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stuck on story

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simons
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Hey folks,

I’ve been working on a minis wargame for quite some time now, and need help with the backstory (it recently changed). My game is a fantasy skirmish game, and I want it to include a campaign mode, so that players can play multiple games with the same party.

My goal for the campaign mode is that players will play a series of games. However, during the campaign, some players will drop out. This can either come from losing too many characters in battle, or from losing too many games (i.e. not acquiring enough victory points, resources, etc. so that you are killed, even if your party is still strong). In the end, my goal is that only a few parties survive any give campaign.

The skeleton of the new backstory that I came up with is that the characters start on the island of Illeria. Illeria was once akin to Atlantis. It was hailed by many to be the center of magic, art, science, and culture for the world. However, something has happened. Because of this, all of the inhabitants now have no choice: flee the island or perish. Rather than work together, instead this breakdown of society has produced roving gangs, who kill off the defenseless, and who battle other gangs, just in the hopes of survival and escape.

I guess I should also add in, a major theme of my game is that characters can channel into the spirit realm to invoke powers, and even attack the spirits of others. This doesn’t NEED to fit in with why everyone is dying, but I feel like it would make the story better if it did.

The main problem I’m having right now are the what’s (well, and I guess a how).
-What cause Illerian society to break down?
-What would cause people to break into small parties, rather than ally around a common cause?
-What are the parties fighting over, and what could cause an otherwise healthy party to die because they retreated from too many battles?
-How are the character’s escaping, why can’t everyone do it, and how are winning battles contributing to a character’s ability to escape?

I have some ideas, but I’m not sure if any quite seem to fit. I will probably share some of them in a future post, but for now would like your thoughts.

Thanks in advance!

Simon

Jeff Timothy
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Joined: 04/02/2009
Re: stuck on story

you've definitely decided to tackle what seems to be an enormous and varied world. Good luck with that! Why not simply say that while the island of Illeria was a centre of magic, art, science and culture...on the surface, there were always various political factions fighting for prestige and notoriety in a society of beings that had become complacent in their lofty place in this world. All societies have multiple casts to different degrees. Giving the society internal flaws give you a perfect reason for their fall into chaos. Really, how much do you need to explain except that it happened. You're making a game not writing a novel! (that can come later!) You can of course develop it further as you develop your game play but no need to let not having the perfect setting or foil keep you from working on game mechanics. You may come up with back story through further work on game mechanics too! Warhammer fantasy wasn't built in a day. :)

Good Luck! keep picking away at it and at some point you'll look back and say "where did all this game come from?"

~Jeff.

GrimFinger
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simons wrote:-What cause

simons wrote:
-What cause Illerian society to break down?

Fear. Pending catastrophe. Mass delusion. Famine.

simons wrote:
-What would cause people to break into small parties, rather than ally around a common cause?

Fear. Disease. Mistrust.

simons wrote:
-What are the parties fighting over, and what could cause an otherwise healthy party to die because they retreated from too many battles?

They could be fighting over food, if a famine.

A magical curse could cause them to die, if they retreat instead of battle. Perhaps it has been prophesied. Perhaps an ancient prophecy is now unfolding, and they are driven by religious fervor to fight, instead of retreat. If they retreat, they lose faith, and consequently, become suicidal. Perhaps they turn upon one another.

simons wrote:
-How are the character’s escaping, why can’t everyone do it, and how are winning battles contributing to a character’s ability to escape?

If the island is slowly sinking, limited availability of resources could preclude everyone from building a boat/ship that is seaworthy. Winning battles would gain resources that hang in the balance, or entrance to a tomb, or to the next level of a tomb/location recently covered.

JuggernautJ
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Joined: 02/14/2009
The Magical World of Illeria

simons wrote:

-What cause Illerian society to break down?
-What would cause people to break into small parties, rather than ally around a common cause?
-What are the parties fighting over, and what could cause an otherwise healthy party to die because they retreated from too many battles?
-How are the character’s escaping, why can’t everyone do it, and how are winning battles contributing to a character’s ability to escape?

