War Fourteen

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Event
Event: War Fourteen
Participants: The Unexpected Party
Date(s): 13-28 January 2013
Type: war
Fandom: Forever Knight
URL: Yahoo!Group warpost archive
Screen capture of the index page of the War Fourteen Twitter page
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

"The Unexpected Party" was the fourteenth of the Forever Knight Wars. (In Forever Knight fandom, a "war" is a large round-robin style form of self-insertion RPG played on the FKFIC-L mailing list.)

War Fourteen officially ran from 13 to 28 January 2013.

War Leader

As is tradition in Forever Knight Wars, the War Mistress's real name was unknown during the period before and during the war itself. However, unlike previous warleaders, she decided to remain anonymous at war's end.

War Site

No website was specifically created for War Fourteen. However, all posts were archived automatically on the FKWarArchive Yahoo! Group.

War Premise

Early in December, flyers begin to show up in the hometowns of Forever Knight fans. On the flyers are three runic symbols. Some days later, the same three symbols that were on the flyers appear carved in the snow outside LaCroix's radio station, laid out in flagstones outside Vachon's church, and spray painted on the water tower above Nick's loft.

On coming to Toronto, fans in the different factions quickly learn that several of the characters received odd Christmas presents. Natalie, Tracy, and Schanke had each received a wooden gift box containing a bottle of "private reserve" wine from Point Pelee Estates; and Nick, LaCroix, Janette, and Vachon had each received a copy of Tolkien's The Hobbit.

There is a mystery afoot. Can the fans figure it out before it's too late?

Factions Involved

The factions playing in War Fifteen were: the Cousins, Knighties, Perks, Mercenaries, Die-Hards, Nick and NatPack, RatPack, Ravenettes, and Vaqueras. There was also one independent player.

  • Cousins:
    • Leaders: Cousin Tok, Arletta Asbury, Cousin Shelley
    • Players: McLisa, Marci, MB, Brandi, Rhonda
    • Vamp Kitties: Gandalf, Merlin, Tirian, Toshi, Duncan, Zorro
    • Mortal Cousinly kitties: Willow, Frodo, Rambo
    • and sundry (OCs): Tammy the receptionist, Alex the chef.
  • Die-Hards:
    • Players: Don Fasig, Greer Watson, Ron the Enforcer (Ronni Katz)
  • Knighties:
    • Leaders: Brooksie, Nancy Taylor (NAT)
    • Members: Katrinka, Lisa, Vickie, Eowyn, Gemsong, Min, Debbi
  • Mercenaries:
    • Leaders: Mildred Cady
    • Members: Shadowstar/Laura, Kat, Sara, Liz, Bast
  • Nick and NatPackers:
    • Leaders: Susan Bennett
    • Members: Karen (Nitenurse), Kelly
  • RatPack:
    • Member: Libby Smith
  • Ravenettes
    • Member: Alexander Braun
  • Vaqueros:
    • Leaders: Tabs (VaqMadre)
    • Members: Doña Angel, Tricia, Marilyn (VaqShaman), Melissa, Naia Zifu, Teri
  • DP/Perks:
    • Members: Anne Jensen
  • Independent:
    • Bonnie Pardoe

Statistics

In all, there were 40 people who signed up to play in War Fourteen, not counting the War Mistress. Collectively, there were 161 story posts, including those made by the War Mistress.

Having said that, not all participants were equally active. It is true that posts were authored or co-authored by 31 different faction members plus the War Mistress. However, 9 people only co/authored one post, and another 8 people co/authored either two or three posts. (In general, these are simply their own getting-to-Toronto and going-home posts) The bulk of the writing was therefore done by 14 people, including the War Mistress.

The Cousins had three of these "active" writers (Cousin Tok, Arletta, and Cousin Shelley), while there were two in both the Knighties (Brooksie and Knightie Nat) and Vaqueras (Teri and Naia Zifu). Not surprisingly, therefore, these factions all played a prominent role in the war. The other "active" writers were in the Die-Hards (Greer Watson), NNP (Susan B.), Ravenettes (Alexander Braun), and Mercs (Laura Davies), plus the one Independent (Bonnie) and the War Mistress. Neither the Rat-Pack nor the Perks had a player able to devote the necessary time to write with this level of frequency; and, as a result, those factions inevitably played a minor role in War Fourteen.

