Black Lives Matter: Our Stance

Black Lives Matter: Our Stance

I’m speaking as Becca here, so excuse me as occasionally I break the plural “we” I try to use to reference Ginny and I in prior posts. We have had discussions about not only where we stand, but also what we should do with this blog. And of course, how we can help.

Both of us believe in the Black Lives Matter movement and protests. Both of us want to support it.

Of course, we are two writers who are running a gaming blog to try and get sponsorship–there isn’t any money to speak of right now, and neither of us are comfortable going to the protests for health reasons. So we had to look at what we could do. The first thing, obviously, is this blog post showing that we stand with them and support the protests.

Next, we looked at what we could control, that being the characters in the game and representation. We knew we had covered our bases with the playable character creation, we have twenty different skin tones. You will be able to play with all options of skin tones available right at the get go. While right now how many features are set and how many can be customized are in flux because we don’t have an engine, we hope that we are going to continue to be able to provide a wide range there too. Whenever we create “sample” or filler player characters, we always go middle of the road–i.e. olive skin, brown hair, brown eyes–not white.

The next step beyond the player character is the characters you interact with the most. For our game, that’s the mentor-characters. There are seven Light Riders, five Shadow Riders, and because the Diamond District is “neutral” and not claimed by any set mentor, I count the younger prince and princess twins as the district representatives since they will be your source of info in terms of what’s going on and how to do things. So that puts us at fourteen characters to check our ratios on.

Keep in mind, this is our starting area. In an ideal world, there’s three other countries to unlock. For sake of sanity, each has their own, global influence. Astranar’s influence is Europe. But because it’s our starting area, I felt like we needed to push the ratio farther than what most racial statistics tell me the ratio is for Europe, not only to be fair for representation, but also to be realistic to the fact this is one continent, some crossover is going to happen more.

Upon review and some mapping of the characters by Ginny, we decided that yep, we needed to do some adjusting, which had a minor ripple on to another character who wasn’t adjusted. But thankfully we are now happy with it. Since I don’t remember who all has been mentioned where in what context, and editing past history can be viewed very badly in these turbulent times, I am instead going to list out our district representative characters and their current, possibly new backgrounds as well as the thinking behind it all.

Light Riders:
Vesper “Ves” Leilament–American and white, no change.
Shizuka “Kitty” Sweetsong–Japanese and Asian, no change.
Vivienne “Viva” Streetbeats–Tahitian and mixed (Polynesian and black-French), no change.
Elena “Len” Treeharmony–Brazilian and olive complexion, no change
Minna “Minnie” Opuswright–German and black, she is the one who changed the most and the least at the same time. Minnie’s original character for a different project was German and black, we switched her to Middle Eastern when we changed projects before the Shadow Riders existed…and now we’ve changed her back.
Charlotte “Lottie” Mistwaltz–French and white, no change.
Isidora “Izzy” Silvertreble–Russian and white, no change.

Shadow Riders:
Vanessa “Nessie” Ribbonmelody–changed from German to Swiss since Minnie is now (back) to being German, and white, no other change.
Victoria “Vickie” Blackpiano–English and changed from white to being of Indian descent. She grew up in London still, but her family would have immigrated. I wanted us to have more representation from Asia, and it fit the character really well to make this transition. I’m sure we’ll find further edits down the road that will need to happen. (Like my scripts for demo weeks. I literally just realized that. Next on my to do list!)
Veronica “Roni” Highflute–Greek and olive complexion, no change.
Vivian “Viv” Streetbeats (no, not a typo, I swear)–Tahitian and mixed (Polynesian and black-French), no change.
Varteni “Var” Heatforte: Armenian and olive complexion, no change.

Royals:
Princess Rowan–Astranaran and mixed (black and white, presents black), no change.
Prince Elowen–Astranaran and mixed (black and white, presents black), no change.

