Shepherds of Haven (WIP) (DEMO UPDATE: 3 Aug 2021)

(Formerly “Haven and Hael”!)

Hello, all!

I’m trying my hand out at my first CSG game. It’s adapted from a fantasy series I considered sending to my agent, but which I decided was better (and more fun) as a game. Thanks for your support: please enjoy! :slight_smile:

Story

Premise

Shepherds of Haven is a dark fantasy interactive fiction game. In it, you play as a Mage living in a world where magic is outlawed and your people—those possessing supernatural powers—are oppressed and reviled. The world is ruled by humans who believe in science, technology, and industry: at best, you and your kind are nothing more than a fairytale, and at worst you are the state’s greatest threat.

Thus, using magic has been illegal for centuries. But after centuries of persecution, you are suddenly offered an opportunity to use your powers for good: demons are now returning, and the world needs fighters like you to protect the population from their invasion. Guns and bullets do no good against monsters pulled from primeval nightmares; only your people and your supernatural powers have the ability to fight fire with fire.

So you join the Shepherds: an order of elite heroes and fighters comprised of the very people the world once feared more than the demons themselves. As a Shepherd, you’ll solve magical crimes, slay demons to protect the citizens of Haven, and build your reputation throughout the capitol. Explore the world of Blest, recruit allies and factions to join the Shepherds’ cause, find romance and companionship, investigate mysteries, lead rebellions and exorcisms, and uncover answers to the crises plaguing the world. Where are the demons coming from? Where have the gods or God gone, if they ever existed? And who are you, really?

And will you be the world’s true savior… or will you be its ultimate downfall?

Warnings

This novel features:

  • Strong adult language and fantasy profanity
  • Fantasy violence, including descriptions of battlefield violence and warfare; minor mentions of injuries and blood
  • Death (avoidable NPC deaths as well as mentions of victim death during investigations)
  • Descriptions of playing a law-enforcement officer and peacekeeper in a fantasy context
  • Mentions of victim kidnapping and torture during crime investigations
  • Discrimination in a fantasy race context; mentions of sexist situations and language
  • Forced marriage, in that some non-player characters are described as being betrothed in political marriages
  • Optional depictions of player-character trauma or grief
  • Descriptions of nightmares; mild to moderate horror situations
  • Brief mentions of fantasy drug use and addiction in an investigative context; depictions of non-harmful fantasy smoking and casual alcohol consumption; casual depictions of gambling
  • Optional sex implications (non-explicit, fade-to-black ‘candlelight’ scenes)

Rating: This story would likely be rated T for teens or PG-13.

Gameplay

General Features
  • Play as male, female, or non-binary; play as straight, gay, bi, pan, as well as asexual, aromantic, or aro-ace.
  • Customize your own appearance, magic specialization, education, weapon, and racial heritage.
  • Choose your personality, values, traits, skills, and responses: are you a charismatic team player or a ruthless lone wolf? An impulsive scholar or a cunning and street-savvy manipulator?
  • Recruit, befriend, and even romance up to twelve possible allies, each with their own personal story and character arc. Enjoy a found family dynamic with a crew that grows and changes with your choices over time.
  • Solve supernatural and arcane crimes—not all of them demon-related—as well as the mystery of your own origins.
  • Build your reputation and prowess in the city. Will you use it to become Haven’s greatest champion against the forces of Hael—or use your newfound power to overthrow the Autarchy once and for all?
  • Explore countless branching paths and dozens of different endings!
Other Mechanics

The game is planned to be 1 prologue, 11 main chapters, and 1 epilogue. It will include:

  • 10 romance options and 12 recruitable characters. Each major character comes with their own individual character arc, motivations, special scenes, friendship and romance routes, and character-specific endings.
  • LOTS of complex choices that will test your morals, loyalties, and role-playing skills.
  • An ever-changing and adaptable codex that changes with the paths you take, unlocking special documents and entries as you play.
  • A hubworld-esque “day off” system where you can interact with the city, train, shop, gamble, pray, explore, decorate your room, read the newspaper, go on dates, take on side quests, celebrate holidays and birthdays, and spend time with other characters in between story missions.
  • A new game+ system to reward replays.
  • 100 hidden achievements to unlock and discover.
  • A dedicated checkpoint save system in the final version of the game.
  • Much more!