You could take a look at Jared Diamond's 500+ page tome "Collapse" to get an accurate descriptions of how societies decline. Or there's Gibbons' "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".
Or, we could make it up...

As the basis of your game is Magical in nature I'd try to link as much of your story to that.
How about...

For centuries (or Eons) (or Aeons) Illeria "was hailed by many to be the center of magic, art, science, and culture for the world." There was an abundance of plentitude (hey, I am having fun) and all prospered, living in peace amongst the cornucopia that was Illeria.
Though there were many different theories and schools, Philosophies and Societies of magic all coexisted in harmony. (There was enough for all)
But with peace and plenty comes population and as the decades (or centuries) passed the multitude of Magicians increased exponentially. The sources of magic (Mana), once thought inexhaustable (get it, exhaust?) soon proved to be overtaxed.
As Mana became scarcer Mages delved (drilled?) deeper and deeper into the spirit world, seeking new and more powerful sources of magic.
But this had unintended consequences.
Maintenece of public magics were ignored due to escalating costs and dwindling resources.
Increased competition caused friction between Practicioners of the Arts as Shamen and Thaumaturgists, Witches, Druids and Illusionists competed for... um, dwindling resources. The Megaliths and Ley Lines were crowded with anxious Magicians... eventually the inevitible happened and blood was spilt. Competition became war (or at least battle).
But worst of all was THAT which the Wizards loosed when they delved too deep into the world of Shadows.

And so it is that Illeria, once paradise on Earth, lies collapsing amidst an ENERGY CRISIS and the STRIFE AMONGST POWERFUL SPECIAL INTERESTS competing for (everybody...) DWINDLING RESOURCES.
I know it sounds improbable to the point of Fantasy but hey, I did my best.

OK, now I'll just answer the four questions, thank you (those who've read this far) for indulging my fantasy world.
1. See above.
2. There've always been different factions. philosophies (religions) or races in Illerian Society. They all got along when there was plenty for all. But...
3. Mana. Mystical Energy. Without it you can't cast your Magics. If you expend (in battle, for instance) more than you take in you will eventually be unable to participate in the Magical Wars (drop from the game).
4. Whether by Teleportation, riding Dragons, Ethereal Traveling, traversing the Spirit World or Sailing Away upon the Golden Ships of Melnibone people require immense magical energies to leave Illeria. There is not enough for all. Accumulating enough mana (from a limited supply) might even be an object in winning the game.

Thanks Again for listening. This was a fun exercise!

J.

The Magician
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Joined: 12/23/2008
simons wrote: The skeleton of

simons wrote:

The skeleton of the new backstory that I came up with is that the characters start on the island of Illeria. Illeria was once akin to Atlantis. It was hailed by many to be the center of magic, art, science, and culture for the world. However, something has happened. Because of this, all of the inhabitants now have no choice: flee the island or perish. Rather than work together, instead this breakdown of society has produced roving gangs, who kill off the defenseless, and who battle other gangs, just in the hopes of survival and escape.

I guess I should also add in, a major theme of my game is that characters can channel into the spirit realm to invoke powers, and even attack the spirits of others. This doesn’t NEED to fit in with why everyone is dying, but I feel like it would make the story better if it did.

The main problem I’m having right now are the what’s (well, and I guess a how).
-What cause Illerian society to break down?
-What would cause people to break into small parties, rather than ally around a common cause?
-What are the parties fighting over, and what could cause an otherwise healthy party to die because they retreated from too many battles?
-How are the character’s escaping, why can’t everyone do it, and how are winning battles contributing to a character’s ability to escape?

Simon


Simmons I like your story concept and think I can give you some feedback. First, your theme is not that you are channelling spirits. That's may be a fun activity or you can call it a premise. For theme, I would try and make it clearer and boil it down to one or two words. We have to be clear about this you know. The theme directs what kind of experience you want your players to have. I'll use my game as an example: "Labyrinth is not the theme of my game. It's the Setting. Neither is "Dream". It's the setting. "Initiation" is the theme of my game. That is the feeling and experience I want to set up.

