Spellbound: A Ghost Story (WIP) [Updated Feb 12, 2020; Poll on #135]

Mostly because he is the most complex character as of the demo so far. While I am not one of the person who is waiting for a possible Callum RO, I DID choose the ex-lover option for him, and I did find it interesting that he showed interest to my MC first rather than the opposite.
So the fact that he went from this to Mr-I’m-gonna-destroy-you-and-your-legacy is intriguing. So the mystery seems to be his main allure, in my opinion.

I only want to understand his motivations, considering his influence on the plot is pretty significant so far, so I am fine regardless if he is redeemable or just evil.

Antagonist to lovers trope is older than dirt, and looking at the trends between CoG game forums, they often are some of the most popular or highly requested ROs (ie. Hawkins from Mecha Ace, Jury from Hero’s Rise, Jun/Junko from Samurai of Hyuga, etc.).
Maybe people simply like that the Power of Love could change these bad people into better people, or the thrill of romancing controversial ROs in a safer, fictional world.

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What draws me to callem is, well I’m a sucker for wholesome sibling relationships and redemption stories. And yeah I think he was controlled by something or someone, I think he is a good person once, until he got possessed by the amulet. If it wasn’t the case I don’t know what to do… I’ll still try to redeem him though- because If I cannot redem him I’ll guilt trip him to HELL AND BACK!

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while i (obviously) wouldn’t go to the extent of his actions (mass murder, such betrayal, murdering your (possible) ex via an intense sword fight, etc, etc) i think it’s the act of being forgiven?? maybe? not in a sense of ‘he’s a good person’ because he isn’t, clearly lmao. but the idea of no matter how bad you do/how bad you’ve acted in the past you can redeem yourself.

connecting with what i said above, even though i mentioned redemption, i don’t mind if he can’t/won’t be redeemed. redeeming yourself is taking a step back and going ‘woah, i did bad stuff, time to try and be better even if those i hurt don’t want to forgive me, because they don’t have to!’, which i very much think Smug Bastard tm callum will not do. if he truly wasn’t controlled, if he did it with his free will then i don’t think my opinion would change? from a narrative standpoint (through my mc’s eyes i guess) callum chose to betray him, it was his decision and he faces the consequences. idk i’m rambling.

he has lost my (mc’s) affection! i dislike him immensely! and that’s why i (would?) find his romance path so intriguing. 2 characters on opposing sides, betrayal, a deep history between them? sign me up buck-o! it’s probably the angst of it i enjoy? not sure tbh. like, the emotional tension between the mc and callum in the prologue during the sword fight? chef kiss

it’s the friends to lovers to friends to sworn-enemies-oh-my-god-you-killed-everyone-you-dick that really eggs my rolls. less about him (he’s infuriating fbreuhf) more about the relationship aspect between him and the mc? i suppose?

points at him look at the oily, evil little man, can’t wait to suplex him and then lay a big ole smooch on him

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Not disagreeing with you, but it is interesting to note—I think I mentioned this earlier in the topic—that when I first conceived of Callum, I thought it likely that people would not see that complexity, that he would come across as an obvious traitor and perhaps even a bit hackneyed. Between his smugness, his contrary attitude, his magic that literally glows black, I was legitimately concerned that people would look at him and go “oh my god, of course he turns evil, what a fool the MC is for trusting him!”

And then they would call me a hack for forcing opinions down their throat and artificially creating a scenario where they have no choice but to be foolish and I would be chased out of the forums with my proverbial tail between my proverbial legs.

I’m relieved that that didn’t happen, of course, but the fact that they have swung so far the other way is still a tad mystifying to me.

I mean, I get the basic thrust of an antagonist-to-lovers arc, and the appeal thereof. I like the idea of taking a character with whom you’re at odds, and finding ways to change that dynamic into something friendlier and possibly even romantic.

I don’t think it’s overreaching to point out, however, that the way Callum is portrayed in the prologue (which is all anybody besides me has seen!) doesn’t exactly paint this as a likely possibility. This isn’t me saying it couldn’t happen, of course, just an observation about what people have seen with their own eyes vs. what they seem to extrapolating.

