[WIP] The Last Riftwarden (dark fantasy game, updated 14 Mar 2024)

title

I’ve begun work on my new game The Last Riftwarden. In it, you play as an individual who was born with a tainted soul that prevents the gods from perceiving your fate. Fearing that you might grow into a threat, they sentence you to become a Riftwarden, a guardian who specialises in slaying monsters spawned by a place called the Rift. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, you manage to settle in, finding a semblance of normalcy even- only to witness the rest of your order die to a mysterious explosion. Now, you have to muster a resistance before the Riftspawns mow down the world. Joined by a warrior from the West, a noble from the Eastern dukedom and a literal skeleton from a time long forgotten, you must deal with distrusting mortals, unhelpful gods, and quite a few eldritch entities at your heels. Will you earn the gods’ favour and save the world? Or will you doom it- once you learn the truth?

In the game, you can:

  • Play as a man, a woman, or a non-binary person
  • Find out what it means to be a Pathless and a Riftwarden
  • Swear revenge against the Divine Quartet for dooming your life, or heed their reasons and save the world
  • Develop meaningful relationships with a unique cast of characters, encouraging them to follow their Paths or to break them. Experience love, friendship- even betrayal.

Currently, it’s about 2/7 chapters done (20k in average per playthrough). Sorry to say that there isn’t a concrete update schedule, because my inspiration strikes very randomly.

Dramatis Personae

Saeed/Samira, Age 20
You first met them when you escape from Myron’s Keep. They are the Ferrier of convicts under the jurisdiction of the Spahbed of the West. Tall and muscular, they cut quite an imposing figure with olive skin and brown eyes. There is a curious scar on their face that they refuse to talk about.

Ethelred/Edlyn, Age 37
As the second-born child of the ancient and noble House of Staghelm, Ethelred/Edlyn grew up with high expectations. Unfortunately, they failed every single one of them. When their brother Wulfstan started to behave strangely, they left the city, seeking aid. Will you help them? Or will you condemn them, once you see through that veneer of charming smiles and pretty words?

Tuthmosis, Age ???
An undead you met in the crypt. They claim that they are a servant of Seshat the Wise, an Archmage of a time long forgotten.

Ragnvald/Ragnhild, Age 18
To be introduced

The Nine-eyed Stranger, Age ???
The strange Riftspawn that haunts your dream. You do not know why they are here nor what they want. Perhaps it is best to ignore them.

[Note: This companion will have limited interaction with MC at the beginning]

Chapter Summary (heavy spoilers)

Prologue: The wardens’ base just exploded in a freak incident, leaving you and a Ferrier alive. You must escape the Keep and inform Duke Staghelm of the tragedy.

Act 1: You arrive at the Duke’s seat, Thornshield, only to find that it is closed off. Not wanting to admit defeat, you find a tunnel that leads into the city. In the tunnel, you meet a disguised noble who explains to you that the Duke is behaving strangely. Will you deal with the source of his unusual behaviour before it is too late?

Interlude 1: You manage to escape Thornshield just before it is swarmed by a horde of possessed wardens. The avian Riftspawn you met at the night of the slaughter muses about their previous life while vowing to end you.

Demo

Link

Log
  • 23/2: Revamped prologue.
  • 6/3: Updated Act 1.
  • 14/3: Updated Interlude 1, added Qol changes: a cheat mode that allow you to pass all tests (enabled in the stat screen)
  • 26/3: Revised Act 1.
Looking for feedback on

generic bugs, typos, the flow of scenes and grammar. Especially the last one, because I am not a native speaker.

Misc

I want to strike a balance between plot and characters, so while companion interaction is an integral part in the project, it is not the sole focus. The MC also starts with some semi-defined attitude towards certain subjects, but the game will allow you to change your opinions later.

The game will not be very long (about 100k words). In my current plan, there are 7 acts planned, with 1 act as prologue, 4 acts devoted to explorating Lyria, 1 act for culmination of events, and 1 act for the epilogue. There will be two “major branches” of endings and a secret one.

