HELLO INTERNET BOY #35: Wizards… on the road

So, the adventures of “Patrick Lenton” the Aelyrian character have kicked off, in a suitably modest way – more in the style of Lord of the Rings, when Frodo is having breakfast for about 700 pages, but it’s a start. He’s on the road and he’s met a fast-talking Cether (Halfling or Hobbit analogue)named Oswald and his friend Ruffus, a tough-looking Dorin (dog person). Patrick does love dogs. The Cether has basically invited Patrick to travel with them the majority of the way to Port Alyx, and against his (my) better judgement, he has accepted.

You can read it here as it goes on, if you want.

I thought hard about this – I’ve been taking a lot of my narrative cues from longform improv rules lately, and I know the fastest way to stall this story would be to say ‘nope – not travelling with you’. I know that this kind of narrative is different, and there could be different consequences from saying no, but it feels like the very kind moderator who I’m writing this thread with has very clearly offered me a cue, and I have to say yes. I also think that in real life, there’s also a chance I would say yes. In the post, I am both suspicious of their motives, and also ill-at-ease with the idea of spending that much time with strangers – but I am also nervous about travelling in general, and I don’t believe in turning down help.

I wrote about it back at the beginning of my RL trip, but at LA airport, a guy who was on my plane, a kind of tall thin shabby guy, was standing at exactly the same junction as me, with the same confused, over-tired look on his face. We were trying to work out which branch of the confusing customs lanes we had to go down. He asked me if I knew which one, and together we (correctly) guessed and went down one. For the next couple of hours as we wandered around the labyrinth that is LAx, I already regretted being saddled with him. I was tired, so tired. I was starting to suspect he was racist and homophobic. But that said – I felt more secure. At one point I definitely would have had a small anxiety attack when collecting my luggage, because I was sure I’d made a wrong turn. He was able to point out a small sign that showed we were on the right track. I did basically the same thing for him in New York, and waited half an hour with him for his bags, and ended up finding them for him on a different carousel. We helped each other out. It was probably better than not.

That said, in New York, he told me that he was staying in Times Square, and that we should hang out. I didn’t want to do that. He kept pointing out black people, and trying to work out which of our fellow passengers were homos. So I gave him a wrong number.

So yeah – unless I get stabbed, I’m pretty sure Oswald and Ruffus are going to get hard-dropped somewhere around an old-timey ferry.

HELLO INTERNET BOY #34: adventure time

Patrick Lenton has made his first post on Aelyria. Patrick Lenton is leaving the city of Arconis and going out into the world. Patrick Lenton is an unnatural creature. After falling down a rabbit hole of research, I decided that my character lived in Arconis because it had a university and seemed sort of vaguely prosperous and safe. Although, it had recently suffered a pox, some kind of civil war which I can’t find any details about and something called the ‘giant siege’, which I know just enough about to realise it was a siege by actual giants, and not just a really big siege.

Patrick Lenton, a graduate of the Collegia of Arts, has received a grant to travel across Aelyria, researching his family for a book. This is the closest thing I could think of that mirrored this project. Like me, he feels unsure and unready about travelling. But whereas my fears centre on unclear administrative anxieties, his are probably things like: orc warbands, giant bug monsters, necromantic cults, hostile weather, the fact that he is completely untrained to defend himself in a world where there is magic. This seems pretty dumb to me. But I suppose people can kill other people just as easy in reality, with guns and knives and sick burns, and I’ve only got my two arts degrees to fend them off, so the parallel stands.

Yesterday I, the real me, the real Patrick Lenton was sitting in Hyde Park in Sydney, at lunch in the middle of the day, surrounded by hundreds of people, and while I was reading my book, a guy strode up to me and plucked my phone out of my hand and made to run off with it. I got to my feet, and then he proceeded to beat me up a little – put me in a headlock, punched me in the face and the stomach. I managed to disengage and he called me a ‘homo jew’ and told me to fight like a man. I have no real idea of how I did fight him, because he kept trying to put me in more headlocks. It felt like more of a tussle, but my memory of it is all super disjointed. At some point I did grab his arm with my phone and twist it, until he threw the phone away. Then he ran off, punching a lady and kicking a British boy in the chest, stealing something from a sunbathing couple further up. I believe during it, I said ‘give me my phone, fucko’ and ‘you bag of dicks’. I have ended up with the following unimpressive injuries: wrenched neck, sore back, bruise on my butt and a very bitten tongue.

What surprised me about all this is how I reacted. At no point was there conscious thought involved, my brain was just a kind of blowing void, full of instincts. And those instincts apparently told me that I will “fight” with a guy who is fighting me. I honestly assumed I would probably run or curl up into a ball. And it’s not courage or anything – as I said, there was no conscious thought involved at all. Nothing to be proud of. It’s like being proud of a fart – it was just weird bodily reaction. It actually worries me – I could have gotten hurt so much more, in so many different ways. I would have liked to think that I could always run. But until he actually fucked off, there was no way I was even present enough to think ‘run’. It’s like a stranger running your body.

