Honor Bound WIP: Creme de la Creme Book 4 [Ch 4 public, Ch 5 Patreon, updated Feb 21]

Now that the PC’s age is a greater range than the previous works, it opens up a greater variation and scope of possibilities, options and actions- the PC’s experiences can also vary. This is very good to hear, Hannah!

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Forget rivals-to-lovers, mentors-to-peers is the real winner in character relationship dynamics.

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I have a special love of games that allow me to have a mentor, maybe because I always wanted to experience that dynamic in real life.

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Aww that’s lovely! I found when I was outlining that a few characters like that popped up. I think having the military and workplace structure lends itself to it. Alva, Kass, Mandriotti and :sparkles: someone who hasn’t been mentioned yet :sparkles: can end up with that sort of relationship to the PC. As indeed can Matia or Korzha, if the PC goes in that direction rather than peers/friends/romance. (Korzha in particular.)

Or if you play your cards right (wrong?) you may end up with a lot of TORmentors, ohohoho

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Me too! I do have a PhD supervisor, but he’s a bit too laidback and easygoing to do any actual mentoring. I hope our Commander is tough but fair and helps us really grow in our career.

:skull_and_crossbones:

I honestly love this! I also really like playing as an older PC because people are forced to take you a bit more seriously. At least, I hope NPCs in the book will take me more seriously if I’m older. Oh God, will the kids bully me for not understanding whatever this universe’s equivalent of TikTok is? I’m both excited and nervous!

Ahhh I’m glad the setting will be semi arid and likely warm. I can’t even think about the Isle of Teteriuk without feeling a chill set in my bones. It’ll also be so interesting to learn more about the Teranese culture! Royal Affairs scratched an itch I didn’t know I had, what with the references to foreign affairs and geopolitics, and I hope we get to see more of the world!

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Here’s a more detailed look at one of the major characters, Captain Varenn Korzha.

Korzha is one of your new colleagues at Ozera School. Studious and severe, they don’t suffer fools gladly. Will you become friends, romantic partners, or something else?

More details below!

Full name: Captain Varenn Korzha

Age: 41

Gender: selectable between cis man (he/him), cis woman (she/her), and agender (they/them)

Background: Korzha grew up in the capital of Ravella, one of the largest of the Teranese Islands, and has not been in touch with their family there for many years. They remained in the military after completing their Teranese Service while also doing a part-time Biology degree at university. Since then they’ve moved between departments, doing some research and development and then joining the training corps to train up recruits. For the last few years they’ve been working at Ozera School as a Science teacher, which is a useful combination of their skills and career experiences.

Personality: quiet, austere, wry, professional

MBTI: ISTJ

Appearance: very tall and fit, with light brown skin, dark grey eyes, and short black straight hair.

Style: Korzha usually wears a tan-coloured field uniform. When off-duty, they tend to wear corduroy trousers, a shirt, and a formal jacket. Rarely will they be seen wearing anything particularly informal.

At their best: dedicated, unflappable, quick-thinking

At their worst: inflexible, unapproachable, untrusting

You’ll like Korzha if you like… working together to make the world a better place, coming to a place of mutual trust, pushing an uptight person to let their hair down or being uptight together, no ego getting in the way of direct communication

You’ll like romancing Korzha if you like… being a competent power couple, moving through emotional defences, strong and silent types, someone who isn’t used to letting others in but will make an exception for you, who is restrained, who understands that romance may not be a good idea but comes to realise how much you both need it

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Thank you for allowing the possibility of mutual uptightery.

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Hehe, yes it is warm where you are in Honor Bound! I’m not much of a hot-weather person so I have been enjoying describing paddling in cool rivers and such.

There will be a bunch of this for sure - I’ve been sprinkling some bits and bobs over it so far, and am looking forward to getting more into it as the game continues. It feels really fun to explore a different part of the world.

Regarding Korzha: for those interested in appearance references, I found that Sara Ramirez resonated, particularly in their Serious-Business-Looking publicity shoots for Madam Secretary; there’s a particular photo of Cecilia Suarez that I like, though Korzha isn’t as thin and is more muscular; though Jaime Camil usually looks far too cheerful and Korzha is clean-shaven, this serious photo made me think of the male version.

Hair-letting-down will take place under rather specific circumstances and there won’t be value judgements from the narrateive about how much hair is up or down (this metaphor is growing tormented). I can see certain PCs and Korzha having perfectly fulfilling friendships, romances, or collegial relationships in which their public appearances are Extremely Professional. (I’m suddenly put in mind of Holt and Kevin in Brooklyn 99, a show which I enjoyed a great deal for a while but never finished and haven’t watched in years :laughing:) Very mild spoiler: If you’re in your 40s, they say you can call them Varenn if you want, but you can demur and call them Captain or Korzha instead.

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yesss, this is always welcome!! – romancing Hartmann in Creme was like a fun game of ‘who is following the rules more closely and who has the most brownie points bc of it’, which can be one of the BEST romantic dynamics imo

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Should I feel slightly criticised here… :sweat_smile:

Otherwise

Yes, please. Even better, they’re a pretty good age to show this type of personality and reaction to being pursued.

