Shengzhang: Journey of the Immortal [WIP] [Chapter 2 Part 1: Febuary 16th, 2023!] [63k Words]

Synopsis: You are an immortal who believed yourself to have seen it all, settling with seeing only in shades of gray. But confronted with a challenge you have never met before. Left with little to do other than take in a child with no other home, in time you find the world flushed anew in vibrant hues.

Setting: The setting is heavily inspired by Tang dynasty China, but is a work of historical fiction and should be treated as such. For one, there is magic, and the gods exist among man, and if that isn’t enough the protagonist is an Immortal, so while there is a set culture it doesn’t mean it is necessarily in line with history (heavily inspired as it may be).

Genres: [Historical Fantasy] [Romance] [Introspection] [Mystery?] [Supernatural] [Fantasy]

Current Public Demo: 62.7k Words (52.2k Words without Code)

Current Patreon Demo: 75.3k Words (56.2k Words without Code)

Average Playthrough Length: 20.6k Words

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Features:

  • Play as a Man, Woman, or Nonbinary Person; Find romance no matter your sexuality! (Ace, Demi, Homo or Hetero!)
  • Play as a God, a member of a race believed to be extinct, or a human who discovered their own path to immortality.
  • Reconnect to humanity, or learn new ways of using them as a tool.
  • Extensive Character Customization Features!
  • Decide the path that lead you where you are, and try to forge a new future for yourself.
  • Romance a cautious courtesan with a complicated past, a warrior struggling with their fatal mistake, a widow trying to find their feet, a curious scholar with dreams, or a mysterious entity from your past!
  • Fully supported Visual Indicators to allow for a player to know what stats will change.

Warning: The following story will feature mature exploration of some themes that may make a reader uncomfortable, many are dependent on the choice of the player though to initiate them. Please check the list below to ensure your own comfort before starting a playthrough. Some are limited to specific routes or choices, and will feature a warning before they start.

Potential Sensitive Content - Updated with Release (Including some future planned content)
  • Mental Illness & Grief (Extensive)
  • Violence (Arrow in the arm, burned village, etc…)
  • Sexual Content (Mild - Unsure if I have interest in writing out any explicit scenes)
  • Abuse (One of the RO’s, Hui, has a background rife with it. It is never explicitly depicted.)
  • Manipulation / Abusive Relationships (The Immortal can, if chosen to be, become an exceptionally cruel being.)

Romantic Options:

General Info about Romance Mechanics

Romance is an element taken very seriously within the game, though you do not need to romance anyone. This game does not possess traditional ‘flirt’ options. Instead, an RO will become attracted to you based on how you act around them, up until you choose your route. Be attentive and you should be able to pick up quickly on what interests or bothers each of the ROs (if not, visual indicators are there for a reason). Choices that will destroy a relationship will feature a warning to ensure it was not accidental, but considering the nature of the Main Character, they may not always be polite around others.

Feature Preference

Partner Preference - A preference the RO has about the type of MC they prefer. Pursuee vs Pursuer, and Gender Preferences.

Feature Preference - Physical features that an RO will find attractive or comment on. (Currently not including skin tone because I’m worried it is a bag of worms, but if that is an unnecessary worry then I would add a few of those in).

Note: You can romance the ROs regardless of if you fit most or any of these preferences, these are just bonuses that can make an RO more attracted to you, and that they will point out at some point or another during the story :blush: .

Important Characters (ROs):

The Dancer - Huī (He/They - Male - Demisexual Panromantic)

Name: Huī - [輝] - [Given Name: ‘Radiance’]
Title Name: Xiǎo Húlí - [小狐狸] - [Meaning: ‘Little Fox’]
Gender: Nán (Male)
Partner Preference(s):Pursuee - Women, Nonbinary, or ‘atypical’ men
Feature Preference(s): Curly hair, Friendly Face, Dark Eyes, and Non-gender Conforming
Age: 27
Occupation: Dancer and Courtesan (Sexworker)

Personality: Hui is a closed off person emotionally, he will gladly partake in chatter, and is very determined to pursue his own goals, but also finds it difficult to truly open up to anyone. Particularly reluctant to inform anything of his past.