"What would cause people to break into small parties, rather than ally around a common cause?
-What are the parties fighting over, and what could cause an otherwise healthy party to die because they retreated from too many battles?" I think I can answer both questions with the same answer. Demoralization or lack of honor. Or lack of great leadership. Degenerization of moral fiber and trust of a corrupted leadership. Fear. Lack of common goals. I'm sure there are a lot of other things.

What causes the society to break down? Don't have to look far to find the answer. Do you know what I mean? I won't crack that nut open for now. But I will say that all societies break down in the midst of fear and degeneration of basic moral fiber to name a couple. Okay one other one: music: the state of any society is reflected in the music of that culture.

Okay now about the story. I have some understanding of these ansiant cultures even though I was not there in this lifetime. I'm not saying my take is the way it was, even though I think so, because who can truly say who wasn't there. The Atlatians were highly advanced in technology, though not spiritually. Their technology surpassed our's today. The Lemurrians were more spiritually advanced though not technological. Atlantis was brought down by it's own technology. They destroyed themselves. They were to dependent on technology without enough connection to the spiritual. They raped the planet like we do. That was a very different time though. There is not much more I would really say because I would have to get into sources and it could get a little messy.

Have Atlantis being technology; and Illeria being spiritual. Have Illerian people being wiped out....geniside by the Atlantians, unable to compete with there technology, and One hero worrior summoning an army, driven by his vandeta against the atlantians for killing his family and everyone he ever knew, lay siege on Atlantis in an epic war. A larger than life hero.

Does this give you a start?

simons
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Joined: 12/28/2008
sorry it's been so long...

Hey everyone,

Sorry for not writing back sooner. The day after I posted this I took a long weekend to visit friends, and am only just getting back to reading these. Very good responses so far.

Lets see...

Jeff- To be honest, I almost want this game to feel like it could be a novel. And I know that the game is the most important part, but I’m in sort of a period right now where all I really need to do is playtest it (but am having trouble finding playtesters), so I thought now would be a good time. And the one thing I would say is that the basic outline of the story will affect how the campaign mode is set up. For example, originally Illeria was a prison island, where the prisoners overthrew the guards, and are now trying to get off the island. Because of this, most of the game was just about trying to gather resources (or steal them from others) in order to escape.

GrimFinger- I like the idea that either fear or disease could cause people to break into small groups. I’m seriously going to consider food as the limiting resource people are fighting over, however it seems just too plain. And I guess I want something more concrete and unavoidable than suicide for lack of honor.

JuggernautJ- The thesis in Collapse was more or less that the people over exploit their environment, then it collapses, and they have no natural resources left to live on, right? I’m less sure about Rome, though I think it had to do something with military over-expenditure and the people of Rome growing fat and lazy. And I think your idea for a backstory would work if it was a more faction-based game. However, one of the things I want to build into this game is that you can make an army of anyone (I guess I’m trying to make it like Magic, that you can put any card together that you want, though some cards will work better than others). I’m also not *quite* sure if I want something that’s that much of a statement on modern times.

The Magician- I guess I still sometimes confuse the basic terminology. Thanks. And I think I do know what you mean. Basically everyone (or just enough of them) suddenly becomes to scared or angry to go about life as normal, and everything falls apart. I remember a high school English teaching saying that from everything he had read, there were two big signs that a society was falling, 1) they spent a lot of time discussing what the moral or right way to be is, and 2) there is a large amount of political satire. Out of curiosity, I hadn’t heard the point about music. What changes about the music of great societies right before they collapse? I guess I’m a little bit confused about your Atlantian/Lemurrian story. Which one would Illeria be?

Simon

assdwer
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Joined: 04/09/2009
This is how i would have done it

Illeria could be a underground city that fall in ruine when some of its inhabits lose there magic power and start relaying on science and they are not so found of magic users and the other way around.

So the 2 type fights for dominion of Illeria.

But then you get in the picture and you can choose what side you start on.
From lvl 1 and up to the max lvl you can choose what type of a person you are out from your actions.
You can get a major choice is the game more then once as well!
Unite Illeria?
Rule Illeria?
Escape from Illeria with some rebels.