Calendar of War Events

This calendar lists major events officially scheduled during the War.

  • January 13 - FK fans begin arriving in Toronto.
  • January 20 - the Knighties hold a potluck dinner to which the other factions are invited
  • January 23–24 - small white envelopes containing the final riddles are delivered to each of the factions
  • January 26 - a party is thrown honouring the 70th Anniversary of the De Brabant Foundation

Rules

No specific rules were posted for War Fourteen, barring a description of the puzzle to be solved.

Management of Characters

There were no rules regarding the management of characters: factions were free to write them as they chose.

Resources During the War

The War Mistress did not prepare a website to serve as a hub and archive. Instead, she established a Twitter account, and employed the Forever Knight Wiki article on War 14 as a place for players to go to see the progress of war. (Since this use left the article less than encyclopedic in nature, it has now been renamed "FKWar 14 - War Mistress's Updates", and a new article created to document the war.)

Twitter Page

To decorate the Twitter page, the War Mistress selected a large image of the map in The Hobbit to serve as the background graphic. Although only seven people actually subscribed to the Twitter account during the war, there were others who did check it at least occasionally. The War Mistress updated it fairly frequently.

Wiki Article on War 14

Almost as soon as war began, the War Mistress realized that few fans were subscribing to her Twitter account, and turned instead to posting updates on the Forever Knight Wiki, where an article had been created in anticipation of the upcoming war. Strictly speaking, she was thereby misusing the wiki, which is supposed to serve as an encyclopedia. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the players, it was in many ways an acceptable substitute for a war site.

Within the first couple of days of war, a section had been added to the article listing all the factions and players (though not their contact information). From 14 January, the War Mistress also began posting daily updates to the "Highlights" section of the article. Though she only briefly listed a few of the events from each day's posts, it was convenient for those who found it difficult to keep up. (However, it should be noted that, as the war progressed, earlier entries were often modified; so the revision history of the article records numerous versions, especially for the "Highlights" section. To see this, click on the "History" tab at the top of the page.)

The War Mistress also added regularly to the "Quotes" sections of the wiki article. Among the excerpts she included were some that had been suggested to her by players.

In addition, by the second week of the war, the War Mistress took to providing information in the Resources section of the site, particularly the longer clues. This enabled people to find all of the information in one place rather than having to scour through all of the individual war posts.

Other War-Related Sites

Whereas in previous wars factions often created their own war sites as resources for members taking part, in War Fourteen the only faction to do so was the Knighties.

Behind the Scenes

[1]Much goes on behind the scenes both before and during war. Although some of this discussion and correspondence is private to the factions, there is also much that is open knowledge. War Fourteen proved contentious, largely because of mistiming, miscommunication, and differing expectations. The following section includes some analysis of the problems and their cause.

Preamble to War

At the end of War Thirteen (held 2 to 16 October 2010), the listowners declared that there would certainly be another war, to be held in no more than two years. Indeed, only a year later the first suggestion of war was made by Rebecca Hinson in response to the quietness of the ForKNI-L mailing list.[2] However, the listowners immediately said that it was inappropriate to consider having a war so close to two holidays, American Thanksgiving and Christmas.[3] Instead, it was suggested that the topic be raised in the following year.

War talk began again on list in March; and on 21 March 2012 the listowners called for proposals.[4] Over the next few days there was a fair amount of discussion, both of the best length for the war and the most appropriate date. However, an April war was vetoed by the listowners, both because it would be too soon for the factions to organize but also, again, because of holidays (this time, Easter and Passover). There was then some tentative talk of having war in June; but the discussion quickly petered out.

