OFNA: Birds of a Feather (WIP - Updated 2/18/21) - Definitely not a magic cult

genre(s): urban fantasy, romance, mystery, supernatural, dark

After a strange encounter, you start to have disturbing dreams and cannot shake the feeling that something is watching you. Plus, that stupid bird won’t leave you alone. How fortunate that the Ornithological Fellowship of North America is here to help, and they only require a few drops of blood. It’s probably not witchcraft… right?

Gain psychic gifts, choose a familiar, and get to the bottom of your family history as you are inducted (willingly or not) into a secret society that may be more than they claim. Forge bonds and romances with other OFNA members, but remember that everyone has their secrets. Can you really trust anyone?

Features:

  • Customizable MC, including gender, sexuality, their familiar, and what gift they have
  • Learn about your mother’s disappearance, OFNA secrets, and how to control your newfound gifts
  • Control your attitude about joining OFNA (accepting vs resistant)
  • Five ROs available to all players (more info on them below). This will be a relatively large element, but there will be strictly platonic options for each
  • Join a cult probably
  • Story, choice, and character driven narrative
  • Sell your soul

DEMO LINK HERE!

Hey, friends! I have been hanging on the forum for a few months and decided that I’m (sort of) ready to post my WIP. I’ve had elements of this story in my head for a few years, and since discovering IF everything has finally come together. I currently have 37k words (~20k per playthrough) spread over a prologue + 4 chapters. I’m planning to update once a month if I can.

Ideally, this will be the first book of a three part series. The other books are mostly planned and the overarching plot is set. If this goes poorly, I do have a backup plan to shift the plot and wrap it up with just this book :sweat_smile:

The ROs
  • Simon(e) Yi - gender set by player preference
    • A new initiate who questions nearly everything about OFNA and does their best to drag you into their antics. They’re down for anything but seem hesitant to talk about their past.
  • Bea(u) Cabot - gender set by player preference
    • A new initiate who is a bit of a mystery. Tends to disappear for long periods of time. They seem like a sweetheart, but you get the feeling there’s something they’re not telling anyone.
  • Jeremy Coleman - he/him
    • The Coleman family disappointment who was recently kicked out due to a (totally minor and definitely not his fault) accident. He’s a bit of a mess, but can charm nearly anyone.
  • Natasha Coleman - she/her
    • Experiences with OFNA and her legacy family have left her jaded. She doesn’t care about anyone, aside from her twin brother. Hoping to cash in on her family’s wealth and get out.
  • Elliot Bhatra - he/him
    • The strongest OFNA member in years. With ambition to spare, he would do almost anything to break into the upper ranks. He has big plans and mentoring the annoying new initiates is not among them.
About the romances
  • The romances will be a big part of the narrative over the books (mainly because I am a sucker for romance). There will be a lockin point toward the end and a final confirmation at the conclusion of this book because Plot Reasons™
  • I plan to implement platonic versions of each route. This is because 3 out of 5 ROs have set genders, so I want to leave the chance to experience the routes as a BFF.
  • There will be 2 opportunities to opt out of romance:
    1. At the beginning when MC preferences are set. This will remove all flirting/romance options throughout the game.
    2. At the end of the book when a RO route is chosen, there will be an option to select that you don’t have romantic feelings for any of them.
  • SPOILER (ish): Every RO has things they’re hiding, but one is on the enemy’s side. There will be some hints leading up to it in their scenes. The feelings were not faked and they are a real RO, but the romance is a bit more complicated.
About the familiars
  • There are 5 different bird familiars to choose from, each with a distinct personality.
  • The familiar’s personality is NOT tied to the MC’s and they can act completely differently
  • This choice will mainly be to make replays mildly more interesting and it will not affect the overall plot. There will be small effects on your character’s growth through the books.
Update frequency and expected length
  • Ideally a chapter every month. I’m hoping this is reasonable, but I have a fairly demanding job and I expect the writing to take longer as more branches get written. I am cautiously optimistic for now.
  • Expecting 20 chapters total based on my current outline.
  • My plan is to post everything here, except maybe the last ~4 chapters if I can find interested parties to privately beta test those.
Warnings
  • This story involves being inducted into a secret society who will not take no for an answer. A player character who resists turns in the story will still be forced to join the organization and is allowed to resent this fact. There may be consequences to being consistently resistant.
  • May (at some point) contain strong language, drug & alcohol usage, and mentions of violence, death, and other mature themes.
  • There will NOT be anything about sexual and/or child abuse. No descriptions of violence will be overly graphic.
FAQ
  • Is the MC’s personality affected by the familiar?
    No, the MC’s personality is entirely independent of the familiar choice. The choice in familiar will have other effects down the road in the story, but you can have a very friendly initiate with a grumpy familiar if you want to.
  • Are you going to add additional familiars later on?
    No. I know some people have requested some bigger/cooler familiars like owls or hawks, but I do have set plans for the familiars we have now and likely will not add any more. There are also some narrative reasons for the initiate to have a songbird familiar.
  • Will my MC be able to kill and/or hurt OFNA members and escape?
    I commented on that in this post (post 173). This is not an action story, it is primarily about uncovering secrets and building relationships with the other characters. There will not be options to seriously injure the main cast. First and foremost, this story will focus on the urban fantasy/mystery aspect and the romances. There will only be violent options for self defense purposes.
  • Will this a standalone or a series?
    Ideally, I would like for this to be the first of three books. This one would serve as an introduction to OFNA, the ROs, and a chance to set up your initiate’s personality before major plot events start kicking off. If this whole thing goes really badly, I will shift the plot and wrap it up in one book.
  • Will we be able to start a relationship with the ROs in this book?
    There will be romantic moments/scenes with the ROs (if desired) and a RO route lock toward the end of the book. There will not be a formal relationship (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend) in this book because I don’t feel there would be time to develop the relationships that far without feeling rushed. There will be significant romantic moments for most of the ROs.
  • Will the MC gain additional gifts later on? Will they get more powerful?
    I won’t say too much about this due to spoilers, but the MC will have better control over their gifts and discover some surprising things by the end of the book.

