An Evening with Benionin 2: May the Lore be with You.
Over the course of our chat i found out about the mind of a Loremaster and what inspires and motivates Ben in his quest to deepen all of our experience with the Lore of the game we love so much.
"I like to think of myself as a warm, welcoming voice in the community and an advocate for positivity. One of my personal aims is to keep the air clear of pitchforks, with mixed success. My main role in the community is that of content creator and positive voice, rather than any gameplay exploits. I'm also one of the top ten postingest people on the forums." -Benionin Many people know you as IW's resident lore ninja... How'd you get started doing that?"I've always been a story-based guy in the way I consume games, so I gave myself the title of LoreNinja when I made my forum account. Since then I've really grown into the title and figured out what I'm actually talking about, and I'm amused to see that it's finally catching on...Ever since I started playing the game I've been soaking up details about the lore, and over time I suppose I have become one of the three most knowledgeable people in that field, with WWKnight and Grinnin_Gin being the other two." So what was it about the IW lore that first intrigued you? Hmm...On one level, I just like stories, learning about them and writing them. But on another I think IW actually has a really intriguing and amazing storyline. The idea of these infinite parallel dimensions, each shaped in different ways, is a great starting point and the baseline for the lore is really solid.You're very active on the forums...participating in card design challenges, starting an alt art challenge, writing novellas and short stories, running a fan fic roleplaying game, Initiating this year's "Player of the year awards", running unique tournaments, and even just general lore based conversations from in game linguistics analysis(!?) to FD poetry <3. From were do you get the inspiration and motivation?I honestly can't really say where I get my motivation from. For the stories I'll just have an idea and I'll run with it for a while, see how it works out. The Lore tournaments are a bit more indepth and far more stressful to run, but I hope that people have enjoyed them. Some of my ideas don't really pan out (Flame Dawn poetry, for instance, was rather short-lived), but some of them work out really well. “Into the Fray” is an interesting example in that I first started working on it, left the first chapter up for a year without thinking about it, and then hammered out the rest of the chapters relatively quickly. Like I said before, I enjoy writing and hearing stories, so that's a great deal of my motivation. If I can come up with an idea and run with it, I'll do it. If I get bogged down, I'll turn to something else until I get inspired to work on that project again.How many short stories have you written? i think for IW i counted 15 (with parody songs)? I've probably written more about Infinity Wars than any other person, with a novella (Into the Fray), a variety of short stories, several parody songs, and another novella in the works (it's halfway done). I'm not sure if there's 15 for IW; I can think of another 2 in one universe, and some 4 or 5 in another. Mostly I do novels (or novellas), and I'm currently trying my hand at a spot of epic poetry.Epic poetry! for IW? or something else?It's about one of the main characters in the Iliad, Diomedes. He was a prominent figure during the Trojan War and my favorite character, so I've been toying with the idea of writing him an epic for a while. Finally decided to do so last Thursday.
"1. Sing, O Muse, of the valiant Diomedes,
Of the man with the great war cry.
Let pen and prose, poem and page,
Tell the tale of Grecian rage
Of long journeys at sea, and judgments of gods
Of battles against titanic odds.
Wars and men and many things
Take flight from epic's wings."
That's the first eight linesYou are truly an interesting man Ben.Thanks! I suspect that most people are, if you talk to them enough.Are you a writer by trade?I'm currently a senior in university studying History, but writing is one of my main hobbies. I've written a lot of stuff--my Infinity Wars content is really only a small portion of what I've done. I haven't published anything though.You wrote the IW Novella "Into the Fray", what is it about?“Into the Fray” recounts the beginning of IW's storyline from the point of view of a lowly aspirant of the Flame Dawn. They go to war with Genesis Industries, pass through the Rifts to the Untamed World, and fight the Sleepers. It ends with the arrival of the Overseers, something of an angeli ex machina, but in fairness that's how the game's lore works.Can fans expect a real word novel for their bookshelves at home?Of my IW content, probably not. I post everything online for free so people can enjoy it and have fun. Of my personal content, not for many, many years. If Yodomare wants to team up with me to publish something I'd be happy to help.Any plans for a sequel?Yeah, there are. I also started work on some backstory stuff, like the story I wrote about Vlad. You mentioned another lore based novella/short story, care to "spill the beans" and tell us about it?Spilling beans, eh? Well, I'm currently about halfway done with something I've titled “The Darkest Hour.” While “Into the Fray” tells of the opening of the rifts from the Talich point of view, “The Darkest Hour” will be telling the story of Reish.What are your ideas for future projects? if people are interested, how can they help you out?There's another story I have a lot of ideas for but haven't started on yet which will talk about one of the Genesis Industries liaisons to the Flame Dawn and how Damian's troops got the nickname "Aberion's Wolves" I want to pick up the audio initiative again, hopefully before the end of the year. The parody songs are a lot of fun but I've been doing them a capella. And there are always going to be stories bouncing around in my brain (though much of my time right now is occupied by the Faction RP and the end-of-the-semester crunch). As for ways people can help out, reading and giving me feedback is always wonderful. Asking for particular stories will give me ideas of what you want to read, that sort of thing. And I can always use some art. I've really wanted to pair drawings with my work but--I don't know if you saw my sketch of the Elementalist--I don't think my own art is really good enough for it.With the new rebellion launch what can we expect in the way of new lore?Hmm... I'm not entirely sure. I've been busy and unable to really start new IW projects, so I'll have to go through the set and come up with some ideas. Candit v Rita might be a good one, but I always liked Candit better so it'll be sad to write. I think I promised Aberion in his Christmas letter thread that I'd write his memoir, so there's that. I want to keep building up the lore's foundations before really moving forward. That's why I started working on The Darkest Hour before the next Talich-side novella.Many players already consider you the go-to for offical lore. have you been contacted yet by LM/YODO to be the offical lore writer of IW? would you accept that mantle?