Hopefully this ratio makes sense, covers everything well for the start and then we can build it up as we go to other countries to keep things equal. I obviously will have to review our current characters and our new characters as we build them, and make sure each group fits this ratio. Most of the groups aren’t finished yet, which makes it harder to see where we are at, but obviously as the game continues to develop, we will keep a sharp eye on our ratio.

Ginny and I haven’t talked much about the police, but we have talked about having small mounted police, and they will be spread out. We are definitely not going to have any kind of military present in the game, aside from guards in the palace (which is like the Secret Service) and you may run into one cop in an area. Interaction will be limited with them.

Hopefully these steps will show that we are committed to equality and we want to help. If you have any thoughts for how we can further make adjustments, please let me know in the comments or to our e-mail, and we will see what we can do. Change is needed, and we will do our best to speed it along.

A Place of Your Own

A Place of Your Own

A large part of Mystic Riders involves the ability to grow and make your own items. And in order to do that, you need a place of your own to be able to grow your own ingredients or store things that you’ve foraged. Plus, you can’t keep all your horses at the camp forever. You need your own place and that is the My Farm/My Stable.

The My Farm/My Stable is available to players who buy a pass to leave the camp (or in essence, buy the game). Once they have a pass, the mentor of their camp will show them their own Farm and Stable and walk the player through choosing a set up for a Farm and Stable of their own.

The My Farm/My Stable exist in well, magic space. What the player needs to access their farm and stable is their magical key, and a special gate. When they put the key into the special gate, a portal appears to their bit of land in Astranar. They can either keep the key with them, or set it up in one of permanent gates on the map. (Going home to your stable is always a free transportation jump that doesn’t require using a train.)

The key to their farm and stable is a snow globe! (Snow globes are very magical in Astranar.) The player has the opportunity to customize their snow globe key by choosing one of the districts symbols for the middle and a color from the color palette. (These can always be changed later.)

snowglobe4

When the player drags and drops their key onto the gate for the first time, they’ll be prompted to choose a style of farm that they want. While the player won’t be able to choose the placement of the buildings on their farm, they’ll be able to choose whether or not they have a cottage or a tree house and about a half a dozen styles ranging from French Empire, Queen Anne, Modern Eco Victorian, and so on and so forth to choose from, and they can choose if they want stone or stucco or painted clapboard. There will also be decorations to make or buy so they can decorate to their heart’s content.

The player will also be prompted to name their My Farm/My Stable.

The player will start with a small 1 bedroom cottage, a stable with 3 stalls that looks like a country church without a steeple, and a patch of dirt. As they do quests around the districts, they’ll be able to upgrade and add buildings and animal enclosures to their farm. Some of the first quests after the player acquires their farm will be to fill the stalls of their stable with a draft horse and a pony!

For example, as a player does farming quests around the district, they’ll be able to upgrade their patch of dirt so it has less rocks, or they learn how to improve the soil, thus letting plants grow faster or yield more. By learning about animals from farmers and veterinarians, they can build enclosures for bunnies, chickens, and an animal pen for bigger animals like sheep, cows, alpaca, and goats. (This is going to depend on their crafting specialty what animals they find more important. A player that takes up doing clothing is more likely to have an alpaca over say a goat, unless the goat is a cashmere goat.)

Once the player goes to the Diamond District and learns about hot houses, they’ll be able to build a conservatory in their farm if they so desire. When they learn forging, they’ll be able to build a forge on their farm. And if they want a pony cart, they can build a building specifically to hold their pony cart.

tumblr_olp854s0fh1sd8v2vo1_540

When they complete a quest to make friends or capture one of the fantasy horses in the mirror world, they’ll be able to open a gate to the mirror world from their farm to a magical glade. This magical glade will have a pavilion for them to take care of their magical horses, a garden, and enclosures for magical animals.

