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TheJerminator15

Game Story Initial Idea

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I recently started creating a story for the game I am creating, and would appreciate any brutally honest feedback. The game well be a Visual Novel, so its very heavily focused on the narrative and I can put all my effort into the story.

 

To begin with, the protagonist of the game is a very introverted boy. He is around the age of 17, and lives by himself with financial support from his family. His family is a very influential, well known and wealthy family. The family is also one of the few remaining lines of lineage which have the ability to manipulate and create magic, however practice of this, whilst recommended, is very optional. The protagonist is faced with the death of a very close friend at a young, so as to prevent harm to anyone he loves he undertakes magic and combative training, hoping to become strong in the guise of a typical anime hero. However his talent is almost non existent, and he can only manipulate mana, not use spells and such. His inability to gain any significant strength, coupled with his constant comparison to a very talented younger sister means he soon begins to develop psychological problems, as well as an inferiority complex. After a while the emotional and psychological burden causes him to snap and lash out at his unsupportive father, which results in him being hospitalised for a year and a half due to massive injuries caused by a magic battle. He eventually leaves the hospital, however with a severely weakened body, and a very cynical attitude, introverted personality and seems to be cut off emotionally, instead using logic to dictate choices. The story begins with the protagonist a few years after he has moved into his own flat, and looks at how his seemingly estranged family, lack of strength and acknowledgement that his goal is impossible constantly effects his mentality. It will also look at how visits from the family only causes these problems to escalate, due to the negative emotions and love towards them creating even more conflict in his mind.

 

After watching a lot of anime I noticed the whole "protect my friends and family by becoming strong" trope to be very overused as a main characters motivations, so I wanted to create a story in which the protagonist actually miserably fails this goal, and just how it affects them.

 

This is all I have ironed out, and am currently working on the world details before moving on to supporting characters and such, I appreciate any feedback given.

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That's a really interesting character, but he might be hard to make work at a protagonist.  His story is a lot like that of a villain - the Riddler from classic DC or Loki from the recent marvel movies, among other examples.  A protagonist kind of needs to be uniquely able to solve some key problem of the world.  Can this guy solve any problems?

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That's a really interesting character, but he might be hard to make work at a protagonist.  His story is a lot like that of a villain - the Riddler from classic DC or Loki from the recent marvel movies, among other examples.  A protagonist kind of needs to be uniquely able to solve some key problem of the world.  Can this guy solve any problems?

 

He cannot, despite trying to. There are problems but he isn't the one solving them, so its almost as if he is a bystander who wants to help but would just get in the way.

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A protagonist kind of needs to be uniquely able to solve some key problem of the world.

I disagree: I think that it's quite possible to have an engaging story--even a video game story--built around characters less-empowered than you suggest. Such protagonists may simply be working within a bigger picture, or have a narrative that is more personal than epic, or even follow a descent into calamity leading to a downer ending, for a few examples. Imagine a game that centres around someone struggling to survive in a hostile environment; here the very fact that they're not uniquely capable might become part of what makes their story compelling.

 

In this particular case, I think that an interesting narrative could well be told around the choices that the protagonist makes in response to his powerlessness, and how he develops from there.

 

(Emphasis mine in the quote below)


He eventually leaves the hospital, however with a severely weakened body, and a very cynical attitude, introverted personality and seems to be cut off emotionally, instead using logic to dictate choices.

Be careful that you're not using the term "introverted" incorrectly; I'd like to note here that--to the best of my understanding--introversion is a personality trait, not a state or condition like shyness.

 

Wikipedia gives a definition of "introversion", I believe, although I don't claim to know whether it's accurate to modern psychological views.

 

(You seem to imply in the line above that the character becomes introverted, presumably having previously been otherwise. I honestly don't know whether it's plausible for someone to change their personality type in this way; it may be, I suppose.)

 

All of that said it's entirely possible that I'm misreading you--if so, please disregard the above, and my apologies!

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A protagonist kind of needs to be uniquely able to solve some key problem of the world.

I disagree: I think that it's quite possible to have an engaging story--even a video game story--built around characters less-empowered than you suggest. Such protagonists may simply be working within a bigger picture, or have a narrative that is more personal than epic, or even follow a descent into calamity leading to a downer ending, for a few examples. Imagine a game that centres around someone struggling to survive in a hostile environment; here the very fact that they're not uniquely capable might become part of what makes their story compelling.

 

In this particular case, I think that an interesting narrative could well be told around the choices that the protagonist makes in response to his powerlessness, and how he develops from there.

 

(Emphasis mine in the quote below)

That is a good point. A strong protagonist doesn't necessarily need to be powerful in my opinion.

 


He eventually leaves the hospital, however with a severely weakened body, and a very cynical attitude, introverted personality and seems to be cut off emotionally, instead using logic to dictate choices.

Be careful that you're not using the term "introverted" incorrectly; I'd like to note here that--to the best of my understanding--introversion is a personality trait, not a state or condition like shyness.

 

Wikipedia gives a definition of "introversion", I believe, although I don't claim to know whether it's accurate to modern psychological views.

 

(You seem to imply in the line above that the character becomes introverted, presumably having previously been otherwise. I honestly don't know whether it's plausible for someone to change their personality type in this way; it may be, I suppose.)

 

All of that said it's entirely possible that I'm misreading you--if so, please disregard the above, and my apologies!

