Should I genderlock this player character, or can it be made to work somehow?

I realise that topics on gender can be sensitive, so I hope this isn’t offensive.

Don’t know if I’m going to continue with this as I’ve only planned the first two chapters so far (enlisting and boot camp, so it’s not even going into the story yet), but I do have some thoughts going forward if it ever comes to that.

A bit of context. This takes place in the turn of the 20th Century. For reasons, the pc came to French Algeria to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. Since the Legion only recruits men, the setting itself is gender-constrained. I still included a gender selection as typical of CoG, and wrote “I disguised myself as a man” for a non-male pc.

But that’s also where I feel the “disguised” part falls apart. You would be treated as a male legionnaire (referred as he) either way. There will be no distinction whatsoever in the narrative, no matter the pc’s real gender. Because females are not allowed to join the Legion, nobody knows or is allowed to know if you actually are female - they all need to believe you are a man for the story to go on.

CoG game universes are usually more egalitarian than this, or if the pc’s gender does matter, options exist for alternate but equivalent plotlines. But if you’re stuck in the outpost in the middle of the Sahara with 40 other men for the next two months, with evil officers breathing down all your necks, and about a week’s marching away from anywhere, there can’t exactly be diverging storylines. Your peers and officers know you as a man (and you can’t reveal otherwise if you aren’t), so why would you be treated any different?

At one point you’ll meet up with your older brother (it’s always a brother - either he enlisted first and you went off to find him, or you disappeared and he enlisted to find you), and I can see some extra dialogue (not dialogue choices though) happening here. Something along the lines of “Are you nuts?” if the pc is female.

The only part of gameplay I can think of so far is different sets of characters you can romance (out of a pool of befriend-able NPCs) instead of being able to flirt with everyone, but that’s limiting your choices instead of making real variation… and anyway is more of an additional side thing and not the main storyline.

Am I better off genderlocking this character?

Thanks for your help and opinions.

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My personal advice is to make it gender locked. Introduce women and nonbinary in a realistic setting will be really complex and many people won’t want to read the consequences. I am a cis woman and I don’t want to read what probably those men would do to a woman or non-binary in that time period.

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I honestly don’t mind. I know that one story (Choice of Broadsides, maybe) switched the universe ideals of gender, i.e. made all the crew-mates female, but if you don’t want to go down that route, genderlocking the character could be the easiest alternative.

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I advise genderlocking it.

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Sticking too close to realism might turn a lot of readers off, though I’d suggest making it gender locked and take the loss of readers or alter the story in a way that could allow for some wiggle room at expense of historical accuracy to keep up interest. At the end of the day, choose whatever makes you happy and whatever you want to write.

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It can be “done” realistically.

See @Bacondoneright’s I, the Forgotten One.

It’s just a question of what you want to do.

Gender locking a story will limit your audience - regardless of said gender you lock it too - but if you’re happy with your story, then that’s all that matters to you. It will take less effort because you won’t have to code the pathways and instances that would highlight the fact that the MC is not a male, but it’s up to you to decide if that’s a worthy trade off.

If you want to have the option to not be male and have the story bounce off of that in a way that isn’t always sunshine and rainbows? Again. It’s up to you. Is it worth the tradeoff? Only you can answer that question. We can give you our opinions but you’re the one writing the story.

I assume that there’s going to be more varying scenes other than your brother going ‘Are you nuts?’ if you indeed decide to have the PC’s gender have an impact beyond pronouns.

At the end of the day, you could start writing your story and change your mind at a later date. Best of luck either way.

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I would advise you like already stated to write gender locked. If you get inspired during writing include it but don’t force it.
As a writer I feel with you in some stories there it just works better that way.
Example: I have one outline for a cyoa Mulan story and that would also be gender Locked :wink:

You will lose some readers like myself but your writing and the readers who like your story might benefit a great deal from it :grin:

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In my opinion, IF does not mean you are obligatorily allowed to choose gender, hair color, eye color, height, voice tone, if you have hair on your arms, past reincarnations, freckles, left or right handed, shoe size, if you show only the upper teeth when you smile or the bottom one too + cheek dimples, and any other trait you can think off.

A quote from myself quoting wikipedia:

So yeah, quoteception. You’ll have to keep in mind though that anything you “restrain” taking as a standard an average of the CoG and HG books already published that feature gender choice as people are used to might impact on the sales and popularity, but your book is your book, if you don’t want to include x or y feature for whatever reason you don’t have to, just be happy with it as you portray it.

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Their is also the possibility of having different stories depending of the gender.

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Thanks for the all opinions and advice! Since the way I’ve planned to write it makes no difference and will be very complex to do realistically, I will genderlock it for now and stick with a male only pc.

I found the gender flip there kinda funny to read. But it won’t work for this setting.

That thought did come up, maybe combined with a bribe of sorts to keep the discoverer (some toady to an officer?) from ratting you out or worse, therefore keeping you in the outpost and the storyline from diverging. But that’s too dark for the romanticised, Beau Geste-like story I was thinking of. So the way I have it now is, if anyone finds out, it’s game over for you - so nobody finds out.