I guess what it comes down to is, I’m wondering just how much of Callum’s popularity as a potential RO is Callum himself, how much is projection based on similar arcs in other games, and how much is pure wishful thinking on the part of the reader.

…It’s funny you should say that.

Hm. Can you?

I’m not asking this to be contrary. I am genuinely curious if people feel this way!

Without passing judgment on those who are hoping for a Callum redemption arc, or hinting too much at whether or not it’s possible, I think this is an important thing for everyone to keep in mind. Such an arc is only ever going to happen if Callum truly wants it to and works to make it so. I’m simply not interested in writing a romance (or siblinghood, etc.) where the MC is 100% responsible for saving the purity of Callum’s soul. There’s gotta be some genuine growth on his end, too.

This is an intriguing take that I don’t think I’ve really seen too much of before! It sounds to me like you’re interested in pursuing Callum for the sake of the story being told, to explore an arc that you find compelling, rather than because you yourself feel an emotional attachment to the character. Is that accurate?

If so, I’m interested to see if there’s anybody else with that attitude toward the matter, because it’s…kind of how I feel about him, honestly, haha.

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I think it’s also possible that some of the appeal in Callum comes from somewhere else entirely: the fantasy of closure.

In real life, when a relationship ends on a horrifically bad note with no real understanding of ‘why did this happen?’, it’s all too likely that, well, you’ll never get to know why. You’ll never get to hear the other person’s side. You’ll never get to resolve things in a way that, if not necessarily happy, will feel complete.

Enemies-to-lovers usually plays into the fantasy of closure between two embittered individuals. There’s a satisfaction in witnessing the characters progress from hate, to understanding— and witnessing the character growth that comes with it. In real life, it’s difficult to separate ourselves from the hurt, so it makes it even more difficult to find a resolution with a person who was part of the hurt.

In fiction, it’s obviously different. Things are still moving our emotions, but there’s obviously the separation of self that comes with it. The MC isn’t us, but we can live through them and their trials. That means we can live through their closure, too.

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I agree with all that @Dragongodess said. :100:%

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This, on steroids.

Valerie is kind of annoying, tho I admit I haven’t played the latest update (waiting to have more content to explore), and maybe she’s great now and I don’t know. She seems to have her heart in the right place at least, but yeah, not too interested in her as a character just yet. Maybe in the future?

Dyren, my man, my dude having my back, he’s boring. It sucks that he got shanked, but I feel like my MC felt it a lot more than I did. To me, the player, it was like, oh, poor guy. Alright, what happens next?

If I had to pick one character to romance right now between the three we’ve met, I would choose Callum. Dude is terrible, but it’s the closest thing to the sort of RO I tend to go after (layered backstabbers, morally gray, chaotic idiots that always find a way to enjoy themselves)

By now you’ve said so many things I don’t believe you anymore :laughing: but, jesus christ, I’ll be happy if Dyren isn’t the secret RO. My poor king of bland. Never forget, tho :fist:

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ah, it deleted the rest of the paragraph :(. i just meant in the sense of every day people projecting onto characters. when this topic happens in media they want the character that messes up/ is evil to redeem themselves so the viewer can feel some type of? i don’t know, understanding? companionship? it’s in the sense of ‘if this characters whose done worse than me can redeem themselves than i could too’.
viewers see a characters flaws and feel seen, i suppose, but sometimes when this happens people forget that a villain with personality other than… being a villain doesn’t make them have the qualities to become a good person. makes them a good character, yes, good person? eeehh.

yes! i find him to be an interesting character, narratively speaking, and am intrigued on how his arc will grow his character and intertwine with the mc’s further than it has so far! how he could make such a decision, etc. but (as of right now) there is little positive emotional attachment there for me for his character lmao.

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I agree with your point of view referring to Valerie, but I kind of like Dyren, not in a Ro way but his innocence was worth to be protected :rofl:
Let’s have faith in the characters that have not yet been introduced. Maybe our MC will found someone interesting.
Callum is a good character and well defined and I think it’s worth trying to save him if he is being controlled by something, if not, maybe force some sense common in him with fraternal love .