 

I know its a personality trait but I understand why it didn't appear that way. He comes out of the hospital a completely different person so to speak. I got inspired after watching anime and was having him start off as more along the lines of a typical shonen guy mentally or a typical protagonist you see, then have his personality, outlook, emotional stability and health slowly change over time due to the constant failure. Whereas a typical protag would get up and try again, the more time passes the less reason he finds to get up and the more his psyche transforms so to speak. It is why I decided to start off after he leaves, so we see the end result of his path, but then are shown just how he was when he started out, and how much damage it actually did to him as the years passed. Where as it would initially seem he is just jealous of his talented sister and has a very negative outlook, the player would then see just why he thinks like that.

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Some questions to prompt you along (not necessarily for answering, but at least for thinking on):

 

It's often a character flaw that leads to the fall in a tragedy. Does the protagonist fail because of laziness? unrealistic expectations? Is he just naturally inferior and cannot accept reality? Is he deeply jealous? Or does he displays all the qualities of a hero but is beaten down each time? Do you represent his failings as slight, forgivable, understandable? Or is he a lousy person who experiences terrible things?

 

Is the family sympathetic or villainous? Does his sister push forward with her rise and ignore her brother? Does she give up her own potential to help him? If so, can the hero even see this or does he misunderstand the actions of his family?

 

There's two major events, the death and the hospitalization. Is it rising or falling action between them? Is the hero clearly failing and becoming increasing agitated by this? Is he slowly improving and then suddenly knocked off his path? Does the player become excited thinking that the hero will succeed, or is it dramatic irony where the fall is already known?

 

It seems like the story is building to a third major event. Do you know what it is? Does the story end on a high note, a low note or an ambiguous note?

 

Is the father still around? How does the family react to the brutalization of the hero? Does it break the family apart? Do they support the father? Does the father seek reconciliation? Does he blame himself or the hero?

 

In what order will you reveal the events? Will you reveal them via an omniscient narrator, or is the recollection tinged by the character, even untrustworthy? How much of the story is focused on the past, the present and the future? Is it active flashbacks or discussions of past events, long exposition on the past or a jumble of clues that slowly form a pattern?

 

What's the protagonists relationship to magic after the hospitalization? What does magic represent in the story? Is it a dark, forbidden thing? A sexy, power and status thing? Does it make people better, twist them to failure, highlight existing flaws and virtues? Or maybe it's just uncontrollable and unpredictable? Do regular people respect or fear it?

 

Does the family feel ashamed of the protagonist, since they are a renowned family? Does he actively embarrass them? Do they emote with his failings or can they not understand?

 

Is there a moment where the tragedy becomes (at least narratively) inevitable: the failed message in Romeo and Juliet, the murder of the king in Macbeth, or does the story suggest the protagonist could fix things up at any moment but just fails to do so, that the harm is all self inflicted? If you do give a sense of inevitability, when did it start? The death of the friend? The fight?

Edited by Polama

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Some questions to prompt you along (not necessarily for answering, but at least for thinking on):

 

It's often a character flaw that leads to the fall in a tragedy. Does the protagonist fail because of laziness? unrealistic expectations? Is he just naturally inferior and cannot accept reality? Is he deeply jealous? Or does he displays all the qualities of a hero but is beaten down each time? Do you represent his failings as slight, forgivable, understandable? Or is he a lousy person who experiences terrible things?

 

Is the family sympathetic or villainous? Does his sister push forward with her rise and ignore her brother? Does she give up her own potential to help him? If so, can the hero even see this or does he misunderstand the actions of his family?

 

There's two major events, the death and the hospitalization. Is it rising or falling action between them? Is the hero clearly failing and becoming increasing agitated by this? Is he slowly improving and then suddenly knocked off his path? Does the player become excited thinking that the hero will succeed, or is it dramatic irony where the fall is already known?

 

It seems like the story is building to a third major event. Do you know what it is? Does the story end on a high note, a low note or an ambiguous note?

 

Is the father still around? How does the family react to the brutalization of the hero? Does it break the family apart? Do they support the father? Does the father seek reconciliation? Does he blame himself or the hero?

 

In what order will you reveal the events? Will you reveal them via an omniscient narrator, or is the recollection tinged by the character, even untrustworthy? How much of the story is focused on the past, the present and the future? Is it active flashbacks or discussions of past events, long exposition on the past or a jumble of clues that slowly form a pattern?

 

What's the protagonists relationship to magic after the hospitalization? What does magic represent in the story? Is it a dark, forbidden thing? A sexy, power and status thing? Does it make people better, twist them to failure, highlight existing flaws and virtues? Or maybe it's just uncontrollable and unpredictable? Do regular people respect or fear it?

 

Does the family feel ashamed of the protagonist, since they are a renowned family? Does he actively embarrass them? Do they emote with his failings or can they not understand?

 

Is there a moment where the tragedy becomes (at least narratively) inevitable: the failed message in Romeo and Juliet, the murder of the king in Macbeth, or does the story suggest the protagonist could fix things up at any moment but just fails to do so, that the harm is all self inflicted? If you do give a sense of inevitability, when did it start? The death of the friend? The fight?

These are some really good questions, thanks for the input. To begin with, the protagonist when first beginning did have the typical qualities of a hero, with no talent whatsoever though, meaning after around a decade of training he could only barely manipulate magic. It was his constant failings that slowly changed him, so that before whilst he did actually try and fail, it became more of an unwillingness to even try due to knowing the outcome. This I believe ties in with his emotional distance and attempts to think from a logical perspective at all times in the present, since the failures drilled him into a mind set of cynicism and logic with no room for his emotions or desires left there anymore. Its less of him not accepting reality, but through continuous failures and having reality smash his goal numerous times that he does accept it unwillingly, which is one of the major reasons he is damaged.