Characters

Character Profiles

There are 12 possible recruitable characters and 10 possible romance options, some of which are gender-locked. Below is a very brief list of the people you can recruit or romance.

Name Gender Race Romanceable By Introduced Summary
Blade Bronwyn Male Ket Female MCs Yes The enigmatic and cold commander of the Shepherds who comes burdened by a mysterious past.
“Trouble” Alder Male Norm Male and Female MCs Yes Blade’s second-in-command; a good-hearted but hot-tempered Norm gunslinger who can never walk away from a fight.
Tallys Ironwood Female Elf Male, Female, and Non-Binary MCs Yes The Shepherds’ reasonable and level-headed Elven archer who holds a secret hatred in her heart.
Shery Acquell Female Norm Female MCs Yes The Shepherds’ chief of staff, who is almost cripplingly shy but extremely kind-spirited.
Riel Syndran Male Norm Male MCs Yes The businesslike and logical leader of the Merchants’ Guild who dabbles in inventing and history.
Chase Trinaeste Male Norm Male, Female, and Non-Binary MCs Yes The mischievous and impulsive leader of the Thieves’ Guild who struggles with his morality.
Halek Prince Male Hunter :no_entry: Alpha-only The serious but lazy chieftain of the Hunters who feels locked into a lifelong prophecy.
Briony Stormbreaker Female Mage/Ket/Hunter/Elf Male and Female MCs Alpha-only A cheerful and high-spirited Diminished gladiator who has lost her memories.
Ayla Aescar Female Mage Male, Female, and Non-Binary MCs Yes A nomadic and flighty Wind-Mage who searches for a family.
Liefred “Red” Antiqua Male Mage Male, Female, and Non-Binary MCs Yes An honest and charismatic teleporter who wants to resurrect a long-dead society.
Lavinet Naveen Female Norm Male MCs Alpha-only A beautiful, noble-born Norm aristocrat who harbors good intentions but is out-of-touch with the ways of the world.
Prihine Naveen Female Norm Male, Female, and Non-Binary MCs Yes Lavinet’s spoiled younger cousin and your charge at the beginning of the story.
Caine Tavadon Male Norm :no_entry: Yes A precocious merchant’s apprentice who worships the ground you walk on.
Mimir Esthin Female Mage :no_entry: No A mysterious and enigmatic Seer who claims to see the future.
Croelle Male Unknown :no_entry: Yes A strange “watcher” who seems preoccupied by questions of free will.
Character Art

You can view official character art here.

Disclaimer

The below portraits were made in Artbreeder, an AI program that combines images together to produce new, computer-generated approximations. As such, some details (such as skin tone, freckles, scars, and eye color) may not be accurate; these images are intended to be approximations only. Rely on your character guide and the game text for accurate and intended details.

Blade

Trouble

Tallys

Shery

Riel

Chase

Red

Ayla

Halek

Briony

Lavinet

Prihine

Caine

Mimir

Croelle

Miscellaneous

Fanart

Fanart on Tumblr
Fanart on Discord

Fanfiction

Tumblr

Fanfiction Tag on Tumblr
Early Fanfiction Master Post on Tumblr

Discord

Fanfiction on Discord

AO3

Fanfiction on Archive of Our Own

Maps

Map of the Continent by @ignifex

Map of Haven by @youreyesarelikethesea

Map of the Shepherds’ Compound

Map of Fourth Floor of Shepherds’ Compound

Interactive Map of the Continent
Interactive Map of the MC’s travels

Quizzes

Can’t decide which heritage you should choose at the beginning of the game? Never fear, this personality quiz is here to help you out!

If you want everything about your MC to be random, here’s a fun little character generator for you!

