The Magician's Burden [231k words]



A fair warning to fans of The Magician’s Task: throughout the series, there will be about a dozen or more deaths of main characters, and I don’t really plan on making any of them preventable. I know a lot of authors do this and a lot of fans like for this to be available, but I don’t really like that idea as a writer.

It kind of defeats the purpose of the characters dying because then the readers can just figure out how to save them and then all the writing put into their deaths, the ideas behind their deaths, and the aftermath, would have basically gone to waste. When I kill off main characters, I do so to try to make my readers more emotionally invested in the story and to effect the plot, and if these deaths were preventable, I feel like they’d be just reduced to a game mechanic.


I see what you mean, and that makes a lot of sense. But I would still be sad if one of my favorite RO’s die.:cry: Probably from a demon. But since you put so much time and effort into creating the ‘death scenes’, it would be nice that people actually read them. Right?:neutral_face:


true but when people figure out which RO’s are gonna die everyone will avoid those RO since they dont want to start care about a character just to be punched in the feels which means that all the RO choices for those characters would not be read i myself would and probably will not choose to go whatever RO rough ends up in there death.


I agree with you on the part where you said that deaths makes people more emotionally invested in the novels but if there are going to be more than 2 - 3 deaths then it will become pretty common and you will lose the people. ( unless you can maintain the whole pace of the story and the deaths are justified and tied to the story perfectly )

Personally I don’t care if they are preventable or not, if it makes the story more interesting I would let them die permanently but after 2-3 deaths ( in a non thriller novel/CYOA ) it loses its surprise and emotional value.


When the GoT and clones were the rage, killing characters became the in-thing to do. I never appreciated that approach; yet there are many valid reasons to kill characters off in stories.

As a reader, I enjoy getting to know very deeply developed characters and where appropriate I do accept death. When a character is killed just so the reader never gets to “know” them giving the author pseudo-freedom from expectations, that is where it no longer makes sense and the author starts losing me.

Game of Thrones has many of the things I love about story-telling but the ultimate experience for me is one of disconnect. It is much like getting ready to watch Netflix series, only to have the series cancelled out before you can watch it all - eventually the audience just accepts the disconnect and moves on.


Valid points, everyone. I will say that although a lot of characters die, all of them will still get lots of development and none of the deaths will just be for the hell of it. Although what’s on the demo is pretty tame so far, there is going to be a horde of demons that attacks the village in the final chapter of TMT, and then a war vs an army of demons in TME, so deaths are inevitable.


Are any RO’s going to die or by main characters do you mean people like our parents, little brother,etc?


I won’t give any specifics, but I will say that all the characters you’ve met so far qualify as main characters. (Except the minor ones like Saza, Mathers, and Matilda.)


Here’s a list of the main characters I have so far.

Introduced in TMT:
Killian, Petre, Verim, Zaleth, Mabelin, Rigel, Violet, Keano, Mowbow, Mother, Father, Percy, Kihbok, Melithar.

Introduced in TME:
Jonaug, Blossom, Baga, Gellert, Kidas, Jude, Izzy, Zyphel, and Bertrand.


Part of the peril with wanting to kill off swathes of characters and wanting to make most of the cast available for romance is that … well, you’re going to be killing off ROs, which tend to carry more weight than other characters. Which, it’s not like that can’t make sense for a story, but making it unpreventable is probably gonna make people unhappy. You’ll be basically favoring some options over others, which feels like a bad way to go about it, and tbh my concerns about the tone not supporting rampant death haven’t really been lifted yet. I mean, if who dies is decided at the beginning and can’t be changed through decisions, then whether your playthrough is bloodsoaked or tinged at the edges with violence is going to end up being practically luck of the draw. On my playthroughs I’ve barely interacted with Keano, and the only time I encountered Mabelin was during the fight with Killian. If they both die, I’m not necessarily inclined to consider that all that much of a loss. How effective any one death is is going to be very dependent on playstyle (leaving aside the differences in the way characters connect with players, which I realize is a thing but isn’t anything an author has control over so is irrelevant here) and to some extent character build, which again might make it look like you’re punishing players for taking certain steps in the game. If Path A leaves your RO with you throughout and only a couple side characters lost, but Path B kills everybody you care about, why would anyone want to play Path B?

I get what you’re saying with deaths for plot relevance, or to send a message, or any other legitimate reason to kill off a character, but I have to admit I’m kind of balking at the assertion that a preventable death is meaningless to the story. I can think of character deaths in CoG/HGs that I had and then later prevented, and the swathes of relief that I managed to avoid it this time. Or that I didn’t even see, but later read could happen and how suddenly, retroactively nervous I was for that section of the game. Even the potential for death can be powerful–and if there’s a lot of potential for death, it really wouldn’t be hard to make the player unable to save everyone. It doesn’t have to be so direct as “pick character C or character D,” but the actions that end up saving character E could mean that you can’t do what you need to do to save character F, things like that. I get why it’d be frustrating to write a war story where every death can be avoided, but it feels to me like you’re going too hard in the opposite direction.