 

In terms of the family, I have nothing concrete yet but my main idea is for them to be neutral. They have traditional values due to their heritage, ancestry and teachings which does cause them to be somewhat tough. However they are also sympathetic towards him at times which shows they do care, just that they have no idea how to communicate with him or actually help him since his mentality is different to theirs. In terms of the sister, I was going to have her be a naïve embodiment of the hero's goal. This means she is more or less a very powerful combat magic user, however she has a very narrow and somewhat innocent outlook on life. This leaves her very ignorant of the protagonists problems, because all she sees is her big brother she loves very much. She doesn't actually know he has conflicted feelings towards her and because she treats him as an equal she essentially acts as a catalyst for his worsening problems and inferiority complex, which in turn makes it much harder for the protagonist to even see her, let alone talk with her. I do intend to make her find out however, but I also want her to be somewhat portrayed as an unwilling villain in the protagonist's despite her good nature.

 

The rise and fall both occur after the death, but before the hospitalisation. The death sets him on the goal, where he initially rises up, but falls down much deeper with the hospitalisation being the end result. He does become agitated after each failure and increasingly stressed and such, however it isn't evidently clear until the incident which makes him snap, with only subtle signs before the big tangible change.

 

My idea is that the big event which occurs is an incident which causes the protagonists death due to him either snapping or being forced into a magic fight (I haven't fully decided which one yet). I intend to build up the character as a very negative one initially, with surrounding people having a negative opinion of him, with all development occurring after his death. This I would do by characters such as the sister and few acquaintances finding items such as audio notes, diaries and such (I also intend to have dialogues between the family reveal things) from his actual original fall back at the family home. This would then show the sister just why he avoided her when he could, and show his acquaintances why he had such a negative outlook, whilst simultaneously showing the player his spiral downwards and that he was once just a normal boy with a dream, humanising what originally appeared to just be a bastard of a character into someone they can empathise with.

 

The father as the head of the household is still around, however he rarely interacts with the protagonist. The protagonist doesn't feel enmity, as he recognises the whole thing as his fault, but this damages him again as he feels he doesn't think he has the right to bear the name of his family because of the obvious difference between him and the rest. However, the father when with him does clearly feel remorse, both for putting him down but not shopping him from initially failing, and for drastically injuring him. However the father does not apologise to him, which leads to more remorse and such after his death.

 

The events will be recollected mostly by the protagonists entries and written word, so there will be a evident air of untrustworthiness due to his obvious impending breakdown throughout his entries. However some will also be recollected before and after his death by the family and their friends, such as failings or small signs they should have noticed that hinted what he was going through.

 

Magic is represented as more of a status thing. In the story I intend to have magic be almost completely gone from the world, with events such as wars causing the loss of knowledge built over centuries and bloodlines thinning out so only prestigious families with the resources to continue using magic actively using it. It is known about by regular civilians, but many have a negative view on it due to the well known fact that high class families are the only ones able to continue using it. This does affect some people's views on the character as well, since he is from a well known family who actively practises magic. The protagonist does have psychological problems using it, as after using it he tends to vividly recall a past failure or other negative event linked to his use of magic, making him reluctant and feeling unworthy to use it.

 

The family does appear to be ashamed, however they do also privately help him out and somewhat sympathise with his situation.

 

I intend to give the downfall and breakdown of the protagonist a very inevitable feeling, mainly because it would be in the past, but I would do it by making the death the inevitable point at which he is set on the path. However I also intend to make his death an avoidable choice, meaning that a decision he made could have easily led to other paths than the one which killed him, hinting that he had a good chance at actually fixing himself had he chose differently and attaining some form of happiness.

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Brutally honest?  It reeks of anime tropes.

 

First and foremost, the movers and shakers of the world will almost never have introverted children, you're more typically going to be ambiverts with at worst a tendency to introversion, due to social standards among their class as well as familial expectations in addition to the interactions among their peers of their social rank.  Its no doubt going to be something taught at a very young age, with certain charismatic tendencies picked up through the child's mind modeling itself after how their parents think and act in public based upon what they also are told is right in society.  Not saying they're happy go lucky, party hard 24/7, but they will have a tendency to not be shut ins with no ability to control their emotions.

 

Second, the inclusion of magic is almost entirely arbitrary.  If magic exists in the world, which you explain it does, with it being a known and studied art and science, eugenics would be incredibly popular.  Like insanely popular.  Showing the SLIGHTEST inclination would immediately put yourself above your peers and in a class well above anybody else.  You'd also be the subject of reverence and testing.  Betterment of the human race and all that.

 

Third, people who tend to think this way you've described are also incredibly strong willed.  They're the ones who also tend to blame things on themselves.  It could make an interesting conflict of character but you'd need to have some sort of involvement of the MC's friend' death to make this somewhat believable for his character, that being an introvert.  To jump off of this, if you're going to go full military, there is ramifications to this as well.  If it's modern day, the military where magic exists is only going to be that much more grueling, holding to of higher standards, strict and breaking as well as rebuilding.  If you're going to go in for Magic Combat wingding, you're going to have to first meet standards and if you meet those, you're going to be trained to be better, whether you like it or not.  In addition to this, the sister thing is silly.  Unless its contained to the family and social circle, no one in the military is going to know nor care because Kill Hats do not act impartial to anybody, you're all trained in the shit, because you're are shit and you will come to enjoy the shit, together as a team because while you may be right when saying "I am shit" you forget everybody is also saying the same thing.