And here are some quizzes to help you decide which male or female RO is your perfect match! (For fun only)

Polls

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3


More Polls

Links

Tumblr

Like, follow, or send in asks! There’s a ton of extra information about the characters and world here! :slight_smile:

https://shepherds-of-haven.tumblr.com/

You can also go here to organize posts/questions by individual characters, romance options, or all characters!

FAQ

There’s a FAQ here on Tumblr. Future guides and walkthroughs to follow. If you think of any commonly-asked questions that I haven’t put here, please let me know!

Discord

You can join the Shepherds of Haven discord and chat with other readers!


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Demo

Current demo length: ~270,000 words
Total project length: ~640,000 words
Demo last updated: 3 August 2021

Submit a bug report

Track known bugs

Updates

Changelog

19 January 2018

Demo posted!

21 January 2018

  • Added a few more Prihine scenes (accessible only if one chooses to avoid Caine)
  • Added an option to initially turn down the Shepherds (you still ultimately have to join them, no matter what, but this route can provide a way to be reluctant about it)
  • Fixed a bug that occurred when fighting the demon with magic/regular weapons while running away
  • Added cosmetic customization during the Flower Day/Wreath Day flashback (iffy on whether or not this will stay)
  • Working on fleshing out father and background story/hometown more

2 February 2018

  • Added chapter title images
  • Implemented day off and romance flag system
  • Implemented prayer, shopping, and other activities
  • Added a rough draft of the first day off and a little bit of chapter 1

5 February 2018

  • Added brief mentions of the MC’s weapon abilities in some day off interactions
  • Fixed repeating dialogue when returning to the store on day off
  • Removed an error that came at the end of the demo and just made it a *finish command

11 February 2018

  • Tweaked some lines in Blade and Tallys’ day off scenes
  • Tweaked some lines in the conscription scene
  • Removed most achievements to avoid spoilers in the code…

27 June 2018

  • Fixed some grammatical errors in the prologue that were bothering me
  • Removed individual weapons stats and character training sequences (the weapon skills system will be revamped entirely down the line)
  • Added strength and magic training to day off activities
  • The first NPCs day off scenes will most likely change in the future, though not unrecognizably

30 June 2018

  • Added notifications for unlocking codex entries throughout the story. You can toggle them on or off through the codex menu.
  • Tweaked the “running away” scene after the church so that the MC uses magic or a Word of Power.

4 July 2018

  • Added an appearance area under stats. Please report any bugs that may have come from this!
  • Added more content under Tallys and Trouble’s routes.

27 July 2018

  • Added a brief change to the conscription scene. Will change achievements in the demo (as most have been deleted to make room) soon.

1 August 2018

  • A calendar has been added in the codex.
  • Going through Blade’s dayoff sequence will unlock a new document in the codex about the Ket caste system.
  • There’s now a chance for you to randomly encounter another Shepherd while strength-training. In the future what your relationship is like with that Shepherd will matter.
  • Going back to Chandry’s shop a second time has new dialogue where he asks you a riddle. Giving answers he likes will net you a discount (up to 50% off!). In the future more dialogue will be added so he tells you a different riddle each time.

14 August 2018

  • Changed the weapons system slightly to make leveling up the weapon skill more related to strength training or buying upgraded weapons than training with NPCs.
  • Changed the MC’s starting gun to a one-shot pistol.
  • Changed the magic system: players can now choose what kind of Mage they think they would have been before the Castigation (there are 9 main schools of magic to choose from). This will affect new invisible magic stats: psionic magic, astral magic, and arcane magic, which will help add diversity to spell-casting and stat checks but keep the options believably concise.
  • Added another scene where you can be a dick to Chandry.
  • Rewrote Tallys and Trouble’s day off sequences, completing rewrites.

19 August 2018

  • Added a potential pet for a recruited Caine.
  • Added a command activity in the day off hub in case the MC ever becomes Commander.
  • Tweaked the day off system with *gosub to refine the system and prevent events from accidentally appearing as selectable for repeated use (excluding shopping).
  • Added new names and aliases to appear in the stat screen.
  • Added a legendary tier to the weapons system.