My tumblr (@ofna) is where I’ll post progress updates between chapters and shout into the void about how hard it is to write IF. Feel free to send bugs, typos, questions, or anonymous hatred.

Anyway, I hope you like the story and I would love feedback! Please let me know if you find any typos or grammatical issues, also. Thank you for your time :two_hearts:
– Heather Bertiome

Update Log
  • Feb 18, 2021 - Mini update
    • Can manually set Simon/Simone’s and Bea/Beau’s gender
    • Some starts balanced and additional dialogue options
    • Additional variables added to better track secrets
    • Save files will be broken, sorry!
  • Feb 11, 2021 - Chapter 4 added
    • New total word count of 37k (~20k per playthrough)
    • Optimistic/Pessimistic stat changed to Trusting/Cynical
    • Meet the final two initiates (and ROs)
    • Nickname your familiar
    • Find your first clue about what’s going on at OFNA
  • Jan 7, 2021 - Mini update
    • New scene (~500 words) added to the middle of chapter 3, background on relationship w/ Drew
    • Can willingly go to OFNA with the intent to learn more before deciding
    • Option to input MC’s hair color if you choose ‘dyed hair’
    • Additional choices/reactions in some places
    • One branch where you can punch Elliot if you pass a stat check. Have fun!
  • Jan 4, 2021
    • First version!
    • Prologue + 3 chapters, 18k words (~11k per playthrough)
    • Pick your familiar and gift
    • Meet 3 out of 5 ROs (maybe 3 and a half, depending on your path)
    • Start influencing your overall attitude toward OFNA (accepting or resistant)
485 Likes

Loving your story so far! You have a good balance of choice to text, a wide variety of responses and an intriguing storyline. Looking forward to your update!

2 Likes

Ohh I love this!