The companions will also have different endings depending on the “major branch” and your choices during their own personal quests. The friendship-rivalry mechanic is to decide how susceptible of them to your advice, but that is subject to change. However, you are not required to go all in the friendship route to secure their loyalty and/or happy endings. In fact, sometimes a rivalry choice might end up saving their lives.

I also welcome any question you might have on the story and the characters.

116 Likes

Writing is mostly sound on a technical level. I don’t think I saw any issues.

Also, the stats screen shows the MC’s name, gender and physical appearance even before the relevant choices are reached - it seems the MC is male by default with green eyes until the choice to specify otherwise appears.

I would suggest hiding the MC’s details in the stat screen until the relevant questions have been asked.

5 Likes

My first impression is that a lot of terminology comes thick and fast early on. While some of that can help with the worldbuilding (and does, in this case!), the more that you add, the more difficult it is to keep everything clear. It gets heavy with exposition.

The flow of the flashback is a little clunky, it felt like it interrupted the tension of the establishing scene of the disaster by jumping away.

The first encounter with a riftspawn could perhaps have been more detailed? It’s our first sight of the antagonistic force and it’s simply described as ‘wraithlike’ and dispatched with ease.

It feels a little odd that you have to ask rather bluntly about Samira’s scar in the cart. Maybe consider providing a more tactful option for addressing it, if it’s vital information?

Past/present/conditional tense gets a bit wobbly in the section where you select some details about your past. I suggest combing through that again.

In general: I think you have a promising start! I like the picture I’m getting of the world and I’m finding the fantasy elements of the setting interesting. However, as a reader I’m feeling like a bit of a passenger. The MC is often doing and saying things with no or limited input from me. For example, the bird riftspawn, the ‘first boss’ of the game, if you will, is driven back without me as a player making any choice. It’s a little disappointing. That’s not to say what’s here is bad! Just to keep in mind the interactivity side of things.

Some grammar

On the stats screen, prowess is showing like this, missing a space: Prowess:Mediocre

Only that it cannot be; they are wards and enchantment all around, specially designed to deter the insurgence of Riftspawns.
This is a bit unclear. I think the wrong words have been used? It makes sense if I read it as “Only that cannot be; there are wards and enchantment…” but I’m not sure if that’s your intended meaning.

Not after it fails to warn you about the explosion.
failed

Riftwardens, the world will surely be swallowed by the its vile spawns and their abominable magic...
*by its vile spawns.

Outside, your are relieved to find the moon
*you are

When an Lyrian comes of age, they often seek the patronage of one of them- a Path, it is called

Should probably be a Lyrian

You feel your heckles rise, the familiar ball of anxiety congealing in the pit of your gut.
*hackles

So you decide to doom another soul to be come a Pathless,"
*become

"... I will try, but it do not see the point."
*I do not see

"For this," you slice your palm open with Samira's blade, letting the blood coats the steel. "There. It has partaken Myron's suffering. May the Martyr's torment keeps its edge sharp, and each strike true."
*blood coat
*partaken of
*keep its edge sharp

the being's beak twist and ripple,
*twists

You must have hit it when you fall.
*fell

This isn’t going to provide useful critique for the writer whether offense is intended or not. Consider explaining what about it gives you this reaction?

Not to jump down your throat, but a comment like this does nothing but discourage the writer.

20 Likes

Sounds interesting

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I think it is interesting so far! Grammar was mostly fine, though I noticed a tendency to use present tense for verbs that are referring to past events, I highlighted some examples in this screenshot:

screenshot


(Should be would, knew, sacrificed, made)

I agree with the comments brought up by @izzily regarding the “passenger” feeling. As another note - and this may fully be more of a personal preference thing, I am definitely not a writer myself - I felt that the pacing seemed pretty fast given the significance of the events occuring - maybe giving more imagery, etc, would make it seem less rushed?

