About a couple of years ago, I had a story idea for a Neverwinter Nights campaign.
I wrote up a bunch of notes, made a few short plot points and scrawled a basic game design document before I realized I had neither the skill nor the talent to actually go about making a full fledged, complex RPG out of the editor at the time. I sought a bit of help on the internet but as chaotic collaborative projects are bound to go; nothing came out of it.
Either way, I liked the story a lot and I liked the game idea I had tied to it. I don’t know if it was really going to be a good game idea or if the story was worth anything. I mean, as much as I am influenced by the Chris Avellone school of cause and consequence, I’ve never actually written anything like that before and have yet to write anything like that since. So as an exercise, I’m going to re-write the entirety of the story/game design on this blog.
The game had the working title of “Tortured Hearts.” Please don’t judge it based on that, it was a crappy title and I never got around to thinking of a better one. Maybe one will come to be at the end of this exercise.
ACT I – The Island.
1.1 – Shyaen and Rroak.
After a brief cutscene, or cut-prose as I’m calling them now, of which you’re introduced to the setup, you find yourself shipwrecked on an island. Alongside you is Shyaen, the red-headed “princess?” that you rescued on the ship. After a brief discussion about your circumstance, where you also find out Shyaen has some budding sorcerous abilities, the two of you set off on a quest to find out where you are, and how to get home. Specifically, Shyaen’s home.
It’s a little bit cliche, but I thought it best if Shyaen suffered a mild form of amnesia at this point. partly due to the abuse that she suffered over the last couple of months, partly due to the trial of the shipwreck. That, and she’s reticient to talk about her past to you, the player. The way she was characterized is that she’s been horribly scarred by recent events and yet still retains a measure of naive innocence. She has no idea about the world in general or the spectrum of moralities that play a part in it. She was simply a victim of a crime and her mind is still trying to process the nature and horror of it. The story as it stands so far, for the player at least, is to find out who she is, where she comes from and return her.
The theory behind that was that I just thought that a “save the princess” plot should be subverted a little by having you actually save the princess at the start of the game, but not knowing who the princess is, or what the real story behind why she needed to be saved in the first place.
So you start shipwrecked on an island and the first order of business is to explore pass the shore to get your bearings and hopefully, some direction as to where this game and this story is headed.
A little exploration later, you meet a primitive barbarian Rroak. He’s a tribesman of the island with limited communication skills. Anyway, he’ll threaten you at the start and you can either beat him into submission, or reason with him. (Here I am trying to put a conversation / dialogue system to use), but the end of that little meeting is when Rroak tells you about a Kobold village nearby that he’s trying to infiltrate and wipe out. Apparently, the Kobold village has been raiding his nearby tribes village and they haven’t had much luck doing anything about it.
Rroak takes it upon himself to infiltrate the village and kill every last Kobold, thereby stopping the invasion. Have I mentioned that Rroak isn’t very bright? Anyway, at this point, Rroak can be your second companion if you join him in his quest. He’ll offer to take you to his village to find a boat if you do. And if you don’t, well, you can still attempt to head towards Rroak’s village, but you’re going to have to wade through a Kobold village and some wilderness before you do. Sides, having a barbarian fighter in your party to complement the sorceress is a good idea, no matter what class you started out with.
So now you have 3.