 

Fourth, while I have no problems with psychological issues becoming apparent from stress breaking down a person's mental stability, its something that happens over time with the little bits and pieces eating away for the certain major blows to hit the heart, before the mind tries to repair itself.

 

Fifth, you need serious build up to this.  Society would need to be seriously screwed up if joining the military was considered a great dishonor and hospitalizing your own damn son was something ignored by authorities especially if it was an act of violence inflicted on a military personnel.  Double for your MC actually fighting in something outside of self defense.  At best, he'd be dishonorably discharged.  At worst, facing time in prison.

 

Sixth, while people do display light sociopathic tendencies, its not a full blown flick of a switch.  You seem to build up to this but its not just becoming logical, people are logical even when they seem like they're not.  In fact, sociopathic tendencies inflict the opposite, and what you end up seeing is people who will live normal lives but during periods of psychological or emotional stress simply ignoring or disregarding the issue while taking a passive aggressive stance to it, most commonly in the form of simply not caring.

 

Seventh, you've created a conflict of setting.  If there was a conflict great enough to from the looks of it, permanently scar the MC because of his father's actions, I think the last thing they're going to do is interact with him, nor would them interacting with him be a cause of distress simply because he wouldn't care seeing as it is illogical, even if it was an accident.

 

So while it is interesting that you're trying to subvert the "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it" idealistic retarded fantasy about life that is so common in media and real life as well, you subvert it to the point where your character seems more childish, brooding edgy ninja highschool that deviates from reality when it serves to further the plot.

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instead using logic to dictate choices
But isn't the player supposed to make choices? What kind of control the player has in this game?

 

The game style is that of a visual/kinetic novel. So the players choice and input is minimal.

 

I'm not the primary player of these, so maybe my feedback here is irrelevant. But I recall Gamebooks (aka choose your own adventure books) which were basicly books where the direction of the story was decided by the player. I guess "visual novels" come from the same genre? If yes, the choices of the player were not "minimal" in the books I recall. I mean, will making a story with pictures and almost no interaction sell this game?

 

Like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeway_Warrior or the Barbarian Prince (OK, Barbarian Prince is probably above the technical scope of your game, but still... there is a shortage of this kind of games and new BP would work great on computer in my opinion).

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Brutally honest?  It reeks of anime tropes.

 

I get the impression that was the goal =)

 

 

First and foremost, the movers and shakers of the world will almost never have introverted children, you're more typically going to be ambiverts with at worst a tendency to introversion, due to social standards among their class as well as familial expectations in addition to the interactions among their peers of their social rank.  Its no doubt going to be something taught at a very young age, with certain charismatic tendencies picked up through the child's mind modeling itself after how their parents think and act in public based upon what they also are told is right in society.  Not saying they're happy go lucky, party hard 24/7, but they will have a tendency to not be shut ins with no ability to control their emotions.

 

Nonsense, a significant portion of the population is introverted. It's possible it's less prevalent in the elite, but it will certainly exist. For one, there's a genetic component so the raising of the child has its limits. Additionally, there isn't a set child rearing method for the elite within most cultures, never mind across all of them. It's as much a trope that the elite ignore their children as it is that they groom them for power.

 

 

Second, the inclusion of magic is almost entirely arbitrary.  If magic exists in the world, which you explain it does, with it being a known and studied art and science, eugenics would be incredibly popular.  Like insanely popular.  Showing the SLIGHTEST inclination would immediately put yourself above your peers and in a class well above anybody else.  You'd also be the subject of reverence and testing.  Betterment of the human race and all that.

 

Here on Earth we tended to respect our shamans and burn our witches, but not turn them into studs or test subjects. Yours is an interesting setting, but an unusual one in literature or history.

 

 

It could make an interesting conflict of character but you'd need to have some sort of involvement of the MC's friend' death to make this somewhat believable for his character, that being an introvert.

 

I agree that that feels more natural to me. Although "Bridge to Terabithia" jumps to mind as an example of literature where a character is haunted by a death they didn't directly experience. Children can be very traumatized by loss of a close friend in any variety.

 

 

Fifth, you need serious build up to this.  Society would need to be seriously screwed up if joining the military was considered a great dishonor and hospitalizing your own damn son was something ignored by authorities especially if it was an act of violence inflicted on a military personnel.  Double for your MC actually fighting in something outside of self defense.  At best, he'd be dishonorably discharged.  At worst, facing time in prison.

 

Did I miss something? I don't think the author ever stated anyone was military. It's also not that unusual for the elite to exist outside of the normal boundaries of law, either explicitly or just a friendly "sounds like an accident, no need to investigate" by the sherrif.

 

Seventh, you've created a conflict of setting.  If there was a conflict great enough to from the looks of it, permanently scar the MC because of his father's actions, I think the last thing they're going to do is interact with him, nor would them interacting with him be a cause of distress simply because he wouldn't care seeing as it is illogical, even if it was an accident.

 

They won't necessarily ostracize him, families forgive a lot. But I do agree that this is a rich vein that isn't being mined much in the original description. Surely there would be deep wells of anger, regret, sadness and blame beneath the surface. The characters might choose to intentionally ignore it or forgive or whatever, but it's still going to be there, shaping actions and conversations.

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Brutally honest?  It reeks of anime tropes.