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Interesting observation! That could definitely be part of it.

Funnily enough, though…in one of the veeery early, incomplete versions of the outline (before I decided to include the flashback chapters which flesh out Callum’s character), there wasn’t going to be any of the closure you’re talking about. He would betray you, you’d drift around for 800 years, and the story would pick up in the present day. You’d never learn why he did it, and none of the events of the prologue would have been revisited. Obviously, this was before I knew exactly what the plot was going to be about and what the villains’ plans would consist of.

I believe my feeling at the time, which I’ve since relaxed on to an extent, was that one of the central themes of the game was supposed to be this idea that none of what you did in life was really that important, in the grand scheme of things. You lived, you died, the world moved on—and you’d have to find a way to do the same, if you wanted to truly find purpose in this new existence. Part of that, I felt, was letting go of old questions that you’d never get answers to, which maybe didn’t even matter that much in the long run, and I still think there’s perhaps something to be said for that notion.

I ultimately backed off on this approach, though, because I felt like it made the prologue feel ancillary in general, I wanted to explore Callum in a more complete way, and I decided that the theme didn’t really need to be hammered down that hard to be effective. (I feel like the whole “futility of life” thing was communicated just fine through the events of Chapter 0.) Also it felt a little too Series of Unfortunate Events for my tastes, the ending of which was not my favorite thing.

If you found Valerie annoying in I-1, you’ll probably find her even more annoying in I-2, if anything, since it basically doubles down on everything you’ve seen from her thus far. I can’t speak for everyone, but I imagine the reverse is true for people who immediately liked her—they were probably happy to get more of her being her. Right now she’s very “what you see is what you get”, and not a lot is going to change significantly on that front for a bit.

There is more to Valerie later on (more than I think even her fans are expecting!), but she is definitely a slow burn kind of character (ironically, given her nature), and I imagine not everyone is going to have the patience to wait around for her to get interesting. We’ll see if I can win anyone over before the end, but if not, that ends up being an interesting dynamic to explore too.

:woman_shrugging:

There is a narrative reason that Dyren exists besides being Callum fodder. That is the most I can legally say on that front without violating my own NDA, though.

What are you talking about? Everything I say is true.

It’s funny you should say that…

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Since the summary of the game mentioned “betrayal by your closest ally” I knew Callum is going to be the traitor just because of his previous link with the MC, before his magic or personality is even elaborated. So, the obviousness of the reveal is more around this fact, in my opinion.

And since the MC does not possess the superpower that is hindsight, and was beginning to question Callum’s intentions anyway, I don’t consider the MC is a fool.

Especially when we have Dyren who is all skeptical about magic, so when the game describes Callum’s magic as dark and foreboding, my first thought was maybe the magic in this game is all dark and foreboding to make his skepticism more believable. Maybe I am just simple.

Nah, people would simply like your posts less. :wink:
Which would be a tragedy because how would one consider themselves to be a significant forum person if you don’t have at least 50 likes on every posts?? /s

It is probably a combination of the factors that you have mentioned that shaped Callum’s popularity.

To clarify—I wasn’t so much talking about the player’s ability to foresee Callum’s betrayal, because, as you say, it’s a fundamental part of my premise. My concern was that players, having this foreknowledge and also seeing all the “dark” tropes in Callum’s character design, would be annoyed at having to play a character that didn’t see it coming. The “taking Callum’s pendant regardless of your opinion on magic” thing stood out to me in particular—would people object to being forced to fall into a trap that they might consider obvious?

But nobody has really brought it up so far, so I guess not :woman_shrugging:

It isn’t, but most of Dyren’s experience with magic has been negative. Callum is definitely a significant part of that.

I can relate to that :cry:

Sure—but how much of each factor? That is the crux of my curiosity.