The subject was raised yet again in the fall; and, on 23 September 2012, one of the listowners (Lisa McDavid a/k/a McLisa) officially opened the discussion of war,[5] calling a few days later for prospective premises.[6] In a second post the same day, "War: Back to our roots?",[7] she then added some suggestions:

The first couple of wars began unexpectedly for the lists in general with a surprise event. We can't do that now because we need to have permissions on file for anyone who's going to play, even if it's just to be written about. [...] However, I'd like to see us get away from all attacks being organized by a faction and carried out against another. Once upon a time, attacks were just as normally made by one player against another, or against a character. [...] So, what are your opinions on loosening up? Factions could still go against faction, it just wouldn't be the only way to play.

Almost immediately, as in the previous year, people began to point out the difficulty of scheduling war in the late fall with holidays approaching. Once again, therefore, war was postponed. This time, though, a firm date was set for the following year: War Fourteen would run from 13 to 28 January 2013.[7]

Prospective Premises

Three people submitted war premises.

In making their selection, the listowners were guided by their desire to alter the way war had evolved over the years. "I want to try for a less factional approach this time, like the earliest wars," was the way McLisa put it in one rejection letter.[8]

The person who submitted the chosen premise also hoped for change. As she put it:

In past wars, factions tended to be very isolated. One big thread would take over and it would just be one faction going at another to the exclusion of all else, with the factions so focused on plotting that only the leaders ended up interacting with anyone outside the faction and then only to make sure permissions and timelines were okay. Or they'd just sit on their own in their HQ writing posts about exploring the church or having lunch with their faction mates, as if nothing else was going on - and when that happened, people didn't get to meet other people, which is kind of the point of the wars, I think. — War Mistress (in e-mail)[9]

As is customary, the person who submitted the chosen premise became the War Mistress. She was an experienced player who had already participated in several wars; but she had not previously acted as a war leader.

Preparations for War

The people who submitted premises were informed of the listowners' choice in early December. From the perspective of the person who was to be war leader, this came as a surprise. She had not expected her premise to be the one picked.[10] Furthermore, she was very busy over Christmas. As a result, she did not have much lead time to devote to her war preparations—particularly, devising the details of the premise.[11] Not having been war leader before, she sought advice from the listowners.

When she asked about the existence of a war leaders' list or loop, she was told that one no longer existed. Nor was she steered towards the war leaders' Yahoo! group, there being uncertainty whether it still existed. As a result, she did not have direct contact with the faction leaders for preliminary organization.

Furthermore, at first, the War Mistress assumed that it was her responsibility to send out a call for permission slips. In fact, this job is normally undertaken by the listowners, who thereby are assured that all the players have, indeed, submitted the slips. McLisa therefore quickly informed the list that players were to send their permission slips to her, instead. Unfortunately, as a result, the War Mistress was never supplied with a list of participants, and therefore did not know how many people were playing, or even what factions were taking part. Only once war began was she able to work this out, to some degree, from the posts people made, from which she was also able to get contact information for some of the participants.[12]

From the players' perspective, this information had—in previous wars—been made available to them on a war website created by the war leader to serve as an information hub. For War Fourteen, however, the War Mistress chose not to make such a website; nor did she initially inform people that she intended to use Twitter and the Forever Knight Wiki instead. Nevertheless, this did gradually became known in the first few days of war; and a list of participants was belatedly added to the wiki page.

Initial Expectations

As the War Mistress had participated in wars before, she had a mental image of the way that wars play out. The premise, as she saw it, was never in itself of particular significance, but existed primarily as an excuse for the participants to come to Toronto (or, more accurately, write stories in which their war personae come to Toronto). Her expectation was that, for the most part, the players would spend their time "attacking" other factions and countering the attacks made on them.

[I]n my experience, [the main plot] was usually coordinated and written by the faction leaders, almost entirely apart from everyone else within the factions (at least that's how it went down in my faction). The premise was a small story, with few posts, written by just a few people, that took place in the background, with only the premise and the conclusion ever being posts of any length or substance. — War Mistress (in e-mail)[13]

For this reason, the War Mistress assumed that her three initial story posts—which introduced runes in three locations (CERK, the loft, and the church), and mentioned Christmas gifts of The Hobbit and Point Pelee wine—would be sufficient to get the ball rolling. "I was waiting for people to go off and do their own thing. But no one did," she later wrote.[14]

There were, of course, some factions that had their own private plans: the Vaqueras, for example, opened with a memorial ceremony; and the Cousins were evolving a story arc about "plot holes" which culminated in the infestation of CERK with glowing pink rats.