The My Farm/My Stable is intended as a place for the player to be able to continually improve as the game progresses. It is “their” space in the game to make it look the way they want. They can use the farm to grow plants in order not to have to buy them at the stores and as a place to keep extra inventory and pets. Lastly, the My Stable is a place for them to house the completely optional horses (outside one draft and one pony) they can collect in the game.

Character Spotlight: Bence Mezzohue

Character Spotlight: Bence Mezzohue

Bence (Single)
Artwork courtesy of Ashante Johnson (@earthsong9405)

Name: Bence Mezzohue                                                         Nickname: None
Age:  17                                                                                      Country of Origin: Astranar
Birthday: May 28                                                                      Pet: None

A mysterious boy that you meet in your first week of camp, Bence seems like a pleasant guy with a ready smile who is serious about horses, photography, and not much else. He doesn’t seem to get along too well with the district mentor, but that could just be a clash of personality, since not all of them are easy to be cozy with.  To you, he always seems like a gentleman interested in helping you make the best of your time at Astranar, exploring and finding a sense of freedom and competition.

Effortlessly charming and congenial, Bence is a bit of a flirt, but he treats his friends seriously. Most of his friends are members of the same riding club, but he appears to have a few elsewhere, some from his school, since he attends AEFPS. (Whether or not this includes his cousin Benny, well, that involves finding Benny wherever he is holed up in the mountains to confirm.) He visits people frequently, taking pictures that he develops himself. Bence is also a bit of an explorer, found in some of the wildest parts of Astranar, though what he’s seeking is a bit of a mystery.

An excellent horseman, Bence owns two horses. One is an English Thoroughbred mare named Llamrei that he uses exclusively for dressage and agility events. She is sweet and prim, if snobby. His primary horse is an Astranar Wild stallion named Passelande, who is skilled at cross country and flat-style races. Watch out for him on the turns, because he will bowl you over if you get in his way! Otherwise, he is a stoic but well-trained horse that suits Bence well. Even if it’s rather odd for Bence to own an Astranar Wild Horse, they are rather notorious for preferring girls…

Bence is a member of the expansive Mezzohue family who own a chain of businesses throughout Astranar via his father. His mother attended one of the district camps when she was younger and met his father then, so the rest of his maternal family still lives in India. He gets along well with his younger cousins on that side of the family, particularly one named Mia who he exchanges letters with. He also has a passion for genuine Indian food from his mother, and will instantly pay attention if kulfi is on the line.  While unable to attend the camps himself, that doesn’t stop Bence from visiting them whenever he has a chance.

This summer, Bence can mostly be found hanging out with his friends in the Enchanted Owl Order, who tend to travel among the districts as they find something that interests them. Mostly he seems to be taking pictures of various cultural events or nature. Sometimes, he’ll even help with deciding if someone has the dedication and talent to join his friends’ riding club. He does show an interest in a particular horse who comes in with the spring round up as a possible third horse for his own riding, but they don’t care for him! Perhaps Bence will have better luck with you, that horse’s chosen rider?

Favorite Color: Navy blue
Favorite Horse: English Thoroughbred
Favorite Camp Activity: Photography
Favorite Gemstone: Black opal
Favorite Race: Cross Country

Character Spotlight: Rose Neptuna

Character Spotlight: Rose Neptuna

Rose Neptuna (Single)
Artwork courtesy of Ashante Johnson (@earthsong9405)

Name: Rose Neptuna                                                              Nickname: Rose
Age: Appears 17                                                                       Country of Origin: France
Birthday: Unknown                                                                 Pet: Unknown

Rose Neptuna is the biggest pop star in all of Astranar, and is quickly spreading to the other countries in Argentum too. Originally a rising star in France, she moved to Astranar last year after taking a summer sabbatical in Diamond District, and has been the biggest thing since then. Not only because of her catchy tunes, but also because of her sweet personality. She is a lady of the highest order, though her image seems to also hold a deep sadness, something that is echoed in her lyrics.

