyhow, the new Avarthrel site look is shaping up somewhat, mostly because the “realistic-ish” part of the site is simply rendered in 3D software - I usually associate 3D with “massive big graphics”, and never stop to consider using 3D for something as simple as web graphics. I got the idea from Ultima VIII, which is a sprite-based game using a very low screen resolution (320x200), but which nevertheless uses pre-rendered graphics based on 3D models.

On the story, then. The Sweet Side of Death was a very weird story to write, as I had been recently toying with images of grim beauty. It was inspired, obviously, by works of fiction that depict chaos as a benefical force; Ophidians of Ultima VII Part Two was one source, as was goddess Eris of Discordianism.

The biggest inspiration for the story, however, was obviously The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but in a way that was probably completely different from what most people would even consider. I’ve currently clocked some 80 hours of game time and I’ve been playing - surprise, surprise - a good thief lady, a fine and upstanding member of the Thieves’ Guild.

Yet, despite having a stellar, good reputation, some random passer-by handed her a deed to Deepscorn Hollow.

You could say this is what inspired the story more than anything: At least as far as I know, in real life I’m a person with perfectly mundanely ordinary moral values, and I like to play good characters in games, too - and yet, here I am, a proud owner of a rather evil-looking place.

Heck, I just went and joined the Dark Brotherhood in the game and I’m still a good guy. (Well, a gal, in game world. =) This gives us interesting moral dilemmas: Can good people use pure evil as a force that can be ultimately benefical? Can good people just sit around and watch evil things unfold and just admire the beauty of it all? (Especially in a medium of fiction, like a computer game - none of this is real, after all.)

And most remarkably of all, can it be discussed without sounding like an evil person or a complete fruitcake?

This is what I was trying to ponder in this particular story through Faira’s writing.

This story has been one kind of a turning point for me. It’s a bit funny: I’d never thought this would even be needed, but here I am, trying to make room in my head for “not writing what I always think”. I’ve never needed to put very big disclaimers in stories, aside of the usual, more or less implied ones - “warning: newbie writer on board”, “warning: yes, I’m a computer geek and not getting any, but my characters are”… but now I need to add a specific disclaimer here: I am, for the first time, writing about potentially horrible things and I wish to say that I’m not really condoning any of bad things in real life.

But hey, this is fiction - surely you knew that already. If someone complains, by all means, copy-and-paste it to FSTDT or something. If spoofing Jack Thompson generated no response whatsoever, let’s see how this one fares. =)