This graphic novel uses Ka-Blam Digital Printing!

This graphic novel uses Ka-Blam Digital Printing

Ka-Blam is a trademark of 01Comics, Inc. The Ka-Blam Girl is by Steven Butler. (I do not own the rights to either.)

About my "canon notes:"

Posts labeled "canon notes" are not meant to accurately portray any religious, scientific, or social canon. They are notes concerning the fictional universe I've invented for the setting of Wolfram: A Gothic Parable.

Progress report - 10/27/2017

Happy October, everyone.  Since my last progress report on Issue 5, I've received a surprise commission, so I've been working more on that recently than on Wolfram: A Gothic Parable.  I'm giving a guess-estimate release date of mid- to late-December at this point.

Sorry about the delay.  Here's an ink-and-colored-pencil portrait of Karsten E. Kesling.


Introduction to Wolfram: A Gothic Parable

Welcome to the homepage of Wolfram: A Gothic Parable, a graphic novel in progress, written and drawn in the Gothic genre for the purpose of portraying beliefs, ideals, and sentiments held by its author, Eric Daniel Muntz. Here is an explanation of the tabs above:
  • Home is this page. Any recent developments, progress reports, and pertinent announcements will be displayed here, and from time to time I will publish "canon notes" on the fictional world I've invented for the setting of the series. It's also the place to access an archive of these notes, reports, developments, and announcements... In other words, it's a repurposed blog page.
  • The Statement of Intent details what I hope to accomplish through this creative project and (of equal importance) to repudiate a few misinterpretations of my work that are likely to arise.
  • Vol. 1 -Ch. 1 links you to a directory in my Google Drive that gives a quick and easy look at the first chapter of the graphic novel.
  • Catalogue will take you to a sort of hub that shows the cover of each issue completed so far (issues #1 - #4) Clicking the issue title, cover image, or listing price directs you to the corresponding IndyPlanet listing.
  • Wallpapers showcases a few samples of destops that you are welcome to download and use on your computer.
  • Information about currently displays an overview of the premise for the graphic novel so far. I intend, at some point, to lengthen it to include character thumbnails and descriptions. 
Incidentally, the printing company associated with IndyPlanet.com (the site to which the catalogue entries direct you), Ka-Blam Digital Printing, is a good company for independent creators to use. It's a reliable print-on-demand service, and in my experience, they provide excellent customer service.

Progress report: Sept 7, 2017

3 pages not started; 2 pages half-finished; 19 pages finished
1 cover leaf not started  2 cover leaves finished

And so, let the maths begin!...
19 + 2 + 1 = 22
22 ÷ 28 = .7857(...)  = 78.57(...)%

So... getting close to finishing Issue #5.  I'm tentatively scheduling release for late October... keep checking back every week (or so) for updates.

Concerning the Evils of Tabletop Roleplay:

Okay, spoiler alert, that title is completely tongue-in-cheek.  I'm not here to rag on fantasy games at all.  Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons should be no more problematic to my fellow Evangelicals than Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia.  You just have to know what you're discussing in order to make a fair and proper judgment.

I'm drawing a few deep breaths as I write this.  I'm trepidatious as to the response it may receive.

I'm just going to briefly address one big misconception: that D&D is an exercise in summoning demons or a gateway to the occult... (I've heard both concerns in the past.)

Okay, the simplified rules are these:

Who do you choose to be?
You play a character from such-and-such a race in this mythological world (a lot like in any video game).  You have a personal goal (which is different from the quest objective), some tools, specific skills, and a backstory.

Your character has a sheet explaining his/her history, goals, and stats. Like so...

I called my character (who was premade) Jayne Cobb (after the Firefly character), because he wants a statue built of him in his hometown square, and because he isn't too bright.  He has a proficiency for handling animals (determined by this Wisdom statistic), among other proficiencies. This could come in handy if there's an aggressive dog in the way of the quest, needing to be calmed or defeated before you can move on.