In addition to singing, Rose is well-known for playing the violin, even while she’s dancing! She says she looked to Lindsey Stirling as inspiration, and added that she is also classical trained in both violin and ballet. There’s also elements of Indila to her sound, perhaps because Rose is also a deeper toned soprano than most pop stars. She composes her own music, and this makes her widely sought after to work with–she can blend her sound with other music stars, even if they are different styles like country.

If you see her in parades and not on floats or around the city, she can sometimes be seen with her horse, a white Percheron stallion named Papillon Blanc. He’s a giant push over, though watch out if you are eating anything sweet by him. He has a reputation for stealing candy apples from those who come up for a photo op. While not the fastest horse, he’s trained in dressage and show jumping and is very careful with his feet, so he’s an excellent mount for the city streets and for a rider who deals with the public like Rose.

Her agent is Yvenne DuNoir, who came with her from France and often is your first point of contact with Rose before an event. A haughty blonde, it’s…hard to miss her. Otherwise, not a lot is known about Rose, such as who her family is, or even what her natural hair color is! She lives in the penthouse suite of the largest hotel in Diamond District, but good luck making it past security to see her there. There are also rumors of her attending AEFPA, but the administration is very hush-hush about it. But all that mystery just adds to her charm. The only one who seems to be upset about her being here is the hip-hop star, Hi-Fidelity.

Her summer tour is an anniversary special for her first year in Astranar! She’s touring all over Astranar, leading up to the big summer blow out with every big musical act in Argentum joining her. There’s also a competition to sing a song with her on stage that has some of the locals eager to impress her. Maybe the player will have to give one or two a helping hand…

Favorite Color: Rose pink
Favorite Horse: Percheron
Favorite Camp Activity: Dancing
Favorite Gemstone: Topaz, pink or blue
Favorite Race: Show Jumping

 

The Mysteries of Diamond District

The Mysteries of Diamond District

We keep mentioning our wonderful districts, so now we’re going to start introducing them. Astranar has eight districts, each with their own individual flare, and they can be quite competitive with each other. In Astranar, the districts are named after gemstones. This week, we’ll be discussing our final district, Diamond, where the mystery of Harmony magic haunts all of Astranar.

(Note: Diamond can only be accessed after you complete one of the other seven districts, and you will need to return to it after each district before you can move on to the next because each district unlocks more story within Diamond.)

tuileriesgarden4

Set on the coastline and towards the middle of Astranar, Diamond shares its borders with Morganite, Citrine, and Ruby. Ginny used different cities and boardwalks to pull together for Diamond from all over Europe. While there are outlying villages and stables, the biggest (and only really big) city in Diamond is the capital, which over time has absorbed a few other larger towns to form six parishes within the city. Don’t think all the green is gone, however. There are plenty of open fields to run through, though the grounds and woods are probably much more manicured than anywhere else, and make sure you don’t stumble on private property! There’s a lot of nobility in the capital for government purposes, so there’s a possibility…

With a beach and boardwalk, the capital is an even mix between casual tourism and the elegant prestige of the nobility and royals, all depending on which district you are in. The capital is also home to both elite riding schools of Astranar: the Royal Riding Academy and Astranar Equestrian Federation Preparatory School. One of the two schools actually uses the Old Palace, the original palace of Astranar for the royal family and other key figures. While both used to be housed together, as the school grew, the royal family moved their seat of government and themselves over to the New Palace, making everyone much more comfortable. The fashion of the capital is a blend of seaside apparel, school clothing (or at least what Morganite hasn’t claimed), and formal wear, but you can find a little bit of everything as many fashion designers have stores, either in the mall or in the base of a famous hotel!

pantskirts

While there aren’t any specific races in Diamond District, there are horses. High bred and highly trained, these are horses of the nobility and they have the paperwork to prove it. Friesian, Lipizan (or as we know them in America, Lipizzaner), and English Thoroughbred are the three types of horses you can find here. Each of them has a different type (or types!) of race they do well in, so it’s a great place to pick up a spare horse if your stats are off before going into a new district. However, these are all considered extra horses, so you will have to pay out of pocket for them.