Three major choices to choose in game.

Got more ideas so add more(but it all depend on how long the game are going to be)

Nando
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stuck on story

simons wrote:
-What cause Illerian society to break down?
The undoing of a once healthy society begins with violations of property rights (including property in the form of a person's body and what they do with it, otherwise known as life and liberty -- they are all related). A quick route to property rights violations is extreme scarcity (a common by-product of catastrophe), which leads straightaway to looting.
simons wrote:
-What would cause people to break into small parties, rather than ally around a common cause?
Diversity. Think Tower of Babel, the Balkans, Los Angeles. Perhaps my aura is a different color than your aura.
simons wrote:
-What are the parties fighting over, and what could cause an otherwise healthy party to die because they retreated from too many battles?
Given my first answer, they are fighting to relieve their life-threatening scarcity. As to why they would die for not fighting, think vampires. Specifically, aura vampires. (Or Highlander.)
simons wrote:
-How are the character’s escaping, why can’t everyone do it, and how are winning battles contributing to a character’s ability to escape?
We eat every day because the energy only lasts so long. It drains away, so to speak. I think the typical conception of aura is that it doesn't normally fade or drain away. But what if it did? What if there were some new force (caused by a magical mishap?) that caused it. And what if that force thrived on imbalance? Perhaps the solution is to have a balanced (rainbow?) aura. Perhaps these rainbow people can survive long enough to escape the drain and establish Atlantis...

The Magician
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Joined: 12/23/2008
simons wrote: The Magician- I

simons wrote:

The Magician- I guess I still sometimes confuse the basic terminology. Thanks. And I think I do know what you mean. Basically everyone (or just enough of them) suddenly becomes to scared or angry to go about life as normal, and everything falls apart. I remember a high school English teaching saying that from everything he had read, there were two big signs that a society was falling, 1) they spent a lot of time discussing what the moral or right way to be is, and 2) there is a large amount of political satire. Out of curiosity, I hadn’t heard the point about music. What changes about the music of great societies right before they collapse? I guess I’m a little bit confused about your Atlantian/Lemurrian story. Which one would Illeria be?

Simon


Hey man, I won't go too much into that story. But, I thought Illeria could take the role Lemurria did. It would be the spiritual but less technological side.
Check out the book: "The Secret Power of Music". It's proufound in the science it covers regarding music and art. It talks about how every note of every music carries an influential power. And I know this from my own understanding as well. Look what I am about to tell you is something that I doubt will ever be emphasided at a university: energy.......frequency is not inert. "All" energy carries information, that inludes everything that exists. If anyone is at odds with that point, I would ask them if they use a cell phone or have heard of wireless computer to printer hookups. I mean I can send a document to my printer through the air and it prints. It isn't just radio or microwaves that carrie information. X-Ray carries information. Hertxian carries information. You are vibrating at 8.5 Hertz.

Music though is not the same as this kind of frequency that I explained. Sound is air vibrating; it still carries an influential power of conciousness. I'm going to have to compare two extreme examples and then get going. Mozart, heard of the "mozart effect". There's been study of playing mozart to a garden makes it grow better. I have to say that listening to mozart has had an effect on me. Now lets look at rap and country. Most rap songs I know about sing about murder and violence, ass! Bow woww wo chick a chick a booooowwwwooooow! And most people I see that listen to that have that on their mind. They say "I just have to see a movie where somone gets the crap beat out of them." Country, it's all about heartbreak and past girlfriends.

The music of a culture reflects the collective conscious or unconcious minds of the people or visa versa.

The Magician
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Joined: 12/23/2008
story scene?

Simmons,
I like the contecxt of your story. As I was on my way home from work this morning, I was thinking about your story idea and recalled an extraordinary lucid dream I had a few weeks ago. I then realised it would fit ever so nicely into your story idea. I will present the dream in the context of a story scene. If you like it, you may have it. If not, I will file it away into my "bag of tricks".

