NaNo ’16: The Snowflake

And here we are: The snowflake as it stands right now. Again, I skipped a few steps for the presentation, and instead just show the final results.


Find out about haunted estate.

  • Áleifr overhears local folk talking about witch hunters travelling through the lands, and that hopefully they rid the old estate of the ghost.
    • Tavern or market, at the end of the day. Taking a rest from his travels to the east.
      • He doesn’t sleep, but meditates to rest, clear his mind as method to reflect and simple catch a break. For that, he rents a room in an inn or builds a simple camp when on the road.
    • Will only listen in, not interact. Scene will mostly be about everyone else with Áleifr being passive bystander. Will overhear that the estate used to belong directly to the nobles of the county of Sodhenburg, a now crestfallen family that is all but at the end of their lineage
      • Sodhenburgh is one of the poorest towns in the province of Buckough since some not-so-long-ago civil uprising (chance to sprinkle in some lore)
      • The Countess of Sodhenburgh died a tragic death, leaving her husband, the Count, in a near-catatonic state due to shock and age. Their only living heir is their grandson, Ludewig of Sodhenburgh, an ambitious young man, albeit not the most intelligent.
        • They’re currently living in a small but expensive house near the town’s centre, one of the few remaining assets of the once noble family.
  • Sidenote: Nobles descent is reason for town to be poor. They used whatever resources left for themselves.

Investigate source of rumour.

  • Seeks out the owners of estate: grandson of family and his grandfather, who is barely alive. Haunting prevents grandson from selling estate.
    • Being able to sell estate would allow grandson to move away from the disgrace the family now is in
    • Grandfather is extremely old, can’t move without help, barely able to speak.
    • Grandson, Ludewig, is in his late 20s, noticeably frustrated and irritated.

Negotiate to help.

  • They refuse to take the help for what Áleifr asks for at first, but Áleifr convinces them that the witch hunters will investigate once they reach this part of the province, and they won’t go easy on the family of a haunting ghost.
    • Family is broke, hence the reluctance to pay Áleifr.
      • (Big Spoiler) Agree after all with the plan to sell him out to the witch hunters: Ludewig assuming a sort of reward for handing over someone who claims to be able to get rid of ghosts
    • Note: His human-mask spell doesn’t work on mirrors, of which there are plenty in the room. Tries to avoid being seen in them.

Investigate estate

  • In ruins, desolated. Overgrown. Classic signs of haunting (strange sounds, shadow in corner of eye, etc). Finds portrait of the former Countess (presumed ghost), as well as family portraits with 3 generations of family.
    • Grandson Ludewig is youngest in picture, just a child.
  • His crow also shows up, cawing wildly at the spooky happenings.
    • Short banter between them (which is of course one-sided, since the crow only really caws and nothing more).

Wait for ghost to show itself.

  • It first approaches/attacks with the house, until Ghost shows itself: curious about the nature of Áleifr.
    • Since both are a type of living dead, their curiosity for each other is greater than the potential threat they pose to each other
    • Áleifr knows the Ghost is about to appear when the crow freaks out

Deal with hunters breaking in.

Witness ghost killing one of thugs.

  • Moment of truss broken by witch hunters breaking in. Confronting Áleifr, until Ghost kills one of them. Áleifr fights until all hunters dead: ONE survives (barely).
    • First display of Ghost actively attacking a living being within the house.
      • Ghost can’t leave house, can extent will to spook around property
    • Áleifr is about to question the survivor when ghost’s ire turns to him

Fight with ghost; draw.

  • Ghost blames Áleifr for hunters, attacks with anger. Áleifr defends with the bit of magic he has, until stalemate.
    • Both are equal match. Ghost can’t kill Áleifr since it takes more than she can interact with real world to kill an undead (though partially disabling is possible), and Áleifr’s limited knowledge of magic can barely keep up with her.
    • Ends when Áleifr manages to banish ghost from interacting with real world, but ghost still controls house since she “is” the house, preventing him from leaving

Find out some secret.

  • Finds out why the ghost is still around. Interrogate survivor to find out Grandson is involved in hunters showing up.
    • Ghost is bound to her husband’s curse (Grandfather).
      • Releasing Ghost means somehow breaking the curse
      • Ghost believes curse was cast by Grandson
      • Ghost reveals that Ludewig is bastard child, himself possessed by evil magic, killed his parents, grandmother (the still-living Countess), cursed grandfather to make sure family treasures and property are properly written over to his name,  took over estate but ran it into the ground
      • Is unable to break curse himself
      • Grandfather can’t die in peace as long as his wife is bound to the house
    • Hunter tells him that Ludewig sent the hunters after the estate and the witch that caused the haunting: Áleifr.

Confront Grandson.

Be backstabbed, handed over to witch hunters.