Appearance: [6’1"|184cm] Possessing an utterly magnetic impression that leaves many breathless is both a blessing and a curse. With a naturally narrow waist and a carefully maintained lithe, deceptively slight frame they come across as feminine enough to be confused for a woman by many. He has long, straight dark auburn hair that is usually pulled into a bun at the back of the head with fanning strands. When performing, he wears a mask obscuring half his face of a fox, primarily white with red accents along the eyes, cheeks, and inner ears. His eyes are luminant amber hues, and his skin a fair shade reminiscent of honeysuckle.

The Warrior - Jiǎng Mǐn - (She/He - Gender Selectable - Asexual Panromantic)

Name: Jiǎng Min - [姜敏] - [Family Name: ‘Ginger’] - [Given Name: ‘Clever’]
Title Name: Xīn Cái - [心材] - [Meaning: ‘Heartwood’]
Gender: Any (Gender Selectable)
Partner Preference(s): Pursuer - No Gender Preference
Feature Preference(s): Harrowed Face, Very Short, Light Hair, and Green/Blue eyes
Age: 34

Personality: A warrior who failed and struggles with feelings of inadequacy as a result, it feels as though they feel guilty over the fact that the MC’s friend died due to ‘their own neglect.’ They are best friends with Hui, seeming to have a long standing relationship, they tend to try to take on the weight for everyone else even at expense to themself. They are a bit socially awkward, but well meaning.

Appearance: [5’3"|160cm] They have a neutral dark skin tone, blue eyes, and long black hair that is usually tied into a top knot at the back of their head. They have a few scars on their face and neck, and never seem to be about without being prepared for a fight.

Note: Min is a ‘sex-positive’ asexual character, meaning that they are willing to open themselves up to those experiences even if they are not initially drawn to them. To them, it is a sign of affection, mutual understanding, and trust.

The Widow - Zhēn (He/Him - Male - ???)

Name: Zhēn - [貞] - [Given Name: ‘Loyal’]
Gender: Nán (Male)
Partner Preference(s): Pursuee - Women
Feature Preference(s): Androgynous, Stoic or Harrowed Face, Very Tall or Very Short
Age: 42
Height:

Personality: He is a widower with kids, honest and open about the moment. He takes things day by day and seems to read the MC a lot better than most, perhaps due their specificly shared experience, though he seems to misinterpret it somewhat. A dedicated father, he struggles with raising his own 2 kids.

Appearance: [5’8"|172cm] Shoulder-length dark hair , he usually has it pulled back into a puffy ponytail the best he can. Sturdy and dependable fits his personality as well as it does his appearance. He has warm, mid-toned skin with dark eyes, and a stubble that always carefully trimmed to look a few days behind. He has little crow’s feet that light up whenever excited, and dimples at either side of his cheeks.

The Scholar - Yuán Wén - (She/They/He - Gender Selectable - Pansexual)

Name: Yuán Wén - [袁雯] - [Family Name: ‘Long Robes’] - [Given Name: ‘Colourful Cloud’]
Title Name: Yǔzú - [羽足] - [Meaning: ‘Feather-feet’]
Gender: (Gender Selectable)
Relationship Preference(s): Femme fashion or Nonbinary, other than that they are pretty verse
Feature Preference(s): Short hair, Elegant or Stoic Face, Taller than them, ‘Unusual’ features
Age: 24

Personality: Curious, a bit naive, and a bit too nosy maybe. They are generally unattached to labels, and so they tend to just like leaving people confused, and they self describe their sexuality as ‘I like what I like, it does not matter what form it takes.’ They have a natural fire to them, a bit sarcastic, but they seem a bit warmer to the Immortal than they are to others. They are playful, intelligent, and a bit whimsical.

Appearance: [5’5"|165cm] Warm near-black chocolate curly hair, mid-toned olive skin, and bright green eyes. They seem to enjoy wearing feminine and androgynous clothes over traditionally masculine designs.

Important Characters (Non-RO):

The Companion - Fèng Rú (They/Them - Nonbinary - Pansexual)

Name: Fèng Rú [鳳儒] - [Family Name: ‘Fenghuang’] - [Given Name: ‘Scholarly’]
Title Name: Bái Hé - [白荷] - [Meaning: ‘Bright Lotus’]

General Info: Your companion of almost five hundred years, while the time you spend together has been at times brief, and your track record marred with mistakes on both ends, you remain fiercely loyal to one another. They take a much more carefree approach to life, at least on the surface, and they’ve always seemed to try to actively find joy in many of the little things you didn’t think about.