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Boy, am I glad I stumbled upon this story; I love it! It’s easily one of my favorites already, too! Your writing is soo good. I’m not that good at describing things, but it’s the kind where you truly hang at word and never want it to end. I was immediately completely immersed and really connected with the world and the characters.

Also, because I basically have the attention span of a goldfish, I’m usually not that good with longer exposition parts or “Q&A sessions”, but with the lore of this world and your fantastic writing combined I just can’t help myself but to exhaust every dialogue option there is.

And of course Callum became bae as soon as he was introduced, so I felt free to answer the questions you posted a few posts up

Somehow Villians and assholes are always among my favorite characters. I usually play as an evil or morally flexible MC myself, so the things they do aren’t that appalling to me as well; the opposite really. I really like dark and emotionally grueling stories in general, so I guess I’m just drawn to characters of a similar caliber.

So since I’m ok with Callum being evil, I’m not hoping to change him or anything. To me it doesn’t really matter whether he was controlled or acted out of his own free will, whether he turns out to be good, evil, or somewhere inbetween. I find all of these outcomes interesting.

That being said, if none of this betrayal stuff happened, I’d still be interested in Callum. Must be his enchanting personality.

What makes a relationship with evil characters work for me is them making room for the MC and seeing them as a equal, which I guess is usually automatically a thing they do when they’re an RO. Though I can’t recall any examples for or against that atm. I can’t think of a line that I would have that could be crossed, either.

Ah, I feel like I went on and on and didn’t make any sense at all. Basically, what I think I’m trying to say is that I find Callum as a person, as well as his circumstances, interesting, which makes makes it easy for interested in him, ya know.

As a side note: Callum is not the only character I’m interested in a RO (which I think he is? I think I read he was a secret one?). From their description, Cortez and Merrow seem to be quite interesting as well.


But other than that, I have to say I didn’t expect to like Valerie as much as I do. I’m usually not into “quirky” characters, but I found her to be quite interesting as well. Just goes to show how good your writing is.

And here are two small errors I noticed


The text for the branches should be swapped


*temp counter 1 should be “0” instead, I think, otherwise the rest of the code doesn’t work as intended.


Another side note: I liked how during the mural scene, the closer the MC got drawn to it, the lower the “mortal” stat got, and then went back to normal when they snapped out of it. It’s really sublte when you play the game normally, but I liked it.

I also like your comments above each scene. :slight_smile:

I look forward to seeing how this story unfolds!

Aww, thanks.

I think I kinda get what you’re saying about Callum? But man I do not relate at all, haha.

Psst.

Unless it’s in my OP, don’t trust anything I say about the secret RO. Everything I say is a lie, including this.

…Should it be? The west branch is the one where you get in a fight and end up disarmed, so your sword is on the ground and has to be returned to you. The south branch is the one where one of you uses Dyren’s dagger to mercy-kill your quartermaster, and he ends up staring at it for a long time as a result.

Granted, I think your sword ends up on the ground either way, and Dyren’s dagger also gets used either way, but the sword gets more attention in the west path while the dagger gets more attention in the south one.

Unless I’m missing/forgetting something here…

Mm, I think you’re right about this one, thanks. The issue I ran into here is that I usually start my counters at 0, but the multireplace segment only works right if the counter starts at 1. Looks like I made the adjustment at the end (the bottom bit says *if counter = 2, which I think is correct, since it would’ve been incremented once by that point), but looking at the code, I guess I must’ve forgotten to alter the conditionals within the *choice body itself. Whoops.

Ah, you’re right! I could have sworn Dyren borrows the MC’s sword, but I must have mixed it up with something else. Sorry about that lol

Okay but let’s just start by acknowledging how freaking amazing your righting style and down-to-earth attitude are. I love what I’ve read of the story so far, and I CANNOT wait to see more (despite your self-admitted “snail’s pace” haha) which I am 100% willing to be endure because it’s WORTH IT

Hi! First of all, I had so much fun reading the demo! So much DRAMA!! I’m surprise at how much I loved everything! I was prepared to be annoyed at Valerie but she’s is just so cute somehow despite actually being bratty and loud, but it just makes me want to protect this girl! Good job, author!