Overall though I think you’re off to a solid start and look forward to seeing more in the future!

4 Likes

@ChanceOfFire Thanks, I will hide the description until mid-act 1 in the next update.

@izzily I’ve decided to put the flashback to where act 1 begins. Let me know if the flow improves!

As for the terminology, I am working on a way to space them apart, but it proves rather difficult. My goal is to let the reader know what Rift/Riftspawns are in prologue, learn a bit of god in the beginning of act 1, then maybe get a general sense of geography later.

I will change the first encounter with the wraith in the next update now that I have altered the flow. My original plan is to make it a ‘tutorial enemy’ (something that is easy to kill), because MC is a somewhat seasoned warden after all. Then I’ll show the bird Riftspawn, which is massively overpowered compared to MC during prologue, as I intend it to be a returning boss. But MC needs to first survive that encounter, and the only way I can think of is rely on the moonlight. The feat is also meant to reinforce the idea that MC is an above average warden. That’s why I did not make it a choice at that time, but perhaps I can make it more interactive.

For Samira’s scene- I have added a ‘leave’ option, so you don’t have to select that question!

Lastly, about grammar- I think I have corrected them all. But I’ll do another check before the next update.

@slizard

Thanks for pointing out the grammar issues. I’ve changed them all, and will do another check later.

And thanks for pointing out the issue with the pacing. I will look into it and try to slow it down.

Since both of you mentioned the problem of interactivity, I’ll put my thoughts here: Honestly, I find it very hard to balance between that and the scope creep. For example, if MC is having a conversation with someone, it’s rather unreasonable to present a choice every time MC opens their mouth, because 1, the overall flow might be weird when MC’s attitude ping-pongs between, say, enthusiastic and cold; 2, the number of responses I need to write is overwhelming. My current idea is to group MC’s attitude into some archtypes, and MC will display that attitude until the conversation flows to the next critical “choice” point. However, as you two have pointed out, I suspect this contributes to the overall ‘passenger’ feeling.

Again, thanks to everyone who has given me feedback.

5 Likes

If you need more people to look over your WIP, you can post it in the feedback exchange thread and/or reach out to the readers there if you think there is a match. It’s still a pretty small thread, but it might help.

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Oh 100% this can be a tricky problem to get around. Sometimes just giving options which express how the MC feels can go a long way to mitigating this though. Things continue on the same as before, but the player gets to go “wow, I’m overwhelmed”, “I’m managing okay”, etc. you have a few of these in there already tbf, and there are many ways of addressing it, but maybe just something to think about!

2 Likes

Idk why but this is giving me og dragon age vibes and i just cant explain why

3 Likes

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I’m going to add this to the list of WIPs I need to give a look at.

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@ChanceOfFire Thanks for the suggestion. I will post there once I completed act 1.

@izzily Thanks for the tips! I will incorporate them inside.

@Hector_Lopez Should be fixed!

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Update

Act 1 is mostly done except one small scene. In this act, you can:

  • Involve yourself in a family drama
  • Save the city, maybe fight against some familiar faces
  • Meet a new companion
13 Likes

Thank you for the update

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What a fantastic story, I love the characters/ RO’s, the lore (even if it’s dark) but I do not like the Gods lol
I’m looking forward to the next update :grinning:

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Small update

  • Revised prologue & Act 1, fixed the flow of some scenes, tense inconsistency, added choices for speech
  • Implemented the tour of Thornshield

To do:

  • Adjust the route of making Imogene a Riftwarden.

Please let me know if there are still bugs around- and if the pacing/flow is off. Especially the fight scene, since I only wrote one branch linearly (and the rest was made as ‘expansions’ to that branch).

9 Likes

Theses days i was playing a game caled Joe dever’s Lone Wolf (its the console edition, thats why the mouthful), and i get a vibe thats (dunno if intentional or not) its a “pillar” of ur book, wich is a great material to have inspirarion from

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Thanks! I have not played that game, but it looks interesting. Might check out later if I have time!

