I’m writing my first COG style novel, Baneborn. You play as a banechild, an abomination born without form. This means you’re doomed to wander the earth as a disembodied soul until you lose all grasp on consciousness or are hunted down by the Censorate, that is, unless you can steal yourself a body.
What to Expect:
5 ROs (3 Male, 2 Female) pursuable for all genders
Structured like a visual novel/otome game for replayability. 3 main routes that revolve around a main plot structure. Each of the 3 main routes are an incomplete version of the whole story. Different choices will lead to new scenes and knowledge
Plans and stat descriptions that change week to week as I make up my mind on things
There will be blood, death, and gore
What I'm looking for:
Macro rather than micro edits: Critique, opinions, and suggestions on plot and characterization
Playtesters to tell me when things break
Special attention to dialogue, which is one of my weaknesses in writing
I have the major plot points and lore fully mapped out. Now I just need to write it!
Ok so I have to say what I read was fantastic, Honestly I loved the prologue and how it set up our characters backstory and showing just the terror and fear people held for a banchild and honestly can’t wait to see more of this
This was really interesting! I liked the idea and that you play with another’s perspective it really gets the ethereal feeling of dis embodiment for the mc . A feeling of being a spectator more that a part of the world.
Good job so far. I will be looking forward to the next update
So, can I say this is perhaps one of the most promising premises I’ve ever read? It’s fascinating and intriguing, and your writing pictures it pretty well. Consider me hooked until it (hopefully) gets published😁
This is definitely one of the most intriguing premises and immediately gripping stories I’ve seen. The way you evoke the tone of the setting is particularly impressive—even though we know relatively little about the world in which this story takes place, I already feel very immersed in it.
A few specific points:
Point the first
Firstly, I’m noticing that you’re not using fairmath, and while that isn’t necessarily an issue, you run the risk of driving some of the personality stats above 100 or below 0, which might not be what you intend. In particular, some of the personality stats can be pretty heavily influenced in the prologue alone; I think a couple of mine got as high as 70, which, if you’re not using fairmath, seems like a lot for this early stage of the game.
Point the second
Along the lines of the previous point, I’d also be careful about making sure that the player has ample opportunities to change their personality stats after the prologue is done, since they’re technically playing as somebody besides the “true” MC for its duration. Specifically, I played as a rather Bold mother, but I anticipate leaning more toward the other end of that spectrum as the actual banechild.
Which brings me to my next point:
Point the third
I’m not sure how I feel about the wording of the Bold/Cunning stat—those two don’t really intuitively feel like opposites to me, since boldness is a quality of one’s actions while cunning is a quality of one’s thought processes. Perhaps Subtle instead of Cunning would be a more appropriate term for the way you seem to be using it?
Point the fourth
This is probably my biggest criticism at the moment: I’m sort of apprehensive about how the final choice determines your initial ability score boost. This choice very much read to me like a roleplaying choice where you decide how the mother feels about the child; I didn’t even realize it would have any effect on the ability stats until I checked the stat screen and realized I’d finally gotten some points in combat. I’m especially not really a fan of having to be ashamed of the child in order to get the intellect boost.
Which is another issue: while one stat boost is obvious (fighting = combat), and another could be intuited (begging = charisma), the other two are…much less so. Callous pragmatism = intellect definitely has me scratching my head a bit (especially since the mother doesn’t really act that smart in that route), and other than some passing mentions of the Church and the First God, I’m not seeing how the repentance choice even relates to the concept of Arcana or anything else otherworldly (maybe this has to do with the fact that it’s not yet clear what Arcana specifically means).
I have to assume that there will be other major opportunities to increase ability stats (particularly since alchemy is not even included in this choice), so this might not even be a big deal in the end, but since it’s the only one in the demo so far, this stood out to me.
And finally, a query:
Can you elaborate on what you mean by “incomplete”? I assume each route will contain unsolved mysteries that get addressed in the other routes, but will the story still make sense if you only pursue one route? Or will players be expected to play through the game three times to understand what’s going on? Also, since there are five ROs and three routes, I assume the latter is not directly tied to the former, but are there any ROs that will be restricted to one of the routes, or are they completely independent from one another?
Thanks so much for your kind words! I really wanted to help readers pity the bane children because they had no choice for being born this way and bc your character is one. But I also wanted to convey that people’s fear isn’t really blind prejudice. For the living, baseborn are by nature malevolent because most wouldn’t choose to just fade away when they have the chance to live. So yeah…at some point the player is going to have to take someone’s body
Thanks. I want to reveal the world slowly and was wondering if I included too much detail in the prologue. It’s good to know you felt it was appropriate
I’m new to choicescript so I didn’t even know this would be a problem lol. I’ll take a second look at the code and make adjustments.
Ah that was intentional. The player’s personality will be reset after this and I’ll save the mother’s personality to use later on in the story. I’m also considering playing with the theme of identity. It’ll become clearer in the next 2 chapters I’ve outlined (also point 4)
Thanks for the suggestion. You’re right that does seem to work better
I felt apprehensive about that as well. You’re right about the connection between intellect and the choice. My original intention was to play with the idea that the banechild is a parasite. You’re alive because of your mother’s blood and you carry over some skills from her as well. From a narrative standpoint I like the idea of reinforcing a theme of stolen identity, but from a game standpoint it can be frustrating not having full control over your stats. I’ll think about it some more and see how to resolve it. As for Arcana, it’ll be more obvious later. There’s a few clues in the prologue already (choose ignore eleska and there’s a passage that appears later on; the logic is the mother has more time to focus on other things if you proceed without stopping). My goal is that none of the options exist just for stat-building purposes but actively do impact the reading experience
Playing more than one route is not required to understand the overall story, no. There will be, hopefully, a satisfying conclusion for each. The routes are loosely connected to the ROs. Basically there will be core plot scenes and supplementary scenes. The routes will give you access to supplementary scenes. This may change later on, but it’s my plan for now
Ahh, okay, I am definitely a fan of this approach!