 

First and foremost, the movers and shakers of the world will almost never have introverted children, you're more typically going to be ambiverts with at worst a tendency to introversion, due to social standards among their class as well as familial expectations in addition to the interactions among their peers of their social rank.  Its no doubt going to be something taught at a very young age, with certain charismatic tendencies picked up through the child's mind modeling itself after how their parents think and act in public based upon what they also are told is right in society.  Not saying they're happy go lucky, party hard 24/7, but they will have a tendency to not be shut ins with no ability to control their emotions.

 

Second, the inclusion of magic is almost entirely arbitrary.  If magic exists in the world, which you explain it does, with it being a known and studied art and science, eugenics would be incredibly popular.  Like insanely popular.  Showing the SLIGHTEST inclination would immediately put yourself above your peers and in a class well above anybody else.  You'd also be the subject of reverence and testing.  Betterment of the human race and all that.

 

Third, people who tend to think this way you've described are also incredibly strong willed.  They're the ones who also tend to blame things on themselves.  It could make an interesting conflict of character but you'd need to have some sort of involvement of the MC's friend' death to make this somewhat believable for his character, that being an introvert.  To jump off of this, if you're going to go full military, there is ramifications to this as well.  If it's modern day, the military where magic exists is only going to be that much more grueling, holding to of higher standards, strict and breaking as well as rebuilding.  If you're going to go in for Magic Combat wingding, you're going to have to first meet standards and if you meet those, you're going to be trained to be better, whether you like it or not.  In addition to this, the sister thing is silly.  Unless its contained to the family and social circle, no one in the military is going to know nor care because Kill Hats do not act impartial to anybody, you're all trained in the shit, because you're are shit and you will come to enjoy the shit, together as a team because while you may be right when saying "I am shit" you forget everybody is also saying the same thing.

 

Fourth, while I have no problems with psychological issues becoming apparent from stress breaking down a person's mental stability, its something that happens over time with the little bits and pieces eating away for the certain major blows to hit the heart, before the mind tries to repair itself.

 

Fifth, you need serious build up to this.  Society would need to be seriously screwed up if joining the military was considered a great dishonor and hospitalizing your own damn son was something ignored by authorities especially if it was an act of violence inflicted on a military personnel.  Double for your MC actually fighting in something outside of self defense.  At best, he'd be dishonorably discharged.  At worst, facing time in prison.

 

Sixth, while people do display light sociopathic tendencies, its not a full blown flick of a switch.  You seem to build up to this but its not just becoming logical, people are logical even when they seem like they're not.  In fact, sociopathic tendencies inflict the opposite, and what you end up seeing is people who will live normal lives but during periods of psychological or emotional stress simply ignoring or disregarding the issue while taking a passive aggressive stance to it, most commonly in the form of simply not caring.

 

Seventh, you've created a conflict of setting.  If there was a conflict great enough to from the looks of it, permanently scar the MC because of his father's actions, I think the last thing they're going to do is interact with him, nor would them interacting with him be a cause of distress simply because he wouldn't care seeing as it is illogical, even if it was an accident.

 

So while it is interesting that you're trying to subvert the "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it" idealistic retarded fantasy about life that is so common in media and real life as well, you subvert it to the point where your character seems more childish, brooding edgy ninja highschool that deviates from reality when it serves to further the plot.

Yeah, my point was to make it reek of anime tropes, but to then take a different look at them almost, though since due to my inexperience it will probably mess up lol.

 

The magic exists, but it is not known to the entire world, only the few mages who survived, for this I should provide context. Essentially around the 1800s magic bloodlines began to die out, which caused established mage families to group together and hoard knowledge in efforts to make sure their branches of magic survived. Then technology such as guns made the non magic majority more combat effective than magic since destructive offensive spells needed time to create for the majority of mages. This made them sort of slink back into the shadows. The world wars occurred and caused the destruction of many of these groups and their knowledge accumulated over hundreds of years, so only mage families with enough resources and influence survived, and after the wars they were little more than legends. Due to the loss of knowledge and numbers the mages began to obsessively focus on making sure heirs and offspring were superior to their predecessors in order to ensure survival, and any not deemed superior are used as test subjects typically to regain lost knowledge. Plus the families due to being very "special" began to also have an elitist mind set, which worsened with generations passing.

 

So essentially magic is nothing more a bunch of stories and deemed non existent for the majority of the world, and the few who do use it seem to have a mind set similar to aristocrats in a sense. So even someone like the protagonist isn't considered special in both versions of the world, one due to ignorance, the other because of elitism.

 

He is strong willed in a sense, but like you said he does essentially blame everything on himself for being weak, so his will is usually overridden by his inferiority complex which just makes him sit back and leave everything as it is. Like I said above, magic is essentially extinct now and its unknown if a human alive is actually certain of its existence anymore, so it doesn't actually have any set standards.

 

My point about the sister was that she is important in consequence to the world. She is the one who has power to change the world for better or worse, but the protagonist isn't. The interaction with the sister is intended to provide context and world building, providing us with the problems caused by the actions she has done because she is that powerful, whilst also showing his psychological problems since they are much more prominent when she is near him because of his desire to protect her and his failure to achieve this.

 

Yeah my point about the psychological problems was that it was bits and pieces before he does snap, but afterwards no attempt to repair himself is made.

 

There is no military present. And he doesn't join them. He just simply attempts to strengthen himself but the repeated failures build up psychological stress and problems which eventually cause him to snap.

 

Good point about the sociopath tendencies. I'll have to look further into that.

 

The protagonist isn't really scarred by his fight with his father psychologically and readily accepts is was he who at fault, my point was that he just snapped and as a result caused a fight which weakened his body. His interaction with the family as a whole doesn't damage him, its more or less just his superior sister. The family interactions are mostly there to show the different minders between the three.

