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Sylum Essay Series: Modern Sensibilities

Sylum Essay Series: Modern Sensibilities

Emory University Lecture Hall

Sylum Essay Series: Modern Sensibilities

Welcome to Sylum Essay Series.  We’ll be conducting a set of essays to discuss variety of topics, that will likely come up with the upcoming release of the 10th Anniversary Clan War.  We felt it would be a good idea to get some things out in the open now before anything is released.

Today’s topic: Our Modern Sensibilities

Sylum is a vast universe to say the least.  There are many characters, cultures, religions, and histories.   Within our own community on the blog we have a huge international audience which enhances our experiences and a reminder of how small and large the world actually is.

So what do we mean by Modern Sensibilities.

Most of us have been lucky to grow up in a world where … well most of society … has learned to be respectful to the vast culture around us.   Most of us know that there are certain words, phrases, imagery, topics that are not used because its racist, sexist, bigoted..etc.   Modern man would not, in good conscious, utter certain words without disregard to the person they are saying it to.

In Sylum we’re dealing with a expansive history of culture and characters.

Nick Stokes is a CSI from Vegas.  He was raised a good Texas boy and wouldn’t do or say anything that would be disrespectful.   Though raised in Texas we’re sure he heard many colorful words to describe minorities and woman throughout his childhood, but was taught not to use them by his parents.   He was trained to respect woman, and never once would he actually hit one.   In other words, he’s a good sensible man with 21st century values and teachings.   Raised right by his momma.

Nicolaus Valerius Meridius is not Texan nor is American nor is he a Modern Man.  He is a Roman General from a time period where a woman’s place was in the home, slaves and servants were a commodity, and as a Patrician he demanded a certain set of respect.  His word was law in the house.  Wife, kids, servants, slaves did not question his authority.  If they did they were punished.

Even now he would demand respect and obedience from his Clan.

He’s the Clan Leader and it is not a democracy.

The reader will see this particular situation in the upcoming stories.  It’s a shock to a few characters who are getting the brunt of Nicolaus having no fucks to give about their delicate sensibilities and how he should be acting.   They have to come to terms with the difference between Stokes and Meridius.

This particular example is showcasing the characters learning how to deal with a 5th Century Roman General when they’ve been working with a 21st Century Texan.  And how they have to let go of their perspectives and learn who Nico truly is, and not the act he’s put on.

But the readers also have to let go of their ‘delicate sensibilities’.    The reader cannot take their 21st century perceptions of the world and place it on historical narrative.   What we think is acceptable or not acceptable is considerably different 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 500, 1000, 2000 etc…

Just look at the situation now.  Ten years ago same-sex marriage wouldn’t even be talked about let alone accepted … ish.   Fifty years ago interracial marriages weren’t accepted.  Hundred years ago interfaith marriages weren’t accepted.   Society changes, thank god.  But we have to be careful in judging our ancestors by our standards.   We cannot look at our grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents and go HOW DARE YOU!  Why? Because their society was completely different from ours.  Was it wrong? No, it was their society, it is from their society that we built ours, and as each generation builds onto it, it changes.   The problem doesn’t lie in past societies, it’s not adjusting to the changes in society as it grows.

Sorry ran off on a tangent there!

What we’re trying to say is this.

Sylum has a 7000 year old Earth History.   There will be stories that will slam against our modern sensibilities.   Words will be used in context of their time period.  We as the writers will not white wash history to make the readers feel more comfortable.

Elena is 13 years old when Nico arranges her marriage.  This is a major story point in Nico’s history as in Tony’s past life.  Elena meets a nice Roman soldier, who Nico arranges for her to marry.  Yes she’s 13.   She just started her period, which in this time made her available for marriage.  And yes her fiance would be in his twenties.

By today’s standard our instincts scream OH HELL NO!  She’s 13!! Not an adult.  She’s barely reached puberty.

Well yeah. But that’s now.  Not then.

Would Nico arrange for Cassie to get married at 13, no.  He would likely kill any man looking at her when she is 13, if Lara and Indy don’t get to him first.  But that’s today’s society not Ancient Rome.

Warrick Calhoun is a Pirate.

This is not your Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Pirates – those who chased the girls around a table and never caught them.  Drinking rum and burning down the town while singing a Pirates Life for Me.

Get that out of your head first off to understand that Warrick is a Pirate.