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Small update

  • Shifted one scene forward. You now can meet the Nine-eyed Stranger, a Riftspawn that will continue to haunt your dreams.

  • Adjusted the route of making Imogene a Riftwarden.

  • Added the first Interlude.

  • Qol changes: added an autopass option in stat screen, enabling you to pass all checks. There is also a show number tab, and it will reveal your actual combat stat.

There might be bugs because I adjusted the combat stat for a bit. But my game passed randomtest so it should be fine? Anyway let me know if you encounter one.

The next update will probably be Part I of Act II, where you can rest for a while and get to know your companions better. Part II of Act II will introduce the last companion, and then we’ll have our team!

12 Likes

This was interesting! I really like the setting so far, especially in how you present the culture of Thornshield through the dialogue of the characters and the descriptions of the food and environment. The plot itself is pretty interesting, and I like the intrigue that the Nine-eyed Stranger and Tuthmosis bring with their unique perspectives. I also enjoyed the glimpses of depth that many of the characters show, whether it’s backstory like Phil’s or characterization like the bird riftspawn’s slight pity.

I do agree with the others about the pacing and limited choices – for instance, the Riftwarden’s purpose is to fight the riftspawn, but the action of the battles are often described within a page or two and told to us as though we aren’t taking part. Also, sometimes it seemed like the plot had to keep moving quickly at the expense of characterization – for instance, while the MC does have one-line choice in how they react to the possessed bodies of people they have called brothers and sisters, the story quickly moves to focus on the bird riftspawn.

Typos

Belatedly, you realise you are clutching your weapon in a backward grip, with the Riftbane’s sharp end pointing directly at your heart.
If you don’t choose to examine the weapon rack, there’s no explanation for why the MC suddenly has this new sword.

Luna, the mercurial Moonmaiden and the bride of the sun, stands a step behind with the mask fixed on her right face.
“her right” should be “right side of her face”, unless she’s supposed to be a Janus-like figure.

In the old times, most were slain by inquisitors upon discovery, but a few manages to escape.
“manages” should be “managed”.

When you were at the apprenticing age, you often sneak out to explore the abandoned tunnels, much to your master’s chagrin.
“sneak” should be “sneaked”.

Your mother is wary of your tendency to run away.
“is” should be “was”.

Defeated, you decide to backtrack.
If you decide not to look into the rooms (and just pick the leave option right away), perhaps this paragraph should change since it doesn’t make sense for the MC to sounded so defeated since they changed their mind before they could show they were wrong.

He suddenly shuts himself in the temples, turning away all visitors- save for, perhaps, a few trusted aides.
“shuts” should be “shut”.

Why, is this an interrigation now, Warden Kasida?"
“interrigation” should be “interrogation”.

Ethelred is holding two platters of grilled lamb seasoned with kosher salt and dried coriander leaves.
Since this is set in a fantasy setting, would “kosher salt” be used as the name for that type of salt?

He scowls at Saeed.
If you successfully disguise yourself as the guard, Saeed isn’t mentioned until this moment, making his appearance rather sudden – especially because beforehand it seemed important that he rest his leg.

The wardens came and took Harlan away while Mother watched on helplessly.
Harlan is their brother, right? Since his death is important to both the MC and Ethelred, perhaps there could be a scene where they talk about Harlan more.

I brought Kasida in because bears an urgent new.
“because bears an urgent new.” should be “because she bears urgent news.”

The sight makes Ethelred stills and averts his eyes.
“stills and averts” should be “still and avert”.

But Something is off about their movement.
“Something” should be lowercase.

This one wishes to accompany you on your quest," the skeleton states, the twin blue orbs glimmering inside his socket.
How does Tuthmosis know about their quest, and that it would help him discover the reason behind the invasion?

Looking forward to Act II! :smiling_face:

2 Likes