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JasRonq

Single player RPG plot kernel, please help.

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I have a plot kernel I'd like to share. This is with a single player RPG in mind. I would appreciate ideas on where to go with it, mostly in the form of additions, not changes, as this is still vague. The protagonist is the player. He is a wanderer who takes shelter in a temple of magic during a storm. There are other people here who inhabit this temple and take care of it. The same night the player is there the temple is is attacked from within. In catacombs under the temple, an ancient dry well has filled with mystical energy and formed a portal. Demonic mage soldiers poured forth and attacked the people. Most died, those that didn't ran. The attack triggered a defensive shield around the temple that sealed the player within. To escape he must beat back the threat. The player must navigate this dangerous place, eventually entering the portal and hunting down the forces that opened it. A variation idea: The temple is a mage school or a temple with students at least. The player instead of being a wanderer driven in by a storm is a student and the child of one of the people there. He is given a powerful protective magic when the attack happens, a form of stone skin, that allows his survival, but it doesn't last forever. The player is still trapped inside and must beat back the threat. Other people have probably hunkered down in other areas of the temple, they may help. The origin of the threat may have been a single person opening the portal, whom you must chase on the other side, possibly through more portals and worlds. These other worlds may have whole quest lines of their own such that each helps you get closer to catching the antagonist. Who is the antagonist and why did he cause this attack? What happens in these other worlds that the player passes through while chasing the antagonist?

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I'm tired of magic portals with the power to control the universe.
They're everywhere and they never do anything new or interesting.
Why can't the guy just summon rock golems to dig tunnels under the temple?
It's a frequently overused and usually, poorly implemented story device, simply due to it's convenience to avoid transitions between environments.

Also, why does the main character have to be the good guy?
What if the threat is his father and he has to choose between his mother and his father?
That would be better than just mindless demon beating inside of Hogwarts.

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Ok then, lets say that its the mother that protected him in the attack and his father that caused the attack. How do we get the player to care enough about the father for it not to be an easy decision?

PS, these portals don't control anything, they are just portals from place to place. Might as well be underground tunnels, but magic portals just seemed cooler when I was brainstorming. Also, mindless demon bashing is pretty fun, Diablo was built on it, though I am looking for a good story to go with it too.

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I think you have posted this idea before, why is this particular theme important to you? What does it mean to you?

I think it might be better if the attackers are not soldiers, because there would be too much organization involved and it wouldn't be believable if one outsider with no preparation spoiled an organized surprise attack.


The following is a possible development of the concept:


1: For every magical effort exerted to control a force of nature, an equal but opposite magnitude of chaos is generated.

2: Originally, the use of magic requires serious consideration between the effect of the chaos does not happen to the magic caster, but is shared by all living things. So while the caster would not be personal affected by the chaos, the sages who studied magic understood it and reserves the power.

3: As such, magics are not taught to the common people, because they could abuse so. All teaching and learnings of magic are institutionalized. Techniques were research so that the ill effects would reflect back on the caster.

4: The culture of magic emphasizes on understanding and appreciating the workings of the forces of nature, but not in altering them. The sages are seers, the philosophy is to see the future, and change themselves to prepare and adapt to future changes, not to change the future to fit themselves.

5: Magical users can sense the origin of chaos. Hunters use this ability to track and prosecute those that abuse magical use.

6: A major moment of development occurs when a sage learned to control and channel this resulting chaos into another realm. This practice was condemned at first as it violated the traditional culture of magical practices with emphasis on moderation, consideration, and self-sacrifice.

7: The technique of channeling chaos into the other realm became popular over time, as there were no observable disadvantages of that practice. Schools are open to more people. Although high level magic remains naturally difficult for common people to understand or master.

8: The use of magic is being integrated in the infrastructure of society. After considerable time, society becomes impossible to function without magic. Human are not the only magical users. Inanimate and enchanted animated objects also use magical energy. Kids are required to study the essential magical skill at all schools, if they don't already learned it from their parents.

9: The channeling of chaos into the other realm is not an easy technique. It is not practiced by the normal users. Instead, they were handled by a handful of gateways on the land.