lipizzan2

Not a lot is known about Harmony magic. It requires a very special person to use it, and they are very rare. While a Light magic rider is skilled with one element very strongly, a Shadow magic rider is skilled in two side-by-side elements. With Harmony riders? They have skill in many elements. It’s the first sign to look for in a Harmony user, and since they can need training in all the schools, it takes a while for them to be able to access their own spells! Now if only they knew what that one spell was…

If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Diamond, have their own little specialties and symbols. I won’t bore you with all of them, and I want you to get to enjoy finding them out on your own! Unlike the other districts, Diamond is probably not as obvious with its clues. Also unlike the other districts, there are no specific mentors tied to Diamond! Instead, Diamond is a meeting place where you can run into several different mentors all in one place, and each time you finish a new district, there’s more people available in Diamond for you to meet.

Want those profiles to come sooner? Consider buying us a ko-fi.

Tumbling Down in Amethyst District

Tumbling Down in Amethyst District

We keep mentioning our wonderful districts, so now we’re going to start introducing them. Astranar has eight districts, each with their own individual flare, and they can be quite competitive with each other. In Astranar, the districts are named after gemstones. This week, we’ll be discussing Amethyst, where Consciousness magic is the end-all be-all.

tumblr_ojvusfa4rl1uz4wmko1_540

Set in the very center of Argentum, Amethyst is mostly mountainous and bordered by Sphalerite, Ruby, and Emerald, as well as both Zablana and Nospos. Ginny used the Swiss Alps as inspiration for Amethyst, looking for ways to situate towns and farms into the mountain side that goes vertical more than it does horizontal. With pocket valleys creating ideal places for villages and high steeps covered in snow for the rest, Amethyst is great for everyone who enjoys their snow year round.

In addition to the villages and high hills that lead into Ruby, Amethyst is home to winter sports of all varieties, particularly ice skating. In fact, a huge Olympic-sized facility has been built in Amethyst to try and attract ice skaters of all types. With all those twisting roads, though, travel can get tricky and there’s always someone who is in need of rescue. Perhaps as a nod to the home of winter weather, Russia, there is a definite imperial/military inspired style in Amethyst.

tumblr_plocyvUfeg1vrz6y9o4_540

With all those mountains and the specialty of dressage, you might need a new horse. While Amethyst doesn’t provide you any funds for new horses, there are some to take a look at if you don’t mind spending some of your own cash. The Vyatka and the Akale-Teke are horses built for extreme weather and elegant looks, both being considered rare breeds. If something a little more solid is your speed, there is also the Orlov Trotter for your consideration.

vyatkahorse

Consciousness magic resonates with Ti on the solfege scale. Consciousness is magic of the mind and will, with many of its abilities similar to that of psychic abilities. Magicians of Consciousness will push their minds and their bodies as hard as they can to achieve their goals. While they are usually empathetic enough to pick up other’s emotions and maybe manipulate them, they aren’t as wise to their own feelings and can come across as a little cold. On the small scale, Consciousness magic is telekinesis and emotions or thought sensing, relying on the environment or others as well as their own will. On the large scale, it can grant its users knowledge of the past, the present, or the future, and even allow for astral projection. However, you have to be careful about going too far from your body or into time–they don’t play fair–and if you push yourself too far, you’ll get a nasty headache for your troubles.

If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Amethyst, have their own little specialties and symbols. I won’t bore you with all of them, and I want you to get to enjoy finding them out on your own! (The name is one giant clue to one of them, fyi.) I will mention that the Amethyst mentors depend on which side you choose. If you go with the Light, you will look to Isidora Silvertreble (profile pending), and if you go with the Shadow, you have options: Vivian Streetbeat (profile pending) and Victoria Blackpiano (profile pending).

Want those profiles to come sooner? Consider buying us a ko-fi.