18 September 2018

  • Moved the inventory to a separate screen from the stats and made it look much more organized and aesthetic.

25 September 2018

  • Added scar and tattoos to character customization.

27 September 2018

  • New stat names! New stat hints! New chapter headers! New everything headers!

27 August 2019

  • Prologue updated
  • Day off scenes updated
  • Character guide, stats screen, codex system, etc. updated
  • Non-binary pronouns and options added
  • Much more

6 January 2020

  • Public demo updated with Chapter 1 content
  • Added a recap section under the “journey” tab on the stats page
  • Added a newspaper function in the day off hub

6 July 2020

  • Public demo updated with ‘complete’ Chapter 1 and 2, along with new day-off scenes

7 January 2021

  • Public demo updated with first half of Chapter 3, new day-off scenes, new codex documents, and a save system skeleton for implementation after publication.

3 August 2021

  • Public demo updated with complete Chapter 3, new day-off scenes, and new codex documents.

11 August 2021

  • Added new bug reporting system to make user and author experience smoother and more efficient! See here for details!
Coming soon
  • Chapter 7 is underway in the alpha build of the game, having just surpassed 620,000 words. I am working hard to continue progress on this chapter!

Thank you for your time and feedback! Enjoy!


Support

Book

My first novel, a science fiction thriller, was published by DAW Books and Penguin Random House on July 6th, 2021, and it’s called WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE! You can read all about it on my website and order a copy at any of the sites in the link, or even in-person at a bookstore near you! I hope you will consider supporting that endeavor as well!

WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE

This psychological sci-fi thriller from a debut author follows one doctor who must discover the source of her crew’s madness… or risk succumbing to it herself.

Misanthropic psychologist Dr. Grace Park is placed on the Deucalion, a survey ship headed to an icy planet in an unexplored galaxy. Her purpose is to observe the thirteen human crew members aboard the ship—all specialists in their own fields—as they assess the colonization potential of the planet, Eos. But frictions develop as Park befriends the androids of the ship, preferring their company over the baffling complexity of humans, while the rest of the crew treats them with suspicion and even outright hostility.

Shortly after landing, the crew finds themselves trapped on the ship by a radiation storm, with no means of communication or escape until it passes—and that’s when things begin to fall apart. Park’s patients are falling prey to waking nightmares of helpless, tongueless insanity. The androids are behaving strangely. There are no windows aboard the ship. Paranoia is closing in, and soon Park is forced to confront the fact that nothing—neither her crew, nor their mission, nor the mysterious Eos itself—is as it seems.

1276 Likes

Very interesting stuff. I like what you’ve got so far. Mind showing the list of RO? I’m curious

5 Likes

I’ve only played through once so far but I already want more!!!

Intrigued to find out about all the recruitable characters and ROs and I definitely can’t wait to read more about the world - I’m a sucker for lore

11 Likes

I don’t have time to type something in depth out right now, but just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this demo and am incredibly interested in this project going forward, great stuff all around.

Any chance we could get that RO list?

4 Likes

Ran in to a bug:

3 Likes

i have a few issues with the current public link, non are major just nit picks that grind my gears a bit. right well firstly not sure if this is my stupidity and tendency to skim read, but is the character ever specified as a race? i know you can choose a back story and how you were raised, but it feels murky at best, as well as this i feel having the option to be a certain species and choose where you grew up would be beneficial, as a possible show don’t tell device. for example growing up in the “norm” city as an elf or as a dwarf in the elvish city. if written well it could be used to show the hypocrisy’s and general xenophobia in all races to all those different, which seems to be a major theme in the story with the PC being a mage and all.

secondly expanding previously mentioned prologue will help the player find there feet in a sense. and grow attached to the characters presented and make there deaths more impact-full. as well as this if you have the prologue set at the start of the story, while a tad overused is overused for a reason. firstly it helps develop the PC more by quickly showing where they came from to where there going, a good way to create the character (appearance wise) as well as where they live there opinion of the place, as well as develop the surrounding (soon to die) characters.