However, most of the factions had not come to War Fourteen prepared with their own plot ideas. Thus, instead of launching into major story arcs to which the premise itself would be no more than tangential, they approached the war passively. In other words, they assumed that there would be an early attack (by whoever on whomever) to which they would then respond: early attacks had been common in other wars. In the absence of such inter-faction activity, players turned instead to the war premise in search of something to do.

Although the War Mistress's story posts had mentioned Christmas gifts of books and wine, the instructions that she posted focused on the runes. Besides appearing in three locations specifically associated with popular characters, these runes also were printed on flyers that each participant received in their hometown. The runes, in other words, were the call to war. "[W]ill you figure out the mystery before it's too late?" said the instructions; and the players promptly interpreted this to mean that they needed to solve the mystery of the runes on the flyers they had received. The instruction post depicted them; and, with this as guide, the fans therefore set to work to figure out what they might mean.

Unfortunately, this focus on the flyers was not actually quite what the War Mistress had intended. Her final post, "Not With A Bang But A Whimper", made after the end of the war, is something of an apologia. In it, she explains her original plan:

The rune-flyers were supposed to lead them to the actual runes-on-the-ground in Toronto. The things they found at, or under, the runes-on-the-ground were supposed to lead them to gathering some necessary items (like more wine), and then for them to meet on Saturday the 26th, the night of the first full moon of the year. [...] [What would happen then] was dependent on which clues they wrote that they found, what items they wrote they obtained, and who they wrote intending to go to the party on the 26th. But, it would have been something someone wanted—like mortality for Nick, or devotion of the other factions for [Lacroix], or womp-rats for Screed. I had no idea who would turn up, so I wanted to leave it a bit vague until I saw where things were headed.

In other words, the War Mistress expected the fans to brisk past the runes on the flyers to focus on the runes at CERK, the loft, and the church. However, since only the runic flyers had been mentioned in their instructions, the fans thought that these were the main clue. Thus, the War Mistress's plans for a treasure-hunt plot were immediately derailed because none of the fans intuited her intentions.

Of course, the factions did not all respond in the same way.

Some fans went on-line immediately, seeking to identify the runes and find out what they mean. Although each has an equivalent letter in the Latin alphabet, they have acquired a wide range of mystical interpretations. Everyone discovered that teiwaz is T, dagaz is D, and inguz is NG. However, these sounds did not seem to stand for anything in their own right. When it came to the mystical meanings, different factions sourced different interpretations. These, they then tried to combine to form a message. A wide variety of different "solutions" were proffered, some seriously, but others merely tongue-in-cheek.

Other fans wrote posts in which the three runes were found to have been painted in other places around Toronto, typically associated with other characters. The Cousins were the first to do this; but other factions followed suit, seeing this as a way to fill in time while more assiduous players did the hard work of figuring out what the runes actually meant.

For the War Mistress, this was acutely frustrating:

When folks got to Toronto, they were supposed to be intregued by the three sets of runes at the church, loft, and cerk. But they weren't and they were even less interested in them when other people began to write seeing runes all over toronto. (What was supposed to be 3 isolated, very specifically placed, and therefore intreguing, things just became indistinguishable from dozens of other, random rune sitings.) With everyone just making up things and elaborating on the clues (or describing the clues differently than I'd originally written), no one knew what they were supposed to pay attention to and what really didn't matter. I didn't have to add any red herrings to the mystery, because the post writers brought barrels of their own, 99% of them unintentionally. — War Mistress (in e-mail)[15]

To encourage the plot to move along, the War Mistress tried to seed information about the runes by directly contacting some of the factions. As she later put it, "I told them: 'This is what the runes mean, please convey that in your post.' But what they wrote was 'maybe the runes mean this? No, that can't be it; let's just sit here longer and ponder more possible interpretations.'/And then they just sat there, ruminating over the runes. Endlessly."[16] In this respect, the lack of a war leader list may have played a part: it meant that there was no way for the factions to be collectively informed officially that a particular interpretation was the correct one. Nor, of course, would any one faction simply take the word of another that their solution was correct: each muddled along on its own, at least at first. (Eventually, out of sheer frustration, the factions began to cooperate in finding solutions to the clues; but that came later.)