General Appearance: Dark skin, amber eyes, and curly hair goes a little past their shoulders the last you saw them.

Spoilers: Perhaps getting the change of clothes was a mistake. Perhaps it is all your fault? Perhaps if you had been there earlier you could do more than be left with memories and their child. Trying to find a new state of normal feels impossible, knowing no longer will they be by your side.

Current Progress: Chapter 2 - Outline Complete [~70% Complete]

Logs and Intended Features:

Update Log - (Last Update: 01/15/2023)

1/15/2023 - Stats Overhaul & Visual Indicator Update Pt. 2 - [51k Words | 42.9k Words w/o Code]
1/09/2023 - Stats Overhaul & Visual Indicator Update Pt. 1 - [48k Words | 41.4k Words w/o Code]
1/07/2023 - Original Demo Release Date - [41.4k Words | 36.5k Words w/o Code]

Planned Features or Changes
  • Adding tonal indicators for choices [TBD]
  • Overhauling the Stat system [DONE!]
  • Figuring out what to do with the sensitivity settings {debating removing them due to the nature of this story} [Removed!]
  • More content!!!
  • Rewriting the Stat Screen really needs to happen. I was tempted to do it before release, but I was sick of sitting on this. [Half done!]
  • Adding Character Bios, Relationships, and Portraits to the game! [Character Bios Done! - Portraits WIP - Relationship Descriptions TBD!]
  • Adding pinyin/latin alphabet/hanyu modes for game locations and character names [Started]

Demo Playable Here Click Click

338 Likes

Apparently, editing broke the poll. Here it is again!

What species did you select for your Immortal?

  • Shen (Deity)
  • Xian Nu (Immortal Nomad)
  • Human (Turned Immortal)

0 voters

Any options you wanted but didn’t have? Anything you are excited to see? Let me know down below! I’m very excited to finally share this with everyone since I’ve been working on it for a bit!

11 Likes

Glad to see it posted! It’s a really interesting start and I really liked playing Shen so far!

1 Like

The game is amazing omg can’t wait for more


Also found a bug when i let Min choose where to go it just keeps repeating the page on a loop unless i choose to lead.

11 Likes

Response to @Dragomer :
Thank you for helping me with testing it when it was in a… rougher state! I’m glad to have you as a friend :blush:

Response to @Fenrir1 :

Response to Fenrir

Also found a bug when i let Min choose where to go it just keeps repeating the page on a loop unless i choose to lead.

Rut row! I’ll check that out right away, thanks for letting me know!

Update: I forgot to create a flag to prevent the loop, but I’ve now added the appropriate flag to prevent this loop from happening again. If you are running into this bug still after refreshing let me know. I tested, I believe it’s fixed!

I can’t choose between them why can’t i have both😢

For one: Yay! My first reader-meme!
For two: That is funny, but there is a reason behind why you can’t pick both. Kitties and wolfies are different :wink:

Response to @KrazyKeke :
Thank you! I am glad you like it :blush:

Response to @Nayomhee :
This is my first posted IF, but I have played around with Renpy for years and had a completely different project that I got my feet wet with (I still have aspirations for, but im waiting until I am less up to working on this one to swap over)

Response to @Anna_B :

Response to Anna

though it feel a little weird that a character can be attracted to someone who fits zero of these preferences

I wouldnt say you are completely unattractive if you dont have those traits, you just wouldnt immediately stand out. Sometimes, you find people rather plain until you get to know them better and you reevaluate your own impressions of them.

I like him. He’s the kind of RO I usually really like. Though I don’t ever romance the asexual characters, so I’m not sure what I’ll

Can I ask why you dont romance Ace characters? Min is not sex repulsed, they are open to those interactions with someone they trust. In their words:
“Just because the wine doesn’t draw me like most, it doesn’t mean I can’t take a sip and enjoy it. Sometimes, seeing the pleasure of someone else feels better than getting it yourself.”

Regarding needing to “Act a certain way”:
Lets be real, I think we have enough of the games where the RO becomes attracted to you purely if you act like a bumbling shy damsel or a flirty casanova. I find that stuff has a place and its not in my own story, I’d rather have the ROs gain natural attraction over the story through characteristics they see in the Immortal than just have you blush or flirt your way into their pants/hearts.