Casting the spell of numbers: 
Your character has certain stats, which are mathematically linked to specific skills and proficiencies.  When you want to do something important to the game, any action that would yield consequences if it took place in real life, you have to roll a die or dice (resolving the variable in a predetermined equation) to determine whether or not you succeed in it—anything from playing a practical joke on a friend to swinging a sword, to casting an attack or healing spell—you know, all the stuff that already happens in your favorite fantasy stories.  If this is the kind of magic you're opposed to portraying positively, you might want to revisit your children's reading list and weed out the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, both of which featured both good and evil mage-type characters.  (I realize, with sadness, that some Christians actually have gone that far already.)


The puppet master:
So, what is the quest?  It can be any objective the Game Master decides.  Uh-oh, a Game Master?  Is that another word for Satan?  Nope, no such advantage to the argument I'm addressing here.  The Game Master (or GM) of the game I'm currently playing is named Jorge (pronounced George), and is a coworker of my brother... i.e., he's an ordinary human being.  To be a GM, you have to be fair, competent, and imaginative.  And the objective?  We're not sure yet.  It might even be a MacGuffin, for all my party knows...

The morality system:
Now, you do have the option to play an evil character. However, this is roleplay. You're not actually have condoning everything your character does.

There are two axes that decide the morality of your character.

Law / Chaos - Abiding by a legal or social system vs. Making your own rules
Good / Evil - A regard for life and morality vs. a disregard of life and morality

Lawful good is your basic Scouts of America deal. It doesn't allow bullies to win the day and plays by the rules for the greater good.

Neutral good recognizes that society's rules may be wrong at times, but at others times it actually benefits people when you follow the rules. They abide by a ethical code, but might be tempted to break it if they feel it will be of benefit to others in their party.

Chaotic good tends to rob from the rich to feed the poor. Whatever you can do for the disenfranchised and downtrodden, they do it without regard for whether or not it's "legal."

Lawful neutral believes the law and societal norms are absolute. Since justice is the highest standard, mercy isn't much of a virtue to them. It's strictly titt-for-tatt.

The standard for true neutral is absolute balance. Too much of one thing, and the world is going to fall apart. Too much of another thing, and... well, same results. Or, they just coast and don't really have much of a goal.

Chaotic neutral does what it wants, when it wants. They won't just kill someone or something for the fun of it, but they totally will if it steals their watch or insults their mother.

Lawful evil exploits legal systems and society's rules to get what they want, which usually involves power or some evil indulgence. They don't mind letting someone take the fall for disobeying anunjust law or for getting in the way of their plans to purge their enemies.

Neutral evil just gets its kicks. It does what it wants (usually exploiting or bullying) whenever they think they can get away with it.

Chaotic evil doesn't care much what others want or what they think. Without the slightest restraint, they do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it, and probably will squash anyone who opposes them, if they can manage it. They tend to operate alone, since they don't really like others and no one likes them.

On balance, I think this pretty accurate.

The bottom line:
Far too many Evangelicals exhibit a knee-jerk reaction to the word magic.  Without really examining the subject, and under the guise of authority, they spread rumors that certain games, books, or other activities are satanic.  Only a critical and rational examination of the activities in question will determine whether or not that is true, and most of us are not willing to go out of our way to verify the rumor that something is evil.  I'm fairly convinced that if The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which provided an accessible and relatable  parallel of the Passion of Christ, had been written only ten to twenty years ago, the Evangelical community would likely have rejected it rather than embrace it.

The only magic you access in a game of D&D is the magic of imagination and mathematics.  Oh, and friendship, mischief, cooperation, and the thrill of adventure, if you want to call those magic as well.  It's the kind of thing you did as a kid, only with a map and tokens, with a heck-ton of extra math and rules thrown in to make it more realistic.

Canon notes: The Löwenschild chapter of the Ordnung von Wolfram; The Löwenschild Succession; Semperfort vs. Pseudefort

The Löwenschild Chapter of the Ordnung von Wolfram

The chapter of the Ordnung that Wolfram: A Gothic Parable focuses on is called Löwenschild (pronounced "looh-ven-shild"; German for "lion-shield"), ruled by a Director, Natalie Löwe, the latest in a hereditary line.  Their leadership consists of a council of seven Eltern, a council of twelve Herr-Diener, and an academic body.  Charlie MacBeth is currently an Elter, and the Director is established for life as the head Elter.  Herr-Diener may only come from among the humans inducted into the Ordnung (regular Diener).  It is not unheard-of, however, for a Diener (if he/she is of good character and sanctified; not given to excess, arrogance, or violence; and above reproach) to sit as a temporary Elter in lieu of a Wolfremic candidate of similar quality.