10: Over the years, with the change in the traditional training and study methods, fewer and fewer people could understand magic as the art it originally was. This is true across all magical skills including those used by Seers and Hunters, where those skill had come to be regarded as pointless and are only practiced by cult-like factions. Although the method of channeling chaos into the other realm was originally practiced by a single caster, in the current world no caster could attain the skill. The gateways employ schools of casters taking shifts to expel the chaos. The work is boring and is not a fashional choice of job. But any magic user that is at least hard working could be trained to do so.

11: Main Character is an employee in such a setting. His daily task is of staring at glowing lights, repeating the channelling procedure. The weather outside is always groomy and the work place always get randomly cluttered. It is a side effect of the gate. Sometimes elements would just get tossed around and they would get dirty.

12: The Main Character has a long-time friend who works elsewhere. Today they met at an rally where their part of the world got a new leader. However, the friend told the Main Character that he/she has accepted an offer from the leader to work on an important project, and would not see the Main Character in the near future.

13: The Main Character returns to work, where the weather is always gloomy. He went to the chamber as usual, but things look a little more disorderly than usual. Where are the coworkers?

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Actually, as an introduction to a greater plot, I didn't feel the first version with the wanderer was cliche' and, personally, it grabs my attention. A longer game could not stand on that point alone, but it draws me into the story.

The wanderer is mysterious -- you don't know who he is, or why he started wandering... perhaps he's just a transient, or perhaps he's a dejected warrior from times past. Perhaps he has problems that he's trying to escape. Perhaps he was simply in the wrong place at the right time, or perhaps the hand of fate has subtly pushed him towards this place in time -- either is certainly more original than the King's Mission or the Thousand Year Prophecy.

There are lots of questions about the antagonist as well. First, who is he? Has he worked from the other side of the portal, or was one of the temple's inhabitants corrupted by a thirst for power, or maybe just tricked? What are his motives? Is he after power, or something else?

I wouldn't go through other portals and worlds, as it begins to fall into the trap of "do something X times to win", and the idea of doing something in the 5th world to save the homeworld is a huge stretch -- they're not directly connected in any other way except that the king of world 5 holds the Key of Salvation, and he'll give it to you if you rescue his daughter... I can describe that in three words: Contrived, pointless, lame.

I think the second variation is much weaker and far more cliche' -- For me, the first variation is a game I'd like to make, which the second is a game I don't even want to hear more about.


I'm with Wai up until plot point #11 -- I don't personally like the idea of a 9-5er as the hero -- just by that fact alone we suspect his back-story is either boring or contrived to add excitement, and we have no reason to believe he has any hidden abilities. I also think the idea of these chaos-portals being monitored by some wage-slave at a computer is odd -- If the portals are magic, shouldn't the health of these portals be sensed by trained magicians in close proximity? Especially if they have an innate sense for chaos, which it directs and holds back? Having the friend come into the plot is dangerously close to the cliche' of alterior motives -- it feels to me like "I'm going to save my friend! Oh... and the world too... if it comes up along the way...!" Plot point 13, barring the return to work thing, gets back on track -- The protagonist senses something is wrong not because he's being beaten over the head with it, but because things are just a little more out of sorts than usual. Its "No Duh!" vs. an uneasy suspicion.

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Original post by JasRonq
Ok then, lets say that its the mother that protected him in the attack and his father that caused the attack. How do we get the player to care enough about the father for it not to be an easy decision?

PS, these portals don't control anything, they are just portals from place to place. Might as well be underground tunnels, but magic portals just seemed cooler when I was brainstorming. Also, mindless demon bashing is pretty fun, Diablo was built on it, though I am looking for a good story to go with it too.


Why not switch them. What if the father protected him and the mother is out to get him back because he stole him away from her.
I don't know, what if he gets put in a situation where he has to choose between a nice lie or a harsh reality. Like become Prince of Evil or a solitary monk?
That's a hard choice.