I have to really echo @Eiwynn’s sentiment above, that extensive character death makes it harder to get emotionally invested in the story, but I want to add that extensive death you can’t prevent feels very different in interactive fiction as opposed to traditional writing. You say a dozen or more deaths that the player can’t effect, and I look at that list and see that that’s half or more of the full cast, that it encompasses almost all of the characters introduced in the first game. In something that has “interactive” in the name, in a game you’re writing for replayability, for the player to feel like each playthrough can be as different from the last as they like–it’s pretty disheartening to read that there’s nothing I could do to save a potentially doomed RO or best friend or family member, especially when theirs would be only one in the long list of dead. I play these games to feel like my character is making an impact on the world, in the story, at least in their own lives, but if so much of the story, and such a big element, is going to be completely out of my reach … maybe the point is that the MC and reader should both feel hopeless, frustrated, helpless, but the beginning of the work really doesn’t paint that kind of a picture and that’s the type of genre shift that might turn people away. I know it certainly makes me a lot less interested in the full story–but, maybe I’m not the target audience, and maybe this is all stuff you’ve thought about.

And, under the cut for only being peripherally related, I have some considerations on the tone of the threatening dialogue options

A while back, I think even on the original thread, someone commented that when reading through the game they felt like the threatening dialogue options (against Killian and crew) felt childish, and I’ve been thinking about it and it seems like the issue might be that they’re a bit too graphic, or elaborate? Like, just taking the very first as an example–it starts strong, with just “I will literally kill you,” a very basic murder threat, said like you mean it, but the way the MC describes killing Killian is just sort of … inefficient? “I’ll strangle you with your friend’s guts” is a threatening sentiment, yeah, and I certainly wouldn’t want to hear it yelled at me, but when the goal of the MC is to sound like they’re about to take direct action … it’s a little weak. There’s probably some obscure story somewhere about a guy who did that to somebody but it’s not really immediately threatening in the way that the MC sounded before. “I will literally kill you” into an over elaborate, time consuming murder plot that would probably be preventable by the larger kids, it falls a little flat. Something more straightforward, “The next time I see you I’ll stab you in the neck,” “I’ll come up behind you and stick a garden hoe in your neck,” basic use of makeshift weaponry (or even using your magic once you know what it is) comes off as a lot more legitimate sounding and a lot more actionable, if that makes sense. I know once I had destruction magic I really wanted to make a show of power, slash him across the face or show him my claws


I’m at work right now so it will be a while before I can reply to everyone’s posts in detail. In the meantime, though, what are your suggestions for the intimidation options?


I don’t know that I have much to add to what I said above–I don’t remember where every intimidation option is. I think just making the threats a little more grounded would do it just fine–less “I’ll make your skin into a book cover” and more “they’ll never find the body” types of things


Yeah, they were basically meant to be over the top :stuck_out_tongue: I could change them, though. When I was on mobile, I couldn’t see that big extra paragraph you had about the intimidation options, but now I see it.


I checked with randomtest, and it looks like each playthrough of the current TMT demo gets you 29/104k words, so there’s tons of replay ability. Compare that to the 40/100k that you get in Foundation of Nightmares.


so do you want grafic and harcore threats or just the normal stuff? cuz i can be creative if i put my mind to it


Typo : Awww, isn’t that sweet?" the demon says in a disgustingly sanquine voice.
Should be ‘sanguine’; or maybe ‘saccharine’.

I kind of get @HomingPidgeon’s point about the threats. It depends whether they’re supposed to sound genuinely threatening or not. Right now the OTTness makes it sound more like the MC is desperately trying to sound dangerous, rather than genuinely being so. But maybe that’s the point since they’re the underdog here?


Thanks, I’ll fix those typos tonight.

Well, basically, they were meant to be in keeping with the humorous tone of the rest of the story. I can definitely see the appeal of them being more serious though.


I noticed Mowbow was in the list of possible deaths…:sleepy: If he dies I swear I will hunt down every last demon on the earth to avenge him


Glad you like Mowbow, @ElvesForTheWin :slight_smile: . I’ve found it amusing that she’s been the most popular character (tied with Mabelin) since I introduced her in Chapter 2.


Why ? She is a cat and community likes cats and pets a lot.

( I was so tempted to make a account with name @community and post this with it )