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...Due to the loss of knowledge and numbers the mages began to obsessively focus on making sure heirs and offspring were superior to their predecessors in order to ensure survival, and any not deemed superior are used as test subjects typically to regain lost knowledge...


That sounds extremely significant to the main character: Is this still a practice? If not, do people look back at using children as test subjects in horror, or was the bold actions that preserved the magical lineage respected by the elite? How do the main characters all feel about this? Does the protagonist have a sort of unfulfilled martyr complex, where he feels like he should have been sacrificed?
 

whilst also showing his psychological problems since they are much more prominent when she is near him because of his desire to protect her and his failure to achieve this.


Why does he feel this way, if she doesn't need protecting?
 

The protagonist isn't really scarred by his fight with his father psychologically and readily accepts is was he who at fault, my point was that he just snapped and as a result caused a fight which weakened his body. His interaction with the family as a whole doesn't damage him, its more or less just his superior sister. The family interactions are mostly there to show the different minders between the three.


The characters' reactions to the father-son fight is very interesting. Son overthrows father is an very common and powerful myth/archetype about the son becoming a man and assuming his father's place. Cronus castrates his father and becomes chief titan. Cronus eats all his children but Zeus who slays him and becomes the chief god. Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. In a heroic epic, the son would win sooner or later.

Sometimes the archetype is denied and the father wins. In a mythic sense this is a stoppage of the wheel of time, a subversion of the natural and inevitable order of new replacing old. Which fits with the son being stuck a child and unable to achieve responsibility. But almost invariably in stories, the subversion of the natural order is treated catastrophically. The son can't forgive the father and hates him deeply, and this is the emotional blockage that prevents his assumption of adult responsibility. Or the father would grieve at the harm he caused to his son, and kill himself (or abandon his family). And the son would be foisted into responsibilities he couldn't cope with (you can't stop the natural order so son-kills-father reasserts itself. But not having earned adulthood, the protagonist can't continue his story). Or the pressure would tear apart the family with tears and blame and disowning each other (if breaking the natural order can't be resolved, everything tends to explode).

Sometimes an archetype is kind of sidestepped, and you have the sister character to do that. Father defeats son, time grinds to a halt. Daughter defeats father, balance is restored. In that sort of narrative you'd probably have the father blame and disown the son, and the sister argue with him and pin the blame on the father. The father is humbled and loses any power over the narrative. Here the themes you discussed fits in: the son could have been the hero, but failed. He could have been the sacrifice that spurred his sister on her quest (echoing both his dead friend, and the backstory of sacrificing children to preserve magic) but he survived. So now he's a protagonist with no role in the story and his sister's inability to relate to him is a reflection of that.

But all these suggest a familial conflict of one form or another. Son hates father, or father hates son, or father grieves, or everybody is mad at everybody. To have the son say "yeah, my bad", and the family say "we know, but I guess you learned your lesson, huh?" is to leave so much narrative pressure unresolved. In a traditional story arc it doesn't make sense, but I could see where a deft hand could weave the tension of that unresolved conflict into the rest of the story. You could have the father and son having a great time sharing a beer and playing Madden, and there'd be this weird subtext of "this interaction is wrong." That sort of thematic irony, where the reader reacts very differently to a scene then the way the author is portraying it can be very powerful.

There is a traditional out, which is "father and son reconcile". But that's a happy ending with the son resolving his issues and becoming an adult anyways.

Which interestingly, leaves us in limbo. The father and son didn't reconcile, they just stopped the conflict. The son didn't win, so he can't progress with his life. But since the story is primarily psychological, he didn't "lose" either: his father wasn't trying to defeat the son, so the natural order isn't backwards either. It's just a failure to launch. It suggests a sort of narrative reprieve: like success or tragedy are out there, we're just not moving towards them. We were well into the rising action, approaching a climax where things would either split into comedy or tragedy, and then...nothing. The protagonist abruptly stepped out of the story.

All of which is to say that you're playing with some powerful tropes in an unusual way. You can be very successful with it, but you need to proceed with a lot of skill: I think this portion of the story is either going to feel extremely sophisticated, or poorly thought out and hastily brushed over.

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...Due to the loss of knowledge and numbers the mages began to obsessively focus on making sure heirs and offspring were superior to their predecessors in order to ensure survival, and any not deemed superior are used as test subjects typically to regain lost knowledge...


That sounds extremely significant to the main character: Is this still a practice? If not, do people look back at using children as test subjects in horror, or was the bold actions that preserved the magical lineage respected by the elite? How do the main characters all feel about this? Does the protagonist have a sort of unfulfilled martyr complex, where he feels like he should have been sacrificed?
 

whilst also showing his psychological problems since they are much more prominent when she is near him because of his desire to protect her and his failure to achieve this.


Why does he feel this way, if she doesn't need protecting?
 

The protagonist isn't really scarred by his fight with his father psychologically and readily accepts is was he who at fault, my point was that he just snapped and as a result caused a fight which weakened his body. His interaction with the family as a whole doesn't damage him, its more or less just his superior sister. The family interactions are mostly there to show the different minders between the three.


The characters' reactions to the father-son fight is very interesting. Son overthrows father is an very common and powerful myth/archetype about the son becoming a man and assuming his father's place. Cronus castrates his father and becomes chief titan. Cronus eats all his children but Zeus who slays him and becomes the chief god. Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. In a heroic epic, the son would win sooner or later.

