Concept thoughts: multiple backgrounds, one story

This still needs some work to fully coalesce, but I was thinking about creating a ChoiceScript game based off a fantasy campaign I currently run. The setting is fairy-tale themed, though twisted to suit my needs (ex: Red, as from Red Riding Hood, can be either a friend or a foe, and has long since taken to carrying her own hatchet into the woods, while Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk has taken up residence in a small town after retiring from his adventures).

One of the big things I’m thinking about is having the option of having multiple backgrounds, a la Dragon Age: Origins or Choice of the Vampire, where you can pick your character’s race and history, as well as the usual ‘choices’ for stats gains, skills learned, etc. For example, the character can be the ill-fated second child of royalty, or an elf knight cast into the world to regain their honor. I would try for balance, where each option gives you a ‘different’ playthrough, but not necessarily better or worse in terms of advantages or disadvantages.

My concern is trying to make each background meaningful for the player (history, friends, foes, possible items or bits of lore) without having to later down the line rewrite huge portions of the game in order to fully honor/respect every possible choice that could be made. How much can/should I tie in to make each thing relatable? I was thinking a fairly simple if/then sort of situation, where if your character is royalty, a certain scene might remind you of your parents feasts, whereas if your character is a common, that same scene would remind you of village festivals where everyone contributes. Even if otherwise the scene description doesn’t change, it could be a nice nod to continuity.

My other concern is tied to the genre: I’ve seen some of the discussion about gender, and would like, in my own small way, to address it here. While the world setting and game will be fairly egalitarian, certain characters or encounters may play out differently based on gender. I want to keep it open to a modern reader, but still nod to some of the gender-based fairy tale conventions; if you are the second son, you might chafe at the fact that your youngest brother gets to go on adventures and seek his fortune, while if you are the second daughter, you might instead resent how your youngest sister is traditionally the prettiest, and nearly guaranteed a lucky marriage. (Whether your character ACTUALLY resents this or not is up to you, but laid out in terms of IF your character chooses to resent their status, WHY do they do this?)

If you suffered through this post to the end… congratulations!

In a nutshell, here are my issues of concern:

  1. Is the multiple backgrounds idea feasible, and if not, why? How could this be implemented, or is it a matter of trying to conserve my resources/coding?

  2. Gender: just ignore it for each playthrough (everyone is bi!) and have it purely as decorative, or actually attempt to make it affect a few small things?

  3. In keeping with the fairytale theme, any general advice? Conventions or tropes to avoid or invoke? I realize I need to post a rough product before feedback can really come out on that, but general pointers are appreciated.

1: It is feasible, but the question remains whether you’ll write each background to be unique throughout or whether it’ll be very shallow, only offering token nods to the past… Not that the second option is a poor alternative, but it can be worth making the story stronger via one origin story, unless you very much do intend to do the mammoth task of handling each one throughout.

2; Up to you. though I’d say make it do something.

3; Do the research, watch the latest movies. Fairy tales tend to be pretty bleak and dark if you go back in time compared to the modern day happy-tales. By movies, I point you to Korea’s (I think it’s Korea) interpretion of Hansel and Gretel -it’s pretty weird, they spin it around so it’s the kids that are the ‘witches’ in a weird way.

I think there’s been three Hansel and Gretel movies in the past three years, plus some movies on Red Riding Hood and so on. I point you to them only because, the few I’ve seen tend to offer a different spin on the tale, it may be a source of inspiration or a re-affirmation of where not to go with your story.

On the other hand, you may do it akin to KoDP (King of Dragon Pass) and offer fairy-tales that conform to western expectations convincing (or otherwise) the player to think back to their knowledge on the topic. But it’s up to you.


Disclaimer: Amongst my million and one other projects I’m also writing a game with an axe wielding Red (all grown up). So I’m extremely excited to see someone else using her. I love fairytale games. Half my game ideas are fairytale based. BUT I’ve nowhere near enough time. I’d love to see this game made.

The best thing I can advise for you is write it out. Do what seems best. Create the various backgrounds.

I think Resonance by @CS_Closet does a good job of having different backgrounds for a character, which do influence the gameplay. She didn’t write different prologues for them but their histories are hinted at. Have a look at her game, have a look at her code and see how she does it.

  1. It’s mostly just variable statements if second son then blah happens, etc. It’s doable and I think it will enrichen your game.

  2. Have gender effect things. Have characters react to you differently depending on which gender you are. Don’t make it all negative on one side though.

  3. Write your game and have fun! WHEEEE! I’m so excited! Please finish this game.

I was working on a fairy tale game for Pale_Strider before he vanished. So nice to see others wanting to make fairy tale CoGs good look with this :slight_smile:

Also please, have the romantic interests at least mention if you’re both the same sex. While everyone might be bi, there are a few difficulties that should at least be mentioned. For instance, if you’re an opposite sex couple you might be worried about babies out of wedlock, and a same-sex couple will have issues on how they’ll have children. My other issue with the everyone is bi thing tends to be when the characters will usually mention a history of opposite sex relationships with no mention of same-sex ones unless the protagonist is homosexual.

I would like to see this :smiley:

My favorite source material is greek mythology, but fairy tales would come in at a close second :b

Fairy tales are cool! I could get into this!

Thank you all for the feedback.

I am working on rough drafts of the ‘second child of nobility’ background, and will post a sample. I am already running into coding issues, but will wait until I have finished the background before posting for review.

Nearly finished the ‘noble’ background. Having some issues with temp variables, hopefully to be stomped out later.

Overall story: whatever your background, you are lured into the woods in search of something (your particular McGuffin). I imagine a somewhat branching structure; A, B, C may all go to D, but then D may branch to E, F, G, then come all together back to H, and so on.

Planned Stats (I want to keep this relatively clean, but fitting with the themes):

Combat: name on the tin. How a character is able to fight things

Charm: ability to charm or sweet-talk people

Magic: name on the tin. How skilled a character is with magic

Music: name on the tin. Some challenges have alternate ways of handling them if a sufficient music skill

Kindness/Cruelty: Little planned game purposes yet (I believe you should be entitled to make cruel OR kind decisions based on whatever you please, regardless of previous actions) but may affect overall ending or what you see at certain points

Lore/Logic: This will affect how straight your character plays the tropes. Are you playing an archetypical fairy tale character, or someone who pokes a bit at the holes in the common fairytale conceptions? (For example: say you meet an old woman in the woods who asks for food. There will be a Kind/Cruel option to give or deny her food. OR, if you have high Logic, you might decide that any old woman who somehow managed to make her way to this part of the woods likely really isn’t an old woman… and pick another option.)

I am planning other characters to be met, and possibly to journey with you beyond their one-shot encounters. (As satisfying as it might be to meet Snow White or visit Rapunzel’s tower, I think it would be more fun if it affects things down the line. Still reading up on how to code these properly.)

As I am writing this, I realize that while I originally meant for this to be gentle and light-hearted, more like the sanitized Disney versions, I can’t help but make it a bit more ‘mature’; not dark, exactly, but poking at some of the problems with typical fairytale assumptions.

This is also turning out to be a much bigger endeavor than I originally anticipated. When I do things with my play by post game, I have the liberty to keep things as loose outlines in my head, and only fully write out whichever option the party chooses. Doing this, dealing with multiple branches and paths that ALL need to be fully written out, is turning out to be more challenging. I like it though. :slight_smile:

Once I finish up at least the noble background, I’ll post it for more constructive review.