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Meta #7

Just to get this out of the way: this meta is spoilery for Episodes 21-24. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

FINALLY, I get to post this!!! I have been working on this particular meta for months years now, adding and changing things as I played and wrote through my intended plot. I started back in…wow, probably August or September of 2009 when I was trying to lay out my thoughts and realized that I was beginning to forget how it all got started in my head and some of the reasons why I chose to take the directions I went. So I began writing it out, which is good, because I’ve forgotten half of this over the years and only remembered my initial thought process after I reread the draft. Now I finally get to share.

This almost ought to be three separate metas because there are three major subplots that make up the whole generation 5 story arc, but I am presenting them all together anyway and each part is clearly divided from the others and under its own cut, so if you need to take a break, hopefully it’s easy to reach a stopping point and come back later.


Part 1: Azula

I’m not really sure where the generation 5 series of plots first originated in my head. I can pin the time frame to around February 2009 for sure—that was about the time I posted Episode 14 and its accompanying meta, and I know I was already beginning to work things out then (see also section 3). What first inspired me to do it is a little fuzzier in my memory, however.

I can say for sure that it started with Azula. When she was born, I was almost positive she would be the heir. I had planned to have three kids in generation 5 just on principle, because after the Carlos/Mickles debacle I had decided on lifting Law and the three careers it suppresses if at all possible. However, about the time Mya got pregnant with Elle, I changed my mind and decided that if one of the younger two children were a girl, they would be heir instead. (I am not sure why I decided that the heir had to be a girl this generation, but Elle was definitely a better fit for the plot I wanted to do than Billy was.)

The reason why is kind of complicated. Let me put it this way. Because of the nature of the challenge, all of my plot points have stemmed from two major factors: spouses, and broken restrictions.

Azula’s part of the plot began with the latter. As I said in the Episode 14 meta, I can’t have anyone currently living in the main house break any restrictions on purpose, not even for plot reasons, because if they do I fail the challenge. Since the whole point of beginning this challenge was to complete it, failing on purpose would be idiotic of me. But there’s no reason I can’t have other houses break restrictions, as Andrew did with Mickles, and Raikov’s whole point in existing is to enforce them, so I figured the next time he showed up in a major role would be to hand out an unreasonable punishment for another broken restriction.

But what restriction could it be? After the Law set of lifts, I would have just Culinary and Artist left to go. Those two restrictions basically boil down to Thou Shalt Not Eat Good Food and Thou Shalt Not Own Pretty Things. Not exactly enforceable unless Raikov is doing routine checks of private homes (which I wouldn’t put past him, but wouldn’t necessitate the kind of punishment I wanted him to mete out as he’d probably smack them on the wrist, take away whatever it was, and maybe some jail time). That left the four careers I wanted generation 5 to lift.

It is near impossible to break Law, unless you have first suppressed a set of the restrictions it keeps you from fully lifting. Law Enforcement was out because I already dealt with that during Bella’s plot—Lex and Gordon unable to enforce the law because there was none, and all my Apoc kids and spouses build 10 Body right away so they can go places. Slacker didn’t lend itself to restriction breaking either, since I figure all employers in Sierra Plains automatically fire their employees if they take vacations/maternity leave. They certainly won’t hire someone back after they quit, either.

Politics, which mainly deals with zoning laws, mostly didn’t help me either. But wait. How did Andrew get hold of Mickles in the first place? Why, his family went to a vacation destination they weren’t supposed to go to, that’s how. And doesn’t Politics prevent Sims from going to Takemizu Village? DING DING DING we have a winner!

From there I quickly figured out that Azula’s plot would be based on both Politics and Law Enforcement. I vaguely remember that, back when I was in Heidelberg for the second time, there were certain places we were not allowed to travel on long weekends and that there would be penalties if we were caught going. The same logic applied here: in my mind it’s not impossible to get to Takemizu even with an apocalypse on. Other regions surrounding the area can certainly do it, and the Military lift meant that those borders were no longer closed. Want to travel to another town? By all means! Want to use their airport to go to a restricted zone? Less advisable, but knock yourself out! There was no real way Raikov could have made it impossible to go. However, he did have the power to stop them coming back, and that was what he did.