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In my original idea(s) the player is fixing this problem because he is dang near the only one there. Everyone else is either dead or ran. A few are held up defending their little rooms hoping for help. The player is in this situation either because as a student with a parent as a teacher, he went looking for the parent instead of sensibly running with the rest, or as a wanderer he simply didn't know the grounds well enough to find his way out. The barrier sealed him in before he got out, and sealed out all help that could come from the survivors outside.

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I find your first scenario quite intriguing. i like the idea of the temples self defence mechanism sealing it of forcing the wanderer to "solve" the situation. personaly i feel your protagonist should not have a strong background story or any other strong bonds to anything in the current world. he just took shelter in the temple by chance and his only initial reason for fighting this evil is self preservation. i too am tired of "I wil save my frends at the cost of my life, even that random girl i met 3 minutes ago who will most probely stab me in the back halfway though my holy quest". i also like the idea of meeting additional allies along the way, either in the temple or maybe in the world on the other side of the portal? as long as it takes some time for the relationships between these charecters and the hero's to grow. I'm not saying u have to make the hero a cold hearted bastard but at least let him value his own life and safety more than that of a newly met comrade.

Oya and please try to keep it to one world behind the portal, meaning there will be only one portal in the game which wont be discussed in the story at all except maybe for "Chancellor! we've sensed the forging of a rift in the catacombs" or something like that. the portal wil then just act as a door. Unless of course you want your whole story to revolve around portals and different worlds in wich case you would imediatly lose my interest but then again thats just me.

Still i realy like your base idea and i think it can go far

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I'm with Wai up until plot point #11 -- I don't personally like the idea of a 9-5er as the hero -- just by that fact alone we suspect his back-story is either boring or contrived to add excitement, and we have no reason to believe he has any hidden abilities. I also think the idea of these chaos-portals being monitored by some wage-slave at a computer is odd -- If the portals are magic, shouldn't the health of these portals be sensed by trained magicians in close proximity? Especially if they have an innate sense for chaos, which it directs and holds back?


The main character IS the trained magician, there are no computers. The glowing light was referring to magic casting. The work requires training. In principle, anyone could do it, but very few people have the actual training to do it. The main character is among those could do something about it.

Quote:
Having the friend come into the plot is dangerously close to the cliche' of alterior motives -- it feels to me like "I'm going to save my friend! Oh... and the world too... if it comes up along the way...!"


The role of the Leader is structural because the theme is related to the society at large. The role of the friend is to speculate and inform the main character of the meaning of the events inside. The nature of the problem is big and I didn't like the design where some random person decides the fate for everyone, so I was involving the Leader in the dialog.

I don't like the original idea where an organized army comes out from the portal yet the temple simply sealed it. That did not make sense to me. It was like a case where an enemy army decided to matched across a border, killing everyone at will, then suddenly came upon a barrier, and decided to just sit there, until the main character and other survivors defeat them and their home base. Then the hero and survivors emerge from the temple, and could say, "Hi everyone that didn't know what happened inside the temple: We have just killed a whole planet worth of population, too bad the enemy decided to attack while I happened to be there. Don't worry since they are all dead now. Everything is fine. Everything is fixed. Too bad if you wanted to meet one of those demon, because we were trapped, so we had to kill all of them, including the millions more at their home that didn't come over. What a random day." I am not saying that this was the only way to interpret the situation. But that was actually my impression. I was thinking that once you do not require the attackers to be an organized army it would make better sense.


Quote:
Plot point 13, barring the return to work thing, gets back on track -- The protagonist senses something is wrong not because he's being beaten over the head with it, but because things are just a little more out of sorts than usual. Its "No Duh!" vs. an uneasy suspicion.


In my version, the environment of the chambers get rearranged. So even though in the story, the main character had been to the chamber many times, the rooms were changing and the main character no longer has the advantage of being familiar with the environment. Things are not where they should be, they were probably still somewhere at the site, but not where they used to be. Things that shouldn't exist at the site are appearing, and those things are not staying at the site if they could exit, but the normal ways to exit the temple were rearranged so that no one knows which way is the exit.

I agree with EternityZA that you don't need to have details about the other realm or to travel into it. In my case, the main character wouldn't need to go to "the other realm" to see strange things because the force is making the current world strange.





