Gender set protagonist with variable backgrounds

So I’m busy with testing UnNatural Season Two and making some changes to season one, I’ve got a few possible pitches for my next game.

However, two of them feature a set protagonist;

Quiver [Male] - where you play as Robin Hood (this one I want to pitch to Heart’s Choice)

and

A Familiar Magic [Female] - where you play as a witch who has broken one of the seven laws of witchcraft and have your soul turned into a familiar who is meant to guide and help a young witch in her journey. (While most of the game you will spend in cat form there will be flashbacks of your former witch life and moments where you can regain your form)

Now onto my question; in both the above games the gender of your character is set in stone. But I also intend to allow players to customise the protagonist’s background.

In Quiver you are always Robin Hood but you get to choose where he came from (a fallen noble, a farmer, a monk or a forester.

Whereas in A Familiar Magic you’re always the witch but you get to choose which of the seven laws she broke.

How much background would you like to have control over?

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Do they need to be gender-set? Why not allow, for example, a female Robin Hood (it’s a nice gender-neutral name!), just like the current Sherlock Holmes WIP lets you select the gender of your Sherlock Holmes?

Although, if you’re pitching that to Heart’s Choice, they often seem to be set gender so it might not be such an issue with that label.

EDIT: I’m not trying to pressure you to make this game gender-choice at all, just pointing out a possibility to consider. Obviously, write the game as you think it should be written!

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It’s just a personal choice. The majority of my games released and planned are gender choice. I would just like to try and write some see how they differ when you don’t have to be aware of how a different gender would see the situation (if that makes sense).

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I think both sound great! I like the idea of choosing Robin Hood’s background - I imagine that could have fun effects mechanically and/or narratively. And for the witch one, I could imagine the crime also having a big effect on how other characters see the protagonist.

I personally quite enjoy when a protagonist has some constraints in their background rather than a total free for all, with choices allowing for personalisation like you’ve mentioned. I’m not sure I’d call the witch protagonist “fixed” necessarily, more that there’s a concrete backstory in the game setup (though I guess fixed/sandbox is a spectrum rather than a binary). I think if there are self-expression choices that feel like the player can put their personal spin on the protagonist, and most importantly what they’re doing in the present, that’s all good!

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Yeah in Quiver your background affects how the groups see you and will affect how people act around you. It also decides which your initial main stats (referred in game as ways of the bandit)

With the witch one i consider it set as in that universe only females can use magic but not every woman can. Where as certain males can be born with an immunity to magic who are then raised to become witch hunter’s.

I like having variety with some games being more character based like you’re describing. But just a heads up, I got heavily criticised by some for character locking a game based on a preexisting character in the literature- Oedipus (like Robin Hood.) Additionally it did not sell particularly well (which I was completely expecting). I’ve also noticed a number of other character locked games (like Donor which I happen to think has some excellent writing) have also done much less well than I’d expected. Using the variable backgrounds might mitigate this to a degree, but it’s risky. Write it if you want if it’s something you’d like to see (and I’d never discourage that, in fact maybe if we get enough good character based IF it might change some minds that they can be interesting to play?), but be aware there’s a good chance it’ll be a harder sell than a blank slate char.

Edit- Just saw one was a pitch to heart’s choice so that’ might fly considering they have more genderlocking happening on there.

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I don’t know about gender-set, never published a game/novel before so I can’t say how it can be perceived. But I did kinda attempted to make a WIP game with a set gender and majority were like not happy with it, so I got tired, scrapped the whole thing because my reason for writing the story was sidetracked and I felt forced to write it. The enjoyment of writing it was drained out of me. But if you can make it work by setting the story in a gender-set MC then more power to you.

In regards to how much background control?

I guess it depends I mean, I would love to know the driving reason for why the MC would resort to being a “Male Robin Hood” in Quiver or why the heck a “Female Witch” in A Familiar Magic would even attempt to break said laws.

In Quiver “Male Robin Hood”

I think the fallen noble is fun to explore, I think the MC has inside information on which rich folk they would like to mug or they could just swindle other nobles who allegedly was the cause of the MC’s alleged downfall.

A farmer could be because you got, I don’t know bullied? Cheated on? By someone who’s on a high rank and you’d like revenge on said person? Make them pay as they say.

I’m not sure about the monk. Correct me if my understanding about a monk is wrong but aren’t, they like people who like withdrawn from the world for religious reasons? Don’t they make like make a particular rule and/or vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience depending on whatever type of monk they are? Did the MC monk go ape-shit because something traumatic happen to them? I guess if this is an option then something life altering should happen to a monk MC to resort to a life of Robin Hood.

I have absolutely no idea what a forester is. Are they like a lumberjack? Because I have no clue why they’d turned into robin hood unless they have the same reason as the farmer?

I know it isn’t an option, but it would be funny if the MC was already a thief to begin with before turning into a robin hood. The MC could be trying to save their own neck by making it appear like they are a good thief by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. If they even get caught and sent to the gallows, the public uproar could potentially save the MC thus a win win for a thief to continue their shenanigans while avoiding penalties lols.

In A Familiar Magic

What law did the MC even break? Like did they summon a demon? Used a forbidden resurrection spell? Necromancy? I think a believable reason as to why the MC would even attempt to break the said laws would be a good motivation point for the MC’s background. And why do I have to guide the young witch? Can’t I manipulate the greenhorn and trap them into switching places with the cursed MC?

Oh I’m aware of the dislike towards gender-set games and I understand why people feel that way and it’s why my other games are gender choice. These two stories however I want to tell from the one perspective to see how it affects the story. It’s part test and part something I’d like to write

@lupiesoldier

You are correct about the monk/Friar they are a holy non-violent type. In that path Sir Guy burns down the church/priory Robin grew up in and throws him in jail. Which is what sets Robin on the outlaw path

In AFM their are seven laws ranging from minor such as revealing yourself to a non witch to major such as killing another witch.

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Then as long as you know what you’re signing up for, go for your life. I know the feeling of wanting to try stuff out, and set up a particular story for the game to play out from there. I found bringing in a degree of character locking can be a big help for focusing the game so it can become more story based and easier to write since you know what you’ve started with at the beginning, and can use that background for storytelling purposes, providing motivation etc along the way too. I really wanted to write Oedipus knowing in advance that the character lock would likely make far from popular out of the gate, but it was something I really wanted to finish so wrote it :relieved:.

Out of the two you’re proposing, the familiar one looks most interesting to me. I’m basically ok with getting into interesting games that feature anything from complete background lock through to blank slate so my opinion on it probably doesn’t count for much :slight_smile:

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