or you could “persona 5” the backstory in and by this i mean drip feed the player backstory as they continue to caravan towards the wedding, if this is an option you consider that area would need to be extended and slightly reworked due to the longer length, but would give you ample time to develop miniature character arcs for the other caravaners, especially the princess as when given the option there is no real reason to save her, and no inclination to either, shes shown to be an annoyance and as simply a paycheck, but every character needs some redeemable traits (and being pretty doesn’t count, it just helps) now i’m not saying turn her into snow white, as clearly that wouldn’t work with her character, but give her some realistic traits and emotions, for example the princess comes off as arrogant and generally demanding. to counter balance this show emotional weakness and unsuitability, appealing to the white knights and lovers of the damsel in distress situation. obviously there are multiple directions you can take her and shes your character, just a half baked idea. Anyhow back to my previous mention of extending the caravaning scene, it can also be used for obvious expansion of characters, like grumpy guy who tells you to stop talking to the boy, give him a reason beyond casual racism, was he raised that way? (presenting it as hes talking to another caravaner and you can over hear could be an idea) doesn’t want the boy going through similar pain to him? (did his village get destroyed for harboring a mage/ race, causing lifelong disdain for the destruction of his life? or did he fall in love with a mage/ race, get turned down now on a revenge sting or was his loved one taken away from him due partially to him and he cant cope with the loss/ guilt, not wanting the boy to suffer like him). back to the extending caravan segment part again, could be a good introduction to the combat in the game if there is going to be any, with fighting off a kobold attack. kinda 'd&d’ish but should be a good slope into the game.

next point, when entering the new city a man with red hair talks to you about fate or free will. now this is fine i like games that make you question your foundations, its more how its presented, and the limited options of response. i found the responses frustrating, for example there was no response for neither, as from my point of view it’s kind of a paradox, as believing we’re all floating pieces of carbon, means free will must exist as there’s no greater picture here or godly being, but we have hormones, and bodily functions we have no control over controlling how we feel and act, meaning no true free will, yet due to these being extensions of our being which we have natural control over, its not truly the absence of free will either

anyway i think that’s it, as always i got sidetracked as i usually do and forgot a few main points but this comment has gone on long enough and has no doubt (if you took all these ideas to heart) would nearly double the workload, in the end its your story but if any of the ideas mentioned here are even considered i feel this post which honestly has no right to being this long is worth it. good luck

(this post took me over an hour to write, that’s depressing in itself, it was going to be longer too. fun times.)

9 Likes

@Baam Thank you! I’ve edited the OP to include a list of ROs. :slight_smile:

@jediexile and @JMH: Thank you so much! You have no idea how encouraging that is! :smiley: I’ve added a list of the ROs to the OP!

@LordOfLA: Thanks for catching that! I’ve fixed it and will be reuploading the file to Dashingdon now.

12 Likes

Hi @User42, thanks for the thorough response!

I will definitely keep your ideas in mind moving forward. To answer some of your questions, the MC’s race is “Mage,” which has to be that way for story reasons. However, they can choose their heritage, as you said, which will impact the story later on (for example, they can only connect to a certain character if they were raised with a knowledge of X culture or language). The story did start off with more drastically-different childhood origins, but it became a lot of exposition and slow pacing for not a lot of payoff, since the story is more hinged on the “event” that ties them all together rather than the differing circumstances. I will definitely considering returning to that idea someday, though; my concern was that it was taking too long to get to the “meat” of the story!

You’re right in that Prihine probably needs more depth, as I wanted the choice between her and Caine to be more difficult. What’s fun is that any of the choices you make (regarding her, Caine, or Ebert) will have some surprising consequences in the story later on. Because of that, I think you’re right that I’ll probably have to add in some redeeming scenes for her before the wedding.

