Seven Ravens (Modern Fantasy WIP) - Demo (Prologue, Ch1) 4/6

Hi y’all! I’m working on a modern fantasy story. Any feedback would be much appreciated! Based on poll results, my plan is to post ~weekly messages here letting you know how things are going, but only update this post/the link when I have a substantive chunk done.

Update (4/6): ~1200 words added to end of Ch 1 (it was going to be the start of Ch 2, but it made more sense for them to be the combined)

Demo link: https://dashingdon.com/play/gabs/seven-ravens-a-modern-fantasy-game/mygame/index.php?cb=14959

Intro: Gran used to say that curiosity was the family curse. “Not the eyes?” you would ask, and she would shrug; according to family legend, there was very little difference. Some generations-gone ancestor had been unable to resist sampling an ointment meant for a fae-babe’s eyes, and in the sampling had cursed their descendants with the ability to see magic.

Well, you assumed it was a curse. (It certainly was in Gran’s stories.) The city, with its ancient iron undergirding, kept fae at bay and grounded most magic, rendering your peculiar inheritance a non-issue. Or at least you thought it did, until a magic-bright bird burst into your life.

The game:

  • Break curses! Make deals with fae! Delve deep into the confounding world of fae politics! Uncover secrets of your city!
  • Play as gay, straight, or bi/pan; asexual and/or aromantic
  • Build relationships with those around you, including (optional) down-time interludes
  • 6 ROs (2 female, 3 male, 1 non-binary)
Specific questions (edit: preserved for context, but hidden because I'm working from the responses I've gotten. If you have a differing opinion though, please share it!)
  1. A decent portion of the game will involve Dealing with fae, which seems likely to create a stat imbalance, where cleverness/cunning is OP. My solution is to create an underlying “Cleverness” variable, which is separate from your main stats (Strength, Lore/Intelligence, Charisma). This will function as follows:

    • Choosing an especially clever way to deal with a situation will gain you Cleverness points, regardless of success (e.g. if the Strength option is a particularly apt way to deal with a scenario, you get Cleverness points regardless of whether you pass the Strength check)
    • Certain extra-effective actions may only be available with a high Cleverness score; this is the only way in which the stat is checked (though it could also affect flavor text, depending on how coding goes)

    How does that sound to you? I’d work to balance across attributes (so, e.g., the Charisma option isn’t always the best/”most clever”), and I’m not planning on super difficult stat checks anyway. Would you want Cleverness to be visible or hidden?

  2. I was also considering using a “Curiosity” mechanic to track certain decisions. This would primarily affect character reactions. However, if it got extremely high, then at certain choice points it could lead automatically to a bad end. (“This is a terrible idea but I am constitutionally incapable of not seeing what happens.”) Is that too railroading? Would folks prefer an optional “I can see that this is a terrible idea but I/my character really want to see what will happen”?

  3. There is a character who, in my head, is nonbinary (they are not the only NB character). They, like everyone else, have a personal agenda; this is not immediately revealed, and may run counter to the MC’s interests. NB != trans, but does this feel like it’s falling too close to a “deceptive trans” (“deceptive non-cis”?) trope? (They’re not a bad person! They just had a life before the MC, and continue to have a life separate from the MC during the game.)

Update Log

Update (3/31): Chapter 1 is posted, and I’ve fiddled with the prologue a bit. It’s really just a bit more setup/worldbuilding, but now with inciting incident! :smile:
Update (3/28): Now with demo! This is just the prologue - basically character-building and some setup. Chapter 1 should be posted soon, though!

Thanks!

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Idea 1 is functionally the same as the planning points in Diabolical, and that game is still one of my favorite CoG titles to this day so I don’t think that’s going to be a problem

Idea 2 is questionable, railroading a bit is fine but forcing players into a bad ending is never going to be appealing. There have been 1 or 2 occasions where a terribly written bad end has completely ruined the experience for me. I haven’t touched those games a second time( thankfully CoG titles aren’t too costly)

I can see the potential here and will be looking forward to a demo

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Generally the “deceptive trans” thing is less “trans people are shady” and more specifically “trans person tricked you into thinking they were cis”. This really doesn’t sound like it’d fall into that–NB/trans people are perfectly capable of having their own agendas, after all. I guess other people might disagree with me but that really doesn’t sound like it’s part of any harmful NB stereotypes, I wouldn’t worry about it!

Concept sounds very interesting–I think forcing the player into a bad end is nine times out of ten a bad move that’ll frustrate people more than anything, but if you have a playful tone with the story it might not be terrible? Like, if you’ve ever read those old “choose your own adventure” books where like, every other page was a terrible end, and this sounds like it might be that same type of danger-wrought fun, so having automatic punishments for character consistency coooouuulld work. I mean, again it probably depends on your tone and it’s definitely something people might not like. You could get away better with just a “pain in the ass” route–“oh, MC you just haaaaddd to poke the trap with a stick, so now you’re stuck for an hour or two and you missed out on some content/character development/something else enticing,” or “by having high curiosity your character got onto a different route than a less curious character so you aren’t being punished but you are getting different content”?

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I like the sound of this a lot, although I’m not sure I’d be too big on the “100% bad end if your too curious” if only because I’d definitely be getting it, but if it’s the story you want to tell, go for it!

Will we be able to gain/use magic in our adventure?

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In my story-game I wrote two very distinctive NB characters that had their own agendas - the feedback from the NB testers I had was that they enjoyed seeing characters that were otherwise the same as gendered characters.

My point is: If it is ok that gendered characters have agendas separate from the MC than so too it should be ok for NB characters to have separate agendas.