You heard it hear folks! (Quick get LM/Yodo on the phone!)So how goes the fan fiction RP?Pretty well, I think. I had to find another player for the WP pod since a few had to drop out, but they should be back on track now. The Flame Dawn Pod's been doing fantastic, but there's some internal strife that's getting in the way of progress. They're almost done with "regulation" time though (the first 10 turns), so we'll see. I've got the first turn typed up and ready to go for the DoD pod, but they've only got 2 players right now which is a shame.Are new players still joining? will there be another round?If a pod can get three players I'll start it up and run it. There are some four or five that have one or two players interested, but so far only the two are running. But if the community wants to participate I'll definitely do it. I'm trying to open up new opportunities to engage with the game and for players to have fun even when they're not logged in.Where did the idea to start the RP come from?Well I was perusing another game's forum and I came across a similar thing (it died out after the second turn or something like that, which was a shame). I figured it would be fun to try to convert it to Infinity Wars and some 24 hours later had a write-up and was looking for friends to do the playtest pod.
...and now your experiment is on the front page of the game. Kudos!Lets see... You've run/ helped create several tournaments... notably the Lore and Iron Willed Chef tourneys; are they generally well recieved? The tourneys are fun, but player turnout is pretty low. Part of it is that it requires more investment in terms of time--you usually can't just hop online Saturday morning and decide to play. I'm not sure what the reception's been like, but I personally preferred the Iron-Willed Chef tourney.Are there other tournament ideas coming down the line?Honestly they took a lot of effort to run--I had to recruit players on my own for the events, make sure they sent in their decklists, come up with the special rules, etc--and after all of that I didn't personally get anything other than more stress. I've wanted to do another one but I'm not sure when I'll have the time. I think I'll stick to the Iron-Willed Chef style and work on refining that, though.
"Ask away."Who is your favorite original character?...Definitely Knight-Commander Damian from Into the Fray.Care to elaborate on why Damian is your favorite?I can always elaborate.
I really enjoyed writing the characters of Damian and Vlad, so they're probably two of my favorites.
The thing about Into the Fray is that each character was designed to fulfill a certain role. Endymion, for instance, represents the good aspects of the Flame Dawn, the hope and honor sort of stuff, and is countered by Vlad's cynicism and coldness, while he's always burning hot and ready to dive into the situation. Haraldur was initially set up to be a sort of mentor figure for the group, an older and experienced but smallish and unlucky sort of fellow who could teach them about being in the Flame Dawn. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get that to play out very well and when I introduced Damian I had him more or less take over that mentor role, like during his discussion with Endymion while he's on watch. More importantly, I got to use him as a mouthpiece for a metric ton of inspirational speeches, which was loads of fun.DANGER! SPOILER! Favorite characters not from Into the Fray would probably include Orion and the characters from Lanstead Besieged. Trying to portray an eccentric and engergetic prodigy who was ready to take on the world was a thrilling challenge, and Henry and James were just nice, normal characters--there'll be more about James in the future, too. Surprisingly, as much as I like the story of the Elementalist, I don't really care for him much as a character. He's practically a robot in monk's robes. His characterization has a strong feel to it, like I've said, but it's not a very friendly feel.What was your favorite story to write?Oooooooooh
That's a tough one. There are so many good ones, you see. I have a particular soft spot for The Elementalist, but The Genesis of an Industry was also really enjoyable. Really, if I didn't like writing a story I wouldn't have finished it. The Art of Defense, for instance, was both a riff off of Sun Tzu, a fanfic, and (in part) an actual strategy guide. Really intellectually satisfying. And the stories about Ethan were fun to come up with. There's some other stuff I've been working on that I can't tell you about that's been loads of fun to write. But if I had to choose I think I'd go with the Elementalist. It's such a clean story and I think the character has a strong feel.
Clearly, what we've learned is that I'm bad at picking favorites.
i must say Ben, this interview has been both an honor and a pleasure. I'm a fan of your work and i found your answers to be wonderfully revealing of not only your background as a player, but also to the inner workings of the mind of IW's famous loremaster. Thanks for all the hard work you do to improve this grand game. Keep it up!
And there we have it; The profile of our beloved Loremaster Benionin "the Archivist".
If you haven't read any of Benionin's work i strongly recommend you do. His stories are great reads!
You can find them on the forums and he has done us all a favor by collecting links to all of them hyperlink to audiodrama initiative post
Did you make it all the way down this "Yooge wall" of text?
Yay! You did it!
i must admit i did not quite understand how much work Ben has done in the IW community, and in doing the research for this interview i was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of content i had before me. Ben is an extremely prolific writer which is why this became a two part interview. However, although long, i feel it's a great start to the IW Player's Profiles. Thanks Again
I'd also like to thank ES for his help and support in getting this project started by helping me contact Wayfinder.
And of course thanks to Wayfinder1026 and The Gazette for helping me get a sense of what i was getting myself into; doing the first interviews, revealing the community interest and give me a few pointers along the way.
Last but CERTAINLY not least thanks to you reader! come back next week for another IW Player's Profile!
This series will be open to all players from casual noobs to seasoned rift running Vets. Hopefully this can be an insightful article series that will help foster an even greater understanding of who we all are as players by sharing our stories, and sharing with the community some of the thoughts and play styles of our players.
If YOU would like to be interviewed for the IW Player's Profile; Please PM me through the forums and YOU TOO could have your very own Player Profile posted on the forums and shared with the rest of the IW community!
“...to steal a war cry from one of my other favorite games, battle on!” -Benionin