And who, exactly, was going to keep him from doing so? As Lex and Gordon had already stated, the police force was in total shambles without a law to defend. Someone from the main family would have to fix it up again. Even with a new set of laws in place, without a government, Raikov was still the de facto leader of Sierra Plains, and he was still in charge of enforcing martial law. The punishments for breaking it were not defined and could be interpreted how he chose. Therefore, simply establishing a law wouldn’t fix anything. Political leaders and a strong police force would be needed to enforce it. When Azula and Dom left on their honeymoon, Sierra Plains had neither.

The businesses were what really got this plot going, though, because they ruled Azula out as heir. I think that seeing Mya’s LTW was what really got the spark going. Azula’s personality, as it formed in my head, was much too independent to easily cope with the level of familial responsibility Mya wanted from her, and there was just no way she was signing up for that for life.

In addition, if I was going to do this plot, it had to be done before Politics was lifted, and that meant that one of the older two kids had to be the culprit. Elle would never have broken a restriction like that, so it had to be Azula, who was the only one of the three who would have been willful enough to ignore them. I’ll get into more on her motivations in section 3.

The only thing I had left to figure out was how Raikov would find out that she had gone, and that’s where the spouse came in.


Part 2: Elle, Stuart, and Tristan

When I figured out that Elle would be my heir and that she had not inherited The Schnoz, I began thinking about spouse candidates. I wanted to get the Schnoz back into the gene pool, and red hair too, if I could manage it. (You see how well that worked out for me. However, Saxon and Cassie are lovely and wonderful and I REGRET NOTHING.) The only problem with that is that I try not to decide who the spouse is just based on genetics (you all have seen Billy’s mouth, after all, which doesn’t really fit the rest of his face although I do love him) and I wanted her to actually like who she married. Then I thought: hey, what if she doesn’t like who she marries?

Enter Tristan, who is the only spouse so far that the family did not know intimately prior to the heir meeting them. Israel and Kieran were men that Rhys had been friends with and knew could be trusted. Mya was Narissa’s best friend and co-worker. In contrast, Tristan slept with Azula and then skulked off until Elle and Stuart had their fight. Harry and Mya did not know him and Azula didn’t know him well. That, combined with the quick courtship, allowed him to enter the family before anyone was the wiser.

I figured also that the only one likely to betray Azula to Raikov was someone not nearly as emotionally invested in the relief work as everyone else had been. My first thought was that Elle’s husband would be a good guy who figured that it would be in everyone’s best interest to report Azula. Elle would be mad that he did it, and without consulting her about it first, but in the end they would reconcile. I like giving my Sims happy endings, okay, that’s just how I roll.

However, I scratched that idea because I remembered a comment someone made when I married Kieran into the family. At least one person speculated that the abrupt ending of Episode 5, when I revealed the generation 3 spouse decision, meant that Kieran was the harbinger of Bad Things. Because I had played so far ahead at that point, it was too late for me to build on that and make him a spy for Raikov. For that matter, he wasn’t the type. He and Ivy were obscenely happy together, and he was too close to Rhys and Narissa to want to betray them anyway.

Thinking about that, I decided it made much more sense to have Elle’s spouse enter the family with self-serving intent. The Fitzhughs know that heirship doesn’t mean anything special. Most everything it meant in the Legacy was restricted by Politics (big house), Artist (shinies), and Culinary (eating well). To Raikov, however, it meant Power. Because they’re in charge of the relief work, the Fitzhughs are, in many ways, the leaders of Sierra Plains. The future of everyone who lives there is in their hands. In addition to that, they were the favored Sims of the Creator, and he knew it. With Marina gone, and the new government about to be formed, it was the best time for Raikov to try to get someone in there. Tristan was more than happy to go along with it, although he preferred the older Fitzhugh sister and ended up resenting the one he did get because of it. In the end, he got to be Mayor, which was his whole motivation.

