I’m new to the forums, but was hoping I could get some feedback on my writing style and direction for a mobile gamebook I’m working on.
There are several settings that can be selected by the player - which randomizes parts of the main story line to help with replay-ability. This setting is war-centric:
Six races settled the land of Argoria, and it seemed that was five too many. War has been raging on between each race for nearly twenty years. For some, they continue to fight out of pride while others fight for greed. As soon as the men came of age they were shipped off to the front lines, more often than not - never to return home.
So it was not uncommon to see nothing but women, children, and the elderly left fending for themselves in each of the townships. Unfortunately, it was not only the six races that bred trouble in Argoria, of which was met with little resistance in each of the feeble communities.
Goblins raided villages, bandits owned the roads, and creatures of the night roamed unchecked. After years of being pillaged and ravaged by the wilds, the elders from each of the six races agreed to form the Heroes Guard: an order sworn to protect all the townships within Argoria.
This is my story.
This is how I became part of the Heroes Guard, a glimpse of the wonders I saw… and the tragedies I bore witness to.
So my first reaction is: this isn’t really very plausible as it stands. I need more explanation about how it actually works.
Basically, your premise is a) the six races hate one another so much that they are locked in an intractable and total war, but b) nonetheless, their elders get together and agree to maintain a multi-national police force. That’s… difficult to make sense of.
First off, if they’re locked in total war, how do these guys trust one another enough to cooperate on a venture like this? What incentive do they have to cooperate rather than each form their own separate home guard?
This force will draw away resources that would otherwise be used in the war. If the belligerents are so desperate for manpower that literally every boy is being dragged off to war as soon as he’s old enough, why are they willing to give up control of a big ol’ heap of presumably-capable warriors and the funds to maintain them?
Wouldn’t a force made up of people from different sides, with deep-seated, active emnity for one another, find it really difficult to work together? Or with the populations they were meant to protect?
Even if it works, it’s a force that almost inevitably comes into conflict with regular armies - is the local Heroes Guard going to hold up their hands and go ‘sorry, not our department’ when an army sacks the town they’re sworn to protect? So any given nation would have to devote precious resources to a force which might very well end up fighting against them, one way or another. Why would they be willing to support that?
Perhaps you have answers to these questions; but if so, they’re not really obvious from that paragraph.
I think maga hit the nail on the head with the war and the alliance co-existing in the present. I think the story as-is would hold together if the war between the 6 races was in the past, and the Heroes Guard was a response to a greater threat then war. I keep thinking of Lord of the Rings, where the different races with their history of bloodshed and anger couldn’t agree on anything – except defeating Sauron. I think this is why a lot of RPGs (and high fantasy literature in general) resort to the apocalyptic level big-bad. The big-bad has to be a worse threat than what came before, or there’s no alliance.
In that sense, I’m not sure if goblins or bandits are a high enough threat. Like the orks in LOTR, they would be a symptom of a greater threat, or working underneath one, to create this level of an alliance. Otherwise, these have to be some bad-a** goblins.
So you are the first person to point this out - and you make sense. I was eagerly searching for a way to “shove” Heroes Guard into a war-setting - and it shows. I’ll keep the “plausible” nature of the plot in mind now. Thank you so much for the critical feedback!
There are 9 story-arcs planned, and a few of them may deal with “some bigger, epic entity” uniting everyone. And in a few there will be decisions to be made on behalf of the player that wrestles with the Heroes Guard mantra and perhaps doing what is “right” (like getting involved in protecting a village when they shouldn’t). But that being said - this war plot setting needs to create a generic base that paves the way for some of the planned story-arcs above (a random one is chosen based on the setting and other choices made - for replay-ability).
I’m trying to randomize a few aspects of the game - not everything is choice-driven. I’m hoping this is one aspect that helps to improve replayability of the game. In one such case, I’m randomizing the prologue of the book which is meant to inform the player they are writing in a journal, trying to recall their past. A few examples:
Mistakes Was I wrong? Did I make the right choices that brought me here? I’m no longer certain. In this journal I’m attempting to recount all the decisions I made. The mistakes that haunt me. Perhaps I’ll find forgiveness with myself for those I failed. But I did some good didn’t I?
Last Will and Testament Here-in is contained my final will and testament. But first, you will learn how I obtained my possessions. For that in itself is perhaps my greatest asset. I give you my journal, filled with adventure and wonder.
Parent to Son This journal of tales is dedicated to my Son. When I no longer walk on this world, you can still hear my stories of adventure and adversity. To my greatest treasure of all with Love.
In the excerpt below, the player has just escaped what would have been certain doom inside the basement of an old church.
I made my way outside the church, from within I could hear the screams of what seemed a thousand men. The dark mist swirled out from the doors and windows, and the walls trembled as if they would collapse. From out of the darkness stepped a man. No, a creature. Its skin and eyes were black as night.
What follows next is a short card game where the player get’s to test their skills, abilities, and their luck of the draw!
You’re going straight from “screams” and “certain doom” to a card game???
I could tell you a long real-life story about how mixed motivations (on the part of a project creator) led to inferior results. A card game is good, and screams in a church are good. Juxtaposing the two … I can’t help thinking you have several different motivations at work in this project. Maybe you need to simplify.
So I actually really like this premise in other places I’ve seen it, but you’re right that it assumes a greater authority and greater purpose to remove people from those conflicts and force them to work together.
Green Lantern Corps had a good setup where among the set of recruits were a Rannian and a Thanagarian, plucked out during or just after the war between their worlds. It works because the GL Corps is an intergalactic police force that essentially operates by fiat, outside the political disputes between worlds, and often without their permission. Everyone is essentially told by the Guardians to set aside their differences and work as a team, or else quit. It’s a good device to get a group of characters with different personalities, agendas, and backgrounds into one place.
Mass Effect also essentially has this setup, where the player is given extrajudicial authority as a “Spectre” to do whatever they want in order to fight a looming galactic threat to all life. Many of your party members have long standing racial conflicts as a result of generations long wars, planetary subjugations, etc. But the glue that holds them all together is the threat they need to unite to survive against, and the fact that the player character is an authority they mutually respect, and have to obey.
Sorry for the delayed reply! Haven’t been in “writing mode” since I’ve been working on the card game… nearing the first alpha test of it though!
So after that excerpt of text there is one choice presented to the player: “Consult the cards…”
Basically the whole premise is that all these adventures happened a very long time ago, and you are trying to recall them in your journal. As for the “boss fights” you use a form of tarot cards to recall the details of the fight. Indeed I could work on the transition a bit more though!
Stuart Lloyd did a blog post on my company and game! I’ve been following him for quite some time and had always planned on reaching out to him when the game was closer to finished, and was very excited and surprised when he sent an email to me first!