Talking about chracters, while Callum and Valerie were fun, I’m really intrigued about Dyren and Charlotte. We will probably talk about Mc’s past, but will we have more informations about their past before becoming a warrior ?

Now concerning your questions about Callum

“What is it exactly that draws you to Callum? Is it the hope that he can be changed or redeemed? Is it because you think he was controlled somehow, and he’s really a better person deep down inside? And how much would your opinion change if it turned out that that wasn’t the case?”

Nah, I think he is complex and interesting enough with or without a “redemption arc”. It depends of the spectator but in I find people and of course myself being more “forgivable” towards characters than in real life. During the last scene with the MC, one could see that there was more than what was showed which can be applied with…pretty much everyone ? Not everything is made of black or white. Callum must have had his own reason, goals, and surely some other things related to the talisman,etc… now it depends of one’s personality to like him or not. The MC I created didn’t care and just wanted to kill the bastard who ruined everything but I just love all the dramas this character add to the story.

“Or do you not even care about that? Do you like that he’s kind of evil, and if so, where do you draw the line (if anywhere)? Given what he does in the prologue, is there anything he could do to lose your affection?”

Mmmh I think, he’s just the kinf of character you love to hate ? Yeah, he’s evil, yeah he betrayed the MC, yeah he killed a lot of people, but eh ¯_(ツ)_/¯ that’s angst for you immaright
Anyway, the only thing he could do in order to lose my affection is to become a bad written character with cliché motivations. (while it may seem that I try to put pressure on you dear author i swear on GOD it’s not in my intentions xD I really love this game!)

"I legitimately ask this out of curiosity, because to be 100% honest, I don’t fully understand the appeal, myself. To say that the man is not my type would be putting it mildly. "

Haha I think you shouldn’t think too hard of it. People just like to hurt their MC and are usualy acttracted by the “evil” character. And for a lot of reasons, maybe it’s about carthartis, sometimes 'cause the character has something the audience find empathetic, or sometimes there’s not even a reason. Sometimes it’s because we find them neat. For example, lot of people love how devious old disney vilains can be. Why ? Eh ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Also like some already said before, people are suckers for the rival,love/hate kind of relationship.

Anyway, I hope you’ll have a good continuation and a good day/evening!

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I see that you are using the royal “let’s”, being that you are in fact a real queen. I am honored to be in Your Majesty’s presence and hope to meet your lofty expectations.

You are maybe the first person to ever describe me as “down-to-earth”, though. Perhaps that term means something different in your fine nation.

Thank you for being one of maybe two people who have somehow taken an interest in Dyren and/or Charlotte instead of Those Other Two Characters That People Won’t Stop Talking About Because They’re Actually Important. (Ignore the fact that I specifically asked questions about Callum to spark discussion about him that’s not important.)

To answer your question, the game will be interposed with flashback chapters that will collectively cover the span of time from when the MC’s village was destroyed up to right before the events of the prologue. Callum, Charlotte, and Dyren will all play more expansive roles in the flashback chapters. (Which is not difficult for Charlotte since she does not even appear in the prologue.)

Well, yes, I should hope so. If not, I would be legitimately concerned for the safety of some of the people here.

PSA: if somebody kills you in real life, consider not marrying that individual.

The final plot twist is that Callum did all of this for shits and giggles because he’s just soooo edgy he is basically like my super dark and mature version of the joker who is my favorite spiderman villain of all time.

This is how good villains get written, right, I am pretty sure that’s how it works.

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It’s a safe place to indulge in the fantasy that you can help a person you love change and find a better way. (Warning: that’s a TVTropes link.)

Also, abusive behavior has been very normalized and eroticized by pop culture so that’s definitely a component. It’s fine to explore those feelings in IF, since it’d be a terrible mistake in meatspace.

Plus a small dash of he’s the character we’ve had the most interaction with. I may be happier with a nicer fellow once I meet them.

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I don’t think that tropeing is a bad thing. It’s not that addictive (proceeds to spend hours tropeing.)

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