Think of a character on the Illarian side, remember the idea of Illarians being strong in spirit but weak in technology. You could have a character in the Illarian society that is sor of like a wizard or alcamist but is also responsible for whatever technological advances and scientific resurch they my have. He's like the wizard/scientist. We'l call him The village elder.

The village elder receaved word that the Atlacians were planning a siege on the Illarians and possesed a new technology that they call lazer weapons.

That night, the elder one, had a lucid dream in which he was spieing on a huge Atlanian facility. He was hiding at a comfortable distance away from the entrance at a vantage point, about a hundred feet away from the entrance. Several personel in robes were walking in and out of the facility. After a short time, a tall mysterious man in a long black robe walked out of the building and stoped several paces in front of the entrance. He pulled out a long sword out of his scabard, and whiped the blade clean of blood. Then he returned the sword to it's place.

After a long pause, the black robed man looked in the direction of where the elder was hidden. Then he pulled a small object out of on inside pocket in his robe. As if by telescopic vision, the elder could see the small object in the mans hand in great detail, as if standing next to the man. The wizard saw a small piece of electronic component, a small squar part with two little prongs sticking out one side. On the squar part he could see the words printed in black: "MCC Copacitor".

Suddenly the wixard was startled as the robed figure held the little component out in front of him. A Lazor beam shot out of his little object, staigh tuard the wizard standing in his hiding place. Sudenly the wizard found himself transported into some kind of vortex wormhole. He heard a mixture of lowd screetching sounds and the sound of a million people screeming. He then awoke from the dream.

THe elder, went to the city temple of books. He went to a top secret quarter of the temple that contained secret scolles that had been obtained from the Atlacians. One scroll caut his attention that illistrated a lazar gun. These plans showd a drawing of the same "MCC Copacetor" the Wizard saw in his dream.
TO make a long story short. THe wizard reverse engineers this lazor and inventes an even greater powerful weapon to use on the Atlantians. It could be a weapon called "THe Third Eye". A sort of helmet that when worn, will vaporize an enemy when observed, if the combatant so wishes.

Just an idea. Tell me what you think. Actually, you will find the resurch will as it turns out, give credence to this idea to a degree.

simons
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assdwer, I hadn’t really

assdwer, I hadn’t really considered having multiple endpoints to the game. I might need to work that in.

The magician- you make a really interesting point about music (I mean, one could people who like violent movies also like violent music, rather than music causing the violent behavior, but point still well taken). Um, your lucid dream was quite interesting, but I don’t know if it would work for my game.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my first post. Here is sort of the jumbled mix of ideas I’ve had since then:

When Illeria was founded, and the powers allowing people to commune with the spirit world were discovered, some kind of dark spirit was awakened. The found ways of dealing with it, but I guess it was always a possible unspoken threat (like, say, nuclear power). One day something (revolution? mass panic? societal factioning?) happened, and it was unleashed. Demons start escaping all over the island. People can temporarily manage to stave them off using crystals and wards (a potential thing that they fight over). However, rather than effectively standing up, people just split (due to fear, mistrust, and all of the ideas mentioned). To escape, well, there were never really any boats. Basically, there was a teleportation portal that only opened at certain times each month, and only let limited numbers of people through (basically, the Illerians didn’t leave enough to need ships, and they wanted portal which a large scale attack could not be moved through, and never thought a mass exodus would be required) (one friend also suggested that maybe I don’t need something so complicated, and it could just be that the demons were screwing with the teleportation portals).

A few other suggestions though: I’ve thought it would be really cool if I incorporated the idea of a doomsday prophecy. I had several friends suggest that I keep the above story, except make Illeria a penal colony (one of my original ideas, though under very different conditions). One suggested that if it was demons that were taking over the island, they could be randomly just destroying entire parts of the island, and that’s what people are fighting over (non-destroyed territories). At one point I considered having Illeria be the place that people are escaping TO, rather than FROM (likely due to a doomsday prophecy).

I don’t know, that’s kind of a mish-mash of everything. As I said, still trying to iron everything out (especially as there is a lull in playtesting). Let me know what you think.

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