Ending note though: Im glad you like the ROs! Im very excited to see what you think of the story. I see how much time you dedicate on the forum

" When I think of an asexual character, I think no kissing or anything sexual at all. And though I know that isn’t the case with everyone or every character… Even if it takes awhile (like A from Wayhaven). But if your character is ok with the first kiss, even if it takes awhile, then I’ll definitely check out their route. "

I’m ace-spec myself, and while I am very grateful for any form of representation, I feel as though there is not enough representation of sex-positive ace representation. Part of me is cautious to promise too much, since I can’t for sure say how the characters will end up canonically (as at the end of the day I merely built the ship, I don’t individually man all of the components needed to run it), but I will say I’m confident Min grow comfortable with smooches lol.

Response to @Tears :
I forgot to set the variable properly for custom names, you have to restart that portion in order to get the change but it is fixed for the future. Thanks for letting me know!

Also when I was trying to use a custom names the real one was a ??? But the fake names changed to the I put in for the real one

I tested, this is fixed. You need to refresh your browser for the game to update!

Response to @Cingulum_diaboli :

Response to Cingulum

…angel… ̶t̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶e̶n̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶g̶a̶m̶e̶s̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶M̶C̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶g̶e̶l̶

Considering the setting, westernized ideas of angels would not really fit, to me. I am open to ideas, but if I did introduce a flighted species, it would be something more akin to the — Why did I misremember the youkai as being called Kenku? That is a DnD ‘Race.’ No, I meant the Tengu, which honestly would almost fit for the Immortal who is a Xian Nu and chooses a feathered back (even if they can’t fly, they can have feathers!).

Hmm… but actually I don’t know if this question was about species options or in general

This is a general question, I’ll look forward to seeing what you think if you decide to check it out again later!

Response to @A_Z_U_I_A :
Xian Nu is a term generally referring to spirits, immortals, etc it means something different in the context of this story since it is a much more narrow definition here since it refers to a specific species instead. (Actually, it means ‘fairy’ now that I refreshed on it)

10 Likes

This game is amazing, I love it!!!

1 Like

I’ll have time to read it later, but I thought I’d give my opinion on some of the things in the description

Summary

I would add “fantasy” or “supernatural” to that list. The world has magic in it (I mean, you can become immortal)

This is an interesting way of doing it! Though it may end up forcing players to play a way they don’t want to so they can romance a certain character.

I’m glad their preferences don’t keep them from being romanced (I don’t give any of my characters specific sexualities so the reader has that choice), though it feel a little weird that a character can be attracted to someone who fits zero of these preferences

I love the fun RO who’s emotionally unavailable until I get through to him. (It’s a bit unhealthy, but I won’t do it in real life)

I like him. He’s the kind of RO I usually really like. Though I don’t ever romance the asexual characters, so I’m not sure what I’ll do.

He sounds adorable! I love him :heart_eyes:

I like him too, but he seems the most “plain” option. But I haven’t played yet

6 Likes

It was an amazing read,I can’t wait for more!!
Is this your first IF?

2 Likes

Sounds interesting

1 Like

You’re welcome, I’m happy I could help!

When I think of an asexual character, I think no kissing or anything sexual at all. And though I know that isn’t the case with everyone or every character, I don’t want to go in expecting something and not getting anything. So I kinda just relegate those characters to friends. I don’t need explicit scenes or anything, but I love the first kiss and that kind of thing (I like explicit scenes, but they don’t work for every story. And they’re hard to write). Even if it takes awhile (like A from Wayhaven). But if your character is ok with the first kiss, even if it takes awhile, then I’ll definitely check out their route

12 Likes

When I enter custom names it shows ??? Instead

1 Like


I can’t choose between them why can’t i have both😢

22 Likes

Also when I was trying to use a custom names the real one was a ??? But the fake names changed to the I put in for the real one

…angel… ̶t̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶e̶n̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶g̶a̶m̶e̶s̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶M̶C̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶g̶e̶l̶

Hmm… but actually I don’t know if this question was about species options or in general :thinking:

Ok, never mind, I haven’t even read the entire demo yet, just glanced at the first few pages :sweat_smile: The plot description sounds exciting and the writing style seems great, so I’ll take closer look at this wip later.

