Mega Update Master Post

Hey everyone! Long time, no see. So, funny story, the lack of content over the past few months wasn’t really intended. Work and real life just got very busy and something had to take a seat on the bench, and FAB with Freyja was it. Still, every week that went by without me posting something was giving me a kind of like a low-key background anxiety. On Monday the 18th of last month, I decided I’d write a piece about the site’s lack of recent content as kind of an assurance that FAB with Freyja wasn’t dead. But, it felt a little weird to just write a personal non-FAB piece after so long off, so I was like, “hey, I could write an article giving my thoughts on FAB 2.0.” While there were a ton of other topics that had been accruing in my mental backlog, this felt timely, which gave me an excuse to do it now and not wait for a future time when I was less busy. Writing two pieces when I’m still admittedly rather busy sounded a little ambitious, but I could release them side-by-side and it would be like a little bonus for the lack of content.

Then things started to spiral. Somewhere around the 5,000 word mark, I realized the FAB 2.0 article was too long to be a single piece. It was already getting unwieldy and it wasn’t even finished yet. So I was like, “alright, this can be a series of three, each examining one part of the three-part FAB 2.0 press release. That matches up nicely.” But, as I was writing those, my untreated attention disorder decided that this was a great time for hyperfixation. Some of the other topics I wanted to write about started bleeding into the FAB 2.0 piece, and I had to pull them out to keep it vaguely cohesive. By the end of Monday I had over 9000 (I know) words and six partially complete articles. By the end of Tuesday, that was now a little under 15,000 words and nine articles.

On Wednesday, I didn’t write shit, opting to instead attend an absolutely legendary Candlemass concert where I was right at the stage. I was so close that at one point, Johan was just singing at me, like to me specifically, a foot from my face. Then later, I was throwing up the horns and Leif just casually reached out and fist bumped me. I could write a whole article on how awesome that show was, but this isn’t a metal blog yet. Suffice it to say, it was an awesome show. Also, a real juxtaposition to the previous concert I was at: Lorde one week prior (who always puts on an excellent show. Unlike the Candlemass show, this one was in a fancy theater, and I didn’t come home with any bruises).

On Thursday, I realized that I could either pause my other non-work commitments for the week and try to finish this giant ever-growing pile of articles, or else I’d probably just sort let the process drag on until the FAB 2.0 thing wasn’t timely anymore. So, I decided since this seemed to be what my brain wanted to do this week, I might as well lean into and just put together this increasingly absurd Mega Update (I’m going to say “Mega Update” a lot throughout these articles because it amuses me). By the time the dust had settled, I was at around 25,000 words in five days (six if you count the concert). Then I realized I needed to review the lore articles for a couple of these, so I ended up re-reading a bunch of FAB lore over the next week and rounding things out with another 15,000 or so words. With so much content being dropped at once, it seemed likely that few, if any, people would read it all in one go (I certainly wouldn’t if I were you). The logical thing to do seemed to be writing this Master Post where I explained the whole content drop and then lay out what was included to help people decide what, if anything, they actually wanted to read. OK, the logical thing to do was to just release these articles at a pace of 1-3 a week over the next couple months and make it look like I was producing content consistently, but, come on, MEGA UPDATE!

Below, you’ll find short summaries of and links to all of the articles that are part of the content drop. Outside of the FAB 2.0 series, which is obviously sequential, there is no real recommended reading order. Some of the individual articles interlink to one another, but they call out and internally link to their referents when applicable. I will acknowledge that some of the editing might be a little looser than usual on this batch, which is saying something. FAB with Freyja generally runs on an editing policy of “I’ll give it a quick once over” because the last time I considered taking on copyediting work (which I loathe) was in grad school, when the going rate was $100/hour to edit dissertations for students outside of the English department. I certainly wouldn’t pay that much to get these edited, nor would I really be that excited to take on the task if offered the money. Since the website already operates at a net loss of a couple hundred dollars a year in fees, hosting, and the cost of mailing out the contest prizes (I was happy to do it, just listing it as a cost), I’m definitely not paying someone else to do it. Anyway, before we get to the summaries, I want to apologize to everyone who subscribes and gets updates when I post new content. I imagine that this whole thing absolutely blitzed your inbox. And finally, it took a few days after the articles were done to get everything into WordPress and ready to go for the launch, so any news from the past 7-10 days probably didn’t make it into consideration; this would mostly include PR clarifying or expanding on FAB 2.0 info.

FAB 2.0 Review
This three part series examines the recent LSS FAB 2.0 announcement assessing the individual changes outlines therein.

FAB 2.0 Review: Part 1 – A Mixed Bag
A review of Part one of the FAB 2.0 announcement. This one covers the financial and collectable aspects of the game. While I think that LSS seems to have a solid grasp of the current issues the game faces on these fronts, I have some reservations about the proposed answers.

FAB 2.0 Review: Part 2 – Good Thought, Let’s See the Follow Through
The second portion of the FAB 2.0 roadmap discusses how I currently see the game, proposed changes to narrative elements, and the future of casual play. I find the proposed path to these changes to be more convincing than the financial value plans, but this section is also very heavily dependent on vague future changes. Essentially, the plan seems good for the most part, but can they deliver on it?

FAB 2.0 Review: Part 3 – The Cooldown
The FAB 2.0 announcement frontloaded the big changes, so it ends with more of a whisper than a bang. Most of the changes discussed here are procedural more than ground-shaking. This one ended up a little lighter than the others and I end up chasing a tangent about how the Living Legend approach works/doesn’t.