A filthy, disgusting, lawless Pirate.

He runs his crew with an iron fist, he kills those who disobey him or get in his way, and will take what he wants.  And we don’t just mean the gold.

Again as the writers we are not white washing over this, we’re not disney’fing it.   When he meets Nico, it’s not all sweet and cuddly.  It’s also not anything the reader will expect, whatever head canon that is in everyone’s mind, forget about it. Now.

This meeting defines the two men and their relationship.  It will likely not fit within the readers concepts of how Mates should act, but not every Mated Pairing is the same.

But that’s a whole different essay.

The main purpose of this particular essay is to prep the readers that this isn’t fanfiction anymore.  This isn’t cute, fluffy or an excuse to get two characters into bed.  Oh yes it has sex, lots of sex.  It’s Vampires. There’s lots of Vampire sex.  But it is more than that.  The writers work to keep the historical settings accurate, even if it’s brutal and not a perspective the reader is expecting.   Some of these characters come from hard times, with hard lives.  They will always see the world from a view point ‘the modern man of any particular time’ will not.  Some are old enough to not having any more fucks to give about anyone’s sensibilities.

Harvey will always come across as an asshole.  He’s lived to long to put up with people’s bullshit and will tell them how it is, even in a society that being PC is more appropriate.

Arthur is the King of Britain.  Always will be and demands the respect that goes with it.  He will also expect his wife to act like the Queen that she is.  And when she steps out of place he will put her back in it.

Two examples of characters whose actions would send today’s society into a frenzy.  But it’s who they are, and where they come from.  It’s also an assumption.

Harvey is an asshole but he fights for those he cares for, he’s old enough to have seen societies change, twist, and turn in and around itself many times over.  He doesn’t care what race, religion, or sex someone is as long as they do their job.  They fuck up, he’ll call them on the carpet for it and not think twice about it.  If someone is offended he would ask why they are offended.

Arthur would come across as a demanding husband making his wife be in her place.  But she’s his Queen and rules next to him.  She runs his businesses and is the public face for the two of them in London and politics, because putting Arthur near Parliament would be a bad idea. Guinevere knows her place, and its next to her King as his Queen.  It doesn’t make her any less of a woman for it.

A readers modern sensibilities could vilify these two characters because they don’t fit ‘today’s societies perspectives’.   But then they would have lost out on finding out who they really are.


First.  Set aside all head canon about what you think the beginning of Sylum is.  Though Clan War in it’s element hasn’t changed.  The depth and histories of these characters have been filled out and a stronger foundation has been laid, giving the readers a bigger jumping off base for the whole series.

Second.  Read it.  Read it again.  Then read it a third time.  Look deep to understand the characters and where they come from.  Don’t judge these guys by how you think they should act.  If you don’t understand why – look up the history of who they are, and where they come from.   We actually have a lot of historical characters within Sylum, and how they acted and treated people is documented.

Third.  Remember these characters have huge histories.  Histories we’re just starting to figure out or dive into.  They will have changed over the years, but the core of who they are will always stay embedded from where they came from.  Nico will always be a Roman, but he’s learned to live in a modern society.

Fourth. We the writers guarantee at some point you’ll read something that will jar you. We can already hear the screech of the record pin sliding across the record as you come to a complete halt.  Before you rant off on how dare they – remember this: It’s jarring to you because our society has hopefully gotten rid of that aspect.   Historically it was perfectly acceptable.  It’s a nice reminder that despite the 21st Centuries faults – it’s not a bad place to be.


On a personal note:

We thank you for being patient with us as we get through these re-works.  When we started this it was not attended to take this long, but RL happened to the point of all writing and creativity stopped for over six months.   Just when we were getting into the swing of things, slammed to a stop again due to a physical injury.

We are working hard in not only re-working Clan War, but also updating the Wiki.  And to understand how big the Wiki Updates are: We’ve just started on our last clan which is Sanguen (not yet the Kin Clans) and there are already over 700 Bios.  Not empty pages, but actual written Bios.  That’s 700 characters that we had to figuring out where they came from, who Turned them, are they Mated, and what have they been doing since.

So yes we’re behind.

But I can tell you this.

It will be awesome!

We’re hoping to start posting Clan War Chapters at the end of August.   And if the heavens align the Wiki will also be open for all to see.  In the meantime we hope everyone is enjoying the Character Introductions.

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