Finally, I appreciate your thoughts on the conversation with the man about free will! He will consistently crop up at random times to continue the conversation about choice and agency, so I’ll do my best to expand on how to respond to him and give the conversation more nuance then.

Thanks again for your thoughts and for taking the time to type them out!

11 Likes

If the mage grew up in a Hunter village, where the heck were all the hunters when the demon showed up?

Hunters go into a berserk rage around demons, so I feel that scene needs some customizing.

13 Likes

Equal thanks for going through my thoughts,
It will be interesting to see where the free will guy goes, and if there’s one thing i love in games its unseen consequences. and i’ll be back every now and then to add my poorly constructed thoughts, so yeah see ya next update probably.

1 Like

@stsword That’s a good point that I hadn’t caught! Thanks, I’ll have to tinker with that sequence for sure!

4 Likes

Really liked it so far. Autarchy seriously irritates me. Using the ones they oppressed to protect themselves. I just hope that we get something worth it in exchange. By the way, about the caravan man who does not want us to be near Caine. Can we calm him down without promising anything? You know, the art of language and how to make someone turns in circle. :smirk:
Oh, when I bribed the guard, I checked my money and still has 10 gold.
Oh. Also, there was that moment where I was checking the glossary and all that, when I came back to the game, I was at the start of the story again… Oh is that a typo by the way?

Typo?

1 Like

I’m super confused. The game keeps restarting with all my stats intact, almost every time I return from the stat page. It’s really strange, and I don’t know why it’s happening.
Are you perhaps updating the game or something?

The silver lining is I now have a rather OP character, I guess. :sweat_smile:

3 Likes

@The_Lady_Luck Whoa, that’s super weird! I did just re-upload the prologue to Dashingdon with some minor fixes, but I didn’t know that it could cause that to happen! I only re-uploaded it once, though; sorry about that!! I hope you can play it through in one piece now! Let me know if you can’t!

@LikeGames Thank you! :blush: To answer your questions, you can’t calm Ebert down without promising anything, because it will have a consequence whether you choose to be friends with Caine or not! :sweat_smile: And thanks for catching the gold, I completely missed that!

I’ve been trying to figure out why looking at the glossary took you back to the beginning of the game! Was it the part where you could go to your codex to look at the newspaper clipping? And no, it’s not a typo, it’s just an old weird way of talking haha! I might change it though! Thank you again!

2 Likes

I quite like this! The amount of customization is perfect, the characterization is done very well, and to be honest it reminds me a little bit of Dragon Age: Origins. In a good way, I loved that game!

I’m excited for more!

5 Likes

This is certainly a very interesting start. It’s well-written, and I loved that my male character could flirt his way past the male guard… I do have a few issues with it, though:

Firstly, I don’t think that the game should ever force you to check the codex (e.g. for the Shepherd newspaper clipping). I would suggest giving an overview in the prose, and then letting the player check the codex if they want later.

Secondly, the flashback ended up changing my character motivations, meaning I might have made several earlier choices differently had I known about it then. I’m not entirely sure how one would do this differently, though, since the flashback does make more sense where it is than right at the beginning.

Finally, I would very strongly recommend not locking the romances, at least if you only have six of them. This could quite easily lead to players getting only one option, or even none at all, and while I certainly enjoy sexuality representation in these games, I generally suggest that each player should have at least three options no matter what.

That’s caused by reuploading it; there’s nothing you can really do except not uploading anything ever, which is obviously not going to work. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Anyway, good luck with the game! :smile:

9 Likes

oh gosh, this is one of the best things that i have ever had the pleasure of reading. The elven keeper reminded me of dragon age though, but srsly, ill be keeping a close eye on this thread no matter how long it takes!

5 Likes

Will there be a choice to not join the Shepherds in the future?

Oh I thought that Prihine would be an RO. I’m kinda disappointed

6 Likes

Wow, I’m absolutely in love with this! Your writing is so good and I’m already sucked in. I can’t wait to see where you’ll go with this :smiley:

1 Like