Tristan’s character was inspired by a few different sources, including Donna’s fiancée Lance from Doctor Who, as I mentioned in the BTS Di and I wrote up for our retelling of The Runaway Bride. However, the level of nasty he ended up becoming was directly inspired by Nora Roberts’ Public Secrets, which I read in the summer of 2009. He never hit Elle—they were living with her parents and he would never have gotten away with it—but he did everything else possible to wear her down and lower her opinion of herself so she would depend on him. Reading about Drew’s treatment of Emma in the book was what gave my mind permission to go there. Unlike what happened with Drew, I couldn’t kill Tristan off in the end. He’s not getting a Punishment, either, because I can’t be bothered to stage it. But…well, you’ll see what happens.

Having decided that that was the direction I would take the plot, I set about thinking up ways I could make it up to Elle after the whole thing was over. I always intended for her to marry again, this time to a nice guy, and I did the BC on a whim when Lark put the idea in my head. The outcome of the BC decided how I would go about it.

I took much longer to kick off the beginning of Elle’s part in the plot than I wanted to, for various reasons, so I have had a lot of time to think about why she and Stuart broke up to begin with. At first, I thought of it as a culture clash, but in ironing out Elle’s character and having more opportunities to read about Stuart, I realized that that really wasn’t it at all. It was just the kinds of people they were. Quite honestly, even if that particular incident had not happened, something similar would have had to. They both had to grow up a bit before they could have a real, open, trusting relationship with each other.

On Elle’s end, you have her childhood fueling intense insecurity. She’s not shy (the girl has eight outgoing points, no, really). She just doesn’t think she has much to offer anyone. There were a bunch of factors involved—the absence of the grandparents (as Ivy and Kieran died when Elle was a baby), the fact that both parents belong fully to the “work before everything else” school of thought, Azula and Billy being such large personalities, etc. I’ve elaborated on this in Meta #6.

What it all boils down to is that Elle is severely depressed and had been probably since she was a teenager. Because of that, she was afraid to rock the boat. If that meant she had to sacrifice what she really wanted, well, no big loss to anyone but her, and she didn’t feel that her wants were important in the grand scheme of things. This led to her allowing everyone around her to tell her what to do, and by the time she got to college and met Stuart, it was so bad that she was afraid to make any decisions for herself. She would let the frustration build up until it drove her crazy, and then it would blast the next person who made her angry out of the sky. She did that to Stuart (Episode 20), and then again to Azula (Episode 24) because the stress had become much too much for her handle and she didn’t have a better way of dealing with it. Tristan’s treatment of her enforced this attitude.

Those of you who read Di’s Legacy know about Stuart’s family dynamic and childhood. If you haven’t read it, here’s the nutshell version: Stuart loves his brother. He wants to help Bertie be happy if he possibly can. What he cannot do is lead Bertie around by the hand for the rest of his life. By that logic, would he want to be married to someone he would have to babysit in the same way? Of course not. Does that mean that the split was entirely Elle’s fault? Not in the slightest. Stuart did not understand how bad off she was until well after the fact. He did, however, unknowingly help contribute to it.

Di and I have discussed this ad nauseum and my impressions coming away from that were that Stuart formed and maintained a very childlike view of romance. There was a quote from The Office submitted to Simspiration waaaaaaaaay back that sums it up nicely: “When you’re a kid, you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are going to be right about that.” Stuart looked at Eddie and Carmen, saw how happy they were and how well-suited they were to each other, and said to himself “That is what I want for myself someday.” He met Elle, they hit it off, and everything else was supposed to fall into place from there.

Except that it didn’t. For a while, there was smooth sailing. If his reserve bothered Elle, she never said so, because she understandably didn’t want to ruin a good thing. Then she brought her family’s problems to the table and made him realize that they weren’t on the same page. That upset him. She broke it off, he let her without a fight, and by the time he realized that having things exactly the way he wanted them wasn’t worth losing her, it was too late. When he heard that she was engaged to someone else, he backed off, because that was “proof” that she didn’t love him as much as he loved her.

