Guide to Lore Writing
So, you want to contribute to the story behind CHOMPstation? Well, you've come to the right place! Read on for tips and guidelines which will help you avoid needing to make major revisions after you get deep into writing.
Please note I may have forgotten some important points and will update this page as I remember them. And if it isn't obvious here (or elsewhere), Nadyr is responsible for lore here so she's the one you should be contacting if you have a lore idea (preferably via Discord DM).
Lore can be classified into three main types (with potential overlap between types):
- New additions: These are completely new pieces of lore or lore which is only loosely connected to existing lore. A new location or species can easily fall under this category. Overall it's the least restrictive lore type.
- Expansions: These are new bits lore added to existing lore with heavy connections to existing lore. A new species tied into an existing one (such as teshari) or a location on a species' core world would fall under this. This type of lore is restrictive in needing to fit the theme of whatever it fits into as well as needing to not contradict existing lore.
- Modifications: These are changes to existing lore, typically because something was contradictory or does not fit with our server (for example, the rewrite to vox. These tend to be the trickiest types of lore to write and should be discussed with Nadyr in advance as they will generally only be accepted with suitable reason or if the base lore is already slated for a rewrite.
Your first step for choosing a topic would be deciding how much freedom you want to work with. Want as much creative freedom as possible? You're best of writing something completely new. Like contributing lore to something people deal with every day? Then you might be better off expanding current lore.
The Lore Process
When adding new lore, this is the typical process:
- You come up with an idea for lore and pitch it to Nadyr.
- After discussion, you begin writing your lore idea.
- Back and forth happens between you and Nadyr during the writing/editing process. How much varies depending on the lore and lore considerations.
- Nadyr makes the final edits to your idea, formats it, and adds it to the wiki.
For entirely new additions, most edits will be for style and grammar if you've followed the guidelines below. For lore expansions or modifications the process is typically more involved to ensure lore doesn't contradict and the theme (if applicable) is followed appropriately.
For lore to be accepted, it must be appropriate to the SS13 universe. While there is tremendous variety in what is allowed, several basic criteria must be met:
- SS13 takes a 'real life physics plus something exotic' approach to sci-fi, said exotic element being phoron. Phoron fuels tech which allows FTL travel, teleportation, spatial manipulation, miracle medicine, and pretty much all 'this couldn't exist in real life but is used regularly in ss13' technology, all of which falls under the term 'bluespace.' Inexplicable things which shouldn't happen (but do anyway), eldritch horrors, malevolent plane-shifting entities, and generally anything supernatural fall under the term 'redspace.' If you try departing from this when pitching your lore idea (like KHI's '2-space' FTL travel) you'll give me an aneurysm.
- The level of tech you see in-game is considered the status quo. Any well-established race should not far exceed this, with some exceptions. Vox skirt this rule by following a "lost technology" theme in which they are far advanced beyond other races but utterly incapable of fabricating their own technology. While other examples exist (such as the anomalies dug up by xenoarch), such tend to fall under redspace and it usually works better keeping the fine details up to one's imagination.
- Existing lore must not be contradicted (or need more than minor modifications).
- Any character you play may not have a special place in lore you submit. If you want to create a new TSC, your characters may have no more involvement with it than any other character. If you want to be a member of a powerful family, you cannot submit it to the lore. Staff are bound to this policy just as much as players.
In regard to adding to existing lore, several more criteria should be met:
- Factions/species/etc. commonly follow a theme which should be followed (or, at the very least, not contradicted). NanoTrasen is a "money before ideals" corporate overlord, the Syndicate is an anti-NT terrorist organization which likes to show off, and vox are an advanced, xenophobic race which desperately tries to recreate its own technology. Ask Nadyr for advice if you're not sure what theme your addition should incorporate.
- Existing factions/etc. should act realistically toward your addition. If you add a faction which attacked the unathi coreworld Moghes, skrell will condemn it while humans will likely publicly condemn it but privately root for or even support it.
For modifying existing lore, this varies enough that guidelines can vary heavily. You're best discussing this one-on-one with Nadyr.
Tips for Writing
Below are tips of a more stylistic nature which helps smooth out the editing process.
- Species names are not proper nouns and should be lowercase. While capitalizing species' names (e.g. Humans, Teshari, Rapala) is common in sci-fi, it's often done improperly. Read below for a more in-depth discussion on this.
- A sentence requires a minimum of one noun and one verb to be a complete sentence.
- The tone of lore pages should be objective. While there's leeway here, you should be describing rather than asserting.
Species as proper nouns/names: This in particular is a massive peeve of mine as it's incredibly common and rarely done properly. A word should be capitalized if it is a proper noun and a proper noun is a noun which indicates a specific entity within a larger class. For example, London is a proper noun because it is a specific city (which is not a proper noun) and Earth is a proper noun because it is a specific planet. The other (relevant) correct use of a proper noun is when an object is derived from a proper noun. For example, "Londoners" is a proper noun because it describes people from London (city-goers meanwhile is not proper) and "Martian" is a proper noun because it describes somebody from Mars.
To put it into SS13 terms, humans would not be a proper noun but Terrans would (and it would be correct to capitalize Terran if you used this to refer to the humans species). Similarly, vulpkanin is not a proper noun but Altamian would be (as they come from the planet Altam). If you want to use a proper noun to describe a species, be aware that their name must refer to a specific place (such as their home planet). If it does not and you simply capitalize the species name, I will reject your lore entry until you correct it.
Why is this such a common mistake in sci-fi? Personally I'd guess thoughtless emulation of existing sci-fi without thought to the context. Star Trek for example uses Vulcan as a proper noun in references to the Vulcan race and does so correctly as Vulcans come from the planet Vulcan. In general, it's probably best to avoid capitalizing the species name altogether. It'll save us both a headache.
Noncanon Entities from Vorecode
- Kitsuhana Heavy Industries (KHI) does not exist in our universe and should not be mentioned in any lore pages (it shouldn't get a lore page either). You can read about it [here] if you want.