Sometimes the archetype is denied and the father wins. In a mythic sense this is a stoppage of the wheel of time, a subversion of the natural and inevitable order of new replacing old. Which fits with the son being stuck a child and unable to achieve responsibility. But almost invariably in stories, the subversion of the natural order is treated catastrophically. The son can't forgive the father and hates him deeply, and this is the emotional blockage that prevents his assumption of adult responsibility. Or the father would grieve at the harm he caused to his son, and kill himself (or abandon his family). And the son would be foisted into responsibilities he couldn't cope with (you can't stop the natural order so son-kills-father reasserts itself. But not having earned adulthood, the protagonist can't continue his story). Or the pressure would tear apart the family with tears and blame and disowning each other (if breaking the natural order can't be resolved, everything tends to explode).

Sometimes an archetype is kind of sidestepped, and you have the sister character to do that. Father defeats son, time grinds to a halt. Daughter defeats father, balance is restored. In that sort of narrative you'd probably have the father blame and disown the son, and the sister argue with him and pin the blame on the father. The father is humbled and loses any power over the narrative. Here the themes you discussed fits in: the son could have been the hero, but failed. He could have been the sacrifice that spurred his sister on her quest (echoing both his dead friend, and the backstory of sacrificing children to preserve magic) but he survived. So now he's a protagonist with no role in the story and his sister's inability to relate to him is a reflection of that.

But all these suggest a familial conflict of one form or another. Son hates father, or father hates son, or father grieves, or everybody is mad at everybody. To have the son say "yeah, my bad", and the family say "we know, but I guess you learned your lesson, huh?" is to leave so much narrative pressure unresolved. In a traditional story arc it doesn't make sense, but I could see where a deft hand could weave the tension of that unresolved conflict into the rest of the story. You could have the father and son having a great time sharing a beer and playing Madden, and there'd be this weird subtext of "this interaction is wrong." That sort of thematic irony, where the reader reacts very differently to a scene then the way the author is portraying it can be very powerful.

There is a traditional out, which is "father and son reconcile". But that's a happy ending with the son resolving his issues and becoming an adult anyways.

Which interestingly, leaves us in limbo. The father and son didn't reconcile, they just stopped the conflict. The son didn't win, so he can't progress with his life. But since the story is primarily psychological, he didn't "lose" either: his father wasn't trying to defeat the son, so the natural order isn't backwards either. It's just a failure to launch. It suggests a sort of narrative reprieve: like success or tragedy are out there, we're just not moving towards them. We were well into the rising action, approaching a climax where things would either split into comedy or tragedy, and then...nothing. The protagonist abruptly stepped out of the story.

All of which is to say that you're playing with some powerful tropes in an unusual way. You can be very successful with it, but you need to proceed with a lot of skill: I think this portion of the story is either going to feel extremely sophisticated, or poorly thought out and hastily brushed over.

 

It is still practiced, but due to many of the families regaining the majority of their lost knowledge it isn't widely practiced anymore. Though because of the power craving and elitist mind set not many mages are actually against the practice itself, especially if it provides results.

 

That's why I made the character like that. In anime you always see the protagonist wanting "to get strong to protect his loved ones" but in many cases the loved ones are also pretty strong themselves and its because the protag is the strongest that this goal is achieved. In the story its due to the trauma caused by his friends death as a child that makes him have this very unhealthy obsession with gaining strength and protecting everyone, and ignores everything else. Which then eventually leads to his acceptance that he is weak and his sister was always strong, which because he spent so long trying to gain strength led to the complex relating to his sister. It's more like a tragically ironic take on the trope, since he wanted to protect something that was protecting him without him even knowing.

 

Yeah that's my main problem regarding the father/son dynamic. The whole point of the protagonist is that due to his obsession to be strong and protect everyone, coupled with his natural weakness and psychological baggage he is essentially stuck in limbo, with no idea or motivation to attempt to resolve his issues or move on. The protagonist does accept he was in the wrong for attacking his father, which infers he is somewhat mature and an adult at the beginning, but then his obsession with what could be considered a childish dream and his stubbornness to let go of it and help himself shows that he is not a fully fledged adult yet, and still has a lot to learn. I do want them to actually still be stuck in limbo, but considering my inexperience with writing it is likely I will have to change it to something more easy to write.

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...Due to the loss of knowledge and numbers the mages began to obsessively focus on making sure heirs and offspring were superior to their predecessors in order to ensure survival, and any not deemed superior are used as test subjects typically to regain lost knowledge...


That sounds extremely significant to the main character: Is this still a practice? If not, do people look back at using children as test subjects in horror, or was the bold actions that preserved the magical lineage respected by the elite? How do the main characters all feel about this? Does the protagonist have a sort of unfulfilled martyr complex, where he feels like he should have been sacrificed?
 

whilst also showing his psychological problems since they are much more prominent when she is near him because of his desire to protect her and his failure to achieve this.


Why does he feel this way, if she doesn't need protecting?
 

The protagonist isn't really scarred by his fight with his father psychologically and readily accepts is was he who at fault, my point was that he just snapped and as a result caused a fight which weakened his body. His interaction with the family as a whole doesn't damage him, its more or less just his superior sister. The family interactions are mostly there to show the different minders between the three.


The characters' reactions to the father-son fight is very interesting. Son overthrows father is an very common and powerful myth/archetype about the son becoming a man and assuming his father's place. Cronus castrates his father and becomes chief titan. Cronus eats all his children but Zeus who slays him and becomes the chief god. Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. In a heroic epic, the son would win sooner or later.