TL;DR—in the BC, we had Elle telling Stuart what she needed to hear in order to be able to make her decision, and Stuart saying it. They both let go of their reserves and met each other halfway. In the Apoc, that didn’t happen (mainly because neither really understood where the other was coming from), and that was what caused the breakup. I do think that coming from different cultural backgrounds had a hand in it, but ultimately, if they had been raised the same way, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. They would, however, have reconciled much faster if Tristan had not taken advantage of the timing and ingratiated himself into Elle’s life before anyone was the wiser.

But having said all of that, I want to say that recognizing all of this—even in retrospect—didn’t make me like Elliart less as a couple. It’s just that bad circumstances worked against them getting a strong start right away. Di and I both really like the idea that going through difficult times will help them build a stronger partnership than they would otherwise have. So while what they went through was hard, some form of it was necessary. That’s all I’ll say for now since they still haven’t reconciled and won’t immediately, but they have both learned to be better, even if they did have to learn it the hard way.

So, between Elle and Azula I now had a plot that involved both a spouse and a broken restriction. There was just one hitch in making it possible: my Simself.


Part 3: Dominic and Marina

Going back to February 2009, I had just finished my turn in the Boolpropian Round Robin and was missing the Dorans quite a lot. I’ll be perfectly honest on this: the only Sim I have ever loved more than Dom is Spencer. When I handed off the RR to Gin, I was determined that Dom’s awesomeness was going to enter my gene pool somehow. But because he’s such a great Sim, I didn’t want to marry him off to just anyone or throw him into the plot without a purpose.

An avenue of doing this presented itself almost immediately when I decided that this was going the be the generation I would do the Creator reveal. I wasn’t always planning on it. The Fitzhughs didn’t have a reason to question my Simself’s immortality, after all. They knew that there was a Creator, but not that she had an avatar to represent her in that world, and they knew that some Sims (Spencer, Marina, Iris and Dahlia, etc.) just had immortality for various reasons that were only known to her. They do not have the direct relationship with me that the Legacy Fitzhughs did because of the “hands-off” policy.

However, in order for the Politics plot to be plausible, Marina had to go. Hands-off policy be damned, she would have gone to Takemizu herself to get Azula and would have confronted Elle about Tristan immediately. She was just way too fond of them all to allow it. I couldn’t have her doing that, so a Creator reveal was necessary.

Dominic was the perfect (and pretty much only) way to get them to question her involvement because he and his siblings have a set of knowledge that no other Sim in the Multiverse has: Marina was a family friend, but they have no real idea who she is other than that. Everyone else outside Sierra Plains who knows her knows that she’s a Simself, and those Sims are automatically sworn to secrecy when they come to Sierra Plains. I can’t think of anyone I’ve imported who would have been vindictive enough to break that promise. (Raikov, who also knew this, could have outed her, but I didn’t want to take that route because the Fitzhughs don’t trust him and I absolutely hate that kind of thing in plots.)

Marina’s running away when she saw Dominic at Mikey’s wedding naturally confused him, because she hadn’t exactly been subtle about showing how much she liked him in the past. Up until that point, he had no reason not to trust her. I imagine that Carli told Ashley and their kids that Marina had been the one to warn them about the danger from the elves, so Dom assumed, not incorrectly, that she had their best interests in mind.

Learning that she had basically sent him into a fate where he ended up on his own, never saw his family again, and came to a tragic end changed his perspective. Those of you who read the RR know that Dominic is not a spiteful person. He loves people. He takes to new experiences. Even if there is someone he doesn’t like or who makes him uneasy, he does his best to deal with it without getting confrontational. The major instigator at the times when he does lose his temper is the blatant intent of the other person to hurt people he loves.

Of course, the other people present were going to feel some level of betrayal as well. Azula felt it mostly on Dominic’s behalf, but as you all know, she has some pretty strong feelings herself about being part of an Apocalypse family. If she could get angry at Harry, she could resent Marina for being the cause just as easily. Elle was so messed up by then that she didn’t know what to think, Harry wouldn’t even accept her apology, etc. In short, the Fitzhughs were no longer able to trust her.

