The Fell Gard Codices

How I Use Wikipedia

December 11th, 2012

One new thing I added to the revision of Fell Gard is a set of names for the various levels of the dungeon. Or, more precisely, I added the idea that the levels have names. I haven’t given each of the names, but added a couple where they seemed appropriate. I’ll get to a full listing at some point when the story resumes, I think.

So how did I come up with names for each of the levels? There are in-story reasons for each of the names, and they’re based off of a bit of thought (and thanks here are due to Grace, who was able to help a lot) about what each level would have been named by the speakers of whatever language was then current in the dungeon, and how that name would have aged through time, and so forth. The level names all come from a specific aspect of the level, and we’ll be finding out about that when the story resumes.

Out of the story, though, there’s another explanation for the names. I knew generally how the names would come to be, but not specifically what exactly would give rise to each one individually. So how would I come up with nineteen names (the newest level hasn’t been given a name yet)? I decided that the only appropriate was to incorporate randomness into the process. If I could randomly generate nineteen words or concepts, I reasoned, I could somehow either directly derive names from them, or else derive a ‘seed’ — figure out what the thing was that gave the level its name in story, and therefore work out the name from that. Okay; but how to generate nineteen random concepts?

I turned to Wikipedia. There’s a neat little feature on the sidebar that brings up a random article. That would be worth trying for my purposes, I thought.

Sometimes, as I work out the rules by which I create the dungeon and write the story, I’ll develop a process or set of rules which, when I try it out for the first time, generates a result I would never have predicted but which is so immediately right that I know immediately that I’ve figured out the way to go.

Before coming up with the idea of using Wikipedia, I’d been kicking around ideas for level names for days with no satisfactory result. I’d decided a few general things — for example, since the dungeon was made and originally filled by people who spoke Vitelic, the language of the Invicti, the original five dungeon levels that are now the Heart of Fell Gard plus a couple levels after that would all have names that were originally Vitelic, or Latinate. But I had no idea what those names would actually be. I hoped with Wikipedia to generate ideas or words that I could then translate into Latin, and go from there.

The first random article I called up was about a Russian cartographer who had edited a journal called Imago Mundi. And right away I had my first level name. Eighteen clicks later, I had the basis for the rest. It took a lot of figuring out and messing about with sounds, but I’m happy with how it all worked out.

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