Please let me still be awkward, though. It’s really something that some of us never get over.

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Oh you will have ample chances to be awkward in a variety of ways, no matter your age or background!

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I’ve put Chapter 1 up on Patreon!

It’s about 30,000 words - longer than the first chapters of any of my other games - and in it you can:

  • create and get to know your MC, their previous assignment, what went wrong, and how they were injured
  • settle into a new part of the Creme de la Creme setting!
  • meet your new boss and their child and try to make a good impression (or not)
  • take a beautiful train journey to the school which will be your new home, dealing with complications along the way
  • meet some of the major Honor Bound characters
  • encounter a cat, and pet it if you like

Chapter 1 is going to go up in public on 4th July and I’ll be continuing to post character and setting details from next week onwards.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun writing Chapter 3 and have been making great progress the last couple of days. I think I posted some placeholder text about an excruciating conversation either here or in the support thread. Well, I got to reap what I sowed today, and actually write the excruciating conversation. (Involved in it are Fiore, Korzha, and Raffi.) Hooray!

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Omg cat!

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Oh boy, KITTY!!1!

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The fictional cat is a combination of the tabby’s looks (Orlando) and the grey one’s personality (Blueberry), and is named after a famous Teranese artist whom the Headteacher has beef with :smile:

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OMG, IRL KITTEH x2!!! Literary inspiration kittehs! Omg! I want to pet them!

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You know, my last cat died over four years ago, yet my black clothes still manage to have white cat hairs on them. I think I’m haunted.

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Something I’m realising, which I hadn’t totally recognised before I started writing, is how much I’m enjoying having them talk about their passions. As I write these early sections and get to know the characters myself, I’m learning more about how they talk about what they care about and are interested in.

The last time I was developing new-to-me characters in this way was almost two years ago with Noblesse Oblige, and while the Honor Bound characters have… various Redacted Stuff™ going on with them, they all have a lot more freedom and space to express themselves (and in generally more healthy way, lol). It’s a really nice feeling.

On a side note, I’m not a scientist myself but I really like writing some of the enthusiastic-about-science characters because some of my loved ones and friends are enthusiastic about such things too, and it reminds me of them a bit :sparkling_heart:

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A little progress update:

This fortnight I finished coding Chapter 3 and started writing the prose! I also did edits on Chapters 1 and 2. While I was reading through Chapter 3, I deleted about 2000 words of code because it really was a bit too large without enough substance and some of it was repetitive. I was very happy to streamline things and it will help the pacing no end.

I always like to share when I trim stuff because it’s important to me to recognise that big dramatic number increases aren’t the be-all and end-all of progress.

That said, I’m very happy with progress this fortnight - I didn’t work last week due to family commitments so it’s been lovely to get back into it. I’m now about halfway through writing Chapter 3.

Current wordcount: 116600
Fortnight’s wordcount: 10598
Average playthrough wordcount: 32562 (longer than Noblesse Oblige! what!! I had to double check Noblesse Oblige to see!)

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Here’s a more in-depth peek at another major character, Matia Frasada!

Matia’s from the same town as you, and returned here ten years ago. They’re fun-loving and direct - sometimes a little too direct - but will have someone’s back when times get tough. Will you rekindle an old friendship or build a new one, grow romantically close, have a no-strings fling, work together to get the job done, or some combination of possibilities?

More details below!

Full name: Matia Frasada

Age: 44

Gender: selectable between trans man (he/him), trans woman (she/her), and genderqueer (they/them)

Background: a former Specialist in the Exploration Service, Matia spent most of their adulthood travelling to remote, dangerous parts of Teran scouting for resources and surveying unexplored regions. In the last ten years, though, they’ve returned to Elene’s Prospect to care for their aging parents, help run their grocery store, and organise supplies for the school.

Personality: forthright, brash, easygoing, down-to-earth

MBTI: ESTP

Appearance: short, squarely-built and muscular, with brown skin, dark eyes, and long, straight, black hair with thick streaks of grey.

Style: Matia currently wears their hair in a messy bun. They wear rough, practical clothes, usually in muted colours: often overalls over thick shirts, and prefer a long, battered coat and fingerless gloves in cold weather. They wear several rings, as well as many earrings in both ears (studs and hoops).

At their best: grounded, direct, canny

At their worst: crude, easily-exasperated, grudge-holding

You’ll like Matia if you like… someone no-nonsense, who’s practical when it counts, who’s down-to-earth, who likes to have fun, who will be a rock to those they support, who will crack jokes to break tension, who has deep roots in their community and is eager to extend that community to newcomers.

You’ll like romancing Matia if you like… someone who’s upfront about what they like and want, who will take charge if you’re into that, who is straightforwardly affectionate, who will enjoy indulging you (and themself at the same time), who will cheer you up when times are at their toughest.

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