As she explains in her apologia, the War Mistress then tried "prodding"[8] the factions to get them look at the runes on the ground. ("I told C.E.R.K. the ice was quickly melting away, to encourage them to see what was on the ground beneath. I even hired a Merc to block up all the doors at the Loft in hopes the Knighties would have to go up on the roof [...].") To her frustration, these hints never produced the desired response. On the contrary, the Knighties assumed—not unreasonably—that the attack on them had been made by one of the other factions (and eventually, erroneously, decided that the Cousins were to blame, and counter-attacked them).

As the War Mistress saw it, she had three options. First, she could simply jettison the war premise entirely. However, the fans did not seem to have evolved any alternative of their own. Second, she could try to come up with a completely new premise. However, the fans seemed fixated on the dregs of the old one. Third, she could expand the original war premise so that it would be sufficient to support a full-scale two weeks of war.[17]

The War Mistress decided on the third option. A mixture of riddles and ciphers was therefore fed to the factions for the rest of the war.

Building Frustration

Meanwhile, from the perspective of the players, the war was becoming increasingly frustrating.[18] They had initially assumed that, once the runes were identified, their meaning would be obvious. However, this was not true: the number of possible interpretations seemed limitless. With no external guidance (or at least none that they recognized as such), they found themselves spending the first few days chasing their tails. Indeed, with the war seemingly stalled, several fans began to wonder whether this might even be deliberate: was someone trying to undermine the war, perhaps with the aim of demonstrating that War no longer worked? Was someone even trying to put an end to such group activities?[19]

If this seems paranoid, it needs to be seen in context. Over the previous couple of years activity on the mailing lists had drastically declined. As a result, the effort required of the listowners—and wars, in particular, demand quite a lot of behind-the-scenes time—might have come to be seen as unduly onerous. Attempts were made to contact the listowners to clarify the situation, but proved fruitless. (As it turned out, one of them was very busy in RL, and the other's internet service had unexpectedly been disrupted.)

In all fairness, it should be pointed out that the phrasing of the clue on the wine label[20] was inadvertently suggestive. The War Mistress had indeed intended "A finite number of these ever existed./Fewer still remain today" to refer both to the dwindling numbers of Forever Knight fans and to the small collection of Private Reserve bottles of wine laid down for the final party. However, "Merry Christmas to all/And to all a good knight" had simply been an allusion to the recent holiday (for War Fourteen was held in January) combined with the usual "K/night" pun. She had no idea that there were some fans who feared that the intention was to say "good-night" to the Wars, and perhaps even to the ForKNI-L list itself.

However daunted, though, the players were not about to give up the game. Collectively, they decided that it behooved them to make the most of what they thought they'd been given. If—having no idea where they were intended to go—they could not move forward, they could at least enrich what they had been given with additional detail.

Some of them therefore spent their time writing up information from Wikipedia in stories in which their war personae researched the runes on the flyers. Others blithely posted tales of tours of Toronto in which they spotted runes in a wide variety of locations associated with other characters from the series, or locations associated with factions that were not participating. However frustrating this might have been to the War Mistress, from the players' perspective it provided story material—something that, to them, was in seriously short supply.

Cross-Purposes

At this point, two factions decided to take things into their own hands. The Vaqueras planned an attack; the Knighties a party. Both of these are time-honoured War activities; and both were greeted with great relief by the other players, who promptly responded.

Unfortunately, by this time, the War Mistress (who had initially hoped for precisely this sort of faction action) had decided that, in its absence, she needed to be more hands-on in her management of the war. She had therefore determined to feed the factions with additional clues: first, with flyers for various businesses with "specials" associated with January 26 (the date she planned to hold the final party); second, with a series of number ciphers hidden inside the wine boxes; third, with a code based on The Hobbit; and fourth, with hints and pranks designed to steer people's attention to her original runes, in the hope that players would decide to investigate them more closely.