  • For both the attack and what he’s done to grandma (ghost). Grandson sold out Áleifr after hunters showed up, now hunters arrest him.
    • Outnumbered 4 to 1
    • Áleifr has no time to tell the truth when ambushed. Put into an iron mask to prevent speaking (to prevent magical spells from being spoken), hands tied in iron shackles to prevent magical symbols being drawn by fingers (good time to sprinkle in some lore of how-to magic)
      • Ludewig is all too eager to direct the hunters, telling them to subdue him before he can cast any spells. While they do that anyways, they also make it clear that they’re not working for him (perhaps even with a smack or two).

Escape with style. >>Get a token of sorts tied to Ghost

  • Fight off hunters, escape with grandson.
    • Still blinded, Áleifr breaks the chain holding his tied hands to a belt on his body, proceeding to beat the piss out of the hunters without his eye-sight.
    • Intimidates Ludewig to get the key and free him of his restraints. Then grabs the “noble” and escapes with him.
      • Also possible the hunters arrest Ludewig, too. Áleifr might have been right saying that hunters don’t go easy on those close to supernatural threats.

Return to house to given token and befriend Ghost.

  • Leave grandson to whim of ghost while being urged to save grandfather.
    • Ghost entraps Ludewig in some ghostly, horrific form.
    • Ghost wants her husband back. Just to be with him one more time.

Save grandfather

  • Grandfather was left behind when they escaped.
    • Hunters realized he was cursed, put on display in public square locked in a pillory as example of the evils of witchcraft.
  • Áleifr has no stealthy options, decides to turn the town’s people against the hunters, saying they’re making an old man suffer needlessly, have no regards for human rights, accuse anyone they don’t like of heresy and witchcraft just to maintain their otherwise fragile power.
    • Leads to a revolt, people trying to overthrow the outnumbered hunters.
      • This will leave Áleifr with a bad reputation with the order, placing him high on their bounty list.

Reunite grandparents

  • Using his own ring making the ghost appear human and let her talk to her husband as if both were alive.
    • Ghost pleas to be able to touch her husband one more time. Áleifr decides to drop his own mask to offer his ring to the Countess, the enchantment allowing her to take on human form and embrace her cursed husband.
    • Interestingly, the crow lands on the now human-like Countess’s finger, showing a strange connection between the ghost and the bird.

Break curse.

  • With the wishes of the Countess fulfilled, she’s now free to cross over, while the Count’s curse breaks, restoring him to a normal elderly ready to die in peace.
    • Ludewig, now free from the ghosts trap, tries to sweet talk himself out of his situation, but grandfather has none of it. His dying wish is that the estate is handed over to the town, not to Ludewig.

Deliver Grandson to hunters for witchcraft.

  • Or rather, let now curse-free grandfather do it.

Release Ghost.

  • One last smile, kiss, and the Ghost will give the ring back to Áleifr before disappearing in a flare of divine light.

Restore honour for old man family and town.

  • Áleifr forces Ludewig to sign over the deed for the estate to the town at the town’s centre.
  • Exposes the greedy man for what he is.
    • Restores the familie’s honour.
  • Tells the folk the curse over the estate is broken.
  • Becomes a sort-of saviour of Sodhenburgh.
    • Not a title he’s after, but they won’t take no for an answer.
  • Leaves Ludewig to the will of the people.
    • Doesn’t expect them to go easy on him.

With nothing gained but a town as potential safehaven for a later, potential, return, Áleifr continues his travels eastward.

  • His “pet” crow shows up, carrying a token from the estate, which, Áleifr can only assume, is a gift from the Countess herself: [Token]*

*Not sure what that token could be, yet. Something that can be usful or relevant in a later story, which is why I’m leaving it blank at this point until other stories have more substance to them.

There you have it. Snowflaked myself into something of an outline for the story. Not sure as to how long this whole thing’s going to be–probably longer than a conventional short story.

To be honest, this took me an embarrassingly long time to finish. The document with the bullet points has been open for several days, and I was adding one thing here, another there, over the course of that time. But all in all I’m quite happy with the result and will surely come back to that method for future projects. Maybe I can even conjure up one or two more for the NaNo project to make sure I have enough material to keep writing every day of the month and hit my 50,000 word count goal.

Regardless. I hope you enjoyed the demonstration of what the snowflake method (or my simple application of it) can do. I’m sure I will go over this a few more times before November 1st, making sure I have all details and it all makes sense.

Let me know what you think. Or what you do to prepare for NaNo (or any writing project). I’d love to with you about our different processes, learn from each other.

As I said before, maybe there will be another update before November 1st–if not, I hope you’re having a great start for NaNoWriMo 2016!

PS: I might edit this if something major happens to it, at which point I’ll post an update for you to check it out again (with edite parts being hightlighted or something.

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