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very interesting plot- i’m hooked already! also great characters :stuck_out_tongue:
gonna keep my eye on this one ^^

I love birbs :bird:

2 Likes

I understand the main character because I had the extreme experience of the night shift people are insensitive when we’re about to close so bird of the feather bring back back feeling of my anger those people

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@Inecksplicable Thank you for the kind words, I hope you’ll like what’s to come!

@sanin3211 Thank you! :blush: I’m super happy that you enjoyed it

@Mistyleaf123 Yay, I’m so glad you liked it. I also am fond of birds :bird: and there will be more of them to come as we meet more people and their familiars

@Takashi_Shin Agreed, it is the absolute worst when someone comes in and you were already mentally prepared to go home. Thanks for commenting!

8 Likes

Here’s the way I see it. If you’re going to force me into joining then don’t expect me to be a good person. I’m going to high-key make you regret it. Ngl I love the wip so far!

13 Likes

Oooooooh! This is really interesting! :+1: will definitely be looking forward to this.

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(including “but why birds tho”)

yeah, really. What’s with the birds? Feel like we are stepping in Hitchcock ‘The Birds’ movie :sweat_smile:

Hmm it’s a cult, right? With a Bird Entity that eats us like Larva! Now that’s scary lol I don’t wanna be food! I have too much cholesterol!

It’s pretty interesting so far, but gotta say the pacing is a bit fast for me. Is it bad I was imagining the ‘Twins’ like Scully&Mulder? :smile:

Looking forward to moar! :wink:

3 Likes

Yay, this is out! Really love the story and I wish Tasha was male but I’ll settle for Jeremy. Keep writing :slight_smile:

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@Maria_Winfield Thank you so much! You will definitely be able to be a pain in the ass about joining, and one of the other initiates/ROs will share your attitude about it

@redfield Glad it caught your interest. Thanks for reading!

@E_RedMark Thanks for commenting!

  1. I can promise that you will not eaten by a giant bird.
  2. I was a bit worried about the pacing :sweat_smile: but I also wanted to get to the induction by chapter five. Would it be better if I spaced out the beginning a bit more?
  3. I love that, please continue to imagine them like Scully and Mulder.
3 Likes

never say never lol

the pacing is fine, as in your writing is good and easy to follow. It just, too many peoples show up at once and in a short time (between scenes, not time like time-line in the story). So it kinda feels a bit crowded.

Gladly! :smile: now that guy with the sour attitude by the gate? Think Wolverine without the x-men tag. Just the sour face, yup. Totally him.

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Yes, thanks for reading it ahead of time :blush: I tried for like a month to see if I could genderflip all the characters and it really just didn’t work for Natasha. Jeremy is a good consolation prize, though!

2 Likes

I’ll have to see if I can space out the character introductions more… It’s hard because a lot of the plot is based around characters… I will think on it, though. Thanks so much for your feedback!

4 Likes

Wouldn’t be really fair since she’s the only female RO and there’s two males.

15 Likes

It’s all because of her grumpy personality haha I have a thing for that :slight_smile: . But I’ll settle for Jer.

2 Likes

If I was forced into secret organization pretty much like prisoners so to me I got to say being a prisoner the one thing I will never eat I’ll starve myself out who would break first them or me I hope them first yeah try to find a Escape Plan to me being forced into something like that and hearing from your Aunt side of the story it just brings warning Bells but you shouldn’t trust this type of organization( one I’ve never been a prisoner of any kind it’s just what I would do)

3 Likes

For me it’s the other way, it’s the aunt that I don’t trust. Like she’s only telling all this thing now, it’s sus. lol

3 Likes

. I agree with your opinion but forcing people to join their side just doesn’t rub me the right way

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:eyes:

This is definitely an idea I wanted to incorporate into the story. I really wanted to make sure the MC can be against the things that are happening to them and allow them to resent being forced to join OFNA. It’s a little tricky, because I don’t want the player to feel forced into things or railroaded, but I do want the MC to be able to feel that way, if that makes sense.

9 Likes