To achieve this, the War Mistress e-mailed the faction leaders with instructions about writing their stories. For example, the Nick and NatPack were told to write a story in which their war personae examine the wine box that Natalie had received for Christmas and find a series of numbers inside. She did not specify just how the box was to be examined, however, and was therefore appalled when the writers added some excitement to the story by having one of the members smash the box open.[21] She had assumed that they would simply write a story in which their war personae looked at the box and "found" the numbers she had given them, after which the faction would ask her what to do next. At that point, she intended to provide them with further instructions, but only after their story was written.

This premise was more suited to a "dungeon & dragons" play environment. Where people would say "I am going to go over here for this reason" and the dungeon master says "and when you get there you find this object. What do you choose to do next?" and then the person does the next thing and the dungeon master tells him what he finds when he gets to the next spot, etc.

But, no one wrote their posts that way. No one wrote "I'm going to find the wine bottle" so that I could email them and say,"okay, when you get there, you'll find the solution to riddle A and you'll find this new thing that will lead you 'that' way, and here's clue C that will be important at some point down the line."

No, what happened was, people wrote "I'm going to find the wine bottle and here it is and it means nothing to me, so now I'm going away, annoyed and frustrated that I didn't find anything new or get any answers." Thus giving me no opportunity to tell them what they've found when they got to the wine bottle. — War Mistress (in e-mail)[22]

As the War Mistress provided more and more detailed instructions to the players, they became increasingly frustrated: all their time seemed to be taken up with fulfilling her instructions, limiting their ability to develop their own story lines. Meanwhile, from her perspective, she felt as though she were herding cats.

Points???

The War Mistress's eventual decision to use the Forever Knight Wiki article on the war as a substitute for a war site did provide the players with considerable useful information as the war progressed. However, perhaps in an attempt to add humour, she wrote some of her updates to the "Highlights" section in a style that seemed to many players to be noticeably subjective (at least in comparison to previous warleaders).

The first intimation that the "Highlights" section was to include more than simply a summary of each day's events came on January 15, when the War Mistress wrote, "Susan B & Karen G are awarded 10 points for their clever deductive skills in their post 'NNP - Deciphering 101.'"

No such "rewards" had been part of any previous war. Fans were perplexed. Did the War Mistress intend a genuine incentive? However, no list was ever posted telling people how many points were to be won for what type of post: the number of points seemed to be arbitrary. Furthermore, not only players were awarded points, but characters also: thus, on 17 January, Schanke was awarded ten points for his deductive abilities in another NNP post, "Donuts With Don". Of course, players soon realized that the "points" were to be taken tongue-in-cheek. However, including points even as a joke seemed to many to be anomalous.

Particularly irritating to the players was the arbitrary way in which, on occasion, the War Mistress then decided to take points away. Thus, on 21 January, she awarded the NNP five points for finding the numbers carved inside Natalie's wine box. However, she simultaneously penalized them ten points for smashing the box in the process. From their perspective, they had simply been following the instructions as given; and, if those instructions had been inadequate or incomplete, it was her fault, not theirs.

Even though no one took these "points" seriously, it was an annoyance to players generally to discover that the War Mistress saw fit to deduct points from any faction simply because some aspect of a story they had written had failed to suit her.

The War Scribes' Perspective

For any faction to take active part in a war requires it to have at least one member with the skill and time to write. It is typical of war that a majority of participants take part primarily in behind-the-scenes discussion on faction loops. Indeed, there are always some who want to be in a war but, because of time constraints, are able to do little more than let others write them into stories. During War Fourteen, there were a relatively small total number of players. As a result, there were several factions that at times found themselves with only one active member. Of course, in some cases this situation could be anticipated. (The lone Ravenette, for example, obviously knew that he would be the only person representing his faction.) However, there were other cases where people had originally intended to play a greater role only to be stymied by unanticipated real life events.

Obviously this threw a greater responsibility on those in a position to participate.

