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Subject: "Fantasy" markup

Although Docbook looks like it's more geared toward writing technical manuals 
- ala the infamous O'Reilly books, where structured formatting of many 
different kinds of elements takes place - here's a function, here's the 
definition, the syntax, a few remarks, a gotcha here, an example there, and a 
clause saying don't blame us if your machine explodes while trying to open a 
subspace commlink to Vger...

I've noticed that Docbook could work very well for novellas and novels in 
general.  While yes, I could probably use the existing schema and formatting 
tags to represent different items in the text, however this strikes me as 
going against the "intent" of Docbook.

My current pages are written in HTML, however there are shortcomings with HTML 
that well, I have grown out of, and I want to step away from that.  Looking 
at Docbook, I see it as a very cool way of doing things.  I know it'll take a 
slight readjustment of my thinking (okay, major!) but I think it'll be worth 
it - the most significant example being seeing why I placed markup where I 
did.  Why is this text italicized?  Why is this text boldface?  Stuff like 

However, in answering those questions, I noticed there's a significant 
drawback to this idea - there's no "fantasy" or "novel" markup for Docbook.  
To better illustrate what I mean, I'll put a couple excerpts in:

<excerpt id="1">
<para>Following the grunting noises down the corridor, the party cautiously 
crept along, controlling their own sounds.  The fighters in the front had the 
most trouble, however, wearing their heavy metal armors.  Of course, any 
trouble, and they're usually the first to meet it, so they needed the extra 
protection.  Didn't work very well for stealth, however.  Normally, Imoen 
would be up front, warning the party well in advance of any danger where 
surprise could still work.  Not in this case - the monsters were already 
somewhat aware of their presence, so the lithe human was in her rank, behind 
the heavily armored fighters with the big swords and plate armor.</para>

<para>Behind Minsc and Khalid stood the aforementioned rogue Imoen, and 
Jaheira, a druidess - the party's healer.  Though not as effective as a 
cleric in casting <spell>Cure</spell> spells, she was very effective in close 
combat.  Behind the ladies stood two wizards - Alderan of Candlekeep, and Xan 
of Beregost.  Both highly effective at providing additional firepower to the 
party - usually in the literal sense.</para>

<para>Seeing the hobgoblins ahead, Minsc rushed forward, screaming bloody 
murder at the monsters, "Butt-kicking for goodness!"  Khalid grunted at the 
rush and followed closely behind Minsc.  Jaheira and Imoen followed, keeping 
themselves at a distance, standing ready with whatever skills they might need 
to use as the situation developed.  Alderan and Xan followed, their minds 
already racing for whatever spells they might need.</para>

<para>The fighters burst into the room.  They were quickly overwhelmed, though 
they stood their ground against the multitude of monsters before them.  
Jaheira covered the left flank next to her husband with her quarterstaff 
while Imoen stood the right flank next to Minsc using her shortsword.  The 
odds were against them, and Alderan decided this was a good time for an 

<para>He spied a short set of stairs immediately to Imoen's right, and charged 
up them.  A hobgoblin's spear fell just short of the wizard's robe with his 
swift movement.  A horde of his other friends stood below, and they started 
digging out ranged weapons - javelins, crossbows, and the like.</para>

<para>Not wanting to be turned into a pincoushin, Alderan chanted the arcane 
syllables of the first spell that came to mind.  Flicking a pinch of sulphur 
into the air, he leveled a hand to the masses below.  A red flaming orb 
flashed into being in his right hand.  At the evoker's will, the orb streaked 
into the middle of the monsters.</para>

<para>The <spell>Fireball</spell> erupted in the middle of the monsters, 
incinerating the lot of them.  Alderan carefully placed the spell so that his 
fellow party members didn't get hurt, however he didn't quite get all the 
monsters.  Khalid and Minsc charged the remainders, while Imoen peeked around 
one of the other passageways leading out of the room.</para>

<para>"Aldie!  There's a lot more coming!" yelled the rogue, seeing another 
charging horde coming down the narrow corridor.  She took action herself, and 
pulled out a small wand from beneath her belt.  <thought>Aldie's not the only 
one with heavy firepower...</thought></para>

<para>Pointing her <magicitem>Wand of Fireballs</magicitem> at the 
reinforcements, she spoke the arcane syllable etched in the side of the 
<magicitem>Wand</magicitem>.  A fresh <spell>Fireball</spell> erupted down 
the corridor, roasting the reinforcements.  The spell touched off a little 
too close, and Imoen was caught in the blast as well.</para>

<para>"What have you done, child?" admonished Jaheira at the sound of the 
screaming Imoen.  Her leather armor was blackened from the spell, and it 
looked like it was burned right through to the skin beneath.  Minsc and 
Khalid finished with the last of the hobgoblins as Alderan hopped from the 
ledge and raced to Imoen's side with Jaheira close by.</para>


(Yes, that's a first draft.)

The above fight shows 3 tags - <spell>, <magicitem>, and <thought>.  Normally 
in HTML, I would mark them up with <em> or <i> tags.  I suppose I could cop 
out and use <emphasis>, however IMHO like I said, that goes against the 
spirit of Docbook.  Besides, it allows for experimentation with the layout - 
you could choose to have magic items rendered in the text with a different 
font, for example.  Yes yes  - that's what <span> and CSS classes are all 
about.  Well, that would be a fine rendering method for HTML, but what about 

Speaking of paged/printed media - well, here's another piece.

<excerpt id="2">
<para>Handing the papers to the guard, Tarric walked down into the dungeon to 
meet his charge.  His heart leaped at seeing Aribeth in the cell.  "U'aestar 
hina ele nehel, irmisseamin."<footnote><para>My heart, mind, and breath sing 
to see thee, my love.</para></footnote></para>

<para>"Diolalle, irmimamin."<footnote><para>Thank you, my love.</para></


We all know HTML doesn't handle footnotes properly, and this is my biggest pet 
peeve of HTML.  I could fake it quite well, using other markup, but I'm sorry 
- it doesn't work right when printed.  Footnotes belong on the bottom of the 
printed page, not the end of the document when printed!  GRR!!!

However, it gets interesting when I ask, "Why is this footnoted?"  Well, 

<excerpt id="3">
<para>Handing the papers to the guard, Tarric walked down into the dungeon to 
meet his charge.  His heart leaped at seeing Aribeth in the cell.  <language> 
<text>"U'aestar hina ele nehel, irmisseamin."</text> <translation>My heart, 
mind, and breath sing to see thee, my love. </translation> </language>"</

<para>"<language><text>Diolalle, irmimamin.</text> <translation>Thank you, my 

This way, whatever ending output format is done, it's handled appropriately - 
for example, in HTML, you could have the text as a <span> with a mouseover 
event showing the translation, in a PDF, it could be footnoted.

Well, I'm done rattling off.  Comments, please - have I been affected by a 
<spell>Feeblemind</spell>?  :P

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