If there’ll be any difference, it’ll only be in private conversations with your brother (the only character who’s not a stranger to you). Maybe if you pursue a romance far enough to a physical relationship, but revealing that may be a risk you’re not willing to take depending on your motive in coming here. And then the question of getting accepted or rejected for whatever reason if you reveal that. Still, those are side things, not the main story.

Unfortunately that won’t work due to how gender-constrained the setting is.

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This comment is probably going to be useless if you’ve already decided to gender-lock it, but I was going to go against the grain and vote for keeping the disguised-as-a-man plot. :stuck_out_tongue: Anyway, I’ll take the chance to do some plugging for a favourite WIP of mine.

I believe Your One Moment did the Sweet Polly Oliver thing rather well — I think it’s relevant to mention how, in the story so far, no one ever discovers that the MC is a woman. It still feels that you’re playing as a woman disguised as a man, and that it is a fundamentally different experience from playing as a man.

TL:DR; I think this could work if you’re willing to put in the effort to have some different text and perhaps an extra scene here and there if the MC is female. (She doesn’t actually have to be discovered, but maybe a scene where she fears discovery or where it’s a near thing, to remind us of her situation).

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One of the reasons that progress on Your One Moment is so slow is that it has twice the branches I anticipated for many sequences, to cover whether you play as a man or as a woman posing as a man. If the MC is a woman, she skates close to being uncovered over and over, and some events from early chapters come back to land on her deep in the story.

However, the sizzle of getting to write the hero twice is part of the reason I keep plugging away at it, in the narrow gaps between the two jobs I am holding down.

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I did say for now :wink: Thanks for showing me that! Gives me some ideas on what I can do if I decide to not genderlock it later on.

That’s cool. I played through it a couple of times. You really keep getting reminded that you’re a woman despite appearances. Best of luck with your WIP!

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I agree with this and definitely not because I’m the author or anything

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I would advise you genderlock it as making a female option would be too complicated .

Hm… While it could be fun to play as a character who is hiding their identity, it does seem quite difficult to achieve? I’d try and look up real cases of people living under sort of similar scenarios if you can come by any.

It’s not the same thing, as he identified as a man, but there’s James Barry who was a surgeon and served in the military for 40 years, he was born in around 1789. Though a fair warning for any trans readers, as I myself am trans, the history around James Barry may be unpleasant to read.

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It can be made to work but the branching would be longer than in other IFs

There is absolutely no reason not to just go with a set character if that’s what your story calls for. If adding more options just because you think it’s expected feels like a stretch for you, than it will be obvious to readers too.

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I don’t know how much work will go into branching and how realistic it might be for you to include other genders pretending to be a man, but I would honestly prefer to be a woman pretending to be a guy. Just a few bits of extra information here and there. I think it’d be hilarious to have to pretend I have horrible diarrhoea every time I get my period and then to have to pretend to be very shy so I don’t have to undress in front of the other guys. Sure, there will be a higher likelihood of such a character being bullied, but maybe one person can stand up for us. Maybe that person can be our brother?

And maybe, if we have any ROs, we can reveal it to them if our trust is high enough? Sure, they could betray us if we’re not close enough and the game could just end because you’re court martialled? It’s not necessary that your fellow soldiers will attempt to rape you just because they discover you’re a woman, imo. I come from a military background in a fairly conservative country (but of course that wouldn’t compare to whatever was happening a couple centuries ago) and one thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a lot of gallantry towards women in the military. A lot of it comes from chauvinism, but you’re mostly safe so long as you’re part of “us” and not part of “the other”. A lot also depends upon the commanding officer. If the guy’s a jerk, you’re in trouble, but if he’s a “man of honour”, he’ll protect your person, all the while ranting about how you have compromised the military’s integrity and spirit of brotherhood.

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That’s a good idea - the other recruits might snub you for your small stature or something, until you prove yourself able to keep up with the others. And then when your brother comes in you’ll hear from him stuff like “Ha, the other guys debate (out of your earshot, of course) about how you never have a 5 o’clock shadow.” Either way, it’ll mostly be flavour text.

That’s one thing I didn’t know! The lieutenant is a born gentleman (possibly fallen nobility) who is still a lieutenant because he’s always drunk (and overall pretty ineffectual). If there’s another character who can keep your secret unconditionally, it’s probably going to be him. Heck, he might even find out from foreign newspapers (PC fled their home country because of a scandal), and keep that to himself?

Yeah, I’ve been thinking of implementing romances that way, get that rel stat high enough (75%? What’s considered very high for stats?) and you can choose to reveal it to them. I don’t usually like it when games use one rel stat for everything (and when being “just” friendly affects stat increases less than when you’re flirting), so I’m splitting those stats into a general relation stat and a romance counter (which you can increase through dialogue choices if you have a good relation with the NPC in the first place).

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