What is less obvious is that, since writers normally include other members of their faction in their war posts, this absence of players in real life is not necessarily clear to someone reading a story about their fictional exploits. (Not, at any rate, unless the scribe includes the absence of other faction members as part of the story.) Just who was and was not actually around behind the scenes was often known only to other members of their faction.

This would have consequences as the War Mistress began to direct players to write posts.

In any war, a faction's war scribes need not only to progress their own faction's story arcs, but also respond to other factions' posts. It is a tenet of war that attacks must not be ignored. Similarly, when a party (or other pan-faction activity) takes place, each faction needs to contribute ancillary posts. Midway through War Fourteen, more or less simultaneously, therefore, war scribes had to write posts that described their faction's reaction to receiving a new delivery of flyers (albeit phony ones sent by the Vaqueras) and write posts about their preparations for the Knighties' party (and possibly also about its aftermath). The Vaquera scribes then had, of course, to respond to posts describing various counter-attacks. And, midway through the second week, all factions had to respond to the DP's gift boxes of coffee, brownies, and smileys.

In War Fourteen, however, the war scribes also had to fulfil the War Mistress's instructions. At first, these were not unwelcome: in a stalled war, new clues promise plot developments. By the second week, though, the War Mistress had prepared a battery of instructions just as the factions had decided to embark on their own endeavours.

Thus, for example, the War Mistress decided that players needed to be reminded of Feliks Twist's significance as Nick Knight's financial advisor. She decided to do this through a crossover story involving the Rat-Pack and Die-Hards, in which the one participating Rat-Packer would be given a tour of the Die-Hard Prop Museum during the course of which she would receive an info-dump on Feliks Twist's involvement in the episode "Blood Money". To her dismay, however, it turned out that the lone Rat-Packer was suddenly too busy in RL to write the story. Time was lost, therefore, in passing the assignment to the Die-Hards. Nevertheless, although their scribe took on the job, she was not in a position to write it immediately. At that time, she was finishing up her previous assignment from the War Mistress, to find more numerical ciphers inside Tracy's wine box.[23] She then had to write a story responding to the DPs' gift of brownies.[24] Only after that was posted was she in a position to write the crossover. Yet, even before she had begun to write it, she—like all the other scribes—was given yet another assignment when the War Mistress sent round a set of doggerel riddles, one to each faction.

Not surprisingly, the small number of active scribes started to feel more than a little put-upon—both by the absence of any relief provided by fellow faction-members, but also by the War Mistress's demands.

Mutiny in the Ranks

By the middle of the second week of the War the plethora of seemingly insoluble clues had largely broken down the usual constraints between factions: the Cousins and Ravenettes began to share clues—and even approached the Knighties—in an attempt to pool resources and share analyses. Increasingly, suspicions were being aroused that the final solution would prove to be a party: the various brochures and coupons, in particular, indicated sources for party supplies. The details were another matter. Figuring out the location depended on the combined forces of all the factions that were trying to solve the ciphers and book-based clues.

The doggerel riddles were sent by the War Mistress to the factions on Thursday, 24 January, with instructions that they were to be solved by Saturday. (By that time, everyone had long since figured out that this would be the day of the party.) By comparison with the ciphers, the riddles were absurdly easy. Perhaps insultingly so: certainly, for many people they were the final straw. Some factions wrote posts in which they deliberately chose to ignore the contents of their white envelope or passed their riddle over to the other factions to solve.

By this time, the War Mistress was receiving private e-mails complaining about the way the war was going. The one thing she could hope to salvage was the final party; yet, as the time grew near, even that seemed unlikely.

Hardly anyone wrote that they were intending to show up to the party (and those posts that did mention it straggled in rather late in the weekend); most of the items they were asked to bring never showed up (or didn't show up in a way that I could make use of them how I'd originally intended). It was an unmitigated disaster by that point.

War Mistress in her final post, "Not With A Bang But A Whimper" [9]

One thing that the War Mistress consistently failed to take into account was the sheer length of time needed for the scribes to produce their posts, especially since many of them wanted to incorporate her clues in actual stories. Some factions simply had such a back-log that they could not get around to posting their intentions until Saturday. However, as the War Mistress feared, there were certainly other factions that were, almost to the last minute, still debating whether or not to attend.

