Choice of Rebels: Uprising — Lead the revolt against a bloodthirsty empire!

The conversation(s) with Breden about children will happen in later games too.


I know the question wasn’t aimed at me, but I think a (perhaps slightly tendentious, certainly whimsical) case could be made for XoR as soft-science fiction.

It’s playing with social sciences, after all–poli sci, sociology, anthropology–in a way not a million miles removed from the way more traditional sci-fi plays with physics.

Maybe a wildly unscientific magic system rules it out. Fair enough. But when I think about what made Battlestar Galactica good, for my money it was the terrific resonances with the “soft” sciences–with the politics of survival, the anthropology of extremity–rather than anything about robotics or space travel.


For me , what intrigue me was the Cylon infiltrator, number 6 … was the data of her robotic memory considered as Soul in human term ? :slight_smile:

Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!

Agatha Heterodyne - Lady of Mechanicsburg

And thank you again @Ramidel for introducing me to that web comic.


Glad to be of service.


On a Lounge thread, Rachel wrote:

(to which, yay!) but she also noted that staff discussions about the forum often end up being more about the headaches, problems, and cost than the benefits.

In response I suggested that some share of the runaway success of XoR should go in the benefits column, because forum engagement was key in making it a success–both in terms of providing good ideas and the sanding-off of bad ideas. So I hope Jason doesn’t still wonder if forum engagement was mostly a time sink for me.

To go into a little more detail than I have previously on the time-sinkiness: the two biggest blocks of time that went into the writing of Rebels were when I decided to add the Ch 2 tax collector raid in 2013 (which is longer than it may appear), and to rewrite Ch 2 as a week-by-week survival management game in 2015-16. Neither of those were a response to forum demand; for better or worse, those design choices and their length are both on me.

But the forum made them way better. In particular, I’d never have arrived at a tolerable version of the winter survival game without patient engagement from many forumgoers throughout 2016! Structurally, the “hard branch” at the beginning (aristo v helot), a design feature which used to be discouraged as a time sink, was also all me.

What things were written in response to forum feedback?

  • Radmar, Elery, Yebben, and Pin. The story originally dropped you straight into the Fourth Harrowing, without any of the Ch 1 flashbacks that establish your history. Our much-missed friend @FairyGodfeather was instrumental in challenging me in April 2013 to make them care about Breden and the (then-nameless) helots more, feeding back on a draft shared over direct message.

  • The chance to be a snobby noble rather than an inevitably bleeding-heart one.

  • The Carles and Olynna prologues–kind of. Forum folk made the suggestion that the prologue ought to introduce nationalism and religion a little better, offering a greater breadth of reasons to rebel. The decision to do that by writing two alternate prologues (rather than integrating the stats into the Plektoi prologue) was, again, all me.

  • The choice to delegate Ch 2 number-wrangling to a deputy, which has made a massive difference to many, many people’s enjoyment of the game. :slight_smile:

  • The choice to be a discreet Theurge rather than all up in your face about it from day one.

  • The chance to run a protection racket in the Owlscap (thanks again, Will)

  • Cousin Hector as potential love interest. (The ensuing encounter with Calea was so fun, it practically wrote itself, in a single day’s work.)

  • A bunch of fun little worldbuilding items, as anyone reading through the WIP thread could see.

Those really weren’t the big time sinks that significantly delayed completion of Rebels. They did of course add to the writing time, but not all that much. And in ways big and small (which I did my best to credit), they made the game appreciably better. The forum community also kept me energized and engaged. In my own mind the cost-benefit tradeoff is clear.

tl;dr: The fact that I’m long-winded and gravitate toward the more elaborate/ambitious ways of doing something should continue to be held against me, not the forums. :slight_smile: And it looks like more authors are being encouraged to engage with the forums, which is great.


If we are talking dollars and cents here:

There is obviously a cost benefit trade off to time vs content. I think you took the time to provide an interesting answer to most reasonable questions a player might have about their character or the game world. That obviously takes up a lot of time, but the rewards seem apparent. Great product with a great customer response. The IP that creates will also have enduring value that can translate into other mediums. I think the Dragoon Saga or ZE are examples of how it can grow beyond the IF game itself.

In terms of creative achievement and artistry, you have made something here to be proud of. The setting is compelling and fleshed out enough for film or TV IMO.

If you can attribute any part of that to forum engagement the cost in time and frustration dealing with irritating posts should be worth it to most authors and COG I would think.

You had more than a few moments of overwrought pushback on a creative decision and even a pun rebellion to put down… Its not like you don’t have the scars to prove the point.


Congratz Joel! :smiley_cat:


@Havenstone On the subject of sufficiently analyzed magic, I have some more questions regarding parts of the lore dump.

