Talk:The truth behind the myth (excerpt)
After publishing my insights on the bloody diary's talk page, I thought afterward that how interesting it would be if I managed to get in touch with the other competition winners, and perhaps get them to put out something similar.
After discovering that he was lurking in the Wiki's Discord server and subsequently finding his Twitter account, I've managed to get in touch with AesirWarrior, the author of The Truth Behind the Myth (Excerpt); the following is an exclusive insight from himself.
On Writing:[edit source]
The funny thing about my submission is it almost didn't happen at all. When I saw the dev blog I thought about writing something for the competition, but I kept putting it off again and again and again. I almost forgot about it until the very last day when, on a whim, I sat down early in the morning and wrote for a couple of hours before sending it in. I suspect I was one of the very last people who got their story in before the competition closed.
So, you see, my writing process wasn't actually long at all. I wrote and rewrote the whole thing on the same morning I submitted it. After that, I quickly forgot about it and didn't think much of it until the winners were announced. I wasn't even watching the stream at the time. People were just suddenly sending me congratulations out of nowhere. I was shocked to see it had been chosen! I was very happy, but also a bit disappointed in myself that I hadn't started on the thing earlier and given it another draft or two. It's one thing to submit a somewhat rushed draft, it's another to have that draft actually accepted! There are definitely things in there I wish I had cleaned up or changed. Overall though, I must say I was largely happy with the finished product. I have always been something of a procrastinator, so I doubt I could have written it another way anyway.
Even though the writing process was short, the idea behind the book had festered in my brain for a while. I had felt for a long time that the character of Camorra had been neglected in Runescape's lore. Here we have a character that is made out to be this great hero, on par with Robert the strong - who fought the dragonkin, and Arrav - who fought the mahjarrat Zemouregal; but we knew practically nothing about her. An old Postbag from the Hedge gave us a little more to dig our teeth into: apparently, she was famous for slaying a dragon called Garak which had been terrorizing villages near the Wilderness. Now slaying a mighty dragon, that is a classic heroic tale!
The only problem, I thought, is that dragons in Runescape aren't very impressive. There is admittedly an element of gameplay/story segregation to this: I think it's safe to assume that within the universe of Runescape, dragons aren't actually killed by the thousands every day. That's just something that happens for the sake of gameplay. And monsters that were introduced early in the game's history tend to look less impressive over time as power creep makes the Player stronger. Nevertheless, dragon-slaying didn't seem to be such a big deal overall. Even ignoring the Player, NPCs all over the place fought dragons and mounted their heads on walls, didn't they?
With Dragon Slayer II, OSRS gave Camorra some much-deserved attention as an ally of Robert the Strong in the battle against the dragonkin, and as the founder of one of Zeah's great houses. This went a long way towards making her relevant, but it made me think back on the old postbag with Garak. Fighting off the dragonkin is certainly more impressive than one lowly dragon, right? Postbags have always been secondary canon to the game, so it didn't matter anyway, but I still liked the idea of there being a single momentous deed that defined her career. And Garak's a cool name.
Now, heroes are not necessarily remembered for their greatest feats of strength. The most important part about slaying Garak would probably be that Camorra saved and inspired people by doing so, not that it was an amazing boss fight or whatever. But I still thought it'd be interesting if there was something to Garak that made it stand out, something that elevated it above the rank-and-file dragons in the game. And with the revelations of Dragon Slayer II, I thought there might be a way to recontextualize it to fit with the broader Dragonkin Conflicts Camorra took part in.
That was around where my head was at when I began writing.
The truth behind the myth:[edit source]
Writing something in a sort of faux-academic style is fairly easy. You can present what you want to say matter of factly and just put on a slightly pompous hat. You try to let a sprinkle of biases and personality shine through the text, but ultimately you are writing as a person who is trying to present themselves as a neutral observer. If you write a first-hand account you have to be far more careful when it comes to characterization: what is the character feeling? What are they thinking at this moment? What decisions do they make? If you write from the point of view of a scholar (probably sitting in some dusty old tower), then they're going to be almost as distant from the subject matter as you are.
Writing as such a distant observer also allowed me to speculate and offer many more points of view than I would have been able to had I written the book as a first-hand account. In a sense, I was just presenting normal lore theorizing in a diegetic way. I implied that Garak was a dragonkin and that the last hypothesis was closest to the truth (although the others helped form part of the picture), but ultimately it was still speculation. In the strictest sense the only thing the book added to the canon was the suggestion that there might be more to Garak. If Jagex didn't agree with what I implied, well, it's only the musings of one scholar anyway. It opened up an opportunity, a minor mystery, but I thought it fair not to make them commit to anything.
I did try to portray the implied conclusion as somewhat more believable than the alternative. The reason I chose to have Camorra's story be recorded as poetry - other than it just feeling like the right medium for a heroic folk tale - is that poems often have a rigid form and structure that make them less likely to change significantly as they're passed down. I left some leeway, of course, by saying that the poems were recorded 400 years after Camorra's death, before which I imagined they had been transmitted orally, but the intent was to endow the "original" account with more authority and to cast doubt on the translation.
I think it's very interesting how stories can shift and transform over time. Just the act of translation removing a world of nuance seemed right. I wanted to imply that the Runescape world has greater depth, even if we can't always see it. You could admittedly say that the whole thing about the poem and the bad translation was just a contrived way to retcon, and you'd probably be right, but I felt it was believable. Similarly, I made the text an excerpt of a larger work to imply that there is a greater history there we don't know about. Runescape books are by necessity short, but we can imagine that there is more to them: chapters upon chapters of lore, most of it mundane and boring, that we just don't see. The Player just reads the important bits. I think the most important tenet of world-building is that it's always bigger than what we see.
If I were a better writer, I may have written an actual Camorra poem myself, with alternate translations in brackets, leaving the reader to piece together different interpretations themselves. But since I can't do a heroic epic justice, I decided to leave it to the imagination and merely hint at the complexity involved. I'm fairly proud of it, even if I'm usually too embarrassed to go back and read it.
There was a bit of fluff that Jagex rightly edited out of the text. Originally it started with an introduction briefly talking about how elves brought the text to Prifddinas from Avarrocka, and the "original language" the text speaks about was named Old Forynthian. Also some clarifications like changing "Common" to "the common tongue".