16 April 2016 - 11:00 am

Writers’ Asylum: Mental Battlefields: Prologue

Welcome to 2016’s Writers’ Asylum. Leave your coat and sanity at the door, and prepare for a day of fictional lunacy like you’re never experienced before. Don’t worry if you hear the doors lock behind you; that’s the least of your worries now. Because we’re going to war with our own minds today.

Today, we’re going to explore a single scenario. You’re going to assemble all the pieces and lay them out on the board, and then we’ll see how the game plays out. First, however, let’s create the board.

The stage for today’s play is a battlefield. Imagine any battlefield you choose, from any genre or era. It might be a wide, open plain, or a valley, or a stretch of ocean. It might be a particular area in space, perhaps made interesting by a streak of asteroids, perhaps stunningly empty. It might be a stronghold ripe for breaching. It might be a border, or have some strategic significance, or have religious or cultural meaning. It might be chance that makes this place a battlefield.

Whatever its significance – or lack thereof – this place is going to host the last battle of a war. Think Waterloo, or Serenity Valley, or the siege of Helm’s Deep.

This war has raged for some time now. Neither side is willing to back down; both have thrown everything they feasibly could into it. Think about what they’re fighting over. Ideals. Territory. Resources. Religion. Safety and security. Riches. It might be one or all of these things. The combatants might be human, or machine, or something else entirely. It’s all up to you. So choose.

By the time these two sides reach our battlefield, things are reaching their stretching-point. Perhaps support back home is waning, or supplies are running low, or the fresh recruits just aren’t there any more. Perhaps everyone is just tired of it by now. The war is almost over; whatever else is being debated, everyone seems to agree on that point.

One side has been creeping ahead. There is a known favourite for this war, the ones that can’t seem to lose; we’ll call them the top dog. That makes the other side the underdog, and it’s dangerous to underestimate the underdog. This battle could be the top dog’s chance to put down any resistance to them once and for all, or it could be the underdog’s chance to turn the tide in their favour and break the back of a superior force.

There are lots of opinions about how this battle will shake out, and none of them seem to agree. The only things that anyone knows for sure is that there are two sides to this battle, and they are drawing up their forces around this one, last battlefield. They are assembled: in tents, or castles, or ships, or carriers. They are getting ready.

Are you ready? Do you know what your battlefield looks like, smells like, as this storm gathers?

Because it’s time to find out.

Warning: violence and war ahead. If that upsets you, these challenges are not for you!

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