  1. Would it be possible to harvest aether in eyes without killing someone? This would still admittedly be grotesque but it is probably preferable to dying.

  2. What effect would blood transfusions have on the ability to perform wisardry? In other words, if a wisard gets a blood transfusion from someone else, does that increase the wisard’s ability to perform wisardry? Do Harrowers have a method for preventing blood of different blood types from clumping together? Would it even matter if that blood did clump together?

  3. If wisards can’t harness the aether in someone else’s blood without fixing the aether, is there a way to harness the aether in their eyes and brain without bothering to fix the aether? For example, would it work to touch someone else’s eye or brain and then use their aether?

  4. So I got to thinking that if normal blood does not work well as aetherial blood, does aetherial blood work as blood in the bloodstream? In other words, could we transfuse aetherial blood back into people without killing them? If so, then what effect would that have? Would it enable wisards to replenish their natural aether? Is it possible by this method to boost even temporarily their internal supply of aether beyond what is natural? Would doing so be visible under Telos Vision? Could this be a way to get aether past the Wards by transfusing it back into someone? Are the Wards also used on a much smaller scale as security for individual rooms and buildings to prevent someone smuggling in aetherial blood for use by hostile wisards on the inside?

  5. Would it be possible using Telos Vision to detect wisards who have earlier used their own blood by checking whether their internal aether is lower than would be natural?

I like the way @MahatmaDagon phrased this sort of thing:


Havie You are a saint. The fact you survive the first demo you posted that I could be personally called and pointed out to be rather toxic or bluntly sincere evwn if I was just trying to help you and the game. Now I am older and wiser so I hope being helful but being more nicer to not depress the author I want to help.
Interaction with authors are key for instance many games I was in fence of buying could have being instant buys if they had a small choice that could have expanded my enjoyment alot. Also, make a close contct with author makes reader more engaged and ready to spend money . I am dying to still helping you and i promise being nicer lol


I loved the new BSG in the beginning, but it seemed less and less space opera and more and more soap-opera as the seasons went by. About half the final season’s eps left me feeling meh due to the over the top melodrama, and I found the final finale a bit hokey, but I was glad the series got an ending unlike the original series.

I do agree that at its height BSG was amazingly good with excellent acting, great special effects, highly effective use of sound to accentuate events, and a fine balance of engaging drama and breath-stealing action.

And yes there were terrific resonances with the soft sciences even as the series kept the hard science mostly to background material with computers and drones sidelined due to fear of Cylon hacking and replaced with humans, increasing opportunities for both interaction and heroics. There were no lasers, phasers or plasma weapons, just missiles, both nukes and non-nukes, which we already have and can relate to, and slug-throwing rail guns which were already well into development at the time the show was launched (although the US has recently reduced spending on research, cancelling plans to build demonstrators and a prototype due to the current inability to attain the desired rate of fire). So the Tech was pretty low key, and didn’t steal the spotlight away from the humans & their self-created enemy which at times seemed just as or even more human.

So if you’re going to emulate BSG, please emulate the first few years instead of the final year or two. :smirk_cat:

1 Like

I hate bsg with all my soul as i dont see the appeal or the logic I really think the story is made to cause a totally hatred to any human character I have to see several chapters with a friend in the college and I end snoring after two of them. However I was able to see the prequel and even if was really boring at least was coherent. The lore is really worth reading is onw of those cases where I love the lore but hate the actual storyline. A clear example is Dragon age 2 great lore bad game.

In your game I am waiting for character could evolve to be CYNICAL there is naivete but nno cynism and mara is CYNICAL as she doesnt believe in humanity is good.

Spoilerdump responses:

Point 1: Yes, this would be possible. I’m struggling to see how it would end up being relevant though. If someone is wanting to harvest your aether, offering them your eyes (or marrow, notwithstanding that the gameworld still has no non-lethal technology to extract that) is going to be poor compensation for the loss of the brain, where the game-changing quantities of aether are.

Of course, you might be thinking about a “conscientious” harvester who wants aether without killing people…but I’m afraid I can’t imagine successfully basing an even-slightly-more-humane alternative to the blood economy on eyeball harvesting. Even if you cut back severely on your country’s blood consumption, you’d still be adding thousands upon thousands of blind helots (or alternative target group) to the population every year. Not sure anyone would know what to do with that. I suspect that as the first thousand or so began to die prematurely, the pressure to blind fewer people and just slaughter people outright instead would be irresistible.

I guess if you’re not talking about a systemic issue, but a one-off situation where you need more aether than you can burn out of your own blood, but not so much that you need a brain, and you’ve got someone you’re willing to blind, and the time and equipment to keep the aether in the eyeballs from subliming…this could be relevant. But tbh I don’t think I’ll be writing that scenario any time soon.