The timing of the incident shifted from the original plan considerably for a few reasons. At first I thought that it would happen at Billy’s wedding (a Simspiration drabble I posted waaaaaay back in April 2009 shows this). After I thought about it, though, I realized that said wedding would take place too late in the generation for that. So I bumped it up to Riku’s wedding, which would have happened a whole season earlier. Then I realized two things: the first, that the Politics plot meant Riku could not marry his intended spouse, and the second, that Marina would have had no reason to be there. The last thing she wanted to do was run into Dominic and end up revealing herself, so she deliberately avoided places that she knew he would be—family weddings most importantly. That forced me to think up a new situation where I could have her run into him at an event that Azula was also present for.

About then was when the rebuild happened and I made the decision not to recreate the custom townies from Old Sierra Plains. That included Callie’s teen boyfriend and Mikey’s teen girlfriend, both of whom had been sent to college, but neither of whom I liked very much. In trying to think up a new plan for both of them, I came up with the idea of pairing Mikey with Elphaba because she had been friends with his father, and that was what gave me the idea to use their wedding to have Marina run into Dominic. Despite her reservations, there was no way she was going to miss her own daughter’s wedding, and she wasn’t careful enough to keep from being spotted.

My only reservations there were 1) the plan was contingent on Mikey/Elphaba working out, which ended up not to be a problem, and 2) that it might be too early to do the reveal. In the end, though, I realized that the timing would be perfect—Marina would not only be gone before Azula and Dominic left town, but she could contribute to the reason for their going. Dominic probably barely considered the idea that they couldn’t go to Takemizu for a couple of reasons, the main one being that the Dorans’ issue with running is not where to run but the running itself. As for Azula, she’s a Fitzhugh and she does what she wants. The idea of getting as far away from Sierra Plains as possible and not having to deal with the family issues for a while was very, very appealing, and by using a different airport than Sierra Plains, she expected that they wouldn’t be caught. It was a stupid thing to do, certainly, but they had their reasons.

And thus, all the different threads I had going fit together to make Episodes 21-24. They’ve also set up for my ending plot, the details of which I haven’t totally finalized, but I am hoping that I can wrap this up in four more episodes. We’ll see how college goes, since Saxon, at least, has to go in order to lift Artist. (And can I just say how excited I am to finally get to write him properly? :D)

As for whether Marina will ever come back, that’s still up in the air. Her absence is still relevant to how the plot goes, and whatever does happen in the end, it will be different if she’s present for it than if she isn’t.

More importantly, Tristan is out of the main house in story as well as in game, and I can finally play my damn game again!!!


Thanks to:

~Di, for letting me have Stuart knowing I was going to do this, and for letting me ask all the questions I needed to

~Rose, for being my sounding board for a lot of this

~De, for importing Saxon and thus forcing me to think out more of what was going to happen

~All three of the above as well as Lark, Casey, and whoever else I might be forgetting who had to listen to things like "UGH STAGING SUCKS" and "I HATE THIS SCENE MAKE IT GO AWAY" during the month of March while I was working on Episodes 23 and 24 :P

~Everybody, for your patience while I sorted my brain out over the past three years. I am pretty confident that the rest of the Apoc won't take that long. *fingers crossed*


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC)


It's always good to start your meta early - I need to go back and reread some of what I wrote back in 2010 re Roxanna and her plot, so I can edit it into a new BTS for my chapters.

Yeah, Culinary and Artist are pretty straightforward on how you break them, and Law...Law is practically impossible to break unless you add to it somehow.

No way was Elle going to ignore a restriction on purpose, that is definite.

Tristan = unmitigated ass. Boo.

I understand why staging a punishment sucks, but one picture of Tristan dying in a fire? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?

Poor Elle. :( She was completely depressed and it shows...and yet no one noticed. She was also too good at faking being okay, I guess.

Can't wait for Elle and Stuart to FINALLY get their acts together and figure out that they really do want to be together! I completely understand why you broke them up, but it still sucks ass. And I'm glad I could import them from nebulous-future-period-where-everything-is-good. :P

No problem helping at all and can't wait to see where you go with all of this!
Apr. 7th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
Congrats on finishing the plot!

I like meta's and the funny thing is that I don't even remember giving you the idea for the BC, unless it was me talking about Frank's way back when.

I'm tired and can't think. But I am glad to see this. ^_^
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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