Meeting the Worldbuilders — Monty Wild
This is one out of a series here on Universe Factory, where we look at the people behind the Worldbuilding. We present a number of short interviews with people who have been using our site to try and get some insight into who they are and how it is being used. Today, we receive Monty Wild.
Hi Monty Wild. Thanks for agreeing to that interview.
Before we talk more about Stack Exchange (SE), could you tell us more about you, in which part of the world you are and what do you do for a living?
I live in Melbourne, Australia, where I'm an IT consultant in the area of software and database development.
Yes, I found Stack Overflow when I was looking for answers to a work-related programming problem I had, and after a bit of lurking, I decided to participate.
Again from your profile, I see that soon afterwards, you joined RPG.SE and Science Fiction and Fantasy.SE. And I believe you mention a few RPG with friends. Furthermore, RPG.SE is one of your highest reputations on the network. Are you still playing? What is your favourite ruleset?
I still play RPGs occasionally, though my last proper session was a year or more ago. Since my children were born, I just don't have the time for it as I once did. I used to play during my lunch break, since it wasn't too hard for my fellow players to meet me, but since I changed employers last year, it has been too difficult to get together.
I've played AD&D, RuneQuest (both v2 and 3), Call of Cthulhu, and Ars Magica 3-5. My favourite system is Ars, but I now house-rule my games a lot.
You joined Worldbuilding at the start of the site. How did you come around to it?
I'd just found Area 51, and was browsing around, when I noticed Worldbuilding. Since I've been making up my own worlds just for the fun of it since I was 7 or so, and then for my RPG game worlds, I had a look, and joined in at the Definition stage. I did a bit of vote-juggling to help the site over the line into commitment, and the rest is history.
So you are building worlds? Has any of your world made it into something more? I'm assuming some RPG? But any publication? Others?
I don't have anything published, though I've wanted to publish something for a while now. I'm also working on a novel based around my game universe, which is possibly a better candidate for publication, though the market for fiction is more difficult to enter than the market for RPGs, I suppose.
There are some publications dedicated for RPG. That might be an opportunity to get a quest in one of your world published. Are you working on a specific world at the moment? Could you describe it?
I'm not so much working on a world as an entire galaxy. I started this campaign out in a world called Cyradia, where a magical war had left the world (or at least a whole continent) in a state similar to The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven.
My players were piloting mecha - called Panzers, since their nation had a Germanic flavour - at the time, and then branched out into shipping with their prize money from capturing enemy panzers. They went exploring and found all sorts of interesting places on their own world before accidentally discovering a hidden interplanetary tunnel network high in the air. From there, they developed aircraft and went exploring the galaxy - or at least the oxygen-compatible worlds in it.
Obviously, I had to develop all these other nations and worlds.
That sounds like a large amount of work to be done. It hasn't much transpired so far, but from your own description, and confirmed by your posts, you have a certain affinity with biology related subjects. Is that correct?
It has taken quite a while - over ten years so far.
As for biology... I have a degree in human physiology and pharmacology, and also studied zoology. However, when I graduated, there was an unemployment problem, and I couldn't find work in that area. However, a Graduate Diploma in Computer Science that I undertook to satisfy a purely personal interest in modern programming languages led to employment.
You have to go where the work is, but my training in the life sciences has led to an interest in designing realistic creatures for my worlds.
For my Gyre campaign - that was the name my players gave the air-filled interplanetary tunnel network - I designed a whole lot of worlds, some inhabited by creatures derived from terran biology (from where Cyradians ultimately came), but also some completely alien biomes with their own sentient creatures.
Could you share some details of a creature you're particularly proud of?
The species I'm most proud of, that call themselves the Tourists, comes from a trinary solar system. Their home world orbits a K5V star at 0.65 to 0.85 AU. This system orbits a F6IV star at 4.25 AU. This system captured a B5V star relatively recently, orbiting that at around 100AU. The world has a 32 degree axial tilt, is ~12500km in diameter, and 1 degree of polar precession every 27 years. Obviously, all this leads to a very unpredictable and highly variable climate.
The Tourists incorporate a lot of metals in their bodies, and can precipitate metal in their bones and dermal armour. They have a large solid thorax that houses their lungs, with their brain in an ever-expanding metal shell behind that.
Think of them as looking a little like a fist on two legs, with two arms coming from the sides of the fist, plus a head that looks a little like that of the Queen Alien from the movie Aliens on a long neck, with two smaller arms coming from the neck just behind the head, and a long tail.
All the limbs (including the tongue) end in four digits tipped with self-sharpening tool-steel claws. They have metal-cored nerves that conduct at light-speed, and mechanical neural junctions, making them inhumanly quick.
Because of their highly unpredictable environment, they have a need for change. In predictable environments, like cities, they tend to get stressed-out from the monotony, and when that happens, they can go psychotic. To prevent this, they have a very active real-estate market, plus an occupation that I call the Stealth Decorator - someone who is paid to sneak into homes and rearrange them at irregular intervals.
The term Tourists comes about because of their need to visit new places.
If they sound like tough critters, yes they are, but their natural enemies are far larger critters about as dangerous to them as African buffalo, hippos or lions and tigers are to us.
They were intended as a test for the human characters - if they could see past these terrifying-looking critters appearance and unintelligibility when they crashed their gyre-craft in a desert on Cyradia after having been shot down by yet another totally alien species.
This is a question that I really like asking: among your own posts, what is your favourite question and/or answer on Worldbuilding?
I suppose that my favourite - and most upvoted - question is, What would the periodic table of a 4-Dimensional universe look like?, even though I still haven't received an answer that is completely worthy of being accepted. However, both celtschk and HDE 226868 provided very interesting answers.
There was also How can magic be used to drive someone insane — later?, which is related to a character in the novel I'm writing, and Replicating the Biblical flood, which are very close second and third to being my favourites. It was too hard to choose between the three.
Since I've answered a lot more questions than I've asked, it's even harder to pick a favourite there. My most successful answer was on the How could dragons be explained without magic? question, and I enjoyed writing that answer to the question How does Santa keeps the Elves from Revolting?
However I can't decide between my answers to How do creature with a hive mind communicate and Intelligent cats with a serious attitude problem. The last was an easy one - I'd already done something very similar with sentient lions for my Cyradia RPG campaign, though my Ghost Lions were a little more open to communication with humans than Serban Tanasa's Ligers.
I think it is time to close our interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
It's always good to be able to ramble on about my worlds and their creatures. Since my life is so busy, I don't get much chance to do that, except on Worldbuilding.SE these days.
Well, I thank you again for taking the time for that interview.
Thank you for considering me interesting enough to interview.