Point 2. Blood transfusion technology doesn’t exist in the gameworld. The idea, “maybe it would work differently if I found some way of sticking it into my own veins,” hasn’t occurred to anyone, in part because it’s such a well-known truth that you can’t use someone else’s blood. Blood types weren’t known in our world until 1901, and aren’t currently understood in the gameworld.

Point 3. You can’t access the aether in eyes, brains, or marrow just by touching it. Refinement from the other elements is required, along of course with fixing it so it doesn’t sublime away as you refine it.

Point 4. Again, no transfusions. Sorry! And Wards are never used on a small scale, for reasons I leave you to speculate about.

Point 5. It’s possible that an extremely experienced and specialized Theurge could use Telos Vision for this purpose, but we’re probaby talking Ennearch level. The difference would be subtle and very hard to spot without much practice.

The Ch 2 tax collector raid is definitely also wider than it may appear. :slight_smile: And yes, it widens Ch 2 a lot more than many people realize.

@P_Tigras, I agree that the wheels came off BSG more and more as the series went on. I thought its most important problem was that it kept trying to be a mystery-box show, which was what Moore & Co were TERRIBLE at writing. “They have a plan,” except they don’t, they really, really don’t. Is God somehow at work in any of this? Beats me. Who are the final five? Arbitrary, nonsensical, undoing lots of what came before. Why is there a freaking Bob Dylan song in the BSG-verse? I don’t even care any more…

When they ran out of steam on the first couple of big mysteries, they also lost a lot of the tension that had been driving the plot, and (like many writers in a similar bind) fell back on relationship melodrama. The great early dilemmas, the tensions between military and civilian leadership in extremis, the politics of responding to malevolent infiltrators in your midst…almost all of that got lost and replaced with less interesting problems too. I did think they still found some interesting family drama in the Adama-Roslin-Lee-Starbuck dynamics, but with diminishing returns.

Anyway, I promise I already know the answers to the mysteries of the Rebels-verse. :slight_smile: And I’ll do my best not to lapse into soap opera.


Havie is there a way to killer switch all teurges brain and make them burn It could be awesome some kind of DEATH RAY OF GOD and fry all heretics also a great way to deal with over population just Hegemony dead grab all their food and distribute during the famine period… I just want kill the mages and their tools in a justice bonfire

Sadly, there is no Awesome Death Ray of God in the XoRverse.


It really depends on when you came into the series. Their first two and a half seasons were the best. Then it was a slow downhill ride from there. I probably wouldn’t have watched more than one or two eps either if I had started in seasons four through six with some of the bad eps. I kept watching only because I was already heavily invested in the series, but I was gritting my teeth more and more as time went by.

You understand! My feelings exactly bro!


The first three despite excellent acting seemed very tired by the time the series ended, and as for the fourth, I was quite frankly sick of how the best pilot/best sharpshooter/best out of box thinker would be so amazing if she weren’t feeling so empty inside and thus turning to alcohol and philandering to self-medicate herself. I mean I get it, but I just didn’t care any more.

Consider me completely reassured. :smiley_cat:


I think that all mystery-box shows are destined to start sucking after 1.5 seasons, because when you don’t have a plan and rely on constant suspense to keep people engaged, eventually they figure out the show is on a rocket to nowhere and can’t care anymore.

As someone who started off loving BSG, and then hated it after season 2 for all of these reasons, I just want to say thank you.


And ppoison? Could a poison effect only teurges. I am just want a effect system trick to show my divinity without fighting Imagine mara charisma reforced with teurges screming in agony and tear down their own flesh Even if is not practical at great scale it is important as publicity value to reinforce the idea of they are heretics. That and I have to find a not direct violent way of killing them with no direct violence. If soldiers seem their mages as heretics they could joining me.

Still My first goal is kill that horrible demon called Breden I have imagine a perfect way and a ritual only for her… As she will became the public Judas in Mara tradition canon.

Babylon 5 managed to keep the mystery-box relevant for five seasons. But then, JMS made sure to ration out the amount of time he spent on the Vorlons and Shadows in the early seasons so that there’d be plenty of time to ask the big questions later.

Here’s a trick: Show a theurge a roll of duct tape. If they’re using theurge-vision, the sheer number of teloi they saw would blind them.


I need something spectacular and bloody to charm commoners in believe Mara religion Something luke them turning Lemmings or they turning march hares in public or they killing each other or running naked or making pigs fly… Something that show they are mad and Mara as a god send…Havie could I do lsd in water to make Teurges high and use that as divine power?