FAB with Freyja at Pro Tour: New Jersey
I reflect on my plans for Pro Tour: New Jersey and how they changed over the months between its announcement and the week before the event. I also lay out how to find me, if you want to say “hi” at the event. Also, there might be some inside info about how I’m going to distribute my promos from the second Content Creator Appreciation Kit. Who knows?

My Favorite Things about Everfest
In this piece I set aside the unfortunate financial value of Everfest and focus on the things I liked about the set. Discussions of art are the most prominent, but I also look at the lore, packaging, and some of the product design choices. If you’re tired of my critical pieces and just want to read about nice things that I like, this is the article for you.

The (Obviously Correct) Hero Tier List
Speaking of fun, you know what’s fun? Making lists! I’ve decided to put together a tier list of FAB charters including every character in the game with a card named for them (I think). Of course, it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a catch, and the catch is that I’m giving zero consideration to their gameplay value. We’ll be looking at the cast strictly though the lens of their lore and how interesting they are as characters. If you want to get mad at my ranking and/or learn why your opinion is wrong, read on! Also, I’ve included a link to the Tiermaker template I put together for this so, if anyone else wants to create their own ranking, you can steal that.

Roadmap: 2022 and Beyond
If LSS can drop their roadmap in the middle of the year, so can I! What does the future of content on FAB with Freyja look like? In this one I discuss my plans for the site. Over the past few years, I’d like to think that I’ve written some fairly diverse content, but as I move forward I see some type of articles becoming less common and others gaining more prominence. l also have a little bit of retrospection on my back catalog of content.

Let’s Talk About the Brute Problem
This article is more in line with the media critiques I’ve written like the Briar article or my Everfest preview piece on robot girls. In it, I situate brutes (as a race, not a class) within the history of evil and or savage fantasy races and link that to the larger discourse on these race going on in fantasy media generally. I also make ties to recent interrogations of how orcs have been used as a fantasy race. From there, I look at how Everfest’s presentation of brutes may signal a recognition of this problem by LSS and potentially be the start of an attempt to change course.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate
I tackle some recent PR gaffes from LSS, and it gets a little hearted in the second half. Obviously I’m not one to shy away from criticism, but I feel like the tone of my personal emotive reaction to things that I don’t like about FAB is usually a kind of resigned sigh (the cheapest available copies of Legendarys are still too expensive to make the game accessible, *sigh*). But the rhetorical framing of the Taylor announcement legitimately made me angry, and I imagine that might seem weird to people who haven’t been involved with cosplay before. I feel like the rhetoric of the Taylor announcement kind of spit in the face of cosplay, and plays into some of the more pernicious impressions that people who haven’t cosplayed have about the hobby. Oh yeah, I also start by talking about the Starvo Shuffle around the LL/Ban announcement that changed three times in a few hours leaving the community confused, frustrated, and memeing.

Welcome to NetherRealm
I’ve got a bit of weird article here that was the idea for my “next piece” before the content gap. In it, I take LSS’ love of secrets and Easter eggs and compare it to the games industry’s godfather of secrets: Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios. I talk about my childhood experience with Mortal Kombat’s secrets, look at how that franchise evolved with the times and changing technology (the proliferation of the Internet fundamentally changed how this sort of hidden information circulate). Though it all, I look for lessons that could improve LSS’ approach to hidden information a celebrate a couple of their bigger successes to date. This one runs a little bit long.

Everyone Wants that Moral Ambiguity
While reviewing Demonastery lore, I got kind of frustrated with how the Disciples of Pain were being presented with a “Solana are actually the bad guys” narrative that wasn’t particularly believable. This article discusses the pervasive turn towards “grey” characters in fantasy media, and I offer critiques of when this works versus where it falls apart. This one references a lot of other popular fantasy media to draw comparisons and contrasts to how FAB employs these writing strategies.

Building the Great Library
Several of the article in this update required me to re-read and reference various pieces of FAB lore. In doing so, I realized that the lore is actually quite hard to find beyond the stories linked directly in the “Heroes of Rathe” and “World of Rathe” sections. To help myself write those pieces, I built up a reference list of the orphaned pieces of lore that can be tricky to track down. Since I had already done the work of gathering, I figured it might be useful for other people, so I tagged them with lists of their key characters and wrote some short summaries of their contents. The hope is that this can be useful for anyone who is trying to find a piece of lore that has been buried in the frontpage article crawl.

The Story Within the Story
In setting out to write a granular critique of some of the FAB lore, I realized that I’m not entirely comfortable doing it, despite having the professional skill set to perform the task. This turned into a longer introspective piece about how I approach criticism of FAB in general, and I try to unpack why I’m hesitant to break down the FAB lore at the level of the prose as opposed to talking about larger themes and narrative choices. Ultimately, this one is, perhaps, more about me than about FAB.

State of the Author
The Roadmap linked above serves as a “state of the site,” but this article is more about a state of me, as the person creating the content. It’s the most tradition “blog” entry on this site, which is ostensibly a blog, but that I generally treat more like a news site with a single author. This is all me talking about myself, my writing process, the factors that have contributed to the lack of content through much of the first quarter of 2022, and some of the other projects that take up my time. This piece really doesn’t have any actual FAB content, so it’s more for the micro audience of people who are fans of me as a content creator independent of FAB. Like, I really can’t emphasize enough how this has nothing to do with FAB. Anyway, here there be thoughts and feels (also, it’s like 5500 words); you’ve been warned.

*Header Image – Sutcliffe’s Research Notes by Marco Wulfr

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