A smaller scale version that does not involve the whole world

1: This is a cute version that is not meant to make adult sense.

2: There is a magic school where kids learn magic.

3: The main character is one of the school kids.

4: Her duty of day was to feed the animals after school, but she and friends fed them with the wrong food.

5: The animals started transforming things and started to escape.

6: Your quick friend immediately shut the door so the animals cannot escape, and your party is trying to fix the situation before the teacher comes to check the animals.

Replayability and variations:

7: Having different animals in the room

8: Pick different friends to go into the room

9: Random items in the room

10: Random context: For example, instead of you locking the door, one of the animals transformed could lock the door or be blocking the door, so that your group is hoping to "survive" until the teacher comes.

In this game you and friends fight a whooping total of one battle per game. The introduction scene shows your group make the mistake, then the animals start to transform. You could skip the scene, but the background of the scene is used to show you all of the animals and the items in the room, and the order your group happened to feed. The player is suppose to to remember what there were in the room while watching the scenes. Once the battle starts the camera would be locked onto the transformed animals, while the other animals and items are at the edge of the screen where you can't see.

11: Moral of the story: It is good to be aware of the surrounding and recognize the details.

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What if the portal was purely accidental? Maybe one of the professors "mispelled" his runes which created the portal.

You could also have a demon (who isn't necessarily evil) who somehow ended up on our plain of existence and it's simply trying to get home unaware of the consequences of opening up a portal. In this case the demon could become an unlikely ally.

I like the idea of the sealed school because it forces the character to get involved if he wants to live. It's no longer the case of a farmer boy becoming a hero because it's his destiny. The sealing spell is easily explained by some sort of quarantine protection spell or something, it just detected an unusual surge in magic energy.

Heck maybe the portal was simply coincidental like at that specific time space/time/dimensions whatever of those two planes intersected which created a portal. Both side have no idea what this is and think it's an invasion so they both take offense (the humans being at a disadvantage for some reason).

Anyways, in most of these cases that antagonist is simply the culture/language barrier between the two people.

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Those are all pretty good ideas. The sealing in of the player is a huge factor of my attraction to the idea. It allows the PC to be reasonably ordinary, but forces extraordinary action without making him into a mythic hero or some foretold savior.

Anyway, if the portal was accidental somehow, and the conflict arises out of mutual surprise and distrust, how does the conflict get resolved? Antagonists are easy, you catch 'em, jail 'em or kill 'em and the conflict is over. More nebulous conflicts are harder to resolve in a climatic and exciting way. Of course, accidents don't need motives and antagonists do, so I'm stuck here either way.

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Original post by JasRonq
In my original idea(s) the player is fixing this problem because he is dang near the only one there. Everyone else is either dead or ran. A few are held up defending their little rooms hoping for help. The player is in this situation either because as a student with a parent as a teacher, he went looking for the parent instead of sensibly running with the rest, or as a wanderer he simply didn't know the grounds well enough to find his way out. The barrier sealed him in before he got out, and sealed out all help that could come from the survivors outside.


So it's Doom 3 in Hogwarts + Diablo?

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I don't know, to me, this story sounds like it's had very little, to no thought put into developing anything seriously unique.
It seems to me this is just some side note to appease yourself with the idea instead of actually putting any effort into making something people will enjoy.
To be honest with you, I'd much rather a new age Hexen with a poorly attached Satan symbolism like DooM 3 compared to some convoluted mess due to the fact you tried at making a story that has absolutely no depth.

We can't help you with anything if you don't want help in the first place.

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It has had very little thought put into developing it. That would be why I called it a plot kernel. If it were developed I'd at least label it as a plot idea or some such thing.

My last comment was not a public self appeasement meant to dismiss you, it was sarcastically saying that aside from a few minor, tangential points, my idea has nothing to do with Doom 3, demons, Satan, Harry Potter, or Diablo. You assume that the gameplay is based on demon slaughter, that the word 'demonic' in my original post means full satanic themes, and that the mention of the setting possibly being a school means that this would be a Harry Potter rip off. Frankly, most of the reception of this thread so far by you has been outright insulting.

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