The area over which Löwenschild has dominion was once known as the Holy Roman Empire (which was not Roman, nor was it truly an empire; many also remark that it was not holy, either, but I know too little about it to take sides).  The bounds of the Holy Roman Empire encompassed much of central Europe by about 1600 (according to this map I found on Wikipedia).

At the founding of the Holy Roman Empire, the Pope crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor in a public ceremony; but in secret, the first Directorate of Löwenshild, along with its first Herr-Direktor was also established to keep safe and secret the creatures whose existence must not be known to the lay of humanity.  While the Ordnung von Wolfram existed long before Löwenschild, this was the first Directorate of its kind in the Ordnung, its first (and currently central) chapter.

The Löwenschild Succession 

Director Löwe, next to Karsten.  The average Semperfort in
Wolfremic form stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the average human.

Since its dawning, the Ordnung had always been led, even if not officially so, by an ancestor of the (then) newly established Director, humans possessing a lengthened lifespan and access to uniquely Wolfremic abilities. These Semperfort-Wolfrim, or simply "Semperfort," sometimes take the form of a Wolfram of impressive stature, standing shoulder to shoulder with the average human while still on all fours.  Unlike a proper Wolfram, no Semperfort has ever sworn the profane Fenrin oath that all would-be Wolfrim must recant before their conversion and induction.

For reasons unknown, the line of the Director has, since the advent of the Wolfrim, been bound to the fate of becoming a Semperfort-Wolfram, an event that occurs between adolescence and the approximate age of 30 years.  The Wolfrim officially accept this line, known as the Löwenschild succession, as their blessed and anointed spiritual leadership.  The current Director (Natalie Löwe, as earlier noted), is a rightful heir of this very line, which has undergone no exile since its establishment.


Semperfort vs. Pseudefort

As concerns the Wolfrim,  all must enter by the Gate.  Whoever does not is a bandit, whose aim is to destroy from within.  The Semperfort lineage is absolute in its fate, and is the only authorized line to lead the Wolfrim.

The Pseudefort, by contrast, are a small and scattered coalition who have accessed Wolfremic powers deliberately and by illicit means.  Their goal is to replace the Semperfort lineage and establish an earthly empire by exploiting the Wolfrim's collective and individual strength.

A typical Pseudefort is ambitious, proud, devoid of conscience, ruthless, opportunistic, and self-indulgent.  The very prospect of attaining power is like a chemical addiction.  The closer they come to possessing absolute authority, the more they crave it.  Their powers are not properly Wolfremic, but are an imitation, generated by their deep-seeded avarice.  The Pseudefort have no Wolfremic form.  They remain constantly in human form for the entirety of their existence.  After all, to take the form of a subjugate creature is distasteful to them.  Why would they lower themselves to a minion's level?

Progress report

Proudly I announce that I've been making some good progress on Issue 5 and can tentatively say that it will be released in or by October of this year.
Don't strain your eyes.  I applied a Gaussian blur to avoid leaking any spoilers... I know not everyone likes those. Green = completed; Yellow = started; Red = not started.
2 of 3 cover pages complete

16 body pages complete
3 body pages started
5 body pages not started

Estimated progress: 70% complete

Progress report on Issue #5 and Reader update

It's been a while since my last progress report.  So here's where I am right now.

8 pages finished
7 pages started (varying degrees of completion)
7 pages not started
2 of 3 cover pages finished

I self-assess my progress at 58 percent.
















And now for a reader update...

You may have noticed that Issue 4 is uploaded to the reader.  It has been for, I'd say, about a month now.  Sorry I didn't alert you to it earlier.

UPDATE (June 23, 2017): this chart is missing two pages (not started).  I have completed four incomplete pages since, which places my REAL progress currently at about 57 percent.  So about the same as I thought it was four days ago, which is disappointing to me; I had thought I was doing pretty well.