Sometimes the archetype is denied and the father wins. In a mythic sense this is a stoppage of the wheel of time, a subversion of the natural and inevitable order of new replacing old. Which fits with the son being stuck a child and unable to achieve responsibility. But almost invariably in stories, the subversion of the natural order is treated catastrophically. The son can't forgive the father and hates him deeply, and this is the emotional blockage that prevents his assumption of adult responsibility. Or the father would grieve at the harm he caused to his son, and kill himself (or abandon his family). And the son would be foisted into responsibilities he couldn't cope with (you can't stop the natural order so son-kills-father reasserts itself. But not having earned adulthood, the protagonist can't continue his story). Or the pressure would tear apart the family with tears and blame and disowning each other (if breaking the natural order can't be resolved, everything tends to explode).

Sometimes an archetype is kind of sidestepped, and you have the sister character to do that. Father defeats son, time grinds to a halt. Daughter defeats father, balance is restored. In that sort of narrative you'd probably have the father blame and disown the son, and the sister argue with him and pin the blame on the father. The father is humbled and loses any power over the narrative. Here the themes you discussed fits in: the son could have been the hero, but failed. He could have been the sacrifice that spurred his sister on her quest (echoing both his dead friend, and the backstory of sacrificing children to preserve magic) but he survived. So now he's a protagonist with no role in the story and his sister's inability to relate to him is a reflection of that.

But all these suggest a familial conflict of one form or another. Son hates father, or father hates son, or father grieves, or everybody is mad at everybody. To have the son say "yeah, my bad", and the family say "we know, but I guess you learned your lesson, huh?" is to leave so much narrative pressure unresolved. In a traditional story arc it doesn't make sense, but I could see where a deft hand could weave the tension of that unresolved conflict into the rest of the story. You could have the father and son having a great time sharing a beer and playing Madden, and there'd be this weird subtext of "this interaction is wrong." That sort of thematic irony, where the reader reacts very differently to a scene then the way the author is portraying it can be very powerful.

There is a traditional out, which is "father and son reconcile". But that's a happy ending with the son resolving his issues and becoming an adult anyways.

Which interestingly, leaves us in limbo. The father and son didn't reconcile, they just stopped the conflict. The son didn't win, so he can't progress with his life. But since the story is primarily psychological, he didn't "lose" either: his father wasn't trying to defeat the son, so the natural order isn't backwards either. It's just a failure to launch. It suggests a sort of narrative reprieve: like success or tragedy are out there, we're just not moving towards them. We were well into the rising action, approaching a climax where things would either split into comedy or tragedy, and then...nothing. The protagonist abruptly stepped out of the story.

All of which is to say that you're playing with some powerful tropes in an unusual way. You can be very successful with it, but you need to proceed with a lot of skill: I think this portion of the story is either going to feel extremely sophisticated, or poorly thought out and hastily brushed over.

 

It is still practiced, but due to many of the families regaining the majority of their lost knowledge it isn't widely practiced anymore. Though because of the power craving and elitist mind set not many mages are actually against the practice itself, especially if it provides results.

 

That's why I made the character like that. In anime you always see the protagonist wanting "to get strong to protect his loved ones" but in many cases the loved ones are also pretty strong themselves and its because the protag is the strongest that this goal is achieved. In the story its due to the trauma caused by his friends death as a child that makes him have this very unhealthy obsession with gaining strength and protecting everyone, and ignores everything else. Which then eventually leads to his acceptance that he is weak and his sister was always strong, which because he spent so long trying to gain strength led to the complex relating to his sister. It's more like a tragically ironic take on the trope, since he wanted to protect something that was protecting him without him even knowing.

 

Yeah that's my main problem regarding the father/son dynamic. The whole point of the protagonist is that due to his obsession to be strong and protect everyone, coupled with his natural weakness and psychological baggage he is essentially stuck in limbo, with no idea or motivation to attempt to resolve his issues or move on. The protagonist does accept he was in the wrong for attacking his father, which infers he is somewhat mature and an adult at the beginning, but then his obsession with what could be considered a childish dream and his stubbornness to let go of it and help himself shows that he is not a fully fledged adult yet, and still has a lot to learn. I do want them to actually still be stuck in limbo, but considering my inexperience with writing it is likely I will have to change it to something more easy to write.

 

 

There's value in practicing the basics over and over again before deviating too far (Picasso was classically trained before starting on cubism); there's also something to be said for diving into the deep end and learning to swim that way. I'd suggest trying the story out first with the father/son battle and it's resolve/unresolved tension.  Maybe jump right to writing some scenes between them. If they feel flat, rewrite. If they still feel flat, maybe then consider changing it to something easier.

 

Fighting a rival or a bully is a less loaded choice. I think there's some interesting themes in that as well: by the time the protagonist has recovered, the rival might have moved off to college and is proceeding with his life. The two are never fated to meet again. Again, a sort of echo of the dead friend: a failure is setup for redemption in the heroic epic, but in real life time moves on, people move away, you don't get to refight your battles every time.

 

There's also the option of a distant father: he's a member of the elite, perhaps he doesn't have time for his son. That gives sort of a physical manifestation to the unresolved issues: he's off traveling the world and doing whatever it is he does, it's not merely that the issues between them are only semi-resolved, it's also that they don't have the opportunity to resolve them. Also gives another motivation for the protection obsession: the son doesn't even need to overthrow the father, that seat is vacant. He just needs to assume leadership of the family, but can't.

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