Just in advance of the party, the War Mistress updated the Highlights section of the wiki article with the following:[25]

  • January 25 - everyone developes "rage quit."
  • January 26 - The Unexpected Party is an unmitigated disaster. The War Mistress hangs herself in a fit of pique

This would later be deleted.

War's End

In the end, of course, the factions did all attend the party; and, if they did not all provide exactly what the War Mistress had ordered, their alterations were—in the circumstances—only a petty mutiny.

During her party posts (and the Highlights section of the wiki, as it appeared contemporary with those posts), the War Mistress proferred multiple pseudonyms: "Meg Dawson", "Alice White", and "Rapunzel Shorn(e)". Each in turn was listed on the War 14 wiki page that she was using for updates. However, the first two were almost immediately struck through, and left up in that way for only a short time before being deleted. The final pseudonym remained up for about a week before it, too, was deleted. The War Mistress later explained[26] that the first two pseudonyms were an in-joke related to the television series Leverage, intended to amuse a couple of players whom she knew to be fans of that show. "Rapunzel Shorne", on the other hand, was an attempt to mollify the players by suggesting that the War Mistress's prestige and dignity should be stripped (or shorn) from her.

In the end, the War Mistress deleted all pseudonyms and decided to remain anonymous.

References

In preparing the article on War Fourteen for the Forever Knight Wiki, Greer Watson entered a correspondence with the War Mistress, explicitly for the purpose of eliciting information for use in the article.

  1. This section has been largely copied from the article "FKWar 14" on the Forever Knight Wiki.
  2. Rebecca's suggestion was made in the post "Ahem" made 20 October 2011
  3. McLisa's response was made in the post "Admin: NOt yet on war time" made 21 October 2011.[1]
  4. McLisa made the first call for war proposals in the post "Admin: Open for WAR proposals" on 21 March 2012.[2]
  5. McLisa opened the discussion with the post "Admin: War Talk" made 23 September 2012 [3], after an abortive war-related joke between a Die-Hard and a Merc (which missed its mark, and caused some consternation on list).
  6. The second call for war proposals was made in the post "War: Admin: Need more war premises", made 29 September 2012.[4]
  7. McLisa decided firmly on January in the post "War: Admin -- January it is, now date" made 3 October 2012,[5], with the actual dates (16-28th) determined in the post "War: Admin- Oops, thanks, Steph" made 3 October 2012.[6]
  8. Excerpted from e-mail message, "War premise, Thanks, but we're using a different one." Sent by Lisa McDavid to Greer Watson on 8 December 2012.
  9. Excerpted from e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 4:13 AM.
  10. This information comes from an e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 10:42 PM.
  11. This information comes from an e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 10:42 PM.
  12. This information comes from an e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 10:42 PM.
  13. Excerpted from an e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
  14. Excerpted from e-mail from the War Mistress to Greer Watson sent 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
  15. Excerpted from an e-mail from the War Mistress to Greer Watson sent 2 February 2013 4:13 AM.
  16. Excerpted from an e-mail from the War Mistress to Greer Watson sent 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
  17. Adapted from e-mail from the War Mistress to Greer Watson sent 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
  18. See, for example, the Knighties' post "War, What War?" or the Vaqueras' post "War is Hell (1/2)".
  19. Although much musing took place in private e-mails, it also spilled over into such warposts as the Knighties' "A Meeting of Minds".
  20. The clue on the wine label was revealed in the NNP post "Does That Wine Go With Lamb".
  21. It is in the NNP post "Laundry and Lunch" that one of them smashes open the wine box with a hammer in order to access the numbers inside.
  22. Excerpted from e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 4:13 AM.
  23. "Compassing the Box"
  24. "Brownies on the Doorstep"
  25. See the wiki article as it appeared on 26 January 2013 at 19:40.
  26. The explanation of the three pseudonyms was supplied by the War Mistress in an e-mail to Greer Watson, dated 2 February 2013.