4 Likes

I know Humans are cursed or blessed to become immortal, but I am curious about the difference between a Shen and Xian Nu

Edit: Nvm I kinda understand but I have never heard of Xian Nu, then again I am not an expert on Chinese tales or mythology

5 Likes

I just played this game and had a lot of fun as a Shen. Haven’t tried the other pathings yet but I do love the premise so so much. Troubled deity with a child problem? :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: (any chance we will be in the same universe as the Monkey King and Tang Sanzang? Only asking because this is Tang Dynasty.)

But a little on the technicality. . . if you’re open to any suggestions.

仙女 (xiānnǚ) is actually spelled in PinYin-wise as Xian Nv. Though the word itself is NU, we spell it as NV because of the phonic. That was why it took me a few hours after playing to realize that Xian Nu meant Fairy in the story.

Which you have confirmed is fairy, spirits, the likes.

But one little detail is that NV means “girl” or “lady” or “feminine” and the word is meant to describe women or girls so beautiful they might as well have come from heaven or a divine origin. Heavenly and out of this world, in a sense. If the MC is male, non-binary, then NV might not be the best term. (Also because that NV word is very hard to be replicated in English, I literally could not think of anything similar to help recreate that sound).

Maybe 仙灵 (xiānlíng) would be a better match as the Ling means spirit or soul and would be more gender neutral.

Just suggesting ^v^ love the work so far!

7 Likes

Thank you very much!

I feel a little shy over not making the connection of ‘Nǚ’ meaning lady, considering I literally say as much in the story itself :person_facepalming: I will probably make that change, thanks for bringing it to my attention! I also have to go and change the alias names to pinyin, since it’s driving me crazy. Some words I was having trouble finding the pinyin for though like the classes, if you would know how those are meant to be. I think I had issues with getting the pinyin to display correction which is why I ended up just not correctly writing it. I am probably going to make the swap to Xiānlíng :blush: . (I also think I need to swap the character names over? It seems weird to have half in pinyin and half not lol).

Also, in regards to Tang Sanzang and the Monkey King, I will need to research. I feel very hesitant about putting anything other than a brief nod to other stories due to my own limited capacity for research on them. I don’t want to misrepresent anything, which is part of why I’m so insistent that this is a fantasy setting based on it and not set in Tang dynasty itself. I would need to have fully read the story to feel really like I am not making a mockery of it by not giving full respect.

I appreciate the suggestion! If you have any other recommendations then please feel free to let me know! (Or if you notice any other ‘quirks’!)

Response to @FabricSeat :

That story has been adapted and reinterpreted and paid homage to in so many different forms that it doesn’t really matter if you stray somewhat from the source material.

The most I would probably do is having one of them in a singular scene or two, or possibly a reference to them in a play or performance that the Immortal sees. I think those might be good ways to nod. A bit subtler than dreg, which is now permanently in my vernacular after playing through the Whiskey Four WIP lol.

Response to @Tenmachii :
I was planning on some perspective shifts! But not at the start of the story since there was some— information that I thought would better learned while in their perspective. I personally am a massive fan of them, particularly for ROs. I know some people don’t, but keep in mind it is under heavy consideration at the very least :blush:

Response to @nootnoots :
I read your WIP recently, very happy to see you here! If 仙人 means broadly immortal, wouldn’t it apply to any of the versions of the Immortal? If I was making a species of elf/fairies/spirits to fit, then what would be wrong with 仙灵 (xiānlíng) like suggested by Veraynea?

Response to @TheMogician :
I’m surprised and pleased with the feedback on the names and the like! It’s something I was worried about, getting feedback and help on making sure it is going the right direction makes me happy! I agree, I think that Yǔzú sounds better! I think I’ll make that change, thanks for the suggestion!

Response to @Ananasjuicebrik :
Daww!! You are too sweet :grin: I am happy to hear from you! Thanks for following me on the journey so far, I am happy to have the chance to talk with you so much, you are great company!

Response to @Dpwjeremy :
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I am always appreciative of feedback :blush:

9 Likes

Will do! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Writing is a monster to overcome, so we gotta overcome it together!

I will definitely let you know if something else pops up. I am super eager to see where your story takes us. I can totally imagine MC — holding a baby in their arms — only to realize in the blink of an eye that the baby is now a 20 year old adult. :sweat_smile:

7 Likes

On the matter of Sanzang and Monkey, you probably shouldn’t be too worried about the details (although I agree that just a brief nod to other stories is best, if done at all). That story has been adapted and reinterpreted and paid homage to in so many different forms that it doesn’t really matter if you stray somewhat from the source material.

3 Likes