So when and if a moderator picks up my travelling storyline on Aelyria, and attacks my helpless nerd with a bandit or a werewolf, I actually have a better idea about how Patrick Lenton will react to that. And he’ll probably die.

HELLO INTERNET BOY #32: where the hell do I come from?

I’ve been trying to do a lot of research into the world of Aelyria, in order to help create the fantasy version of Patrick Lenton, ie myself. And not fantasy in the sense that I have at least two abs and my adult-onset acne has cleared up, but fantasy in the sense that I rub shoulders with elves and could learn magic if I wanted to and there’s been a whole bunch of invasions by bug people recently which I need to somehow get my head around.

To start off the backstory, I want to work out where I’m from. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my exhaustive creative writing classes and watching The OC on repeat, is that your protagonist has to come from somewhere. In real life, I also come from somewhere, which may surprise anyone who thought I appeared only when you look into the bathroom mirror and say the word ‘dicksticks’ three times.

But it turns out it’s hard to make comparative choices between real world locations and places that literally don’t exist. My own background is this: I was born in Australia, I grew up for a time in a mining town in the desert, and then I spent the majority of my primary school years over in the Middle East. I then came back to Australia for high school and have lived in Sydney ever since.

So – the easier option is the Middle East part, because as with a lot of Tolkien-esque western style fantasy worlds, there is a clear ‘exotic Arabia’ counterpart. The city (and province?) of Arakmat will do. Pity it’s been in ruins for years, since a certain dude who I met IRL at the beginning of this project roasted it with his magic. Still, I can have grown up there. And not as a local.

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Finding a clear counterpart for Sydney is harder – how to reproduce all the different strains of identity that a city has on you? It’s looking more like I’ll have to settle on it being near the water, so perhaps Port Alyxandrya.

At the Junket conference I was at recently, I attended a discussion on Australian cultural identity. It was super interesting for me, because I discovered that the way I feel about being Australia is shared in one way or another by a lot of other people. It can be summarised as being ‘uncomfortable’ about it. I’ve always felt that having grown up overseas, I look at Australia very much from an outsiders point of view – however unlike a foreigner, I have nowhere that I actually feel comfortable calling home. This is further exacerbated by specifics – for example, where I went to high school in Sydney and lived for years with my family have the dubious honour of being the host of a big race riot. I’ve always felt the desire to separate any of my identity from that place. But I also discovered that lots of people having that discussion felt a dislocation – whether it was Indigenous Australian’s who felt like they were denied ownership of their identity, or immigrants who are treated as outsiders, or people from minorities who are viewed as different, which is more obvious. But the uncomfortable notion of Australian identity persisted – and I came to the realisation that instead of using this as a cue to write generally, to write in places that could be literally anywhere, to write in vague brushstrokes that could mean the US or the UK or maybe Australia why not, I should be navigating that feeling of uncertainty,  and writing about Australia from that perspective.

So yeah, Port Alyxandrya? I don’t know.

 

HELLO INTERNET BOY #31: Patrick Lenton, Human, Dual Class Writer/Marketer

Over the last year, I’ve had various tales of financial woe. They are not interesting – I didn’t blow my fortune at the craps table, or buy some magic beans or suffer from an arrow to the leg. Just shitty life stuff, in which no interesting tale shall spring from, which really adds insult to injury. When I started doing this project, I envisioned a round-the-world tour over the year, as well as my US trip. But as it happened, the money I received from the Thiel Grant for Online Writing was just enough to get me to the US. Getting back was a different story, and has contributed to my wonderful debt.

ANYWAY – not being able to afford to head to New Zealand and Singapore in the next few months, I’ll have to rejig the later part of this project, and this is my idea: instead of real life boy meeting people from the internet in real life, I will now be inserting my real life persona back into the game that started this all. Confusing huh – basically what I’ve done is created a profile for Patrick Lenton (ie, me) in Aelyria, which I last played in my early twenties. I will then document what it’s like to wander around in a fantasy roleplaying game as… myself. Obviously in order to adhere to the rules of the world, I can’t EXACTLY be me – but I will be trying to replicate as much of my own life and my own personality as possible. I will not be a seven foot orc barbarian with fire magic. I will be a six foot lanky writer. What will I even do with my time? What are my own motivations, let alone in a fantasy world? I will endeavour to write a post every day, both in the game and on here, for the next twenty days to explore this.

Today, I created my character sheet and registered on the site. It was weird. In so many ways, the site hasn’t changed at all. But it looks like the gameplay is almost unrecognisable. I’m also pretty sure I have to change my ‘wealth tier’ though, because as I said, I’m probably not steel. I’m probably ‘handful of pebbles’. I don’t know, I have to do some reading and find out what it means.

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Tomorrow I will do some research and maybe write my first post. Back when I first started playing, your first post always had to be in the Aedile’s office, which was basically a real estate agent? You needed a house. I obviously don’t have a house. I rent.