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I can’t say I have much experience with stories revolving around the mischievous fae except having watched Jonathan Strange & Mr Norwell which I loved. So, if the fae behave anything like that, I think it could be great playing a game of cat and mouse with them.

So, if I’m getting this right, the stats would generally be split into a strength choice, intelligence choice and charisma choice with one of them giving you more clever points than the others? So, if I wanted to be clever I wouldn’t always be able to rely on the same attribute?

I’m not sure I can really tell if I like it without seeing it in practice. It could be a cool way of stopping people from stubbornly choosing the same attribute each time. I’d definitely want it to be hidden though; otherwise, I would probably go for the clever choice every time. If it’s hidden I would at least have to consider which option sounded the most clever and decide whether it was worth the game if it was an off-attribute.

This too I find an intriguing idea. I’m never really fond of death choices because as fun as the COG program is I don’t find that it lends itself particularly well to them. I feel that having to start all over because I wanted to take the story in a particular direction quite disappointing. I mean, I don’t get to see what happens AND I have to read it all over again?!

However, the idea that it’s tied into a curiosity stat sounds both thematically appropriate for the story you’re going for and also kind of fun. However, I’d like the curiosity stat to be very clear. Like a simple percentile so that when it gets to 100% I know that I have to be cautious with every decision I make. All in all, a cool way of ensuring that death doesn’t just rear its ugly head out of nowhere.

I have to say that one of my favourite things in any interactive story is a NPC friend with their own interests. I hate RPGs of any variety that just have the NPCs bend to the MC’s will because they don’t want any intra-party conflict.

“Oh, you blew up my home town for the greater good? It’s cool, you’re the MC, we HAVE to get along.”

Having a character whose goals might conflict with the MC’s is, in my view, one of the best ways to prove that they’re more than 2D cut-outs. However, whether people would take offence to it or not, I’m really can’t say. I really just wanted to mention that I really like that kind of character!

I think this could be a really cool game and you have some fun ideas that seem thematically appropriate. Though, it’s really hard to tell whether they’ll be fun or not until I see them in practice so I do hope you keep us updated!

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This certainly sounds interesting, but I am always wary of CS games that make it too easy to die: I don’t feel that the CS format really supports that very well (at least, not without a lot of checkpoints, and you’d probably need to have some way of decreasing your curiosity levels as well… :thinking:)

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I haven’t played Diabolical, so that’s good to know! Thanks!

Not as things are currently planned, but we’ll see where it goes :slight_smile:

Yeah, I was on the fence about this. I think that I may track it, but just use it for flavor text, so choices are preserved.

I had not even considered this (ways of decreasing stat), but you’re totally right, and forcing people to not investigate stuff (or to generally change their personality) for fear of untimely death kinda sucks.

Thanks! I was personally fine with it (obviously, else I wouldn’t even be considering it), but of course ~nonbinary folks are not a monolith~ and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something major. (Edit: Which I still could be! Let me know if I am!)

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Sounds interesting I will be here every update

I don’t know I have a lot of questions for example is that game mostly going to be about politics? How do humans react to magic? Here is a idea, humans should be hostile towards the fae and magic in general. As the game progresses for some reason magic is becoming more dangerous and common. This could lead to a number of different enemies that you could face or join, for example you could have radical fae fighting to protect the fae from hostile humans. You could have human strike forces trying to arrest and preform experiments. Basically these ideas could add more action and focus more on magic and combat abilities rather then politics if that is the route that you want to go,

You could also for the politics have various fae factions fighting each other, for example their could be a radical anti human group, a group that wants peace etc. And the more people that join those factions the more powerful they get and the more it can help or hurt you latter in the game.

Also I am not a huge fan of the idea of a nonbinary character, it just seems weird and could hurt sales and turn people off.

@LordJQ: Humans are hostile to magic/fae to the extent that they think about it. But modern cities (and most places people live) are basically constructed to be magic-neutralizing, so for people that live there, it’s not a big everyday concern.

The idea is definitely more politics/talking than combat.

@LordJQ: I appreciate that including nonbinary characters could turn people off the game. But (1) I am not particularly looking to monetize this (it’s my first foray into writing IF; I have no illusions about it being picked up as a Hosted Game), and (2) I care a lot more about the people who would be happy to see more nonbinary characters in games/fiction, because I am one of those people. (This is basically a selfish exercise in me trying to write a thing that I would like to read.) Folks “turned off” by the idea of nonbinary people…existing? have far more options for content than folks who would like to see (more of) that type of representation.

Frankly, saying “it just seems weird” is a pretty not great way to talk about people’s identities. This isn’t some off the wall fantasy device that I’m considering throwing in for flavor. It’s an identity that exists in the world, and that sort of language is really marginalizing/dismissive to real people.

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Prologue demo is up!
https://dashingdon.com/play/gabs/seven-ravens-a-modern-fantasy-game/mygame/index.php?cb=14959
Any feedback is welcome!

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Nicely done i am looking forward for more

Chapter 1 has been posted, and I moved some of the character creation from the prologue to ch1. I think it flows better, but do people prefer having a bunch of cc together/up front?

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In my opinion, having a story that flows is more important. So putting character choices where they make sense sounds good to me!

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Update (4/6): ~1200 words added to end of Ch 1 (it was going to be the start of Ch 2, but it made more sense for them to be the combined).

At the moment, I’m sort of udpating as I reach stopping points. With the way I write, I expect a lot of short chapters, but would folks prefer if I waited to release a few chapters at once?

(i.e. What’s your preference: small, frequent updates or larger, less frequent updates?)

Thanks!

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