I actually do really like this idea, I just think it could be clearer in general what skills you’re determining the mother to have. If your goal is for the player to define what she’s good at, tying it into a moral decision during an emotionally fraught moment of desperation might not be the best approach. My intent when I picked the “fighting” choice, for instance, was not to suggest that the mother would be good at fighting, but rather that she would fight for the life of her child even though she is probably not so good at fighting. An indication of her moral character, not her abilities.
If I’m understanding your implication correctly, it does seem to have something to do with the theology of the world, which is interesting. I do still feel that it’s not immediately clear that the choice in question is related to that until after you make it, though, other than the somewhat vague use of the term “repent”.
I can respect that, but I think you need to be careful about how far you take this approach. I don’t mind instances where building certain stats will result in different outcomes, but I do think it’s important that there be choices where the player feels in control of how stats are affected, and the narrative effects feel like a natural extension of that. Just an example off the top of my head, you might have an instance where you can choose to fight or negotiate—and that does have an impact on the plot (obviously, choosing to fight won’t endear you to whomever you’re dealing with, whereas negotiation might), but said impact is directly tied to the mechanical approach the player chose to take.
As opposed to decisions like the mother’s response to her banechild, where I really don’t care about my ability stats; my only consideration in that instance is how this is going to affect the narrative, and the ability bump feels out of my control as a result.
If I’m understanding you right, the different routes are sort of like the three major subplots you can pursue, but the core plot will stay mostly the same? And when you say they’re “loosely” connected to the ROs, I guess the routes will tie into their stories to varying degrees? If so, will it be obvious which ROs will be connected to which routes before you have to make that decision?
It’s a very unique story and hooks your attention at the very beginning!
Nice title though even if it is still temporary has that kind of dark fantasy type vibe.
A question though! (If it’s not spoillery right now)
Can we avenge our mother?
Incredible writing. Your demo had me gripped by the first sentence and didn’t let me go until the very last. I am incredibly intrigued by this world we only just got a small glimpse of. This Church, with its strange rituals, and stranger magisters. Alchemists seem to be commonplace, as are these ashstorms that make people vanish without a trace. I wonder what this “umber” is.
I just really like the setting you’ve teased, and can’t wait to explore it.
I like how the Mistress of the house never once thought of her husband by his name. It’s such a small, but telling detail. She was a great introduction to the narrative. The atmosphere was also really well done, from the eerie stillness of the house to the disconcerting behavior of the housemaid and finally, to magister Lucas himself - the most interesting character so far.
It all culminated in how the MC cames to be. It seems like we needed a life to be truly born, or did I read that wrong?
In any case, if it wasn’t obvious by now, I think this demo was really good. Liked and bookmarked and cannot wait for more. Wish you all the best with your project!
This is quite interesting- playing as the mother to the Baneborn in the prologue is a wonderful way to build sympathy for her within the player. We didn’t get to stay with her for very long, but she did have a fascinating and interesting character!
I’m honestly confused. Who are we playing as? What is the setting taking place and, if there’s changes to it, where? I’m not sure what to say, so I’ll try to summarize what I’ve been reading so far here.
So, at first, I play as generic “Me” protagonist, a boy with a snarky wit but grounded to just idealism. The world sucks, yes, and I’m no afraid to say that in front of the Magistor, yet I believe magic and science are both the same thing. They don’t just coexist, they’re the same specimen viewed under different lense. *I can’t express this since the 3rd and 4th options of the first choice are separate.
Okay, moving on. I have a p sad family. Mother died and Father went to self-seclusion. I patiently wait for him every dinner, but he never came. Hopefully, my newborn will make him happy. *What? So I’m actually an adult mother, not a pesky boy? And I’m now suddenly having a baby? Okay.
Next, I gave birth. Painful one, but there was a scream and I get up from the bed. Have I done delivering the baby? If I have, how long since that happened? Where is the young taken to? *As far as I know, I’m not yet done delivering.
So, I got up, and my husband is talking to a Magistor. A few conversational exchange later, we go upstairs, returning to the original floor, and pass by Eleska, the maid that dared the fog umber to deliver the birth medicine. She seemed freaked out, referring “it’s an evil thing” to something. *So she is the one taking the baby. Why I didn’t know this before? If I were to give birth, I will obviously know who is the one down there handling the poor infant, but I didn’t.
And I lose my interest. I only skip a few pages ahead, seeing the baby formless, though it’s more like “Dororo featureless” formless, not “magic purple haze” formless as I’d expected before.
So, yeah. I can’t follow the story. Don’t take this as an insult or attacking critique. Your writing has specific distinct style and you’re good at it, but it feels like you’re too focused with the melodramatic writing and the pacing suffers from it. However, the crux of its all is that I don’t know who am I playing as and what am I doing in the story. I feel so detached and reading further doesn’t help any of it.
But, hey, maybe I just don’t like reading this specific genre in general. Maybe I like a more direct, pinpoint writing rather than poetic ones. Maybe this is how they roll with most, if not all, dramatic genre. In any case, good luck with your endeavor.
In the prologue, you play as the MC’s mother. Her baneborn child is the actual protagonist. You’re defining the circumstances of the MC’s birth, basically.
I’ll admit I was confused at first too when I was told I was being married to some lord before any kind of gender choice, but I think the gradual dissociation with the apparent protagonist is intentional, since the story is meant to explore themes of identity and drawing experiences from the lives of others.
Can’t really speak to the pacing issues you bring up other than to say that I personally did not find it that hard to follow But I can also see how somebody more accustomed to direct, to-the-point storytelling might struggle with this style.